While the heroes went to war with one another in 2012, their adversaries reaped the rewards.
Skulking in the background, bringing their master plans to fruition, the villains of the Marvel Universe had a huge year. They cost their heroic rivals loved ones, business empires, and in some cases, their lives.
Many times this past year, the bad guys won.
Here’s who we thought had the most evil past 12 months.
This list reflects a vote conducted by members of the Marvel.com editorial staff and should by no means be considered official ranking or representative of anything but their specific tastes
Appeared In: SECRET AVENGERS
2012 in Review: With Father leading the way, this society of sentient machine life fought for their salvation—and humanity’s destruction. They killed Ant-Man and converted him to an LMD, sacrificed one of their own in Max Fury, and finished out the year attempting to wipe out the surface world. What will they do for an encore?
Why They Make the List: It’s hard to classify the Descendants as outright villains, given their goal at the best of times stands simply as survival, but the means they employ simply can’t be excused.
Digital Highlight: SECRET AVENGERS #22—The Avengers encounter the Descendants’ first wave: the Adaptoids!
Appeared In: WOLVERINE, UNCANNY X-FORCE, WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN
2012 in Review: Working in concert with Sabretooth, Mystique helped her on-again off-again lover take control of the Japanese underworld, then joined up with Daken’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, playing a key role in the death of Fantomex and getting Nightcrawler to betray X-Force. With that group seemingly done, she has begun networking once more, recruiting young mutants to her cause.
Why She Makes the List: Shape-shifting would at the outset seem a power designed best for subterfuge, but Mystique has proven that her abilities can be used for so much more. The emotional damage she did to X-Force can be matched by the physical toll she took on Angel.
Digital Highlight: WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #20—Mystique takes on Angel to decide the fate of a new mutant!
2012 in Review: Just for kicks, Cletus Kasady took over a small town in the Midwestern U.S . and made every resident his puppet, turning man against wife and parent against child for his petty amusement. He wiped the floor with the Avengers and nearly drove Spider-Man to his darkest impulses. Later, he would cut a swath of destruction through the Microverse and force the Scarlet Spider to undertake actions he thought he had left in his past.
Why He Makes the List: Carnage brings out the worst in people, as Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider, Venom and the Avengers can call attest. Nobody, be they hero or civilian, comes out of an encounter with this maniac fully intact.
Digital Highlight: CARNAGE USA #3—With the Avengers down, the symbiote cavalry attempts to take down Carnage!
Appeared In: UNCANNY X-FORCE
2012 in Review: Daken and Sabretooth recruited the likes of Mystique, the Shadow King, the Omega Clan and more to make X-Force pay for their recent actions, and made quite a dent in that regard. They murdered Fantomex—though this would prove temporary—tortured Psylocke, nearly got Genesis to embrace his apocalyptic side, and left a permanent scar on Wolverine’s psyche before their run came to an abrupt halt.
Why They Make the List: They may not be the most long-lived incarnation of this group, but their accomplishments listed above, particularly over so short a period, more than speak for themselves. With Mystique still at large, the next iteration of the Brotherhood could easily pick up where this one left off.
Digital Highlight: UNCANNY X-FORCE #31—The Brotherhood tears X-Force apart!
Appeared In: AVENGERS ASSEMBLE
2012 in Review: Thanos made an impactful return to Earth, gathering a powerful new Zodiac, getting his hands on a Cosmic Cube, and, most significantly, utterly outclassing and smacking down the Avengers. He ended up going down in defeat to the combined forces of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy, but you can tell his next move has already been set up.
Why He Makes the List: There’s no question about it: Thanos knows how to make an impression. He barely batted an eyelash taking out both Thor and the Hulk, regarding the likes of Iron Man and Captain America as not even worth his full attention. Even when his plans ultimately seemed to unravel, you got the sense he hardly considered this a setback; that’s pretty creepy.
Digital Highlight: AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #8—The Mad Titan against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!
Appeared In: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
2012 in Review: Several years of planning came to fruition, as the Mandarin revealed he possessed a mental hold over Tony Stark and conscripted him as well as Ezekiel Stane and an army of Iron Man’s enemies into indentured servitude in an attempt to ally further with the alien forces that power his rings. Only the villain’s arrogance and an unholy alliance between Stark and Stane prevented his victory.
