Being a douche in comics is an illusive idea. Sure, most villains are jerks by their very admission, but being a douche is more intricate. Merely being a heinous super-villain or a standard-issue jerk isn't enough to qualify one for douche-status. A douche is a triple point of obnoxious levels of swagger, wanton insensitivity, and just a touch of a complete lack of self-awareness. You just... recognize a douche when you see one. It's a survival instinct.
We're not saying we necessarily hate these 15 comic douches. Oftentimes, in-universe douches win us over with their pompous hearts of gold, or kicking down others who need it. Other characters, however, just exude douche through their very design, whether its through '90s quality edginess, or a "dark and twisted" persona that comes across as trying way too hard to be cool. Given the nebulous nature of douchebaggery, we tried to focus on characters that illicit a "What a douche!" knee-jerk reaction, be it from the audience or other characters. Also, derailing years of a well-established superhero series with some Clone Saga nonsense, a la "You're not you, you're me!" is a super-douche move.
Though the sociopath eventually won us over, Damian Wayne was such a little douche. Damian was intentionally written as a brat meant to catch the ire of both the readers and the new Batman in Grant Morrison's Batman & Robin. When you've been raised since birth to believe that you will inherit the Earth as the League of Shadows' ninja-wunderkind, one tends to develop a supermassive ego. Though Dick Grayson was finding difficulty in being Batman, Damian claimed he could do it better, on his own no less. Even when paralyzed by Flamingo, Damian manages to suck his teeth at the situation.
Damian defies Batman at nearly every turn, from adding a hood to his uniform, being rude to Alfred, to abandoning a victim to pursue Professor Pyg. Fortunately, Damian's service as Robin with both Dick-Bat and Bruce-Bat helped Damian ease out of his douche-stage.
14 THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN
While he's great at roasting villains, Spider-Man reaches ultimate-levels of douchebaggery during Doctor Octopus' tenure in Peter's body as The Superior Spider-Man. This is an omega-class nerd reincarnated as Marvel's most popular superhero -- clearly he's gonna be a dick about it.
Believing he can be a better Spider-Man than the guy who has been doing it since he was 16, Otto takes a pragmatic approach to web-slinging by blinding the Vulture, reprogramming the Living Brain as a lab assistant and punching off Scorpion's jawbone, Bible-style. Spider-Man's newfound lethality makes the Avengers consider revoking his membership, and Otto's proclivity for calling everyone an imbecile and/or clod drives away Peter Parker's friends, co-workers, and romantic interests. Slowly Otto redeems himself, however everyone interacting with SpOck couldn't help but notice how Spider-Man has been kind of a douche lately.
13 THE RIDDLER
The Riddler would be one of the most successful Bat-villains if he didn't have to be such a douche. Edward Nygma's entire schtick is committing crimes and leaving behind an intricate means of catching him that can only be deciphered if you're anywhere near as smart as he is, you big dumb-dumb. Nygma just has to be acknowledged as the smartest person in the room, as he admits in Detective Comics Annual #8: "It wasn't the money I wanted. It wasn't the action I sought. I just liked the attention."
Nygma's shining moment is likely "Batman: Zero Year," where he manages to hold Gotham City hostage in a blackout until someone can stump him with a riddle. Likewise, getting the opportunity to punch Riddler right in the face was the only motivation we needed to track down hundreds of Riddler Trophies in the Batman: Arkham games.
Unable to control his optic blasts, Cyclops overcompensates by being uptight over every other aspect of his life. This makes Cyclops an effective team-leader, but not much of a people person. Many consider Cyclops' douche-defining moment to be when he killed Professor X in Avengers vs. X-Men, however Scott remains a douche even without cosmic influence.
When Jean Grey died, Cyclops married Madelyne Pryor, who coincidentally looked like Jean, in Uncanny X-Men #175 by Chris Claremont. When Jean Grey was resurrected however, Cyclops abandons Madelyne and their son Cable to be with his preferred redhead, causing Madelyne to eventually become a super-villain. When Jean dies, again, Scott and Emma Frost make out on top of her grave. Beast even threatens the fabric of space-time itself to bring teenage Scott into the future just to illustrate how much of a douche Cyclops has become.
Sabretooth's primary motivation in life was being an absolute douche to Wolverine. Early on, Victor Creed established the tradition of hunting down Logan on his birthday just to spoil his day. Sabretooth also takes delight when slaughtering the Morlocks, the most miserable of the X-Men affiliates. Incidentally, don't hire Victor for your team because he's definitely a sleeper agent, like the time he was on the X-Men, or X-Factor. Also, you're probably just dealing with a Sabretooth clone, so all of that character development and death-scenes you just witnessed meant nothing -- classic comic d-bag maneuver.
