Evil Incarnate

Maliciously written by the 13th Crusader

Comic book heroes – bah! This column’s all about evil characters in comics. No, I’m not writing about purse snatchers, jaywalkers, bank robbers or getaway drivers. I’m not spotlighting mob bosses, corrupt politicians, or self-centered corporate executives. You won’t find anything in this column that’ll focus on the most fiendish ideas ever devised by so-called “evil” scientists either.

What I’m referring to are the immensely powerful undisputed masters of mayhem, chaos-bringers, obnoxious overlords of oppression, demigods of depravity, sovereigns of sin and egotistical extra-dimensional emperors that easily envision entire realities being eradicated for their eternal enjoyment. You get the drift. I’m talking about comic book characters that are so wicked, they nearly transcend the very meaning of the word evil.

Get ready, because right now, we are about to get acquainted with ten of the most immoral and incomparable archetypes of malevolence that come to mind.

10. Neron (DC Pre-New 52)


Neron was one of the most powerful beings ever created in the DC Universe. He had seemingly limitless magical powers and his raw strength was immeasurable. But, it’s not just those attributes that made him a deadly opponent. It was his power of persuasion. He was a flat out liar and trouble maker extraordinaire; there weren’t many individuals out there that could match or exceed his wits. He lived for making deals and always set his bargains for the highest stakes possible – for people’s souls.

Neron’s appearance in the Hell to Pay storyline featured in Flash Vol. 2 #’s 127-129 was in my opinion, Neron at his best.







Neron’s reign in his domain did come to an end when he was weakened by the demon’s Blaze and Satanus. In short, all hell broke loose in Hell. Neron was beheaded.

Congratulations Neron! You ranked 10th on the 13th Crusader’s Evil Incarnate list!


Neron was created by Mark Waid and Howard Porter and he first appeared in Underworld Unleashed #1 (Nov 1995).


9. Blackheart (Marvel)

The accretion of dark energies originating from centuries of murder and tragedies on a remote hill in the town of Christ’s Crown, NY, was manipulated by Mephisto and used to create his demon son, Blackheart.

Blackheart demonstrated his deadly potential in just the third panel he was ever featured in and then he took a shot at Mephisto three panels after that! Blackheart resented his father from day one, but he was quickly reprimanded and sent off to carry on “Mephisto’s work”.

Daredevil and Spider-Man were the first Marvel heroes to face Blackheart, but in my opinion, the Ghost Rider, Wolverine and Punisher team ups in the Hearts of Darkness and The Dark Design were the more prominent encounters. In each of the aforementioned stories, Blackheart attempted to convince Ghost Rider, Wolverine and Punisher to join his cause – the elimination of Mephisto. Of course, the three heroes refused, on both occasions.

One of Blackheart’s “bright” spots was defeating his father and taking control over his domain.

Of course, Mephisto would return in time, but this event served as an illustration of Blackheart’s resolve to emphasize his own brand of evil.

Blackheart, in his own right, is an extremely powerful supernatural being. One thing he can do that his father cannot, is confine someone’s soul without their consent. Blackheart is the most dangerous of all of Mephisto’s offspring. Blackheart’s “siblings” are Mephista (a.k.a. Jezebel) and Malevolence.

Mephista first appeared in Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme #6 (Aug 1989) and she became known as Jezebel in X-Factor #233 (May 2012). Malevolence, who hails from an alternate reality, first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy #7 (Dec 1990).

Blackheart, although you are the son of Mephisto and similar to him in many ways, the best I can do is offer you the 9th spot on the Evil Incarnate lineup.

Blackheart was created by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr. and first appeared in Daredevil Vol. 1. #270 (Sep 1989).

 

8. Eclipso (DC-Pre New 52)


Eclipso has been a part of DC Comics for over 50 years. In his early days, Eclipso was nothing more than a second string villain that used Bruce Gordon, a solar energy scientist, as a host. The name Bruce Gordon, in jest, was a combination of Bruce Wayne and Commissioner James Gordon. Ha ha…ahem.

It wasn’t until 1992 that DC would revamp Eclipso with the Darkness Within company-wide crossover and miniseries. In this storyline, we learned that Eclipso was a not some petty scoundrel as he was once believed to be. He was a demon of vengeance whose power relied on the inherent evil and impulsive rage that lies within all of humankind; thus the “Darkness Within” title. In this event, the true Eclipso emerged and challenged the heroes of the DCU by trying to possess and utilize them to achieve his goal of plunging the Earth into eternal darkness while simultaneously reacquiring his former might. However, he was eventually defeated.

