In 1987 I was at the top of my game. I had a proper life of crime and menace, my arch-nemesis was less than successful at stopping all of my heinous acts, and the henchmen, god how I miss the days before they unionized. It way the heyday of professional villainy, where a real rogue could establish himself in the very bottom of the seedy underbelly with a strong motif and an elaborate costume, or reach the soaring heights of capitalist indulgence while delicately maintaining his criminal presence. And yet here we are in 2012, where the modern villain has to put up with a sideshow of knock-offs on the internet attacking web pages, modern heroes using bear-mace, and a tech savvy enough police force to actually pose the occasional problem. It is with this in mind that I turn to you, future moguls and madmen, to offer you my confessions, my mistakes, and my learned wisdom. I will teach you the fundamentals of modern villainy in a series I would like to call A Guide to Modern Menace.
I suppose and introduction is in order, my name is Charles McBride, a product of a bygone era, and a man formerly known as “The Black Ghost.” A reference intended to hint at the impending threat of the night and ghosts, more on that later. I built something of a reputation as a top villain in the western Ohio area, focusing the majority of my efforts in taking over the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area, then the world. This is however entirely beside the point and not at all what we are here for, so with that, let us begin.
I begin this series with the most fundamental aspect of any aspiring criminal mastermind, your name. The first thing any proper villain will tell you is their name, usually followed by their nefarious plans. Though there is some debate on the order of the reveal, I will address the subject and the validity of the plot revelation sometime later. For now I want to simply focus on your basic naming conventions, for who will follow a man blindly or cower before him if his name does not inspire some dread or terror. The answer of course is no one or complete fools, neither of which you want.
Some general rules apply, though they have become something of a cliché, for instance, references to darkness are generally acceptable as they inspire a primal fear of the unknown. This is a definite plus, however heroes themselves have begun coopting this strategy. Please look into the hero and villain naming registry before you settle to avoid unnecessary confusion or duplication. Secondly, despite the general frowning on, it is not illegal to call yourself Doctor in the U.S., so feel free to let your crimes speak for themselves and not see a petty charge for the title. The third rule is of course to consider a motif. Are you running solo or with henchmen, possibly a direct subordinate, keep them in mind. If they are stuck with an embarrassing theme, they may be less inclined to stick by you when the heroes are punching their way towards you. Another part of your moniker to keep in mind is the timelessness of its terror. I was myself in the unfortunate block of villains to have been somewhat sidelined after the wall fell and the Cold War connotation fell flat. Not even the Ghost could save it until Putin started freaking people out again. Cultural relevancy can work wonders for and against you, so keep that in mind.
I’d like to conclude this part of our series with an exception to all of the above rules, wherein none of them actually apply. This route was taken by many of my fellow villains in the ages of excess and excessive money. If you are in fact one of those truly wealthy individuals, specifically in the insanely wealthy category, pun intended, you may simply use your name. Whether you achieved you money through legitimate or illegal means, your wealth and standing in society allow you to go without a villainous name. Your name already carries power and can be used to inspire fear amongst your subordinates who fear their jobs and your strange obsession with medieval weaponry. The downside being of course that you have nothing to hide behind if your plot is discovered. Consider yourself warned.
The Black Ghost
by Brendan Barr