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"I'm a respectable businessman — I don't make deals with criminal madmen... but the way I see it, after tonight — you owe me! Oh, and Joker — I always collect my debts."
Lex Luthor, World's Finest (Vol 2) #2 "Worlds Collide"

Comic Book writers use a whole variety of colorful characters in their works and sometimes mix devious yet wickedly brilliant and charismatic ones into their works.


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Individual works:

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    DC 
  • 100 Bullets: Agent Philip Graves is the man who delivers the attache cases, offering people who have been wronged a chance for 'carte blanche' vengeance. Often having multiple hidden agendas to his actions, Graves strategically uses some attaches to gain favors or followers, and is eventually revealed to have faked his death with those of his squad, the Minutemen, who he manipulates back into service. Revealed to be secretly working in conjunction with his supposed rival Augustus Medici to slowly dismantle the infamous Trust and bring it down until only Augustus, Grave and their ally Javier Vasco remain, Graves is also revealed to be a man of principle, which separates him from the monstrous Augustus, willing to slect his principles over even his life in the end.
  • Batgirl: Lady Shiva, mother of Cassandra Cain, is the best assassin and best martial artist in the world. Once she lost her beloved sister at the hands of David Cain, Shiva was forced to bear Cain's child, who she intended to use to one day surpass her. Shiva regularly guides other heroes and villains alike to become stronger, with a cult around her that worships her as a goddess. Shiva only uses them as pawns in her own schemes, and when she meets her daughter Cassandra she slowly guides her to become Shiva's own ultimate opponent, admitting that she had Cassandra to one day surpass and kill her. Shiva remains one of DC's boldest and most complex villains, always charismatic and dangerous no matter where she appears.
  • Batman:
    • Ra's Al-Ghul is Batman's most powerful foe, and the only one to be his intellectual peer. Having lived for centuries, Ra's and the secret societies he controls have accumulated wealth to rival nations, and can purchase influence accordingly. Never short on hidden bases and armies of henchmen, Ra's has brought Gotham City to its knees, and has even challenged the Justice League of America, incorporating Batman's own failsafes into his plot to destroy the JLA. A master planner who pays attention to every little detail, Ra's exemplifies the fact that time is less meaningful when you can afford to wait—and Ra's can afford to wait a long, long time.
    • Coming into her own after her father's death, Talia Al-Ghul is one of the few to ever pull one over on Lex Luthor, exposing his crimes to the public and transferring his assets way. Talia later takes over the League of Assassins and upon Batman's death, she purges the remnants of the Black Glove, revealing she has installed a device within her own son to allow herself to control him when needed. After Bruce Wayne's reemergence, Talia masterminds 'Leviathan' to wage war against him, bringing Gotham to the brink of destruction, even resulting in Damian's death and Bruce's near demise as well, with Talia being one of the few to ever push him to the brink, showing herself as truly her father's daughter.
    • Bane appears to be a hulking brute, but is in reality far craftier than he appears. In his first appearance in the Knightfall storyline, Bane achieved fame by psychologically manipulating Batman to drive him to the mental and physical brink before revealing Bane had deduced his secret identity. Ambushing Batman, Bane snapped his back over Bane's knee and proceeded to reign over Gotham until his defeat. Since then, Bane has been acknowledged by even Ra's Al-Ghul as one of the few men worthy to succeed him and has learned from every defeat to rise stronger than before. As a member of the Secret Six, Bane displays a deep affection for his surrogate daughter Scandal Savage and shows a deep sense of honor and loyalty to his team until the end when realizing his potential again, Bane manipulates them into one grand battle and defeat to shed all attachments and emerge stronger than before. Of all Batman's foes, only Bane has the distinction of being the man who once broke the bat himself.
  • Batman & Captain America: The Joker has all the cunning and audacity one would expect from him, but lacks the instability and depravity many other incarnations are known for. Receiving information from a mysterious figure, Joker decides to use a nuclear weapon to blackmail Gotham City into paying him a million dollars. He initially plans to build his own nuke, successfully obtaining radioactive material and cleverly escaping from Batman in the process. When this approach fails after an attempt to kidnap Robert Oppenheimer is foiled by Batman and Captain America, Joker changes tactics and decides to steal a prototype atomic bomb codenamed "Fat Boy". After succeeding at this, Joker learns that his informer is the Red Skull, a Nazi operative. Declaring his hatred of the Nazis, Joker attempts to kill the Skull, but is captured and brought aboard his plane. But later on, the Joker escapes and sabotages the plane's lowering mechanism to keep the Skull from dropping Fat Boy, taunting and mocking him even as he attacks. Ruthless, witty, and able to roll with the punches, the Joker demonstrates that he's earned his title of Clown Prince of Crime.
  • Green Lantern: Sinestro is Hal Jordan's personal nemesis, and both a former Green Lantern and planetary dictator. Convinced that the Green Lanterns have failed in their mission of bringing order and security to the universe, Sinestro formed his own Sinestro Corps, and led them into a war against the Green Lanterns, who were only able to defeat Sinestro by resorting to lethal force—the very result the renegade Lantern had been aiming for. Since then Sinestro has changed allegiances multiple times, always with the intention of bringing his vision of stability to the DCU, whether it wants it or not.
  • I, Vampire: Mary the Queen of Blood was born Mary Seward before being turned by her lover Andrew Bennett. Happily embracing her vampiric urges, Mary spends years plotting and building her forces until she initiates a ruthlessly brilliant gambit that nearly sees the vampires take over the entire world in a single day, before manipulating and playing Andrew as well. When her plans are thwarted, Mary ends up depowered and returned to human form before getting her drive back to stop the corrupted Andrew before he destroys the world, even using her death to become a powerful supernatural being that ends up saving the world and achieving redemption in the afterlife. As Mary herself says "being a vampire gave me powers. Being me made me awesome."
  • John Constantine: John Constantine himself is a selfish Con Man with equal flashes of conscience and kindness mixed with his more unpleasant aspects. John is a master manipulator, frequently playing gods, demons, angels and humans alike. In one occasion, John manages to outwit the First of the Fallen to save his friend's soul, drawing the horrific devil's ire. John later gets around this by committing suicide, but sold his soul to the First's brother devils, tricking them into healing him lest they be forced to war over his soul. John manages to plan his way into freeing the souls of all the children in hell on one occasion, and on another when he loses his memory completely fools a sorcerer and the First to escape a horrible fate. While he is a dangerous man to know, frequently catching friends and loved ones in his schemes-sometimes very fatally, John is frequently one of the most intelligent and brilliant men around who is able to completly cow a room of supernatural creatures with a reputation consisting of things he made up on the spot.
