The Dark Knight has never been known for his light-heartedness or his carefree approach to life. Perhaps that’s why it came as no surprise that a number of Batman’s baddies are actual cannibals, as in they enjoy consuming their fellow man. Over the years, there have been a number of Batman stories that have cemented themselves as longstanding cultural works by showing readers the darker side of Gotham City, and showing just how dark superhero comics can be. These stories range from dark and entertaining to downright disturbing. Stories arcs like “Hush” and The Killing Joke have helped shape Batman into the character we know today.
However, some of the most unsettling acts of cannibalism carried out by members of Batman’s rogues gallery have taken place in stories that seemed to have fallen through the cracks. One of the reasons that Batman is so iconic is his famed ‘no kill’ policy. These 15 villains put their own gruesome spin on it, espousing the ‘till you get your fill’ policy with an equal amount of dedication. We knew that the halls of Arkham Asylum and the streets of Gotham run thick with blood, but some of the foes of Batman who have it running down their chins might surprise you!
15 SOLOMON GRUDY
Solomon Grundy is human...or at least he used to be. A ruthless criminal in life, Cyrus Gold became Solomon Grundy after being murdered by a group of henchmen he employed. Created by Alfred Bester and Paul Reinman way back in 1944, Solomon Grundy has solidified himself as a mainstay of the DC Universe over the years, taking on a wide range of heroes. But did you know he eats human flesh?
In the Justice League of America arc titled “Tornado’s Path” (written by Brad Meltzer and drawn by Ed Benes), Solomon Grundy is able to trick the Red Tornado (an android) into inhabiting a human body, stripping him of some of his fantastic abilities. While pummeling the now-vulnerable Red Tornado, Solomon Grundy rips off his now-human arm and eats it!
14 DRACULA (EARTH-43)
Count Dracula of Earth-43 first appeared in the series Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones. This iteration of the character was every bit as fearsome as the character’s history would suggest. In fact, it went a step further by giving the Count the ability to become a large goblin-like bat-creature. As his name would suggest, the daddy of all vampires had sustained himself for centuries by draining wayward humans of their blood.
The quest for blood left Dracula with an army of vampire thralls so large that a faction split off and dedicated their undead lives to ridding the world of the vampiric lord and his curse. However, Dracula’s arrival to Gotham City might’ve made their dedication moot, as it set the stage for the introduction of an even greater beast.
13 KILLER CROC
It’s right in his name. Killer Croc (AKA Waylon Jones) is, well -- a killer, and a cannibalistic one at that. While Killer Croc’s tenure as a Batman villain goes back to the early '80s, it wasn’t until Hush planted a virus in Croc’s body that he began to consume human flesh in the same manner as his namesake.
The virus caused Killer Croc to mutate, becoming more animalistic and primal in nature. He sought the help of Dr. Maria Belleza, a scientist with extensive knowledge of the virus, in his search for a cure. However, the antidote Belleza created quickly wore off. After learning there was no cure for his condition in Detective Comics #810, Killer Croc killed and ate Dr. Belleza in a fit of primal rage.
12 KING SHARK
King Shark (AKA Nanaue) might be more shark than man, but given his human-level intellect, we consider his savage consumption of human flesh to be cannibalism. His first appearance was contextualized with him being linked to a string of disappearing swimmers in Hawaii. It even featured his mother willingly allowing King Shark to bite off her arm to satisfy his need to feed.
Most recently, in DC Rebirth, King Shark faced off against Batman as one of the many villains trying to kill the Dark Knight to stop Two-Face from releasing a great deal of classified information. While some might consider King Shark to be nothing more than a hunger-crazed beast, his ability to work as a part of a team and put complex plans into action clearly indicates some element of humanity.
11 ABATTOIR (BLACKEST NIGHT)
Abattoir (AKA Arnold Etchison) is one of Batman’s more brutal foes. Convinced that his family was evil, Etchison slaughtered them. This sparked his belief that he absorbs the life force of his victims, growing stronger with every kill. Abattoir is known for murdering his victims sadistically and with extreme overkill, often flaying the skin from their bodies. This might explain why the villain had such an easy time becoming a Black Lantern in “Blackest Night”.
