The 8 Least-Threatening Comic Book Villains

Let' face it: all the really good ideas for comic book villains were taken by, oh, around 1942. The writers have just been scraping the sides of the jar since then.

As proof we offer these villains who, in real life, couldn't frighten a gazelle.

#8. The Penguin From Batman

Threat Issues:
The Penguin is a pudgy man dressed in evening wear who likes birds and has the power to disguise weapons as umbrellas. Obviously, liking birds isn't frightening or even illegal, unless it involved liking birds in a carnal way, which he doesn't. That leaves us with umbrellas.

So, here's a typical Penguin encounter with basic sports-stadium security:

Security: Sir, can I ask you to step aside?

Penguin: (pretends not to notice)

Security: Sir. In the top hat and monocle.

Penguin: Oh, my, dear fellow, are you talking to me?

Security: Yes, sir. Can I take a look at your umbrella?

Penguin: Oh, this? Why, it's just an ordinary umbrella. A fellow can bring an umbrella with him on an outing, can't he?

Security: The sky is completely clear and it's 90 degrees, sir.

Penguin: Well, yes, I know, this is just an old man's foible, you see, and-

Security: Sir.

Penguin: Yes?

Security: Sir, you're clearly the Penguin, and I-

Penguin: (shocked) How did you know?

Security: ... you're clearly the Penguin, and I can't let you bring an umbrella in here.

Penguin: Son of a bitch.

How To Make Him More Threatening:
We're not going to go the easy route and just replace "penguin" with "velociraptor." No, we want to stick to the creator' original vision as closely as possible. So let' go with another flightless bird, the turkey. Turkeys have those dangerous talons and can continue living with their heads cut off.

Oh, hey, there you go. The Headless Turkey. Picture that, this man-sized thing, standing there pointing a gun at you, with a ragged hole where its head was. You don't even know what the thing wants because it can't talk. It just stands there gesturing with the gun, while little spurts of blood jet softly from its open neck. OK, that' terrifying. Let' move on.

#7. The Riddler from Batman

Threat Issues:
The Riddler, like the average Batman villain, employs a gang and carries out crimes ranging from your ordinary bank robbery to rigging the city with bombs that explode according to some inexplicably convoluted theme. All he has going for him is the "riddling"-meaning that he seems to have some kind of psychological compulsion to leave behind clues at every crime that would get him caught, even if the cops turned the investigation over to a class of third-graders.

The only way he could be any more worthless as a crook would be if he teamed up with Billy from the Family Circus and they left a dotted line from the crime scene to their hideout.

How To Make Him More Threatening:
Well, the Riddler is a pretty established Batman villain, so it's too late to change his name. They could just take the other meaning of the word, though, and have him be renowned for riddling people with bullet holes. It's probably a tad more terrifying to expect someone to turn you into a human sieve than to expect someone to tell you they've taken the loot to a place that rhymes with "the bubandoned potomobile hactory."

#6. The Ventriloquist and Scarface from Batman

Threat Issues:
Arnold Wesker is a ventriloquist with what the DSM-IV classifies as dissociative identity disorder (DID)-formerly called multiple personality disorder (MPD). It's not villainous so much as sad, really. The real tragedy is that this character helps perpetuate the stereotype that those with DID/MPD are vicious serial killers, when in actuality, very few of us actually succeed in our murders, due to poor teamwork between personalities.

Wesker is a mild-mannered fellow who speaks mainly through his puppet and alter ego, Scarface. This is the 1920s gangster kind of Scarface, who wields a "gatt" and talks about "icing" the "broad" or "dame." Back when he was first introduced (1988) this might have been considered scary and contemporary, but now seems dated.

Scarface is vulnerable to pretty much everything when he's not on Wesker's hand--fire, cars, small children--and has been destroyed by nearly every means possible in the Batman animated cartoons, including a ventilation fan and several trains.

In case you're noticing a trend here... yeah, five of the eight villains are from Batman. There are actually a few good reasons for that: First, if you step to Batman, he' going to fucking end you. None of this dropping Lex Luther off in prison so he can escape for the sequel bullshit. Batman needed more villains because he killed more of them.

Also, while he may be awesome, the Caped Crusader is sort of a downer. He barely talks, lives in a cave, and dresses in black. DC Comics has always relied on a steady stream of eccentric villains to provide a splash of color to Gotham. Before they ran out of ideas that splash of color came in the form of the Joker, and after they ran out it came in the form of a fucking hand-puppet.

How To Make Him More Threatening:
There's three problems that need to be addressed: Addressing the negative portrayal of DID/MPD; updating Scarface's personality to be more relevant and threatening; and Scarface's vulnerability as an inanimate object.

First of all, one of these Scarfaces would do admirably:

The only solution to the other two problems is to drop the ventriloquism part entirely, so that Wesker is actually holding a live human Tony Montana on his hand. Take an already-psychotic Al Pacino and ram a huge hand up his rectum ... there will be no survivors.

#5. The Slug from Captain America

Threat Issues:
The Slug is a crime lord who is very, very fat. If you were waiting to find out what his power is, you can stop reading now, that's it. He can apparently kill people by suffocating them in the folds of his fat. But, you know what? You can drown someone in a bowl of water, too. Either way, it is pointlessly contrived and would require a lot of henchman power.

Helping to highlight his lack of scariness is his name. Above you can see a picture of The Slug and a pair of banana slugs. Which is scarier? Which one would someone have to pay you more money to touch? Assume The Slug is clothed for the purposes of this exercise.

Those banana slugs are maybe 4-inches long and already have a history of sending people scurrying to the corner in fear, whereas very fat people have a history of being pointed at and laughed at in sideshows. In a fairer pound-by-pound comparison, a giant banana slug of the same mass as The Slug-or a giant mass of writhing slugs the same volume as The Slug-would be exponentially more frightening than some guy who can't even reach his own neck, let alone yours.

How To Make Him More Threatening:
We've made it pretty clear that slugs themselves can be rather frightening with the right treatment. If The Slug had been bitten by a radioactive slug, had gotten into a teleporter mix up with a slug, or had been injected with some kind of supersoldier formula based on slug slime, he might have turned into some giant slug-like monstrosity with, say, poisonous slime or something.

Or, keep the same guy and just give him the ability to eat people.

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