Top 15 Comic Book Villainesses
Although the traditional melodramas portrayed most villains as moustache-bearing males the idea of evil, misguided or just plain confusing female villains has been around since time began – ranging from wicked witches to seductive sirens. Female villains are just as capable of sowing misery as their male counterpart, except moustache : ) So, we present you our choice of comic books top female villaines.
# 15 Cheetah
As is the case with so many longtime DC characters, the Cheetah has undergone many revisions throughout her seven decades of existence. This classic Wonder Woman villain has seen no less than four incarnations, including one where the furry bombshell babe was replaced by a man. The third, and current, Cheetah is British anthropologist Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva. Heiress to a vast fortune, Minerva was selfish and raised by her parents’ servants. Throughout her childhood she grew to be very neurotic. At seventeen her parents were killed in a car accident, which permanently disabled Ann as well. She decided to visit Africa to search for the powers of the cheetah to heal herself. Ingesting a combination of human blood and berries of the plant-god Urzkartaga, she became Cheetah, but not without a catch. The Cheetah host was supposed to be a virgin, and Minerva wasn’t. Her transformation was part curse and part blessing, as she experienced severe pain in her human form and bloodthirsty elation in her cat form. As one of the most iconic and oldest Wonder Woman villains, Cheetah was an absolute must for our villains list.
# 14 Amanda Waller
She may not possess the dangerous feminine charms or impressive superpowers of a villain like Poison Ivy, but Amanda “The Wall” Waller is as deadly a foe as any in the DC pantheon. Waller, who first appeared in Legends #1, is a widow from Chicago who used her bright mind to escape a hard life in the Cabrini-Green housing projects — her daughters and her husband were murdered there. She studied political science, and became a congressional aide. Early in her career, she discovered the existence of the Task Force X/the Suicide Squad, an undercover group of supervillains who are contracted out by the government in return for amnesty. Waller saw an opportunity to improve the program, made a pitch to the White House, and was placed in charge of the Squad. President Lex Luthor promoted Waller to Secretary of Metahuman Affairs, but Waller was jailed when his administration collapsed. She is soon released, however, and becomes involved in the covert-ops Checkmate organization — first as Black King, and then as White Queen. She is later implanted with nanotechnology which allows her to control Chemo during missions.
# 13 Circe
Circe first appeared to bedevil Wonder Woman in the 1940s in Wonder Woman, vol. 1, issue #37. Circe is a goddess-level sorceress and as such is immortal. She is able to transform reality and matter through spells. Among other things, she can alter minds, fire destructive magical energy blasts, create illusions, revive the dead (as she did with Medusa), teleport, and transform objects and beings. Her “signature move” is transforming men into various animals, like when she turned Odysseus’s men into pigs. She can also use her transformative magics on herself, increasing her strength, endurance, speed and resistance to injury, making her a physical match for Wonder Woman.
# 12 Callisto
Callisto first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #169 (May 1983). She was the leader of New York City’s subterranean mutant settlement the Morlocks. However, after a run-in with the X-Men, Callisto lost a duel with a depowered Storm for leadership of the Morlocks. Storm left the group in Callisto’s care and the two have had an uneasy alliance ever since. A mutant, Callisto possesses enhanced senses of sight (including night vision), hearing, smell, taste, and touch, and possibly moderate degrees of enhanced strength and agility. It has also been suggested that her mutant power grants her tactical brilliance that allows her to see the best way to engage in any given conflict. Callisto lost her mutant powers after the House of M;[volume & issue needed] her powers were restored through use of the Terrigen Mist, although her senses were enhanced to a point where normal sensations became painful. Callisto also has excellent hand-to-hand combat skills, and is an exceptional hunter and tracker. She is usually armed with knives. Thanks to fellow mutant Masque her arms were altered into a set of multiple prehensile tentacles on both side.
