Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Villains

Muwhahahah . . . Twirling my mustache here for this post.

Earlier today Christie shared some of her favorite villains in comics and graphic novels, so let’s take a look at villains in MG and YA lit. In the immortal words of Loki, “I am burdened with glorious purpose.” And my purpose today is to share these books with you. . .


“Slip on your acid-free gloves, make sure you have a duplicate copy of How to Grow Up and Rule the World (just in case something should happen to this one) and try to follow along as the incomparable, superior-in-all-ways Vordak the Incomprehensible teaches you a thing or two about villainy. Now you, too, can try (and fail) to attain Vordak’s level of infamy.”
Publisher’s Description (EgmontUSA 2011, 9781606840139) 

Otto Malpense may only be thirteen years old, but so far he has managed to run the orphanage where he lives, and he has come up with a plan clever enough to trick the most powerful man in the country. He is the perfect candidate to become the world’s next supervillain.”
Publisher’s Description (Simon & Schuster 2007, 9781416935711) 
Blaze (love in the time of supervillains)
Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her “sext” photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now” – Publisher’s Description (Sourcebooks Fire 2013, 9781402273438)

Evil Genius
“Cadel Piggott has a genius IQ and a fascination with systems of all kinds. At seven, he was illegally hacking into computers. Now he’s fourteen and studying for his World Domination degree, taking classes like embezzlement, misinformation, forgery, and infiltration at the institute founded by criminal mastermind Dr. Phineas Darkkon. Although Cadel may be advanced beyond his years, at heart he’s a lonely kid. When he falls for the mysterious and brilliant Kay-Lee, he begins to question the moral implications of his studies for the first time. But is it too late to stop Dr. Darkkon from carrying out his evil plot?”
Publisher’s Description (HMH Books for Young Readers 2005, 9780152059880) 

Cloak Society

The first in a thrilling, action-packed middle grade trilogy, which School Library Journal declared “will likely find the same wide appeal as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.

“The Cloak Society: An elite organization of supervillains graced with extraordinary powers. Ten years ago the Cloak Society was defeated by Sterling City’s superheroes, the Rangers of Justice, and vanished without a trace. But the villains have been waiting for the perfect moment to resurface. . . .”

Publisher’s Description (HarperCollins 2012, 9780062095473)

Take 10: Christie’s Favorite Villains

Christie tries on some villain hair!

If you take a look in my office at work, or if you take a look at my work nook at home, you will see that it overflows with villains. It’s not an accident- I LOVE villains. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I think that villains MAKE the hero. Think about it for a minute. It’s the biggest revelation in Mystery Men that without Casanova Frankenstein there IS no Captain Amazing. If not for Ursula, there was no way Ariel would get to Erik. Without Jafar, Aladdin would never have found Genie or Jasmine. The VILLAINS make things possible, and make things interesting. There would be no NEED for the Avengers if there were no villains, no need for a HERO to be a HERO if there wasn’t someone to fight.

So, in honor of my love of comic books, I came up with my top 10 mainstream villains in comics.

If you’ve only seen him in the movies, he was pretty nasty enough- being the force behind the hatred of mutant kind, yet pumping Logan full of Adamantium and making him Wolverine AND making him forget everything. (If you don’t know the references, see X-Men 2 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine). If you follow the comics, he’s even creepier- he’s a full-out believer who thinks that mutants are the work of the devil, and actively works to destroy them from the face of the Earth. There is nothing like a true believer when you’re actively questioning your place in the world- he has some wonderfully devious plots and twists within the canon.

Karen (Left) and Christie (Second from Left) Talk Free Comic Book Day at ALA 2013


I grew up watching the Adam West Batman series, so my first experience of The Riddler was Frank Gorshin running around with really bad riddles and puns that Batman, Robin, and Batgirl would get immediately while the Commissioner and Police Chief would marvel at their intelligence. I loved that he loved the puzzles, and would skywrite things, and just have fun causing mischief. Later in the comics and the video games, I loved all the puzzles and riddles and tricks, and how he could foil things again and again. I really admire how the game makers with the current Batman video games use him as a way to earn points and trophies throughout the games.
Poor Harry. He was cursed into his legacy no matter what he would have done. Blamed for the death of his mother, Harry always tried to earn his father’s love and never succeeded, and is in fact lashed out upon multiple times while he tries to earn that approval- something that a lot of teens can relate to. He falls into drugs while his father turns into the Green Goblin, and while discovering that his BFF is Spider-Man and trying to kill his dad, takes on the mantel of New Goblin and goes bonkers for a while. I mean, really, what better way to take out stress?  In the new movie, they have Harry fighting against a genetic disease that will eventually kill him, and he ends up mutating into the Goblin. I’ve always really liked Harry just because I felt for him- he was always stuck between the father that hated him (that Harry always wanted love from) and the seemingly perfect Peter. Can’t we all relate somehow?
These things just creep me the hell out, and I’m on edge waiting for the movie at the end of the month. I’ve read a little too much AI sci-fi and watched too many movies (Terminator and SKYNET, anyone?) not to be wary of robots, even as I have a Roomba sweeping the living room floor. The Sentinels always creeped me out- killer robots designed to hunt down anyone with a mutant gene and either imprison or kill (depending on the storyline), I always had it in my head that they could be out there SOMEWHERE. Didn’t help that we had a garage full of computer equipment, either. Then when the storylines in the comics went to where they went rogue and started killing off EVERYONE, yea, that was the stalker part.