Not long after the Darkness Within event ended, Eclipso received his own ongoing series. His run lasted 19 issues (including the annual). In it, it was revealed that he was the former the Spirit of Vengeance and that he was responsible for the Great Flood during the time of Noah. Eclipso took his “job” to an extreme and he was imprisoned within the Heart of Darkness, paving the way for the Spectre to replace Eclipso as the new Spirit of Vengeance.

As time went on, the threats that would be presented by Eclipso intensified. He would eventually manipulate more heroes into doing his bidding. Even the imprisoned Jean Loring, former wife of Ray Palmer (Atom) and Sue Dibny’s killer (Elongated Man’s wife) was used as a host to manipulate the Spectre into attacking the wizard Shazam in an attempt to purge all magic from reality.

Eclipso has demonstrated a wide variety of powers and cunning ploys throughout DC’s history. Here are some panels of Eclispo employing tactics that required a more brutal approach.

Eclipso, a close friend of mine convinced me to rank you 8th on this list. I hope you’re not too upset about it.

Eclipso was created by Bob Haney and Lee Elias and first appeared in House of Secrets #1 (Aug 1963).


7. Surtur (Marvel)

Standing at over 1,000 feet tall, is the monstrous demon Surtur, the undisputed master of the Asgardian realm of Muspelheim. Much like the Midgard Serpent or the Frost Giant Ymir, his physical strength reaches cataclysmic proportions. He is highly intelligent and exceptionally knowledgeable in the arcane arts. Only Odin’s power could rival those of Surtur. Ironically, Surtur was involved with Odin receiving his renowned Odin-Power.

Once upon a time, a young Odin decided to travel to the fiery realm of Muspelheim and accompanying him on this journey were his brothers, Vili and Ve. They were on an exploratory mission into the unknown areas of Asgard with the hopes of learning about other beings and their rulers.

Not long after they passed through the gates of Muspelheim, the trio was met by living beings of fire. They agreed to escort them deep into the heart of the realm…that’s how Odin and his brothers first met Surtur.

In his arrogance, Surtur not only reveals to Odin his plan to destroy every Asgardian realm, he shows him the weapon he would use to do it and the source of its power, the Eternal Flame of Destruction.

Surtur then proceeded to attack the young gods. To match the fire demon’s might, the three brothers merged into one being and challenged Surtur. They were successful in shattering Surtur’s sword but Surtur was able to break the amalgamation of Odin, Vili and Ve.

The three gods then grabbed the brazier that held the Eternal Flame of Destruction and began to make their way out of the blazing inferno of Muspelheim.

Surtur and his band of fire demons were not far behind the fleeing gods. Once they reached the gates of Muspelheim, Vili and Ve decided to stand their ground in order to slow down Surtur’s hordes. They entrusted Odin with safeguarding the Eternal Flame. Vili and Ve’s sacrifice resulted in Muspelheim being sealed off from the rest of Asgard. Soon after the gates were sealed, Odin received the powers of his two brothers.

This tale was the first chronological interaction between Surtur and Odin. Surtur would forge another powerful sword, which he called Twilight, and ordered a full scale assault on Asgard as soon as he broke out of Muspelheim.

This led to the classic confrontation between Surtur and Odin in Asgard. Surtur sought to reacquire the Eternal Flame of Destruction and put an end to Odin’s life and rule over Asgard.

Odin was able to slow down Surtur; however, they both would disappear. Of course, both characters would resurface in time.

Surtur has never wavered from his intent to destroy the realms of Asgard or anything else that stands in his way.

So Surtur, you are ranked 7th on the Evil Incarnate column. Is there anything else you would like for me to mention?


Surtur was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and he first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #97 (Oct 1963).


 

6. Yuga Khan (DC Pre-New 52)

Yuga Khan was the first ruler of Apokolips and most powerful of the New Gods. He was also the father of Darkseid. He was an unforgiving and ruthless monarch with ambitions of seeking total mastery of the universe at all costs.

His quest for absolute supremacy led him to become obsessed with deciphering the many mysteries that surrounded the Source Wall. When he attempted to access the knowledge of the Source, it resulted in Yuga Khan becoming incarcerated within the Promethean Galaxy.