  • The Light Brigade, by Peter Tomasi: Zephon is the last of the Grigori; an order of angels who once watched humanity and fathered half-human children known as Nephilim. Desiring his revenge for his lost brethren and children, Zephon infiltrates the Nazi ranks with his Nephilim soldiers and uses the Nazis as proxies so he may recover the sword of god and place himself close to the Holy Flame to kindle the blade to allow him to defeat God himself. Laying siege to a monastery guarded by the soldiers known as the Light Brigade, Zephon strategically wears them down and fights his way through, even using a captured ally plane in a kamikaze run to give himself access. With his unshakable conviction and desire to see his Nephilim given their deserved wings, Zephon will stop at nothing at his revenge upon heaven.
  • Lucifer: Lucifer Morningstar is the endlessly proud, brilliant and dangerous Devil. Seeking his freedom from creation, Lucifer deals with endless threats to his new Creation and his safety, constantly outplaying and destroying them. Even in places where he is powerless, such as the Japanese underworld Yomi, Lucifer sees through every trap against him and defeats his supposed hosts. When struck down by another trap, Lucifer returns to life by manipulating his niece Elaine Belloc into sacrificing her life for him and promptly outsmarts and destroys the angel Amenadiel who seeks to destroy him when he is still recovering before returning Elaine to life to repay his debt. Pursuing his freedom from all Creation, Lucifer constantly demonstrates why he is the king of manipulation, second only to God himself.
  • Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller, also known as "The Wall" is a genius specialist who is ruthlessly dedicated to protecting her country by any means necessary. Forming the Suicide Squad, Waller sends them on mission after mission, making endless plans to eliminate their targets and to complete their missions, while not hesitating to sacrifice them. Known for a ruthless, intimidating nature, Waller is one of the few who can even intimidate Batman and when she finds herself being taken over by the Thinker cap, she shatters it as not to let anything else control her. Waller is even one of the few mortals capable of staring down Darkseid himself, and whenever she falls from power, she knows all she has to do is wait for when they give her authority again out of the inevitable need for someone like Waller to do the work nobody else will.
  • Superman:
    • Lex Luthor has been frustrating Superman with his scientific acumen and brilliant intellect since the 1940s, and has run the gamut from Diabolical Mastermind to Mad Scientist to Corrupt Corporate Executive to President Evil and back, surviving every setback and always running the Man of Steel close. Firmly established as the leader of Earth's supervillain community, Luthor has led numerous incarnations of the Injustice Gang, Legion of Doom, and Secret Society of Supervillains, and has taken all-comers, emerging victorious over the likes of Brainiac, General Zod, Grodd and Vandal Savage to claim the title of Superman and one of DC Earth's most deadly villains, even briefly becoming a godlike being. Every bit as unstoppable as his archenemy, Luthor has proven time and again that his incredible mind is more than a match for Superman's physical might.
    • General Dru-Zod II is one of Krypton's greatest criminals, and one of Superman's deadliest enemies. Confined to the Phantom Zone after his failed coup d'etat, Zod used his own son as a pawn in his plan to escape into the material realm during the events of Last Son, and forced Superman and Lex Luthor to ally in order to stop his takeover of Metropolis. Released again during New Krypton, Zod effortlessly incorporating the plans of others into his own, using civil unrest in Kandor, Sam Lane's various plots against the city, and Brainiac's invasion to reestablish himself as a populist military hero, and take control of Kandor from Alura Zor-El. Surviving Lane and Luthor's last-ditch effort to annihilate New Krypton, Zod and his surviving soldiers nearly conquer the world in the War of the Supermen, before the efforts of Superman, the JLA, and his own son saw him banished once more to the Phantom Zone. Always a brilliant strategist, and possessed of the raw strength to rival Superman, the Post-Crisis Zod can stand with Luthor as one of the Man of Steel's most capable and versatile foes.
  • Superman: Red Son: Lex Luthor is a brilliant scientist at S.T.A.R labs seeking to defeat Superman, the 'alien', to prove himself and humanity superior to all others. Having the satellite Sputnik plummet to Metropolis to trick Superman into saving the city, Luthor harvests his genetic material to create a clone he then unleashes for his plans, later assisting the Russian Batman against Superman from the shadows. Later becoming President and saving America from ruin, Luthor continues to plot against Superman, Luthor eventually breaks the would-be benevolent dictator with the phrase "Why don't you just put the whole WORLD in a BOTTLE, Superman?" Which triggers superman to give his life to stop Brainiac and Luthor's victory, allowing Luthor to craft a 'Global United States' with an unparalleled era of peace and prosperity.
  • Tomahawk: Lord Gerald Shilling is the archnemesis of Revolutionary war hero and frontiersman Tomahawk. A Master of Disguise and consummate professional, Shilling is the chief British spy who will kidnap his mark, and perfectly assume their identity so well that it is nigh impossible to tell there has been a replacement. Shilling proceeds to gather information before making his escape, always leaving behind a perforated shilling piece as a Calling Card. Shilling is also fully capable of daring escapes when his cover is blown, never hesitating to engage Tomahawk in a duel if the situation calls for it and always manages to escape even when captured.
  • Watchmen: Adrian Veidt, alias Ozymandias, is a former member of the Minutemen, the most brilliant man alive and the architect of every wrong in the plot for a just cause. A self-made millionaire who built his entire fortune from the ground up after giving away his vast inheritance, Veidt uses his vast resources as a cover for an elaborate plot to force peace upon the world in the brink of nuclear war, meticulously silencing every loose end in the way. Veidt discredits the omnipotent Dr. Manhattan and drives him off Earth after framing him for giving people cancer, and assassinates those who find out too much about his plan, from Moloch to the Comedian, all while effortlessly playing the part of a Villain with Good Publicity. Veidt, through research into genetic development and teleportation, creates a monstrous alien creature he drops on New York, killing millions, all to frame it as the attack of alien invaders and thus force the world's leaders to cooperate again an imaginary bigger threat before they can destroy each other. Ultimately, Veidt's plan is a success, executing his master stroke thirty-five minutes before it can ever be intercepted, afterwards proclaiming he'll thrust the world upward into a utopia of his own design. Calculated, unfettered, and ruthless while still remaining human enough to feel remorse over the horrors he's committed, Ozymandias is one of the most intelligent and morally complex characters to have come out of the Dark Age.

