“Architecture aims at Eternity.”
A deranged mentality is usually reserved for the arch-villains and ‘bad guys’ in graphic novels. Because they are inherently bad, of course. They experience the same hardships as a hero in their origin stories, but decisions they make ultimately shape the man (or woman). But there are areas of grey. The Joker who’s portrayal as a force of true psychotic chaos born from tragedy and failure in Batman: The Killing Joke, for example.
So personal tragedy aside, how else can a character lose the faculties that make us (somewhat) compassionate, sentient beings? Immortality. Apparently, at least in the thought process of comic writers and artists, there is a positive correlation between Immortality (or at least high invulnerability) and psychosis. Cue “Mad World”. Psychosis also seems to manifest itself in the form of very ambitious, global aspirations. I mean if your god-like, wouldn’t you want the earth to be your throne room?
The god-complex for the most part is an inevitable bi-product that lends itself to a character’s immortality- whether of the body or ideology. These pedagogue-types either believe that humanity must be saved from itself or that it is their birthright to become the king of this mud-heap. Which is all fine, but these endeavours usually include destroying most or all of humanity. How very ‘secret society’ of you.
And the sad thing? Their arguments for laying to waste all of humanity is for the most part plausible. Damn near understandable. And that is what makes them scary. They have seen the arc of history and humanity spiral down the proverbial crapshoot. And armed with eternity, or at least the immortal idea, But who are the greatest? Obviously at T.A.P., we love lists… so we made one:
Born when the earth was young, Vandar Adg AKA Vandal Savage, a caveman became exposed to an alien meteorite giving him immortality. Savage lived for millennia causing havoc for the little puny human race. Though you may have known him as Cain, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Blackbeard, or Jack the Ripper. He’s also in league with many secret societies like the Demon Knights and the Illuminati. So evidently Savage has quite the hefty resume as a conqueror, garnished with technological prowess, impressive combat and regeneration skills and an IQ to match. Who else could be more suited for rule?
RA’S AL GHUL
When not taking soothing baths in the sands of the Lazarus Pits, Ra’s Al Ghul ultimate goal is to achieve harmony in the world. Now before you break out the campfires and songs flower children, the best way he sees to achieve balance in the world is by killing humanity. Ok, not all humanity. Just most of it.
Well it has been said that the downside to using the Lazarus Pits to rejuvenate one’s youth is psychosis. So yeah, Ra’s may look young and ravishing after soaking up the minerals in the Lazarus Pit, but wanting to commit genocide to save the world would tick all the wrong boxes for anyone who knows what ‘irony’ is. Vanity, I tell ya.
The smartest man on the cinder. Ozy is at the pinnacle of the greatest crime mystery of all time in Watchmen; he orchestrates the alien psionic attack on a city, killing thousands. He did it to end world conflict, funnily enough. And like other despotic characters, has a fascination with conquering nations and historical figures in and around Europe. Like Alexander the Great.
Putting the Terminator to shame, this extraterrestrial cyborg pretty much loves absorbing all data and technology it comes across in the cosmos. The thirst for knowledge is an admirable trait. But Braniac has the slight inclination to want to destroy the original data after sucking the life out of a planet. Really brings home the phrase “Collector of Worlds”. Superman has gone toe-to-toe with the supercomputer, inadvertently damning us all by feeding Braniac the secrets entwined in his blood and DNA. But no matter how many times he is broken up and dismantled and scattered across the cosmos, he ends up coming back stronger than ever.
Secret societies, strategising and planning, consuming power, knowledge, resources, obsessions with conquerors and conquering and a hunger for more. Like a politician. Except smarter. Some of them want to save humanity by any means, others are power mad despots. While others are … well… hungry. But hey you may not like their methods of doing things, let alone their actions. But when you are as old as time, a god-complex and a cuckoo-brain are understandable bi-products of eternity.