Issue #27 of 35   INDEX

Joel Grineau
by: Joel V. Grineau
Supervillians with Aristocratic Titles
Once again, let's play the name game. Here's a list of comic book characters who have aristocratic title in their names. (Ok, all of these are not off the top of my head; this time I needed to consult a reference book).
  • Baron Mordo
  • Lord Havoc
  • Baron Zemo
  • Baron Gestapo
  • Count Vertigo
  • Baron Blitzkrieg
  • Princess Python
  • Baron Blood
  • Baron Strucker

Quite an impressive list of villains, actually; Barons' Gestapo, Blitzkrieg, Zemo and Strucker are all Nazis. (Those that survived the war continue to be fascists today.) Baron Blood was a vampire who allied himself with the Nazis. Lord Havoc is the leader of the Extremists, the super villain team that killed off all life on a parallel DC Earth. Princess Python has been around for years, first as a member of the Circus of Crime and then as a member of the Serpent Society. Baron Mordo is one of Dr. Strange's chief foes. Lastly, Count Vertigo has had a checkered past, being a thief, a Soviet assassin, and then an `anti-hero' in the Suicide Squad.

What about aristocratic named heroes? Well, uhmm . . . there's Power Princess. She's a second rate Wonder Woman, and member of the Squadron Supreme, a group of alternate Earth `heroes' in the Marvel universe.

And that's about it.

Why are aristocratic names almost always reserved for villains? Well, if I many be so bold, let's take a look at a little document entitled "The Constitution of the United States of America" (1787). ARTICLE.I. Section. 10. [states that:] "No Title or Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, prince, or foreign State."

The United States of America came into being mostly because there had been a great dissatisfaction with English rule. The Constitution was drafted shortly after the War of Independence / American Revolution / Revolt of the Colonies (depending on your view of history). Obviously, the fathers of the Constitution strongly believed that the aristocracy, old or new, indigenous or abroad, was dangerous to the new Republic.

This attitude is still evident today in America. Two hundred years later, and there is still no indigenous titled nobility in the United States.

Comic books are, of course, a reflection of American society. A long time comic fan will have noted that in the list of villains given above, most of them - 7 of 9 (relax you Star Trek:Voyager freaks) - are European nobles. Funny thing, of those 7, only one was English, and that's Baron Blood. The rest are German, or Eastern European.

This anti-aristocratic bent is so prevalent, that aristocratic heroes are given non-aristocratic names, so that the fans won't confuse them with the villains. Therefore, someone like Geo-Force, a member of the Outsiders, who is a European noble, does not have his title incorporated into his name. Besides, the name "Geo-Force" is bad enough; Can you image "Prince Geo-Force"? Evil would tremble. . .in laughter. You know, if he'd been a villain, they would have probably called him Baron Quake.

Joel Grineau is a former Writer/Contributing Editor for "Chaos" Magazine. "Iron Man" 146 (purchased in the spring of 1981) was his first comic book, and time has not worn down his enjoyment of them. Joel holds a BA from the University of Guelph and an MA from the University of Saskatchewan. He is currently an officer with the Canadian Forces.

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Text © Joel V. Grineau, 1997,1998.
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