# 11 Lady Deathstrike
She could have just been a one-off character, having been introduced in an issue of Daredevil and seemingly forgotten afterward. Instead though, Yuriko Oyama would go on to become one of the most formidable threats the X-Men and Wolverine would face. The daughter of the man who invented the process of bonding adamantium to human bones, Lady Deathstrike targeted Wolverine, perceiving him as someone who had stolen her father’s work and must pay for his actions. After her first defeat, she willingly allowed her body to be horribly transformed, becoming a powerful cyborg in the process, and gaining her own adamantium-laced skeleton and claws to battle Wolverine with. Lady Deathstrike’s loyalties have shifted through the years, as she’s worked with groups like the Reavers, the Sisterhood of Mutants and even a brief stint with the Thunderbolts during the superhuman Civil War – along with hooking up with Reverend William Stryker in a romantic pairing of the twisted. The kind of enemy who has the will and ability to slice your legs off in battle (as poor Sunfire learned), Deathstrike continues to plague the X-Men and their allies time and again.
# 10 Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy, AKA Pamela Isley, first appeared in Batman #181. Her blood is quite literally toxic, but her pheromone scent is absolutely intoxicating. It takes true sex appeal to have a name reminiscent of uncomfortable itching but to still have men falling all over you. Some villains strike at Batman’s loved ones, some at his partner, but Poison Ivy goes straight for the Bat. Coy, sexy and very deadly, we can see why so many men fall under her spell. All of Batman’s foes wield a certain advantage over the Dark Knight that makes them a formidable opponent. For the Scarecrow, that advantage is fear. For Two-Face, it’s the feelings of guilt he inspiress. Pamela Isley lands on this list because she employs two deadly weapons that are as old and primitive as time itself: Sex and mind-control (or are they the same thing? We can never be sure). Ivy adds some much needed estrogen to Batman’s rogues’ gallery, proving that terrorizing Batman and Gotham City isn’t a job for men alone. With her hypnotic powers and her ability to control plant life, she’s also one of Bats’ few super-powered foes. Whether she’s turning Gotham’s version of Central Park into her own twisted jungle playground, tearing up the town with Harley Quinn, or terrorizing Gotham’s elite industrialists or brain-washing Superman to kill Batman, Ivy always proves a worthy adversary. The point is that a relatable, sympathetic person exists deep within the Poison Ivy character, and that’s the most essential ingredient for any great antagonist. Plus, she’s deadly, ruthless and sexy as all hell.
# 9 Selene (Black Queen)
Selene Gallio is a mutant, and an enemy of the X-Men often associated with the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle. Her long life is attributed to the fact that she is a ‘psychic vampire’, able to drain lives of others in order to extend her own. Her name derives from the ancient lunar deity Selene, daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia. Claiming to have already been old when mankind was just emerging, Selene was born 17,000 years ago. Her tribe’s elders recognized her for what she was and commanded the entire tribe, including her own mother, to sacrifice their lives to feed her. Selene was briefly depicted as a being of semi-substantial living darkness with the ability to appear and disappear at will and, similar to Blackheart, imprison people in the dark energy she appears to be composed of. In more recent appearances, however, she has apparently regained her humanoid form and displays her original powers.
# 8 Talia Al Ghul
Talia’s origin has never been all too important in regards to her vital role in the Batman mythos. What’s important is that she’s Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter, and she’s madly in love with the Dark Knight. She may be the head of the infamous League of Assassins, but Talia al Ghul is a little more complicated than your average villain. Her motives are usually pure, even when her methods are not, and she’s been of great help to Batman and other heroes from time to time. Her mother having died when she was very young and Talia was raised by her father, who trained her to become his assistant in the running of his vast operation. She’s a talented martial artist, capable of defending herself with or without a weapon, and like her father she can be resurrected in his network of hidden Lazarus Pits. Talia first encountered Batman when her father sought to determine whether Bruce Wayne would prove a fitting match for his daughter, and thus inherit his empire. Batman refused to have any part of the deal, but not before Talia fell in love with him. Since then, the two have had several run-ins, both direct and indirect. In particular, it was Talia who used a Lazarus Pit to revive Jason Todd, the second Robin, and helped him embark on a campaign of vengeance as the Red Hood. More to her credit, Talia happens to be one of the few people who’ve successfully double-crossed Lex Luthor – installed as the head of LexCorp after Luthor was elected president of the United States, she used the opportunity to reveal Luthor’s crimes to the world.
