10 Best DC Comics Villain Debuts

Split image of Anti-Monitor, Harley Quinn and Starro in DC Comics

DC Comics’ most notorious villains made impressive debuts which set the tone of what fans should come to expect. While readers might not always enjoy how a foe is brought in, some of the introductions that continue to stand the test of time, are replicated in new continuities thanks to the genius of their design.

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A debut has to say a lot about the backstory of a villain, their motivations, what their gimmick is, and why they are a legitimate threat. Although that seems like a tough challenge, DC has truly mastered the art of an introduction, and are now reaping the benefits thanks to their notable roster of rogues.



10 Catwoman

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Oftentimes a villain, occasionally a hero, Catwoman has been a consistent player in Batman’s life ever since her debut. Of course, her introduction was significant because it took place in Batman #1 in 1940, from writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane.

Introduced as The Cat, the famous burglar undertakes a number of successful thefts including a very lucrative necklace, all the under the guise of an elderly lady. If her talents were not impressive enough, she manages to escape the clutches of Batman, a rarity in DC lore, and left him smitten. It’s an amazing showcase of everything Selina Kyle stands for.

9 Anti-Monitor

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Anti-Monitor conjures energy in DC Comics

The Anti-Monitor represents utter destruction. The character first appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths #2 in 1985 by writers Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, and Robert Greenberger and artist George Pérez. But it wasn’t until #6 that his impact was truly felt.

The coolly designed yet narratively brutal Anti-Monitor was immediately established as the big bad of the DC multiverse due to his penchant for wiping out realities. The character was very close to ending DC as readers knew it, forcing a major event and leading to a complete continuity reboot. That premise ensured the Anti-Monitor would be feared in any future appearances as he changed the status quo.

8 Dr. Psycho

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Dr. Psycho is a hugely underrated foe from Wonder Woman’s rogue gallery, but his debut set him up as an antagonist that could stand toe to toe with the Amazonian. Very few villains best Diana Prince on their first try. Psycho originally appeared in Wonder Woman #5 in 1943 by writer William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G. Peter.

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The character was portrayed as a prisoner that used a copy of himself to manipulate his captors and escape. He killed Steve Trevor’s secretary with a bomb, and even knocked out Wonder Woman, burying her alive. It’s certainly a way to make a statement, with Psycho’s viciousness establishing the character’s strengths despite his eventual recapture.

7 Doomsday

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Superman is haunted by his fight with Doomsday in Superman/Doomsday 1994

Doomsday has been designed with a clear love for violence, the spiky exterior reflecting the monstrous nature of the beast. He first appeared in full force in Superman: Man of Steel #18 in 1992, from writer Louise Simonson and artist Jon Bogdanove.

The character debuted as part of the Death of Superman narrative. Doomsday took the Man of Steel to his physical limits, with their battle raging across Metropolis and ending in mutual defeat. But with Superman dying from his injuries, Doomsday achieved the impossible, ridding the world of Clark Kent in impressive fashion.

6 Amanda Waller

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Often nicknamed the Wall, Amanda Waller usually operates in her own best interests. While she has been portrayed as an anti-hero, she has also been written as a straight-up villain. The character first appeared in Legends #1 in 1986 from writers John Ostrander and Len Wein and artist John Byrne.

DC didn’t mess around with the introduction of Waller, immediately naming her as head of Task Force X. By putting her in such a high position and backing her up with the likes of the talented Rick Flag, Waller is established as a power player with a morally ambiguous plan. With her ideas for the Suicide Squad set in motion, there are no doubts about the priorities of this three-dimensional figure.

5 Starro

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The Justice League of America battling Starro in their first appearance

Starro is such a dangerous intergalactic threat that DC had to honor the creation with a proper debut. Making his first appearance in The Brave and the Bold #28 in 1955, the comic was written by Gardner Fox with art from Mike Sekowsky. His scale, strength, and mind control abilities were depicted from the offset.

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But what’s more, the debut was made all the more poignant by the reveal of the Justice League. Starro was so powerful that it took many of Earth’s mightiest heroes, including Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Flash, Batman, Superman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman to defeat him. The depiction of the smaller starfish that latch onto innocent faces was especially gruesome but memorable.

4 Harley Quinn

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Harley Quinn started life in Batman: The Animated Series. It was incredibly rare for such an iconic character to be established on screen before making their way to the comics, but Joker’s right-hand woman was instantly popular thanks to her bizarre antics and unique personality.

The Batman Adventures #12 in 1993 was her first non-canon comic appearance, but it was Harley Quinn #1 in 1999 that brought her firmly into the DC Universe. The one-shot, which was written by Paul Dini​​​​​​​ with art from Yvel Guichet captured the essence of the cartoon character perfectly, which sets her relationship with Mr. J and her complex backstory that hasn’t changed to this day.

3 Scarecrow

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​​​​​​​The Scarecrow has been firmly established in DC’s continuity thanks to his use of fear gas which messes with the minds of his victims. But the mystery of the human Scarecrow intrigued Batman and Robin in World’s Finest #3 in 1941 from writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane.

Jonathon Crane was set up as an intelligent but troubled scientist. He used his Scarecrow persona to spike fear in the enemies of those who could pay handsomely. Scarecrow earned a reputation in Gotham very quickly so although he was defeated, his actions were enough to gain significant momentum as one of the city’s most terrifying nightmares. A legend like that can never die and lives on in Gotham folklore.

2 Reverse-Flash

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The Reverse-Flash runs through time in DC Comics

Eobard Thawne is one of the Flash’s arch nemeses for a reason. Responsible for the death of his mother, the debut of Reverse-Flash had to be compelling enough to set up a narrative of that magnitude down the line. The Flash #139 in 1963 from writer John Broome​​​​​​​ and artist Carmine Infantino indicated that Reverse-Flash would be a player in years to come.

Naming himself Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash traveled back in time and began a crime spree in Barry Allen’s era of the timeline. The character’s intelligence was showcased as he actually replicated Flash’s speed force, making him a physical adversary for Barry in a way few others had managed. This thus made viewers take notice of his skills and question what else he might be capable of.

1 Hush

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Thomas Elliot is an especially personal foe for Batman to face. Not only does he want to ruin the Dark Knight’s reputation, but he wants to tear apart the life of Bruce Wayne. The character first appeared in Batman #609 in 2002 from writer Jeph Loeb and artist Jim Lee.

First introduced as a brilliant neurosurgeon and a friend to Bruce, Batman trusts him to operate, not knowing that Hush himself would be using what he learns to change his own appearance into the billionaire. It’s sadistic yet a compelling narrative to introduce Elliot with, as the mystery and reveal of Hush slowly unravels with all the grotesque consequences it brings.

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