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Take 10

Take 10: Top Villains of 2008

The baddest bad guys to menace the Marvel Universe in the past year

Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. The lines between good and evil in the Marvel Universe blurred like never before in 2008. With the Secret Invasion threatening all of Earth, heroes and villains united in a common struggle for survival. But that didn't stop the bad guys from taking their shots when the good guys' back were turned. This week, the Secret Cabal counts down the nastiest villains to cast their own dark reigns over the Marvel U in 2008. And make sure to follow all the way to the bottom of the page as we proudly present the the Take 10 Video Countdown! 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!

10. THE MARAUDERS Where They Showed Up: Messiah CompleX Learn More...here Why They Make the List: Serving as the spoilers of "Messiah CompleX," the Marauders nearly succeeded in distracting the X-Men while Sinister seized the day and came close to claiming casualties in their latest mutant massacre. Though scattered to every corner of the Marvel Universe following their leader's death, this team of thugs and butchers left their fair share of scars and bruises on their opponents before calling it a day. They've been down and out before, so don't bet against the Marauders rising once more in 2009. Biggest Move of the Year: During their final melee with X-Force, the Marauders tallied the following: Scalphunter shot Wolverine in the eye, Arclight nearly killed Wolfsbane and Scrambler distracts the X-23 long enough for Bishop to get the drop on Cable. Spotlight Comic: X-MEN: LEGACY #208-The fate of Professor X falls to what remains of the Marauders and Acolytes!

9. MR. FEAR Where He Showed Up: DAREDEVIL Learn More...here Why He Makes the List: Mr. Fear joins an elite list that includes the Kingpin, Bullseye and Typhoid Mary as the latest villain to make Daredevil's life a living hell and leave a lasting nasty impression on the Man (supposedly) Without Fear. Rather than attack his enemy head-on, Fear struck at Matt Murdock via his wife Milla, drugging the blind woman and causing her to attempt homicide before driving her utterly insane. Even after Daredevil apprehended the man who had spent months tormenting him, Fear got the last laugh behind bars, as a catatonic Milla was committed to a mental institution and he used his new powers to bend his captors and fellow inmates to his will, ensuring a most pleasant incarceration. Biggest Move of the Year: Even after Daredevil tracked and defeated him, the smug Mr. Fear taunted his attacker, reminding him that all hope for a cure to Milla's condition lay with him, meaning no matter how much he wanted to, Murdock could never kill his tormentor. Spotlight Comic: DAREDEVIL (1998) #103-Mr. Fear gets caught between an angry Daredevil and a territorial Hood!

8. MYSTIQUE Where She Showed Up: WOLVERINE, X-MEN: MANIFEST DESTINY Learn More...here Why She Makes the List: Always one of the X-Men's most complex foes, Mystique seemed to lose all composure in the wake of "Messiah CompleX" and her failed attempt to reconcile with estranged daughter Rogue. She led Wolverine on a wild hunt through the Middle East, stopping at nothing to escape punishment at his hands for her betrayal of the X-Men. She crashed back into the life of her former lover, Iceman, and attempted to kill him via various means. When she is running a game and using her cunning, Mystique is a deadly viper who can manipulate those around her to any number of ends. However, could the shape-shifter be even more dangerous with no goal to fuel her save for destruction? Biggest Move of the Year: In Afghanistan, Mystique assumes Wolverine's form and kills a young local girl, spurring an entire village to hunt and gun down her pursuer! Spotlight Comic: X-MEN: MESSIAH COMPLEX #1-Mystique's treachery against the X-Men ignites the events of Messiah CompleX!

