A Visual Index to Batman Comics -- Villains I Like

These characters are still in chronological order but are just the particularly colorful ones (in character or appearance), skipping over the simple gangster-types.

Also check out The Batman Villain Project (not done by me).
Batman 6
Batman #6, August-September 1941, "The Clock Maker!"
Old man Brock loves clocks and thinks he's Father Time. When stockholders in the Brock Clock Works are overheard talking about how they kill time, Brock decides time should kill them. He sends them clocks with various booby-traps. Batman learns that one of the stockholders has urged Brock into this, so that he can buy up the stock but blame the deaths on Brock's madness. (I'm not sure how profitable stock in a madman's company would be, but I suppose similar situations arise on Wall Street every day.)

Just another one of those serial-killers-with-a-theme I like so much.
The Clock Maker
The Clock Maker
World's Finest 3
World's Finest Comics #3, Fall 1941, "The Scarecrow!"
Prof. Jonathan Crane, a gangly, ragged figure, is mocked by his fellow professors because he spends all his money on books. After demonstrating the power of fear in a psychology class, Crane realizes fear would be a useful tool in crime, and he could get money for more books that way. Since his colleagues call him a scarecrow, he'll become a scarecrow, and since he's an academic, his first job is as a consultant: he convinces a department store owner to hire him to scare people out of a rival's store. (This is long before he acquires the fear dust gimmick, which Hugo Strange actually used first in one of his appearances.)

I think he is the first of the Bat-villains who takes his theme because of having been mocked with it in his past, but the idea is reused a lot in the late '40s onwards: The Gong, the Penny Plunderer, etc. It's a standard Bill Finger trope.

The Scarecrow has become one of Batman's iconic foes. Pretty good, considering he only appeared in two '40s stories before being revived in the 1960s TV-caused Bat-mania. (I always thought Vincent Price should have been cast as him, rather than the made-for-TV villain Egghead.) He's one of my favorites, too. In fact, for this batch of micros, I decided to jump around in creating the villains, rather than follow my past practice of doing a character from every Batman story in sequence, because I was impatient to do the Scarecrow (and one other, who's coming up).

Also, note that "World's Fair Comics" led to "World's Best Comics" which became "World's Finest Comics" -- an object lesson in marketing on picking the proper superlative.
The Scarecrow
Detective Comics 56
Detective Comics #56, October 1941, "The Stone Idol!"
Gulch City is now Ghost Gulch City, mostly abandoned once a silver mine nearby failed. Only those with nowhere else to go remained, like old Mack -- Mad Mack, they call him, because he goes on about how the ancient stone idol on the mountain will some day come to life and finish the city. Bruce and Dick, bound for a Western vacation spot, happen to arrive in town the night lightning strikes the mountain and causes the idol to slide down into the valley. And the idol does come to life, at least at times, threatening the citizens.  But when it's not moving, examination shows it's just a stone idol.

Turns out Mad Mack is in league with people from a crooked carnival, trying to scare people out of town because a new vein of silver was discovered in the mine. The idol was rigged to land on an hydraulic platform, so that it could be switched with a living impostor.

Interesting start, but the ending stretches credulity.

Mad Mack The Stone Idol

Detective Comics 58
Detective Comics #58, December 1941, untitled
A small, round, tuxedoed man steals a painting by rolling it up and hiding it in his hollow umbrella handle. He takes it to a crime boss as proof of his abilities and asks to join his gang. But who is this man? "Why not call me The Penguin? I have so many names, and it does fit. Hee hee!" (paraphrased). When the boss later decides The Penguin is getting too uppity, The Penguin shrugs, says "This was bound to happen sooner or later", and cold-bloodedly kills him with a gun hidden in the umbrella.

So we have this grotesque, comical figure who shoots someone early in the story. The Penguin is not the buffoon he was later portrayed as. (The same might be said for the Joker.) Right from the start, the umbrella gimmicks are used. Bird gimmicks, not so much. Oswald Cobblepot? Not until the newspaper strip.

Bat-trivia: Bob Kane said he based The Penguin on a cartoon penguin appearing in Kool cigarette ads. His first appearance certainly supports that claim. (My micro doesn't do it justice. I'll try again in the future.) Modern stories about the Penguin's creation tell a different story, but corporate DC wants to avoid stories involving possible trademark infringement.
The Penguin
The Penguin
Batman 8
Batman #8, December 1941-January 1942, "The Strange Case of Professor Radium!"
Prof. Henry Ross is convinced his new radium-based serum is a medical miracle... so much so that he poisons himself and leaves instructions for his lab partner to administer the serum to his dead body. And Ross comes back to life. He grasps the partner in a friendly manner -- and the partner falls down dead. Odd. Must have had a weak heart. So did that dog he petted. And the flower he picked wilted in his hands. But it's not until he accidentally kills his fiancee that he realizes the cause is his touch, his serum. Back in the lab, he sees himself glowing in the dark. "It's the radium! The cursed radium! It's driving me mad!" A rubber suit allows him to move about without contaminating everything -- or melting it, as the strength of the radium grows within him. Thus outfitted, he learns the rare drug Volitell can reduce the radiation. But it's rare, so he must steal more of it to live outside of the suit, thus bringing him into contact with the Batman.

