Our Squad: The DC Supervillain Fantasy Draft, Part Two
There are enough great DC supervillains to fill Belle Reve Prison several times over, so we've asked ComicsAlliance contributors Benito Cereno, Elle Collins, Chris Haley, Emma Lawson, Kieran Shiach, and Tom Speelman to compete in putting together their very best fantasy DC supervillain teams.
In part one, several of the publisher's most iconic villains were snapped up, including Lex Luthor, Catwoman, Doomsday, and Darkseid, and Benito locked in two of DC's greatest apes in Gorilla Grodd and Monsieur Mallah. With some of the most obvious choices out of the way, where will our panelists look next?
Note: Each team must include a mastermind, a heavy, a monster, and an assassin, and there's a villainous wildcard element that we’ll introduce in part three.
Chris: I figure in making these teams, we’ve got to worry not only about the superheroes, but also the other villain teams, so you need someone that can deal with whatever can be thrown at you by bad guys with Omega Beams or Benito’s Team Simian.
So I’m wrangling in a real wild card, Mr. Mxyzptlk. Getting him to be a team player is probably going to be a struggle, but if Superman can repeatedly outsmart him, surely Lex Luthor can figure out a way to manipulate him as well. And even as tricky as it would be to get him to play along, it’s worth it for the unlimited power he brings to the table. We just have to convince him to use it for something besides turning everyone into animals. Or just go ahead turn everyone into animals, that’s actually a pretty solid strategy.
Emma: Aw, I was hoping I could sneak Mr. Mxyzptlk into my team later on for some wacky fun. Oh well, I’ll stick to the killing for now. For my assassin, I’m going with Deathstroke, Slade Wilson. An army man turned super soldier who will always beat the good guys because he’s willing to go further than they are. Batman knows how to fight, but Deathstroke knows how to kill. He’s worked with Talia before, so I feel like they already know how to handle each other.
I just really like genetically engineered killers, don’t I? Don’t worry, I’ll go in a different direction for my next pick.
Tom: For my assassin, I'm taking everyone’s favorite Suicide Squad member, Deadshot. Not only has he undergone probably the most radical costume reinvention in comics history, he's the single deadliest, most accurate shot in the DCU.
He's also a smart thinker able to adjust his plans on the fly and act accordingly. Nimble as hell --- you think it's easy to jump across a giant typewriter while fighting Batman? --- and with a snappy wit, it's no wonder Warner Bros. cast the coolest dude around, Will Smith, to play him.
Speaking of the Suicide Squad movie, we’re all agreed it's a goddamn tragedy there's no Smith song for the movie, right? Because it is.
Chris: I’ll agree I’d like to hear Will Smith rap about DC characters.
Elle: I’m going to follow the trend and pick my assassin now. I’m going with Cheshire: world-class martial artist, expert poisoner, and the absent mother of Roy Harper’s child. I enjoy the joy she seems to find in her job, in contrast to so many grim hired killer characters. Of course, she enjoys her globe-trotting assassin lifestyle so much that she could never give it up to raise her daughter, even though she does love Lian in her way.
Everything I’m talking about here was true about decade ago. I’m not sure where Cheshire is in current continuity, but I’m still into the version of her that I remember.
Emma: Ooh, I love Cheshire. Nice.
Benito: I’m going to break the assassin streak and claim my mastermind now. My third villain is the first villain --- literally the first supervillain in comics --- the Ultra-Humanite. Designed to be the mental powerhouse equivalent to Superman’s physical dynamo, the Ultra-Humanite was a sort of proto-Luthor super-scientist who later gained the ability to transplant his consciousness from one body to another. At first he used this ability to become a young woman, but by the ‘70s, he had moved into the body of a giant, albino ape, the look he is best known for, despite the fact that the New 52 version of him is a giant space squid or something.
A supervillain team is bound to have internal conflict, as most players’ motivations are ultimately selfish, and it’s hard not to imagine Ultra-Humanite and Grodd coming to loggerheads struggling for power, especially as there is no way Grodd would respect someone not born an ape. He would probably call him a fake gorilla boy. But how do you not give the position of mastermind to the one who literally has giant, throbbing brain lobes protruding from his head?
Elle: Somehow I had a feeling the Ultra-Humanite might be your choice for mastermind, and he’s a really good one. I was considering him myself, but he definitely fits in best with your team so far.
Tom: Why would you go from an ape to a space squid? What kind of madness is that?
Chris: Benito is your whole team seriously going to be apes? If someone picks Titano is it going to completely ruin your day?
