Don't get me wrong, superheroes are cool and all, but come on! Who doesn't love the bad guy? Villains have the most introspective and oftentimes interesting stories associated with them, and for good reason.
Writers tend to put a lot of work into their protagonists, so it's safe to assume that the same effort is put into their archenemies. There's quite a few to choose from though, and sifting though that long a list can be greeted with much annoyance, especially when you're new to the comic book game and just need a starting point for the greatest comics to read.
Either way, the following characters are mentioned here not only for their toughness or ingenuity. No, it deals with much more than the type or quality of what evil a particular character enjoys. It's more about the specific ways in which that villain has challenged both heroes and villains, denoting traits of lawlessness and unmerciful diction, doing away with love and compassion to expound upon their demonic inquiries and destructive violence.
In the stories of the most evil DC villains of all time, you won't find any happy endings, but I'm sure a laugh is somewhere in there...
The Joker is the most evil character ever invented, period. No other protagonist or antagonist ever created has lived up to the sheer ingenuity and psychosomatic insanity so embroiled in the "identification unknown (possibly Jack Napier, still unsure so check back later)."
That's right, not even Sauron or Voldemort hold a candle up to this guy, but Stephen King's shapeshifting clown IT definitely comes in at a hard second. What makes this comic book clown so evil and interesting is his powers, as the DC's own website reads, "complete unpredictability, intelligence."
In one blink of a second he's laughing, the next he's most likely bludgeoning someone to death with a water pipe, still laughing, of course. What's so funny? Oh, I don't know, maybe he's the greatest villain of all time, but who am I to judge...
With an identity that still remains left in the dark, along with a long list of both superhero and super-villain victims, it's safe to say the Joker might possibly be on a completely different level of utter depravity and unquestionable immorality.
That's evil on a sadistic level, and this clown makes it look like a joy ride the whole time—even when he's getting his ass beat. He simply does not care what happens to him, whether killed or imprisoned, he always seems to face every consequence with nothing more and nothing less than a "ha ha ha."
Add to that his incredible knowledge and psychological imbalance and you've got one of the most evil DC villains of all time, which incidentally is also the only one that wants nothing more than to put a smile on your face.
You want to talk evil? Deathstroke alone, killed every single DC superhero in one comic series, effectively murdering Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and many others with ease. Originally the archenemy of the Teen Titans, which was installed back in 1980, Slade Wilson would become one of DC's most celebrated and iconic villains, later adapted for various television series.
His story follows a 16-year-old inductee to the US Army, where the adolescent flourishes as a recruit and officer in Korea, so much so that he was promoted to Major following his return from the war.
Settling down, marrying and having a child, Slade feels his life is all in order when he accepts a new employment for the US Army's cryptic secret experiment project.
Embedded with meta-human abilities, super strength, and uncharacteristic speed, Slade Wilson evolved into Deathstroke. Deadly to any adversary willing to stand up to him, this mercenary assassin is one no one wishes to trifle with or else they want to end in a gruesome manner.
With so many various super creatures, robots and, otherwise, alien beings on the remainder of the most evil DC villains of all time, it's refreshing to find another human face, one that has all of the same human qualities as you or I, except the ones that make him exponentially immoral.
Most recently brought to life by Jesse Eisenberg in Batman v Superman, Lex Luther's character has appeared in numerous on-screen adaptions, represented by Gene Hackman, James Woods, Kevin Spacey and many others. As a comic book villain, he's not only the most human genius, of course, but he's also so extremely hungry for both power and opulence that most other villains dream of rivaling it.
Beginning as a reclusive business tycoon with a special hate for the alien known as Superman, Luther evolved into an enterprise-building billionaire philosopher, whose thirst for control still seems unquenchable.
With no super powers or special characteristics of any kind, having all but a shiny bald head as his signature trait, the villain went on to build LexCorp and grew into his role as an industrialist, 'man of the people,' enterpriser that used high-tech weaponry and engineered mechanics to thwart his most scathed rivals. Named 4th in the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time by IGN, it's no wonder he's an unrivaled bearer of evil.
The name comes from an 1818 English poem by Percy Shelley, but it's often more associated with ancient history as the young Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II, considered the greatest and most powerful leader in their entire antiquity. In the poem, likewise envisioned in the graphic novel, Ozymandias serves as a character who's fate always leads to failure in the hunt for meaning and consideration, time turning their empires and histories into nothing but ash.
As is the case for the graphic comic miniseries titled Watchmen, wherein the character of Adrian Alexander Veidt exists under the late Egyptian's surname. After the death of his parents at the young age of 17, Adrian assumes this new title and devotes himself to stopping crime as a vigilante.
In his later retirement from crimefighting, he invented Veidt Enterprises to commercialize his image and build his own empire, one that would be possible to outlast him. Out of all the other more physical human heroes from Watchmen, Ozymandias is depicted as being the most powerful. To find his true ruthlessness, cunning, and otherwise relation to being one of the most evil DC villains of all time, I suggest you pick up the miniseries and find out for yourself.
Of the few best R-Rated comic books that should be made into movies, Lobo is without doubt the most evil and irresistible of the bunch. Similar to Deathstroke, he was created in 1980 as a villain from the alien planet known as Czarnia, though no sooner fell into an elysian of misuse.