DC had hopes for Professor Radium to become a recurring villain, but he never appeared after this. They retold the story in the Batman newspaper strip, with the added twist that Ross was using his death touch for mercy killings. He was an inspiration for Doctor Phosphorus in the 1980s, but his inspiration came from The Invisible Ray (1936), a Universal horror movie where Boris Karloff played a scientist given a death touch (and phosphorescence) by exposure to a new element.

Professor Radium was the other reason I decided to do non-sequential Bat-villains this time. I liked him so much, here are two versions, in the rubber suit and radioactive in street clothes.
Prof. Henry Ross Professor Radium
Prof. Henry Ross Professor Radium
Batman #8, December 1941-January 1942, "The Superstition Murders!" Playwright Johnny Glim's "The Superstition Murders" bodes to be a hit, so the cast holds a superstition-breaking party as a publicity stunt. Then the actors start dying according to the superstitions they broke: a ladder falls on one, a broken mirror cuts another. But the show must go on, and the publicity draws the public. When a black cat with poisoned claws cuts the woman who crossed its path, Batman and Robin are on the scene to catch the masked killer: Glim, who had sold his rights too cheaply and was trying to close the play so he could take up a movie offer for it.

Oboy!  Both a "Phantom of..." and a serial-killer-with-a-motif story. Supersitions are a popular motif for comics stories. It's surprising to me that Batman doesn't have a more prominent villain using them.
Superstition Murderer
The Superstition Murderer

Detective Comics 63
Detective Comics #63, May 1942, "A Gentleman in Gotham!"
Europe having to become too hot for him, jewel thief Michael Baffle flees to the States.  As society columnist Charles Courtly, he is invited to the best homes -- which he cases, so that he can later return and rob them. Circumstantial evidence leads Bruce's sometime girlfriend Linda Page to think Courtly is actually The Batman, until she notices his sandpapered fingertips and names him as the thief.  Baffle and Batman fight with swords, but when Batman slips, Baffle courteously pauses the fight. "Pshaw! Must give a fellow a sporting chance for his life, y'know! Your sword, and en garde!" When the swordfight turns into a fist-fight, and Baffle hears others coming, he leaps from a balcony. "We'll have to postpone this little skirmish, Batman..." "...we're on opposite sides, so the next time we meet, you've got a fight on your hands, Mr. Baffle!"

Inspired by the gentleman-thief Raffles (creation of E. W. Hornung, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law), Mr. Baffle was an interesting opponent for Batman, but he never did return.

Mr. Baffle
Detective Comics 66
Detective Comics #66, August 1942, "The Crimes of Two-Face!"
Handsome Harvey "Apollo" Kent, Gotham District Attorney, is in court, linking Boss Moroni to a murder scene, when Moroni throws acid in his face. When the bandages come off months later, Kent is so disturbed by the sight -- precisely the left half of his face is scarred -- that his mind snaps. "I'm not a man! I'm half a man ... beauty and beast... good and evil! I'm a living Jekyll and Hyde! ... I'm all alone now... shunned... like  acriminal! Wouldn't take much to make me one now... A trick of fate perhaps... A flip of a coin..." He scars one side of a lucky two-headed silver dollar of Moroni's and uses it to choose between good and evil. Calling himself Two-Face, whenever the scarred side of the coin comes up, he commits a crime, choosing a "double" theme as a calling card, and keeps the loot. If the good face shows, he double-crosses another criminal and gives the loot to charity. Batman and Robin strive to stop this mad rampage. Batman corners Two-Face in his hideout, which Two-Face has divided into an ugly half and a neat half. He convinces Two-Face to flip the coin and submit to plastic surgery if the good face comes up -- but the coin wedges in the crack between the two halves of the room!

And that's where the first Two-Face adventure ends, not to be continued until two issues later.  There'll be one more story after that, culminating in Two-Face's capture and restoration to normalcy.  But the living Jekyll and Hyde was too powerful a concept to remain unused.  A version of the Two-Face tale, using a mad actor, was retold in the Sunday Batman strip in 1946. In 1948, a butler tries to make Harvey Dent -- maybe the name was changed so as not to associate "Kent" (as in Clark Kent) with evil, or maybe it was just confusion with Clark Kent's name -- think his Two-Face side has resurfaced.  In 1951, an actor playing Two-Face is scarred and lives the role. In 1952, someone captures Dent and frames him for new Two-Face crimes. Finally, in 1954, an explosion undoes Dent's plastic surgery, and he becomes Two-Face again in earnest.  But then the character drops out of sight until revived in 1971 by Denny O'Neil's returning Batman to his noir Forties roots, after which he became a mainstay of the Batman Rogues' Gallery.

Detective Comics 74
Detective Comics #74, April 1943, "Tweedledum and Tweedledee!"
Batman and Robin find a fur warehouse being robbed by a gang led by a round man. The gang escapes, but when the two return to the Batmobile, they hear reports of a gem robbery led by a similar man which occurred at the same time. On a hunch, Bruce Wayne visits a fat man's clothier and asks about fat twins. He is told of the identical cousins, Deever and Dumfree Tweed. Batman and Robin set a trap at a society costume ball, where the Tweeds arrive dressed as Tweedledum and Tweedledee and are captured.

