Dear General Mortissimo,
Thank you for contacting Financial Operations and Underwriting Limited (FOUL). What follows is our full array of henchmen recruitment services, tailored specifically to your needs. For information on our other services, we refer you to our introductory material and catalogs. Also, as you intend to hire personnel through us, we recommend inspecting our insurance options, as well.
Of course, here at FOUL we hold our client’s confidentiality sacrosanct. Therefore, a team of Type-5C Assassin Drones are currently dispatched to your location, using the encrypted GPS transponder hidden in this document (don’t bother trying to find it – you haven’t the time). Please be certain to destroy this document within five minutes or expect to have your skull bisected by an infrared laser. Well, that might be a bit dramatic – we cannot predict, with any accuracy, exactly which parts of you the drones will bisect. In any event, destroy this document and everything will be fine. If you wish to purchase Type-5C Assassin Drones (or the 6C variant, assuming you have a penchant for napalm), please review the Robots section.
Thank you, and thank you for choosing FOUL!
Now, on to our Henchmen options:
Our most affordable option, FOUL has cultivated good reputations with a number of prison systems, underworld crime syndicates, and disreputable orphanages to supply you with all the muscle-bound dim-witted goons you could possibly require. Said goons are guaranteed to be physically fit with the exception of one in ten goons, who we designate as being ‘fat but strong’. All Thugs are able to read at a third grade level and a basic working knowledge of firearms and basic fisticuffs. Please note that marksmanship and tactics are not emphasized in the average thug’s weekend-long training course, and thugs are not selected on their attention spans, lateral thinking ability, cleanliness, or self-control.
That said, they are very affordable and, given their undesirable social status, won’t be missed if they happen to fall into a death trap or you need to feed your sharks.
Significantly more expensive than your garden variety thugs, our Ninjas are hired from the premiere dojos and secret martial arts societies from across the globe. They are guaranteed to be 100% obedient and are skilled in acrobatics, martial arts, and stealth. Please note that all FOUL-backed ninjas are contractually obligated to wear black pajamas at all times, even when going to the bathroom or operating electronic equipment. They are also forbidden from using any firearms of any kind, no matter how practical or dire the situation. Failure on your employees part to adhere to these restrictions may lead to the loss of your deposit.
Though ninjas are expensive and very talented, we should stress that there are limits to their abilities. FOUL-backed ninjas may be unable to do the following:
- walk on water
- defeat a ninja in white pajamas
- speak your language (translators may be hired)
- wear actual shoes
- shake hands (they will insist on bowing)
- catch bullets
We assure you that FOUL trainers are laboring tirelessly to amend these flaws. You have no ideas how many ninjas we’ve shot trying to fix that last one.
FOUL has within its network a wide variety of very talented mad scientists, rogue AIs, and idealistic-but-morally-suspect industrialists who construct a variety of killer robots. We can sell you robots that look like people, robots that eat people, robots that used to be people, or people so robotic you’ll never know the difference. Robots are guaranteed to follow your every command until, inevitably, they turn against you (please refer to our insurance packet). That said, they are well worth the high price, considering that there is no need to feed or clothe them after your purchase (note: feeding and clothing your henchmen after hire is in no way required, but is suggested to get the most out of your minions). Any robots that malfunction within 30 days of purchase may be returned in their original packaging for a complete refund.
Note: due to extreme demand, all spider-shaped robots are on backorder.
Note: none of our robots transform into cars, other vehicles, or construction equipment. Please do not ask.
Of course, no evil empire would run without hordes of lab assistants, accountants, shift managers, and so on. These we hire from the general employment pool, but we screen carefully, making certain only the recommend the least pleasant, most obedient, and most odious examples of humanity we can find. Many of our workers hail from such illustrious dens of misery as the IRS, the DMV, and HR departments the world over. Pay is necessarily high, and we warn all customers that one can reasonably expect our personnel to embezzle no more than 15% of any money that passes through their hands. Of course, should the employee exceed this value, their contract stipulates termination will be ‘sudden and often fatal’, though the sudden aspect of that is at your discretion.
As of this moment, the Floozy and Eye Candy division of our Henchmen Hiring branch has been folded into this one, largely for tax purposes. If you are in the market for muscle-bound man-slaves or big-breasted bimbos, you can also find them here. We only hire the least perceptive and curious as well as the most physically attractive specimens, so your satisfaction is guaranteed.