    Marvel 
  • Baron Helmut Zemo, heir to the deplorable Heinrich Zemo, eventually rejects his father's fascist ideology. One of captain America's greatest enemies, Zemo led a near perfect defeat of The Avengers in the Siege arc, ending by engaging Captain America himself and coming close to victory. Constantly returning with daring new schemes, Zemo even kidnapped abused and neglected children to give them a loving home with himself and his wife, and later formed the Thunderbolts as heroes specifically to give them cover for more villainous activities. Eventually deciding to save the world by conquering it, Zemo returns time and time again, sometimes as a deadly enemy and other times ready to defeat more evil villains than he himself, proclaiming he could never harm a world he works so hard to save.
  • Doctor Doom has been Marvel's go-to Big Bad since the 1960s, and with good cause. An Evil Sorcerer, Mad Scientist, and tyrannical despot, Doom is respected and feared throughout Marvel's supervillain community, with both a Norse God and the Devil seeing him as someone to step lightly around. While many villains want to Take Over the World, Doom is one of the few who can actually pull it off, and at times he's reached well beyond even that goal, grasping for godhood with both hands. Capable of punching well out of his weight class, Victor Von Doom is the most dangerous man in the Marvel Universe and always bears watching.
  • Wilson "The Kingpin" Fisk is Marvel's greatest gangster and a consummate survivor. Having outfought, outwitted, and outlasted everyone who has ever tried to take his place, Fisk has secured his position as both New York's reigning mobster and a fixture in the supervillain community. With the capital to dominate the city and a reach that frequently spans continents, Fisk has developed the psychological torment of heroes like Matt Murdock and Peter Parker into an art form, and has left Matt's life in particular in ruins several times over. Always too stubborn to call it quits, Fisk rolls with or shrugs off everything that Marvel's heroes and villains can throw at him, while repeatedly demonstrating that only the most capable of opponents can do the same when he brings all his resources to bear on them. Having risen, fallen, and risen again, Fisk is never out of the game for long, and is always ready to show off the criminal skill and personal gravitas that made him Kingpin of Crime in the first place.
  • Loki himself, Thor's wicked younger brother, is the God of Mischief and frequently forms schemes to embarrass or damage Thor and Asgard itself, which he has repeatedly taken over in some gambit or another. It is later revealed Loki even used time travel to arrange his own adoption at the hands of Odin, murdering his own abusive biological father Laufey, in a clever gambit to get revenge against Asgard in the future. Even when killed, Loki arranges to bring back his younger self and takes him over to return, simultaneously one of Thor's deadliest enemies and beloved brother, rarely lost for his charming smile and a backup plan, who defends Asgard and its people as much as he threatens it.
  • Magneto himself is a Holocaust survivor who is hellbent on seeing that no such evil ever befalls the mutants. Becoming a terrorist, Magneto manipulates his followers, allies and enemies alike, constantly waging war to better the lot of mutantkind, even against his best friend Charles Xavier. At one point Magneto even blackmails the world with nuclear weapons to set up a home for Mutants, and even foiled Doctor Doom's attempts at domination at another point. Deciding to protect the world and mutants in his own way, Magneto has returned countless times to commit acts he admits are unscrupulous, but necessary, constantly keeping himself from slipping too far into true evil while protecting his people from all threats.
  • Iron Man's archenemy, The Mandarin, is his mental and physical superior, and one of the few people who Tony Stark genuinely fears. With looted alien technology at his disposal, and a worldwide network of agents prepared to do his bidding, Mandarin has nearly brought down both the American and Chinese governments, requiring Iron Man to ally with the Chinese Communist leadership and its super teams in order to stop him. Infiltrating SHIELD during the "Extermis" storyline and Iron Man's own mind during "The Long Way Down" and "The Future" Mandarin has a proven ability to turn up in places he should not, and deal incalculable damage while there.
  • Thanos, the Mad Titan and devotee of death, is driven to gain the love of Mistress Death herself. Constantly forming intricate new plans to seize ultimate power, Thanos shows a curious sense of honor, especially to the dying Captain Mar-Vell as he helps guide him to the afterlife. Seizing the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos erases half the life in the universe before later assisting in undoing his mistakes. Surfacing to manipulate the heroes for the occasional greater good, Thanos later dies in the Annihilation event, but not before leaving a failsafe to help stop the villain Annihilus. Later called back to life in The Thanos Imperative, Thanos arranges the destruction of the monstrous Cancerverse by his clever scheming and later returns again to even defeat his complacent, submissive future self, proclaiming that no matter what happens, only Thanos will ever define his own destiny.
  • Avengers: Kang the Conqueror, born Nathaniel Richards, turned to conquest due to being bored by a utopia in the 30th century. Forging a galaxies-wide, centuries-spanning empire by his tactical genius, Kang routinely returns to the 20th century to engage the Avengers, repeatedly outsmarting them and always coming close to ultimate victory. Combining an insatiable drive to conquer with an odd sense of honor, Kang often fails solely due to future versions of himself interfering. At one point, Kang even manages to divest his destiny from his future self and forms a council consisting of alternate Kangs, only to completely outwit and destroy them. In The Kang Dynasty, Kang razes Washington DC and masterminds a near complete take over of earth, planning even in defeat to leave his empire to his son Marcus, before being forced to kill Marcus for his betrayal when Marcus rescues him. Kang repeatedly shows he is one of the Avengers' most resilient and dangerous enemies, stopping at nothing until all he can imagine falls under his dominion.
