Given the source material, it comes as no surprise that literature based on The DCU feature heinous villains.
Within each category, works are listed by publication date unless noted. Works do not share a continuity unless noted.
- Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, by Devin Grayson & Flint Dille:
- Sin Tzu, unlike the original, more generic video game iteration, is portrayed in the novel as a sociopathic mass murderer who views compassion and love as weaknesses, abandoning and possibly murdered the only woman he ever loved to prove his point. An assassin who takes joy in his various atrocities, Sin Tzu eventually betrayed his own cult and drove them all to tear each other apart upon gaining power of his own. Becoming a warlord and tyrant obsessed with nothing more than conquest and destruction, Sin Tzu has killed thousands across Asia in his march towards domination, enslaving and "reeducating" entire countries at a time. Upon arriving in Gotham City, Sin Tzu unleashes thousands of criminals onto the streets, using his power to make them even more vicious so as to spread mass death and destruction. Siccing some of Batman's worst foes on him, and turning the rest into living trophies, Sin Tzu ultimately plans to murder Batman and ensure that every last one of his thousands of minions are killed in a blaze of glory just to illustrate the latest chapter of his self-written book.
- Jonathan Crane, The Scarecrow, is a fear-loving sadist who becomes one of Sin Tzu's "generals" in his war on Gotham. Locked away in Arkham Asylum for his latest crime of forcing dozens of innocent college students to tear each other apart, Crane escapes Arkham and leads a group of criminals he drives insane to march on Gotham, where Crane sprays countless people with his patented Fear Gas, driving them to get into bloodbaths with each other. Spraying and terrorizing Commissioner James Gordon, he forces Batman to watch just because the man is Batman's best friend.
- Constantine, by John Shirley: Mammon, son of Satan, decides to kick-start the apocalypse and bring Hell on Earth. To do so, he takes possession of the scavenger Francesco, corrupts him with false promises of power and luxury, and drives him into a killing spree, claiming the life of ten people. He also sends assassins after Constantine and his allies. Abducting the psychic Angela Dodson, Mammon attempts to break her will by forcing her to watch human misery and crimes, and when this fails, offers her to be raped by Francesco. Eventually to rise on Earth, he takes possession of her body and attempts to have her sacrificed by his accomplice Gabriel.
- The Dark Knight Trilogy by Dennis O'Neil (Batman Begins & The Dark Knight) & Greg Cox (The Dark Knight Rises): Unlike his more passive film counterpart, the novel version of Dr. Jonathan Crane, The Scarecrow, is presented as a terror-loving maniac. Starting out using several of his students as test subjects, driving them mad in the process, Crane allies with the League of Shadows in the present, creating and supplying them with Fear Gas so as to unleash it onto Gotham and drive the city to tear itself apart. Along the way, Crane performs more experiments in fear on his hapless patients at Arkham, orders the murder of a nosy attorney, and drives his partner, Carmine Falcone, insane to silence him. During the attack on Gotham, Crane led a prison riot, murdered a police officer, and tried to run down Rachel Dawes and a child she is protecting. Crane then becomes a drug dealer and kills a junkie as a test run for a lethal hallucinogen. In his final appearance, Crane takes a spot in Bane's conquered, anarchy-filled Gotham, presiding over a Kangaroo Court where everyone from corrupt politicians to innocent people are forced to walk across the icy river of Gotham, invariable leading to their deaths as they break through the ice, much to Crane's delight.
- Superman Returns, by Marv Wolfman: Lex Luthor is a far more serious, depraved threat than in the film. Locked in prison after various crimes against humanity, notably attempting to assassinate the President of the United States and nearly wiping California and millions of lives off the map just for greed, Luthor escapes confinement and ruins an elderly woman's life before conning her out of her fortune. With his newfound resources, Luthor gets his hands on Krypton crystals, testing them out and causing citywide chaos throughout Metropolis that he giddily enjoys. Ultimately planning to use the crystals to form a new island that will never cease to grow, Luthor proudly brags that billions will die as his "new continent" overtakes and destroys entire countries, remarking that the countless lives lost deserve their fate for not appreciating his genius. Luthor hates Superman with such vitriol that he tries to murder Lois Lane and her five-year-old son just to spite the hero, and, after depowering Superman, Luthor spends several minutes brutally torturing and beating him to a bloody, broken pulp, taking sick pleasure out of his coming triumph.
