A good comic book villain is only as good as the henchmen who serve him. Sure, those henchmen are often expendable, but they’re great at buying time while the mastermind sets his true plans into motion. So, what are the true signs of a successful henchmen group? The answer to that question can be narrowed down to three key factors: perseverance, longevity, and a willingness to change with the times. For those reasons, we believe that these 5 groups are the best of the bunch.
The Court of Owls
DC’s shadowy organized crime syndicate known as the Court of Owls are a relatively new group, having only debut in December 2011’s Batman (vol. 2) #3. They are said to have been around since the founding of Gotham City in 1635, and they consist of the city’s wealthiest and most influential citizens. They are better regarded as a secret society rather than an outright faction of henchmen. That doesn’t mean they don’t get their hands dirty. The Court of Owls has employed indoctrinated agents called Talons to carry out assassinations in Gotham City.
The deadly order of evil ninjas known as the Hand covets power above everything else. They premiered in Daredevil #174 (September 1981), and historically originated out of feudal Japan in 1588. Though they are primarily based within the country, their reach is international. The Hand often operates out of New York City, where they have come into conflict with Daredevil. The group has its “hand” in organized crime, assassination plots, and mercenary work. Much like the rest of the groups on this list, leadership within the organization changes often.
The League of Assassins
The shadowy group known as the League of Assassins first appeared in Strange Adventures #215 back in December 1968. As their name implies, they typically specialize in assassinations. They were founded by Ra’s al Ghul in 1013 A.D. The group has featured some of the deadliest assassins in DC comics, all of whom were ready to give their lives at a moment’s notice if Ra’s al Ghul ordered them to. They have often come into conflict with Gotham City’s protector, Batman. Even in death, the “Demon’s Head” always rises again.
The acronym A.I.M. stands for Advanced Idea Mechanics, a privately funded network of scientists and arms dealers dedicated to obtaining power through technology. A.I.M. first appeared in Strange Tales #146 (July 1966), and was originally created as a sub-branch of the terrorist organization HYDRA by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker during World War II. The ultimate goal of A.I.M. is to overthrow the governments of the world with science and technology. They supply weapons and tech for various terrorist and criminal organizations, with the intention of fostering a violent technological revolution.
Is there a more recognizable faction in comic book lore than Hydra? The group has been at the receiving end of heroes’ fists since their debut in Strange Tales #135 in August of 1965. This terrorist group was revealed to have been linked to the Nazi party while under the leadership of the Red Skull. However, their origins go back even further than that. They were active in ancient Egypt, and their origin may have alien ties as well. No matter how many times they seem to be defeated, Hydra always finds a way to come back. I guess it’s true what they say: “Cut off one head, two more shall take its place!”