Everyone knows what the most important part of a true super-hero is. The most enduring part of his legacy, the most defining trait of those who fight harder, fight longer, and never, ever, give up. It isn’t the costume (no matter how well equipped), it isn’t the damsels in distress (no matter how well equipped), and it isn’t their super-neat ability to throw cars or dodge bullets or have clone brothers or even their orientation-changing abs. Oh no, friends.
It’s the villain. The Dark Knight is only as good as his Clown Prince, the Webhead only as awesome as his Doc Ock, the Booster Gold only as good as whoever Booster Gold fights.
Would it perhaps interest you, dear readers, to know that some classic Hero-Villain combos didn’t actually start together? That some villains began their careers harassing some other hero? That these villains are, in fact, CHEATING on their original nemesis?
Check this bullshit out . . .
Sabretooth Dumps Iron Fist for Wolverine
You know Sabretooth. He’s been in two different X-Men movies with as many actors playing him. Big, hairy dude, Meg Griffin nails, likes stabbing Wolverine. He was oddly mute in Bryan Singer’s original X-Men movie, moving away from his “psycho dick murderer” persona into a kind of “numb retarded guard dog for Magneto” situation.
Hilariously, he was given a much better role and actor in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which ended up being a far, far worse movie than the original X-Men. Maybe that’s not hilarious. Maybe it’s just sad. Now I’m sad. THANKS.
Anyway, Sabretooth is well known as Wolverine’s arch-nemesis, his persona non grata numero uno con carne, if you understand what I’m saying. Which is fifty-fifty at this point, because I babble. In at least two languages so far. We’ll go for three in a bit. ANYWAY. Sabretooth is a huge wang to Wolverine, is what I’m saying. He’s constantly shitting in his proverbial (and actual) birthday cake. Just to show you the kind of stand-up guy Sabretooth is – he makes a point to show up on every one of Wolverine’s birthdays with the express goal to ruin his life. Sabretooth has killed at least a few of Wolverine’s girlfriends/wives on his birthday, which Wolverine does not like very much. He finally communicated this displeasure to Sabretooth by chopping his head off with a magic katana.
However, Wolverine’s archdouche actually started in a completely different comic, entirely separate from Wolverine with no pre-established connection. Despite the twisted backstory writers would later glom onto the Wolvie/Sabretooth’s violent anti-bromance, Sabretooth started as just another Iron Fist baddie.
He first appears in “Iron Fist #14” in 1977. He didn’t even have powers – he was just a mortal serial killer with a tan jumpsuit and Twisted-Sister hair. He was even called “Sabre-Tooth,” because dashes are totes rad (ask Spider-Man), with the adorable nickname of “The Slasher.” He wasn’t just a one-shot, either – he was specifically an Iron Fist villain, and got his furry cheeks thrashed by Danny Rand on multiple occasions. Sabretooth went up against a long string of heroes long before he even met Wolverine: Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Black Cat, hell even Misty Knight.
When Sabretooth finally went up against an X-Man it was . . . Gambit. Ole Toothie wouldn’t bump awkwardly into Wolverine like a drunk at a kegger until 1986, almost TEN YEARS after his debut. The two would finally match claws and scruffiness during the “Mutant Massacre” crossover, where a bunch of mutant Morlocks get . . . well, massacred. Listen: subtlety, thy name ain’t Marvel.
That reminds me.
Son of the Devil Ditches Daredevil for Devil-Guy.
Devilish Devilled Ham. Devil.
See that guy up there that looks like a cross between a Rastafarian and a deep-sea cave fish? That’s Blackheart, the bonafide Son of the Devil. Well, the son of Marvel’s Devil, Mephisto, anyway. Mephisto is sort of like the regular devil, if Lucifer the Morning Star, First of the Fallen wore tights and spent most of his time and infinite power on breaking up marriages and kind of being a dick.
Blackheart, you see, is most widely known as the nemesis of the Ghost Rider, the Spirit of Vengeance. For non-nerds – remember when Nicholas Cage ate a bunch of jelly-beans and shrieked in pain a lot? That was Ghost Rider.
If Ghost Rider is like a cool, rebellious foster kid of the devil, Blackheart is the little whiny shit younger brother that’s trying WAY too hard to impress Daddy. There’s only two things Blackheart is good at – getting knocked the fuck out by a flaming Ghost Rider chain across the chin, and failure. I guess maybe that’s only one thing, just reskinned.
Anyway, in the word association game, when you say Blackheart, nerds be like “Ghost Rider!” In fact, most geeks would have a hard time naming a Ghost Rider villain who isn’t Blackheart (or Mephisto). I know I couldn’t do it. I even have the Internet staring me in the chops right now, the sum total of all human knowledge, but the idea of looking up Ghost Rider’s rogue’s gallery is like . . . “meh.”
But Blackheart actually made his debut in a, wait for it . . . Daredevil and Spider-Man team-up comic. Daredevil #270, 1989, as a matter of fact.
That’s right. Blackheart, who is technically the Anti-Christ and Devourer of Worlds, couldn’t out-wrestle (or outsmart) a blind man with a stick. I mean, I get why Blackheart couldn’t beat Spider-Man*, but Daredevil? He has the power of HEARING REALLY GOOD. And, I guess, knowing a lot about tort law. Come on. Blackheart, you are the Justin Bieber of people who get compared to Justin Bieber.
