If you’re reading this, chances are that at some point you’ve been burned by the law. Ever get a speeding ticket? Jury duty? Ten years in Sing-Sing? If so, isn’t it time you’ve gotten back at those fat cat judges and prison bars?
If you answered “yes” then a career of super-crime may be right for you. But before you go sporting a mask and start chucking attractive teenagers off of the George Washington Bridge you need to consider five important points about the art of villainy you may have over looked.
1. Your Age
They say age is just a number, but “they” aren’t constantly living in fear of Batman breaking their knees with their own elbows. Let’s get real: old people are pretty much terrible at everything, so why should a a life of crime be any different? Super-heroism is a young man’s game. If you’re considering career of no-goodery but are over the age of fifty you may as well just break your own hip and save Spider-Man the trouble.
Example: Black Fox
Unlike every other villain on the East Coast, Black Fox doesn’t aspire to commit super-crime. Instead he built his lengthy career on stealing exotic jewels. At the ripe old age of sixty he’s had a pretty good go of it, somehow avoiding both arrests and prison time because he is often mistaken for the Red Baron.
Despite this tremendous success he can’t retire. I’m guessing he was just really bad with money or had a perpetually sick aunt or something because “successful” plus “career jewel thief” doesn’t equate to “senior seeking employment.” In order to give up crime once and for all he and his magnificent mustache try to pull off one last heist, and that’s the problem: he keeps running into super-powered vigilantes. Given his age, Black Fox’s own powers are senility and weak bladder control, two things that don’t trump a man who catches helicopters in web.
2. Your Alias
We’re told that a rose by any other name would still ultimately be a rose and thus our perception of it wouldn’t change, but that’s not true at all. In fact, here’s a little exercise to prove my point: start calling Superman “Assmouth.” Now imagine that you’re on a train besieged by terrorists. Are you going to call on Assmouth to save you? Of course not, because then people would think you were strange.
A name is part of the presentation. Chances are people are going to know your name before they get to know you so it’s going to leave a strong impression on them. If you’re going to join the criminal underworld you can expect to see your name in newspaper headlines or in a tragic CNN news crawl when you’re inevitably gunned down by Robocop, so be sure to chose a good one.
Example: The Whizzer
The Whizzer possesses superhuman speed. Sadly, his name conjures up images of weak bladders and really sick dogs. At this point it doesn’t matter how fast you can reach Boston from San Diego on foot because every one else in your prison cell is too busy coming up with unflattering nicknames for you to be impressed by you.
Example: Paste-Pot Pete
Where to begin with this? Well for starters, alliteration stopped being intimidating the moment it was recognized as alliteration. Second, Pete does absolutely nothing here but reveal his first name and potentially his address. You want to throw people off? Use their names. For example, who would have guessed that Doctor Octopus was actually Mary-Jane Watson?! If that’s not a perfect misdirection then I don’t know what is.
3. Your Costume
If people associate your name with drinking too much Mountain Dew you can still salvage some dignity by throwing together a kick-ass costume. There’s really no excuse not giving it your all in the clothing department: you need to look flashy for the six o’clock news and given that you’re probably going to spend the rest of your life in prison you might as well go out with a bang anyway, right?
But a terrible costume can ruin your career just as quickly as a terrible name, if not faster, as noted below.
Example: Polka-Dot Man
Half the time Batman’s really got his work cut out for him. According to his own inflated ego he’s the world’s greatest detective, but you really don’t need to spend much time trying to figure out who committed what when all of your major villains look like they got dressed in the dark. Someone rob a museum? Find the nearest man or woman wearing flamboyant polka-dots or several question marks. Then, brutalize them to near-death. If they weren’t the deviants in question, you still did society a favor by removing what was clearly an unbalanced individual from the streets.
Example: The Rhino
The Rhino’s costume is a prime example of a good idea going horribly wrong. The suit really does make the man, granting him super-strength, speed and durability, allowing him to gore innocent bystanders during a hail of SWAT team gunfire. However, the polymer that makes him the most feared man-rhino hybrid on the American east coast is also his undoing, as it presents two major problems:
1. He has seriously skewed every single police line-up he will ever be in because he’s a rhino, and
2. His inability to stop looking like a rhino means he will never evade capture at the hands of the NYPD or the fine men and women of the Bronx Zoo.
4. Your Teammates
At some point it may be in your best interest to ally yourself with like-minded individuals. Batman can’t break all of your kneecaps, can he? Not only can teammates act as costumed meat-shields but on occasion they can actually help you achieve your goals.
However, the whole is only as good as its parts. If one of your parts happens to speak in rhyme or weigh more than five-hundred pounds then you’ll be lucky if you make it past the planning stages of any crime you hope to commit. When assembling your league be sure that you and your contemporaries are on equal footing or, bar that, can at least look intimidating before the inevitable ass-beating commences.
Example: The Enforcers
The Enforcers are a gang of three that aim to control all the organized crime in New York City. Sadly, they consist of a circus strongman, an old-timey cowboy and a man known only as Fancy Dan. The man who organized these modern-day Village People, the mysterious Big Man, must have done so without ever actually seeing or talking to any of them. Otherwise he would have realized a lasso, really good dancing and the ability to bench press a Volkswagen don’t compliment each other at all and have almost no practical use when you’re seconds away from being introduced to the Incredible Hulk’s fist skull-first.
Who’s the weak link in this chain? It’s hard to say. It’s obviously not the Ox because he’s strong, and while brawn alone isn’t enough to make up for the shortcomings of your would-be teammates it is a lot more useful than the art of roping bison. Montana, the cowboy, doesn’t actually carry a gun, making him less a cowboy and more a tall hat enthusiast. Finally, Fancy Dan holds a black belt in judo but no one in New York knows this because they simply can’t bring themselves to throw a punch at anyone named “Fancy Dan.”
5. Your Equipment
Finally, the last element to consider on your new career path of crime are which tools of the trade to make your own. You’re limited only by your budget, which in turn is only limited by the number of banks you can successfully rob.
Most people don’t know this but super-weapons are less about function and more about flash. It doesn’t matter if your weapon of choice can actually kill people. If it did, Doctor Octopus would forgo the tentacles for a sweet set of ninja swords. No, the important thing is how badass your equipment looks. Think about what’s scarier: a gun or a gun covered in bees?
At some point being really tall stops impressing people and just becomes an incredible hindrance. Stilt-Man uses telescopic legs to perform crime in the sky. Short of punching a hole in the Goodyear blimp during the Super Bowl, this isn’t really all that terrifying. So you essentially have a guy who can get absurdly tall at will. That’s good, I guess, but how does that help you after you’ve committed a crime? “Well, I just strangled three prostitutes. Now to grow three-hundred feet to evade the police!”
Example: Kite Man
Kite Man’s shtick was that he had a lot of kites. That’s it. He also resided in Gotham City where flying more than three kites at once is considered an air raid. A large kite fastened to his back granted him an easy escape at the speed of a gentle summer’s breeze. He was able to use his kites to great effect (somehow managing to break several other criminals out of prison with them) but that doesn’t change the fact that his defining feature is a child’s novelty flight toy. Anyone with a pair of scissors and five seconds to spare can blow his entire operation to hell. You think a guy with a jet and a black belt can’t deal with your bullsh-t?