Randall Flagg is one of Stephen King’s ultra-villains. You know, one of those characters who wreak havoc in multiple universes and simultaneously weep and laugh after he is through? While most notable as the antagonist in both The Gunslinger series as well as the fantasy novel Eyes of the Dragon, Randall Flagg is also a prominent presence, if even only by name or influence, in many of King’s other works. The most significant of these is The Stand, in which Flagg watches patiently while the humanity of an alternate universe/reality-earth succumbs to its own societal and technological arrogance. Arguably, the human race plays its own greatest enemy throughout the novel, but Flagg never falters in attempting to take advantage of the apocolyptic situation by gathering his surviving forces to Las Vegas for an epic and inevitable battle between the forces of good and evil.
Yet to say that Flagg is completely and utterly evil may be as dangerous of an assumption as the actions of the character himself. There are far too many instances where we see a breadth of humanity in Flagg’s actions or voice. Even as he attempts to destroy worlds, one who comes to know him enough gets the impression that his allegiances are unclear at best. Just when the reader thinks Flagg is the bane of all existence in all worlds, he boldly makes a profound or philosophic point and occasionally insinuates that his actions are somewhat beyond his control.
The most disturbing aspect of Flagg is that he is likable. Oddly enough, he exhibits more charisma and charm than that of King’s ultra antihero: Roland. His wit and humor are apparent throughout his many guises and forms, and while he may have distant memories of who or what he once was, his nearly ageless experience lends itself to his philosophical and perplexing psyche. In other words, anyone who wears a peace symbol button as well as a button depicting a smiley face with a bullet hole through its head on his denim jacket has to be a somewhat complex and unique individual.
For many King fans, Flagg will forever stand as the prolific ideal of what a good villain is: perplexing, powerful, intelligent, flawed, lonely, and, more often than not, human. Whether in the guise of Lovecraft’s Nyarlathotep, King's The Dark Man, The Walking Dude, or Walter O’Dim, Flagg has rightfully earned his place in the Bellaonline Legendary Horror Villain Series.