"The ultimate villain of the story, who's causing the problem the heroes must solve."
Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The Big Bad is the one who turns out to be behind several other seemingly independent threats.
Julius Caesar in the Astérix comics; almost every comic involves undoing one of his schemes to gain control over the village or its powers; however, the series later recasts Brutus as the Bigger Bad, mixing him up a bit with Octavian.
In Beast Wars: The Ascending, Big Convoy notes that the building they're about to go into has that "Big Bad ambiance."
In the Anthology ComicThe Beano Baby Face Finlayson is used as a Big Bad in a number of the longer strips by the artist Kev F Sutherland.
Not sure if it counts as a comic or toy line first, but BIONICLE has the Brotherhood of Makuta (a race of Big Bads), led by Teridax. Taken to the extreme when Teridax steals Mata Nui's 40-million-foot body and banishes him to the depths of space sealed in a mask.
The Mekon in Dan Dare. While not the main villain in every storyline, he turned up often enough to qualify for the role here.
Once the humans get technologically advanced enough to become a real threat for the heroes, Winnowill starts manipulating them as well.
In the early series Two Edge would be one of these, he manipulates even his mother, Winnowill but is too sympathetic, more of an Anti-Villain, turning to Anti-Hero after his sanity is restored
Elvis Shrugged: Col. Parker, who back in the 1970s was trying to keep Elvis from abandoning his status as "the King of Rock N Roll" in order to perform in Sondheim's Company, and, when he couldn't keep Elvis under his control, created a clone from skin samples.
In Fables the Adversary turns out to be GEPPETTO. FUCKING GEPPETTO! Better yet it was originally planned to be Peter Pan but the rights weren't available.
After Gepetto's defeat, the role shifts to Mr. Dark although Kevin Thorn serves as Big Bad in the spin-off, Jack of Fables, and is defeated in a cross-over with the main series.
Dreadwing and Gothwrain from Gold Digger both fit this trope to a T. Tirant also qualifies by most standards but it's hard to top just how much evil the first two have caused The most recurring Big Bad is Phobos.
In the Image series Lullaby, provider of the page quote, the Big Bad is, indeed a book. A mesmerizing book that uses a powerful wizard (who appears to be a male version of the Wicked Witch of the West), captivated by its majesty, to gather power and enforce its will.
In Next Men, Aldus Hiltop appears to be this, but the true Big Bad is Sathanas.
Gideon Gordon Graves from Scott Pilgrim who single-handedly founded the League of Evil Exes.
Herr Wallenquist could likely be considered the main villain in Sin City since he has had a hand in many of the storyarcs. He was Maxwell Lord's main business partner in A Dame To Kill For, sent Manute to retrieve Jackie Boy's head and take over Old Town in Big Fat Kill, and was the Colonel's boss in Hell and Back just to name a few. But he's a bit of a Noble Demon in this world, so he rarely comes across as this.
Sonic the Comic has the ruler of Mobius Doctor Robotnik who takes the roll of overall Big Bad however other villians try to take the roll of Big Bad.
Ixis Naugus and Mammoth Mogul have had their turns at being Big Bad several times over the course of the series, and Snively got his turn for a little while, after the original Robotnik died but before Eggman replaced him.
Republic: Palpatine overall, with Iaco Stark, Volffe Karkko, Sora Bulq and Count Dooku filling in for stories based on the non-movie characters.
Darth Maul: Alexi Garyn.
Jedi Council: The Yinchorri Council of Elders manipulated by Palpatine.
Jedi vs. Sith: Lord Kaan, Darth Bane.
Actually, not only is Jabba not the Big Bad, he's not even much of an antagonist in the story, merely one of the three Hutts sponsoring the competition and their respective teams. The realBig Bad, if that term can truly be used, is one of the Hutts' servants, Jozzel, who orchestrates the competition in order to steal the reward.
Empire: Grand Moff Trachta.
Obsession: Asajj Ventress, Durge.
Rogue Leader: General Weir.
General Grievous: The title character.
Purge: Darth Vader.
