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. Here is a list of all the characters revealed so far.
You all voted, now here are the results (40 bad guys, 35 good guys for a total of 75)! Bring on the bad guys! For the first day of the villains, we’ll open with ten characters and the installments will get smaller as we countdown to #1.
40. Maxie Zeus
Maxie Zeus was a brilliant professor of history who went insane and decided to use his knowledge of the history of warfare to become a successful Gotham mob boss. He was a brilliant strategist, so he was a handful for Batman to deal with. He first debuted in a Batman 40th anniversary story by Denny O’Neil, Don Newton and Dan Adkins, where he interrupted Batman’s annual pilgrimage to Crime Alley. Batman decides to take him down, but the Batmobile is first struck by lightning!!!
Zeus has shown up a number of times since, although it seems as though later writers have had a hard time playing him straight and have instead played up the oddity of the character.
39. Rupert Thorne
Rupert Thorne was a corrupt politician who nearly succeeded in turning the entire city of Gotham against Batman during Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin’s run on Detective Comics (Thorne was introduced a couple of issues before that run, with Englehart as the writer but Walter Simonson as the artist)…
In the end, it was not Batman who did Thorne in, but his own treatment of Dr. Hugo Strange. Later, Gerry Conway brought Thorne back during the 1980s for a second try at taking Batman down. This time, the disgraced Thorne controlled Gotham from behind the scenes as he orchestrated the election of a corrupt mayor and a new police commissioner in Thorne’s pocket. In the end, Strange is once against his undoing, as Strange “haunts” Thorne from seemingly beyond the grave. Thorne is one of the few Batman villains to actually figure out Batman’s secret identity and live!
38. Killer Moth
Killer Moth eventually became known as a bit of a joke villain, but when he was first introduced in 1950 by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Lew Schwartz and Charles Paris, he was a legit threat to Batman, as essentially the villain version of Batman…
He was considered such a top villain that he actually returned for a story in the next issue after his debut, which was an honor typically reserved for only the top Batman villains.
Killer Moth is also probably best known for being the villain in the first appearance of Batgirl.
Over the years. he has certainly seen better days (he even sold his soul during Underworld Unleashed and became some weird bug-like creature – not one of Chuck Dixon’s best ideas during his Robin run) and today is more of a joke character than anything else (plus a number of different guys have used the name and costume).
Like the Killer Moth, Catman was a villain that writers had trouble taking seriously for years. He debuted in 1962 in a story by Bill Finger and Jim Mooney as a wealthy friend of Bruce Wayne who traveled the world capturing lions. He got bored of his success and decided to become Batman’s rival…
Over the years, one of the ways that writers tried to update Catman was to reveal that his cape had magic powers and that he literally had nine lives, so long as he wore his costume.
Eventually, during the 1990s (after an ill-fated attempt at becoming partners with Catwoman), he officially became a “loser” during a Shadow of the Bat story. Brad Meltzer later picked up on that angle during a Green Arrow story, having Catman now be fat and totally out of it. Gail Simone, though, showed that Catman didn’t HAVE to be a joke when she made him a member of the Secret Six. He got back into shape and now he was the bad ass he always COULD be. He was a long time member of the Secret Six. Sadly, the New 52 pretty much erases the Secret Six and we haven’t seen Catman since.
36. Carmine Falcone
Carmine Falcone was known as the “Roman.” He was the main crime boss in Gotham City during Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One. He was at the famous party where Batman effectively declared war on Gotham’s top bosses and crooked politicians…
Later, Catwoman scarred him with her claws.
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale used their Batman: The Long Halloween to take a further look at the Falcone crime family, especially since Miller left the family in chaos at the end of Year One…
Created at the tail end of the Cold War by Jims Starlin and Aparo and inker Mike DeCarlo, the KGBeast was pretty much that – a beast. A cold, unflinching monster of a man who was seemingly unstoppable as he sets upon a mission of killing the ten names closest to the United States STAR Wars missile defense program. Check out what happens when Batman underestimates the lengths the Beast will go to to finish a job…
After the Cold War ended, the KGBeast kept coming back, now just as a traditional supervillain doing money-making schemes or often as a henchmen working for other criminals. He was still one tough son of a gun.
Firefly was a one-off Batman villain from the early 1950s who used optical illusions against Batman (including making it look like things were on fire). Years later, Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan awesomely revamped him in Detective Comics by making him an ACTUAL arsonist.
So along with his great new design, Firefly became a mainstay of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, one of those guys who always hangs around the periphery as a nice villain you can use if you ever need a villain. And always up for teaming up with other villains. He is to Batman like the Shocker is to Spider-Man.
Holiday is a mysterious serial killer who is at the heart of the acclaimed Batman story A Long Halloween (by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale). A killer is going around Gotham killing people at holiday times and leaving a token of the holiday behind after the killing.
In the end, we honestly do not know who the Holiday killer is for sure, as two people take credit for the killings (SPOILERS FOR A STORY FROM MORE THAN FIFTEEN YEARS AGO!) – Alberto Falcone, the youngest son of Carmine Falcone, who publicly confessed to the crimes, said he began killing to take revenge on his father for never taking him seriously (and cutting him out of the family business) and Gilda Dent, the wife of Harvey Dent, who privately confessed while talking to herself and burning evidence at the end of the story, explaining that she began killing to wipe out the Falcone crime family so her husband would stop obsessing over them and settle down with her. In the latter scenario, Gilda alleges that she stopped the killings after the first few and presumed that Harvey had taken over for her (the only undisputed killings are the last two, which are definitely by Harvey after he becomes Two-Face).
Owlman is a member of the Crime Syndicate, who are the evil opposites of the Justice League. Owlman, naturally, is Batman’s opposite.
Owlman is Thomas Wayne, Jr. His mother and younger brother, Bruce, were killed by a police officer. His father, Thomas Wayne Sr., became the chief of police in Gotham and Thomas became a villain to oppose his father, who he blames for the death of his mother and brother. Owlman loves the fight, so he actually secretly funds rebels to the Crime Syndicate control of their planet, just so he has someone to fight.
While on the Justice League’s Earth, he figures out that the way that this world works, the Crime Syndicate inherently cannot win. He comes to this realization in a great moment where he comes across the graves of this world’s Thomas and Martha Wayne and realizes that he can never gain vengeance on his father on this world…
Anarky (created by Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle and Steve Mitchell) is an interesting case because he is really more of an anti-hero than anything, as he is a teenager who embraces the ideals of anarchy and decides to become a vigilante to have his voice heard.
That said, his methods are extreme enough that Batman can never accept Anarky as a hero, so I guess he belongs in the villains section. He DOES practically kill this dude just for being a hypocritical drug addict…
Anarky later had his own SERIES by Grant and Breyfogle. Sadly, once Grant was finished at DC, so, too, was Anarky for the most part (at least Grant’s nuanced approach to the character).