Dark Reign

Take 10: Evil Alliances

To get in the mood for Dark Reign, the Secret Cabal picks their favorite gatherings of bad guys!

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Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. In case you missed the memo, a Dark Reign has fallen over the Marvel Universe, and Norman Osborn, along with a few of his closest friends, have taken the wheel. Indeed, with Dr. Doom, Loki, Emma Frost, Namor and the Hood at his side, Norman may have gathered the most awe-inspiring assemblage of evil we've ever seen. However, to put that theory to the test, the Secret Cabal decided to conduct a refreshed course in bad guy groupings this week, naming the 10 most diabolical Marvel villain teams they've ever cringed at. For each team you get the quick rundown as well as a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!

10. FREEDOM FORCE First Appearance: UNCANNY X-MEN #199 Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): Mystique, Crimson Commando Notable Members: Avalanche, the Blob, Pyro, Spider-Woman II, Spiral Mission Statement: Ostensibly, Freedom Force served the interests of the United States government as a peacekeeping organization, but their motives were always tinged by the desire to get even with old rivals like the X-Men and the Avengers. Crowning Achievement: In their first mission under government sponsorship, Freedom Force captured their former ally, Magneto, overcoming his then-teammates on the X-Men. (UNCANNY X-MEN #199, 1985; collected in ESSENTIAL X-MEN VOLUME SIX) Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #215—Meet Freedom Force's three unlikeliest new recruits!

9. ZODIAC First Appearance: AVENGERS v1 #72 Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): Taurus I, Aries I, Scorpio I, Libra III Notable Members: Aries II, Gemini I, Libra I, Pisces IV Mission Statement: The various Zodiac cartels have primarily focused on organized crime and amassing financial fortunes. Crowning Achievement: The mysterious third incarnation of Zodiac managed to take advantage of the Avengers having temporarily disbanded to take over New York City, briefly isolating it from the rest of the world, before being thwarted by the reunited trio of Thor, Iron Man and Captain America. (CAPTAIN AMERICA #449, IRON MAN #326, THOR #496, AVENGERS #396; 1996) Spotlight Comic: NEW WARRIORS v3 #4—A new Zodiac gives the fledgling New Warriors their first serious challenge!

8. THE MUTANT LIBERATION FRONT First Appearance: NEW MUTANTS #86 Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): Stryfe, Reignfire Notable Members: Forearm, Reaper, Tempo, Wildside, Rusty, Skids, Feral, Zero, Moonstar Mission Statement: The MLF took the pro-mutant/anti-human beliefs espoused by Magneto and others to a new level and enforced their agenda with pro-active terrorism and violent acts of anarchy. Crowning Achievement: In their first appearance, the MLF managed to overcome the opposition of Cable en route to freeing New Mutants members Skids and Rusty from the clutches of Freedom Force, forcefully recruiting the former recruiting the young heroes onto the team via mind control implants. (NEW MUTANTS #87, 1990; collected in CABLE CLASSIC VOLUME ONE) Spotlight Comic: NEW MUTANTS #87—Cables fights to keep Rusty and Skids out of the clutches of the MLF!

7. THE MARAUDERS First Appearance: UNCANNY X-MEN #210 Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): Mr. Sinister, Scalphunter, Mystique Notable Members: Malice, Sabretooth, Gambit, Lady Mastermind, Sunfire Mission Statement: Though ostensibly a team of mercenaries, in reality, the Marauders exist to enforce whatever agenda their founder, Mr. Sinister, places in front of them. Crowning Achievement: Under the direction of Sinister, the original Marauders slaughtered the bulk of the Morlock population in the event dubbed the "Mutant Massacre," also dealing serious injuries to Colossus, Nightcrawler and Shadowcat in the process. (UNCANNY X-MEN #210-213, X-FACTOR v1 #9-11, THOR #373-374, NEW MUTANTS #46, POWER PACK #27; 1986; collected in X-MEN: MUTANT MASSACRE) Spotlight Comic: X-MEN v2 #203—Sinister re-assembles the Marauders as the countdown to "Messiah CompleX" ticks down!

6. THE SERPENT SOCIETY First Appearance: CAPTAIN AMERICA #310 (1985) Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): Viper I, Viper II, Sidewinder, King Cobra Notable Members: Anaconda, Black Mamba, Bushmaster, Cottonmouth, Death Adder, Diamondback, Princess Python, Mission Statement: The aims of the Serpent Society and its various offshoots have ranged from acts of nihilistic terrorism to mercenary work to forming a sort of super villain union to provide its members with safe haven. Crowning Achievement: Shortly after Sidewinder converted the Serpent Squad into the Serpent Society, they took on and seemingly completed a contract from A.I.M. to kill M.O.D.O.K., establishing their reputation as top notch guns for hire right out of the gate. (CAPTAIN AMERICA #313, 1986) Spotlight Comic: CABLE & DEADPOOL #20—The Serpent Society's B.A.D. Girls run up against Deadpool during a heist!