Knights of the Old Republic: Haazen for the Covenant arc, Demagol for the Crucible arc, and Dorjander Kace for the War miniseries.
Rebellion: The Empire as a whole.
Legacy: Darth Krayt, then Darth Wyyrlok, then the resurrected Darth Krayt.
Dark Times: Vader again.
Vector: Karness Muur.
The Clone Wars: Palpatine.
Knight Errant: Most likely Vilia Calimondra, the Evil Matriarch behind the feuding sibling and cousin Sith Lords ripping the galaxy apart, although she herself hasn't actually shown up yet.
Dawn of the Jedi looks to be setting up a Big Bad Ensemble with Predor Skal'nas and Daegen Lok as the primary players. Though, considering that Daegen Lok became a Fallen Hero because the the Jedai'i (precursors to the Jedi) dismissed his vision of the coming Rakata (of which Skal'nas is one), and exiled him to the unpopulated moon of Bogan, and considering his intent is to save the Jedai'i (albeit using extreme methods), his status as Big Bad is up in the air. Especially now that the Jedai'i leaders have come to realize that Lok's vision is coming true.
Lost Tribe of the Sith has Baron Remulus Dreypa, one of the twelve founding Sith Lords, coming off of several thousand years stuffed in a can.
Blood Ties: A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett has the crime lord Tayand, who put a bounty on Connor Freeman, son of one of Fett's clones.
In Blood Ties: Boba Fett Is Dead (he's not, of course), the Big Bad is Purton, governor of Concord Dawn, who wants to kill Fett and all his loved ones (Fett does have a few, believe it or not) because Fett killed his son for "no reason." Fett's ex-wife Sintas Vel reveals to Purton that Fett killed his son because the younger Purton raped her, and Fett refused to explain to spare Sintas the shame.
Arguably Rastapopolous from Tintin, if simply for his sheer number of appearances and the subordinate relationships that many other recurring villains (Allan, M?r, Dawson, etc.) have with him. Rastapopolous is one of the few recurring villains in Tintin; the comics tend to go for a new one every time.
However the most popular is Phobos as the Big Bad for the entire series.
The Big Bad of 100 Bullets was for the entirety of the comic's run Augustus Medici. This was in doubt for a while; there was a point where Megan Dietrich seemed to be manipulating him, and toward the end it appeared he'd been Out-Gambitted by her and the rest of the younger Trust members, but the final issue reveals they were playing into his hands the whole time. In the end, though, the one thing he didn't count on was The Dragon, Agent Graves, having standards.
52 had several villains, as it was about several heroes. However, each of the seven main storylines had its own main villain.
The Metal Men's story: Chang Tzu (formerlyEgg Fu). He's also the power behind the Religion of Crime (antagonists of The Question's story) and the Four Horsemen of Apokolips (antagonists of Black Adam's story) and can thus be considered the Big Bad of these, as well.
Krona, whilst primarily a Green Lantern villain, is ultimately the biggest bad of the setting, or at least one of, in terms of the reach of his influence. The Anti-Monitor, and thus Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night and Brightest Day, along with the later Monitor problems that led to Final Crisis? Exists because of what Krona did In The Beginning that created Anti-Monitor. Manhunter rebellion, and thus the Red Lantern problem as well as the horde of killer robots? All Krona. Entropy responsible for ensuring that the universe is running on borrowed time and will eventually die? You can blame Krona for that.
And now he's also the Big Bad of the War of the Green Lanterns story, where he shows just how bad he is by getting Parallax and the other Emotional Entities to serve him and effortlessly taking over the Green Lantern Corps.
The events of Trinity War turn out to have been engineered by The Outsider (Earth-3 Alfred Pennyworth), the leader of the Secret Society, in order to both weaken and defeat the various Justice Leagues, and get his hands on Pandora's Box so he can use it to open a portal to Earth-3 and summon his masters, the Crime Syndicate.
Forever Evil, being the direct sequel to Trinity War, naturally therefore has the Crime Syndicate as the Big Bad Duumvirate. Subverted. It turns out the Crime Syndicate was lying about destroying earth-3. The real Big Bad, or possibly Bigger Bad: The Anti-Monitor. Who has declared war on Darkseid.
