In honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Batman, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Batman. Future installments will deal with Batman creators and stories, but this month will be about Batman’s allies and his villains.
You all voted, now here are the results (40 bad guys, 35 good guys for a total of 75)! Here is a list of all the characters revealed so far. We continue with Villains #15-11…
NOTE: There’s so many images in these pieces that I’ll be breaking them up over two pages.
15. Ventriloquist and Scarface
One thing that seems pretty consistent with characters created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle (in this instance, John Wagner was still part of the picture – I don’t recall if this was during the period where Wagner was on the book in name only or not) is that Breyfogle sure designs some visually stunning Bat-characters. The hook by Grant here is great, that a meek, nearly mute schlub like Arnold Wesker uses a dummy named Scarface to lead a gang of crooks through ventriloquism.
Here they are in their second appearances…
The problem with the Ventriloguist came when Alan Grant stopped writing the Bat-books, and later writers didn’t really seem to know what to do with the pair (despite their strong showing on the Batman Animated Series), so eventually Joker tortured and then murdered Wesker in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis (no, not really, but the actual death of Hesker is extremely similar – killed right AFTER Infinite Crisis as the introduction of a new crime boss in Gotham, since everyone knows when you establish a new crime boss in Gotham you have to kill off cool characters by other writers – it’s sort of a rule).
There have been a couple of Ventriloquists since Wesker, including a new one for the New 52.
14. Hugo Strange
Hugo Strange has the record for being the very FIRST recurring Batman villain, debuting in Detective Comics #36 (created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane)…
He was a nice mixture of mad scientist and mob boss. His creation of “Monster Men” led to the last time we saw Batman gun down bad guys in the comics in Batman #1 (as Batman machine guns the monsters created by Hugo Strange).
Strange seemingly died in Detective Comics #46 and oddly enough STAYED dead until the 1970s when Steve Englehart brought him back during his acclaimed Detective Comics run. Strange learns Batman’s secret identity…
And in the next issue, decides to auction it off, but in the process becomes so obsessed with Batman that he actually chooses to be beaten to death than to reveal the truth of Batman’s identity to Rupert Thorne…
For the rest of the arc, Strange’s ghost haunts Thorne. It is not until years later that it is revealed what the deal is with Strange’s ghost (all a plot by Strange – he faked his death from the beating and then used hi-tech stuff to mess with Thorne).
Strange has appeared in a couple of notable Doug Moench Legends of the Dark Knight stories since and has made his new 52 debut, as well.
Created by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, Hush was Thomas Elliot, a boyhood friend of Bruce Wayne’s who tried to kill his own parents. Bruce’s father, though, Dr. Thomas Wayne, miraculously was able to save Tommy’s mother. Now instead of having the Elliot fortune to himself, Tommy instead had to take care of a bedridden mother. When his friend Bruce’s parents DID die, Tommy grew resentful of Bruce as Bruce was now living the life Tommy wanted. Eventually Tommy does, indeed, murder his mother and begins to travel the world planning revenge against Bruce. He encounters the Riddler, who had figured out Batman’s secret identity in a moment of clarity. From this point on, Tommy decides to declare war on both Bruce and Batman, systematically using Batman’s enemies (AND friends) against him. Tommy fakes his death and takes on the identity of Hush. This was all depicted in the Batman best-selling storyline “Hush”
After “Hush,” Hush shows up again in Batman: Gotham Knights in a plotline where he tries to take over Gotham’s underworld by knocking off rivals, such as Joker. The Joker, though, gets revenge by messing with Hush’s heart, controlling him with a pacemaker.
This would influence his next big storyline, “Heart of Hush,” where a now-healed Tommy uses the same plan against Catwoman, removing her heart to mess with Batman. He then gets plastic surgery to make himself look like Bruce, with the intent of taking over the Wayne fortune.
First Batman (Bruce) and then Batman (Dick Grayson) tangled with Hush’s plans. He was last seen pre-new 52 in a storyline involving Batman being forced either to rescue Hush or rescue Wayne Tower (as a bad guy was trying to destroy buildings in Gotham connected to famous Old Gotham families, like the Waynes and the Elliots). He hasn’t shown up yet in the new 52.
12. Talia Al Ghul
Even when introduced by Denny O’Neil, Bob Brown and Dick Giordano, Talia Al Ghul was pretty much a villain. She was sweet on Batman, true, and saved his life and was so damned sexy that Batman couldn’t help himself around her, but she basically had the idea of “Oh, yeah, genocide is totally cool. Just so long as Batman isn’t killed in it.”
However, besides times when she was shown to be directly under the control of someone else (like her sister), Talia tended to flirt with being an outright villain and a loyal ally to Batman throughout most of her published history.
This changed during Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated, where we finally see Talia essentially snap from the pull between her father’s influence and Batman’s influence. As she says, she offered Batman love and he chose war.
So she slowly takes over her father’s operations (calling her group Leviathan) and then makes her major push on both her father and on Batman (Morrison here pulls back a bit on an earlier story where he implied that Talia used drugs to force Batman to have sex with her in the story that would give her his genetic material to make their son, Damian Wayne)…
She has clearly gone over the deep end at the end of Batman Incorporated where she even sacrifices her own son, Damian…
11. Harley Quinn
Introduced in the Batman: Animated Series as Joker’s love interest/sidekick, Harley Quinn became so popular that she ultimately made the move over to the DC Comics Universe.
Originally a therapist, she fell in love with Joker while interning at Arkham Asylum. In the DC Universe, she was committed to a mental institution but escaped during the great Gotham City earthquake. She then joined Joker as part of his gang…
The Joker betrays her, though, and leaves her for dead, seriously injuring her. Poison Ivy comes across her and saves her life and then gives her enhanced abilities. Harley goes to get her revenge on the Joker, but as it turns out, she just can’t turn on the guy…
She then works with the Joker for a while more and eventually goes off on her own to have her own ongoing series, where she tangles with Batman some more…
In the new 52, much of her origin is the same, although she is slightly deadlier and had been working on the Suicide Squad for a while.