My Top Ten Heroes #OBSummer #Books

So the next magnificent miscreant in our repertoire is…wait, what? Heroes? Did I read that right? My Top Ten Heroes? Yes, friends and foes, after all this time pouring over the dastardly deeds of about 50 of my favorite baddies, it’s time to give a brief – and I mean BRIEF – introduction to my all-time favorite do-gooders.

But you know I’m not doing that nonsense here, right? Oh no! As part of the Orangeberry Summer Splash, the good folks over at WeFancyBooks are hosting my first ever Top Ten Heroes list. Swing by and pay them a visit!

Festival of Fiendishness Day 4: GREEN GOBLIN

I’m back from my hiatus of inconsistency where I moved, got sick, tore up my knee (and today got an MRI in super sexy disposable shorts) and my lil Honey Badger turned 10. I had a couple things going on. And yeah, I missed a few posts (why you bringing up old shit?). But Here I Am To Save the Day! And give you your daily dose of deviousness with today’s installment: the Green Goblin.

You all know I’m a Spiderman fan, right? I dig ol Webhead—always have, always will (though I’m a little skeptical of this reboot that’s coming and REALLY not feeling the Lizard). The thing you have to remember about Spidey is that when he started, he was a kid. Peter Parker was a teenager and a socially inept one at that who got a taste of powers and decided to jump into the superhero fray. But he was a kid—that meant he was sloppy at his heroism, was horribly overwhelmed by the pushback from the Daily Bugle and the very citizens he tried to protect, and was woefully unprepared for the evil in his villains.

And he got the Green Goblin.

Whether you read the comics (and I know 8 of you did) or watched the movies, Norman Osborne is the head of Osborn Industries and the father of Peter Parker’s highschool classmate (and good friend in the movies), Harry Osborne. Osborne Industries makes a serum that makes you faster, stronger, smarter. Sounds fantastic and Norman gets a dose. Unfortunately, this serum comes with a couple teensy weensy side effects in the fine print: you become an insane villainous megalomaniac with multiple personalities and a snazzy green and purple suit (what’s up with the villains wearing green and purple? Green Goblin, Joker, Dr. Doom—is it an outfit? A uniform?)

Anyway, Gobby’s on the street with pumpkin bombs and razor-bat things and a shiny glider and causing mayhem and destruction. And here comes Spiderman. They do their usual cat-and-mouse, “curses, foiled again,” “damn I almost had him but he slipped away” dance and it makes for good comics. Until the Goblin takes things to another level. He screws up Spidey’s spider-sense, follows him, and SHOWS UP AT PETER PARKER’S HOUSE. Do you hear this? My man’s father is secretly a masked supervillain and he figures out who Peter Parker really is and shows up as the Green Goblin. This isn’t funny anymore. Now it’s personal.

But it gets better. Or worse. Depending on how you look at it.

Peter Parker is dating Gwen Stacy, right? That’s his college sweetheart. What does Normie do? Tracks her down, seduces her, gets her pregnant. Then, knowing that Peter and Gwen are dating and Norman Osborne tagging his woman is not humiliating enough, the Green Goblin has to humiliate Spiderman too. So he takes Gwen prisoner, drags her to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge. And throws her off. You remember that scene in Spiderman (the movie) where a Willem Dafoe in a raggedy Green Goblin costume takes Mary Jane (played by raggedy Kirsten Dunst) to the bridge and tosses her off and Spiderman saves the day? Yeah, that shit didn’t actually happen. Instead, when Gobby throws Gwen off the bridge, Spidey does catch her with his webbing AND BREAKS HER NECK! He kills her! In the comic, the whiplash from being stopped so short by Spiderman’s web causes Gwen to die.

I don’t know about you but killing the person you’re trying to save doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in your super-heroing skills. Killing your girlfriend, well, that just puts Pete into Scott Petersen territory. Spidey cannot win. Yeah he goes on to be a pretty fantastic superhero but you know he’s scared of himself. Doesn’t trust his own capabilities. Lives the rest of his life looking over his shoulder—as both Peter Parker and Spiderman.

There is a saying you hear in every gangster movie: “It’s business; it isn’t personal.” This was some personal shit. The Green Goblin found Spidey’s girl, had an affair with, threw her off a bridge and had the hero kill her. It doesn’t get much more personal than that.

And that, my friends, is why the Green Goblin is awesome. Tune in tomorrow for the scariest dude in a jumpsuit and the father of the slasher flick: Michael Myers!

Celebration of Wickedness Day 27: MAGNETO #atozchallenge

Hey hey hey everybody! Welcome back to another installment of the Celebration of Wickedness, the place where you can finally admit your love for the darker side of life. It’s ok; you can be yourself. We’re all friends here. Gather round. Today, we’re looking at the arch-nemesis of the X-Men, the Master of Magnetism himself, Magneto!

Have you ever seen this guy? Magneto can manipulate one of the most fundamental forces known to mankind. Do you have an idea of what falls under the magnetism umbrella? The entire planet is a magnet. Compasses use magnets. We’re talking light and radio waves! Gamma radiation, x-rays, microwaves. This guy can control the shit you need to see and hear and find your direction. If you’ve seen X2: X-Men United, you saw Magneto orchestrate one of the coolest and foulest prison escapes on film: he’s trapped in a completely plastic jail cell so he has Mystique seduce a security guard and inject liquid metal into his ass (literally), pulls the liquid of the guy’s bloodstream the next day—killing him in the process—turns the metal in tiny balls that tear up the cell, then into discs that he can walk on. And just walks out the prison. I once read a comic where Magneto thought Spiderman was a mutant and to test it, he beat Spidey’s ass by throwing him around using the IRON IN HIS BLOOD.

Magneto is a bad man.

