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Manipulative Bastard / Comic Books

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  • Batman
    • Batman himself occasionally verses into this trope as well, most notably for his manipulation of Tim Drake following Tim's sixteenth birthday.
    • Also, it's revealed in JLA Secret Files and Origins that in order to plan his infamous Flaw Exploitation Batman Gambit to disable all superheroes in case they went rogue, he engaged all the members of the JLA in innocent personal conversations during which he subtly manipulated them into revealing their psychological weak points and fears to him. This actually comes off as way more dickish than his aforementioned Gambit, because he puts a lot of effort into being a soothing confidant and acting uncharacteristically understanding and supportive to make them spill. Unsurprisingly, it earns him a lot of outrage from his allies, and badly fucks up his friendship with Superman for quite a while.
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    • The Joker occasionally falls into this trope, although he is very emotional and his plans often do involve comedy...although in many cases, only he thinks it's funny.
      • In the New 52, he has been ramped up in this regard. In the retelling of the origin of Jason Todd, the second Robin and the one who was killed by the Joker, the story is seen from two perspectives, that of Jason and that of the Joker, with heavy indications that Joker arranged events so that Jason would appear to be the perfect candidate to replace Dick Grayson as Robin to Batman, purely so he could eventually lure Jason into a trap and kill him just to get at Batman. After that, in the Bat Family Crossover, Death of the Family, Joker returns after a year's absence and proceeds to unfold a meticulous plan that targeted each member of the Bat Family personally, so that they would begin questioning if the Joker knew who they really were and lose faith in Batman, allowing him to take the entire group down one by one.
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    • Hush is going to manipulate you. No matter who and he is going to put other plots underneath the current plan just in case you don't serve his purpose.
    • Robin Series: Everyone but his father, his younger siblings, Robin and Batman assumes the General is just a weird kid going through a phase, which allows him to manipulate everyone around him. Even so, he prefers to seek out the mentally unstable and manipulate them into working for him instead.
  • Supergirl:
    • Red Daughter of Krypton: Lobo played with Supergirl's anger and loneliness, hinted that they were not so different and if they worked together he could help her to take control of her own life. It was all a plot to save his butt. However, Kara had already dealt with manipulative bastards and saw through his words.
      Lobo: I'm offering you a way to take ownership of your life. This planet's too smalltime for the likes of you, Kara Zor-El. You were meant for bigger things.
      Kara: You know what I am sick and tired of? People acting like they know me— like they only want what's best for me.
      Lobo: Now, hold on—
      Kara: NO! Everyone I meet makes plans for me. Everyone ends up trying to use me. Even Shay. Even Kal. And now you. Well, I am finished with users.
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    • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl Lex Luthor befriended Supergirl and made sure that they bonded because he wanted to watch Kara closely and manipulate her before killing her.
      Supergirl: How could you? I… trusted you!
      Luthor: Like a father. I know — I worked on that. I had to make sure we bonded.
  • In Superman story War World Mongul kidnaps three Superman's friends and threatens with kill them to force Superman to retrieve a device zealously guarded by Martian Manhunter, who had previously kicked Mongul's butt.
  • Henry Bendix, the creator of Apollo and Midnighter, is all over this trope in the nastiest way. His amazing talents of mindfuckery let him plan ten steps ahead on any given day, but he has a special talent for screwing over his own creations: he knows where all their buttons are, and in many cases, he installed them. See The Authority: Revolution for a crowning example of this - all he had to do was prey on Midnighter's worst insecurities, and bam: one indomitable superteam dissolved, one happy family ripped apart, and the world left wide open to a fascist takeover. Sure, it's all (mostly) okay in the end, because Jenny Quantum is too awesome to stand for supervillains or parental abandonment, but Midnighter still spends several pointless and horrible years apart from his husband and daughter, unwittingly helping the bad guy. For someone with no apparent superpowers, Bendix manages to scare the crap out of some very high-level heroes.
  • X-Men
    • Mister Sinister has been the ultimate Marvel Manipulative Bastard for the past twenty years, manipulating the lives of the Summers family in particular You can blame him for the Summers' Tangled Family Tree.
