The Five Worst Bosses in Comics

Amanda Waller

In recognition of Labor Day in the United States today, we've lined up a few work-themed pieces to help us all through another one of those days where most people have the day off from work, but there's almost nothing going on in the news to read about. And while it may be stretching it a bit to connect J. Jonah Jameson to a holiday celebrating the American worker and the labor movement, we're going to do it anyway. Because comics. Anybody want to help organize a union at the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants? We fully acknowledge that there are many similar variations on these. Just because we point out one villainous boss's tendency to kill their employees with impunity doesn't mean there aren't a dozen just like him. We're just choosing the ones we feel are emblematic of different bad-boss archetypes (for example, Oliver Queen beats out Bruce Wayne since Ollie's paychecks tend not to clear much more often than Bruce's, although many other aspects of what makes them bad to work for are similar). We welcome your examples and disagreements in the comments below and on our Facebook page.

J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson

J. Jonah Jameson So, yes, he's worse for Peter than he is for anybody else, and he has no particular way of knowing that, so it's not like he's aware of what a jerk he is to his most intrepid freelance photographer. Still, he isn't all that much better for the rest of the staff. You've probably worked for somebody like Jonah. He's not the criminal type that some of the names on this list are, and he's not unconcerned for the well-being of his employees like some of the others. He's just a jerk, and he's abusive to the people who work beneath him. The thing that makes him one of the names on this list is that he often allows his personal agenda to get in the way of actually doing his job, which at a major metropolitan newspaper hurts the career of everyone around him. When the rest of the country is celebrating being rescued by Spider-Man yet again and the Bugle is calling ol' Webhead names, what do you think the other reporters who work at that paper feel about that? And if, for instance, you had to move, what do you think a job interview would be like, working for a paper that's known to be a PR tool for an unstable egomaniac with political aspirations?


Lex Luthor Obviously, any time spent in proximity to Lex Luthor is likely to backfire on you--but his employees are about the least-safe people this side of Darth Vader's. Luthor will recruit you into one of his wildly illegal schemes, and then use that involvement as leverage to keep you coming back for ever-more illegal schemes lest he have you arrested and pin all of his misdeeds on you. Then, eventually, he'll decide you know too much and nobody will ever see you again. Sometimes you can get killed just for doing your job: During the post-Crisis period, Luthor had a personal trainer/sparring partner who got a few good kicks in during a sparring match. Ol' Lex got embarrassed as a result of being beat by a girl, and so he jumped her in the locker room while she was getting ready to leave work and strangled her to death. Basically, if you work for Lex, you really should just ask for a higher salary and defer your retirement benefits. You won't need them.


Oliver Queen Seriously--how many times has Queen gone broke? At this point, his company has to just operate out of the cardboard boxes they put all their stuff in whenever Queen Industries goes out of business. And even when the company is solvent for a while, you're still working for somebody whose personality is all over the map, who infuriates the Board of Directors and creates instability among upper management in your company and who has historically been a magnet for crazy super-baddies interested in torching the place and killing his supporting cast.


Magneto For a guy who claims to be all about the right of mutants to live unmolested, he basically seems to spend all of his time using mutants to attack other mutants, often dying in the process and always making the world a worse place for the average mutant to live in by constantly ratcheting up the mistrust between mutants and the rest of the populace. He's a revolutionary whose revolution always fails, which means you're working for nothing, with the promise that you'll be rewarded in a New World Order that never comes.  Is it any wonder that every so often he and/or members of his team turn to working for the good guys? I bet that's what happens when they need dental work. You could say that a lot of this is true of most supervillains--that they get foiled all the time and so get nothing for their troubles--but it's actually part of Magneto's business plan. This isn't a guy who says, "Hey, let's knock over a bank because I can just lift the safe out of the building and go home with it." The people who work for him go in aware that they're basically slave labor. Amanda Waller Her employees are called the "Suicide Squad." 'Nuff said.