"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"
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Main DC Universe
- 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.
- 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.
- Green Lantern: Thaal 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 completely cow a room of supernatural creatures with a reputation consisting of things he made up on the spot.
- 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.
- Starman: Richard Swift, the Shade, became immortal and an avatar of the Darklands in the 1800s. Becoming a genius thief and assassin to enrich and excite himself, Swift would also wipe out the Ludlow assassin family out, having many adventures before settling in Opal City. Acting as enemy and eventually friend to the new Starman Jack Knight, Swift fights to save Opal City, outwitting his opponents with signature flair before finally managing to defeat his nemesis Simon Culp as Culp seeks to utterly annihilate Opal City to spite Swift.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Elseworlds and Alternate universes
- Doomsday Clock: In the sequel to Watchmen, Adrian "Ozymandias" Veidt is as deadly as ever. When the exposure of his crimes brings the world to the edge of war, he immediately sets about trying to find Dr. Manhattan to persuade him to come home and fix everything. Manipulating the second Rorschach into aiding him by pretending to have cancer and playing up his guilt, he has Rorschach II rescue the criminal duo Mime and Marionette before traveling to the DC Universe. Overcoming numerous obstacles he successfully summons Dr. Manhattan to try and persuade him to return. When Dr. Manhattan refuses to come home Ozymandias brings the world to the edge of war and engineers the defeat of the entire superhero community at the hands of Dr. Manhattan, all to ensure that Superman will be able to meet Dr. Manhattan and persuade him to do the right thing. While he is ultimately jailed for his crimes, Ozymandias's plan does ultimately ensure the survival of two worlds.
- Judge Dredd: The DC Comics incarnation of Chief Judge Fargo is the founder and the head of the New Justice System, which was created to bring "the perfect justice" to Mega City One after Fargo grows tired of the rampant corruption within it. Firing all the Judges to create chaos on the streets and leading to the Ministry of Fear to add fear to the population, Fargo implemented Justice Machines after two days, so that people would witness the difference between "Chaos" and "Order" and trust him. Failing to eliminate the President, due to his refusal to have Judge Dredd killed, Fargo got his plans back on track after Booth killed the President instead, outmaneuvering Dredd and putting him in suspended animation, before he became the only police power in the city. After Booth reduced the world to a Nuclear Wasteland and became a tyrant, Fargo has people accept his leadership and wages a war on Booth, eventually defeating him and taking full control of Mega City One. Completing his creation of the perfect justice system, Fargo became a legend, bringing justice to the city at last, being brought down only by his desire to make Dredd his successor and expectation for him to follow his plan.
- 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 and continuing 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?" This triggers Superman into giving his life to stop Brainiac, allowing Luthor to craft a "Global United States" with an unparalleled era of peace and prosperity.
- Tales From The Dark Multiverse: In this retelling of Knightfall, Bruce Wayne, Batman, now referred to as The "Broken", failed to regain the cowl after attempting to retrieve it from Jean-Paul Valley. Subjected to a brutal torture, Bruce is left a head and torso hooked up to a life support system, but refuses to crack, criticizing Jean's detective skills and reliance on venom. After being saved by Tourne, Bane's son, and Lady Shiva, Bruce is given a new body made out of Nano-bats, which he uses to help the two battle Valley, who is now calling himself Saint Batman. Revealed to have grown more ruthless since his imprisonment, Bruce kills Valley's Co-Dragons. Cardinal is tricked into decapitating Torchbearer, and then he tears up Cardinal with his Nano-bats before tossing him down the hole he came from, killing him. After Valley is defeated, Bruce suddenly kills Tourne and Shiva, and reveals to Valley that, while he's come to agree with his rhetoric, he hates how Valley relied on others. Stringing up Valley's corpse, Bruce reveals himself to Gotham, and is met with cheers of the people.