Lights Out has Relic, the last survivor of a universe destroyed by overusing Emotional Spectrum energy, who seeks to prevent the same thing in this universe... by destroying all the Lantern Corps.
Thanos. He took Eternity's place. Twice. He had Mephisto kowtowing to him, and Mephisto is the Devil. He's Marvel's designated "Big Bad that other Big Bads worry about". The kicker: he does it all for love... of Death.
In his most recent storyline, however, he's in an Enemy Mine situation with Marvel's cosmic heroes to combat an even biggerBig Bad: the Fault.
Which means the Big Bad of this event is essentially Life without Death.
Mephisto himself is nothing to snuff at, either. The nearest equivalent Marvel has to Satan, he has taken the time to torment nearly every hero in the Marvel Universe. Aside from giving Spider-Man fans One More Day (thus proving himself the epitomy of evil), he has made efforts to take the souls of pure hearted heroes like Black Panther and the Silver Surfer, messed with the Fantastic Four on several occasions (one of which got him destroyed, leading to a convoluted chain of events that led to him accidently kicking off the process that drove the Scarlet Witch insane), and just generally causes havoc. He's strong enough to at least tussle with the likes of Odin and Galactus, created the demon Blackheart as a son who has proved to be every bit as evil as his dad, turned Johnny Blaze into the Ghost Rider, abducted the mother of Doctor Doom, and helped to create Daimon Hellstorm.
In recent mini-crossover event "Chaos War", former Ares and Hercules baddie Amitsu Mikaboshi upgrades to the Chaos King, nominally the ultimate Marvel villain ever - he scares Eternity, has Death on the run and knocks Galactus on his ass. His beef: He is the darkness from before the universe was created and he wants to go back to that.
He's more of a Bigger Bad because of his handful of actual appearances, but few forces are as responsible for as much evil as the Elder God Chthon. An ancient demon native to Earth and perhaps the first and oldest sorceror to ever live, Chthon is the creator of the race of demons known as the N'garai and the author of the Darkhold, the first and most powerful book of Black Magic on the Marvel Earth, which he left on the planet as a conduit for his eventual return and which is responsible for the creation of vampires and, by extension, the fall of Atlantis. A piece of his essence is sealed in Mount Wundegore in Eastern Europe, from where the Puppet Master gets his magical clay and where he encountered a young Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. Chthon placed a piece of his power inside her so that he might one day use her as his host, so the reason she is so powerful, and therefore the reason she became such a threat to the universe, is entirely his fault. Being an Elder God, he carries some of the blame for the existence of Mephisto and the rest of The Legions of Hell as well.
In the Captain America, comic the Red Skull almost always plays the role of the Big Bad. Whenever there is an evil plot in the Captain America comic, there is 80% chance that the Red Skull is behind it.
And if it's not Red Skull, it's Baron Zemo first Baron Heinrich Zemo then his son Baron Helmut Zemo.
The X-Men usually have Enemy Mine moments with their main nemesis Magneto (and his followers, the Acolytes and/or Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) when confronting Apocalypse, so he could count, too.
Mr. Sinister was the X-Men's Big Bad for a couple of years, until he was demoted to disciple of Apocalypse.
During the "Dark Phoenix Returns" arc, Mystique recieved horrible dreams about being hunted by Mastermind and Jean Grey (the titular Dark Phoenix), the Phoenix effect appeared in the sky over Tokyo, Wolverine's bride-to-be was hypnotised into saying "no" at the altar, and Emma Frost, White Queen of the Hellfire Club, was put in a coma. This all seemed to be the leadup for Phoenix to return, and culminated in Xavier being left in a coma and Phoenix's apparent resurrection. In reality, it was all a sham, orchestrated by Mastermind, the arc's real Big Bad.