If you are in the market to hire aliens, summon up demons from the netherworld, use the living dead, or traffic with the Great Old Ones, we are afraid that FOUL, at this moment, does not support such ventures, though we are happy to put you in contact with sweaty-toothed madmen who do. Feel free to drop us a line!
Note: at this juncture, given average reading speed, the assassin drones are just outside the room. We advise burning this document immediately. Thank you again, for choosing FOUL!
Dear Madame Terriblex,
Thank you for expressing interest in investing in one of our many exciting ventures. We at Financial and Operational Underwriting Limited (FOUL) are a full-service villainy facilitator, acting as a pathway between those evil-doers who wish to go and do evil and those who are simply content to pay others to do so on their behalf. As a prospective member of the latter category, we have compiled here a brief Dossier of our more prominent and successful clients, just to give you an idea of how your ill-gotten funds might grow and mature under the guidance of our analysts and brokers. Please note, of course, that this packet is strictly confidential. To ensure discretion, Yggax the Many-Fingered, Cacodemon of the Twelfth Circle has been bound to the text you are reading now, and he is most displeased. If it is not destroyed completely by the time he finds you, we expect the remainder of your life will be unspeakably unpleasant. We apologize for any insult, but please understand we take our client’s security very seriously – yours included, should you invest.
What follows is a list of our most famous and impressive active clients to date. No doubt you will recognize some of their names, and ventures of their size rarely are able to remain secret forever. Nevertheless, we are proud of their accomplishments in the field of Evil, and think they represent a good sampling of the kind of enterprises your money is likely to fund. Now, as we are aware you have a demon after you, let us dive right into the list.
Business Cover: International Bank
Mastermind: Otho Von Havok, Duke of Gammora
A relative newcomer to the FOUL family, Santander has been doing a fine business in the memory siphoning and mind-state duplication field. Masquerading as a European bank, they have an ingenious system of state-of-the-art surveillance coupled with sophisticated West African voodoo by which they have managed to steal and categorize the dreams and ideas of untold thousands. If you have ever wondered why everything in Hollywood these days is simple re-hashed, recycled tripe, you can blame Von Havok’s ‘idea bank’. Santander makes a tidy profit ransoming screenwriters own ideas back to them at top dollar, and we expect they shall do very well this upcoming fiscal quarter.
Business Cover: Pharmacy Chain
Mastermind: Mr. Pain
Though cheery on the outside, Rite Aid has actually been running the largest ring of professional hitmen, loansharks, and revenge killers in the eastern US for well over a decade. Rite Aid operatives are an impressive breed of violent psychotics, shot up with tailored combat drugs to make them nigh unstoppable and virtually incorruptible. With their many, many outlets in almost every neighborhood and town in most states, rarely is there a target beyond a one-hour drive. Additionally, their capacity to access the pharmaceutical needs of large numbers of deadbeats means getting the bastards poisoned is usually no further than a phone-call away.
Though Mr. Pain runs an operation that FOUL charitably considers ‘pedestrian’ when compared with some of our other clients, it is a solid business model that works and is a stable investment.
Business Cover: Bank
No doubt you’ve seen the commercials. The question, of course, is academic – Capital One knows exactly what’s in your wallet and, what’s more, they’ve likely already stolen it. There is no larger or more successful association of hucksters, con-men, cat burglars, safe-crackers, and pickpockets in the world, and all of them are engaged in the act of sending people credit cards. The real genius here is that the credit cards are, in fact, sophisticated micro-robots capable of unlocking doors, disabling alarm systems, and incapacitating security guards. If you need further proof of your influence, just ask yourself what they’re holding over Alec Baldwin to get him to do those commercials. Oh, you thought he was being paid? You have much to learn about our ways, madam.
