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75 Greatest Friends and Foes of Batman: Villains #5-1

by  in Comic News Comment
75 Greatest Friends and Foes of Batman: Villains #5-1

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 #5-1…


NOTE: There’s so many images in these pieces that I’ll be breaking them up over two pages.

5. Penguin

Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the Penguin was one of the rare Batman villains who was clearly popular enough that he was brought back right away (an honor typically reserved for the best of the best Bat-villains, like Joker and Catwoman)…

The Penguin was one of Batman’s most prolific villains during the 1940s and 1950s, likely second only to the Joker. As Batman comics got more ridiculous during the 1950s, so, too, did the Penguin get more ridiculous…

The Penguin and his trick umbrellas caused a bit of a problem for the Batman writers. The Penguin, like most Bat-villains, took a break in the late 1950s going into the 1960s, but the Penguin actually returned BEFORE Batman was revamped by Julie Schwartz in the early 1960.

However, when the Batman TV series was a big success (including Burgess Meredith’s stand-out performance as the Penguin), the Bat-titles were still unable to really perfect the Penguin….

And he appeared sparingly over the next few years. When Denny O’Neil did his revamp of the various Batman villains, he tried to work his wonders on the Penguin but it really just felt like every other Penguin story…

As a result, the Penguin really fell by the wayside in the 1970s and 1980s. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Penguin was practically a cameo-level villain. He appeared as a member of the Suicide Squad, with his tactical genius being used, and that was one of his most prominent appearances of the 1980s!

As it turned out, the key to the Penguin was found in an old Batman story from early in Penguin’s career, when he moved to Florida to run a night club…

So Penguin became the head of a lounge and ran his criminal organization from behind the scenes rather than fighting Batman with trick umbrellas. Although, even then, writers would occasionally try to get the Penguin into the field…

But for the past two decades, well into the New 52, as well, the Penguin has been remade as a behind-the-scenes operator who is still ruthless and devious, but he’ll deal with Batman from behind a table rather than blasting away at him with a trick umbrella.

4. Riddler

Introduced by Bill Finger, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, the Riddler was pretty well-defined in his first appearance in the late 1940s…

However, for whatever reason, he didn’t catch on and skipped the entirety of the 1950s and most of the 1960s. He returned in 1965 for a normal enough Riddler appearance…

The thing that stood out was that that issue of Batman just happened to be one of the ones used as an inspiration for the Batman TV series of the following year (you might not know this, but the Batman TV series was based on the comics of the day and that’s why it was campy while the Green Hornet TV series was based on the old Green Hornet radio show, which is why it was not as campy) and the Riddler was soon a popular character on the series, depicted by Frank Gorshin.

His TV popularity kept the Riddler in recurring appearance in the Bat-books for the next couple of decades, but he was rarely depicted as much of a threat. Denny O’Neil, for instance, never even bothered to revamp him in the early 1970s.

The Riddler got a big boost in 2003 when it was revealed that HE was the secret mastermind behind the Hush storyline, as the Riddler had discovered Batman’s secret identity!

Soon afterwards, the Riddler suffered a brain injury and forgot Batman’s ID but instead reformed and became a consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes-style…

He eventually returned to villainy and in the new 52, Scott Snyder is doing a new take on the Riddler, establishing him as being connected to Bruce Wayne before Bruce ever even became the Batman!

Go to the next page for #3-1!

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