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Top 10 Mad Scientists in Comic Books

VO: Dan Paradis

Script written by Craig Butler

In comic book science, molecules aren’t the only things that can become unstable. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down the top 10 mad scientists in comic books.

For this list, we’re looking at brilliant but unbalanced scientists who have made an indelible impression in comic books. We’re only counting those who were both mad and scientists at the same time – not those like Poison Ivy, whose experiments drove them crazy and caused them to stop doing science. Also, they have to be legitimately mad – not just characters who only occasionally go bonkers.

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Transcript
Top 10 Mad Scientists in Comic Books

In comic book science, molecules aren’t the only things that can become unstable. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down the top 10 mad scientists in comic books.

For this list, we’re looking at brilliant but unbalanced scientists who have made an indelible impression in comic books. We’re only counting those who were both mad and scientists at the same time – not those like Poison Ivy, whose experiments drove them crazy and caused them to stop doing science. Also, they have to be legitimately mad – not just characters who only occasionally go bonkers.

#10: Bolivar Trask


There can be a thin line between mad and obsessive – and Bolivar Trask crossed it big-time. You see, Trask had a real major fixation on mutants – not that that’s anything rare in Marvel-dom. Trask’s hatred and fear of mutants was kinda personal. His son was a mutant, and Trask so made a special medallion that suppressed his powers. His daughter was also a mutant, but her powers sent her to live in the future – something that Trask didn’t like. Trask reacted to all this by creating the Sentinels, ruthless robots that would stop at nothing to destroy mutants – and to enslave mankind. Considering he was an anthropologist rather than a robotics scientist, Trask ‘s creations are pretty damn impressive.

#9: Dr. Arnim Zola


Hey, if you’re going to be buddy-buddy with the likes of Adolf Hitler and the Red Skull, you gotta be at least a little “off” in the sanity department. Few mad scientists have been as immorally single-minded in their pursuit of knowledge as Arnim Zola. In Zola’s case, his passion was for genetic engineering and manipulation. Using his skill, he creates any number of artificial life forms. Zola survived past World War II by transferring his brain into a series of weird robot bodies with his face projecting from a TV in their stomachs. Zola has managed to be a big pain in the patriotic butt to Captain America for decades.

#8: Baxter Stockman


Many people don’t realize that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ pal, April O’Neill, started out as a computer programmer – or that her boss was a mad scientist. Baxter Stockman used April’s talents to help create his Mouser machines, robots that were sort of bird-like in appearance and were supposed intended to controls were rats. In fact, Stockman used them to rob banks just to see if he could. Stockman’s mental state deteriorated rather quickly, and before too long he made himself into a cyborg – the better to get revenge on those pesky turtles. Dangerously unbalanced, Stockman was also kind of fun – in small doses.

#7: The Leader


Gamma radiation. Where would Marvel Comics be without it? Gamma Radiation not only created the Hulk but a host of other characters – including The Leader. Originally Samuel Sterns, an ordinary janitor at a chemical plant, exposure to gamma radiation gave him green skin and super-intelligence. He took the moniker The Leader – because, why not? – and created an army of humanoid robots called… Humanoids. Brilliant the Leader is, good at naming things the Leader is not. This off-base genius went through a wide range of demented plans – like trying to start a nuclear war and gamma-radiating the water supply to make everyone into mutants.

#6: The Brain


It may seem like an immodest name, but it’s apt because the Brain is just that - a living brain. That cerebral organ originally belonged to a genius scientist – one who was so smart that another scientist, Niles Caulder of the Doom Patrol, grew jealous of him and arranged a little “accident”. Fortunately for the Brain, a super-intelligent ape he had created rescued him and transferred his grey matter to a new home. Driven mad by this state of affairs, the Brain swore vengeance and created the Brotherhood of Evil to help him in his plans. In addition to being a scientific genius, the Brain is a master of psychological warfare and may even have mind control abilities.

#5: Hugo Strange


Huge Strange was Batman’s first arch-enemy, although he got shoved aside soon after the debut of a certain maniacal clown. Originally Strange was just a genius who used his brains for criminal ends, but in later versions he became more certifiably mad. Using inmates taken from Arkham Asylum, Strange performed genetic experiments on them that turned them into grotesque monsters. Strange became weirdly obsessed with Batman, going so far as to dress a mannequin up as a female version of the hero and court “her.” He may be mad, but he’s still smart – Strange is one of the few to make the connection between Batman and Bruce Wayne.

#4: Mr. Freeze


Another oddity from the Batman Rogues Gallery, Mr. Freeze is actually one of the more sympathetic test tube jockeys on this list. Victor Fries was indeed a genius, with a keen interest in cryogenics. He invented a freeze gun, which he wanted to use to put her terminally ill wife Nora into suspended animation. The gun exploded, killing Nora and turning Fries into a human popsicle that required a special suit to survive. That’s one version of his story, anyway. Turned into a cold-hearted villain, Mr. Freeze uses his intelligence to create many ice-themed plots in his attempts to give new meaning to the phrase, “Chill, dude.”

#3: Mister Sinister


Modern times don’t have a lock on mad scientists. Just look at Mister Sinister, who has one of the more interesting origins. So the guy fights the X-Men here in the present, but he was actually born in the 19th century. In 1859, scientist Nathaniel Essex meets the ancient mutant known as Apocalypse, who grants him the power of immortality. Essex acts as a shadowy figure for decades, working with the Nazis during World War II and creating clones at the drop of a hat. He also became obsessed with the X-Men’s Cyclops and Gambit, manipulated many events in their lives. Mr. Sinister’s evil machinations are complex, making him an especially difficult foe to defeat.

#2: MODOK


MODOK got his start as a technician for AIM, an organization of evil scientists. You know, the kind that would take a humble technician and submit him to an experiment against his will. The result was the physically mutated and intellectually enhanced being eventually known as MODOK. That acronym, by the way, stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing. So naturally he kills the guys that created him – d’uh. And then he goes on a spree to take over the world – many times. MODOK’s intelligence and memory make him extremely dangerous – and he’s ruthless as well. Sure, the heroes always defeat him – but not for long.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Scarecrow

Norman Osborn

The High Evolutionary

#1: Doctor Octopus


“Doc Ock,” as he’s popularly called, took brilliance in physics to a new level – but he lacked social skills. His anger and brooding didn’t keep him from advancing in his work; he was moving so fast he had to create a quartet of mechanical arms to help him conduct his experiments more efficiently. Unfortunately, an accident caused the arms to become fused to him – and sent him over the edge as well. Doctor Octopus has been one of Spider-Man’s most consistently entertaining foes, eventually even taking over the Spidey’s body and trying to behave like a hero. Didn’t work. ‘Cause, you know – he’s mad. But whenever the Doc and Spider-Man meet, readers know they’re in for a special treat.
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