10 Popular DC Villains (& Their Greatest Victory)

Split image Black Manta, Ultra-Humanite, Apex Lex in DC Comics

DC Comics’ iconic heroes are the best of the best, so they need to face villains that can match them. Luckily, decades worth of comic creators have created villains that broke the mold, antagonists who have added spice and conflict that stories needed to hook readers. Many DC villains have become hyper popular, joining the ranks of the most well-known characters in comics.

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Villains lose a lot, and that can hurt the way they’re perceived by fans. However, DC’s most popular villains have gotten some pretty impressive wins over the years. While they still taste defeat eventually, they’ve shown that they can be a danger to their heroic foes.



10 Brainiac

Greatest Victory: Shrinking The City Of Kandor

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Some of DC’s biggest name villains have been around for a long time, with many changing as continuity has shifted. Brainiac has been through multiple forms, challenging Superman in many ways. However, one thing that has stayed pretty stable throughout his existence is his greatest victory.

Brainiac attacked and successfully stole the Kryptonian city of Kandor, shrinking it and adding it to his menagerie. Readers finally got a glimpse of it in Action Comics #866, by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank. Brainiac and his drones defied General Zod, formed an energy field around the city and took it. It was great to finally see the victory that made Brainiac a chilling legend.

9 General Zod

Greatest Victory: Taking Over Metropolis

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>General Zod uses Heat Vision in DC Comics

General Zod has been a part of the Superman mythos for decades, and the shifting winds of DC continuity have changed him in many ways. His post-Infinite Crisis reappearance in Superman: Last Son of Krypton, by writers Geoff Johns and Richard Donner and artist Adam Kubert, is widely considered the best. Using his and Ursa’s son as an anchor to escape the Phantom Zone, they made a beeline for Superman.

Zod, Ursa, and Non beat Superman within an itch of his life and throw him into the Phantom Zone. After releasing the Phantom Zone criminals, the Kryptonians smashed the heroic community. It was a complete rout, only stopped when Superman and Lex Luthor’s Superman Revenge Society turned the tides.

8 Crime Syndicate

Greatest Victory: Defeating The Justice League And The Superhero Community

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The Crime Syndicate from DC Comics

The Crime Syndicate was the first major team of evil multiversal duplicates, and have battled the Justice League for years. The team was reintroduced in the New 52, and made a splash immediately. Inserting Cyborg’s duplicate Grid into the team, they crippled their technology and attacked them from within. The League was defeated, but the Syndicate wasn’t done.

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They cowed the supervillain community into doing their bidding and were at the top of the world. The CS had won a few times over the years, but never like this. Lex Luthor and a team of villains, working with Batman and Catwoman, defeated them, hitting them in ways they weren’t ready for.

7 Reverse Flash

Greatest Victory: Killing Barry Allen’s Mother

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Reverse Flash runs with red lightning from DC Comics.

Reverse Flash is DC’s most ruthless villain, targeting even innocent people in Barry Allen’s life in order to get revenge against his heroic foe. For years, his most climactic victory also led to a terrible defeat. Reverse Flash was able to kill Iris Allen, destroying the woman Barry loved. In their next battle, Barry ended up killing Reverse Flash.

Upon his return to life thanks to the White Lantern, Reverse Flash got a new idea. He started to use his time-traveling powers to change the past and targeted Barry Allen. He killed Barry’s mother, framed his father, and spent the ensuing years wreaking havoc on Allen’s life.

6 The Riddler

Greatest Victory: Learning Batman’s Secret Identity

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The Riddler sits on his throne in DC Comics

Batman: Hush is beloved by many fans. Writer Jeph Loeb and artist Jim Lee’s tale is a Batman greatest hits album, revolving around the mystery of who Hush is. However, the titular villain wasn’t acting alone. After Batman dealt with him, he went to Arkham to visit the Riddler, the true mastermind behind Hush’s scheme.

