Picture: street art in Berlin

It takes a special sort of character to be a villain. We expect them to be the counterweight to the hero, to provide the sense of menace and jeopardy and to use their dark light to reveal hidden peices of the plot. All this whilst avoiding cliché and at the same time foreshadowing the means and method of their own demise. They do much of the heavy lifting, the scene-shifting and scenery painting. No small wonder that we cherish our villains almost as much as we do our heroes.

The sunset echoed the colour of the Captain’s skin. He was one of those men whom time didn’t seem to touch. He’d been around a bit, Haruki had heard. Maggie said that he’d fought the Argentinians at Goose Green. But that was forty years ago and now he didn’t look a day over forty. His skin still held the taught elasticity of youth and his eyes were wide, bright and strangely symmetrical.

from Recursion by David J Harrison

But we cannot know as much about the villain as we can our hero, can we? That’s taboo and besides, villains value their secrecy. They prefer to be glimpsed through the surreptitious sideways glances of other characters, their movements only apparent as a rustle in the bushes, a furtive shadow changing shape in the corner.

But there are other villains who are so dastardly that they steal the limelight. They occlude the hero, cuckoo-like pushing them out of the nest. One or two even manage to trick the reader into thinking that they are the hero – for a short time at least.

Here are three Villains that may or may not fit this category but either way, you’ll find it hard to take your eyes off them.

Pirate, thief, usurper, king. Conan is many things to many people, but get on the wrong side of him, and you’ll see why he makes this list. Conan is feral, uncaring of right or wrong, he is driven by his hatred of the supernatural and his urge for personal satiation. He doesn’t react to others, but he makes them react to him. That’s why we tend to regard him as the hero. Protagonist he may be but he’s a villain through and through – just a glorious one.

Conan was created by the late Robert E. Howard

The Captain
Faith healer, cult leader, murderer. The Captain is enigmatic, he’s charismatic, and he’s anything but chromatic. The Captain has skin the colour of sunset, eyes of sky blue, golden hair bound by a turquoise ribbon, and hands that run bright red with blood.

You’ll find the Captain in Recursion, released 28th October

Power-mad, tyrant, genocidal manic. Thanos is dangerous because of what he believes. He will stop at nothing and self-justify any means but what really makes him a handful are the daughters he keeps close. There’s a message here for any father of girls, if they choose to listen.

Thanos is owned and operated by Marvel

He wore jeans that accentuated his slim frame and his denim shirt was open almost to the naval. A rosary hung around his neck. Christ dangled between his pectorals.

from Recursion by David J Harrison

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