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Some bad guys are associated with a particular good guy, like Lex Luthor vs. Superman or the Joker vs. Batman. Who was the first comic book super villain to jump from the comic in which they were first featured (thereby excluding the super hero they normaly match wits with) to go up against a different super hero protagonist?

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7 Answers 7

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My vote for one of the earliest and most significant villains to escalate his conflict with other metahumans, would be Ra's Al Gul, the Demon's Head. He started entirely as a Batman villain in 1971, first appearing in Batman, Vol 1, No. 232 (1971).

Batman Cover

Over the years, Ra's would grow both in power and popularity in the DC Universe, he graduated to fighting Superman and eventually the entire Justice League in JLA 50, Tower of Babel. After Ra's conflict with the JLA, it destabilized the entire team and sowed mistrust (though Batman had something to do with that) enough that the League was forced to reveal their secret identities to each other.

Tower of Babel Cover

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  • would you mind explaining why you feel that 1965 Dr Doom wedding crashing does not qualify? (I'm genuinely curious, could be in a comment or even on chat, just do @DVK on chat so I know you posted it). +1 Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 23:57
  • Problem I had with it was that Dr. Doom was, by definition, THE quintessential Fantastic Four villain. Having him gather a bunch of other villains to attack the FF did not seem like something divergent for HIM to do. If anything it would be just what I WOULD expect for him to do. I tried to find a villain who started with one hero but would eventually move up the heroic food chain to attack other more prominent heroes. Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 2:16
  • ...what about Ego? He was a Thor villain for a while, then began appearing in the Fantastic 4. This crossover predates Ra's by 11 years. Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 2:22
  • Ego does not stay a villain. After his first confrontation with Thor, he becomes a bit less evil and even hosts the Wanderers for a time. Ra's is unrepentantly evil and rarely wanders from that point of view. Besides, perhaps we can consider this from a Marvel/DC perspective. Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 2:24
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I'm not sure if it counts for your requirements, but one of the early crossovers of everyone (not just a single villain) was Reed Richards and Susan Storm's Wedding in 1965. Wikipedia has this to say about the storyline:

On the wedding day of Reed Richards and Susan Storm, Doctor Doom and an assembly of super villains (consisting of Attuma, Awesome Android, Beetle, Black Knight, Cobra, Diablo, Electro, Enchantress, Executioner, Grey Gargoyle, Human Top, some HYDRA agents, Kang the Conqueror, Mandarin, Melter, Mister Hyde, Mole Man, Porcupine, Puppet Master, Red Ghost and his Super Apes, Super-Skrull, and Unicorn) crash the wedding but are defeated by every super hero who was attending the wedding. This is the first time that almost every super character in the Marvel Universe at the time were gathered into one book (Fantastic Four Annual #3, November 1965).

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    That sounds like a really bad plan. I can't believe Dr. Doom put that group of villains together, then didn't hit any other target than the one place where all the Earth's mightiest super heroes were gathered. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 16:53
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    Seems to be how it works. I often wonder why the Penguin always tries his luck in Gotham City, when there's clearly a bat problem there. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 16:55
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    @BilltheLizard - It was the perfect plan. They would take out every super hero in one fell swoop and be able to take over the world from there. What could possibly go wrong?
    – Chad
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 20:23
  • @DVK I like this answer, but it seems more of a brawl than a matching of wits. Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 19:53
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One of the earliest villains that switched hero was Emil Cullen, aka The Python

The python

The Python was an early enemy of the golden age hero known as Angel. He first appeared in Sub-Mariner Comics #2 (1941) as a contortionist that was sent to kidnap scientists for Germany, this brought him into conflict with Angel who defeated him. The Python soon returned in Marvel Mystery Comics #25 (1941) looking for revenge but was defeated by Angel again.

Python defeated by Angel

Next year, in Human Torch Comics #8 (1942) the Python was back with a new plan. This time he was after the original Human Torch who was an android. His plan was to kidnap Torch's inventor, professor Horton. He succeeds with the kidnapping and after a long battle with the Human Torch, and by using one of Horton's inventions, he gains control over the android. With the Human Torch under his control, the Python then fought Namor but was ultimately defeated and killed.

Namor kills the Python

There might have been earlier villains than him that switched heroes, but since he debuted just three years after the beginning of the Golden age of comics he would have to be one of the first.

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Before Marvel's "Acts of Vengeance" crossover event in 1989, where Loki arranged this exact tactic of villains meeting different heroes, two examples pop immediately to mind:

The first image is for Avengers #47 from 1967. Magneto dukes it out with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. enter image description here

The second is a more viable contender to your question. That rascal Magneto challenges the God of Thunder in 1964. Journey into Mystery #109

enter image description here

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One of the earliest examples with characters everyone has heard of would probably be Amazing Spider-Man #5, published in October of 1963. The villian in this issue was Doctor Doom, who had been established the previous year as a Fantastic Four villain and would go on to be one of their most iconic foes.

enter image description here

Yep, Spider-Man fought Doctor Doom before almost any of his other villains even existed - only Chameleon, Vulture, Doctor Octopus, and Sandman had shown up so far, one in each of the previous four issues.

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As DC was doing crossovers decades before Marvel comics were a thing, I'm betting it was in a DC comic.

While I can't give you the earliest example, I have a suspicion it might be an issue of World's Finest comics. Batman and Superman teamed up regularly in the book, and they'd often fight each other's villains, or fight one common villain.

Issue 177, for example, featured Luthor and Joker.

enter image description here

I recall an issue that featured Joker and The Prankster, but I can't recall an issue number.

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Ra's al-Ghul wasn't the first, and he's still considered primarily a Batman villain.

The one in DC who would most qualify is Darkseid. Although he first appeared in a cameo in a Jimmy Olsen comic in 1970, the appearance was used by Jack Kirby as a way to introduce characters for his Fourth World setting, where he was the main antagonist.

However, whenever people think of Darkseid now, he's primarily considered as Superman's archenemy.

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