I’m going to say something extremely controversial.
The Joker sucks. He’s a weak villain whose only allure is that he’s crazy. You know who else is crazy? The Riddler. His compulsion to prove he’s smarter than everyone is the only thing distinguishing him from the rest of the rogues.
I know, right? How dare I rip two of the coolest villains? Who could possibly be cooler? Well, practically anyone. In fact, it takes quite a bit to fall further in my esteem than Joker (I’m looking at you Sewer King).
Okay, so I’m not a big fan of his schtick. I’ve known too many people who feel the desire to be right or first, and that’s just fucking annoying. However, if the story works, then his compulsion to be the best and brightest can actually enhance the story (seriously, imagine Riddler as the main villain of The Dark Knight). An example is the Arkham games by Rocksteady. In order to face Riddler, you have to solve riddles, and look for trophies. If you give up, he wins.
Another example is found in my #4.
9. Ra’s al Ghul
The Demon’s Head is just fucking cool. He’s the leader of a cult-like organization who wishes to restore balance through anarchy.
Bane’s backstory is tragic. He was raised in a prison, and became medical experiment. It’s pretty fucked up. He escapes, and sets out to become a new crime boss in Gotham (it’s an oversimplification, but you get the point). He is smart enough to know he can’t take Batman down alone, and releases every inmate in Blackgate and Arkham, forcing Batman into a gauntlet of villains. Only once Batman is too weak does Bane break his back.
The problem with Bane really lies in that he’s the Man who broke the Bat. There’s really nowhere else to go.
7. Harley Quinn
I hate Joker, but Harley makes my list? Of course! Unlike Mistuh J, Harley has depth. She’s in love with an abusive psychopath, is brainwashed into performing atrocious acts of violence, and is a licensed psychiatrist.
6. Black Mask
He’s a gangster who made a mask out of his mother’s coffin. Creepy, fucked up, and badass all in one.
5. Holiday Killer
Like Bane, Holiday should remain as a one shot. But regardless, The Long Halloween cemented the character’s status as one of the best villains, and far superior to Calendar Man.
A killer who knows Bruce Wayne’s secret identity, this is a character with limitless potential, as evidenced by the events after the RIP storyline.
She’s a classic character who has appeared in some classic stories, including Year One and No Man’s Land, and who almost always steals the limelight from Batman.
A lot of Reaper was used when creating Mask of the Phantasm, but the Reaper is much cooler. Originally a vigilante who patrolled Gotham before Batman, he’s been silent for more than a decade.
The appeal of the Reaper is he can be anyone. In his three appearances, he’s been different. And that makes him fascinating to me.
Another old school character, I have loved this character since childhood. Watching old reruns of the 1960s Batman with my dad, I just found him the most interesting. Then I discovered The Adventures of Batman, vol. 2: featuring the Penguin, and my devotion was solidified.