The Tweeds appeared twice more in the Forties, each time using the same two gimmicks: they appear to be one man in two places at once, and they have the loot brought to them to be stolen. Then nothing until the 1990s, when they turn up as henchmen to the Joker, are shown among Arkham Asylum inmates, and so on -- all minor roles.  (Len Wein reportedly wanted to bring them back during his run on Batman in the early '80s but he left the book before he could.)
Detective Comics 77
Detective Comics #77, July 1943, "The Crime Clinic!"
Dr. Matthew Thorne is a famous surgeon, with wealth, prestige, and society connections. But he feels he needs something more in his life. "I love surgery... yet crime excites me! It's like a drug ... I enjoy acting criminally!" So he opens The Crime Clinic: "Worrying yourself sick over how to operate a certain crime? Then come to the Crime Clinic where your ills can be cured!". He charges 25% of the loot for a prescription for a successful crime ("Rx: Snip vein of burglar alarm wire") and 50% if he has to make a "house call" ("Where the patient is conscious like this, it's best to give an anaesthetic."). Seeing his ambulance outside a warehouse, Batman investigates and hands the Crime Clinic its first setback. But he's also trailed Thorne to his home and is about to arrest him when a sick patient drops in. "Batman, I must operate at once, or this man will die! Will you help me?". His professional ethics won't actually let him kill or let others die, but Thorne doesn't mind threatening them: "I douse Robin with ether -- like this! Don't -- -- move, Batman, or this flame will turn Robin into a flaming torch!"

As you might tell from all the quotes, I rather like "The Crime Clinic", up to this point in the story. After this, it falls apart. Thorne drops some hint about the philosopher's stone, which leads to a physicist and an atom smasher, where Thorne tries to kill Batman but is finally arrested. What does all this have to do with medicine? And how convenient that Thorne was willing to drop his professional ethics right at the end, to make the story more exciting, no? It seems to me Bill Finger wrote a great beginning and then had no idea how to end it.
The Crime Doctor
The Crime Doctor

Detective Comics 81
Detective Comics #81, November 1943, "The Cavalier of Crime!"
The Cavalier is a collector -- not the obsessive kind, but the unscrupulous kind. He thinks nothing of stealing collectables from others, masking his callous veniality with a chivalrous veneer. To that end, his historical attire, foppish to some, is laden with dangerous gimmicks: an electrified sabre, a lace handkerchief with a bola-weighted end, a steel dart in his hat's plume. When Batman and Robin encounter him, it is at the start of a chain of seemingly pointless thefts: he steals a child's souvenir baseball, then a miniature bat which he throws away, then his real goal, a collection of awards given to a long-forgotten baseball player.  But there is method to his madness -- the ball had the player's autograph, which he uses to forge a note to get into a safe deposit box where the bat is kept, and the bat held the key to the safe of the sports awards -- and madness to his method -- racing Batman to the safe, he nonetheless stops to aid an old woman. "Chivalry is my entire code of honor."

The Cavalier was the second attempt to create a "gentleman thief"(Mr. Baffle being the first), and the more successful one, as The Cavalier returned for 3 more stories in the '40s (more than The Riddler or The Scarecrow had at that time).
The Cavalier
Batman #30, August-September 1945, "Ally Babble and the Fourteen Peeves!" Millionaire Jasper Quinch is temporarily wheelchair-bound and has found himself annoyed by 14 different examples of fellow Gothamites -- and he's got you on his list!  Talkative young Ally Babble stumbles into Quinch's life one afternoon and agrees to handle these fourteen pet peeves in exchange for $5,000. He goes around town giving the annoying people a taste of their own medicine. Thugs Hoiman and Shoiman decide they can cash in on Babble's antics.

Ally Babble is a one-joke character, and the joke was over after the story title.  And yet, he returned once more a few months later, in Batman #34's "Ally Babble and the Four Tea Leaves!"

And where do you go after that?  He could meet the Tweeds in "Ally Babble and the Portly Thieves!"  Or be in a science fiction adventure, "Ally Babble and the 4-D Trees!" Or you could quietly drop the whole idea and move on.
Ally Babble
Ally Babble

Batman 31
Batman #31, October-November 1945, "Punch and Judy!"
Peter Punch and his wife, Judy, play Punch and Judy in a life-sized puppet show in the carnival they run. Like their namesakes, they constantly fight in real life as well as on stage, hurling pots and pans, as well as insults, at each other.  Batman and Robin try to break up one of their squabbles, then stay to investigate the carnival. They find rampant cheating going on. Punch and Judy try to play innocent, but a fight breaks out, and they're all hauled off to jail, where the couple continue their fighting.

The story ends with the possibility of seeing this duo again, but they never reappeared. Paul Dini once expressed interest in doing a Punch and Judy story, but apparently domestic violence doesn't play as humorously today as it did in the '40s, stereotypical pots and pans notwithstanding. In The Batman cartoon series, the Joker had a pair of henchmen named Punch and Judy, but they were two male bruisers, unrelated to these two except in name.

Peter Punch
Judy Punch


Detective Comics 106
Detective Comics #106, December 1945, "The Phantom of the Library!"
Introducing Dick to the features of the modern library, Bruce learns the Gotham library is supposedly haunted. They see a retired police inspector struck by a falling bust while researching the case of a librarian who disappeared years ago: Todd Torrey, who murdered the superior who wanted to fire him. They learn the inspector was summoned to the library by a note, and a former D.A., who prosecuted Torrey, has received a similar note. Torrey is "The Phantom of the Library", having spent seven years in secret passages and tunnels in and under the library, plotting revenge. Eventually, Torrey falls to his death from a chandelier while trying to kill Batman.