    • Good example is also Selene, who just loves to trick and manipulates hapless teenagers, male or female alike, to do her bidding and dirty their hands in her stead. Not that she actually needs to - she's one of the most powerful mutants alive - but toying with people's feelings is just too entertaining for her not to indulge. She even tried this on The Hulk and Rachel Summers but well, everyone has their limits...
  • John Constantine - this bastard is ready to sacrifice some lives to save his ass (or save the world).
    • His dead ghost evil twin is just the same. Not only has he manipulated John, Satan and God aren't safe from him either.
  • Ysanne Isard, particularly in the comics. The Director of Imperial Intelligence, she served the Emperor until his death. After the Battle of Endor, Isard advised Grand Vizier Sate Pestage while plotting to make his position shaky enough that he made plans to abandon the Empire and flee to the Rebellion. In the same day, Isard had Pestage and the obstructive Imperial Ruling Council assassinated, leaving her Empress in all but name. A favored element in her plans involved capturing members of the Rebel Alliance, brainwashing them into becoming sleeper agents, and sending them back completely unaware to their superiors, awaiting the right moment to activate them.
  • Carl Barks's Scrooge McDuck was a master manipulator and trickster who enjoyed every minute of it... all done in the name of teaching his nephews and grand-nephews important lessons about courage, money, hard work, etc.
  • In Mini Monsters, Morty Vivente is this to Victor in the fourth album. However, he failed at his purpose. Also, he is this with his sidekicks all the time.
  • During the Sinestro Corps War storyline in Green Lantern, Sinestro managed to manipulate the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians of the Universe, every superhero on Earth, and everyone fighting on his own side. He assembled his own intergalactic army, created a power source run on pure fear, brought together the most powerful collection of supervillains the cosmos had ever seen, declared war on the entire universe...and lost. The Lanterns sentence Sinestro to death, thus breaking their own law against never taking a life. It turns out this was what Sinestro wanted all along — his plan was not to destroy the Green Lanterns or conquer the universe, but to create a threat so great and terrifying that they would abandon all their principles to stop it. He tells Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner that he still believes in what the Green Lanterns stand for (so much so that he's proud to have a daughter in the Corps). He wanted the Guardians to rewrite the Book of Oa to allow Green Lanterns to wield lethal force. "The universe will fear the Green Lanterns, and the universe will be better for it." He essentially assembled a bunch of heavy hitters (Hank Henshaw, Superboy Prime, the Anti-Monitor) that the GLC (and possibly the JLA and the JSA) would have to kill in order to stop. Even Superman considers killing (which he has only done once) when Hank Henshaw tells Big Blue that he could never kill him, "To be honest Henshaw, I've never tried."
  • Loki from The Mighty Thor. What he did after Ragnarok: he came back in a female body (which was presumably meant for Sif), started plotting with Dr. Doom behind the Asgardians' backs, tried to convince the same Asgardians that Beta Ray Bill was an infiltrated Skrull, gathered the Mighty Avengers with an astral disguise of the Scarlet Witch just to break Norman Osborn little by little (while at the same time plotting together with him), brought Bor to the future and allowed Thor to kill him so his brother could be banished, gave Osborn the idea to invade Asgard, allowed him to convince the authorities to do so by siccing the U-Foes on a rather reckless Volstagg...Then he topped himself, trying to worm back into the good graces of his family, when the actions above made everyone hate him more than ever. He "sacrificed" himself against the rampaging Sentry and reincarnated as a relatively innocent kid, who had the intelligence and general attitude of Old Loki, but not his memories. But all of that was a scheme to give Old Loki a new lease on life with (somewhat) restored reputation, and from the beginning he arranged things to eventually overwrite Kid Loki's personality and take over. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately the jerk managed to lose his original essence in all this, meaning that he is dead and the third Loki had to live with being born from child murder.
