By Ben Morse
Spider-Man can never catch a break, in or out of costume.
When he's hanging out in his civvies, Peter Parker has to deal with financial hardship and romantic woes, but once he throws on the webs, Spidey needs to worry about an errant pumpkin bomb, mechanical arm or electric blast taking him out for good.
"Brand New Day" in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN has already brought Spider-Man a bevy of new rogues, from the mysterious Menace to the fearsome Freak with more to come. We asked some of the most prominent names to weave the tales of the Web Slinger past and present to check in with their personal favorite villains.
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
STEVE WACKER (Spider-Man editor):
Kraven. The reasons why all come down two things:
First: [artist] Steve Ditko's outstanding all-animal-parts costume would look right at home on "America's Next Top Model" if this were the real world, but with the comic world it fits perfectly with the idea of a man who's mission in life is to hunt wild game.
The second reason all comes down to [writer J.M.] DeMatteis and [artist Mike] Zeck's classic story, "Kraven's Last Hunt." They took a second tier villain and in six issues turned him into one of the greatest characters in Spidey's world. I dare you to read that story and not come out of it a Kraven fan.
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (writer of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN):
I think Doc Ock is the quintessential [Spider-Man villain]. His powers are as oddball as Spidey's [with] the same kind of controlled lunacy about them. Plus there's something about Otto that feels like this is what Peter could have turned into without Uncle Ben in his life.
KAARE ANDREWS (writer and artist of SPIDER-MAN: REIGN):
My favorite of all Spidey villains is the [artist Todd] McFarlane era Venom. It's basically an alien lover who gets jilted when Peter kicks him out of the house so it hooks up with Peter's mortal enemy Eddie Brock and the two of them try to break up Peter and MJ. Don't they know that nothing can break up Peter and MJ...wait a
minute...ummm...anyways…my favorite of all Spidey villains is the McFarlane era Venom.
DAVID MICHELINIE (former writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, co-creator of Venom):
All modesty aside, I'd have to put Venom at the top of the list. It's rare that one gets to create a bad-guy and then have the luxury of developing him/her over a period of years with a great deal of editorial freedom. That was just plain fun.
But if self-serving isn't allowed, I'd have to say I have a soft spot in my heart for Mysterio. Not only was he the villain in the first Spider-Man story I ever read, but he had a unique and intriguing methodology. Plus, that fishbowl for a head was just plain spooky!
AXEL ALONSO (former Spider-Man editor):
Call me crazy, but I've always loved the Rhino. The suit. The low I.Q. The lack of pretense He just runs at things and
knocks 'em down. That's what he does. That's who he is.
MARK BAGLEY (former artist of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN):
Always liked the Rhino. He had such a great look, and was really a lot of fun.
RALPH MACCHIO (former Spider-Man editor):
My favorite Spidey villain—though I love almost all of 'em—would be the Kingpin. What I really like about Mr. Fisk is that he has no super powers, yet he's physically powerful enough to take the web spinner down. The idea of his solid muscle masquerading as fat to throw an opponent off was wonderful. Plus, you had the whole organized crime thing going
for him which was an aspect of the Spider-Man mythos that has always drawn me to it. So, you had this unbeatable combination of a singular figure of immense physical power and supreme cunning against the dangerous organized crime backdrop. Great stuff!
I recall that when I was working on DAREDEVIL and Frank Miller was bringing Wilson Fisk into that mythology I begged Frank to have the Kingpin use his obliterator cane, but Frank didn't listen to me. And that's why he never amounted to anything in this business.
PHIL JIMENEZ (upcoming artist of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
My favorite Spidey bad guys are the elementals—Sandman, Hydro-Man, Electro—the beings that
control, manipulate, or become the elements. I think they're incredibly powerful—look at how cool Sandman was in "Spider-Man 3"—and often underutilized. Think about how dangerous water and electricity really are.
I'm also a big fan of the Lizard for some reason I haven't been able to determine—I think, really, he's just super-fun to draw! And I do love collections of villains, ala the Sinister Six. Because I love villains that think of themselves as "sinister."
