I am pleased to welcome Alan Janney, author of The Outlaw series! Let's talk about superheroes and villains-- definitely one of my favorite topics.
Superheroes And Villains
(from a literary point of view)
by Alan Janney
I never considered my books to be about superheroes. Which is weird because they’ve spent a lot of time on the Superhero best seller list, all three books climbing as high as #3.
The Outlaw and Infected were both published in June of 2015.
In July, Amazon’s ‘Also Read’ algorithms kicked in and (based on who had been reading them, I think) placed them in three different Superhero best seller lists. Since then, I’ve embraced and enjoyed the genre, but the whole thing was accidental.
Who are the best superheroes and villains?
Pro Tip: those shouldn’t be separate lists!
All of the really really great superheroes have really really great archenemies. It’s very rare to have one without the other.
I’ll show you what I mean. And keep in mind, I’m an author. Not a comic book expert. So my lists are made from my mind, and the mind of my son, who is 6. So in my humble opinion…
First tier. These superheroes tower above them all. Especially from a literary standpoint! They are complicated characters with complicated enemies, which makes for the most compelling read.
1) Batman vs. Joker, Penguin, Bane, Poison Ivey, Cat Woman, Riddler, Two-Face, etc.
2) Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin, Lizard, Rhino, Sandman, Venom, Electro, etc.
See what I mean? Those are well-known, standout villains. We know their backstory. We know what they look like, often without having seen the movies. We even like some of them. Batman and Spider-Man are really good heroes who have been pushed into greatness by their host of opponents.
Here is the second tier. Why are they second tier? Because their list of stand-out villains is smaller, less set in stone. Still great! But slightly less so, in terms of villainy.
Wolverine - Sabertooth, Juggernaut, Sentinels
Superman - Lex Luthor, General Zod, Doomsday
X-Men - Magneto, Sentinels, Blob, Mystique (Yes, I know there’s overlap)
Avengers - Ultron, Thanos
Third tier (Only one or two memorable enemies)
Iron Man - Whiplash (Iron Man is a recent favorite, because we LOVE RDJr.)
Captain America - Red Skull
The Hulk - Abomination
Thor - Loki
Fantastic Four - Dr. Doom
Fourth tier (Still very cool, but I can’t think of a single, memorable proprietary villain)
But not in my mind, and I bet I represent the fan off the street. The non-diehard comic book fan.
What’s the point?
Aspiring authors! Pay attention!
The villains in your book are just as important at the hero!
Where would Harry Potter be without Snape, Draco, and Voldemort?
Where would Luke be without Darth Vader?
Forgotten, probably. That’s where.
Thanks, Alan! I can't agree more on the importance of a really good villain. I don't know about you, but I think Loki stole the show from Thor in the Avengers and both Thor movies. Of course we haven't even scratched the surface of the dark superhero like Batman and Wolverine. The ones who walk the line so close to villain at times, they run the risk of crossing it. Hmm... I just mentioned my two favorites... perhaps my tastes run more to the dark side.
The Outlaw: Origins
February 26, 2016