- Last Son of Krypton: Towbee the Minstrel is a seemingly harmless and obnoxious villain, who is secretly The Master, a powerful intergalactic real estate tycoon. The Master steals a time snatcher device from a scientist and uses it to take planets from the future so that he can sell them in the present. The planets are fundamentally unstable and will disappear in 100 years, eventually killing anyone who has settled on those planets. The Master hears of a prophecy of a tyrant taking over part of the galaxy and plans to be that tyrant. The Master plans to use the time snatcher to harness the power of black holes to separate a large part of the galaxy called the Galactic Arm from the rest of the universe, so that the Guardians of the Universe cannot stop his plans for conquest. Eventually, the Master arrives on Earth and plans to take over Earth's telecommunications systems and use it to mind control humanity, wanting to make humanity into an army of conquest that will help conquer the Galactic Arm.
- Superman: Miracle Monday: C.W. Saturn, a demon from Hell and the chief servant of Samael, is introduced torturing 666 condemned souls. Samael tasks Saturn with breaking Superman's spirit, for if he succeeds there will be nothing to stop Samael from conquering the universe and allowing evil to rule over the cosmos. Saturn comes to Earth and decides to test Superman by causing various disasters for Superman to deal with. He creates an earthquake that causes a tidal wave to head towards to Metropolis; causes trains to crash; causes a chemical plant to caught fire; and nearly explode and causes a building to start collapsing. After that, he posseses Kristen Wells, Clark Kent's new coworker. In Wells's body, at first Saturn just commits cruel pranks, though some are deadly. After Superman spoils some of Saturn's fun, he decides to get serious and uses his powers to make all the nuclear weapons in the world launch. Saturn's ultimate goal is to force Superman kill Wells in order to stop him, knowing that will break Superman's spirit and allow evil to win.
- Super Powers Which Way Books:
- Supergirl: The Girl of Steel: Brainiac, an evil android that wants to conquer the universe, is a dark presence in an otherwise lighthearted book. Brainiac captures Superman and lures Supergirl to a planet he is slowly cooking with red sun radiation rays. If Supergirl confronts Brainiac in his ship, he plans to capture Supergirl and experiment on her and Superman. If Supergirl frees Brainiac's alien prisoners and lets them bring her to him, Brainiac kills them without a second thought. If Supergirl confronts Brainiac on the planet, Supergirl finds that the population of the planet, a race of sapient rat creatures called Ridents, are being starved due to Brainiac's experiments destroying most of the food and the water on the planet. Brainiac is also capturing some of the Ridents and is using them as slaves, forcing them to work in a mine and dig up a jewel that could grant him untold power.
- Batman: Doomsday Prophecy:
- The Joker is as deadly as ever. In one story path, Joker sends Batman threatening messages through the Gotham Gazette newspaper, announcing his intentions to kill Batman and destroy Gotham City, by killing half the city's population. Joker attempts this by delivering enough poison to the citizens of Gotham City, either by dumping chemicals into the city's water supply; adding poison to the Gotham gas line; or using planes to spread poison across Gotham City.
- The Riddler is more sinister than usual. Threatening to "end Batman", Riddler kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and attempts to use a Car Bomb to kill him and Batman. Later, Riddler lures Batman to Washington DC, where he kidnaps an actor dressed as Batman and threatens to drop him from a great height if Batman does not reveal his secret identity. But his worst act is luring Batman to a puppet show called The Riddle, held in a children's theater. Riddler sets the theater on fire, willing to let the children in the audience die, just to get the better of Batman.