When you have to have 3 or 4 separate Batman stories a month, making each story different yet compelling is a regular problem. To provide variety, Batman stories fall into a series of types: the murder mystery, the serial killer, and the crime plot, obviously, but also stories with "variations on a theme" (a crook, returning or brand-new, costumed or not, picks a theme for his/her crimes), "law enforcement around the world" tales (Canadian Mounties, the Harbor Patrol), the "lives intersect" human interest story, a swipe from a movie plot, and the educational story, where the details of a career or aspect of life serve as the springboard. This is one of the latter type.

And, sadly, when you're trying to build a plot around unrelated facts about a career or locale, sometimes the story doesn't quite work, as is the case here.  Why the library had those tunnels and passages is unexplained, as is why Torrey waited 7 years before seeking revenge, or why he had to bring the victims to the library rather than going to them -- you'd think a series of accidents in a library would lead someone to investigate, even if they weren't Batman and Robin. Torrey himself isn't particularly visually interesting, but I do like variations on "Phantom of the Opera".

Todd Torrey
Todd Torrey

Detective Comics 107
Detective Comics #106, January 1946, "The Mountain of the Moon!"
The modern alchemist, Scorpio, can change worthless materials into precious ones, and he'll happily take you on as a paying pupil to teach you the method.  But don't expect overnight success; it takes time (and regular fees) to practice alchemy properly, but it does work.  Here's the proof!  See, even Robin agrees!

But Batman, having detected the scent of a gas which weakens the will, realizes Scorpio is hypnotising his victims into believing his methods work, and he soon unmasks Scorpio as con man Bugs Scarpis.

This story's notion originated in a 1935 Doc Savage story, "The Majii", where The Majii's disciple, Rama Tura, performs a similar stunt.

World's Finest Comics 20
World's Finest Comics #20, Winter 1945, "King of Coins!"
"Lucky" Smith cases the newly opened coin shop of Mark Medalion, who offers an easy way to wealth: treasure maps for sale. Medalion, wheelchair-bound, provides the research, now you do the physical work and Medalion gets half of the value of what's found.  Smith thinks he has an easier way: he'll hijack the treasure after it's been dug up by others. When Batman and Robin thwart his first attempt, Smith robs Medalion of his remaining maps, as there's less risk in doing the digging himself.  Medalion shows Batman his sketch versions of the maps, which helps Batman find and capture Smith and his gang.  But there's
something funny about these ancient coins -- sure, they look old, but they're all dated the same and damaged in the exact same way.  Batman confronts Medalion, who captures him and reveals all.  He's really Lew Cronin, ex-counterfeiter, who learned of a gold boullion cache from a cellmate.  On being freed, Cronin recovered the gold but was unable to sell it legally.  But if it were recast into "ancient" coins, "found" by treasure hunters, he could at least explain where it came from to the government. (The wheelchair was just part of the disguise.) Batman and Robin escape a nasty trap involving molten gold, capture Cronin, and turn the gold over to the feds.

Some quibbles: Kind of a round-about plot.  I suppose a half-million is better than a million you can't spend, but it seems awfully wasteful for a crook.  An evil numismatist seems to me to be an underdeveloped villain theme. But not a bad little story, all in all.
Mark Medalion

Batman 39
Batman #39, February-March 1947, "The Man in the Iron Mask!"
"Iron-Hat" Ferris squealed on another gangster, so someone decides to punish him using another iron hat, a medieval "mask of shame", which is welded around his head.  Ferris can't go to his criminal associates, who would kill him, nor the police, who'd arrest him. Now a marked fugitive, he cracks under the strain and commits a series of "iron"-themed robberies.  Politician Henry Kendall makes much of this in his campaign to unseat the current District Attorney, who calls in Batman to help. Batman proves this Man in the Iron Mask cannot be Ferris and discovers Ferris a prisoner in Kendall's home. Kendall had found Ferris and, unable to convince him to help shame the DA, decided to do it himself and frame Ferris for it. The mask is struck by lightning, and Kendall dies.

The mask of shame was an actual punishment, but it was only locked on the victim and removed when the period of shame was over. The mask was made in the shape of an animal related to the crime or social sin being punished. So gossips had a long-nosed rat, and so on.  This mask is a generic beast -- possibly a pig, because Ferris squealed.

Bat-trivia: This story was one of 6 chosen to be retold as part of a mini-comic giveaway with Pop-Tarts during the 1960s Bat-mania and, aside from one where Batman fakes his own replacement, was the only one not featuring a villain from the TV show.  (The others had The Joker, The Penguin, The Catwoman, and The Mad Hatter.)

