Marvel's Best Super Villain Team-Ups
In light of the super villain team-up revealed in 'Avengers: Twilight,' revisit a few other times Marvel's villains have joined forces.
The Avengers brought Earth's Mightiest Heroes together to face threats too much for any one hero to handle alone. But when the villains of the Marvel Universe join forces, they form threats that even the Avengers have trouble handling. On the rare occasions that Marvel's most dangerous villains set aside their differences, they have handed the Avengers some of their most devastating defeats and proven that any super villain can be a world-crushing menace with the right partners.
Now, let's take a closer look at some of the best super villain team-ups in Marvel history. From world-conquering duos to villainous legions, we're breaking down some of the most memorable super villain squads from across the Marvel Universe, just as a surprising new pair of villains emerges as the secret destructive force behind the dystopian future of AVENGERS: TWILIGHT (2024) by Chip Zdarsky, Daniel Acuña, and VC's Cory Petit.
ACTS OF VENGEANCE!
After he inadvertently brought the original Avengers together, Loki assembled dozens of major villains in the crossover event ACTS OF VENGEANCE! To catch the world's heroes off-guard, Loki manipulated numerous villains into taking on heroes they did not have a history with, starting in AVENGERS SPOTLIGHT (1989) #26 by Dwayne McDuffie and Dwayne Turner.
Kicking off with the destruction of the Avengers Hydrobase headquarters, this story saw Ultron challenge Daredevil, the Mandarin take on the X-Men, and a small army of obscure villains fight the Fantastic Four. But after Magneto buried the Red Skull alive, Loki's inner circle of villains fell apart. Once Thor recognized this team-up as his brother's handiwork, the Avengers defeated Loki and his forces, just as a cosmically-empowered Spider-Man took down several other villains.
Under the command of Baron Zemo, the Masters of Evil have menaced the Avengers for years. When Zemo reformed the team with over a dozen villains like Moonstone, Mister Hyde, the Absorbing Man, and the super-strong Wrecking Crew, the Masters handed the Avengers one of their most resounding defeats in the iconic "Avengers: Under Siege" storyline, which started in AVENGERS (1963) #270 by Roger Stern and John Buscema.
After taking over Avengers Mansion while the team was away, the Masters defeated the heroes individually as they returned. Over the course of their rampage, the Masters of Evil shattered Captain America's original shield, almost killed Edwin Jarvis, and even beat Hercules into a coma. Although Captain America ultimately defeated Zemo in battle, the Masters of Evil managed to destroy the Avengers' iconic headquarters for the first time in the team's history.
THE SINISTER SIX
Shortly after Peter Parker became Spider-Man, the web-slinger's most dangerous villains teamed up to form the Sinister Six in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL (1964) #1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. After escaping from prison, Doctor Octopus assembled Mysterio, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Sandman, and the Vulture to take revenge on Spider-Man for their embarrassing defeats.
By kidnapping Aunt May and Betty Brant, Doctor Octopus forced Spider-Man—whose powers had temporarily faded—to go through a gauntlet and battle his foes in quick secession. Although this story ended with every member of the Sinister Six sharing a jail cell, it set the stage for both "Return of the Sinister Six" and "Revenge of the Sinister Six" and established Spider-Man's foes as one of Marvel's most famous super villain teams.
Doctor Doom and Namor, an occasional villain, worked together throughout SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP (1975), but their most successful collaboration arrived in MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL – EMPEROR DOOM (1987) #1 by David Michelinie and Bob Hall. After kidnapping the Purple Man and creating a device that could enhance his mind-controlling power, Doctor Doom took over the world with Killgrave's terrifying ability.
By tempting him with the idea of global peace, Doom recruited Namor and convinced him to take down the handful of heroes who could resist the Purple Man's abilities. Although Doom briefly reshaped the world in his image, Wonder Man was in a sensory deprivation tank when he took over, which left him unaffected by the Purple Man's power. After the Avenger freed some of his teammates, the heroes defeated Doom and restored the global status quo.
THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMERICA
By the end of CIVIL WAR, Captain America was at one of his lowest points of his career. After surrendering to Iron Man and his Pro-Registration forces, Steve Rogers entered custody and faced numerous criminal charges. So, in CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #25 by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, some of his deadliest villains teamed up to take him down.
In a plot orchestrated by the Red Skull, Crossbones shot Captain America as he was escorted into a courthouse. Through brainwashing, Doctor Faustus manipulated Sharon Carter into striking the final blow with three subtle point-blank shots. However, the Red Skull's alliance ultimately collapsed due to the incompetence of his allies, which also set up Captain America's eventual return.