Blackheart got trashed by the Inhumans and Doctor Strange long before he ran into Ghost Rider – and even then, even in the comic where the two FINALLY went head to head . . . it was another team-up comic. It involved Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and Punisher, and it was basically the plot of the “Three Amigos” but with more hell stuff. No, literally – the three of them save a small village from harm and learn valuable lessons about friendship. I’m pretty sure Punisher plays guitar at some point too.
Still – Ghost Rider meets his nemesis in a team-up? That’s like if Superman first battled Lex Luthor while he, the Question, and Blue Beetle were at Dave and Busters having frozen daquiritas and playing House of the Dead 4.
So, dead guys and segues . . .
Solomon Grundy Leaves Green Lantern for World’s Finest Threesome
Solomon Grundy is a giant zombie monster with the mental aptitude of same. He’s like if the Hulk died and came back an evil, stupid murderer and OH DEAR GOD that’s a terrifying thought. He’s one of the more hard core DC villains, despite his lack of any brain-things in his skull-zone. In fact, his dumbshitosity is his only weakness: Solomon Grundy cannot be killed. When he sustains enough damage, he goes down for a bit, but a day later the melon-farmer is back, regrown in his swamp and ready to get right back on the murder-horse.
He doesn’t have an evil steed or anything. I just mean . . . the not-quitting horse.
Solomon is best known nowadays as either a Batman villain or a Superman villain, depending on whether you read more Batman comics or more Superman comics. Grundy fits well in the Superman rogue’s gallery for obvious reason – he’s huge, he’s strong, and he’s indestructable, which always makes for a fantastic Superman villain. Anything to keep Superman from fighting earthquakes and ’70s comedians is all gravy in my book. Grundy makes a good Batman villain because of his gothic edge – his name is taken from an old creepy British nursery rhyme about a dead man, he’s sort of a tragic figure (immortality is lonely, so says Queen), he works as a creepy Gotham sewer dweller – it’s all there. Plus it’s a great chance to see Batman whip invulnerable ass with his big brain, which is always good for my two dollars and ninenty-nine cents.
Solomon Grundy actually appeared for the first time, shockingly enough, as a Golden Age Green Lantern villain. However, it’s not AS weird as it might seem.
Before he became a sci-fi space-cop, the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, was actually powered by magic. He was always getting in mystical adventures, so running into a giant zombie from a nursery rhyme was actually right in his wheel house. The only problem was, according to comic book science, Solomon Grundy, as a creature of the swamp, was primarily composed of wood – a substance which the original Green Lantern ring was powerless against. So, when Green Lantern first ran into Solomon Grundy, Grundy straight-up murdered him – or so Grundy thought. Green Lantern managed to recover, but Grundy thought he’d killed him, and experienced a thrill of joy he’d never known. Green Lantern was actually Solomon Grundy’s first murder (in his own mind), and he had such a blast that it became his hobby ever since.
So that’s right. Green Lantern is the reason Solomon Grundy likes to murder. Thanks, Alan Scott. You green dick.
Mystique Scorns Ms. Marvel
Everybody knows Mystique. She’s Rebecca Romijn-Stamos-Romijn, but NAKED AND BLUE. That is literally all you need to know about the movie character, for reasons that shall remain bonerific. Even the ladies want Mystique – I know this from research I’ve done in my head. She’s evil, she shapechanges, she’s the reason we all get outta bed in the morning. Or get into bed. Whatever. Sex. Listen – she’s a great X-Men villain because she’s unstoppable. Maybe she can’t throw tanks around or do . . . whatever Mr. Sinister does, but that doesn’t matter – she’s inherently more dangerous than all those mutants combined. You can’t see her coming, you don’t expect her, and the second you realize what happened she’s already pulling the knife out of your side. Plus she gave birth to like half the X-Men, which is an achievement in itself. I mean, I guess labor might not be so bad for a shapeshifter – she could just, like, POP, and the baby can fall out of her chest or something.
Anyway, there’s a reason she’s been in every X-Men movie – she’s the height of cool. She’s the villain every writer wants to write when they sit down in their writing shed. She’s also completely entwined with the X-Men – in some circles, she reaches Magneto-levels of character recognition. Which is why it’s so surprising that originally, she had NOTHING to do with them.
Mystique was created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum in the pages of Ms. Marvel, of all people. Ms. Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, is a badass superheroine – think Wonder Woman’s strength and rage combined with Captain America’s sense of duty, and you get a pretty good read on Ms. Marvel’s personality. Mystique was introduced as a shadowy background player, working for the Hellfire Club. She despised Ms. Marvel for mysterious reasons, but we never got to learn them because Ms. Marvel’s comic got cancelled before we could learn what her nefarious scheme was. When Claremont got transferred to the X-Men books, he figured “eh, what the hell” and took his toys with him – come hell or high water, Mystique was going to do some villainous shit. She appeared then as an X-Men villain, all because Chris Claremont didn’t want to give up on what he knew to be a pretty amazing character.
See, kids? Recycling is good. Not for the environment, I mean for comic books. Come on.
So there you have it – another case of surprise origins for old favorites, proving once again that knowledge is power. I’m not really sure how this particular knowledge gives you power, but that’s why old sayings are stupid.
*Spider-Man is the best superhero ever, and would have no problem beating up the Devil or his son or really anyone^. You might be inclined to bring up “One More Day” as evidence to the contrary, and I might be inclined to hit you with a shovel. Storylines by Joe Quesada are non-canon.
^Including Batman. Yes. It’s true~.
~Don’t even give me that “prep time” crap. You know who’s also dangerous when he has time to plan for his enemies? Spider-Man. He’s a genius inventor and strategist too, except he’s a superspeed acrobat who sees the future and can lift a train#.
#That’s right. Train.