Best Villain: Murdered by Pirates Is Good

This was a tricksy one.  What makes the best villains?  If it were simply the ones I hated most, the ones who made me want to jump right into the book and—Jurisfiction be damned!—assassinate them for the sake of the heroes I loved, my answer would be easy enough.  Fei Wang Reed from the manga Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle by CLAMP, or the initially innocuous-seeming yet completely sadistic villainess from Coleen Doran’s graphic novel space opera, A Distant Soil.  But that’s not quite it.  The best villain should not just be someone you hate, but someone who contributes something to the atmosphere (the romance, perhaps?) of the story.  Someone who can’t be replaced by just any other antagonist or evil-doer.  Someone whose very character is integral to the Story.

So, who else could I choose but Captain James Hook?

I think a key part of the appeal of pirate couture is the swoopy hat feathers. I love me a swoopy hat feather.

He’s got all the makings of the classic villain.  He’s the hero’s arch-nemesis, with a crazy phobia, and an obsession for revenge.  He’s certainly got style: he could be a pirate fashion plate straight out of a Howard Pyle illustration.  He has an infamous history as Blackbeard’s bosun and is rumored to be the only man who ever struck fear into the heart of Long John Silver.  Despite being rightfully terrifying to the denizens of Neverland, he also stands, painfully, by his notions of “good form.”

Hook is an indispensable part of the romance and adventure of Peter Pan.  He’s the childhood villain we all dreamed of daring, and without him, English children’s literature would be a poorer place.

Honorable Mention: Baron Harkonnen

from Frank Herbert’s Dune

Because I apparently have an inability to pick just one candidate for any of these questions, I can’t let this one go by without mentioning a runner-up choice.  I’d actually forgotten all about the Baron till about half an our before writing this, but when I remembered him, I thought “Of course! How could I forget?”

I just figured out that Dune shared the 1966 Nebula award with This Immortal, a book by another of my favorite authors, Roger Zelazny.

The Baron’s size is certainly his most memorable characteristic.  In the words of my father, “The Baron is just the best bad guy!  I mean, he’s so corpulent he has to have little hover pods to carry all his fat rolls around.”  He’s not the most originally dastardly villain, but he’s as effective as the best at espionage, torture, and assassination.  Politically crafty, he aims at maneuvering himself into sole control of the planet Arrakis (also called Dune), a position which would give him complete monopoly of the melange spice market, and thus, control reaching across the universe.  Harkonnen is truly a force to be reckoned with, and his presence overshadows the fate of Dune.

10 thoughts on “Best Villain: Murdered by Pirates Is Good

      • I was disappointed we couldn’t talk one of my friends into buying a Robin Hood style hat at the last ren faire. She looked really cute in it, but she was afraid it didn’t go with her medieval lady costume. Thankfully as a fantasy character, I can kind of make up whatever I like for my look. As a friend told me, the only accuracy that matters for an elf is that of her aim.

  1. True, true. I used to amuse myself by infuriating people who tried to tell other people the “rules” of certain fantasy beings, primarily dark-elves and dragons. That’s what imagination’s for, people! XD

  2. Pingback: Book Meme 2012 Week 3: Magnificent Villainy « The Warden's Walk

  3. Pingback: Conclusion « Egotist's Club

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