# 7 Cassandra Nova
Cassandra Nova was born without a body. So to fix this problem, she decided to copy Charles Xavier’s DNA, effectively becoming his twin sister. They grew together all happy-like in the womb until X sensed her evil thoughts. He tried to kill her, but she survived as cell matter and clung to a sewer wall for years, rebuilding herself physically and imitating humans. Out of this brother-sister love, she decided to destroy Professor X’s X-Men and his love Lilandra. Cassandra Nova basically has the powers of Professor X like telekinesis and telepathy. Another more important tool in her arsenal is her ability to block his thoughts from entering her mind. She can mimic the voice and DNA of others, which comes in handy when she pretends to be Donald Trask and gets the Sentinels to kill 16 million mutants on Genosha. She is so powerful that she once took over Professor X’s body through the help of Cerebra (an updated version of Cerebro). Then she shot him. Still in Professor X’s body, she forced Xavier Institute student Beak to beat Beast into a coma. She was so powerful, Jean Grey had to split X’s conscience into pieces and store them into every mutant’s mind.
# 6 Elektra
Elektra is a kunoichi – female ninja assassin – of Greek descent. She wields a pair of bladed sai as her trademark weapon. She is a love interest of the superhero Daredevil, but her violent nature and mercenary lifestyle divide the two. According to Marvel Comics, Elektra is the world’s most lethal woman and one of Marvel’s most cold-blooded characters. She has killed more men than just about any other Marvel character while remaining one of the most popular heroines in the Marvel Universe. Elektra was one of the ‘good guys’ when she worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. She resurfaced to help Daredevil with a situation with the Kingpin. The crime lord, in exchange for his freedom, offered the FBI irrefutable evidence that Matt Murdock was Daredevil. It was revealed that Elektra actually helped Kingpin gain all the needed information back when she was Daredevil’s enemy, and she returned because she felt an obligation to help Matt out of the trouble for which she felt responsible. It was also revealed by the Black Widow that Elektra is now the leader of The Hand.
# 5 Silver Banshee
Siobhan McDougal was the first-born child of Garrett McDougal, the patriarch of an old Gaelic clan that has occupied an island midway between Scotland and Ireland for a thousand generations. On that island is Castle Broen, where first-born McDougals undergo a ritual to prove themselves worthy to lead the clan. When Siobhan was young, she traveled the world, only returning to Castle Broen when she heard of her father’s death. Her uncle Seamus determined that no woman would lead the clan and intended her brother Bevan to become the new patriarch. She went ahead with the family ritual by herself, which involved calling on supernatural forces for power. She was interrupted by Bevan, and the distraction proved disastrous as she was dragged away into an infernal netherworld. An entity called “the Crone” granted her powers and the ability to return to Earth as the Silver Banshee, but demanded payment in the form of an occult book that belonged to her father. She found that her father’s book collection had been shipped off for sale in the United States. Her quest brought her to Metropolis. Killing anyone that stood in the way of her search attracted the attention of Superman. Unable to defeat Superman, she chose to retreat and continue her mission at a later date. She has superhuman strength, agility, speed, endurance, and a high degree of resistance to physical and energy attacks. Her wail can kill anyone within a certain range as long as she can see her victim and knows their true name. Victims are usually reduced to desiccated husks. Silver Banshee is able to use her sonic powers to teleport.
# 4 Harley Quinn
Despite being a character born from the classic Batman: The Animated Series, you would think she has been around since minute one of Joker’s détente with the Batman. A testament to Harley’s villainy and appeal is the fact that she turned what was a solid supporting role on a TV series into a canon-worthy DC mainstay. Her upcoming role in Gotham City Sirens, alongside Poison Ivy, is further proof of our welcomed investment in Harley. She is not the strongest of rogues in Batman’s gallery, and she is not necessarily the most malevolent. But she is quick to turn on the crazy, and even quicker to please her Mr. J. That combination alone makes her a constant threat, and an integral part of Batman’s series, which more than any other original character from TAS can say. Harley Quinn is unpredictable yet most comfortable in the role of Joker’s misunderstood number two, despite certain storylines trying to put more responsibility upon the character. Harley works best in small to moderate amounts, yet we never tire of her antics and conflict. That’s saying a lot for a character who didn’t start out as a Batman staple, but will forever be one going forward.