The Man in the Iron Mask

World's Finest Comics 28
World's Finest Comics #28, May-June 1947, "Crime Under Glass!"
In Glass Town, most of the businesses depend in some way upon the Stevens Glass Works. When the Morton Glass Works moves in, offering cheaper glass because of its more modern production facilities, Stevens loses first his big customers -- Manders, the financier and amateur astronomer; Briggs, the architect; Strong, the electrical supply executive; Judson, the auto manufacturer -- then the entire business. He swears public vengeance against everyone involved in his downfall. Soon after, Manders receives a glass model of an observatory; Briggs a glass skyscraper; Strong, a glass dynamo -- all with sharp poison-coated edges which quickly kill their recipients. Batman comes to investigate, and stops Judson before he cuts himself on a glass car. While Batman is learning the background, the bizarre Glass Man appears. His refractive helmet distorts his true features. The Glass Man tries to suffocate Batman in a glass ball, but Batman escapes. He then saves Morton's factory and unmasks the Glass Man as... Judson, who lost Manders's financing because his cars were unsafe. He used Stevens's threats as a cover to kill Manders, then killed the other two and faked his own attempt to further support the theory. Judson is dazzled by a reflection during the fight and falls into the glass furnace. Thus endeth the Glass Man.
The Glass Man
The Glass Man

World's Finest Comics 30
World's Finest Comics #30, September-October 1947, "The Penny Plunderers!"
Joe Coyne is constantly thwarted by pennies. That's all the money he ever had growing up, and when he turns to crime as an adult, he's caught in his first robbery, where there was only pennies in the till. So, in prison, he swears to use pennies to get rich. Once freed, he uses a tear-gas bomb in a penny roll to rob a bank, then ransoms antique penny banks back to their wealthy owner. Batman sees reports of these thefts and surmises a coming display of the rare "one-penny black" stamp would attract this "Penny Plunderer". Sure enough, Coyne and his gang are there. Batman nabs one thug, who says Coyne's hideout is in a penny-arcade. Batman and Robin are caught and left to die in a poison gas trap. Coyne leaves behind two cents -- "That's all your lives will be worth in a little while!" But Batman uses the coins as part of an improvised wet-cell battery and sends an SOS over a ripped-out phone wire. Batman and Robin chase after Coyne and corner him in a warehouse. Coyne tries to hold them off there until he can call the rest of his gang, but the pay phone requires a nickel, and all he has in his pockets are pennies. So, again, pennies thwart the Penny Plunderer.

Just another crook-with-an-obsession story, really notable only because the coin and stamp show where the one-penny black is displayed is the source of the giant penny in the Batcave trophy room.
Joe Coyne
Joe Coyne, the Penny Plunderer
Star-Spangled Comics 70
Star-Spangled Comics #70, July 1947, "Clocks of Doom!"
While filming footage for a class project, Dick Grayson's friends accidentally film evidence of a recent robbery.  The thieves' boss, who's called The Clock because of the precise timetables he always follows, goes after the film, which leads Robin to get involved.

Robin was popular enough that DC decided to give him his own feature in Star-Spangled Comics, as of February, 1947. It seems the comics industry realized that, with young soldiers no longer buying their magazines in PXs, they had to appeal directly to the teen audience. Quite a few stories showed him solving "teen-age" problems: teen gangs, kids his age who also wanted to be heroes, that sort of thing. He didn't get too many villains of his own, but The Clock was the first, and the only one to return during the series (for a total of 4 appearances). As The Clock King, he appeared on the Batman TV show of the '60s (although the name came from a Green Arrow villain), and he was the certainly the inspiration for the character of that name from Batman -- the Animated Series: someone obsessed with time and schedules and, by extension, clocks.  In the first story, he did not have a distinguishing appearance, but when he returned a few issues later, he was redesigned to look like a clock himself. Here are both appearances.
The Clock
The Clock
The Clock (SSC 70) The Clock (SSC 74)

Batman 47
Batman #47, June-July 1948, "The Origin of the Batman!"
A routine investigation leads Batman to a trucking company run by one Joe Chill, a former gangster.  Batman recognizes Chill as the unnamed hold-up man who killed his parents. Chill is using his company to smuggle wanted criminals across state lines, but there's no proof. Batman decides on a desperate strategy.  He confronts Chill one night and tells him the story of the Wayne's murders. Young Bruce survived and can identify him as the killer.  Chill scoffs. "No jury would believe Wayne's identification accurate after all these years!  You're bluffing!  Besides... how do you know what really went on that night?" "I know because I am the son of the man you murdered!  I am Bruce Wayne!!" He tells Chill he'll be watching him from now on, ready to pounce when Chill makes a mistake.  Shaken, Chill runs to some gangster employees.  "Batman just told me who he is! He became Batman because I killed his father!" The crooks react angrily -- "So you're responsible for the guy who broke up my numbers racket!" -- and shoot Chill in revenge, only belatedly realizing they should have gotten a name from Chill first.  Batman is right behind Chill and arrests the crooks. Chill dies, closing the Wayne murder case.

One can argue that there could have been less drastic ways to get Chill. But as a piece of comic-book drama, this is one of the best.
Joe Chill

Detective Comics 140
Detective Comics #140, October 1948, "The Riddler!"

The Riddler had appeared only twice, both times in the Forties, before he was resurrected for the Batman TV show, which (thanks to Frank Gorshin's performance) made him into a popular Bat-villain. But it was Gardner Fox who, riding the Bat-mania tide of the Sixties, made the Riddler into a foe with a mental quirk, a compulsion to give a riddle before committing a crime, which has elevated him from being just another theme villain to a worthy addition to the psychologically warped pantheon of Batman's rogues gallery.
The Riddler

Batman 49
Batman #49, October-November 1948, "The Scoop of the Century!"

