Over the last month, DC Comics has asked the question “What if Evil won?” in their Forever Evil crossover event. Never mind the lenticular covers, I thought this edition of my What If…? column would explore a similar idea. I’ll get right to the question:
What if villains could really get organized and win for a change?
How many times have we seen a super powered group of thugs plan and undertake a major heist or crime spree only to be thwarted by a superhero or group of heroes that worked together? Too many times. The major factors of this are the old sayings “There is no honor among thieves” and “Pride comes before a fall”. Selfishness and pride seem to be the primary super powers of many of today’s villains.
To me this means that anyone who is considered a villain immediately exhibits that level of selfishness that makes it impossible for anyone to trust them. Add to this the fact that all the other villains are also full of this selfishness and that leads to feelings of paranoia. Definitely a recipe for not getting along. They want to rule the world, control everything, steal all the money/artifacts/fill-in-the-blank. It is too much of a Highlander-ish attitude. There can be only one greatest super villain of all time.
With the Crime Syndicate we see a group of super powered beings who parallel the heroes that we are used to, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and so on. This particular group of beings has instead chosen evil over good. Ultraman, Power Ring, Owlman, and the rest are super criminals in their world. They work together as a team and seem fairly successful,right?
When they meet up with their good counterparts, it is inevitably their pride and selfishness that brings them down. Arrogance in their own powers, pride over how they could never be tricked, and selfishness to just want one more piece of something instead of being satisfied with what they had. Just like the monkey Abu reaching for that ruby in Aladdin after being told to touch nothing but the lamp and bringing everything crashing down around his ears.
The only time I have really seen this happen successfully is in Alan Moore’s Watchmen when a hero turns to evil actions in order to promote unity among mankind. This was for an unselfish reason, technically, so it worked. So we have to ask ourselves, can villains act selfishly, since that is what makes them villains, and still work together successfully?
The list of failures is long and includes the likes of Hydra, The Sinister Six, The League of Assassins, The Fearsome Five, The Foot Clan, and many more. Can this be fixed? Is there some immoral compass that the teams should follow to keep them off the straight and narrow? We shall have to wait and see how events unfold with the new Crime Syndicate to understand if there is a magic formula to super villain team success.
Let me know your thoughts. The goal here is to put your ideas out there, throw them at the wall and see what sticks. Who knows, maybe your idea will stimulate the minds of the comic book creative teams that read our articles and they will steal your idea and never give you credit, just like the super villain teams they write about… muhahahaha!