  • Daredevil: Guardian Devil, by Kevin Smith: Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio, is presented as a genius, theatrical puppet master seeking to cement himself in history as a "legitimate" supervillain after a career of being nothing more than a B-lister. Upon being diagnosed with cancer, Mysterio makes it his mission to drive the hero Daredevil to insanity, playing on the man's religious faith by using a combination of manipulation, disguises, and hallucinogenic drugs to make him believe a baby under his care is The Antichrist and needs to be killed. Convincing Daredevil's lover Karen Page she has AIDS, framing his best friend Foggy Nelson for murder, and hiring Bullseye to kidnap the baby and kill anyone in his path (leading to Page's death in Daredevil's arms), Mysterio locks the child in a chamber that will soon suffocate her if Daredevil doesn't go along with the villain's devised "final act" of his grand plan. In the end, upon realizing he hasn't broken Daredevil, Mysterio gives him the baby back and proceeds to blow his own brains out in a final act of defiance towards both the hero and his own cancer, refusing to be taken down by anyone but his own hand. Despite his otherwise goofy or ineffectual outings, Mysterio here is a brilliant strategist, excellent manipulator, and holds all the charm that a Large Ham skilled in film and theater would possess.
  • The Punisher MAX: Frank Castle, The Punisher, has waged a one man war on crime for decades as a way to punish both the guilty and himself. At one point, Frank even gets himself arrested and sent to Riker's Island, just so he can put into play a scheme to murder the men who killed his family. Constantly demonstrating a wicked intelligence, Frank constantly manipulates criminals into traps and Out-Gambits others who try to get the best of him, before finishing his enemies off, not afraid to expose himself to injury, torture or death in the process. Even when faced with the unexpected, Frank is constantly able to rebound and get the better of his enemies, often tolerated by the police for his inflexible moral standards even as he leaves a mountain of guilty corpses behind him. In the final arc, Frank goes against The Kingpin himself, who now owns the criminal underworld of New York, deprived of much of his own former assets, and ends up completely destroying his operation before finishing him off, remarking only "Your city, my world."
  • Spider-Man: Roderick Kingsley was a ruthless businessman who built an empire out of the fashion industry with unscrupulous practices. Discovering the lair of the Green Goblin, Kingsley decided to build the identity of the Hobgoblin, remaining concealed the whole while. Creating a new criminal empire, he used criminal Lefty Donovan the Hobgoblin to test the effectiveness of the Goblin formula and then eliminated him when he'd served his purposes. Kingsley also brainwashed reporter Ned Leeds into thinking he was the Hobgoblin to use him as a cover, eventually getting Leeds killed while he skipped away free and clear. Returning to murder the fourth Hobgoblin, Jason Macendale, for bringing undue scrutiny upon him, he then manipulated the Green Goblin into attacking him so he could escape prison and then begins leasing the identities and costumes of minor supervillains to others in order to take a cut of the profits. A criminal genius long before he donned the mask, Kingsley repeatedly shows why he is one of Spider Man's most intelligent enemies.

    Other 
  • 2000 AD:
    • Button Man: Harry Exton is a British mercenary-turned-contract killer who joins an underground Killing Game to kill numerous opponents at the behest of powerful sponsors known only as the Voices. Harry is a walking instrument of death who beats every other 'Button Man' sent against him through cunning far more often than brute force, either luring them into traps or out-gambitting them with various back-ups. Exton manages to acquire his freedom by going after the Voices themselves, blackmailing a U.S. senator with evidence of his ties to the Game, and later wiping out a Carnival of Killers by luring them back to his home turf with the tracking device they had planted on him before faking his own death and killing off the only witness. When faced with a young woman who was convinced that he killed her father, Harry reveals that he refused to participate in what he considered to be a thug's job before teaming up with her to successfully take on the Voices. A reserved, brilliantly dangerous killer, Harry Exton's sheer force of will and talent at surviving made him a legend in the history of the Game.
    • Judge Dredd: Yevgeny Borisenko is a veteran and survivor of the Apocalypse War who vowed revenge against Judge Dredd after witnessing the nuclear destruction of East Meg One and being permanently blinded in the process. Borisenko forms the terrorist cell the Fourth Faction, spending decades building up its ranks with devoted followers, infiltrating Mega-City One, and develop and release the Chaos Bug inside the mega-city through his carrier agents, all the while misdirecting the Justice Department to keep the Fourth Faction's plans concealed. Despite being captured in the Mongolian Free State, Borisenko arranges his own murder ahead of time to avoid being interrogated, and through stoking public distrust against the Judges to subvert quarantine measures, causes the plague to envelop and nearly wipe out the entire city and emerge utterly victorious over the formidable Judge Dredd himself.
  • Les Aigles de Rome: Ermanamer/Arminius is a prince of the Cherusci who is sent as a hostage to Rome to ensure his tribe's loyalty. Growing up among a Roman family, Arminius becomes Blood Brothers with Marcus Valerius Falco, spending their young years training to be warriors and living a carefree life bedding women, getting into fights, and watching horse races. When Marcus is planning to throw away his career by running away with a girl he fell in love with, Arminius arranges to break them up. Becoming an officer in the staff of General Varus at the Rhine frontier, Ermanamer serves Rome's interests while secretly never having lost his sense of patriotism, biding his time by becoming an accomplice in a plot by Varus and one of his other officers, Lepidus, to overthrow Augustus himself. Marcus, who has arrived with instructions to spy on his brother, is found out by Ermanamer within days of his arrival and is later framed for the murder of Varus' lover Nektarios. Ermanamer also takes his beloved Thusnelda away from her disapproving father Segestes, eloping with her and making Segestes appear unreliable to the Romans in the process. Setting out to free Germania from Roman rule and fulfill a prophecy given to him by a woods witch, Ermanamer establishes himself as leader of the tribes before luring the Roman army into a trap at Teutoburg Forest. Having successfully wiped out three legions of the most powerful army in the world, Ermanamer is crowned King of the Germanii.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Pazuzu, the father of Wismerhill, is a demon prince who frequently plays chess with his master Lucifer, always letting the infernal High Prince win to avoid his wrath. Agreeing to play a Cosmic Chess Game with the world as their board, Pazuzu and Lucifer both father a child on Earth, then give them resources to fight each other over its fate. Pazuzu seduces a beautiful, lonely woman by disguising himself as a dark elf noble, then sacrifices her after she gives birth to his son to give Wismerhill a motivational tragedy. Watching his son from the shadows his whole life as he goes out and builds an army, Pazuzu only directly intervenes to tell Wismerhill that Lucifer's son, the wicked Haazheel Thorne, has opened the Gates of Hell and instructing him to close it. Pazuzu stands out from most of his fellow demons with his charming personality and cunning to match his deviousness, playing a long game that ultimately allowed him to beat the great Lucifer.
