WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Detective Comics #1014 by Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, David Baron and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
Victor Fries is one of the most tragically sympathetic villains in Batman's extensive rogues gallery. The literal cold-blooded antagonist suffered tragedy when his beloved wife Nora was diagnosed with terminal cancer without a known cure. Victor had his wife cryogenically frozen while he desperately searched for viable treatment before his physical transformation into the deadly Mr. Freeze, pitting himself against the Dark Knight while he continued to labor for a cure. The current storyline in Detective Comics, by Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke, has reunited the cold-hearted couple, with a fiendish twist eliminating any chance of sympathetic redemption for Victor.
Mr. Freeze awakens Nora, having had her undergo the same procedure he had endured years earlier to bring his body temperature below zero. Reunited, the couple launches an ice-cold raid on Wayne Enterprises, nearly killing both Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox as the two friends seek to help a group of women targeted by Freeze earlier as part of his sinister plan to revive Nora in his cold image. However, Victor and Nora's destructive campaign doesn't end there, with the duo embarking on a crime spree across Gotham City, leaving countless citizens frozen stiff in their wake.
As Batman regroups to take the deadly couple down, the creative team reveals Victor and Nora's most horrific crime yet. Batman: The Animated Series revealed Nora was a prolific ballerina before falling ill, immortalized within a snow globe Victor's possessed while she remained in stasis. Revived, Nora performs a ballet with Victor as the lone audience member in a seemingly empty theater...however, it is quickly revealed that Nora and Victor aren't actually alone at all. Before the Fries' private ballet performance, they had frozen all the occupants of the theater, the patrons still seated with their shock lethally immortalized on their cold, cold faces forever.
It had long been assumed that if Nora Fries was ever revived and cured, Victor would no longer be motivated to continue his wicked ways and resume life as a content husband. This theory was posited and challenged in the DC Animated Universe before Victor's eventual return to committed villainy during Batman Beyond decades later. Here, Nora and Victor are happily reunited -- though Nora is initially aghast at her new physical condition, morbidly remarking that her skin feels cold to the touch like a corpse. The marital bliss quickly escalates to crime, with Gotham transformed into an unwilling winter wonderland by the couple.
It had long been assumed that Gotham's very own Bonnie and Clyde analogues were the Joker and Harley Quinn. However, the Clown Prince of Crime and his usual romantic interest have been at odds for some time, as Harley continues to pursue her own unhinged agenda separate from the Joker's abusive behavior. In their place, Victor and Nora Fries have arisen as the latest villainous couple to plunge Gotham into chaos, stage high-profile heists and freezing any hapless individuals that happen to get in their way.
The dream of redemption for Victor Fries was a lie to transform him into one of Gotham's greatest villains all along. And now reunited with his similarly transformed wife, Mr. Freeze fully indulges in his bad boy behavior without hiding behind the smokescreen of feigned sympathy. Batman has faced a unrepentant Mr. Freeze before but now the Caped Crusader may be outnumbered in the inevitable rematch.
Detective Comics #1015 hits shelves November 13.