7. BISHOP Where He Showed Up: CABLE Learn More...here Why He Makes the List: In 2008, Bishop turned his back on the X-Men and every ally he has made since arriving in this era due to his single-minded belief that the newborn "Messiah Child" will bring about mutantkind's destruction. He lied to his supposed friends, discarded any notion of protecting innocent life and sacrificed his own body as he pursued Cable forward in time, dead set on ending the young life of the girl his former team had fought to save. And could Bishop be right? Could he actually be the good guy in this scenario? He better hope so, because if not, he just threw away everything that ever mattered to him-morals included-on a wild goose chase. Biggest Move of the Year: When Professor X places himself in between Bishop and his prey-Cable and the Messiah Child-the mutant soldier from the future shoots his one-time mentor point blank through the skull, seemingly killing him! Spotlight Comic: CABLE (2008) #1-Bishop hunts Cable to the ends of the earth and throughout time, intent on killing the Messiah baby!

6. LOKI Where "She" Showed Up: THOR Learn More...here Why "She" Makes the List: For those who thought being a member of the fairer sex would make Loki more...well...fair-think again. True to his/her nature as a trickster, Loki made no outward aggressive actions towards Thor or Asgard in 2008, choosing instead to ingratiate his/herself to the God of Thunder while moving the knife ever closer to his back. Loki sewed the seeds of distrust between brothers under the guise of providing guidance, revealing Balder's true parentage as a son of Odin and dividing the throne of Asgard. While this feint garnered the attention of Thor and his allies, Loki continued his/her machinations elsewhere, manipulating the strands of his own past and forming alliances with the likes of Norman Osborn and Dr. Doom. The fact that Loki has not made an overt play for power since his/her resurrection yet continues to sport an evil grin means the worst is yet to come. Biggest Move of the Year: While meeting with the dread Hela, Loki revealed that the new body his spirit inhabits belongs to none other than Sif, Thor's true Asgardian love, who herself lies imprisoned within an aging mortal shell! Spotlight Comic: THOR (1966) #366-Loki transforms Thor into the "Frog of Thunder" in this classic tale!

5. EZEKIEL STANE Where He Showed Up: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN Why He Makes the List: The new face of terrorism in the Marvel Universe, Ezekiel Stane presented Iron Man with a challenge unlike any he had ever faced before, forcing the Armored Avengers to adapt or become obsolete. Dually driven by desiring revenge for his father's death in battle with Iron Man and a love of anarchy, the young Stane used his genius to direct suicide bombings and other attacks aimed at dismantling the personal and professional life of Tony Stark. Striking at his foe through S.H.I.E.L.D., Stark Industries and those he loved, including longtime aid Pepper Potts, Ezekiel nearly succeeded and was brought down only by his own arrogance and impetuousness. Biggest Move of the Year: Prior to his final battle with Iron Man, Ezekiel bluffs Stark and his allies with strategically placed bombs at various Stark Industries locations. Though Stark would ultimately win the day, Stane would demolish the Long Island home base of his foe's company in the process. Spotlight Comic: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1-Ezekiel Stane makes his first strikes against Iron Man and Tony Stark!

4. THE RED SKULL Where He Showed Up: CAPTAIN AMERICA Learn More...here Why He Makes the List: How do you top murdering your greatest enemy? If you're the Red Skull, you continue to strike out at everything your fallen foe held dear, including his friends, his lover and the country he spent his life serving. In 2008, the Skull inflicted mental and physical torture on Sharon Carter, attempted to revert Bucky Barnes to his former state as the Winter Soldier, and insinuated his pawns into the U.S. government, hoping to destabilize the American economy and topple the nation Captain America fought tirelessly for in one of his most elaborate schemes ever. A combination of an unexpected new Cap emerging from his attempts to destroy Bucky and his ally Dr. Faustus proving less than totally reliable ultimately undid the Skull, but recent history has shown us that nothing keeps this madman down for long. Biggest Move of the Year: Using drugged water and brainwashed S.H.I.E.L.D. troops to incite a riot outside the White House, the Red Skull orchestrates the chaos and has his own Kronas security troops resolve the issue, discrediting his rivals and elevating the status of his puppet, politician Gordon Wright in the process. Spotlight Comic: CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #37-The Red Skull kicks his ultimate plan to strike at the heart of America into its final phase!