  • Blake and Mortimer: Whether it's their Arch-Enemy Olrik or various Monsters of the Week, Blake and Mortimer faced multiple enemies. However, the following stood out by their sheer brilliance:
    • Under Edgar P. Jacobs' pen, the aforementioned Colonel Olrik is Blake and Mortimer's arch-nemesis and a mercenary. A No-Nonsense Nemesis, he constantly tried to make sure that Blake and Mortimer were truly dead when they tried to fake their deaths (The Secret of the Swordfish), immediately sent assassins after Mortimer once he learned he was in Japan (Professor Sató's Three Formulae), or immediately kill Kisin once he knew that he was a traitor (Atlantis Mystery). A brilliant Master of Disguise, he fooled even the heroes with his disguises, even changing his personality and his accent. A master of improvisation, he out-smarted Blake and the police on Paris's roofs (S.O.S. Meteors : Mortimer in Paris), and forced Blake and the police to let him escape by threatening Mortimer and Sató's lives (Professor Sató's Three Formulae). Proficient in the art of distraction, he triggered an explosion to distract everyone while he steals the necklace (The Necklace Affair) and has his men sabotage Blake and Mortimer's car while he infiltrates Mortimer's apartment (Atlantis Mystery). A charming and cunning character, Olrik is one of the most beloved villains of all Franco-Belgian comics.
    • Introduced as a pleasant scientist in S.O.S. Meteors : Mortimer in Paris, Professor Miloch Georgevitch is at first a minor antagonist, showing Mortimer the Cirrus Network, and planning, under orders, to first control the weather, then later release a toxic fog in Wester Europe, killing millions to allow a foreign power to take over. When Mortimer accidentally triggers the base's self-destruct sequence, Miloch manages to escape despite Olrik locking him inside the base. However, he's left irremediably irradiated and dying, and plans to get revenge on Mortimer in The Time Trap, becoming the album's main antagonist. Creating a time machine, he died soon after, but left the machine to Mortimer as inheritance, playing on his scientific curiosity to manipulate him into using it. Having rigged the machine, Miloch first attempts to lock Mortimer in several eras, from Prehistory to the future. When Mortimer manages to find a way back in the present, it turns out Miloch had planned that possibility as well, leaving a bomb set to blow up the machine with Mortimer inside it case it happens. Hammy, friendly and brilliant, Miloch proved to be a worthy adversary even after his death.
    • The Oath of the Five Lords: John Hastings (né Lawless) and Lisa Pantry (née Elisabeth Lawless) are Allister Lawless's children and blames the TE Spirit Society for their father's demise. In their quest for revenge, they proved to be brilliant manipulators, Lisa seducing Alfred Clayton (leading to John later switching identities with him to create their cover) before becoming the seemingly nice assistant of Professor Diging in the Ashmolean Museum, and John becoming Diging's aide as the supposedly mentally ill Alfred Clayton. Meanwhile, they steal the parts of Lawrence's manuscript hidden by the society in several objects through the museum, and kills the Society's members. When Mortimer hides in his room one of the objects, John retrieves it from there, having spied on him. Lisa is even responsible for Mortimer's involvement, convincing Diging to asks for his help regarding the thefts, which would lure out Blake, Mortimer's best friend and a member of the Society. By the climax, Lisa's true nature was still unknown and the siblings had retrieved all the parts of the manuscript, and killed all but one member of the society, proving to be unexpectedly competent antagonists despite their young age and low resources.
    • The Septimus Wave: Lady Lisbeth Rowana is a young and charming "inconsolable widow" with a history of marrying ailing men to inherit their fortune upon their deaths. An admirer of Professor Septimus's work, she joins three other people (Lieutenant McFarlane, banker Oscar Balley and Professor Evangely) sharing the same tastes with her, planning to use Septimus's original Guinea Pig, Olrik and brainwash him into doing what their bidding. When she meets Mortimer by accident in the Bedlam Hospice, she easily charms him and invites him to a private party with the intention of using his genius to continue Septimus's work. When the Septimus army attempts to retrieves Olrik, Evangely, Rowana and McFarlane makes an alliance with Mortimer and Olrik which proved useful to them, as the latter two managed to stop the phenomenon. During their escape from the Septimus army, Evangely and Rowana takes advantage of Olrik briefly having a seizure (while Mortimer tends to him) to leave them behind, thus suffering no consequences for their actions.
  • Block 109: Grand Master Zytek was once a member of the anti-Nazi resistance who pledged to infiltrate the Nazi German hierarchy in order to destroy it from within. Zytek assassinates Adolf Hitler himself, which inadvertently causes a more effective leadership to take charge of the Third Reich and escalate the war, destroying much of the world population in a full-scale nuclear attack, along with Zytek's beloved family. Zytek later becomes ultimate leader, using his private paramilitary organization the Teutonic Order to foil his enemies within the Reich, stopping an attempted coup d'etat by his ambitious rival Reinhard Heydrich before he can even put it into action, and wipes out the rest of the Nazi leadership in one fell swoop for their crimes against humanity. Zytek's ultimate plan is to destroy the major warring powers in a nuclear apocalypse while allowing a select group of people from the Reich and other populations around the world to survive and rebuild civilization. A charismatic leader who inspires nothing but total devotion from his men because of his convictions and courage in battle, Zytek is a deeply tragic figure who ultimately dies in a valiant last stand to rid the world of its worst evils and save mankind in the long run.
  • The Boys:
    • The work's Villain Protagonist, Billy Butcher, leads the titular squad, driven to hatred against superheroes after one raped his wife, later causing her death. Ruthlessly efficient in his operations, Butcher will take any means necessary to achieve his objectives and constantly shows his brilliance in taking down the legions of superheroes of the Vought-American, using a detonator to kill 150 before they can launch an attack and holds the Vought's most powerful group, the Seven, at a standstill with photos for blackmail. Personally defeating most of the high-ranked group Payback with pure tactical acumen, Butcher also devises a plan to respond to the Homelander's uprising by recommending specialized warheads to the American military, killing scores of superheroes with targeting devices. After avenging his wife, Butcher puts forth a plan to eradicate all superheroes via bioweapon, coming to near victory before throwing it away to instead save his protege, happy to be defeated by someone he loves.