The Mad Hatter I

Detective Comics 152
Detective Comics #152, October 1949, "The Goblin of Gotham City!"
Vicki Vale does a story about three men Batman saved who turned their lives around afterwards. After she takes a group picture of the three, a grotesque safe-cracker called The Goblin, after the mask he wears, steals the negative. Batman, realizing The Goblin was one of the three men, recalls that one of them was carrying a pair of gloves which he's sure would prove he's The Goblin -- if he could only recall which one it was. Vicki takes a replacement picture, where no-one has gloves, but The Goblin comes for that, too, and Batman exposes him as Martin Tate. Tate locks Vicki and Robin in a jammed safe to suffocate. He's about to kill Batman when Batman says that Vicki made a print of the original negative which she has in her purse. When the police find their bodies, they'll know who The Goblin is. The Goblin must open the safe using his standard mode of operation: he cuts a finger off his glove, fills it with blasting powder, puts it into a hole drilled in the safe (the improvised sack keeps the powder from falling into the safe's works), and sets it off. The glove with the missing finger was the clue. Police watch from concealment as Tate opens the safe -- this was all a ruse to get him to prove he's The Goblin.

The story doesn't quite gel, but it does say that Tate and The Goblin are separate personalities, each unaware of the other's existence, and The Goblin looks like an evil version of an old-time Southern Senator, which is cute. So it has its moments.
The Goblin
The Goblin
Batman 55
Batman #55, October-November 1949, "The Bandit of the Bells!"
Alarm clocks, school bells, the chime of the time-clock -- Ed Peale thought bells ruled his life, so he set out to become their master.  He learned many facts about bells and, as The Gong, used them to commit crimes.

Among the single-gimmick villains, The Gong was pretty lame. Since he couldn't stand bells, Batman cornered him near a shooting gallery and fired bulls-eye after bulls-eye, ringing the bell each time, until The Gong surrendered.

The Gong
The Gong

Batman 57
Batman #57, February-March 1950, "The Walking Mummy!"
The tomb of Kiron, an Egyptian bandit-king, is found filled with plunder, and Kiron's mummy, brought to Gotham with the treasure, is in a remarkable state of preservation -- so remarkable, indeed, that Kiron sits up, knocks out the archaeologist examining him, and escapes into the night.  Soon after, the living mummy commits a series of Egyptian themed crimes, using methods and seeking prizes natural to someone from his age.  But Batman's keen senses find the proof that Kiron is actually a modern impostor.
Kiron the Mummy
Kiron the Mummy

Batman 59
Batman #59, June-July 1950, "The Man Who Replaced Batman!"


Detective Comics 168
Detective Comics #184, June 1952, "The Man Behind the Red Hood!"
Batman is tapped to teach a criminology class at the local university. As part of the exercises, he tells the tale of an early case of his he was never able to solve: that of The Red Hood, who robbed a number of businesses, made some impossible escapes, then was never heard from again. The students make some interesting conclusions: The Red Hood stole exactly one million dollars in total, so he may have set that as a personal goal and retired afterwards. And the hood itself may have been a gas mask with one-way mirror lenses, which would explain some of the escapes. All this publicity brings the Hood out of retirement, to further taunt Batman. After a couple of encounters, Batman unmasks the Hood as a petty crook... who would have been too young to be the original Hood. Further deductions show the crook surprised the original Hood after he came out of retirement and stole his costume. Batman leads the class to where the crook hid the original Hood, whom Batman reveals to be... The Joker!

The story is a decent lesson in observation and deduction, with a couple of sneaky clues to the Hood's identity, but its real significance is in telling, as back-story, the origin of the Joker. In one of his impossible escapes, the Hood swam through a chemical waste vat at the Monarch Playing Card company. But chemical fumes seeped into the mask and bleached the thief's skin and colored his hair, making him resemble one of the company's cards, so he took on the new "Joker" identity and left the past behind, only becoming the Red Hood again when offered the opportunity to further taunt Batman.
The Red Hood
The Red Hood
Batman 63
Batman #63, February-March 1951, "The Origin of Killer Moth!"

Poor Killer Moth. He's gained a reputation as one of the lamer Bat-villains, but the basic concept is, I think, a decent one: a criminal counterpart to Batman, even another creature of the night. Too bad the costume design is so atrocious; DC should have gone with a more ominous moth like the sphinx or the death's-head moth.

Bat-trivia: when Chuck Dixon brought back Killer Moth in the '90s, just prior to making him into the monstrous Charaxas, he gave the previously unnamed convict the name of "Drury Walker", after two entomologists.

Killer Moth

Star-Spangled Comics 123
Star-Spangled Comics #123, December 1951, "Crazy-Quilt Comes Back!"
The prisoner Quilt escapes through smearing a bit of paint on a fan every day, until he had made a pattern which, when the fan was finally turned on, turned it into an hypnotic color-wheel, paralysing all who saw it (and he turned away). Free, he once again donned his color helmet and became Crazy-Quilt.  Having lost the ability to see color except through his helmet, he now proceeds to steal the color from Gotham City.

Crazy-Quilt was a recurring villain in the Boy Commandos series, introduced in Boy Commandos #15 (May-June 1946), but this is his first appearance in a Batman-related story -- and his last appearance for many years

A reprinting of this story generated some renewed interest in the character, and he was brought back in the early Eighties.


