I was recently catching up on some reading. Over the summer, I got a hold of some dirt-cheap back issues, and they’ve been a lot of fun. Mostly from the 1980s, these comics are still written with kids in mind, but they also give a nod to the grown-ups that might be reading.
Take a look at Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man No. 91 and Amazing Adventures No. 13.
Amazing Adventures is a reprint comic, showing us some of the X-Men’s earliest exploits. In the comic, the X-Men,
comprised of The Angel, The Beast, Iceman, Cyclops and Marvel Girl, are chilled to the bone when they discover they must face The Blob on their own, without Professor X. Since the Blob is super strong and invulnerable, the X-Men aren’t sure if they can face such a fearsome opponent. Ultimately, they only get past him because he stops fighting and asks to be left alone. Back then he was a force to be reckoned with.
Fast forward to the 1980s, when Spider-Man and the Black Cat dive in to a fight against the Blob in an issue of Spectacular Spider-Man. Sure, he’s a tough match, but in essence, Spider-Man’s only toying with him, and it’s filled with fat jokes from the writer. In fact, it almost seems that the whole purpose of the comic is to lay out a few fat jokes.
That in its essence is a good definition of a joke villian. He’s around only for an opportunity for the writer to “get silly” and offer a light mood now and again.
But what I find interesting is when badass villains become joke villains. I think it’s mostly a sign of character concepts that don’t age well, and new writers take advantage of this flaw.
It makes me wonder, what new villains from the 1990s and 2000s will be rendered obsolete in another decade or so? … if not sooner?