    • The Vought-American's de facto head, James Stillwell, is a stoic, unfettered executive who will take any means necessary to ensure his corporation stays profitable and in good public standing. Hindering the Boys at nearly every turn, Stillwell proves himself their most brilliant adversary, at one point setting up a fake hospital to nearly wipe them out when springing a surprise attack. Ever a man of contingencies, Stillwell also swiftly catches on to the Homelander's plans for insurrection, calmly facing the deranged superhero and after the Homelander's coup is stopped, pins the blame on another Vought officer to avoid punishment while allowing Vought to rebrand and continue operating.
  • The Cartoon History of the Universe: Themistocles proves one of the most cunning and charismatic individuals Ancient Athens ever produced. Born the son of a vegetable vendor, he rises to become one of the city's leading political voices, and ostracizes most of his major rivals. Recognizing that the Persian Empire still poses a threat, he recommends that Athens use a rich vein of silver to build a powerful navy. When Persia invades Greece again, he fails to gain command of the allied navy, but bribes Spartan admiral Eurybiades into going along with him. After the initial strategy to stop the Persians fails and Athens is destroyed, he successfully lures the Persian fleet into a trap at the Battle of Salamis, turning the tide of the war. Once the Persians are defeated, the Athenians return to the rubble of their city to rebuild, but the Spartans forbid them to rebuild their city walls. But Themistocles successfully has them rebuilt on the sly by distracting the Spartans with fake negotiations. Not long after, he gets banished from Athens, but manages to bounce back by relocating to Persian territory, ending his days in the lap of luxury as Governor of Magnesia. One of the few major historical figures to never be portrayed in a demeaning light, Themistocles serves to demonstrate many of Ancient Greece's greatest virtues and vices.
  • Clean Room: Astrid Mueller is a brilliant young woman devoted to ruthlessly guarding humanity from the Entities. Using the Clean Room, alien technology to peruse the past and memories, Astrid uses blackmail, coercion and manipulation to maintain control. Surrounding herself with loyal men and women, Astrid makes certain they have psychological flaws she can exploit to break them should they betray her, and when her company's board tries to betray her, Astrid outlasts an assassination attempt, turns the assassin to her side and outplays them effortlessly. Astrid proceeds to outwit all the entities, foiling their invasion and even sacrifices her own reputation to keep humanity's innocence at the horrors of the void intact, maintaining a true care for humanity and those around her.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Arpin Lusene is Scrooge McDuck's most intelligent and competent foe. A charming French millionaire playboy who lives a double life as a Gentleman Thief, Lusene vows to steal Scrooge's entire fortune in front of the whole world before going into retirement. After accidentally coming into the possession of the dangerous Omnisolve, Lusene gets the brilliant idea to coat a stolen suit of armor with the substance, turning himself into an unstoppable Juggernaut of a Black Knight who nearly destroys all of Scrooge's riches to fake having stolen it. After Lusene's defeat, he returns and uses subterfuge to regain his suit of armor, then makes his previous plan fool-proof. Scrooge scuppers his original plan to empty the Money Bin by threatening a media blackout, so Lusene settles for destroying Scrooge's other trophies housed in the Duckburg museum, and nearly dissolves poor Donald after accidentally being trapped with him by Scrooge. Even despite being ultimately bested by Scrooge, Lusene always accepts his defeat gracefully, both regarding the other as a Worthy Opponent.
  • Elephantmen: Obadiah Horn is a prominent Elephantman in Los Angeles and the head of Horn Industries. Starting out as nothing but another MAPPO slave, Horn managed to use his resources, his connections to Sahara, and his brute strength to become one of the most powerful Elephantmen in the world. As leader of Horn Industries, Horn had his bodyguards eliminate anyone who opposed him outside the public's knowledge, all while he and Sahara continued to gain the media's support. After being put on house arrest due to murdering Gabbatha on his wedding day, Horn's benefactor, La Mantia, launches an invasion on Los Angeles and threatens Horn into joining Promethean. Horn rejects his proposal, kills La Mantia, and single-handedly stops the invasion. When Douglas Shore wins a mayoral election, Horn meets with Shore and informs him that he'll be running Shore's entire term in office behind closed doors, having already planted his own agents within Shore's staff just to ensure Horn still has full control over the city.
  • G.I. Joe:
    • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel): Wilder Vaughn is the leader of the Red Shadows, a covert terrorist group seeking the destruction of both G.I. Joe and Cobra itself. Becoming disgusted with the modern governments and military after witnessing a group of American soldiers massacre a village in Asia, Vaughn goes into hiding and carries out a variety of assassinations against the Joes and Cobra, culminating in seemingly killing Cobra Commander and seizing his assets. Utilizing his variety of followers who have infiltrated world governments, Vaughn gains full access to the Umbra systems that he himself developed and that are installed in many of the servers and communications systems around the world. Vaughn plans to wipe out every government, political and religious power in the world, and replace them all with the Red Shadows, who will rule with peace and prosperity in mind, not their own power, and Vaughn very nearly completes his plan, only being taken down due to his own soldiers' failings.
    • G.I. Joe (IDW):
      • The brilliant, affably charming first Cobra Commander introduced in the story is the current leader of Cobra, elected the most times in a row out of any Commander due to his efficiency and charisma. Taking time out of his schedule to personally recruit potentials to Cobra, the Commander is a generous boss, always willing to hear out and promote his subordinates for ingenuity, and yet never hesitating to silence or dispose of any Cobra members he finds distasteful or a hindrance to the organization. The Commander outsmarts the G.I. Joes at every turn, blowing up one of his most treasured bases and even abandoning the long-sought MASS device to one-up the Joes, and in his grandest outing seems to convince the former Joe Chuckles to his side, nonetheless keeping the dangerous man always under surveillance, and the Commander is only beaten when Chuckles betrays him after months of loyal servitude.
      • G.I. Joe: Cobra, by Christos Gage and Mike Costa: Phillip Provost, known to all as "Chuckles," is a ruthless, manipulative G.I. Joe member who sheds his identity to become a mercenary that reports back notable information to the Joes. Convincing an assortment of criminals, killers and terrorists of his status as a gun-for-hire, Chuckles commits any sort of atrocity to cement his supposed villainous nature to potential targets, all while deeply regretful of his actions but nonetheless efficient in carrying them out. Though at one point outsmarted by the Paoli twins, Chuckles returns with a vengeance and pulls off a manipulation of the grandest sort, tricking Cobra Commander himself into trusting Chuckles and using this loyalty to maneuver his way into the Cobra High Command. Chuckles ultimately has the most successful run of anyone who goes up against Cobra, as he murders the Commander, kills one of the Paolis and blows up an entire Cobra island base, wiping out thousands of Cobra troops while sacrificing himself.
