While fans are quick to point out that comic books aren’t always comical, that doesn’t mean they can’t be. The Marvel Multiverse is a wide and deep world of tragedies and absurdities, mysteries and secrets. Marvel fans often think of the Illuminati or the Hellfire Club first when secret societies come up, but there’s plenty of hilarious bargain-basement organizations who keep their membership and activities secret with the comics.
Marvel has a tradition of humor comics going back to the Golden Age of Superhero Comics, featuring characters like Silly Seal. When Bronze Age comics found a successful strain of political relevance, the humor grew into satire as writer Steve Gerber used his creation Howard the Duck to create humor in which nothing was sacred and everything could be ridiculed. This outsider style has always been part of the Marvel story, and led to the formation of ridiculous secret societies.
10/10 Landau, Luckman, And Lake (And Sometimes Lequare) Take Capitalism To The Multiverse
On the surface, Landau, Luckman, and Lake (plus sometimes fourth partner Lequare) is simply a very large company introduced in Wolverine in 1989. Actually, the holding company owns assets in multiple universes, an interdimensional legal entity. The organization uses its multiverse access for procurement, transport, and storage through doors marked W.C. (Warp Chamber).
Writers have strongly hinted that Landau, Luckman, and Lake’s reach goes deeper even than it appears, running some kind of shadow government. The full story has not yet been told by Marvel’s writers. The first names of the original founders of the company haven’t even been revealed; unless one counts that they’re named for the real-life founders of the British comic book store chain Forbidden Planet.
9/10 The Cult Of Entropy Worships Death And Chaos Even To Their Own Loss
Created to serve as a foil to Steve Gerber’s wild characters like Howard the Duck and the Man-Thing, the Cult of Entropy worships the idea of entropy, i.e. slow chaotic decay. At one point, these foolish lost souls inject themselves with various bacteria and viruses to be symbolically closer to death and the end of the universe itself.
The Cult of Entropy is but one of the many ridiculous secret societies and cults created for Marvel by Steve Gerber over his long years at the publisher. The concept of silly cults, such as this one, soon became a staple of Man-Thing and Howard’s stories.
8/10 The Secret Order Of Scrier Went For Matching Looks
Wearing matching robes often goes along with secret societies, but the Secret Order of Scrier takes it to another level. These followers all wear matching clothes and make-up to try looking like a divine being who’s been trapped in suspended animation for uncountable millions of millennia.
Interestingly, when the Scrier did wake, it looked nothing like what the order had imagined. Spider-Man’s worst foe, Norman Osborn, succeeded in taking over the entire organization off-panel. The Secret Order of Scrier must be among the most pathetic of Marvel’s secret societies.
7/10 Zodiac’s Leaders Embraced Astrology On A Truly Weird Superhuman Level
Weird criminal organization, Zodiac, has been kicking around the Marvel Multiverse since The Avengers #72 from 1969 by Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema, Sam Grainger, and Sam Rosen. Several versions of Zodiac have existed over the years, including one entirely made of robots, but most are connected to the astrologically obsessed businessman Cornelius van Lunt.
Despite a few big moments, the Zodiac cabal has stooped as low as running a racket on small farmers. The membership remained secret under code names based on their literal birthdays, and leadership rotated on the same basis.
6/10 The Imperium Emporium Tried To Conquer The Multiverse With Merchandising On A Massive Scale
Lead by a demi-demon named Bzzk’Joh from a land called Megrim, the secret religious corporation called the Imperium Emporium is even less impressive than it sounds. The group is first mentioned in Howard the Duck #22 by Steve Gerber, Val Mayerik, Bill Wray, Janice Cohen, and John Costanza.
Leader Bzzk’Joh makes his first appearance wearing cleats, a motorcycle helmet with horns on it and a wide necktie, but no shirt. The organization’s only stated goal concerns purchasing as much land as possible multiverse-wide to create the largest shopping center in all creation, the Death Store.
5/10 A Cabal Out To Make Howard The Duck A Presidential Candidate Was Never Named
The feathery curmudgeon Howard the Duck gets forced into politics when he gains the endorsement of the All-Night Party in the 1976 American presidential election. The campaign enjoyed an announcement in the letters column of issue #4 (Steve Gerber, Gene Colan, Steve Leialoha, Michele Wolfman, and Annette Kawecki) by Howard’s “campaign manager,” Howard’s original creator Steve Gerber.
Soon, Howard finds himself targeted by various groups, including a supervillain team who would later be called the Band of the Bland. Howard was also targeted by assailants obviously sent from the weaponry, construction, automobile, and gasoline industries. However, in #5 (Gerber, Colan, Leialoha, Wolfman, and Irving Watanabe), Steve Gerber claimed an endorsement from “the usually clandestine Hawaiian Revenge Squad,” whoever they are.
4/10 B.E.S.T. Are Like The Masters Of Evil Just For Howard The Duck
The various groups Steve Gerber created to menace Howard the Duck often encompassed simultaneously macabre and absurd individuals. Bozoes Eagerly Serving Tyrants operated in secret, but their name couldn’t be more honest. The Bozoes Eagerly Serving Tyrants were essentially exactly what they described themselves as.
B.E.S.T., partially made up of enemies Howard had previously faced, tried to take over the world. The group included the Supreme SOOFI, Doctor Reich, Nurse Barbara, and the Reverend Joon Moon Yuc.
3/10 The Conspiracy Has A Membership Various Characters From Different Genres
No secret society in the Marvel Universe could boast having as vast a membership as The Conspiracy had. The group comprised an exotic dancer named Bubbles O’Day, a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, a sorcerer in a horned helmet named Kaballa, an expert cardiologist, and finally a dolphin described as “a mystic in his own right.”
The Conspiracy’s singular goal in their very few appearances together was to retrieve the Bloodgem, or the Hellfire Helix, a magical rock long embedded in Ulysses Bloodstone’s chest. Their campaign unfurled in back-up stories from the early comics of Rampaging Hulk.
2/10 S.O.O.F.I. Were Lead To Clean Up New York City By The Supreme SOOFI
Almost as ineffective as they sound, S.O.O.F.I. came out of the woodwork to attack Howard the Duck in issue #21 by Steve Gerber, Carmine Infantino, Klaus Janson, Glynis Wein, and Irving Watanabe. S.O.O.F.I. stood for Save Our Offspring From Indecency and the members all wore identical masks shaped like oranges with smiley faces.
S.O.O.F.I. was among several absurd organizations revealed to have an interest in ending Howard’s life over the run of the wacky book. They remained emblematic of the way comics could play loose with storytelling stereotypes and conventions.
1/10 The Beyond Corporation Spun Marvel’s World Of Spies On Its Head
The most ridiculous secretive group in the Marvel universe was the publisher’s most hilarious creation from the past twenty years. Nextwave, the 2006 brainchild of writer Warren Ellis and artist Stuart Immonen, included a shocking twist on the world of espionage.
Nextwave was one of H.A.T.E.’s task forces for fighting S.I.L.E.N.T., but S.I.L.E.N.T. legally funded H.A.T.E. as the Beyond Organization. All members of Nextwave had their memories wiped at the end of the twelfth and final issue of the humor series, solidifying their status as a secret society. Even the agents of Nextwave didn’t know they were in Nextwave.
NEXT: First 10 Marvel Villains To Explore The Multiverse