Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu “is credited with popularizing many of the typical characteristics of the modern supervillain, including his sadistic personality, his desire for world domination, and his use of sinister lairs and themed crimes and henchmen.” (Wikipedia, natch)
Also, a little bit of trivia. C.S. Lewis loved pal Charles Williams and his supernatural thrillers. One of Williams’ faves was Rohmer, who he used to read on the subway on his way to work in London.