The biggest bad of Grant Morrison's much-beloved run on the book, although he personally didn't do much, was John Sublime. He created the Weapon Plus Program (which included the Weapon X Project, making him arguably Wolverine's Big Bad too), wrote the book that inspired the U-Men, gave Cassandra Nova her technology, and the drug Kick, which drove Xorn and Kid Omega insane, is made from his substance. He is partly responsible for the phenomenon of anti-mutant prejudice itself, subtly compelling humanity to be hostile to the emerging sub-species, making him arguably the Big Bad for the entire X-Men franchise.
Chris Claremont's X-Treme X-Men, which ran concurrently with Morrison's run, had Original Generation character Elias Bogan, a centuries-old disembodied mutant said to have been the original founder of the Hellfire Club. While he wasn't the main villain in every arc, he was the only villain to appear in more than one and was also the Final Boss.
If someone is making The Hulk's life hell, it's The Leader.
Ultron is the ultimate robotic Big Bad in Marvel. These days, when he pops up it's invariably on the final page of the build-up issue, usually after a few horrified whispers of the "Oh no - not him!" - "It can't be!" - variety.
The Big Bad of the Doctor Strange title tends to be Dormammu, a Dimension LordEldritch Abomination who is the source of most of the conflict in Dr. Strange's life, either directly or through minions like Baron Mordo. If its not him then its likely to be Shuma-Gorath, who killed Strange's mentor and is an even more powerful demon than Dormammu himself, and ruled the Earth twice in the distant past.
In Runaways Alex's parents, Katherine and Geoffrey Wilder were the leaders of The Pride, and the major antagonists of the first arc, with The Gibborim in back of them. In the second arc, the writers go out of their way to imply that the Big Bad is AlexBack from the Dead; in reality it's a version of Geoffrey brought from 1985 to the present.
Secret Wars: The Beyonder is the one who set up the events of the story, and by far the most powerful being in it, but his morality is of the decidedly blue and orange flavor and he really just wants to learn as much as he can about our universe. Doctor Doom is a more traditional Big Bad, particularly once he steals the Beyonder's power and becomes near-omnipotent.
Secret Wars II: The Beyonder is the direct antagonist this time, but he's still really just curious. On a universe-destroying level.
Maximum Security: The Kree Supreme Intelligence (again)
Avengers Disassembled: The insane Scarlet Witch, an insanity later revealed to have been caused by the Life Force.
House of M: Quicksilver, of all characters, using the aforementioned insane Scarlet Witch to carry out his plan.
Civil War: Nitro could be considered the Big Bad; he was only in the first issue and a few tie-ins, but his actions provided the lynchpin for the superhumans to start fighting each other, and he's one of only two significant characters in the story to be unambiguously evil besides (the other being essentially a mindless brute). Because he was only in one issue, though, fans tend to forget him and consider Iron Man the Big Bad instead due to the massive level in jerkass he took in his well-intentioned efforts to clean up the mess Nitro started. A case could be made for Walter Declun, the crooked CEO of a company that cleans up the debris from superhero battles, who gave Nitro the drugs he used to produce the blast that caused the aforementioned "mess," being the true villain, but he only appeared in two tie-in issues, never in the main book.
X-Men's Mutant Messiah Myth Arc: A truly enormous Big Bad Ensemble, with all the traditional X-Big Bads (Apocalypse, Sinister, Stryfe, Selene, the Purifiers) showing up, Bishop going bonkers on top of that, and Osborn dropping by for an arc where this crossover was itself crossed over with Dark Reign. By the end, though, the true threat and Final Boss stands revealed as Bastion. This also demonstrates some of the risks of doing a storyline this massive with this many villains, as their appearances ended with nearly all of them being killed off or otherwise removed from the board in a seemingly-permanent way, which left the X-Men without any A-List villains for about a year, something that may have contributed to the weakness of the Matt Fraction run.
Avengers vs. X-Men: This is a Good Versus Good event, so it's difficult to pin down a Big Bad. The Phoenix Force, however, is the looming threat, with other candidates being Sinister who seeks to control it and Emma Frost who appears to be becoming corrupted by it after absorbing a portion of its power into her body. The Final Boss, however, ends up being Cyclops, who absorbs all of the Phoenix Force's power and goes Dark Phoenix.