5. THE WRECKING CREW First Appearance: DEFENDERS v1 #17 (1974) Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): The Wrecker Notable Members: Bulldozer, Piledriver, Thunderball Mission Statement: While the Wrecking Crew have sometimes pursued personal grudges against Thor, the Avengers and others, their motivation for the most part lies in the acquisition of wealth and power. Crowning Achievement: During the Masters of Evil's siege on Avengers Mansion, the Wrecking Crew beat Hercules into a coma. (AVENGERS #270-277, 1986-1987; collected in AVENGERS: UNDER SIEGE) Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS v3 #16—The Wrecking Crew conquers the kingdom of Arkon!

4. THE HELLFIRE CLUB First Appearance: X-MEN v1 #122 (1979) Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): Sebastian Shaw, Magneto, Shinobi Shaw, Selene, Sunspot Notable Members: Emma Frost, Donald Pierce, Mastermind, Tessa, Phoenix, Storm Mission Statement: A group of the wealthy elite whose Inner Circle often includes several mutants, the Hellfire Club mostly pursues their own perverse pleasure and debauchery, but individual members have been known to make power plays that bring them into conflict with the X-Men and their ilk. Crowning Achievement: During a period when Mastermind sat in the Inner Circle in his Jason Wyngarde guise, he corrupted Phoenix into temporarily becoming the Black Queen while his Club allies soundly defeated the X-Men. (X-MEN v1 #132-134, 1980; collected in X-MEN: THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA) Spotlight Comic: X-MEN v1 #133—Wolverine battles alone against the entire Hellfire Club!

3. THE SINISTER SIX First Appearance: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 (1964) Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): Dr. Octopus Notable Members: Electro, Kraven, Mysterio, the Sandman, the Vulture, Hobgoblin II Mission Statement: Unable to defeat Spider-Man on their own, several of the Wallcrawler's enemies have periodically banded together, hoping to take out their hated foe. Crowning Achievement: After years apart, the Sinister Six regrouped—with Hobgoblin replaced the deceased Kraven in their lineup—and failed in their larger plans to take over the world and destroy Spider-Man, but did somewhat unintentionally cause the death of May Parker's fiancé, Nathan Lubensky (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #334-339, 1990; collected in SPIDER-MAN: RETURN OF THE SINISTER SIX) Spotlight Comic: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1—The Sinister Six band together for the very first time!

2. THE BROTHERHOOD OF (EVIL) MUTANTS First Appearance: X-MEN v1 #4 (1964) Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): Magneto, Mystique, Toad, Exodus Notable Members: Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, the Blob, Avalanche, Pyro, Rogue, Mimic, Post, Sabretooth Mission Statement: Magneto gathered the first Brotherhood primarily to further his aggressive views on mutant rights and human subjugation. Some subsequent incarnations have attempted to further this vision, but others have veered more towards being a terrorist group and coveting nothing short of world domination. Crowning Achievement: One of Mystique's Brotherhood teams succeeded in setting into motion events that led to the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly while Mystique herself killed longtime X-Men ally Moira MacTaggert. (UNCANNY X-MEN #388, CABLE #87, BISHOP #18, X-MEN v2 #108; 2000; collected in X-MEN: DREAM'S END) Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS ANNUAL #10—Mystique's Brotherhood and their newest member, Rogue, clash with the Avengers!

1. THE MASTERS OF EVIL First Appearance: AVENGERS v1 #6 (1964) Learn More About Them…here Leader(s): Baron Zemo, Ultron, Egghead, Baron Zemo II, Dr. Octopus, Crimson Cowl II Notable Members: Radioactive Man, Klaw, Whirlwind, the Beetle, Moonstone, Goliath II, Blackout, the Fixer, Mr. Hyde, Screaming Mimi, the Wrecking Crew Mission Statement: Team of villains founded by the first Baron Zemo with the goal of destroying the Avengers. While some iterations of the group have made bids for power without personal grudges involved, most have carried on that original intent. Crowning Achievement: Under the leadership of Baron Zemo II, the largest ever Masters of Evil team succeeds in taking over—and destroying—Avengers Mansion, badly injuring Hercules and Jarvis in the process and nearly devastating the Avengers to the point of submission. (AVENGERS #270-277, 1986-1987; collected in AVENGERS: UNDER SIEGE) Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS v1 #15—The final battle between the Avengers and the original Masters of Evil! Check out the official Marvel Shop for the best mighty Marvel merchandise!

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