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 a world where bad guys already rule the roost, it takes a lot for a villain to get noticed as one of the very best-or worst-in their field, but plenty of ne'er-do-wells still managed to distinguish themselves in 2009.
Whether they were subverting the system, working outside it, or just watching everything burn, check out the 10 criminals and cutthroats the Secret Cabal feel performed most ruthlessly over the past year.
For each fight 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!
First Appearance: THOR #129 (1966)
Why She Makes the List: The Greek pantheon of gods have always been a notoriously rash and vindictive group, perhaps none more so than their queen, Hera, as she proved once again this past year. Zeus' widow bided her time building elaborate plans to ensnare her wayward children, Hercules and Athena, going to far as to extend an olive branch to Norman Osborn as she prepared to launch a mysterious product called Continuum. Turns out Continuum will actually end our entire universe in order to pave the way for Hera to create a new, "better" one, and with unstable but powerful allies like Typhon backing her play, Hera may have unleashed more than even she can handle.
Spotlight Comic: INCREDIBLE HERCULES #127-Hera makes a dark pact with Norman Osborn!
First Appearance: UNCANNY X-MEN #282 (1991)
Why He Makes the List: Even further removed from his days as a member in good standing of the X-Men, Bishop became even more ruthless in his pursuit of Cable and assassination attempts on the young would-be mutant messiah, Hope. This year, the time-hopper went so far as to forge alliances with the likes of Stryfe and the Brood to further his own agenda, while continuing to mow through any innocents unfortunate enough to stand in the way of his goal. Though Bishop believes his ends justify the means, we can't help but wonder how he'll be able to look himself in the mirror-particularly now that he's missing an eye-when all is said and done.
Spotlight Comic: CABLE #2 (2008)-Bishop's hunt for Cable and the baby under his protection yields violent results!
First Appearance: TALES OF SUSPENSE #93 (1967)
Why He Makes the List: While his role in 2009 consisted primarily of behind-the-scenes puppet master, our favorite big-headed bad boy stepped out of the shadows and into a renewed spotlight towards the end of the year, revealing himself as the author of many woes plaguing The Hulk and his "family" in recent times. It was M.O.D.O.K. who stripped Bruce Banner of his ability to become The Hulk when the world may actually need it for salvation and helped further the schemes of his Intelligencia allies, plans that promise dire consequences for not only the gamma set, but also Marvel's best and brightest thinkers in the times ahead.
Spotlight Comic: TALES OF SUSPENSE #94-Captain America meets M.O.D.O.K.!
First Appearance: NEW MUTANTS #9 (1983)
Why She Makes the List: You don't expect somebody with a laundry list of sins as long as the one-time Black Queen to stop at much of anything to get what she wants, but she crossed yet another line this year in her eternal war with the X-Men by raising their cherished-and hated-dead and forcing them into servitude. Former allies like Banshee, Cypher and Caliban as well as fallen foes such as Proteus and the Hellions all menaced the Children of the Atom anew as the danced to Selene's deadly serenade. In her coup de grace, the raven-haired immortal seductress raised the entire island of Genosha, rechristening it Necrosha and building a new kingdom for herself on the fallen bodies of its former citizens.
Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #189-The Black Queen torments Magma and Rachel Summers!
First Appearance: DAREDEVIL #131 (1976) (As Bullseye); DARK AVENGERS #1 (2009) (As Hawkeye)
Why He Makes the List: Most members of Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers at least made some attempt to let the public believe them heroes-though in cases like Daken and Venom, the effort exerted was minimal at best-but not so much for the former Bullseye, who currently wears the cowl of Hawkeye. Never even in contention for any sort of sanity awards, the master marksman went on more than one after-hours killing spree during his year as one of Earth's Mightiest "Heroes," forcing Osborn's spin team to work overtime. In probably his most unforgivable act of the year-and for Bullseye, that's always saying something-he blew up entire blocks in the middle of New York City, causing a huge death toll, just to get Daredevil's attention.