Benito: Wait, what do you mean? Are all my picks apes so far? Hold on.
Huh. Weird. I guess I have a type.
Kieran: There aren’t many female characters that could be considered a monster, outcast, or freak, but I wanted to buck the expected trend with this pick and go for The Cheetah. I really love (most of) Liam Sharp’s redesign in the current Wonder Woman book, and her relationship with Diana is one of the most interesting hero/villain dynamics in all of comics.
Chris: For my heavy, I’m calling in Mongal, daughter of Mongul. All the power that comes with being the offspring of the ruler of Warworld, but with more youth and eagerness to prove that she’s every bit as ruthless and to be feared as her father. She became the Queen of Almerac after “Our Worlds At War,” and even though I think she was dead the last time anyone saw her, that’s never stopped any other bad guys from being dusted off when the need arose.
Plus I’m guessing no one else was thinking of picking her.
Emma: No, but I like your pick, Chris!
For my monster, I’m picking the embodiment of fear itself --- Parallax. You may remember it from taking over Hal Jordan’s mind and body, making him evil, but Parallax has been around since practically the dawn of time. It’s essentially a parasite.
Not everyone is susceptible to its fear-casting power (some people just have really strong self confidence, nuts to them) but I think even if some superheroes can resist it, Parallax can still cause plenty of trouble by casting fear into the general populace. Terrified crowds are impossible to control! Any superheroes trying to get in my team’s way would have to fight us and try to keep screaming people from hurting themselves.
Tom: Can't go wrong with the giant yellow space bug, Emma! Nice pick.
For my heavy, I'm taking a page from Kieran and heading to Apokolips for Kalibak. The son of Darkseid who didn't become a superhero with a jet pack, Kalibak is his dad’s biggest enforcer (literally). Immortal and ridiculously strong and agile, this is a dude you don't wanna cross. Perfect for holding off superheroes from interfering with your plans --- and that's before you get to his cool weapons like his flying discs and beta club.
Elle: I’ve waited long enough to pick my mastermind, and I’m going with one of my very favorite DC villains, the Doctor Doom of the DC Universe (or at least of the ocean) Black Manta.
He’s a scientist who’s also a pirate. A highly rational expert planner, but also a man driven totally by spite. He actively resists all origin stories (he’s had several) and attempts to provide relatable motivations for his actions. At the end of the day, Manta is just a bad man who hates the world, and he really hates Aquaman in particular.
In thinking about my team narratively, I was concerned at first that Black Manta wouldn’t make a good mastermind, because he mostly just wants to antagonize Aquaman, and the rest of the team probably isn’t going to go for that. But then I realized that he’s probably put this team together to prove he can be a leader, and maybe even conquer the world (or at least mess it up) with a whole team on his side. After all, Aquaman has led the Justice League, and Black Manta knows that guy’s the worst, so Manta has to be better at it than him.
Benito: All right, now that Chris has pointed out the motif in my choices that I hadn’t noticed, I’m going to make sure to pick a character who is definitely not a gorilla this time. So here goes, one of Wonder Woman’s oldest and biggest--literally--foes, Giganta.
Able to grow to giant size with proportional strength, in her human size Giganta is also a brilliant scientist (in some later versions, she retains her intellect at giant size, but in the classic version, her intelligence decreases as she gets bigger). So between her brobdingnagian muscle and equally sized brain, she should have no trouble holding her own on a team with Grodd and Ultra-Humanite.
Okay, I mean. Okay. Yeah, I guess technically Giganta is also a gorilla.
Chris: You can’t help yourself.
Kieran: I’m going to pick someone else who qualifies as an assassin, and is arguably the most dangerous fighter in the DC Universe… Lady Shiva. She’s a character who has so much potential and is always right on the cusp of being a big deal, but I don’t think she’s quite made the jump to a top-tier villain yet. She’s skirted with heroism and nobility a bit, but she’s best when she’s bad and a role on a team like this could be her breakout role.
TEAM ROSTERS: DAY TWO
Chris: Lex Luthor, Shaggy Man, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Mongal
Emma: Doomsday, Talia al Ghul, Deathstroke, Parallax
Tom: Brainiac, Solomon Grundy, Deadshot, Kalibak
Elle: Catwoman, Bizarro, Cheshire, Black Manta
Benito: Gorilla Grodd, Monsieur Mallah, Ultra-Humanite, Giganta
Kieran: Darkseid, Prometheus, Cheetah, Lady Shiva
That's a wrap for day two, but join us for day three as we introduce the wildcard element that could turn our friendly rivals into deadly enemies...