As his corpse was being transported to the Justice League’s crypt, he was tracked by a Black Lantern Ring and brought back to life along with a handful of other Batman baddies. While a new lease on life is exciting, the side effects of being a Black Lantern make it less appealing: needing to consume human brains to survive.
10 THE VENTRILOQUIST (BLACKEST NIGHT)
The Ventriloquist is easily one of the most unsettling villains in Batman’s rogues gallery, and considering his peers, that’s saying something. The Ventriloquist (AKA Arnold Wexler) was first introduced in Detective Comics #583 back in 1988. The villain (created by Alan Grant, John Wagner, and Norm Breyfogle) is named as such because of Scarface, the ventriloquist’s dummy he carries around and takes orders from. These orders usually involve committing crimes, which are often violent in nature.
However, in “Blackest Night” the then-deceased Wexler was reanimated by one of the Black Lantern Corps Rings. Wexler uses the abilities afforded to him by the ring to control a horde of apparitions of ventriloquist dummies, as his trademark Scarface is notably absent. But as a Black Lantern, the Ventriloquist has to consume something quite nauseating to survive: human brains.
9 ROBERT GREENWOOD (GOTHAM)
Given his status as an inmate at Arkham Asylum as well as a member of the villainous team, The Maniax, it’s clear that Robert Greenwood isn’t someone you’d want to run into alone at night. On Fox’s hit show Gotham, Robert Greenwood (portrayed by Dustin Ybarra) is known around Arkham for his tendency to consume those he slaughters. One of his claims to fame is that he murdered over a dozen women before consuming their bodies. This was revealed in the season two episode, “Rise of the Villains: Knock, Knock”.
While he never went toe-to-toe with Batman directly, the Dark Knight and Gotham City are one and the same. As such, if you make a habit of terrorizing the citizens of Gotham City, once he dons the cowl, you'll be on the Batman's list.
8 KGBEAST (BLACKEST NIGHT)
During the “Blackest Night” event, amongst the ranks of Batman villains reanimated by the power of the Black Lantern Rings was none other than Gotham’s favorite Cold War Era relic: KGBeast. Created by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo, KGBeast is a cybernetically enhanced super assassin employed by a secret cell of the KGB. Later on, it seemed that he had transitioned into being a henchman -- a profession that got him murdered by Tally Man, setting the stage for his “Blackest Night” revival.
In “Blackest Night” KGBeast, now outfitted with a Black Lantern Ring took to the streets of Gotham City, massacring innocent bystanders all the way. As a Black Lantern, KGBeast ripped out the hearts of his victims in order to sustain himself with the fear they experienced at the time of death.
7 TED KROSBY
How little Batman was impacted by the horrific events contained within Batman: Tenses just goes to show how the intensity of Bruce Wayne’s mental fortitude. The villain of the two-issue miniseries is Ted Krosby, a very deranged young man who is more often than not seen cavorting about in his underwear while covered in blood.
Krosby’s legacy as a Batman villain can really be boiled down into one night, when he literally murdered hundreds of people. Most, if not all of his victims were killed by knife, which admittedly must have made it lots easier for him to eat some the flesh of some of the victims and skin his father so he could wear his face. Even without the killing and cannibalism, Krosby’s pretty messed up. For starters, he ripped his own eye out.
Flamingo (AKA Eduardo Flamingo) was brainwashed by the mob, and molded into the deranged serial killer we know today. Most killers leave their signature on a victim, and Flamingo is no different, though it isn’t what he leaves that’s gruesome, it’s what he takes. After murdering someone, Flamingo removes the victim’s face...by eating it. This is a practice he has been perfecting ever since his first few kills: his entire family.
This psychotic serial killer was introduced to the DC Universe by Grant Morrison in 2007’s Batman #666. Flamingo’s iconic bright pink outfit and matching motorcycle haven’t been in a comic since his supposed death. However, when the police arrived, there was no trace of Flamingo’s body under the rubble he had been buried under.
