Alternate-Reality Supervillains

Alternate-Reality Supervillains

(pop culture)
In their comic-book stories, Marvel Comics and DC Comics each depict a “mainstream” version of the universe in which its principal fictional characters dwell. But over the decades Marvel and DC have also published series that take place in alternate realities of various kinds. For example, they portray parallel Earths that exist in other dimensions, and alternate timelines in which familiar characters lead different lives than they do in mainstream reality. In The Avengers #85 (1971), writer Roy Thomas co-created the Squadron Supreme, a superhero team of a parallel Earth, who were semisatiric versions of the members of DC's Justice League of America. (The characters appeared previously as the Squadron Sinister in Avengers #70, 1969.) Subsequently, Don and Maggie Thompson co-created Emil Burbank, a bearded, long-haired counterpart for Lex Luthor, in Thor #280 (1979). In his Squadron Supreme maxiseries, writer Mark Gruenwald gave Burbank an armored battlesuit and dubbed him Master Menace, thereby also making him an analog to Dr. Doom. In Squadron #5 (1986), Gruenwald introduced the Institute of Evil, including Ape X, Dr. Decibel, Foxfire, Lamprey, Quagmire, and the Shape. Gruenwald also co-created three nemeses for Nighthawk, the Squadron's version of Batman: Remnant, Puffin, and the Mink, who paralleled the Joker, the Penguin, and Catwoman, respectively (debuting in Squadron Supreme #6, 1986). Editor in chief Jim Shooter conceived of Marvel's “New Universe” series, set in their own “reality,” as a more realistic approach to superheroes: hence, he disdained putting its “paranormal” villains, such as Mindwolf (from Psi-Force #1, 1986), in costumes. Perhaps the New Universe's leading villain is Philip Nolan Voigt, alias Overshadow, created by Gruenwald and artist Paul Ryan in D. P. 7 #1 (1986). Having gained the power to duplicate and augment within himself any paranormal's power, Voigt secretly used his Clinic for Paranormal Research to organize an army of paranormals. Voigt even became president of the United States. The “Marvel 2099” line of comics was set at the end of an alternate version of the twenty-first century and presented futuristic counterparts to present-day heroes, such as Spider-Man 2099. Foremost among its villains is the title character of Doom 2099 (1993–1996), who may or may not be the original Dr. Doom, thrust into the future, where he quickly mastered late-twenty-first-century science and began a new quest for political power. Another memorable 2099 menace is Jordan Boone, who became the mad shapeshifter Halloween Jack (in X-Men 2099 #16, 1995), a criminal trickster in the tradition of the Joker. Writer Peter David and artist Rick Leonardi created the mysterious menace Thanatos in Spider-Man 2099 #11 (1993). In a 2002 Captain Marvel story, David brought Thanatos back, revealing that he is an alternate timeline version of longtime supporting character Rick Jones. As Thanatos he retains the immense superpowers Jones gained during the Kree-Skrull War, an intergalactic conflict that pitted two alien empires against each other. In the early 1990s Malibu Comics commissioned leading comics professionals to create new series for its “Ultraverse,” which were bought by Marvel in 1994. Among the Ultraverse characters was Barry Windsor-Smith's Rune, who first appeared in Sludge #1 (1993) and starred in several comics series. Originating on an alien world ages ago, Rune is a winged sorcerer who feeds vampirically on the blood of others. He has battled Thor, Adam Warlock, the Silver Surfer, and even Conan. Perhaps the most imaginatively conceived Ultraverse villain is Lord Pumpkin, who debuted in Sludge #3 (1993) and also starred in his own series (Lord Pumpkin #0, 1994, Lord Pumpkin/Necromantra #1–#4, 1995). An evil, sentient plant creature with a head like a Jack o' Lantern, Lord Pumpkin can be regarded as a sinister counterpart to DC's Swamp Thing. In the late 1990s former Marvel editor in chief Tom DeFalco masterminded Marvel's “MC2” line of titles, set in an alternate future a decade and a half hence. The only “MC2” series being published in 2006 is DeFalco's Spider-Girl, a book about Spider-Man's teenage daughter. In co-creating its huge rogues' gallery, DeFalco seeks to recapture the spirit of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's classic Spider- Man foes. Hence, paralleling Lee and Ditko's Sinister Six team, DeFalco organized Spider-Girl villains into the Savage Six: Dragon King (a human turned into a dragon), Funny Face (who dresses as a clown), Killerwatt (who has electrical powers), Mr. Abnormal (whose body stretches), Raptor (who has wings), and Sabreclaw (Wolverine's son). Other Spider- Girl villains include Crazy Eight (who throws 8- balls containing weapons), Mr. Nobody (a teleporter), and a new Green Goblin, the grandson of the original. In Kingdom Come (1996) writer Mark Waid and artist Alex Ross created a vast array of new characters for their alternate future version of the DC Universe. Among the most notable is Ra's al Ghul's successor, Ibn al Xu'ffasch, the son of Batman and Talia. Many of their new superheroes seemed more like supervillains, recklessly fighting criminals and each other. The foremost of this “new breed” was the biblically named Magog, who killed the Joker and inadvertently caused the nuclear obliteration of Kansas. A similar character, Gog (who debuted in Gog #1, 1998), has battled the Superman of mainstream DC continuity. Even though Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985–1986) supposedly got rid of DC's parallel worlds and alternate realities, series like Kingdom Come, other Elseworlds, and Mark Waid's “Hypertime” concept seem to have brought them back.