  • Wild Storm: TAO. For those of you who don't know, The Tactically Augmented Organism was created to be the ultimate tactical intelligence. Unfortunately he was even smarter than the people who built him. In his search for meaning, he learned "everything worth knowing" and tried to be a super-hero. On his good days he's a Magnificent Bastard and Chessmaster. On his bad he's an Omnicidal Maniac. TAO is Master of the Logic Bomb and the Batman Gambit, always five steps ahead of everyone. Even the unpredictable moron is manipulated into the place where he will do TAO the most good. He plans on throwing the world into chaos because he's bored and because it will piss off his "father", John Lynch. He does this by controlling a secret army of super-villains while simultaneously using his role as advisor to the Ancient Conspiracy to fuck with them and turn them against each other.
    Holden Carver: TAO is the scariest bastard I've ever met. Don't get me wrong, it's not like he's some rampaging psycho who'll rip your guts out. He's worse. TAO will get you to rip your own guts out.
    Holden Carver: John Lynch has been in a coma for a year, since his best friend Cole Cash shot him. Cash doesn't even remember shooting him, because TAO thought it would be funnier that way.
  • Surprisingly, Archie Comics has its very own with Trula Twyst, an obsessive psychologist teen with a focus on Jughead Jones. She uses her powers of persuasion (bordering on mind control) to, on separate occasions, convince him he loves her, give up hamburgers, give up his master revenge plan on her, etc. Her first appearance features her convincing Jug he likes her, just so she can get the attention of all the other boys in town for "seducing the un-seduceable".
  • Both Hobgoblin and Green Goblin are masters of this. Hobby was able to perform shady and illegal business practices and frame a reporter to take the fall for him, and got away with it for several years. Norman Osborn masterminded The Clone Saga and ruined Spidey's life as well as getting to be Director of SHIELD. Unlike Hobby, Norman had been under suspicion for years, if not as the Goblin by Ben Urich, then as a crooked businessman by nearly everyone else.
  • Deathstroke from the DCU. He's not quite as good at this as others on this list — most of his targets tend to be damaged teenagers a generation or two younger than him, hardly the most challenging targets. When his powers of persuasion aren't enough to get them to work for him, he's not above using blackmail, death threats, mind controlling drugs, and Psycho Serum to force them to join him.
  • Ava Lord from Sin City is a Manipuative Bitch who is good enough to manipulate fellow manipulator, Dwight McCarthy.
  • Moonstone was an extremely unethical psychiatrist who got her powers by manipulating the original Moonstone into giving his up then stealing them. Afterwards, even though she was super-strong and could fly, emit energy bolts, and phase though walls, her ability to manipulate people was considered at least as dangerous as her powers.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog comics, we have Doctor Finitevus, who is most famous for the time he manipulated Dimitri, the Guardians (including Knuckles), and two factions of the Dark Legion in order to create a new incarnation of Enerjak, and then teleporting away from the resulting carnage with a smirk. Fortunately, Knuckles seems to have learned his lesson since then - when they next met and Finitevus tried to use him again, Knuckles kicked his ass and threw him off of Angel Island.
    • Finitevus's former minion Scourge seems to have learned a thing or two from him — half of his Sonic Universe arc is learning and playing off of the Destructix's secrets and emotional weaknesses, in order to convince them to work for him.
  • Moretti of Give Me Liberty, who manages to blackmail the Action Girl heroine into servitude, frames the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for destroying the Apache Nation with an orbital laser, stages a Presidential coup that destroys the White House, and appoints himself interim leader of the United States.
  • All Fall Down: Using Phylum's voice box, AIQ Squared manipulates Pronto into selling his soul for the chance to get his powers back.
  • Cheshire of both Teen Titans and Secret Six counts. What's the best way to gain a good hold on a superhero (Roy Harper) with ties to two of the most influential super teams ever known (the Teen Titans and the Justice League), and a supervillain who is ostensibly considered the deadliest tracker on Earth (Thomas Blake)? Have their children. How do you plan to gain sympathy even after you've destroyed a country with an atomic bomb? Destroy a country considered to be the terrorist capital of the planet, Qurac.