3. THE HOOD Where He Showed Up: NEW AVENGERS, SECRET INVASION Learn More...here Why He Makes the List: The Hood had some big boasts to back up in 2008, and while he may not have batted 1000, he knocked more than a few out of the park. The would-be kingpin of super villains proved his sales pitch was no joke, helping Jigsaw gain revenge on Tigra, liberating Madame Masque and others from S.H.I.E.L.D. captivity, and generally proving to veteran baddies like the Wizard and Wrecking Crew that they weren't making a mistake following the new kid on the block. The Hood refused to let ambushes by the Avengers derail him, leading his army into Secret Invasion to provide support the heroes would never admit they needed, and earning a seat at the table of Norman Osborn's Cabal by year's end. Few Marvel villains are as self-motivated, as scrappy, and as flat out successful as the Hood. Biggest Move of the Year: Not allowing an attack on his headquarters by the New Avengers and the incarceration of many of his lieutenants to set him back, the Hood regrouped and attacked Earth's Mightiest Heroes where they lived, striking at Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum. While he didn't finish them off for good, the Hood did cost the Avengers a place to live in safety as well as the services of a Sorcerer Supreme. Spotlight Comic: NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #2-The Hood commands his army in their final showdown against the New Avengers!

2. THE SKRULLS Where They Showed Up: SECRET INVASION, NEW AVENGERS, MIGHTY AVENGERS, various Secret Invasion tie-ins Learn More...here Why They Make the List: Nobody in the Marvel Universe-hero, villain or otherwise-could escape the insidious reach of the Skrulls in 2008. Years of planning came to fruition for the sinister shape-shifters who, under the leadership of their queen, Veranke, came as close to conquering Earth as any alien invasion ever has. While they ultimately did not prevail and accomplish their lofty goals, the Skrulls and their wide net of sleeper agents did manage to cultivate an atmosphere of distrust that will linger long after the debris has been cleared. Teammates, friends and lovers turned against one another; heroes lost years of their lives; and a founding member of the Avengers, the Wasp, fell in final battle. While Earth may not be the new Skrull Throneworld, the significant effects of the Secret Invasion will not soon be forgotten. Biggest Move of the Year: The opening shot fired in Secret Invasion sent a clear message to the Avengers and their ilk that they were dealing with a Skrull invasion like none other. In one fell swoop, S.W.O.R.D. fell, worldwide technology was thrown into chaos, Mr. Fantastic was captured, Iron Man went offline and Earth's Mightiest Heroes were forced to question their very identities-not a bad start. Spotlight Comic: SECRET INVASION #1-Years of Skrull planning come to fruition as the Secret Invasion begins!

1. NORMAN OSBORN Where He Showed Up: THUNDERBOLTS, SECRET INVASION, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Learn More...here Why He Makes the List: Like a worm working its way through an apple's core, Norman Osborn rotted the Marvel Universe from the inside out this year. Taking full advantage of his position as head of the Thunderbolts, Osborn spent 2008 setting up dominos and identifying the weaknesses in his greatest foes while they found themselves distracted, exploiting events like the Skrull invasion to take out his enemies and amass more power. He played the hero in public and decried the failure of true champions like Iron Man even as he murdered, extorted and bullied behind closed doors, resulting in Norman Osborn ending the year as the most powerful man in the Marvel Universe. There is no wolf more dangerous than the one hiding in sheep's clothing-and no villain more simultaneously vile and fascinating at the moment than Norman Osborn. Biggest Move of the Year: Norman scored the kill shot on the Skrull queen Veranke, ending the Secret Invasion and earning the trust of a grateful populace. No sooner did Osborn become America's sweetheart and kick Tony Stark to the curb than he shut a door behind him and informed his newly-assembled Cabal that the rules had just changed big time. Spotlight Comic: THUNDERBOLTS #118-Norman begins to lose it in Thunderbolts Mountain and see green!
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