I fell in love with Ivy when I read one of her storylines and she used the plants around her to take out Batman and Robin. No guns, no bombs, PLANTS. How awesome is that?!?!?! Yea, she might be an eco-terrorist, but she she has a really good cause (save the Earth, people- we only have one), and she might be a bit twisted, but she has really good ideas. If we gave her direction she might… well….  no….  She is wonderful girl power, and if you get her and Harley together, it is completely wonderful mayhem. I adore the fact that she was originally modeled after Bettie Page, as well.
We need some super readers to defeat some super villians!
 My first exposure to Lex was with Gene Hackman in the 70’s in the Christopher Reeve movies. I adored Gene Hackman. He was a misunderstood genius, having to put up with all these idiots around him who couldn’t understand his vision, and yet he was able to trick Superman AGAIN and AGAIN, through the movies and the TV cartoons and the comics. And nothing ever really happened to him! It was amazing! Yes, his hand got cancer because he wore a kryptonite ring at some point, and his clone turned good and hooked up with Supergirl, but he’s STILL AROUND! And since there are rumors of a Justice League movie, they’re going to have to have villains, and Lex lead the Legion of Doom…..

I adore me some Harley. She is one of the few that started in an animated series, then made her way into the comic canon, and now life cannot be imaged without her. She lives for her DOC-TOR J (think HUGE Brooklyn accent) and will do anything and everything to help- yet she realizes that he can be abusive and he needs to treat her better. Between 1992 and today, she has become her own person and her own villain. The short story that told her background in the comics won an Eisner Award, and she is beloved not only for her personality but for her mayhem as well. She’s been placed into the recent Batman games as well as the short-lived Birds of Prey series. DC Comics hit some series backlash when they had a Break into Comics with Harley contest which requested artists to draw her in one of four different suicide attempts- DC backed off, but it drew massive attention to the way they were treating their characters, especially since everyone in the Batman canon of villains gets locked in Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. 

Not the Joker, just someone playing at it!
I don’t think anyone could do a Top 10 list of Mainstream Villains without having The Joker in here at some point. Played on the big screen by Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson, he’s THE nemesis for Batman, and quite the mastermind for ol’ Batsy. Always with a joke or a trick or an angle, the former mobster turned arch-villain is one of the most recognizable characters around. His viciousness is always tempered with his desire to get The BAT. The green gas that will turn people smiling and his trademark purple and green colors are everywhere. While I know a lot of people who were turned off clowns due to Stephen King’s It, THIS would be the clown face that would haunt me.

The Scarecrow really can be a sympathetic villain if you know his backstory. Bullied all his life, raised by a fanatically religious grandmother who hated him, called Ichabod because of his resemblance to the main character of Sleepy Hollow, and the most beat-upon kid at school, he throws himself into the study of fear. He makes chemicals and an alter-ego for himself so that he can fight the bullies, and the alter-ego comes out during the high school Prom. Studying psychiatry during college, he lands a job at Arkham and does fear studies on the inmates- and loses his day job at Gotham College when the gun in his briefcase goes off and kills another professor. Taking revenge, he kills the rest of the faculty and the Scarecrow is born:  using fear toxins and gases to release long-buried phobias and fears in his victims. He had been little known outside of the comics until the most recent Batman trilogy of movies- he was one of the central villains in the first, then had recurring roles in the second and third movies which made the tie-ins and the lack of control in Gotham all the more apparent.
Christie “with” Loki at the Thor: The Dark World premeire
 For all their powers and craziness, none can take my heart for Loki has had it for years. Born in Norse mythology, Loki is the trickster god, and as such wreaks havok for Thor and the Avengers all along the timelines. According to the comic tales, Odin’s father Bor was felled in battle and when Odin found him, Bor begged Odin to find a sorcerer to save him. Odin refused, and Bor cursed Odin that he would take in the son of a fallen king. Not a week later, Odin felled the Frost-Giants, and found Loki and took him, knowing that he was one of the enemy. Loki would always be the black sheep of Asgard- he could never match the values that they held, but would surpass everyone in sorcery, and would learn everything…including the black arts. He’s been made lovable to everyone else by Tom Hiddleson in the recent Thor and Avenger movies, and I can’t wait to see where they’re going with them- because there are a number of different ways they could go, including some female possessions.
Who are your favorite villains?  Share in the comments!