10 Comic Book Supervillains Improved Through Retcon

All it takes to turn a pathetic villain in to a true threat is a great writer and a good retcon.

Lex Luthor
DC Comics

Let’s face it, not everyone can be the Joker or Victor Von Doom. Some nefarious guys and gals just have to get along with a gimmick and a costume and hope for the best. And they usually end up on the receiving end of a hero’s punch and a lengthy jail stay. But there are that lucky few that someone dusts off, washes away the silly, and makes that character into something special.

A large number of these villains started out in the wacky adventures of the Silver Age or were the gimmicky one-shot rogues used to fill the gaps between two different story arcs. These no-good sorts would tend to be limited in powers and skills and barely worth the hero’s time and efforts. As such, such villains were usually easily defeated and promptly locked back up in police custody.

Each of these villains has risen to new highs, or more aptly, sunk to new lows, through the changes in the timeline thanks to any number of universe-altering crises or the pen of extremely talented writers who shaped these characters into forces to be reckoned with.

10. The Orb

Lex Luthor

The unnamed child who would eventually be called the Orb was born with a giant eye for a head. He was abandoned as a child and grew up in a freak show, not learning to speak until adulthood. He eventually became a mercenary for hire and was hired by Daniel Ketch, the second Ghost Rider, to serve the angel Zadkiel.

The Orb formed a group called the Orblings to aid him in committing crimes. They were trying to rob a bank and while searching for jewels, The Orb encountered time diamonds just as Spider-Man and Wolverine arrived to intervene. The diamonds scattered them across the timeline and the Orb lived as a muscle-bound, heavily armed monster before he was forced to the present and jail.

The Orb’s extrasensory powers caused him to have intense visions about the Watcher. With help, he broke into the Watchers Citadel and took his left eye. Eventually captured by Nick Fury, now called the Unseen, Orb was tortured for information on how to activate the right eye of the now-dead Watcher. One of the eyes bonded with the Orb and gave him awareness on a cosmic scale. He decided to become a Watcher after a fashion but was killed by Doom Supreme.


John Wilson has been a comic book and pop culture fan his entire life. He has written for a number of websites on the subject over the years and is especially pleased to be at WhatCulture. John has written two comic books for Last Ember Press Studio and has recently self-published a children's book called "Blue." When not spending far too much time on the internet, John spends time with his lovely wife, Kim, their goofy dog, Tesla, and two very spoiled cats.