What separates Sabretooth from other obsessed jerk villains is that after Creed's moral alignment is permanently flipped in Axis, he remains a jerk while still trying to atone for his sins. Apparently, Sabretooth's mutant power is being a douche. Maybe he should change his name to Sabredouche?
10 ULTIMATE REED RICHARDS
The Fantastic Four's Reed Richards has always been a bit of a douche -- dude literally calls himself "Mr. Fantastic" -- but Reed's Ultimate incarnation is the ultimate douche. Overlooking his world-threatening experiments, by Reed's own admission he created Dr. Doom: "I turned a douchey piece of Euro trash into an honest-to-goodness super villain." Incidentally, Reed chooses to pursue Dr. Doom instead of saving his dying girlfriend in Ultimatum, prompting Susan to dump him.
Reed goes full douche in Ultimate Comics: Doomsday by Brian Michael Bendis and Rafa Sandoval, murdering his parents and attacking Manhattan with an Akira-monster. After Johnny burns Reed's face, he begins wearing a metal helmet, becoming Ultimate Doctor Doom -- an amalgam of two of the biggest douches ever. As Johnny explains: "Reed Richards is Doctor Doom. He's more Doctor Doom than Doctor Doom was...and Doctor Doom was pretty good at being Doctor Doom."
9 BLACK MANTA
Black Manta is like that guy who won't shut up about his ex, except Manta will murder you with a dirty fishing knife because you're Facebook friends with Aquaman. The New 52 Black Manta seeks revenge for Aquaman accidentally murdering Manta's father, which is relatable. Black Manta doesn't really want Aquaman dead, however, despite Manta's catchphrase essentially being "Death to Aquaman!" When he discovers Aquaman has been resurrected, a supposedly reformed Black Manta immediately kills his customers and burns down his fish market to restart his vendetta in Brightest Day #1.
Black Manta's wish is granted in Forever Evil, when the Secret Society "kills" Aquaman, with Manta claiming Aquaman's trident by right-of-nemesis. Black Manta swears his new purpose in life is to destroy the Society because Ultraman inadvertently desecrated Manta's father's grave in Aquaman #23.1, but really it's because they killed Aquaman before Manta could.
It's hard to eclipse the '90s style douchebaggery of Rob Liefeld's Shatterstar, whose entire design is an overcomplicated mess. There's the massive pony-tail flanked by twin rat-tails, the impossibly-designed double-sword, the puffy-boxing hat, but Shatterstar's "mysterious past," finally resolved in X-Factor #259 by Peter David, takes the overcomplicated douche-cake. One day in Mojoworld, Shatterstar appeared in the sky. Arize The Creator takes some of Shatterstar's DNA to create Longshot. Shatterstar and Rictor jump forward in time to when Dazzler is pregnant with Longshot's baby, Shatterstar.
Seconds after Shatterstar is born, adult-Shatterstar wipes his biological parents' memories, and then sends baby-Shatterstar into the future to be raised by adult-Shatterstar's parents. Not douchey enough? Well, Shatterstar isn't a codename. Longshot, Shatterstar's father and son, suggested "Shatterstar" to Dazzler, a grown woman named Alison Blaire, and nobody objected. His being a douche was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
7 DUELA DENT
No relation to the Joker, The Joker's Daughter, aka The New 52's Duela Dent, is a fangirl who tries way too hard to be crazy. Wearing the Joker's discarded face for a mask, Duela's primary motivation is to get her "Daddy's" bodily fluids (blood) inside of her, believing it will turn her into a super-hardcore villain. In addition to the torn "Daddy's Girl" shirt that comprises the rest of Duela's uniform, this bizarre psycho-sexual routine reaches its climax when Duela climaxes as Dollmaker sews Joker's rotting face into her flesh in "Batman: Joker's Daughter" by Marguerite Bennett and Meghan Hetrick.
Further highlighting her lameness, Duela is drafted into the New Suicide Squad alongside Harley Quinn, making Duela's douchebaggery by comparison impossible to ignore. Incidentally, pre-Crisis Duela adopted the alias Harlequin in Teen Titans #48. Girl's entire motif is just lazily ripping off better villains.
T-Ray is a voodoo mercenary who despite his lazy character design managed to wind up as Deadpool's longest running nemesis. T-Ray claims that Deadpool, or "Jack," stole his identity as Wade Winston Wilson. This is a claim that is immediately invalidated by T-Ray's ridiculous hit-list back tattoo, which has "Wilson," not "Jack," at the top. T-Ray shares Deadpool's genre awareness, yet displays a complete lack of self awareness as he continues to wear a bandage over his nose even though he's a regenerating magic albino that apparently can't wear shirts -- the best explanation we could think of for an alias like "T-Ray."