Long before he was Magneto, Master of Magnetism (you have to say his whole name every time), before he was an arch-villain with a bucket on his head, Erik Lensherr (that’s Max Eisenhardt to you diehards) was just a young Jewish boy. During the Holocaust. In Auschwitz. Nothing like seeing your mother killed in front of you to bring out some latent mutant powers, huh? He escapes from the Nazis—kinda—runs away with his pregnant wife, who in turn leaves him after he kills an angry mob while trying to protect her. But things take a positive turn and get good for a little bit—he makes a friend in Charles Xavier (Professor X), they decide to work together to find mutants, train them, protect them and promote mutant causes. Good stuff, right? Yeah, until Erik kills a guy. Well, a former Nazi.

Erik calls it justified. Charles calls it murder. This is awkward. See, good guy Charles wants humans and mutants to live in harmony; bad guy Erik thinks anti-mutant sentiment is a slippery slope into another holocaust. They have a falling out and become enemies.

But here’s the thing: Magneto is right.

You have to understand, the X-Men were created during the rise of the nuclear age and the Civil Rights Movement. They represent the complex social question of how you treat people who are different—but still people—and, in this case, pose a potential threat. This is a question the United States has been trying to address since its inception. Instead of races or sexual preference, there are people who can walk through walls, can shoot lasers out their eyes, can control the weather, can read minds and freeze entire populations. Their capabilities are tremendous and deadly but they’re people. Human beings. And in many cases, they’re kids.

When faced with choosing the path of nonviolence, living in secret, trying to get along with humans and potentially facing another Holocaust; or standing proud, different, fighting back and ensuring it never happens again, Magneto is on the right side on this one. You don’t have to agree with his methodology (he’s actually okay with murder, theft, conspiracy, terrorism, mass destruction) but you have to appreciate his point: humanity has a history of horrible acts in the name of homogeneity. He knows. Lost his parents because of it. Was a victim of it.

Magneto is right. And this makes him not only one of the most incredible villains ever, he’s one of the most complex and compelling characters in literature. Why? Because he’s mad as hell and he’s not gonna take it anymore. And with power like his, he doesn’t have to.

And tomorrow, at long last, you get to find out why I hate that little bastard Teddy Ruxpin.

Celebration of Wickedness Day 5: VENOM #atozchallenge

So for the fifth (FIF) day of the Celebration of Wickedness, I present to you for your crooked examination, the greatest Spiderman villain ever: VENOM! (also known as Eddie Brock—that’s E for Eddie for you A to Z Challengers).

If you saw Spiderman 3, then you wasted your money. And your time. And you don’t know Venom—he didn’t even have a name in the movie. And while Sony laughs as it carts its $890M take to the bank for what I consider a piece of crap movie, we’re going to look at the original Venom, the one from the comic.

Venom is two separate characters brought together through their mutual hatred of Peter Parker, better known as Spiderman or the Kid in the Red and Blue Pajamas. One of those characters is a journalist named Eddie Brock who thought he was unmasking a serial killer/domestic terrorist called the Sin-Eater. When Brock went to claim his Pulitzer, he discovered he was dead-ass wrong and Spidey unmasked the real killer in front of the whole world. Eddie’s face was cracked and on the floor. The other half of the Venom persona is a symbiote—a parasitic entity that Spiderman picked up on another world during the Secret Wars. The symbiote was able to give Spidey a brand new suit, let him get rid of the web shooters and mimic his clothes and powers. The bad part is, being a parasite, it tried to kill Spiderman and, once he rejected it, it went off to lick its wounds.

Until it found Eddie Brock. Human being who hates Spiderman + symbiote who hates Spiderman AND mimics his powers AND knows who he is = VENOM.

(As I am writing this, I realize my nerd quotient is on HIGH! I better watch an episode of Mad Men so I can get some cool points back.)

I’ve been a fan of my Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman since I saw him jump on the Electric Company and point to a schwa. And when I heard “Is he strong? Listen bud/He’s got radioactive blood/Can he swing from a thread/Take a look overhead” I was hooked. Why? Because he’s a true hero. This is an ordinary kid, a lil nerdy—well, a lot nerdy—who got bit by a radioactive spider and suddenly had powers. I’ve watched as he’s grown over time, watched him make mistakes, get his ass kicked, build a family he cares about, love a girl, lose her and win her back. He’s an average guy made heroic because of the whole responsibility thing. This is not a “watch the villain kill the hero ‘cause he annoys me” post: Spidey’s my guy.

But Venom, man, Venom is freaking FANTASTIC! This villain completely takes apart the hero. He doesn’t set off Spiderman’s spider-sense so he gets entirely too close. He knows who Peter Parker is so he terrorizes Mary Jane and shows up in Aunt May’s kitchen. He’s stronger than Spiderman (because he works out Clubber Lang-style). And he wholeheartedly enjoys breaking Peter down.

We’ve all heard, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Everyone thinks it’s from the Godfather; it’s actually from the Art of War by Sun Tzu. This is what Venom does, literally: he systematically breaks Spiderman down, repeatedly, by staying underneath his radar, just around the corner, just within reach, keeping him off kilter. All the things that made Spiderman a superhero, Venom took from him. Made them irrelevant.

And he made Peter Parker a better hero in the process.

Oh, he kicked Spidey’s ass. No doubt about it. But, at the end, Spiderman was wiser, more resilient, and had a much better idea what was truly important. That’s the thing about an excellent villain. For all their dastardly deeds, for all the pain they inflict, all the grief they cause, the power of a great villain is forging a formidable foe. A worthy opponent.

And that’s my word! And my letter E. Tomorrow is Day 6, Letter F and that means the master of the nightmare, Freddy Krueger! HAHAHAHA!!