Trees! Millions have trembled at the sound of their villainous name. And yet somehow, in spite of all their world-crushing power, you all voted trees the weakest recent villain in movies and TV. Blame M. Night Shyamalan, whose The Happening failed to capture the true menace of these arboreal conquerors. Clearly, it's time to give trees an edgy new look - and you can help!First of all, the most important thing is to get back to trees' edgy beginnings. (Or, yes, their roots.) Back when trees started out, they were totally bad-ass and dark. People used to be scared going into a forest, not so much with the swinging picnic basket and off-road SUV-ing. As with so many classic monsters, trees have lost their edge. Sure, they occasionally score a victory, but we need a full-fledged tree resurgence.

Because we believe in democracy - unlike trees, which wish to impose their dictatorial will upon you and make you their unthinking fertilizer-dispensing-slave - we decided to consult you about reinventing trees in a new image. (Note: I came up with these tree-related questionnaires last week, before we decided to do the villain cage match thing. I'm not going poll-crazy or anything.) First of all, there's the issue of costume. Many a villain has suffered under the "lame" banner due to a weak costume. Take poor Star Sapphire, who was literally unable to rotate her torso more than 15 degrees in her new costume for fear of making her Zamaron bikini wax the subject of heroic banter. What kind of costume do trees have? None, currently. At all. This is obviously a major source of the problem. What can we do about this?

And then there's the catchphrase. Can you even remember trees' current catchphrase? Much less repeat it to your friends as a cheap in-joke when you're stoned in front of the TV at three A.M.? Everybody remembers "Resistance is futile," or "Exterminate." But what have trees got? Help them out:

And then there's this:

Okay, so it may seem off the top of your head like trees don't really need a secret identity, in which case you're free to vote your opinion - until trees conquer, and take your freedom of choice away, that is. But think about it for a moment: Trees have many awesome powers, but one of their biggest drawbacks is a lack of mobility. They can't actually sneak up on anyone. They tend to be better at hatching incredibly cunning long-term plans - trees are patient, they can wait forever - than they are at swinging into action. So just think how shocking it would be if, say, our hero thought she had found true love at last - but it turned out she had been tricked into falling in love with trees. Or, I don't know, if you suddenly realized that the ATM that you'd be taking money from all this time was really a tree in disguise - and now trees could steal your identity. You never thought about that, did you?

And here's another idea: what about a storyline where someone travels forward in time, to an alternate future where trees have won? A tree-world, where the last surviving people cower in caves or desert areas, or possibly hide out in undersea strongholds from the tree overlords. Where humans are reduced to being the moth-culling, squirrel-eating, blight-scraping slaves of the tree overlords? Maybe the trees perform fiendish experiments on these future humans, to help them grow bark or start shedding tree-like pollen, so the trees would be able to tell us apart. Or, or, or - what if these future despotic trees tried to find a way to make half-human, half-bird hybrids? What could this future nightmare be called? "The Gathering Shade"? "Leaves Of Future Past"? It's also not too soon to start thinking about what villains the trees could team up with. There's a long and proud tradition of plant monsters, including the Triffids and the creatures from Little Shop Of Horrors. Plus don't forget the Krynoid! And the Vervoids! But our sinister saplings don't have to restrict themselves to teaming up with other plants. They could join forces with aliens, including silicon-based life forms. Any ice-based or flame-retardant creatures might be handy allies for the tree army, since they could serve as a nice fire break against forest fires. But realistically, we can't restore trees to their full villain potential on our own. Which brings us to our next question:

How have we lived so long in ignorance of the deadly threat that the tree legion poses to us, as a civilization? Will we wake up in time? Is it already too late to stop trees in their relentless advance towards total conquest? The answer, dear readers, is up to you. Scary tree images by Akira_Kev, Nalilo, and Camera Eye.