# 3 Mystique
Not every great villain has to be a world-conquering, war-mongering, super-powered bad ass. Some of them are simply great at manipulating events to their liking, bending the world to their desire and getting away with it. Mystique is one of those villains, and is absolutely one of the greatest female villains ever created. Raven Darkholme’s history is a bit convoluted, particularly as she relates to the complex X-Men history, but that’s not necessarily what makes her important. The key points would be these – she is the mother of Sabretooth’s son, the mother of Nightcrawler and a foster mom for Rogue. Her history with these various characters has given her a prominent seat in the future of the mutant race, and she even played a critical role (despite being revealed as a traitor) in the 2006 storyline Messiah Complex, which kicked off a major new era in the history of the X-Men franchise. Due to her age (which is estimated at over a century), Raven has played a role on many teams, involving herself in many causes including the X-Men, Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, X-Factor, Marauders and more. Most recently she was involved in clashes with Wolverine (who sought revenge for her betrayal in Messiah Complex) and Iceman, where she apparently died. Given the number of times she’s allegedly been killed, it’s hard to imagine this espionage master will remain missing in action for long. In essence, over the years X-fans have been treated to a kick ass femme fatale who has found herself at several key turning points in the history of the mutant race. Oh, and you have to love her design, both in film and print. ‘Nuff Said.
# 2 Catwoman
Yet another villain that has stood the test of time as a mirror to the Dark Knight, Catwoman has a bit of a unique angle when compared to her rivals. Outside of Talia Al Ghul, Selina Kyle is likely the closest thing to love that Bruce Wayne has ever experienced. In fact Kyle is one of the few distinguished characters to know Wayne is in fact Batman.That connection alone is enough to propel Catwoman high up on our list, but it’s also worth recognizing her fantastic, layered characterization. In fact her conduct over the years has allowed her to straddle the line of hero and villain, and in recent years she’s been more of an anti-hero of sorts, despite constantly breaking the law and defying authorities. (She makes the list because of her decades of villainy mixed with DC’s dedication to keeping her just on the darker side of the morality line.) It’s her willingness to play any side to her advantage that makes Catwoman such a compelling character. She serves herself and no other cause or master. She’ll clash with Batman if she’s executing her latest heist, but isn’t afraid to exact her revenge on Hush, stealing his great wealth and leaving a vicious enemy of Batman with nothing but whatever is in his pockets. Her unpredictable nature combined with her unwillingness to play within the rules (which she could easily do given her many superhero contacts and pseudo-allies), makes her certainly one of the most entertaining baddies in the business and one of the strongest female leads in the industry.
# 1 Dark Phoenix
Quite honestly, the combined efforts of a half dozen villains on this list aren’t likely to surpass what the Dark Phoenix accomplished in a brief moment. While most evildoers scheme and contemplate the destruction of the world, the Phoenix Force, through Jean Grey and in its most savage state, has simply acted and destroyed billions of lives.
As one of the most powerful entities on this list, the Dark Phoenix has immense telepathy and telekinetic abilities, but more importantly control over matter itself. This power level, combined with the classic nature of the original “Phoenix Saga” storyline, has largely prevented Marvel from revisiting the concept, despite teasing it in a limited capacity on numerous occasions through Jean Grey’s resurrection or various mini-series that explored the nature of the Phoenix Force itself.
Despite having limited exposure when compared to many of the other villains in the upper ranks of our list, the Dark Phoenix is still one of the most accomplished and legendary. To this day, the Phoenix Saga is regarded as one of the best X-Men stories ever created. That accomplishment alone was a huge factor in our rankings.