Quick—what’s the best superpower for a villain? Energy blasts? Super-strength? Mind-control?
How about the power of fairytales?
It may sound weird, but fairytales are the power source of DC supervillain Queen of Fables, and they make her such a crazy strong threat that it usually takes the entire Justice League to stop her.
So how does that work, exactly?
Take the evil queen from Snow White, mix in some Maleficent, give her reality-warping powers, and you’ve got the Queen of Fables. She can transform modern-day cities into twisted landscapes of enchanted forests and towering castles and summon monsters from folklore. Best of all, she can trap whatever superhero she’s fighting in her fairytale of choice.
I love her for a lot of reasons, but the big one is the aesthetic. Give me all the giant black wolves with glowing red eyes, creepy forests where tress have reaching hands, and evil queens who get trapped in enchanted books of fables. Put the Justice League into medieval suits-of-armor versions of their costumes. Make Wonder-Woman fight a fire-breathing dragon. I am here for that.
The Queen of Fables is also great because she’s not a villain the heroes can defeat just by punching super hard or running really fast. They have to work within the framework of the fairytales to outsmart her. For example, when the Queen of Fables puts Wonder Woman into a death-like sleep ala Snow White, Aquaman is able to wake her up with a kiss, because before he was king of Atlantis, he was a prince, and princes breaking spells with kisses is a standard trope of fairy tales.
Granted, Aquaman has to kiss his unconsciousness coworker, which isn’t great, but maybe creating squicky and uncomfortable interpersonal situations is the real evil here.
The Queen of Fables’ powers provide a great chance to subvert some of those tired old fairytale tropes, too. She really hates Wonder Woman, whom she sees as Snow White, and by extension, she sees Superman as “Prince Charming.” In the Queen of Fables’ worldview, Snow White and Prince Charming should be married, and she can’t wrap her head around this Lois peasant and why Prince Charming is with her.
As someone who hates Superman and Wonder-Woman getting shoved together as a couple just because they’re the strongest male and female superhero respectively, I really feel this.
The Queen of Fables isn’t completely limited to your typical Brothers Grimm fairytales, either. When she fights Superman, she breaks out Kryptonian folkore and sends him to an eerie glass forest with crystal demons. How cool is that? We really don’t get to see that kind of Kryptonian culture explored often enough.
Another time the Queen of Fables fights Wonder Woman, she tries to take away Diana’s powers by corrupting her story. How? By making a terrible movie, of course!
This was back before the Wonder Woman movie with Gal Gadot, back when all we had was that awful live-action series pilot that got cancelled before it aired. A terrible, sexist Wonder Woman movie was a real fear, and dang if the Queen of Fables didn’t use that.
Beyond the pretty aesthetic and cool monster battles, the Queen of Fables brings a fascinating chance to examine stories and how they affect a culture. What heroic deeds inspire people? What close-minded tropes box people in? The Queen of Fables gets to play with these questions, and she does it while wearing an awesome dress and lounging on a fancy throne.
She’s the best.
What supervillain do you think is fascinating but underrated? What’s your favorite Queen of Fables story? Let me know in the comments!