5 OSWALD COBBLEPOT (GOTHAM)
Oswald Cobblepot, to our knowledge has never actually consumed human flesh. But that doesn’t mean it’s something the fan-favorite character from Fox’s Gotham has a problem with. In fact, Cobblepot (played by Robin Lord Taylor) is so ruthless, he probably doesn’t have a problem with much. Cobblepot shows exactly how far he’s willing to go for some good old fashioned revenge in season two episode 17, entitled “Wrath of the Villains: Into the Woods”.
While serving his step-mother her dinner, Oswald casually revealed that he had murdered his step-siblings, Charles and Sasha Van Dahl. He then goes on to say that he cooked them, before serving them as -- you guessed it: their mother’s dinner. This was done as an act of revenge against his step-mother, Grace Van Dahl for killing Oswald’s father (her husband) as well as for the horrible treatment she subjected Oswald to on a daily basis.
Creach (of Earth-43) was one of the most powerful vampires among Dracula’s ranks. In fact, besides Dracula and Batman, Creach is the only vampire shown to be able to transform into other forms, like a large wolf or bat. In addition to super speed, strength, and stamina, Creach is largely invulnerable unless you were planning on taking him down with a stake to the heart and decapitating him.
After Dracula’s death, Creach led a group of vampiric survivors down to the sewers, where they lived until they were co-opted into the Joker’s gang. Creach is known to consume both human blood and flesh. He attempted to take a hunk out of Earth-43’s Selina Kyle while in wolf form, though she was able to flee by putting a body of running water between herself and the vampire.
3 KIRK LANGSTROM (GODS AND MONSTERS)
Once a scientist studying the sonar of bats, Dr. Robert Kirkland “Kirk” Langstrom is far better known as the product of the horrible side effects of his research: the Batman villain, Man-Bat. However, the iteration of the character introduced by Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett in Justice League: Gods and Monsters had a bit of a different trajectory.
In Gods and Monsters Kirk Langstrom was employing the saliva of vampire bats in lymphoma research. While the serum he created did cure his cancer, it transformed him into a super powered being somewhere between vampire and man. As Batman, Langstrom becomes a member of the Justice League. However, this super powered version of Batman consumes nothing but blood -- sometimes animal, sometimes human via his set of short retractable fangs.
2 CORNELIUS STIRK
Cornelius Stirk (created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle) is yet another Batman villain whose primary weapon is the use of fear. Stirk’s telepathic abilities allow him to induce fear or hallucinations in his victims. The reason he uses them? He believes he is only able to sustain himself from the nutrients and hormones from other people’s recently-harvested hearts. His preferred method of seasoning? Norepinephrine, caused by inducing fear in a victim immediately before death.
Combined with his flesh-fueled delusions, Stirk’s abilities make him a dangerous foe. In his first appearance, Detective Comics #592 Stirk used his telepathy to influence doctors at the Arkham Asylum to deem him sane, facilitating his release. His telepathic powers allow Stirk to appear as anyone he chooses, so there really isn’t anyone Gotham’s citizens can trust.
1 EMPEROR JOKER
During the Superman event “Superman: Emperor Joker” the Clown Prince of Crime managed to get ahold of 99.9% of Mr. Mxyzptlk’s power, using it to twist the world in his own image. Using his immense power, Emperor Joker (created by Jeph Loeb, J.M. DeMatteis, Joe Kelly, and Mark Schulz) made villainous versions of members of the Justice League, and would kill certain people daily only to resurrect them to be murdered again.
However, all of Emperor Joker’s other demonstrations of power pale in comparison to one. Emperor Joker’s most heinous acts of destruction? Consuming the entire population of China all so he could make a joke about eating Chinese food. Thankfully the events of “Superman: Emperor Joker” were reversed, but the Joker’s willingness to eat human flesh was burned in the minds of readers everywhere.
Did we miss any flesh-loving Batman villains? Let us know in the comments!