The Riddler revealed that he worked with Hush, supplying the villain with everything he needed to know about Gotham while Hush told him the secret that he brought to the table. The Riddler learned Batman’s secret identity, but his elation was short-lived. Riddler loves to know things and if he told anyone Batman’s identity, the knowledge would spread and no longer be special.

5 Deathstroke

Greatest Victory: Fulfilled His H.I.V.E. Contract By Capturing The New Teen Titans

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Deathstroke walking with his sword drawn in DC Comics

Deathstroke is a terrible person, even when he’s acting as an antihero. This was apparent about him and his action in the classic New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, by writer Marv Wolfman and artist/co-plotter George Pèrez. Using Terra as his mole, Deathstroke dismantled the team from within, handing them over to the H.I.V.E.

It’s the victory that has defined Deathstroke and how he rolls. He found a weakness in the Teen Titans, Terra, and exploited it expertly. His defeat of the Titans cemented his reputation as a team busting villain. It also showed that he was truly reprehensible, as his manipulations of the teenage Terra went to some icky places.

4 Bane

Greatest Victory: Defeated Batman And Kicked Him Out Of Gotham

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>City of Bane Batman

Successful DC villains are rare, and beating Batman is ever rarer. That’s why Bane is such an impressive villain. His first time out against the Dark Knight, he created a plan that allowed him to break Batman’s back. For many villains, that would be their greatest victory, yet Bane wasn’t done yet. Eventually, he created a plan like no other, one that even Batman couldn’t beat.

Bane threw everything at Batman, destroying his wedding to Catwoman, bringing in Flashpoint Batman, and basically creating a situation unlike anything Batman had experienced. He was able to do what few had done before. Not only did he beat Batman, but he also kicked the Caped Crusader out of Gotham.

3 The Joker

Greatest Victory: The Attack On The Gordons

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The Joker laughing maniacally during his alleged origins in The Killing Joke.

The Joker is Batman’s most vicious foe, having tested the Caped Crusader like no other villain. They’re opposite sides of the same coin and Joker has been more successful than most Gotham villains in his battles against Batman. However, his greatest victory has nothing to do with Batman. It’s not even when he killed Jason Todd; it’s his attacks on Barbara and Jim Gordon.

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Taking place in Batman: The Killing Joke, by writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland, Joker decided to prove that anyone could become like him if they had a bad enough day. He targeted the Gordons, paralyzing Barbara and taking Jim prisoner. It may have ultimately failed, but he did more damage on that day than he realized.

2 Darkseid

Greatest Victory: Using The Anti-Life Equation To Conquer Earth

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Darkseid wields the anti-life equation in DC Comics' Final Crisis.

Final Crisis is an 2000s DC gem, presenting Darkseid’s greatest victory. Written by Grant Morrison with art by J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, and Doug Mahnke, the story takes place in the aftermath of the end of the war between Apokolips and New Genesis. Using human bodies as vessels, Darkseid and his lieutenants brought the Anti-Life Equation to Earth and unleashed it on the population.

Darkseid and company conquered half the planet in seconds. From there, they pacified the superheroic community, overrunning all of their strongholds. The tide was turned when Superman came back into the fight, but even then it was close.

1 Lex Luthor

Greatest Victory: Poisoning Superman With Solar Radiation

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Lex Luthor threatens the Daily Planet in All-Star Superman

Superman and Lex Luthor have faced off many times. Few villains know how to get at Superman like him, as he’s studied how to hurt him. That’s what makes his plan in All-Star Superman, by writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely, so great. In control of a solarnaut, he attacked the first manned mission to the sun, luring Superman there.

This gave Superman a supercharge of solar energy, which both gave him an amazing power upgrade and started a process of cell death that would kill him. Luthor was put in jail, but escaped using a stolen power serum that gave him Superman’s abilities. He attacked Metropolis with Solaris, and Superman stopped them, forced to leave Earth to repair the sun.

NEXT: 10 Underrated DC Heroes (& Their Strongest Feat)


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