  • Grendel: Hunter Rose was born Eddie in New York. A natural genius with exceptional physical talent, Hunter reinvented himself and returned to New York as the mysterious Grendel. Dominating the criminal underworld, Hunter brought most criminal syndicates under his thumb while showing no mercy to traitors, child pornographers or pimps. Viewing everything as a game, Hunter manipulated the cops and criminals alike, as well as his archnemesis, Argent the Wolf. Constantly a step ahead of his enemies, Hunter even tricked Argent into being seen as a savage beast in front of Hunter's adopted daughter, Argent's beloved Stacy, to destroy her love for him. A ruthless, charming manipulator, Hunter reflects the darkness of New York and constantly shows himself a step ahead of all challengers.
  • Jughead: The Hunger, by Frank Tieri and Michael Walsh: Far craftier than his mainstream counterpart, Jughead’s affable cousin, Bingo Wilkins, works for the sake of FP Jones to get his family to embrace their werewolf sides. Upon finding out that Jughead awakened his lycanthropy, Bingo fakes his own death to get the Coopers off his tail, allowing him to keep an eye on his cousin. Sabotaging Jughead when he tries to live a peaceful life at the circus, Bingo attempts to sway Jughead to his side, triggering Jughead’s werewolf transformation when Jughead rejects his offer to teach his cousin how to hunt. After saving Jughead’s life when they’re ambushed by Archie and the Coopers, Bingo later attempts to bring Jellybean to FP. To buy time for this, he triggers Jughead’s werewolf state and has him attack Archie and Betty, allowing Bingo to reach Jellybean and successfully convince her to come with him. Slipping himself and his family out of one grim scenario after another, Bingo almost always has a trick up his sleeve.
  • KGB by Valérie Mangin: Ava Kirova is a Polish scientist who secretly seeks revenge on her superior, the German Von Ausch, for his role in The Holocaust. To do that, she regretfully implants explosive mind-controlling devices into supernatural children — whom she treats as her own family — to frame Von Ausch. Blackmailing Dimitri and telling him the truth, they successfully manage to cast suspicion on the former Nazi. Discovering Von Ausch's real nature as the demon Beelzebub, Ava manages to stop his plan to kill the Soviet leadership and forces him to escape to Hell. Leading the Soviet invasion of Hell, Ava proves to be a capable leader before revealing her real nature as Lucifer and using a nuke to heavily injure Beelzebub. Trying to reach Heaven, Lucifer confronts Beelzebub again before discovering that her goal is completely impossible and losing Dimitri. Falling again with Beelzebub, Lucifer embraces her nature and allies with Beelzebub to cause chaos in the world. In the end, Ava Kirova is a brilliant scientist that manages to manipulate the ruthless leaders of the URSS and Lucifer shows that despite the cruelty of Beelzebub, she is the actual ruler of Hell.
  • Micronauts (IDW): In a heavy contrast to his other iterations and their psychopathic megalomania, Baron Hraal Karza is depicted here as the ruthless, yet well-intentioned, baron of defense in the empire that rules Microspace. A genius tactician who has made his own way as one of the Emperor's Co-Dragons, Karza assassinates the Emperor's son Red Falcon when he becomes insane and detrimental to the empire, then puts the Emperor himself into stasis until the empire is in a more peaceful era for him to rule. Karza does anything and everything he can to halt the approach of the Entropy Storm, fighting his fellow baron of science Daigon when the man tries to control and understand the storm, and even following the Micronauts into the storm itself in his quest to save Microspace from it. After spending eons inside the storm and discovering the creator of Microspace, Micronus Prime, Karza decides that Microspace needs to both be saved from the Entropy Storm, and to be guided into a utopia with his own hand, and to this end, teams up with everyone from the Micronauts themselves to the monstrous Dire Wraiths to use in various attempts to halt the Entropy Storm, always ready with a scheme or backstab to gain the upper hand over his supposed allies. In the end, Karza gets exactly what he wants as he uses the Micronauts and Dire Wraiths as puppets to banish the Entropy Storm from Microspace, then returns to his home hailed as a beloved hero, ready to take the reigns and rule Microspace with a firm but steady hand.
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Necronomicon, by Sylvain Cordurié: James Moriarty himself is the brilliant Napoleon of Crime and the only mind sharp enough to match the wits of Sherlock Holmes. Once the ruthless enforcer for the Moriarty crime family, Moriarity murdered his abusive father Henry and proceeded to reinvent himself as a criminal mastermind, engaging in one daring plot after the next that seemingly ended with his plummet off Reichenbach Falls. Resurrecting himself through the Necromomicon, Moriarty's subsequent bid for power lands him in the realm of the Elder Gods, whereupon Moriarty remains unflappably defiant to what would otherwise be a case of And I Must Scream, until the point he tricks the Elder Gods themselves into allowing him passage back to Earth. From there, Moriarty tracks down the copies of the Necronomicon to destroy them, infiltrating a cult by skinning and wearing the hide of one of the cultists. When the cult summons an abomination to destroy him, Moriarty watches coolly as the abomination turns away from him in intimidation and slaughters the cult instead. Determined, unfettered, and even retaining a few odd soft moments such as his fondness of children that set him apart from the more despicable villains of the series, Moriarty remains as ever the most cunning criminal Holmes has ever fought.
  • Shi Xiu (2011): Shi Xiu, or Cheng I Sao, is an intelligent prostitute kidnapped by pirates. Ingratiating herself to their leader, she becomes one of the leaders of the pirate fleets through sheer force of will and intelligence, completely running rings around the government forces and westerners alike. Once her husband dies, Shi Xiu takes over the pirates by making her husband's adopted son Baozai her lover, ruling through him, and even forcing the government to eventually give into her demands and granting her full amnesty and fabulous wealth in retirement. Easily the most successful pirate who ever lived, Shi Xiu ends her days a wealthy owner of a gambling house with the knowledge that she rose to decide her fate for herself.