After firing the shot that ended SECRET INVASION, Norman Osborn became the most influential person in the Marvel Universe. Once he wrestled control of S.H.I.E.L.D. away from Tony Stark, Osborn reforged the organization into H.A.M.M.E.R. and brought Doctor Doom, Loki, Namor, Emma Frost, and the Hood together as the Cabal, his villainous version of the Illuminati, in SECRET INVASION (2008) #8 by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu.
As his plans against the heroes unfurled, Osborn donned the Iron Patriot armor and personally led the Dark Avengers, a team where villains like Bullseye and Venom (Mac Gargan) posed as heroes starting in DARK AVENGERS (2009) #1 by Bendis and Mike Deodato Jr. Although Osborn's plans failed when he launched an unsuccessful attack on Asgard, DARK REIGN showed how dangerous Osborn could be, even without his Green Goblin costume.
After Annihilus and his Annihilation Wave almost destroyed the universe, Ultron took command of the techno-organic alien Phalanx and tried to assimilate the rest of the cosmos starting with ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST PROLOGUE (2007) #1 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Mike Perkins. Ultron forcibly took over the Phalanx and started his attack by having them absorb the remains of the Kree Empire, as well as cosmic heavyweights like Drax and Ronan. Ultron even personally took over the body of Adam Warlock in his quest for "true techno-organic perfection."
With help from the Technarch alien Warlock, Star-Lord, Nova, and several other cosmic heroes successfully defeated the machines. At the end of this event, Star-Lord officially assembled the Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time to protect the cosmos from similar threats in the future.
THE SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN
Where the Sinister Six brings together Spider-Man's most famous villains, SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN (2013) #1 by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber enlisted a few of his more obscure villains. To help him with his various schemes, Boomerang recruited the Shocker, Speed Demon, Overdrive, and the Beetle (Janice Lincoln) to join his version of the Sinister Six, which only had five members.
More concerned with getting a payday and staying out of jail than taking over the world, this team of hapless villains tried to steal the head of cybernetic mob boss Silvermane and find a lost portrait of Doctor Doom—without killing each other in the process. After this series explored the lighter side of Spider-Man's low-level enemies, the villains continued to menace the web-slinger individually on their own.
As the clones of two of Marvel's most iconic heroes, Madelyne Pryor and Ben Reilly never had easy lives. So, after years of torment, the ersatz clones of Jean Grey and Peter Parker teamed up to get revenge in DARK WEB (2022) #1 by Zeb Wells and Adam Kubert.
Shortly after Pryor took over the demonic realm Limbo, Reilly lost most of his memories and reemerged as the villainous Chasm. Together, the clones turned Venom into their mindless servant and unleashed Limbo's demons on New York in their efforts to claim the memories that they thought were taken from them.
While Pryor relented once Jean Grey freely shared her memories, Chasm briefly conquered Limbo and took on a demonic form with help from his partner, Hallows' Eve. However, Pryor ultimately helped the heroes defeat Chasm and established a Limbo embassy in New York City.
After Wilson Fisk was elected Mayor of New York City, the former Kingpin realized he had forgotten something important: Daredevil's secret identity. With his political resources, an infuriated Fisk took out his frustrations on the city's heroes by outlawing all vigilante activity in DEVIL'S REIGN (2021) #1 by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto.
To enforce his new law, Fisk worked with Doctor Octopus and assembled a villainous Thunderbolts squad to serve as his strike force, then used the Purple Man's power to restore his memories and bend the citizens of New York to his will. Once his plans were foiled, Fisk and his wife, Typhoid Mary, left New York, and Luke Cage succeeded him as New York's Mayor.
In the dark future of AVENGERS: TWILIGHT, Earth's Mightiest Heroes failed. After several heroes and scores of innocent civilians died during a battle on H-Day, the Avengers and their surviving allies were pushed aside. As they grew into old age, they were replaced by a totalitarian government and loyalists like James Stark, the son of Iron Man and the Wasp.
After a fresh injection of the Super-Soldier Serum, an elderly Steve Rogers jumped back into action as Captain America to fight for the world he lost. As AVENGERS: TWILIGHT (2024) #2 reveals, the events that devastated this future are the work of Ultron and the Red Skull. Ever since Ultron orchestrated the attack on H-Day, the Red Skull has quietly manipulated James Stark and influenced the government to bring his horrifying vision to life.
See what Ultron and Red Skull have in store for the Marvel Universe in AVENGERS: TWILIGHT #2, on sale now!
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