There’s nothing funny about real Nazi villains, but their comic book counterparts tend to be the hilariously conceived brainchildren of soused writers on commission. Festooned with surreal gimmicks and with back-stories odder than Michael Jackson’s Firefox search history, comic book Nazi villains are a strange lot. Here we give you the cream of the crop.
10. Karl Kroenen
Few evil dudes get quite as odd as this guy, the biography of whom (between the original Hellboy comic book series and the subsequent movie) is scattered with logically impaired twists and turns. A scientist obsessed with perfection, Kroenen spent his youth removing bits of his own face on a whim, leading to him relying upon a germ proof gas mask – worn almost constantly – in order to survive. Scroll forward a few years and he is a fully-fledged member of the SS, working for the Nazi Party at Auschwitz and head of a group of German aristocrats infatuated with the occult. He was also a fanatical disciple of the resurrected great-unclean-one himself, Rasputin, and spent his free time on an island off the coast of Scotland trying to make daemons appear from a portal. Nice guy.
9. Master Man
Master Man was a less than impressive Nazi soldier until he was involved in an experiment that transformed him into a superhuman supremacist in the same ilk as Ubermench (see below). This Marvel brawler was one half of a comic book Nazi power couple. Hitler married him to the slinky Warrior Woman a.k.a. Krieger Frau, who considered herself way above him but agreed to the wedding out of loyalty to the FÃ¼hrer. Probably the strangest thing about Master Man is his name: it’s so painfully obvious it almost becomes an enigma.
Obviously you should always fear the brainy. The supervillain philosopher Ubermensch is not only brainy, but 6’3″ and stacked. He also has a troubling handlebar mustache and superhuman charisma. Strangely (or not), he seems to have stolen Superman’s leotard and replaced the ‘S’ with a ‘U’, but what he lacks in originality he makes up for in right-wing sensibilities. Named after the Nazi-inspiring philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the ‘Overhuman’ (or the ‘Superman’), he’s double-pronged bad, in the comic universe and in reality.
Depending on the timeline you follow, the subtly named Hate-Monger was at different times a robot created in the Microverse, Adolf Hitler himself, and a freaky energy being sent to New York City to cause general right-wing trouble. He had a penchant for turning traditional social opposites against one another in order to affect a state of constant paranoia and – ultimately – war. You know, black versus white, man versus woman, hippy versus normal person. His tactic was to infiltrate said groups and pose as a potential sympathizer, before rippin’ em apart with the power of distrust.
6. Per Degaton
Imagine, if you will, a sort of far-right, red-haired lovechild of Gary Busey and Willem Dafoe – with pecs. Got that image in your head? That’s Per Dagaton. The fiery time traveler from the DC universe flies into a fit of rage after a foiled Nazi attempt to steal plans for a futuristic bomb-proof shield (to aid the Third Reich in World War Two). What follows is a standard evil-scientist-rise-to-world-power strategy, with one small twist: he falls in love with a robot’s head. Awww.
5. Herman von Klempt
For a start, this dude isn’t technically a dude; he’s a dude’s head, floating perpetually in a nasty little right-wing fish tank full of life-giving ooze to ensure his survival. And as if that weren’t weird enough, he has an ape which does his bidding. A big silver Nazi ape with tenuous politics. Hellboy’s sworn enemy, von Klempt is yet another totally bizarre Nazi antagonist with a penchant for the occult, only this one needs help when he has a bad itch – on his bald, swastika-d head.
Identikit, scantily clad, flaxen haired twins, who spend all their time together? These two are weird before you even get to the white supremacist villain side of their conjoined personalities. Fenris is the name of the organization they choose to identify themselves as; their real names being Andrea and Andreas (yeah who needs an individual identity?) Spawn of super-villain Baron Wolfgang von Strucker and genetically modified in the womb, these two Marvel Nazi youths didn’t stand a chance.
3. Baron Zemo
The greatest achievement of Marvel’s Baron Zemo was to create Adhesive X, which was a type of glue. Not wishing to belittle a man who created some of Hitler’s greatest comic book weaponry, but if your greatest achievement is making something already intrinsically sticky even stickier, then surely you’re fishing a little far from shore – especially if your fishing partner is Hitler. Zemo was eventually killed by his own ray gun while firing blindly at Captain America in a bid – presumably – to make his career even more amusing. However, before this he fathered a son, Baron Helmut Zemo. Zemo Jr married a woman named Heike who claimed to be the reincarnation of his own father. Talk about keeping the ‘bonds’ firmly ‘stuck’ in the family.
2. Captain Nazi
Captain Nazi is the most obvious counterpart to Captain America (although he isn’t actually from the Marvel universe). As a child, he was fed on ‘superfood’ by his father, then given to Hitler as a perfect example of the master race. Despite his evil axis credentials and menacing attitude, Captain Nazi is bizarrely camp – which surely wouldn’t have fared well with the Nazi party in reality. His red and green suit and hand on hip stance isn’t a bit reminiscent of the leather coats and shiny jackboots of the real SS, now is it?
1. The Red Skull
There are a few ‘red skull’ villains in comic book history, but Johann Schmidt is probably the weirdest. He has been repeatedly killed off before subsequently being resurrected and reinvented. Known by the monikers Dell Rusk, the Agent of a Thousand Faces, Cyrus Fenton, The Man and countless others, the Red Skull specializes in hand-to-hand combat and political manipulation. Perhaps the creepiest part about him is he has no special superhuman abilities at all; he’s just a very, very nasty Red Skull, buttoned up in fascist chic.