The American Villain

Encyclopedia of Bad Guys in Comics, Film, and Television

by Richard A. Hall


Modern ideas of villainy in American popular culture are highly influenced by the Nazis of World War II and the Communists of the Cold War.

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Cover image for The American Villain

August 2020


Pages 430
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Popular Culture/General
  The Arts/American Literature
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The American Villain: Encyclopedia of Bad Guys in Comics, Film, and Television seeks to provide one go-to reference for the study of the most popular and iconic villains in American popular culture.

Since the 1980s, pop culture has focused on what makes a villain a villain. The Joker, Darth Vader, and Hannibal Lecter have all been placed under the microscope to get to the origins of their villainy. Additionally, bad guys such as Angelus from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows have emphasized the desire for redemption—in even the darkest of villains. Various incarnations of Lucifer/Satan have even gone so far as to explore the very foundations of what we consider "evil."

The American Villain: Encyclopedia of Bad Guys in Comics, Film, and Television seeks to collect all of those stories into one comprehensive volume. The volume opens with essays about villains in popular culture, followed by 100 A–Z entries on the most notorious bad guys in film, comics, and more. Sidebars highlight ancillary points of interest, such as authors, creators, and tropes that illuminate the motives of various villains. A glossary of key terms and a bibliography provide students with resources to continue their study of what makes the "baddest" among us so bad.


  • Examines in detail how villains and villainesses have appeared in comics and other media over the decades
  • Shows how villains and villainesses have reflected the fears, anxieties, and hopes of American society at any given period
  • Provides scholarly material that gives readers additional important historical context in five essays
  • Ensures that diverse and obscure villains and villainesses are given equal coverage
Author Info

Richard Hall is adjunct professor of history at Texas A&M International University. After serving four years in the U.S. Army, he attended Texas A&M International, finishing his BA and MA before receiving his PhD in history from Auburn University. He is author of The American Superhero: Encyclopedia of Caped Crusaders in History and Pop Goes the Decade: The Seventies, both from ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Press, and is a contributor and member of the Board of Advisors for the online pop culture database Pop Culture Universe: Icons, Idols, and Ideas, also from ABC-CLIO.

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