  • This is one of the reasons Wolverine's Arch-Enemy Sabretooth is so dangerous. Sure his Healing Factor makes him just as hard to kill as Wolverine, he's strong enough to tear people apart with his teeth and claws, and he has an insatiable desire to kill, but all of that pales in comparison to his brains. Showcased in X-Force, when he reveals that he manipulated Daken by playing on his need for a father figure into forming the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. All to create a situation where Wolverine would be forced to knowingly kill his own son.
    • Speaking of Daken... Daken cares for nothing but his own desires, and is willing to use anyone to get what he wants. He's helped by the pheromones he can emit, which allow him to toy with the emotions of people around him, and pulls off Xanatos Gambit after Xanatos Gambit. In one case, he completely takes over Madripoor by secretly supporting everyone in their bids for power after a shutdown of major utilities that he himself arranged, before putting up Tyger Tiger as a puppet, and that was just part of his master plan to get Malcolm Colcord to give him the full Weapon X treatment. And oh yeah, he had a backup plan for that (in the form of his little sister, X-23, whom he put in place by capturing her and turning her over for experimentation, then allowed her to escape through a combination of unlocked restraints and a vial of Trigger Scent) in case Colcord tried to stiff him. He did. The boy has so many plans within plans, you never know if he's genuinely being nice to you or is just setting you up.
  • The Kingpin is disturbingly good at this. He built himself up from a low-level street thug, to assassin, to the Big Bad behind most of the organized crime on the East Coast. He was a significant threat for Spider-Man, but he truly began to show how terrifyingly good at manipulating people he was once he became the main villain in the Daredevil comics. In the "Born Again" storyline by neo-noir comics master Frank Miller, the Kingpin finds out that Matt Murdock is Daredevil and begins a months-long plot to systematically destroy his life before finally trying to kill him, putting Daredevil through the trial of his life. He has his hands in every cookie jar, has a general in his pocket, and has spies everywhere. Even after he's jailed, he proves very savvy at manipulating people from behind bars.
  • Phonicible "Phoney" P. Bone is this on two occasions. First when he convinces everyone in Barrelhaven (except Lucius) to vote for the "Mystery Cow" (Smiley in a cow suit) instead of Grandma Ben simply by spreading some rumors of her age slowing her down, despite her obvious badass qualities. Later he manages to take over the whole town just by making everyone believe are evil and he's an expert dragonslayer. Both plans end with him getting screwed over worse then everybody else. It's his manipulative ways that almost get him sacrificed by The Hooded One.
  • The New 52 Professor Zoom, as revealed in The Flash Annual #4. He's spent 500 years gathering others with speed-force related powers and convincing them that they have a destiny to destroy a monster called Barry Allen. Each of them felt they had no choices left when he found them, because he'd made sure of that, subtly putting things in place so their enemies would destroy their home or their friends would reject them and then presenting himself as providing a new purpose and sense of belonging.
  • Arawn: The Cauldron of Blood turns all sides against the middle and themselves, seducing Arawn and his brothers with ultimate power and godhood, only to betray them when it's convenient. But what really makes it qualify is that despite its blatantly treasonous nature, nobody so far figured out it is the real threat or done anything to stop it, as it continues to play everyone like a fiddle. With that said, the moment someone (Owen) realizes the danger it represents and decides to do something about it, the Cauldron's demise was imminent.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate X-Men: Magneto sent Wolverine to kill Xavier and, at the same time, denounced that he would show up in the airport. He knew that the X-Men would go and rescue him... allowing him to infiltrate the team without raising suspicions.
    • The Ultimates
      • Gregory Stark sets the Ultimates and the Avengers against each other with ease.
      • Loki turned the team against each other with ease, making Thor look like a nutcase (and later gaslighting him to make Thor doubt his own sanity), and convinced Nick Fury that Captain America was a traitor.
  • Wonder Woman: When Ares puts his mind to it he can be just as dangerously manipulative as his sister Athena. Case in point, during Rucka's run on Wonder Woman (1987) Ares plays all sides when Athena takes over Olympus and even though the reader sees all of his interactions with the various factions his ultimate alliances and goals remain mysterious until he starts killing, and even then his goals are not yet entirely clear as it makes it seem like he has decided to unilaterally support Athena when he is only using this to ensure no one is prepared for him to make his actual move.


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