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Batman's Coldest Villain Isn't Mr. Freeze - It's His Wife

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Detective Comics #1016, by Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Tyler Kirkham, Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, David Baron and Rob Leigh, on sale now.

Detective Comics has redefined the tragic life of Victor Fries, aka Mister Freeze, in the wake of his revival of his wife, Nora. Issue #1016 revealed why she betrayed him for a solo life of crime: she's been mentally corrupted by the Bizzaro serum Lex Luthor gave Victor in Year of the Villain, making it even more difficult for him and Batman to round her up.

Victor's still heartbroken and wants his wife back, but the Dark Knight is treating her like an even more dangerous version of Harley Quinn. And by the time the issue ends, Nora has established herself as the coldest, cruelest and most selfish of all the Bat-rogues out there, spurning every advance Victor makes to bring her back to his side.

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To say her message to the Bat and Vic is mean is an understatement. When they track her to the Gotham cemetery where she visited her parents, they realize Nora's hitting up sentimental spots. That takes the new Dynamic Duo to the Museum of Arts where Nora admires the Little Dancer statue. She loves the statue because she's a ballet dancer herself.

However, before the Caped Crusader and Vic arrive, Nora demonstrates how destructive she can be by freezing the museum security guards to death and crushing one's body into ice blocks. What makes it all the more sadistic is she rearranges the frozen body parts into a morbid sculpture, turning death into art and enjoying every second of it. It's something you'd expect from the Joker, and Nora's actions affirm she's past the point of no return.

When Batman and Vic arrive and fight her, Vic's emotions get in the way. He doesn't want the Bat to take her in. He incapacitates the vigilante, but Nora then proves she doesn't love the man who revived her anymore. She sticks him with an overheating syringe from his own lab, which puts him into the state of living death she experienced. Batman's left scrambling to save Vic while Nora gets away, licking the falling snowflakes in victory.

Nora prances off to Canada where she takes up residence in a cabin with a snow globe of the Little Dancer, gloating that the world is about to become a colder place. Seeing her this unhinged, ready to subject her husband to pain and torture, reiterates how maniacal she is. And with a win over the Bat, she can't be underestimated anymore.

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Batman reminds Vic in his cryogenic chamber in Arkham that he gambled and lost, and now has no one to love him. Nora put him there and won't be coming to his rescue.

Yet, Nora's perspective is somewhat understandable. Vic didn't want to let her go so he kept her from dying. Then, when she was brought back, he wanted her to obey his rule, taking away her independence and agency. This is a huge part of the reason for her gripe against Victor; Nora's never gotten to live life on her own terms, and now that she has the power, no man will rein her in again.

In a sense, it's feminist but it's also troublesome because Nora's on a warpath and making up for lost time with love turned to hatred. She feels she's been wronged by her husband, and now that Batman is trying to stop her as Mrs. Freeze, you can bet your bottom dollar she'll do anything and everything to prevent anyone encroaching on her freedom.

Vic turned his wife into a monster, but it's something she didn't ask for. This is why Nora wants to have the freedom to follow her own agenda now. For Mrs. Freeze, a permanent winter seems to be the ideal solution.

Detective Comics #1017 goes on sale Dec. 11.

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