With Yuga Khan deposed, it paved the way for his son Uxas, otherwise known as Darkseid, to seize control of the Apokoliptan throne. Untold millennia would pass until Yuga Khan would break free of his imprisonment. His first act after he escaped, was consuming the peaceful planet of Velos.

Inevitably, Yuga Khan returned to Apokolips, much to the displeasure of a fearful Darkseid.

Yuga Khan renewed his interest with unlocking the secrets of the Source Wall, despite the warnings from Highfather.



Yuga Khan converted himself into primal energy and penetrated the Source Wall…

…and much like his previous attempt, it was unsuccessful. Yuga Khan was imprisoned once more in the Promethean Galaxy.

Yuga Khan is one of my favorite villains of all-time. The only reason why I rank him 6th on this list is because we haven’t seen enough of him! Could you imagine this New God running wild again in the DCU? His fascination with the Source Wall was his only undoing, but to fail at it multiple times? Why Yuga Kahn? Why? Getting through the Source Wall is beyond even your mighty capabilities. What compelled you to do this?


Yuga Khan made his first appearance in New Gods Vol.2 #17 (Jun 1990).

5. Malebolgia (Image)

The early 90’s…what an interesting era it was indeed for the world of comic books, especially when Malebolgia made his first appearance in Spawn #1 (May 1992).

Let’s see…Marvel’s historical X-Men Vol. 2 #1 was a just a few months old when Spawn #1 was released. Around the same time of Spawn #1’s release, Spider-Man was forcing himself to team up with Venom to battle Carnage in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #362. Superman battled Deathstroke the Terminator in Superman Vol. 2 #68, while Green Lantern’s Hal Jordan and John Stewart fought each other over the fate of Star Sapphire in GL Vol. 3 #24. Ghost Rider Vol. 2 #25 was a nice double-sized issue that featured pin-up previews of the Spirits of Vengeance with Johnny Blaze, Morbius, Darkhold and the Nightstalkers. Needless to say, there were plenty of good titles to choose from around that time.

Spawn #1 was no exception. But this column isn’t about Spawn. It’s about Evil Incarnate. Within this historical independent book, Malebolgia was introduced to the world for the first time by Todd McFarlane.

Malebolgia was the ruler of the Eighth Circle of Hell, and in his own right, a tremendously powerful demon. He created Spawn, or Hellspawn, in order to use him alongside his immense army in his war against the forces of Heaven. Malebolgia deployed devious machinations to ensure his goals were adhered to while fending off rivals from the other levels of Hell.

With the help of Angela, Spawn defeats and kills Malebolgia in issue #100, but he returned 99 issues later, more evil than ever.

This was a really difficult decision, but Malebolgia, you land 5th on this list. Wow. Just writing that made me very angry. I feel like punching a wall…I want to break something…

 

4. Anti-Monitor (DC-Pre New 52)

The Anti-Monitor is a being comprised of anti-matter and he exists solely to conquer and destroy – on a universal level. His resume includes the destruction of thousands of parallel existences throughout the DC Multiverse. It’s almost impossible to comprehend the power of the Anti-Monitor. Marvel’s Galactus consumes planets to survive and fuel his might – but the Anti-Monitor is capable of absorbing the energies of entire universes. He’s on a different scale. There’s no other way to put it.

During the Crisis of Infinite Earths masterpiece, the Anti-Monitor went to the extent of traveling back to the beginning of time in an attempt to stop the formation of the positive matter universe. He was thwarted, but he didn’t go down that easily, having killed scores of heroes; including legendary ones.

Almost every appearance that the Anti-Monitor has made in DC Comics has been legendary, with ramifications that have not been told, or even thought of yet.

The only power I have over the Anti-Monitor is commanding him to sit at fourth place on my Evil Incarnate article.


The Anti-Monitor was created by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Jerry Ordway. He made a shadow appearance in the second issue of the Crisis of Infinite Earths #2 (May 1985)…

…but he wasn’t fully seen until the Crisis of Infinite Earths #6 (Sep 1985).

3. Nekron (DC Pre-New 52)

Nekron emanates from the darkness that existed prior to the formation of the cosmos. He is the nemesis of life itself with an unrivaled obsession to restore the universe to the void it once was. Nekron’s power is beyond reckoning. He can tap into the residual energies of the deceased, granting him virtual omnipotence. Nekron is a walking extinction level event who’s more than capable of challenging celestial entities. Need some convincing? Good.

