They say the villain has more fun than the hero. My question is, why is that villain the way he is? I have a former student who is studying criminal psychology in college and he asked me about a few super villains a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to use them as a model for his project. Of course not only did I help him out with his project but it helped to create a project for my Comics in the Classroom that fits with the Taboo Hook from Teach like a Pirate. In comics, many times the villain of the piece has been ver generic, he just wants to get rich or rule the world but there is always an underline reasons why they went in that direction. A favorite villain of mine is the Shocker, Herman Schultz from Spider-Man. Now, when people see him and what he can do they think: “Wow!””That’s pretty cool.” However, our buddy Herman might have not ended up on the path he did. Herman was from a pretty small family that was always scraping by, Herman was a natural wiz at building and engineering but his grades were low and his family couldn’t afford to send him even to community college and then his parents died. What did a guy down on his luck do? He turned to petty crime until he was capture by Spider-Man on his first outing. Angry with how his life turned out and seeing that Spider-Man ruined a good thing for him he created a set of wrist bands that could deliver high voltage blasts, escaped from jail and became one of Spider-Man’s major foes as result. He ended up working for organized crime and became a crime boss himself as a result and he didn’t get there by working hard and being an outstanding employee if you get my drift.
There is a lesson right there, how many well known criminals like Al Capone or Adolf Hitler could have different life styles if things would have worked differently? There is your project, what lead to these people becoming who they were? How much did prohibition lead to organized crime after the first World War? What really lead to Japan bombing Pearl Harbor because it wasn’t just because they could. There was plenty of reasons behind the attack and the organization behind it. While we are on the subject of World War II, another favorite Spider-Man villain of mine is Swarm. Yes, a guy made out of bees and what is even more interesting he was once a Nazi scientist. In recent years he has turned into a eco terrorist due to Colony Collapse of the Bee ecosystem. Using Swarm as an example what was the ideology of Germany during the Third Reich? What really causes Colony Collapse and how can it be prevented? How about Two-Face who was once Gotham City’s District Attorney. How does practicing law differ from being the DA and being a defense attorney or State Attorney?
There is a plethora of projects that students can create from looking at super villains. Give it a try today and see what happens.
Shocker and Swarm are property of Marvel Comics. Two-Face is property of DC Comics. Artwork by John Romita Jr., Ron Frenz and Tim Sale.