- The Further Adventures of Batman's "Bone", by Will Murray: The Joker is once again presented as a sadistic Serial Killer. Seemingly wanting to discover Batman's true identity, Joker goes to the house of a millionaire named Archie Bittner, blowing up Bittner's security guard and kidnapping Bittner. Joker takes over the airwaves and removes Bittner's face on live TV, saying he will do this to another person every night till Batman reveals his identity. Joker kidnaps two other people and removes their faces. Joker attempts to do the same thing to Commissioner Gordon, but Batman saves Gordon and drives the Joker off. In the end it is revealed that Joker had no interest in Batman's identity and went on this killing spree for fun.
- The Batman Murders, by Craig Shaw Gardner: The Joker is once again Batman's Arch-Enemy and a cruel psychopath. Joker has been kidnapping civilians and has a scientist torture and brainwash them until they think they are Batman. Joker than has the fake Batmen try to stop a robbery and die in the process and is keeping several of his victims imprisoned in a makeshift prison until he is ready to use them. Joker also sets up a cult to help generate money, with the cult psychologically torturing its members until they become mind-warped zombies. Joker, growing bored, decides to turn people into Jokers, transforming some of his goons into Jokers. After failing to capture Commissioner Gordon, Joker captures Dick Grayson, transforms him into a Joker, and has him fight Batman.
- Batman: The Ultimate Evil, by Andrew Vachss: William X. Malady is the leader of a child pornography ring. When Thomas and Martha Wayne started investigating his crimes, Malady hires a killer to gun them down, after which he fled the Gotham City. Taking up residence in the foreign country of Udon Khai, Malady immediately installs a private military group that he uses to regularly kidnap innocent children from poor villagers to use them as sex slaves and selling them to pedophiles all across the world. In order to prevent moles from infiltrating his organization, he has instituted an initiation protocol where, if one wishes to gain access, they must rape a child on film.
- Justice League of America—Batman: The Stone King, by Alan Grant: The Stone King was an ancient shaman from neolithic times who became obsessed with power. Forsaking the ways of his people, the Stone King demanded they worship him as a god, sacrificing innocents to his name and even demanding they sacrifice children to him. After being entombed, his spirit is awakened and goes on a killing spree, even paralyzing members of the League with pure fear. It is revealed the Stone King plans to cleanse the earth of all he sees as unworthy, using primordial energies to trigger earthquakes, volcanoes and more that will kill every living thing on the planet in order to reclaim his lost godhood.
- Hellblazer novels (John Constantine Hellblazer) by John Shirley:
- War Lord: Dyzigi, actually the demon G'Broag'Fram, fosters much of the conflict of the Servants of Transfiguration in his bid to cause a global war. Keeping the owner of the body he possesses in constant torment within him, Dyzigi orders wide bloodshed and terrorism as one of the heads of the SOT, and furthermore captures and abominates Josef Mengele into a psychic abomination he keeps in a jar, feeding it with severed heads. Dyzigi initially captures a young woman named Mercury for her psychic powers, tormenting her with apocalyptic visions—before deciding to have her killed when she becomes a liability, allowing his compatriot to rape her beforehand before tracking her down when she escapes and massacring an entire camp of Sudanese soldiers. Dyzigi's ultimate goal is to kickstart a third World War and devastate the planet, killing billions, all for the prospect of a subrealm as a reward from his master Nergal.
- Subterranean: Iain Culley, a centuries-old sorcerer known as the Gloomlord, captured and tortured a powerful elemental known as Lord Stone to master an underground kingdom. Keeping humans enslaved below ground, used as labor and eventual food when their use runs out, Culley intends on expanding the kingdom. Starting by sinking the village Tonsell-By-The-Sea, Culley reveals he powers his kingdom and fuels his eternal youth by locking victims in devices that leech off their power and vitality, keeping them alive and in horrible pain. Not content with this kingdom, Culley intends to develop a plague to poison the earth's oceans, killing countless millions while forcing everyone else underground to be his slaves.