To obtain some great examples of Nekron’s nefarious authority, you can refer to the instant classic mega-event, Blackest Night. Here we see the Spirit of Vengeance, the Spectre, a powerful being in his own right, attempting to punish Nekron for his dreadful actions.

That has to be the most non-violent confrontation between two indomitable forces that I’ve ever seen! Now let’s see how Nekron measured up against the master of the anti-matter universe, the Anti-Monitor.

That certainly was a treat, right? I always get a kick out of powerful villains fighting each other.

Now that we’ve solidified the categorization of Nekron’s might, let’s briefly explore why I rank him so high on this list.

On that note…Nekron, you are third on the Evil Incarnate list. It wasn’t easy making this decision; hopefully I won’t regret it.

Nekron was created by Mike W. Barr, Len Wein and Joe Staton and first appeared in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps # 2 (Jun 1981).

2. Trigon (DC – Pre New 52 and New 52)

Does it actually matter which version of Trigon I include on this list? Not really. Each incarnation or interpretation of this fiend is as wicked as they come. In the world prior to Flashpoint, Trigon killed everyone that surrounded him at birth, including his mother. By the time he was six years old, Trigon was able to claim that he destroyed an entire planet. When he reached adulthood, Trigon had already conquered an infinite amount of worlds within his dimension.

Trigon’s vision of conquest is unquenchable. He eventually set his eyes (all of them) on Earth but those plans were halted by the New Teen Titans.

Here’s a small example of why Trigon is on this list:

Other than his appearance, the post-Flashpoint Trigon is not much different from the original version.

Trigon’s power is legendary and devastating. The true extent of his abilities is difficult to quantify. He is a bona fide threat for any reality. In other words, he’s virtually unstoppable.

Were it not for Trigon’s occasional concern with seeing his children following in his footsteps and ruling by his side, I would have named him at the top of this list. Sorry Trigon, but I must name you second on the Evil Incarnate listing.

YES! I must.

Trigon was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. In The New Teen Titans #2 (Dec 1980), Trigon speaks with Raven from his dimension…

…but he wasn’t fully seen until The New Teen Titans #5 (Mar 1981).

 

1. Mephisto (Marvel)

When it comes to pure evil and hate, Mephisto is undoubtedly at the top of list. He has affected the lives of countless characters throughout the Marvel Universe for nearly fifty years. Mephisto is always on the hunt for the purest living souls to include in his dark realm.

As for the souls that are already in his possession, well, let’s just say he steps all over them…literally.

In his hellish realm, Mephisto reigns supreme. He possesses vast supernatural powers; you name it, he can do it. He was powerful enough to challenge Galactus when the world-eater entered his domain. And we all know that Galactus is no pushover.

Mephisto has participated in other epic battles, with the likes of the Silver Surfer…

…and the thunder god, Thor.

What Mephisto can’t do is read minds or force any living being’s will unto his own without their consent. It’s for these very reasons that he resorts to tempting his intended victims with elaborate promises and/or gifts.

Mephisto is certainly a very legitimate threat to all living within the Marvel Universe.

So Mephisto, do you agree with my thoughts on naming you number one on the Evil Incarnate list?

Mephisto was created by Stan Lee and John Buscema and he first appeared in Silver Surfer Vol. 1 #3 (Dec 1968).

 

A lot other characters were considered for Evil Incarnate. It wasn’t easy to select just ten. I’m sure there are those of you that could think of someone that could fit nicely on this list. However, the question I kept asking myself while I was putting this together was “who in comics personifies pure evil and hate and has the power to do something about it?”

Is it the Joker? He’s evil but he doesn’t carry the power to bring utter destruction to the universe, let alone a few. What about it Doomsday? He was built to destroy but he was manipulated by others. What about Loki or Hela? Loki cares more for mischief. Hela is impartial as to which Asgardian souls she collects.

How many times have we seen Thanos allying himself with his enemies? Darkseid for as evil as he is, is a god of his word. Dormammu almost made this list, but even he has allied himself with other would-be-conquerers on too many occasions. So if Dormammu didn’t make this list, there wasn’t any way I could include Satannish. Zarathos and Belasco are more great examples of evil, but they were at the mercy of Mephisto and Chthon respectively. But what of Chthon you say? And Cyttorak for that matter? Great characters, but for as old as they are, I don’t think they get the exposure they deserve. Hopefully, that will change.

Sadly, I must depart.

Until next time!

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