Batman 68
Batman #68, December 1951-January 1952, "The New Crimes of Two-Face!"
Actor Paul Sloane is playing the parts of Harvey Dent and Two-Face in a TV production but is scarred when a jealous prop man substitutes real acid for the prop acid. (In a 1962 reprint of this tale, a Klieg light explodes in his face -- possibly because the Comics Code Authority of the time worried that children might emulate the revenge technique. Actually, I prefer the Klieg light version.) When Sloane sees the scars, he bitterly recites the lines from the "Two-Face" character and becomes the new Two-Face, committing crimes with a "double" theme and making decisions based on a replica of Two-Face's famous two-headed coin.  Even an attempt by Dent himself, still handsome from his own surgery, fails to get Sloane to turn himself in.  Finally, Batman allows himself to be captured and gets Sloane to agree to surgery if his two-faced coin lands on edge.  The coin does land on edge, and Sloane surrenders.  Batman, of course, had substituted a trick coin for the original.

Two-Face II
Two-Face II

Batman 70
Batman #70, April-May 1952, "The Parasols of Plunder!"
The Penguin is granted a parole on condition that he have nothing more to do with birds. But The Penguin is a two-gimmick villain: birds and umbrellas. So he turns to umbrellas to commit robberies. He causes umbrella holders to be pulled into the air by a giant magnetic statue, threatening to let them fall, unless they surrender their valuables. He next moves to an exclusive beach resort, where large beach umbrellas are turned into fans, so that he can rob the wealthy patrons in the sandstorm.  Batman thwarts both plots and captures the Penguin using birds: he dumps freshly caught fish on the Penguin's getaway boat, causing it to be swamped by nearly hungry seagulls.

This is my attempt at doing a Penguin micro in the style of the story's artist, Lew Sayre Schwartz. I like the micro, but it doesn't quite capture Schwartz's big-foot comedy style.

The Penguin
The Penguin

Star-Spangled Comics 128
Star-Spangled Comics #128, May 1952, "The Man Called '50-50'!"
"50-50" Finley is a famous gambler who captures Robin, in one of Robin's solo stories.

I'm not sure why they created this poor Two-Face knockoff.  Nor why I did this micro, but I finished it over a year prior to presenting it here.
50-50 Finley
50-50 Finley

Detective Comics 184
Detective Comics #184, June 1952, "The Human Firefly!"
Garfield Lynns is a reknowned lighting-effects provider who feels under-appreciated, so he uses his knowledge to create a fake fire during a theater performance, intending to rob the audience. Batman sees through the ruse, calms the audience, and captures one of the robbers, whom Lynns shoots. Fleeing from Batman and Robin, Lynns crashes in a marsh and escapes capture when Robin mistakes the light of a firefly for Lynns's cigarette.  Thus does inspiration strike, and Lynns makes a Firefly costume and commits crimes using lights. Batman and Robin thwart the crimes, escape a maddening light-show, and capture Lynns.

The Firefly is one of those goofy-looking villains which some writers may remember fondly and reuse. He appeared briefly in such stories in the '70s and '80s. In the '90s, Chuck Dixon revamped the character and turned him into a pyromaniac (light gimmicks having more recently been made the provenance of Crazy-Quilt), which is his current incarnation.

The Firefly I
The Firefly

World's Finest Comics 59
World's Finest Comics #59, July-August 1952, "The Joker's Aces"
The Joker has hired new gang members, but what good are an incredibly skinny guy and a nearsighted one with thick lenses? But after the skinny man climbs through a narrow drainpipe to admit the Joker's gang into a millionaire's guarded home, and the nearsighted one uses his lenses to start a fire in an otherwise fireproof factory, the Joker tells how he's now using specialists -- "aces" -- for certain difficult jobs. One job requires the talents of Bruce Wayne (as a slingshot champion!), but Wayne turns the tables on the Joker and leads to his capture.

Most Joker stories are pretty much the same in this period. He comes up with a new crime theme, commits a successful robbery or two, gets thwarted by Batman who tumbles to the scheme, then has the scheme turned against him by Batman, leading to his capture.

This micro is another attempt to do a Batman villain as depicted by Lew Sayre Schwartz.
The Joker
The Joker
Batman 75
Batman #75, February-March 1953, "The Gorilla Boss of Gotham City!"
George "Boss" Dyke is headed for the gas chamber, but he dies with a smile.  Afterwards, his body is claimed by "Doc" Willard and his brain transplanted into the body of a gigantic gorilla and reanimated.  Batman encounters the gorilla while it is committing a robbery in Dyke's style: stealing only bills of large denomination. No animal could be trained so well.  Next, the Gorilla Boss of Gotham City captures Batman, and Willard is now to put Dyke's brain into Batman's body and Batman's into the gorilla.  After the operation, the gorilla breaks free and falls to its death, King Kong style. Turns out Batman overcame Willard, so the gorilla was still Dyke when it died.

I don't know why this story had such a great impact on me as a child, but it did.  I remembered the Gorilla Boss fondly.  It seems a few others did, as well.  On the one hand, Alan Moore reused him but confused him with the Mod Gorilla Boss from the brief '60s Animal Man series.  On the other, Bob Haney brought back Doc Willard and Dyke's still-living brain in a very weird World's Finest story which also involved Sinestro -- best not to ask. The most recent incarnation occurred when Gorilla City (from Flash Comics, home of Super-Gorilla Grodd) invaded the DC Universe, as part of a summer crossover series in which appropriately themed super-gorillas opposed the individual members of the Justice League: Batman's new Gorilla Boss was a pinstripe-suited, tommy-gun-carrying thug.