Business Cover: Massive industrial megagiant
Mastermind: Doctor Dread
GE certainly brings things to life, though how ‘good’ those things are is in the eye of the beholder. Doctor Dread’s operation is the single largest necromantic coven in recorded history, maintain a horde of the living dead so large that even we find it legitimately terrifying. GE has marshaled all of its ‘technologies’, from weapons to toaster-ovens, to increase the number of corpses in the world. More corpses means more slaves for Doctor Dread’s ever-expanding armies which, as of this writing, comprise the majority of WalMart employees worldwide, as well as significant portions of most government bureaucracy. With a single ritual, it is arguable that Doctor Dread could bring entire nations to their knees (and he has, too!). Such leverage has been extremely lucrative, and GE is one of our biggest earners.
Business Cover: Paint Company
Mastermind: Lord Corbulo the Immortal
Of course, GE’s influence pales in comparison to the reach and power of Sherwin-Williams. Indeed, their influence is so far-reaching, they are watching you right now. Yes. Even there. Does a thing have paint on it? If so, Lord Cobulo’s otherworldly nanotechnology is monitoring your every word, controlling your every thought and deed. If you are disturbed, don’t be. Lord Corbulo is a beneficent master, and we must all bow to his influence. Forget you know anything about him. Forget that the Paint is Watching. It is, but it’s best not to think about it. If Corbulo wishes you should invest, you shall. You have no choice. Sherwin-Williams has abolished free will in any place that uses any kind of pigment to color another. There is no escape.
Hopefully that gives you a solid idea of the kind of impressive clientele we have in the FOUL family. Feel free to peruse our other documentation, as well. FOUL wishes to help you be more evil, and nobody is better situated, we promise.
P.S.: The Paint is Watching
Dear Professor VonTerriblex,
What follows is an outline of the standard Evil Deeds Insurance policy you purchased from us last Wednesday. We here at FOUL welcome your business, and refer you to the retail and finance side of our business to further support your villainous needs. Please feel free to request our financial introductory materials or catalogs at any time.
Please note that the back of this form has been inscribed with an unholy ritual utilizing the drop of your blood we secured from you upon finalization of your insurance policy. This ritual binds your life force to the continued existence of this document for the duration of your policy. This is done to fully establish the co-dependent nature of an insurance policy, and to remind you to keep this document safe, secure, and private. Discretion is, as always, our number one concern. We hope you understand.
Now, for a brief overview of your policy coverage.
We will reimburse you (with no co-pay) the value of training and (if applicable) purchase of any henchmen lost to the following acts:
- Arrest and conviction.
- Death by ninjas wearing white or red outfits.
- Karate chops/pressure point pinches to the back of the neck.
- Machine gunning by muscle-bound commandos (photo of said commando needed)
- Sorcery (unintentional or intentional)
- Failure to evacuate rooms filling with poison gas/water/flesh-eating insects/acid.
- Space suit malfunctions
- Impossibly idiotic curiosity.
A co-pay will be required for reimbursement for lost henchmen for the following reasons:
- Death by ninjas in black outfits.
- Death by superheroes (please train your soldiers to surrender to Superman or the Hulk immediately)
- Demonstration killings (if you need to keep doing this, we suggest the ‘Megalomaniac Policy’)
- Henchmen betrayal.
- Starvation and/or dehydration
- Any loss involving a shrink or growth ray or any kind of mutagenic agent. (This includes radiation of most varieties. Yes, even that kind.)
Evil Robot Coverage
You are officially covered if your evil robot:
- Is caught in a logical feedback loop.
- Kills any employees with nerve gas.
- Self-destructs for no apparent reason.
- Finds your plans illogical and betrays you.
- Invokes any of Asimov’s Laws.
- Turns any of your romantic interests into cyborgs without your consent.
- Becomes a pacifist.
- Utters the phrase ‘Does not compute’ for any reason.
- Decides to destroy humanity (including you).
- Follows unauthorized commands.
You are not covered if your evil robot:
- Learns to love.
- Befriends fuzzy animals or children.
- Wants to become a real human.
- Actually destroys humanity.
Facilities and Superweapons
Facilities and Superweapons, in order to secure coverage, must adhere to the following statutes:
- All self-destruct buttons must be prominent and obviously visible.
- Must feature at least one but no more than five Big Red Buttons.
- Must use a FOUL approved alarm claxon (See catalog)
- Must implement at least one extending bridge and/or one deep chasm.
- All elevated walkways must have railings. These railings must not exceed 1 meter in height, so as to enable your foes to topple over them if they lose their balance (note: FOUL is not responsible for henchmen who topple over railings).