- Batman trilogy (Del Rey Books):
- Dead White, by John Shirley: White Eyes, also known as "Big White", real name Hiram Bunch, is the absolute leader of the supremacist Bavarian Brotherhood in Gotham. A steroid-abusing brute of a man who fancies himself the avenger of Adolf Hitler, White Eyes proceeds a wave of crime violence, arms dealings, and murders through Gotham to unsettle the nation before unveiling his real goal: destroying key points all over America to throw the country into chaos and allow him to take over as supreme dictator, before spreading out to the rest of the world with the intention of erasing all of the "mud-races" from the planet. In preparation for this, White Eyes keeps a gallery of enslaved minorities and forces them into grueling and inevitably fatal work for months at a time in an abandoned gold mine; executes his own minions for reasons as varied as simple failure to simply use them as test subjects for his weapons; and kidnaps a young woman named Beth, intending to use her as "breeding stock" and attempting to rape her out of frustration once his base is infiltrated by Batman. Once his plan is toppled, White Eyes simply elects to abandon the rest of his men and blow up the capitol himself, murdering his most trusted henchman once he refuses to abandon the others and taking an entire family hostage to deter Batman from pursuing him.
- Inferno, by Alex Irvine:
- Enfer is a disgraced, pyromaniacal firefighter who attempts to take out his narcissistic frustrations on the city of Gotham as a whole. Enfer sets fires to blaze through Gotham in a serial arsonist spree that claims hundreds, luring firefighters into buildings solely to burn them alive and torching Arkham Asylum itself to unleash the Joker upon Gotham. Frustrated that the Joker is sucking up attention for his actions, Enfer firebombs four novelty shops around the city with many more perishing in the blazes, eventually revealing his master plan to let a storm of mechanical robots called Krawlors descend on Gotham and burn it all to ashes in spiteful revenge.
- The Joker himself gets busy to a new crime spree the instant he's free from Arkham Asylum, previously guilty of having starved over forty people to death after experimenting on them with Joker Juice and establishing himself again by raiding the Batcave and leaving Alfred in a rigged Death Trap for Batman to find. Dressing up as Batman, the Joker goes for a "joy ride" while running down people in the Batmobile; sets up an ambush whereupon he has almost every officer on the scene killed for a giggle; kills and poses the bodies of five goons harassing a waitress, before driving the woman to broken catatonia for a giggle anyways; and attempts to toss a young child off a building in front of Batman. Even casually shrugging off the unintentional massacre of an entire family by one of his goons who mistakes his order, Joker ultimately attempts to hijack the late Enfer's scheme by instead employing the Krawlors to gas all of Gotham with his Joker Venom.
- Harley Quinn: Mad Love, by Paul Dini & Pat Cadigan: Bruno Delvecchio is a particularly brutal mob boss who helped shape Harleen Quinzel into the supervillain she becomes. After Harleen's father steals from Delvecchio, Delvecchio has him beaten and tortured before leaving him to be locked in prison, after which he kidnaps his daughter Harleen. Delvecchio plans to lure Harleen's mother to him with her fortune, kill the woman, then sell Harleen to a pedophilic criminal, something Delvecchio reveals he has done before to other children.
- Superman: Dawnbreaker, by Matt de la Peña: Corey Mankins is the heir to the powerful Mankins Corporation, and Dr. Wesley is the company's lead scientist. Though the Mankins Corporation seems benevolent and seems to be adding to Smallville's economy and performing charitable deeds, Corey Mankins and Dr. Wesley are secretly engaged in sinister deeds. They have been buying farms to collect the kryptonite meteors beneath them. They have also been secretly kidnapping Mexican immigrants and experimenting on them with a combination of kryptonite and a steroid called Dawnbreaker. Corey Mankins and Dr. Wesley want to turn their victims into Super Soldiers so they can sell them to the highest bidder, using drugs and propaganda to break their free will. When Lana Lang confronts Corey Mankins about this, Corey kidnaps her and plans to set off a bomb during a festival at Smallville's town square, willing to kill hundreds to distract authorities from their human experimentation operation.