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Old August 30th, 2011   Lorendiac is offline   #1
Lorendiac
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Default How often do smart DC villains come up with really bad plans?

I'm wondering -- what are the most memorable times that a supervillain, supposedly a clever one, has come up with some elaborate plan which had a huge flaw in it that he didn't even notice at the time?

I don't just mean "my plan failed because Superman showed up." I mean some fundamental flaw that meant the plan probably would have failed anyway, somewhere along the line, even if no superheroes had derailed it by doing something the supervillain wasn't ready to counter as fast as it happened!

I'd prefer to restrict this thread to DC-related stuff. (That includes old stories originally published at Milestone, Wildstorm, Fawcett, Quality, etc.) I'll probably start a parallel thread about memorable cases of Bad Master Plans in the Marvel Universe at some later date.

I'll provide an example which I mentioned in another thread yesterday. It was what got me thinking about a case where a supposedly-clever bad guy "really should have known better."

Way, way back in "Batman #276," published in the 1970s, The Spook (Val Kaliban) labored hard to set Batman up and make him think he was guilty of murdering . . . The Spook.

As I understand it from what I've read -- http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2069/...40cea25802.jpg, for instance -- the following checklist covers the way things were supposed to happen (but didn't) once The Spook set his "master plan" in motion:

1. Goad Batman verbally and use "subliminal messages" to get him to completely lose his temper and hit Spook really, really hard.

2. The Spook "drops dead." Thanks to his studies in India, he can reduce his vital signs to a point of "suspended animation" such that he appears dead if someone grabs his wrist and tries to find a pulse.

3. Batman, after failing to find that pulse, becomes convinced that he's gone over the line and murdered one of his enemies. (Or at least committed unpremeditated "manslaughter," I suppose?) Shocked by his own behavior, he abandons the role of Batman forever.

4. The Spook's death is officially confirmed. He gets a funeral and is buried in a graveyard. (After all, if the body disappeared an hour after Batman "killed" the guy, then Batman just might smell a rat.)

5. Weeks later, after Batman ought to be psychologically broken, The Spook wakes up from his "near-death" trance, somehow escapes from the buried coffin (perhaps henchmen have been paid in advance to excavate him?), and now he can have a blast in a world where Batman is no longer active. (My guess is that he would have abandoned the identity of "The Spook," however, so that Batman would never realize he'd been conned!)

Of course that plan never worked out in practice -- they didn't even make it as far as Step #2. Batman figured out what was happening and "dropped dead" himself (apparently using similar highly developed abilities of mind over matter to slow his vital signs to imperceptible levels). The Spook, furious at being cheated of his intended victory, started ranting and raving about how it was supposed to have gone!

The really funny thing is Step #5 in that plan couldn't have worked anyway, even if all the rest of it did!

The Spook's "brilliant" plan overlooked one important point. In the modern world, when a man's "corpse" is found, and the police have reason to suspect foul play, they have a Medical Examiner do a full autopsy on that corpse. Slice open the torso, start removing vital organs, examine each organ for signs of poison or disease or anything else which might conceivably be relevant to answering such questions as how and when and why this person dropped dead.

It would serve The Spook right if he had died on the dissection table under a pathologist's scalpel.

Even if his death were written off to "natural causes" or "accident" or something, a mortician probably would have set up his equipment to pump embalming fluid into "the late Val Kaliban's" veins before they buried him in a local cemetery, though. That could also be fatal!

So any way you look at it, The Spook's plan was doomed to fail, at least where the part about his living long enough to gloat about the destruction of Batman was concerned! He should thank his lucky stars that Batman derailed the plan at an early stage!
 
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Old August 30th, 2011   Mr. Wrong is offline   #2
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The Spook's "brilliant" plan overlooked one important point. In the modern world, when a man's "corpse" is found, and the police have reason to suspect foul play, they have a Medical Examiner do a full autopsy on that corpse. Slice open the torso, start removing vital organs, examine each organ for signs of poison or disease or anything else which might conceivably be relevant to answering such questions as how and when and why this person dropped dead.
ddf
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Aw, back in the 70's we just slapped 'em a couple of times, and if they didn't wake up we chucked 'em in the ground.

Actually, in a lot of U.S. states/counties the local coroner was an elected position, with no requirement whatsoever of any expertise in medicine. The coroner showed up at the scene, checked them out, and declared them dead.
The coroner in the county I grew up in noticed that nobody else was running for office one year and said "Why not?", entered and won the one-man race. He was a sweet potato farmer.

To your original point, I think 9 out of 10 villainous plots are full of holes, especially if you go back to the bronze age or sooner. I'll have to look for some especially bad ones when I have a chance.
 
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Old August 30th, 2011   Alan is offline   #3
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It would be easier to find good ones, they are so rare. Why do bank robbers in Central City or Metropolis even try? Do they keep an eye out for times when the JLA are in space to make an attempt? And if they did would we know about it without the main character there to stop them (this is a bit like the sound of one hand clapping....). Now there are dozens of Batthings in Gotham the chances of a mugger getting away with a succesful robbery must be minute. And that is before we even get to the supervillain. At least by being totally mad The Joker has an excuse for terrible schemes. But saying that his Jokerfish idea remains one of the best criminal attempts ever, even if it would have been incredibly hard to get that through the copyright process and actually see any money out of it. And Luthor just wants to make money and kill Superman. A bit like Rupert Murdoch with extra kryptophobia.
 
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Old August 30th, 2011   Werehunter is offline   #4
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Two reasons, one is because intelligence does not always mean one is good at tactics. I know some extremely smart people I would use to help be create a plan but I'd never follow one of theirs. They just don't have the knack for it.

The second reason is because the villain is only as smart as the writers. I don't mean this to bash creators, but some really don't have a sense of tactics. With many characters this doesn't matter. But it's really noticeable when a character known for being clever does something extremely stupid. A good example is the Utopia crossover Fraction wrote. Cyclops is supposed to be one of Marvel's best tactical thinker. However he decides to pick a fight that he didn't need to before he confirmed his plan could work. First off they didn't know if Hela would help Dani and give her the power needed to take out Ares. Without that I don't think they could have taken Ares out without several X-men getting killed. Secondly he didn't confirm that creating Utopia was actually possible. One would think those two things would be found out before he goes and pisses off the one person in high government that seemed to have wanted to leave mutants alone and let them take care of their own problems, oh and the one person who has the resources and authority to take them anywhere in the world.
 
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Old August 30th, 2011   JRM is offline   #5
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Two reasons, one is because intelligence does not always mean one is good at tactics. I know some extremely smart people I would use to help be create a plan but I'd never follow one of theirs. They just don't have the knack for it.

The second reason is because the villain is only as smart as the writers. I don't mean this to bash creators, but some really don't have a sense of tactics. With many characters this doesn't matter. But it's really noticeable when a character known for being clever does something extremely stupid. A good example is the Utopia crossover Fraction wrote. Cyclops is supposed to be one of Marvel's best tactical thinker. However he decides to pick a fight that he didn't need to before he confirmed his plan could work. First off they didn't know if Hela would help Dani and give her the power needed to take out Ares. Without that I don't think they could have taken Ares out without several X-men getting killed. Secondly he didn't confirm that creating Utopia was actually possible. One would think those two things would be found out before he goes and pisses off the one person in high government that seemed to have wanted to leave mutants alone and let them take care of their own problems, oh and the one person who has the resources and authority to take them anywhere in the world.
ddf
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That and the fact that the Hero kinda needed to win ... It was in the rule book. Oh wait, that started as a jest, but thinking about it, wasn't there something to that effect in the comic code ... ummm

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