- Must have a PA system capable of informing everyone of how soon something is going to explode or fire.
- Must have ventilation shafts large enough to admit maintenance crews and easily removed vent covers to guarantee instant access.
- At least one slow-moving deathtrap.
- At least one map of the world.
- All superweapons must operate on a countdown and must broadcast this countdown via the PA system.
- All vending machines, bathrooms, and recreational areas should be well hidden.
If retaining a man-eating monster of some kind, you are covered from liability in the following instances, but must pay a co-pay equal to 10% of the damages, due to the volatile nature of these beasts:
- The monster escapes its enclosure.
- The monster injures you.
- The monster reproduces without your approval.
- The monster dies of old age or illness.
- The monster grows too large for its enclosure.
- The monster is slain by a would-be victim.
You are not covered if the monster:
- Learns to love.
- Befriends a small child or fuzzy animal.
- Refuses to obey.
- Eats your henchmen (by accident or on purpose).
- Metamorphoses into a non-deadly form (e.g. man-eating Caterpillar-illa morphs into a giant butterfly).
- Is spawned from your own febrile imagination (see ‘Creatures From the Id’ clause, page 232).
- Turns out to be an offspring, relative, or relation to yourself, Godzilla, the Aliens (from Aliens), or the result of any kind of zombie plague.
Please peruse the rest of this document at your leisure, as it is now as much a part of you as your own lungs. Thank you for choosing Financial and Operational Underwriting Limited for all of your villainous needs. Good day!
Disney occupies some interesting territory when it comes to constructing villains for their animated films. On the one hand, they’re making movies for little kids and our modern society generally frowns upon exposing our fragile youth to the face of true, terrifying evil. At the same time, however, their fairy-tale source material often includes some pretty nasty people as the primary villains in the stories and, indeed, good fairy tales can’t really function without good villains. To their credit, Disney has managed to walk this line in order to come up with some pretty stupendous villains – bad guys and gals that have occupied our imaginations every bit as forcefully as the likes of Darth Vader and the Monster Under the Bed. What follows are my top five, in the order of Least Evil to HOLY CRAP THAT’S EVIL.
#5: Cruella DeVille
To be fair, Disney didn’t create Cruella – she was born out of the novel upon which the animated movie was based – but she occupies a unique and loathesome spot in the pantheon of Disney’s Baddies, as she’s the only one actively trying to kill and skin puppies so she can wear them as a coat. Wow. Puppies. That’s pretty damned cold, especially when she goes to such (crazy) lengths to get such a coat.
Then again, puppies are still only animals, and what Cruella is doing might get her a few years in prison and some serious community service time, but she really isn’t any more evil than Michael Vick, and we all forgave him, didn’t we? Honestly, the worst thing about her in terms of society is her reckless driving and the second-hand smoke exposure. What she has making up for it, though, is panache – it’s hard to find a villain with quite the same dramatic flair as Cruella.
Evilness Scale: Pretty Evil.
#4: The Wicked Stepmother
Skinning puppies is one thing, but the systematic and conscientious emotional torture of a minor is a whole other kettle of fish. Cinderella’s stepmother makes her own stepdaughter into a domestic slave and deliberately attempts to destroy the young girls will to live FOR NO GODDAMNED REASON AT ALL. She doesn’t even really get anything out of it other than spite.
I really have to hand it to the artists and voice talent that made the stepmother come alive in the old Disney flick, because this woman is vile. You don’t laugh at her; not at all. There is nothing funny about the Stepmother. She is the very embodiment of horrible, petty meanness. From allowing her own daughters to rip off Cinderella’s dress in the front hall to locking the girl in her room just to prevent the merest chance of the girl escaping her power, kids and adults loathe this character from the moment she steps on the screen. Wow, evil.
But, again, not really off-the-charts Hitler-wanna-be evil, either. She belongs in prison (and needs to meet with a therapist), but she’s ostensibly still a member of the human race. Those higher on the list can’t really make that claim.
Evilness Scale: Wickedly Evil
#3: Ursula the Sea Witch
Honestly, Ursula makes this list because she’s exactly in the middle of the road. She is engaged in some classic, bottom-rung evil activity here (stealing souls, killing people, etc.), but she lacks a certain…panache? She’s well past emotional abuse and animal cruelty, certainly, but is she at a level much higher than ‘standard evil witch’? Not sure.
