Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Web of Woeful Spider-Man Foes

Speaking of Backwards Men, DROM, THE BACKWARDS MAN makes for a better sci-fi short story subject than a super-villain. For reasons unknown, Drom's infant self was swapped with his elderly body moments after birth, leading to a backwards-speaking, backwards-aging supervillain, who basically only had life-energy draining powers at his disposal and an arsenal consisting of special machinery to translate his gibberish and to process his food. He also has a magic mirror that does nothing save be utterly essential to Drom's survival, and extremely easy to smash, in that order. Which, given this is Marvel Team-Up, and not Antique Mirror Fancier it eventually, inevitably, is. The most forgettable villain in Spidey's history is literally forgotten after he devolves to infancy, then nothingness. Drom's first and only appearance was in Marvel Team-Up #13.

Who started out as a henchman for the Kingpin? Who does kingpin still consider his worst henchman ever, even worse than Turk? Who was given his powers by ubiquitous Marvel Universe Mad Scientist Dr.Harlan Stillwell? Who was genetically engineered to spontaneously generate whatever superpower he needed to deal with a given situation? Who squandered that awesome power being the lamest most generic villain ever? Who has a giant white phallic symbol pointing at his groin? Who has a girly wee tassle atop his pointy purple head? Who should NOT be allowed to dress himself ever, ever again?? Who is a response to a question no one asked?? THE ANSWER, that's who!

Speaking of which, answers were in short supply during the much-reviled FACADE "saga" in which much was made of the identity of the armored mystery man. Longtime Peter Parker rival Lance Bannon was killed by Facade, and an elaborate mystery was built around his identity, with suspects ranging from J. Jonah Jameson, to John Jameson, to some business guy nobodies introduced during the story's beginning. It doesn't matter, because Spider-Man fought Facade, the armor was destroyed, and a shadowy figure slipped away, vowing to return. The mystery of Facade was never solved and never addressed again, with the infamous Clone Saga taking over the Spider Man spotlight soon after. Who knows, maybe Facade was another Spider-Man clone, lowering the bar for the clone suckage to come.



LurkerWithout said...

Facade's secret identity? Why it was none other than lil' Normie Osborne. Sure he was only 9 at the time, but the kid had some hate in him. Hate for people who didn't acknowledge that the world only needs ONE Bannon and thats RACE BANNON...

And now you know..the REST of the story...

Bill said...

Sure, there have been some bad Spider-Man villains, but in general Spidey's bad guys have been an interesting lot. I think it is more interesting to think about the characters who have no signature villains, or whose signature villains have outlived their usefulness. When Iron Man was a symbol of capitalism's superiority, for example, his chief bad guy was the Mandarin. The fact that the Mandarin was, pretty much by definition, not a Commie, was overlooked because he had cool weapons. He was Chinese, that was good enough. After that plot line dried up Iron Man was pretty much left with fighting other guys in armored suits and/or capitalists who were more capitalist than Stark was prepared to be.

Captain America fared somewhat better. The Red Skull was certainly his all-time best nemesis, but he's gone up against a pretty colorful group all in all. Interestingly, other than the Skull Cap's most interesting foes have not been ideologically based.

The Hulk has gone through a series of interesting sorts of opponents, as befits the character that probably is the strongest there is. First there was Thunderbolt Ross, and the rest of the US Army. This was cool, because it made the Hulk seem like a hippie, and because Bruce Banner was dating Ross' daughter. Way to stick it to the man! The Hulk also had the Leader, the first in a series of characters that got a better break from gamma rays than he did. And of course the Hulk dukes it out with everybody else, because he's the strongest there is, and can kick anybody's ass.

Or consider DC. I can't think of a single interesting Green Lantern bad guy. Star Sapphire is Hal Jordan's girlfriend, but not in an interesting Catwoman way. Sinestro? Too sibilant, and also lame. In contrast, the Flash had a rouge's gallery that is rivaled only by Batman's.

Nik said...

Ah yes, The Answer, represent!!