TOM DEFALCO (writer of AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL, former writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, former Marvel Editor-In-Chief):
I've always thought that Doctor Octopus was Spider-Man's greatest villain because he's the man that Peter might have become if he hadn't been raised with such a strong
sense of responsibility.
BOB GALE (upcoming writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
I've always been a big fan of the Lizard because his origin was so beautifully motivated—a very clever update to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Curt Connors is a decent but obsessed guy who, in trying to do something worthwhile, turns into something beyond his control. I always liked the fact that he had a family, too. And, having grown up in the 1950's, I've always liked monsters! All of this informs [new villain] Freak who you'll meet in [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #552]—except for the family part!
MARK WAID (writer of HOUSE OF M: SPIDER-MAN):
My favorite? Not the best, not the baddest, not the coolest, but my favorite? The Shocker. I have, and always
will be, oddly entranced by the only comics costume I can ever remember having seen that's brown and yellow. Plus, it's quilted for your comfort.
Yes, all kidding aside, the Shocker is my fave. And, yes, I realize that if I'm not careful, you're going to stop asking me these questions.
GERRY CONWAY (former writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
Any list of my favorites among Spidey's rogue gallery of bad guys would have to include the biggest and baddest, Doc Ock and the Green Goblin, for reasons that are too self-apparent to need repeating; but I also have a soft spot in my heart for the various baddies I introduced, who might not have achieved the same notoriety as Stan [Lee] and Steve's classic creations, but who had, I think, a certain appeal of their own.
Of the ones I created, my favorite would have to be Lonnie Lincoln, aka Tombstone, who made Robbie Robinson's life a living hell during an arc I scripted in the late '80s. I'm also fond of Hammerhead, who was the first villain for Spidey that I created out of whole cloth.
And, of course, my personal rogues gallery wouldn't be complete without mentioning two bad guys who had a critical impact on the Spider-Man legend: the Jackal, who
revived Gwen Stacy and ultimately bequeathed us with the Spider-Man "Clone Saga" and the Punisher, who went on to fame and fortune in his own right.
HUMBERTO RAMOS (former artist of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN):
Does Black Cat count as a villain? If not, I really don't care—she's steamy! [Laughs
MARC GUGGENHEIM (writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
It changes, but these days I'm partial to Kraven. He's a very atypical villain with a really cool history. Somebody really should do something with that cool history one of these days. Hmmm...
TOM BREVOORT (Marvel Executive Editor):
Spidey's got a terrific rogue's gallery in general, but I've always had a soft spot for the Looter, of all people. He had a
great Steve Ditko costume, and he was kind of like the Peter Parker of crime, a lovable loser who lucked into powers while messing around with science but who still couldn't catch a break. Plus he wore a balloon on his back.
ROGER STERN (former writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
I've always thought that the Vulture was Spider-Man's uber-enemy. Sure, Doctor Octopus had his moments, but for me, the Vulture was the greatest of the Lee-Ditko Spider-Villains. Spider-Man versus the Vulture is the ultimate battle of the generations...it's youth and determination versus old age and sneakiness.
TERRY DODSON (former artist of MARVEL KNIGHTS SPIDER-MAN):
The Vulture—"I'm a geriatric but I'm going put on a pair of wings and don a skin tight green suit and fight Spider-Man"—you've gotta admire his chutzpah!
TOM BRENNAN (Spider-Man assistant editor):
Swarm. Who is he? Fritz von Meyer, a Nazi scientist and world expert in toxic poisons, who looted European
Capitalists to fund the research that eventually turned him into a living swarm of bees. Yes, a poison-expert Nazi whose body was made of bees. You don't get more evil than that. Try it. Attila the Hun made out of cockroaches? Pretty evil, but come on—Nazis, poison…bees
?! In a universe full of villains whose points of view you can understand and motives you respect, how great is it to have a guy you couldn't possibly root for under any circumstance?
Swarm, baby. He's where it's at.