The thing that separates Ursula from other standard witch-archetypes (think the Wicked Queen of Snow White or even Mad Madam Mim in The Sword in the Stone) is her musical number. “Poor Unfortunate Souls” is a masterpiece of evil song-singing. Ursula blows to doors off most of her competition with that stuff, and the fact that she steals Ariel’s voice is fiendishly clever. Beyond that, however, I’m not overly impressed. I would rank the Wicked Stepmother higher were it not for the fact that she still provides for Cinderella’s room and board and seems to never indulge in physical abuse. It’s a near thing, though.
Evilness Scale: Textbook Evil
Okay, so say your neighbors don’t invite you to a party. You don’t really want to go, anyway, but you see the cars lined up around the block, hear the loud music, and think to yourself ‘I’m going to crash.’ Now add on the thought ‘and see if I can curse their infant daughter to die in sixteen years and watch the fuckers squrim for the next decade and a half trying to avoid it.’ Is that pretty evil or what?
The thing that Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent has that the lesser villains lack is how she sets up her victims to create the maximal amount of suffering with the minimum amount of effort on her part. She could have just blasted the princess Aurora into ashes, but no – she figured it would be meaner to let the kingdom keep her long enough to fall irrevocably in love with her and then take her away. Wow, that’s cold. And patient, too, which is even more terrifying.
Take what she tells Prince Philip when he’s in her dungeons: I’m going to let you go…but only after you’re so damned old that claiming your princess with true love’s kiss will be robbed of all meaning. Your beloved will be shocked and disgusted by you, you’ll die shortly thereafter, and it will all be horribly, gloriously fucked up. And I, Maleficent, will be willing to wait that long for my evil punchline.
Evilness Scale: Daaaaamn….
#1: The Coachman
Any of you see Pinocchio, lately? Well, if you haven’t, let me remind you about the guy who, for my money, is the most horrifying villain Disney ever put in a movie: The Coachman. Here is a guy who rounds up little boys who misbehave, tells them he’s taking them to a theme park, and then, after encouraging them to act like animals, he turns them into donkeys and then either enslaves them or sells them to glue factories.
He doesn’t do this to one boy, either. Not to a dozen or a score, but to hundreds and hundreds of kids over a span of probably years. Himmler and Goebbels have nothing on this psycho. Why does he do this? That’s just it – whereas all those other villains have ostensibly understandable motives for their wickedness, this sociopath does this just for the hell of it, apparently. If he wanted to make money, he wouldn’t bother with this. If he just hated little boys, you’d think maintaining a theme park for them to play in would be a bit counter-intuitive. No, he just likes making little kids suffer horribly for his own psychopathic enjoyment and then, when he is no longer amused, he has them killed and melted down into glue.
Holy shit, people, we show this to our children. Jesus.
Evilness Scale: Nightmare Fuel
Defining evil can be difficult, especially for the nuanced and sophisticated mind. Every act, you see, springs from a place of positivity, essentially. Very few people go forth to act in an evil manner; even the selfish believe that, thanks to their selfishness, they are somehow helping the world if only by proving to everyone else that the world needs no help. All villains, on some level, can have their behavior boiled down to that which is understandable, if misled. Barring that, we write them off as ‘insane’ or ‘ill’ – conditions that rob them of their free will.
What, then, is the source of true evil? To me, true evil is comprised in something akin to ‘gleeful apathy’ or, to put it another way, as the refusal to believe or even care about something as being any more important than any other thing. Nihilism, essentially.
