A little while back we explored the world of Batman's rogue gallery, and the occasional good deed they managed to do while still being dangerously psychotic. Since Spider-Man also has a new movie coming out this year, it seemed like the perfect time to check and see if the Wallcrawler's antagonists also have a softer side.
Turns out that they do... although you should always remember that pretty much every bad guy Spider-Man has ever faced has been outwitted by a teenager in red tights. Consequently, they tend to be a kind of stupid lot. Still, it's the thought that counts.
In Spider-Man's world, all you have to do to gain superpowers is combine a horrifying industrial accident with radiation, which for some reason spent several decades as comic book-speak for magic. That's how Maxwell Dillon became Electro, a living bolt of electricity that is usually defeated by hurling a bucket of water at him. He's been a longtime foe of Spider-Man, including being a member of several Sinister Six groups.
Even though Dillon happily seized control of New York's power supply at least twice, he does draw a line somewhere. There was a group recently called the Bastards of Evil, claiming to be made up of the forgotten offspring of supervillains. Among them was a girl named Aftershock who said she was Electro's daughter.
The Bastards of Evil detonated a huge explosion at Ground Zero, causing the deaths of thousands of bystanders. Electro makes it a point to publicly condemn the Bastards for such an abhorrent act of terrorism. He also points out that his origin can easily be looked up on the Internet, and the timing makes it impossible for him to have a daughter Aftershock's age. Good to know that even the supervillains make a stand against terrorism occasionally.
Vincent Stegron worked with Dr. Curt Connors in studying dinosaur DNA. When Connors turned himself into the Lizard, Stegron thought, "Challenge Accepted." Using a variation on the same procedure, he became a dinosaur man, as well as proof that at some point comic book writers just steal ideas from their children's drawings stuck on the refrigerator.
Most of Stegron's plots involve trying to change mankind into beings like himself, which we have to admit is pretty awesome. He's understandably powerful, but beneath those bony plates there beats a tender heart.
In addition to terrorizing oil companies illegally drilling in the Savage Land, Stegron went on a sacred quest to save Devil Dinosaur. The last of the Tyrannosaurs had fallen into a catatonic depression when S.H.I.E.L.D. took his human companion Moon-Boy into custody. Stegron mounted a brutal attack on S.H.I.E.L.D., desperate to preserve Devil Dinosaur as he was the last of his kind. Eventually, Stegron's motive became known, and even though he was arrested for his rampage, Moon-Boy was reunited with his pal, who recovered completely.
Jackson Weele was about to go to jail for embezzlement when he decided that if he was going to go down, it was going to be in the most ridiculous way possible. Thus was born the Big Wheel, a rolling carriage of guns, robot arms and bad ideas. Weele's plan was to get revenge on an even more tragically awful villain, Rocket Racer, and Spider-Man actually spends most of the issue trying like mad to keep the two of them from dying like one of those annoying escort levels in first-person-shooters.
Weele went to jail, and more importantly he turned his life around. After joining Vil-Anon, a 12-step for recovering supervillains, he has a short stint as a superhero aiding Spider-Man against the Shocker in a pity adventure. Weele gives up superheroics, and becomes a popular guest speaker at Vil-Anon events and gatherings. He also occasionally performs at monster truck rallies in his wheel...something that if he had just done it in the first place would've made him famous instead of a long-running joke.
Antoine Desloin was a guitar-playing hypnotist that could control anyone with his music. It was the late '70s, okay? Just go with it. Hypno-Hustler used his powers to rob his audience, and was defeated when Spider-Man webbed off Desloin's headphones and ended up subjecting him to his own mind control.
In the alternate future world of Spider-Man:Reign, Peter Parker is old, alone and retired. New York City has become a dystopian police state, and Mary Jane is dead from cancer after years of exposure to her radioactive husband. A plea from J. Jonah Jameson brings Spidey briefly out of retirement, giving hope to the city.
A now-elderly Hypno-Hustler is one of those people who take heart at the re-emergence of his old enemy. He storms the streets, boombox in hand, and uses it to hypnotize the police who are cracking down on the citizens of New York. Sadly, his batteries give out, and he is riddled with bullets, but his sacrifice is the last straw for Spider-Man, who returns to full-time action and saves the city.
Aleksei Sytsevich wasn't the smartest villain in the world (Except for that weird Flowers for Algernon homage where he briefly was), but his brute strength and amazing Rhino suit turned him into an undeniable powerhouse. He's usually defeated in rather embarrassing circumstances, including once being shrunk and turned into a keychain ornament by Deadpool. Still, he's always a force to be reckoned with.
That being said, Rhino has struggled at trying to be a better person. When he accidentally kills a security guard during a bank robbery, he writes the man's family a (badly spelled) note of apology and sends them money whenever possible. It's a step in the right direction, but our favorite good Rhino memory involves the Punisher.
The Punisher ended up rescuing Rhino from a villain collecting animal-themed supers, and in return Rhino aided the Punisher on a case. Later, the Punisher set up a stake-out on a roof near a villain bar, planning on murdering the lot of them as they argue over pieces of Stilt-Man's armor. The building is actually Rhino's apartment complex, and he comes out dressed in a Santa hat to wish the Punisher a Merry Christmas.
Initially, the Punisher tells Rhino to go away, but Rhino talks him down from his rage by pointing out that the assembled villains aren't really a threat to anyone but themselves.
"You punish the evil," says Rhino. "Not the stupid."
Rhino's words work, and the Punisher leaves peacefully. God bless us, every one.
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