Fortunately for us comic fans, as a satire on the hardened and gritty characters invented by Marvel at the time, like Wolverine and Punisher, Lobo was more or less reinvigorated in the 90s with his own miniseries as an anti-hero and interstellar bounty hunter. Ever since, he's risen to the top of DC's most beloved characters, and remains one of their purest, most diabolical yet.
Enjoying nothing but the freeing vices of alcoholic mindlessness and unimaginable violent tendencies, Lobo "The 'Bo" is one of the most evil DC villains of all time, simply because he's a menacing image to behold, but also since he was Stan Lee's favorite DC character. Isn't that beautiful?
One of the late Jack Kirby's creations and ruler of the planet Apokolips, Darkseid's evil is unrivaled in the respect to his utter need for cosmic domination and elimination of free will. Remaining still to this day as one of DC's most powerful creations ever put to paper, the super villain has had a long career in both Superman and Justice League iterations, claiming prominence in the last 70s.
Modeled after Hitler and the Nazi regime, Darkseid draws up aspects as one of the most evil DC villains of all time, and rightly so. A megalomaniac and warmonger who killed his mother and ordered the death of his son to be carried out by his own wife, "God of Evil" as some have called him is certainly a mainstay in categories of the most immoral.
Circe is one of the most powerful female characters in the entire DC universe and of the few female comic book villains. She's a powerful sorceress with unbound abilities of dark magic, immortality, irresistible looks, and a love for turning others into animals.
Being introduced to comics in 1949, Circe is also a well-known figure among the ranks of DC's most hardened villains and heroes, serving as a 'sometimes-ally' for Superman and Supergirl in 1959, though she's more well-known as Wonder Woman's archenemy.
Created in the likeness of the mythological being with the same name, the sorceress who imprisoned Odysseus, Circe is not only an incredible adversary, she's also full of malice and utter hate for superheroes.
Over her many years of existence, Circe has gained and regained her stance within DC, often changing in aspect, from hair color (in 1983) to an entire makeover (in 1989). Among the most evil DC villains of all time, she's one of the few characters to have an unbound hunger for the humiliation of others, one of the few aspects of her's that has yet to change.
Not so much is known about Thaal Sinestro, but for his insatiable disliking toward the all-powerful Hal Jordan, otherwise known as Green Lantern. First appearing in the 7th Lantern comic back in 1961, the high minded and self-absorbed alien from Korugar grew into prominence as an addition to the Green Lantern Corps.
No matter his end goal, Sinestro's sole concern and nature of action was intended for the good of the universe. This, along with a galaxy-sized ego, led him hunting for unbound control over others in an attempt to further his belief in moral superiority.
Through a number of defeats and victories, appearing in a myriad of wars and other intergalactic conquests, Sinestro became an exhilarating foe to experience, some might say for his completely disturbed and twisted sense of order, but I like to think it's due to the character's unriddled lust for the entire universe to fit into the palm of his hand. No matter the case, it goes without question that Sinestro would be apart of the most evil DC villains of all time.
Brainiac is an extraterrestrial cyborg or android whose appearance have been altered in a multiplicity of variations throughout the DC universe, most of which taking form as a green humanoid with a bald head and electronic connectors imbedded into his skull.
Known most prominently as a primary Superman villain, due to his destroying of Krypton in some iterations, as well as a well-fought adversary to the Justice League, Brainiac has proven worthy of being one of the most evil DC villains of all time.
Interestingly, his name comes from the infusion of the two words brain and maniac, chosen to show his two most prominent aspects. He's mostly depicted with a shrinking ray, for which he's used on multiple cities both on Earth and throughout the cosmos.
Court of Owls
The Court of Owls is another of the few villains known to anyone but comic book fans. Serving as one of Batman's most ruthless foes and of the most recent characters to be created on this very list (2011), Court of Owls is actually a crime syndicate that, in the fiction, has lived and breathed under Gotham City since the colonial era.
Otherwise known as 'Talons,' young children stolen from circuses are then bred and trained within the enterprise of criminal faces, growing up to become lawless, bloodthirsty assassins with inhuman qualities.
Personally, I must say this is as dark as DC gets when it comes to character backgrounds, and as a crime syndicate (one that obviously tops Ra's al Ghul's League of Shadows), it's no wonder they make the most evil DC villains of all time.
For some of us Batman fans, Court of Owls is an irresistible secret organization of figures that must be explored more in depth for future volumes to come.
The only DC comic book character to have various connotations and a multitude of counterparts, one of which being Batman in an alternate-universe, Owlman's legacy continues to be explored still to this day. He was coined in the 1964 issue of Justice League of America, standing as an intelligent villain who had the ability to remain conscious even when knocked out.
Resurrected in the 90s as another foe to the Justice League, Owlman continuously shows an unlimited sense of intellect and intelligence in line with his peak conditioning and super human physicality. His other abilities? None, besides a know-how in superior advanced technology.
As one of the most evil DC villains of all time, and possibly the least known affiliate of all, Owlman remains a staple creation among the ranks of DC's most interesting characters.