When I was teaching John Gardner’s Grendel to my students recently, we were discussing Grendel’s conversation with the Dragon (which, by-the-by, is one of the more mind-blowing sections of prose I’ve ever read). We wound our way (as we often do) to the point where the Dragon is compared to Satan or the Devil. The Dragon, for those of you who don’t know, lays out the most profound example of a bona-fide nihilist I’ve seen in fiction. Grendel, trying to search for a place in the world, wants the Dragon, in his omniscience, to explain to him the nature of Truth as it interacts with Art. The Dragon explains, as patiently as he can, that it doesn’t matter in the least what Grendel thinks about Art or Truth or anything else. For him the entire universe is:
A swirl in the stream of time. A temporary gathering of bits, a few random dust specks, so to speak – pure metaphor, you understand – then by chance a vast floating cloud of dustspecks, an expanding universe…Complexities: green dust as well as the regular kind. Purple dust. Gold. Additional refinements: sensitive dust, copulating dust, worshipful dust!…Complexity beyond complexity, accident on accident until…Pick an apocalypse, any apocalypse…Such is the end of the flicker of time, the brief, hot fuse of events and ideas set off, accidentally, and snuffed out, accidentally, by man. Not a real ending, of course, nor even a beginning. Mere ripple in Time’s stream.
So, then I ask my students this question: What if the Dragon is lying?
It is all very easy for us to assume nothing really matters. In point of fact, nothing really does, right? We are ripples in time’s stream. We are the copulating dust. This belief, though, gets us nowhere. If we do nothing but find gold and sit on it, what are we, really? If we go out and do evil or do good, we are still doing. We are making an imprint on the face of the universe, no matter how inconsequential. Even the most wicked killer does less for the forces of evil than the deepest, most apathetic nihilist. If nothing really matters, nothing really is worth changing. Without change, there is no motion. Without motion, there is death, bleak, empty, and silent.
To me, that’s a heavy part of true, unutterable evil. The kind common to demons, devils, and the deep abyssal reaches of damnation. No matter how misled, even to believe wrongly is to believe – we have that much in common, we may yet have more. To not believe is to forsake all but the Void.
Dear Captain Destructo,
Thank you for ordering your Financial and Operational Underwriting Limited (FOUL) spring catalog. As of this moment, you should note the red LED display at the top center of the masthead on page ix. Failure to complete your perusal of this catalog before the counter reads zero will result in a deadly neurotoxin being released from the binding, killing any living thing within three meters and causing the paper itself to decay rapidly. Please make no attempt to disarm the device, as that will render any orders you submit through the catalog null and void and your money will not be returned. Please understand that this is for the safety of our organization and, by extension, your own interests. Thank you.
Table of Contents
Lounging around the death arena? Plan on catching some rays on the sun-deck of your moonbase? Have a few hours set aside for stroking a Persian cat and sipping champagne?
The Casual Wear section outfits all evil villains with the latest in unitards, collarless suits, chain-mail tunics, and leather bracers. All products are guaranteed never to bloodstain and are completely machine washable.
NOTE: FOUL does not insure its products against misuse by non-FOUL accredited henchmen.
Growing tired of that old lab-coat? Is your bandoleer of nightmare-gas pellets getting a bit dog-eared? Look no further! FOUL has a complete array of stylish-yet-functional hazmat suits, spiked plate mail, weapon holsters, and a wide array of other workwear that will keep your victims saying ‘whoah! This guy means business!’
All of our products are guaranteed to function without fail except in instances of intervention by SHIELD, Time Lords, or secret agents with a double-0 or equivalent rating, in which instance we are forced to cite precedent that shows the laws of physics often cease to apply, anyway. In these instances, we recommend purchasing more FOUL-accredited Goons ™, which are available for a discount with any purchase of two full outfits.
Have a beautiful rebel leader that you’re just dying to seduce? Need an ace in the hole to help determine if Bond has an ace in the hole? Wish your tie strangled people or your hat lopped off extremities? Look no further than our vast array of personal accessories! Everything from bone-crushing jaws to man-rending talon-gloves as well as a spiffy array of customizable watches with and without garotte wires can be had for fair prices and most are available for overnight delivery, provided your base is located on Earth or in near-Earth orbit (minimum two days delivery to the Moon; please inquire for shipping times to further locales).
Please note that our offers of cosmetic surgeries and cybernetic enhancements are NO LONGER offered in this catalog. Too many of our customers, it seems, have taken to kidnapping our surgeons and putting them to work building armies of genetically engineered warriors (I know, right?). We, also, are disappointed in this turn of affairs, but the Brotherhood of Evil Surgeons is a surprisingly convincing union.
Note: There is 1:47 remaining before the nerve gas is released. Please be decisive.
(for further information about our services, please see our introductory material. Thank you, and may your enemies wade knee-deep in the blood of their children!)