Why He Makes the List: The Mandarin proves to be his own worst enemy, as his ego and need for control stopped him when it sure seemed like Iron Man had no shot. His ambitions proved impressive, but the smug satisfaction he took in dominating the wills of his rivals showed he won something significant without ever even reaching his full goal.
Digital Highlight: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #520—The Mandarin brings Tony Stark to his knees!
Appeared In: WOLVERINE, WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, UNCANNY X-FORCE
2012 in Review: Victor Creed returned to the land of the living and wasted no time resuming his blood feud with Wolverine, chasing Logan to Japan, retrieving Romulus from the Darkforce Dimension, and manipulating Daken into his demise. Sabretooth would also take a detour to torture Beast, nearly killing his girlfriend, Abigail Brand, and threatening the Jean Grey School on behalf of the Hellfire Club.
Why He Makes the List: You can’t accuse Sabretooth of not making up for lost time. Barely back from the dead and he’s already gone after Wolverine’s school, dismantled his personal squad in X-Force, and pushed him into killing his son. Creed will stop at nothing in his attempts to drag Logan down to his level, with nobody safe from becoming his pawn or victim along the way.
Digital Highlight: WOLVERINE #311—It’s Logan’s worst nightmare: an army of Sabretooths!
Appeared In: DAKEN: DARK WOLVERINE, UNCANNY X-FORCE
2012 in Review: Giving up on his aspirations to rule the Los Angeles underworld and any pretense of being a hero, Daken returned to New York, where he finally revealed his villainous nature to the trusting Fantastic Four and led his father, Wolverine, on a wild goose chase across the city looking for bombs before vanishing. He would resurface leading the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, attempting to destroy X-Force and push Genesis into becoming the new Apocalypse, forcing the man who gave him life to end his.
Why He Makes the List: We had hope that Daken could leave his dark past behind and find redemption, but that dream went up in smoke. The cruel sadism with which he tortured the FF or taunted Wolverine belied a creature so sick he had the admiration of even Sabretooth. In the end, the saddest thing about Daken would be how he met his end, one more time reflecting on what could have been even as he tainted his father’s soul forever.
Digital Highlight: DAKEN: DARK WOLVERINE #22—The son of Wolverine takes cruel vengeance on his father and the Fantastic Four!
Appeared In: ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES
2012 in Review: The one-time leader of the Fantastic Four stepped forward as the “father” of the City of Tomorrow and its race of genetic “gods,” the Children, responsible for the destruction of Asgard and Thor’s people. For his follow-up, Richards brought the Hulk under his control and then decimated Washington, DC, killing an entire city’s worth of people and toppling the United States government. Only the full force of the Ultimates and Richards’ ex-fiancée, the Invisible Woman, ended his mad dreams.
Why He Makes the List: In the Marvel Universe, Mr. Fantastic has proven himself time and again as one of the greatest minds and purest heroes; he had that same potential in the world of Ultimate Comics, but went a different way. This promising young genius sacrificed all the good he could have done in favor of power and madness, throwing his loved ones away, turning on his people, and committing acts of genocide; Doctor Doom can’t touch the unspeakable acts undertaken by this Reed Richards.
Digital Highlight: ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #9—The horrific plan of the former Mr. Fantastic continues to unfold!
Appeared In: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, AVENGING SPIDER-MAN
2012 in Review: Doc Ock regrouped the Sinister Six for what would seem his ultimate plan, holding the Earth hostage with a weapon powered by the sun itself, but despite besting the Avengers, saw his scheme thwarted by Spider-Man and Silver Sable. However, as it happened, this proved only the opening gambit, with the villain using the final clash to imprint his brain patterns over the wallcrawler’s and ultimately push Peter Parker’s brain into his own dying body, taking over his greatest nemesis and then slaying him all in one fell swoop.
Why He Makes the List: After years of trying, Doctor Octopus not only defeated Spider-Man, he vanquished his hated rival completely and claimed his life as a reward. Ock nearly took over the planet and that proved to be only his opening act! Otto Octavius, the perpetual loser, has now become one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes, with full access to his friends, family, resources and happiness. However, could the lingering influence of Peter Parker push Ock in the direction of good? Could Doctor Octopus end up our favorite hero of 2013?
Digital Highlight: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700—The final battle between Doc Ock and Peter Parker!
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