The DC universe host some seriously powerful and dangerous super-villains who are starting to breakout out into the wider world.
In 2019 the Joker broke out in his own solo movie to become one of the breakout hit films of the year. In 2021, The Suicide Squad will return in a sequel directed by James Gunn. while Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam will finally arrive after years in development.
That doesn't stop them from being incredibly dangerous in the pages of the DC universe. While DC's bad guys range from street-level villains like the Joker to would-be world conquerors like Lex Luthor, today, we're focusing on the top 10 multiverse-threatening minds of the DCU and how they became the big bads that they are.
Eclipso is one of the darkest figures in the DCU, coming straight out of biblical lore as God’s right-hand man when it comes to vengeance. But when this super-villain went to far, he was cast out of God’s good graces and left to cause even more harm. But he didn’t start that way.
When he was originally introduced back in 1963, Eclipso was little more than a Jekyll-and-Hyde type villain inhabiting the body of a scientist named Bruce Gordon. But in 1992, writers Robert Loren Fleming and Kieth Giffen transformed Eclipso into his modern demonic persona in the Eclipso: The Darkness Within event series. Now as the spirit of vengeance for God (yeah, that one), Eclipso took on all the big players and almost triumphed if not for his old host Gordon stepping in to stop him.
In the intervening years, Eclipso has been proven responsible for everything from Noah’s Flood from The Bible, injuring an actual angel, possession Superman and Jean Loring, and even planning to kill God in the Justice League of America book.
With the advent of the “New 52,” Eclipso has shown up in various places from Team 7, Catwoman and Sword of Sorcery, but has yet to make as major an impact as he did in the 1990s. But as his comics have shown, Eclipso is a patient man (or, strong mystical entity), just waiting for the right time to strike.
9. Time Trapper
Known as one of the biggest of the big bads in the DCU, the Time Trapper is – as his name suggests – a time traveler, and someone who uses that control of time for his own sinister purposes. Created back in 1964 by Robert Kanigher, the Time Trapper has been a major force in the DCU through events like Zero Hour, Final Crisis and face-offs with Wonder Woman, the Legion of Super-Heroes and more.
Based in a secret lair at the end of time itself, the Time Trapper’s powers are pretty much time itself. He can stop, speed up, alter or even split time. In the past he has even created his own pocket dimensions. His true origins have been retconned numerous times, with him at one point being Superboy-Prime, Legionnaire Cosmic Boy, and even a sentient timeline in itself.
You think Eclipso as God’s man of vengeance is a big deal? Wait until you meet Nekron, the living embodiment of Death. Originally created back in 1981’s Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #2 by Mike Barr, Len Wein and Joe Staton, Nekron was introduced as the ruler of an underworld dimension similar to Hell titled the Dead Zone that acts as a purgatory for the recently departed before they reach their final destination.
Nekron reached his pinnacle when in 2009 he was revealed as the mastermind behind the Black Lanterns and the instigator of the Blackest Night event series. During that series, he took over the bodies of Superman, Wonder Woman and a host of other heroes, and even resurrected a menagerie of dead heroes to fight in his army. Narrowly defeated, he arose once more in the final issues of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern comic when Hal Jordan briefly becomes a Black Lantern.
As far as powers go, Nekron can resurrect any deceased person, kill with a simple touch, as well as far-reaching reality warping powers. Geoff Johns has gone on to describe him as the most powerful dark force in the DC Universe, which is big given the others we have left to go on our list here.
Today’s Countdown has seen the living embodiment of Death with Nekron, Vengeance with Eclipso, and now we turn to a more esoteric but equally dangerous measure: entropy. So, meet Imperiex.
Imperiex is a relatively new villain on the block, introduced in 2000’s Superman #153 by Jeph Loeb and Ian Churchill. He’s been cited as the person responsible for destroying the entire universe on at least one occasion, and has also obliterated entire planets such as Daxam, and even Earth towns like Topeka, Kansas and Aquaman’s Atlantis.
In the Our Worlds At War crossover, the threat of Imperiex proves so great that we see strange alliances like Brainiac 13 and Darkseid, as well as Lex Luthor (then President of the United States) and the heroes of Earth. Although the good guys eventually win, the casualties for this event eventually rise to to a total of 8 million people and include the likes of Aquaman, Guy Gardner, General Sam Lane, Queen Hippolyta, and Doomsday.
6. Superboy Prime
It’s bad enough to be a dyed-in-the-wool villain, but it’s even worse when you see one of your greatest heroes go to the dark side. But Superboy-Prime did just that.
Born on a parallel Earth that looks indistinguishable from our own, Superboy-Prime was catapulted into the DCU proper after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths erased his timeline. Embittered by the loss of everything he knew, this boy born Clark Kent is warped by his emotions and sent on a downward spiral that threatened to bring the whole multiverse down with it.