Spotlight Comic: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #572-Bullseye battles Spider-Man!
5. DOCTOR DOOM
First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #5 (1962)
Why He Makes the List: It was the best of times and worst of times for Victor Von Doom in 2009, as the not-so-good Doctor spread himself thin and came up with quite a few wins to his bad name. Though he was forced to ally with and even rescue the hated Fantastic Four, Doom did manage to prove himself in battle against his one-time mentor and salvage his rule over Latveria in the process. The malevolent monarch also managed to lure The Black Panther into a trap and nearly kill the usually prescient T'Challa, setting up grand plans for an invasion of Wakanda in the near future. And in perhaps his most depraved act of the year, Doom dissected numerous Asgardians, including children and the elderly, to construct improved Doombots and unleash them on their own people. While his alliances with Namor and Norman Osborn may have crumbled, Doctor Doom kept himself a force to be reckoned with.
Spotlight Comic: DAREDEVIL #37 (1968)-Doctor Doom against Daredevil!
4. THE RED SKULL
First Appearance: CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 (1941)
Why He Makes the List: They say you can't keep a good man down, and this year the Red Skull proved the same case can be made for an utter scumbag. Despite his physical form being destroyed by Bucky Barnes and Sharon Carter, the Skull survived in a robotic body and continued to torture the people his deceased nemesis Steve Rogers cared about most. But as it turns out, the Skull had deemed death too easy a sentence for the original Captain America, revealing that he had in fact sent Rogers careening through time to relive tragic events in his life over and over. In the ultimate insult, the Skull plucked his foe's body from the timestream and attempted to inhabit it, planning to kill the new Captain America with his mentor's form, but Rogers' will proved too strong and his Nazi opponent seemingly met his demise once more...for now.
Spotlight Comic: CAPTAIN AMERICA #101-The Red Skull unleashes the Sleeper!
3. THE HOOD
First Appearance: THE HOOD #1 (2002)
Why He Makes the List: Even after his tremendous rise to power as the Kingpin of Super Villains, it turned out Parker Robbins had even more untapped potential, promise that Norman Osborn helped to unlock when he invited The Hood to join his Cabal. With Osborn backing him, The Hood made business better than ever for the costumed baddies under his charge, letting them have their run of New York City and erasing the concept of consequences for misdeed. He also assumed co-command of the Initiative with Taskmaster, subverting what was supposed to be a training ground for the heroes of tomorrow into a garden where new rogues could be harvested, and brought The Punisher's family back from beyond the grave to drive him over the edge. All the while, Parker continued to attempt to keep his private life with his girlfriend and daughter separate from his criminal empire, but also kept up a romantic affair with one of his trusted lieutenants, Madame Masque-truly a great guy to bring home to Mom and Dad.
Spotlight Comic: TEXT-The Hood vs Wolverine!
2. NORMAN OSBORN
First Appearance: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #14 (1964)
Why He Makes the List: When 2008 ended, Norman Osborn stood on the precipice of dominating the Marvel Universe; in 2009, he stepped into his Dark Reign and fully embraced it. At last the former Green Goblin achieved his dreams of lording over an entire nation, driving his enemies into exile and enjoying the spoils of victory, yet he continued to strive for more sinister accomplishments. As the Iron
Spotlight Comic: THUNDERBOLTS #110-Norman Osborn assumes control of the Thunderbolts!
First Appearance: JOURNEY INTO MYSTRY #85 (1966)
Why He Makes the List: While Norman Osborn, Doctor Doom and the rest played their political games, amassing power and looking for their next conquest, Loki sat above them all, laughing as he manipulated the world's most powerful men and women for the sake of mischief and evil, nothing more. Despite ostensibly only being a member of Osborn's Cabal, Loki would subtly influence the erstwhile Iron
Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS #1 (1963)-Loki inadvertently triggers the formation of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers!
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