So many Deadpool storylines are derailed to deal with T-Ray's soap opera drama that both characters eventually stopped caring. While no one could predict the gargantuan success of Deadpool, T-Ray has no place being Deadpool's self-proclaimed nemesis.
5 LEX LUTHOR
When he's not stealing 40 cakes, Lex Luthor matches Superman's heroism by never wasting an opportunity to be a douche. There's artistry in Lex's douchebaggery, like his hobby of seducing married waitresses over a week, proposing an indecent proposal and then vanishing before they can reply. Lex also tends to address Clark Kent as "Mr. Lois Lane," and the cornerstone of Lex's presidential campaign in Justice League Unlimited is "piss off Superman."
Lex claims that Superman's presence holds humanity back from greatness, when reality it's just Lex Luthor. LexCorp has developed cures for AIDS, cancer, and MS, but Lex won't release them because cures aren't profitable. Also, LexCorp's Everyman project in 52 gave everybody superpowers, up until Lex switched them off just because the super-procedure wouldn't work on him. Lex even turns down absolute godhood, because of the one caveat of "Don't be 'That Guy.'"
A hit-squad makes the tactical error of downing Hawkeye in a kitchen full of innumerable throwing utensils and zero surviving family members in Ultimates 2. Hawkeye grieves by embracing his inner in-your-face edge-lord class douche, complete with a bullseye mask that sacrifices cranial protection in favor of displaying his frosted tips in Ultimates 3 by Jeph Loeb and Joe Madureira. As if ripping off Bullseye's style weren't subtle enough, Hawkeye has a death-wish, which he reminds you of constantly.
Hawkeye's expletive-heavy response to everything is guns akimbo. Venom Robot? Guns akimbo. Need Spider-Man's help? Tranquilizer guns akimbo. Wolverine mentions family? Xenophobic slur, then guns akimbo. Clint claims that every gunshot brings him back to his family's triple-murder -- while guns akimbo -- or maybe he's lying. Hawkeye just tries to hard to be tragic and dark, ultimately landing on lame.
3 GUY GARDNER
In the '80s, Steve Engelhard and Joe Staton turned the Green Lantern Guy Gardner into a parody of an ultra-macho "red-blooded American male," transforming Guy into the most heroic douchebag in comics. Guy's uncouthness, arrogance and antisocial tendencies are what make him such an effective Green Lantern. After all, who has more willpower and misplaced confidence than a douchebag?
In fact, the Guardians only initially chose Hal Jordan to be a Green Lantern over Guy because Hal was closer to Abin Sur's ring. Likewise, Guy has effectively wielded a Yellow Ring, two Red Rings, and is one of the only dudes to wear a Violet Ring. The Guardians (via Kilowog) even at one stage promoted Guy to Lantern #1 of the Corps Honor Guard, specifically because Guy is an unpredictable wildcard. Guy even has a long-standing sucker punch based relationship with Batman. Guy may be a douche, but he's our douche.
Namor is likely the first jerk to appear in comics, and time has only solidified the King of Atlantis as the Grand Vessel of douches. Namor has a seat both in The Illuminati and its evil counterpart The Cabal, seeing no issue whatsoever. Even Namor's "Imperius Rex!" battlecry describes how awesome he is. Namor's winged Achilles' heel is hotties, as his primary motivation next to protecting Atlantis is banging Susan Storm. Ultimate Namor threatens to flood NYC unless Susan kisses him. The worst part is that Namor does all of this while wearing an armored banana-hammock 90% of the time.
Namor is not without merit however, pretending to lose a fight to Reed Richards so that he may regain some of his confidence after returning from fake-death. Mind you, Namor made out with Reed's wife to initiate the fight, which is a classic beach bully move.
1 THE NEW 52 LOBO
The New 52 Lobo introduces himself by decapitating and then vaporizing the head of the previous Lobo before himself to be the one true Lobo in Lobo #1 (2014) by Cullen Bunn and Reilly Brown. That's what you get for liking Lobo, you philistine. It gets worse, as Lobo kills the Red Lantern Cat Mascot (Catscot?) Dex-Starr in Lobo #11. All the while, Lobo has sappy flashbacks of his dead girlfriend. Finally, Lobo's new catchphrase is "Sorry. Not sorry." Honestly, Superman punching Lobo super-hard in his smug sexy face is one of the most cathartic moments in comics history.
New Lobo was so despised that in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Guy Gardner discovers a bottled Lobo in Larfleeze's collection. Guy is about to free Lobo before Hal interjects: "Not that one. Trust me. Better to leave him on the shelf."
Which comic book character do you think is a total douche? Should we have included Tony Stark or Silver Age Superman? Why won't T-Ray wear T-shirts? Let us know in the comments!