One of his most infamous acts was pounding on the barrier or reality, causing ripples throughout DCU’s timeline that effectively retconned numerous character’s origins, deaths and rebirths in and out of existence. He single-handedly re-arranged the orbit of Hawkman’s homeworld of Thanagar, plunging it into the extended Rann-Thanagar War, as well as destroying the JLA’s longtime base, the Watchtower.
You might think a super villain with no powers can’t be that big of a threat, but obviously you haven’t met Prometheus.
Prometheus first appeared in 1998’s New Year’s Evil: Prometheus as a wide-eyed superhero fanboy who won a chance to be a member of the JLA for a day, but as the issue unfolds he reveals himself to be one of the most bent, determined, and deadly villains to be introduced in modern comics history. His origin reads like a twisted version of Batman’s, as the son of two small-time criminals whose death at the hands of law enforcements leads the then-young boy to swear vengeance against all forms of justice.
Forging himself into a man with stints as a Brazilian pit-fighter, a Middle Eastern terrorist, and devotee to a sect of evil Himalayan monks, Prometheus inherited the key to a hyperspace void known as the Ghost Zone which unlocked a whole new horde of avenues for the budding villain to explore.
He’s faced down the Justice League on numerous occasions, both solo and as part of Lex Luthor’s Injustice Gang.
Who can turn one of DC’s brightest heroes into one of the baddest villains ever? Who can be the secret ingredient to the success of one of the great superhero teams of all time? This guy.
Originally thought to be just the dark side of Hal Jordan’s mind when he turned evil, in 2004’s Green Lantern: Rebirth it was revealed that Parallax was a parasitic entity that took over Jordan’s body and drove him down that murderous path. Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver took that further, revealing that the yellow-colored Parallax was also the source for the Green Lantern rings’ longtime weakness to the color yellow due to this vengeful entity being imprisoned in the Central Power Battery on Oa.
Parallax’s powers are far-ranging and sometimes nebulous, including intense mind-control abilities that can bend even heavyweights like the Spectre, Batman, and Superman. Parallax’s most memorable ability is that potential to possess virtually anyone, which he’s done to great effect not only with Hal Jordan but also the Flash for a time. If that wasn’t enough, Parallax can create solid light constructs similar to the Green Lantern’s ring but ability to have it assume virtually any color, making it nearly impossible to discern his constructs from actual reality.
Some villains come and go as they please in comics, appearing in conflicts big and small. But characters like Anti-Monitor, when they show up you know it’s going to be a big deal.
Created back in 1985 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, the Anti-Monitor was the primary antagonist for that revelatory event series Crisis on Infinite Earths – out to reinvent the multiverse and kill off numerous universes in the process. The death toll Anti-Monitor has established during his 28 years in comics is positively frightening, with everyone from Supergirl and Flash down to the Crime Syndicate of America, Starman, Green Arrow, Robin, and even the Losers. Man, that hurts.
Much like Thanos or Galactus over at Marvel, the Anti-Monitor can’t be quantified as a villain for any one single hero or hero team; when he shows up, it’s all hands on deck and then some.
2. Crime Syndicate
All of the villains on this list are big, but each of them have been brought down at one point or another by DC’s heroes, tantamount being the Justice League. But imagine if those combined heroes didn’t always do the right thing but instead went down a darker path? Well, they have.
The Crime Syndicate of America (often times shortened to just the Crime Syndicate) are DC’s top heroes but born twisted as evil villains from an alternate Earth. Originally introduced in 1964’s Justice League of America early on during DCU’s fascination with alternate realities, the idea of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman born bad has proven to be a popular and creative wellspring for various storylines and events in the ensuing years.
Taking similar names as their heroic DCU counterparts, the Crime Syndicate have all the powers of the combined Big 7 of the Justice League – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Martian Manhunter – but they're bad, very bad. Meeting an evil version of just one of these would be a bad thing, but a whole team of them? There go your property values.
Perhaps best known for the 2000 graphic novel JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, they once again reared their heads in the Forever Evil event series and woe be to those that would stand in their way. In fact, with them jailed on the main Earth, there could be more Crime Syndicate sooner rather than later, with one member already showing back up in Justice League.
Despite his small beginnings in an issue of a Jimmy Olsen solo title, Darkseid is far and above the biggest bad of DC Entertainment. And he’ll tell you so himself.
Created in 1970 by Jack Kirby as part of his far-reaching New Gods mythos, Darkseid has grown from his humble beginnings to being one of the most recognizable faces of evil in all of superhero comics. Modeled visually on Jack Palance but historically on Adolf Hitler, Darkseid is the ultimate fascist dictator and ruler of the dark planet Apokolips.
Since his launch in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, Darkseid has been the primary villain for a variety of major events in the DCU from Kirby’s New Gods over to the Legion of Super-Heroes's The Great Darkness Saga, the 1980s event series Legends, and on to recent history in Final Crisis. In the dawn of the “New 52,” Darkseid was chosen as the primary villain of the flagship series Justice League and one of the biggest threats for any super-heroes in the DCU.