Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Stone's Scale of Evil Rank
22) Psychopaths who inflict extreme torture on their victims and then murder them.
Why Malefic has been selected for 2nd Place:
- Malefic is the Martian Manhunter villain in the eyes of modern readers.
- Malefic was the aberrant Martian his own mother wouldn’t love.
- Malefic understands the principle of better bonding through torture.
While following a trail of death Malefic had begun, J’Onn J’Onzz discovered that Jemm had been tortured for some time by himself, or rather Malefic impersonating the Martian Manhunter. Jemm again needed physical and psychological recovery, and J’Onzz had to explain his relationship with Jemm, or more to the point, Ancient Martians having created the Saturnian race as a clone work force. Without Malefic’s having used Jemm as part of his vendetta against his brother, readers may have never had this key relationship explained, and the torture also bonded Jemm and J’Onn on a personal level that expanded their individual franchises through the connection. Malefic made Jemm the Patty Hearst of comics, and allowed the Martian Manhunter to reclaim a useful continuity he had heavily influenced, but previously been excised from.
- Malefic altered the relationship between J’Onn, Jemm and the DC Universe.
- Malefic emphasized horror as a major genre component of solo Martian Manhunter stories.
It wasn’t until the mid-90s that Peter Tomasi began introducing horror-heavy material into solo Martian Manhunter stories, first as a writer, and then editor. The primary vehicle for this change was the character of Malefic, whose very name indicates his tendency toward extreme, graphic depictions of physical and psychological torture, as well as grotesque body alteration. While there were often elements of the occult and the appearance of monstrous entities in 1960s Manhunter from Mars strips, Malefic retroactively enshrined them as part of the Martian Manhunter’s origins, and a constant element of his only solo series to date.
- Malefic looks like an evil Martian Manhunter.
Malefic also bore a strong family resemblance, but he was much too lean and elongated to appear heroic. He had all those piercings and chains, plus the face-obscuring chest piece. Most importantly, Malefic always had a wicked grin and cruel eyes that cleared up any ambiguity. Anyone who sees Malefic knows he’s pure evil, and anyone familiar with the Martian Manhunter knows this is his evil opposite just by looking. Image counts, and Malefic is the most visually adulterated variation on J’Onn J’Onzz to date.
- Malefic assaulted the Justice League.
- No man escapes the Manhunter from Mars.
- Malefic started a new continuity
- Malefic continues the spirit of the Phantom Zone Criminals.
- Malefic molested and executed everyone J’Onn J’Onzz held dear.
- Malefic killed all the other Martians.
- Malefic was the single worst Martian ever.
The Counter Argument:
- Malefic is an inorganic construct. He fits perfectly into an archetypal model because there’s no individual personality present. Malefic is pure formula and would make Robert McKee proud.
- Malefic has been dead since 1998, and only turned up in a couple of flashback stories since.
- The EXTREME evil Martian with the piercings and the chains who makes with the stabby/slashing and is just sooooooo bad for no good reason besides he’s crrr-azy? Stop the ‘90s, I want to get off.
- Horror? You’re going to take a giant green Martian in a cape and trunks with a history in juvenile fiction and put him into horrific situations? I bet you wish someone would turn Wally Wood’s Disney Memorial Orgy into a series as well.
- Malefic’s big splash was to kill John Jones’ partner of a few recent issues and to claim credit for a plague that was canonized as naturally occurring a decade prior. Even when you factor in that a new continuity was begun, it’s still a body count of NPC asparagus people.
- Malefic killed J’Onn’s mother, contributed to the death of their father, mind raped his wife, tortured his quasi-nephew, unleashed a lethal plague against their people… why not kick his dog and wreck his pick-up, too? Malefic is just too much of a Villain Sue to stomach.
What Malefic Represents:
One of the clearest indicators of maturity is personal responsibility. There are always extenuating circumstances, but whether there are tanks rolling through your neighborhood or a tsunami washing over your beach, the individual is defined by how they address their situation. People born with a silver spoon in their mouth often suffer from deficiencies because their safety net hinders their development, while coming from the wrong side of the tracks doesn’t excuse a person from simple morality or ambitious drive. The adult mind recognizes that despite circumstances, our lives are what we make of them. However, this recognition also comes with it the realization that we are typically our own worst enemies, allowing ourselves to fall prey to weakness and to make self-destructive choices.
While there is entertainment to be found in contrasting elements (brains vs. brawn, science vs. magic, etc.,) there is a special charge that comes from virtually identical and entirely compatible adversaries. Not only is there a greater sense of unpredictability through even match-ups, but there’s an undeniable appeal to externalizing the inner conflict of the “evil twin.” Further, there’s a catharsis to be found in unleashing the id monster. If we are all the heroes of our own stories, it stands to reason that we are also most captivated by the villains who indulge themselves in a manner we dare not. That is why the dark parallel is such a common and undyingly popular archetype in heroic fiction. If we embrace the heroes we wish to be, then their “bad selves” are just as likely to reflect our own unspeakable fantasies.
Alternately, the evil twin may personify that which we find most repugnant. In this sense, the twin may be our reprehensible polar opposite rather than simply “naughty.” This aspect shows a sense of responsibility that extends beyond the self, accepting blame for personal associations or even societal ills beyond the reasonable control of most people. It’s the fear that comes from not being selfless enough to effectively direct the external toward the subjective positive. Atlas shrugged, so to speak. This aspect also speaks to our innermost fears—the vulnerabilities one is aware of specifically because of their intimacy. It is the acknowledgement that we know what would most harm our loved ones and scar our psyche, and that this is personified in our personal bogeyman.
This brings us to Malefic, who is both everything the Martian Manhunter is and everything that he is not. Malefic satisfies the juvenile desire to “prove” that the hero is superior to everyone in his life through power, as well as a depiction of the J’Onn J’Onzz his fans fear bad writing could degenerate the character into.
- Malefic is to the Martian Manhunter as Hush is to Batman or Conduit is to Superman or Devastation is to Wonder Woman or Ocean Master is to Aquaman or as Elektra is to Daredevil
- Malefic is to the Martian Manhunter as the Joker is to Batman or as Bullseye is to Daredevil or as Professor Zoom is to the Flash or as Carnage is to Spider-Man or as Black Hand is to Green Lantern
Who isn't ranked because of Malefic:
- The Headmaster: Another horror tinged Ostrander/Mandrake creation that could hold his own, but with nowhere near the staying power or recognition.
- The Master Gardener: American Secrets readers feel strongly about this other Martian manipulator, but they only number in the dozens, and the deep personal animosity with J’Onn isn’t there.
- The Osprey: Another Modern Age villain plotting the Martian Manhunter’s ultimate destruction from the shadows… who never actually got around to even starting on it.
- Tor, the Robot Criminal of Mars: The original threat from Mars bent on the Alien Atlas’ total destruction… that one time… fifty years ago.
- D’Kay: Ms. Malefic, and I lost I.Q. points just typing that. Ugh cubed.
I personally continue to find Malefic loathsome and tedious besides, but he turns up at the top of virtually everyone’s short list of Martian Manhunter enemies.