  • Spirou and Fantasio: Zantafio is Fantasio's evil, greedy cousin. While driven by his desire for money and power, he shows to be unexpectedly smart in doing so, keeping tabs on Spirou and Fantasio even when they seemingly joined him and knowing where they would go after sabotaging his third army's equipment (The Dictator and the Mushroom), seemingly torture a fake Spirou to trick Champignac into revealing a book's location (The Gold Maker), immediately attempt to assassinate Spirou and Fantasio the second they set foot on Moscow and later gag Spip to prevent him from untying Spirou and Fantasio with his teeth while they're next to a bomb (Spirou in Moscow), or place a mosquito-attracting transmitter in a nuclear base and release billions of curate-drugged mosquitoes to eliminate all life in the base, allowing Zantafio to take over (Tora Torapa). While achieving several near victories, he even won once against Spirou and Fantasio, using the Zorglwave against them to brainwash them into giving him the Marsupilami, allowing him to sell it (The Wrath of the Marsupilami). Despite lacking any redeeming qualities, Zantafio is considered to be a charming, serious and threatening villain.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage): Karai is the leader of the Japanese branch of the Foot Clan. After the Turtles kill the Shredder, the NYC branch of the Foot falls into chaos, breaking up into factions that begin to fight each other. Karai is sent to NYC to restore order to the Foot. Karai learns about the Turtles and offers them a truce with the Foot if they help end the war. The most dangerous faction in the war, a group of zealots loyal to the Shredder, calling themselves the Shredder Elite are intent on killing the Turtles and the rest of the Foot. Karai confronts the Elite, wearing the Shredder's armor and orders the Elite to kill themselves, with one of them complying and leaving the others shocked enough for the Turtles to launch a surprise attack. When one of the Elite is about to kill Karai, she manages to impale him with a broken lamp. With the Elite dead, the war is over. However Karai remains morally ambiguous, secretly dressing up her ninjas as the Turtles in training sessions, musing about killing the Turtles when they are in a helpless state and provoking a war between the Foot and some inter dimensional warriors. When Karai hires Leonardo to protect her from one of these warriors, Karai conceals the truth about their feud from Leonardo and plans to execute the warrior after Leonardo defeats him.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Legends: Soul's Winter, by Michael Zulli: Oroku Saki AKA Shredder, as presented in this darker take on TMNT franchise, is a powerful Japanese Samurai lord, who has a long history with the Turtles and Splinter. Being their sworn enemy, Shredder at one point has a mental fight with Splinter, solely to draw him out to the open, so that Shredder could surround them with his Foot Clan warriors. Managing to quickly overwhelm them, Shredder decided to let them go, enjoying feeling of victory and desiring to feel it again in the future. Sensing that Splinter summoned a great God of the animals, Animus, to cure one of the wounded turtles, Shredder immediately tracks down their location and after easily apprehending an attacking Mutant Turtle, healed the wounded Turtle and when asked why, he answered "Everything beautiful... Bleeds".
  • Translucid, by Chondra Echert and Claudio Sanchez: Harold Mills becomes the supervillain known as "the Horse" to give the rising superhero the Navigator someone to better himself fighting. Proclaiming himself the Navigator's Arch-Enemy, the Horse pulls off a variety of brilliant crimes—often exposing those he kills to have been Asshole Victims to further his manipulation of the Navigator—and, upon deeming the Navigator superior, turns himself in, believing his job to be done in bettering he hero. However, when the Navigator shows a crippling dependency on the Horse, the supervillain arranges his release and, deciding the Navigator isn't the hero he thought he was, murders him and takes up his identity to be the best hero the world has ever seen, giving the Navigator a peaceful death and helping him conquer his inner demons as a final gift to his nemesis, who the Horse also considered a true friend.
  • V for Vendetta: The titular "V" is a masked revolutionary dedicating to crafting "The Land of Do-As-You-Please" from the fascist hellhole Britain has become. Destroying Parliament, V later seizes control of the broadcasting center of London to inform the country of his intentions and escapes by having the station head dressed up as him and used as a decoy. Slowly eliminating all of those at the Larkhill Concentration Camp who could have identified him, V is revealed to be manipulating almost everyone else, hacking into Britain's dictator, Adam Susan's supercomputer and guiding a widow of a man he'd killed to eliminate Susan. V proceeds to force Evey Hamilton into being his successor by forcing her to accept her true self under torture, and later even works his own death into his plans to convince Evey to become his successor and tear down the established order.
  • Valiant Comics:
    • Original run: Toyo Harada of Harbingers is the brilliant Big Bad whose powers as a Harbinger awakened at an early age. Deciding to claim and remake the world, Harada recruits Harbingers to mold them with his ideals, performing brilliant gambits to continuously achieve his ends and staying a step ahead of the Harbinger rebellion led by Peter Stanchek. Rarely at a loss, Harada even plays off alien invaders without them being aware of his actions to defend 'his' earth and even manages to nearly conquer the world.
    • Valiant Entertainment: In the reboot, Toyo Harada is more brilliant and ruthless than ever. A survivor of Hiroshima whose powers awakened when the Atom Bomb was dropped, Harada believes he must conquer the world to save it from himself. Recruiting young Harbingers via ruthless methods, even murder Peter Stanchek's friend and faking an accidental overdose, Harada dominates the airwaves as a seeming philanthropist and humanitarian to manipulate people, and constantly stays a step ahead of villain and hero alike. A man of bold conviction, a glimpse to the future even reveals Harada manages to conquer the world and makes it a utopia at the cost of freedom, before leaving the world to his rival Peter when he knows his life is at its end, trusting Peter to uphold his legacy even if Peter does not realize it.
  • Wanted: The Killer is a supervillain with the innate "ability to end life". After banding together with the other supervillains of the world, destroying the heroes completely and rewriting reality to make ordinary people forget the old world, the Killer worked for decades as a Professional Killer for the Fraternity while keeping an eye on Wesley Gibson, his only son whom he was forced to abandon. The Killer fakes his own death so that Wesley will inherit his seat at the Fraternity and make a name for himself, then destroy the diabolical Mr. Rictus in an Enemy Civil War and take over from the Professor. Feeling his own age, the Killer knows that his days are numbered, and considers the only person worth killing him to be the one to carry on his legacy. Smooth, scheming, and deadly lethal, the Killer stands out as the most dignified of the comic's Card-Carrying Villains.
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