"It's almost a cliche at this point, but as the saying goes, The villain is the hero of his own story.
I'm not one of those folks who roots for the bad guy. I might like the villain. I might even respect them. But I don't generally find them as interesting or worthwhile as genuinely heroic characters. I know that this is kind of an old fashioned attitude but I don't find Lex Luthor to be more complex than Superman. Lex just has a heck of a lot more baggage, but that doesn't mean he's a richer character. And it seems like every day someone tries to convince me that Batman is more interesting than Superman because Batman is "screwed up". To which, I reply, "Batman is no more screwed up than Green Arrow, who fights crime because he's really good with a bow and arrow, but you don't hear people talking about how complicated Oliver Queen is."
I don't find villains innately appealing. Perhaps I just don't have that dark side. Still, there are villains I like and villains I love. And here's a brief list of them and why I love to read stories with them:
Shuma-Gorath stands out among his ilk because he fights Dr. Strange, the world's greatest sorcerer. Cthulhu and Shub Niggurath might be more terrifying in their powers, but they also tend to stick to the lower rung of enemies, helpless mortals who can only be driven mad by the mere mention of their names. But Shuma-Gorath goes toe-to-toe with the most powerful magician of our dimension and while Shuma doesn't win, he at least poses a significant threat. And if you're going to play in the big leagues, there are worst shames than losing to the ultimate master of the mystic arts.
Plus, his name is just fun to say.
To be sure, Doom is a flawed guy, but he needs to be. Without those flaws, he'd have already won by now. Just as Superman's morality isn't a weakness, but a requirement to keep him interesting, so Doom's obsessive nature and strange honor code are limitations that keep him worthwhile as a character.
Bottom line: The guy has a castle, a time machine, and loves to monologue. If that doesn't make him the greatest supervillain ever, I don't know what else to say."
A. Lee Martinez was born in El Paso, Texas. At the age of eighteen, for no apparent reason, he started writing novels. Thirteen short years (and a little over a dozen manuscripts) later, his first novel, Gil's All Fright Diner, was published. His latest novel Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain was just released. His hobbies include juggling, games of all sorts, and astral projecting. Also, he likes to sing along with the radio when he's in the car by himself. For more information on the author, check out www.aleemartinez.com.
You Might Also Like:
REVIEW | Monster by A. Lee Martinez
INTERVIEW | Amelia Beamer author of The Loving Dead
REVIEW | Machine Man by Max Barry
GETTING TO KNOW | Mary Robinette Kowal's Evil Robot Monkey & More