Why is he pink and purple? Because, as with the giant gorilla in The Monk's story, I was trying to match the way the character appeared in the comics. The more normal coloring on the cover is not what appears inside.

Gorilla Boss Dyke
The Gorilla Boss of Gotham City

World's Finest 68
World's Finest Comics #68, January-February 1954, "The Secret Weapons of the Crimesmith!"
Rand Garrow showed an aptitude for mechanical engineering while in prison and was encouraged to go into a manufacturing line of work upon release. He did, but not a legitimate one. As The Crimesmith, he built weapons for gangsters, such as a "mechanical mole" based on tunnel-builders' devices. By constantly referring to his base as being in a cave, he deceived his blindfolded customers, who, when captured by Batman and Robin (as they inevitably were), were unable to pinpoint the location of his workshop. When his final plan, an attempt to convince Gothamites his giant robots were attacking the city, required the use of a broadcast aerial, Batman was able to track the signal to a disused garage within the city, mocked up to resemble a cave, and show the "giant robots" to be a hoax.

The Crimesmith

Detective Comics 213
Detective Comics #213, November 1954, "The Mysterious Mirror-Man!"
Floyd Ventris breaks a mirror while in prison, then uses a piece of it to dazzle a guard in a tower while Ventris escapes. He thus decides to use mirrors as a crime-theme. As the Mirror-Man, he steals an x-ray device (which is called a mirror for no good reason I can see) and learns Batman's identity. But Bruce Wayne has been accused of being Batman so often in the past, few believe Mirror-Man. So Mirror-Man arranges for a crime to lead to a more public exposure of the face behind the mask. But Batman, now prepared, wears an interior mirrored cowl which distorts his appearance in the x-ray, and Mirror-Man is arrested, still unable to convince others of what he'd seen.

In one of the '90s animated Batman stories, a crook who's stolen an invisibility suit (which sort of works on a mirror principle) is named "Lloyd Ventris", writer Marty Pasko's tip of the hat to this minor Bat-foe.
The Mirror-Man
The Mirror-Man
Detective Comics 217
Detective Comics #217, November 1954, "The Mental Giant of Gotham City!"
Police station janitor Barney Barrows always wanted to be a detective but knew he could never compete with Batman and Robin. He gets accidentally exposed to weird rays which cause his brain to grow, making him super-intelligent. He deduces Batman is Bruce Wayne and threatens to expose him unless Batman lets Barrows help him on cases.  But Barrows now feels superior to other humans and turns arrogant, helping capture crooks but endangering both their lives and those of others.  Batman secretly sabotages many of Barrows's unsafe plans and makes his arrests despite them, and Barrows, in a rage, sets forth to tell Batman's identity, but the outburst affects his brain, which shrinks to normal size.  Barrows forgets everything which happened after his accident, and Batman arranges for him to wear a police uniform while cleaning the police station, making Barrows feel like he's a legitimate part of the force.
Mental Giant
The Mental Giant of Gotham City

Detective Comics 230
Detective Comics #230, April 1956, "The Mad Hatter of Gotham City"
"Some people collect paintings... stamps... but I, Jervis Tetch, collect hats!" Thus is introduced the new Mad Hatter. Tetch's main goal is to steal Batman's cowl for his collection. He commits hat-themed crimes to manoeuver Batman into a situation where he needs to remove his cowl, finally succeeding when he causes the cowl to become radioactive, forcing Batman to remove it for de-contamination. But Batman uses the radiation to track the cowl and captures Tetch.

I like this Hatter far better than the Alice-themed one, who had previously appeared only once in the '40s.  Although this Hatter appeared a couple of times, DC later dropped him for the original and inserted a mind-control gimmick into his methods. The original Hatter then also claimed to be Jervis Tetch, which was a new wrinkle. Hatter II has still re-appeared a couple of times since, although Hatter I is the current mainstay of Batman's Rogues' Gallery.

The Mad Hatter II
The Mad Hatter II

Batman 102
Batman #102, September 1956, "The Caveman at Large"
Carlin, the actor, is known for getting into his roles, but when injured on the set, he comes to believe he really is the caveman, Goth the Hunter, and escapes into the woods near Gotham, where he finds a cave to hide in -- a Bat-cave. Meanwhile, Batman has carelessly left a new trophy lying about, a stone club with an explosive head, not yet deactivated. You get the idea. Eventually Carlin is returned to normal and remembers nothing he experienced as Goth. Whew!
Goth the Hunter
Goth the Hunter
Detective Comics 238
Detective Comics #238, December 1956, "The Doors That Hid Disaster"
Gang boss Checkmate (so named from his ability to thwart attempts to capture him) outsmarted himself: in hiding from Batman and Robin, he exposed himself to radiation and was left with only a few months to live. He used those months to devise a complicated trap for Batman and Robin, forcing them, after his death, to re-create their previous escapes from other deathtraps, all with the aim of forcing them to expose themselves to radiation as Checkmate had.

Checkmate only appeared on panel for two pages in this story, but I've always liked the idea of a mastermind who plots his strategy as a chess master would. (And, no, I was not particularly into chess when younger, thanks for asking.)


Detective Comics 247
Detective Comics #247, September 1957, "The Man Who Ended Batman's Career"

Professor Milo

Batman 102
Batman #112, December 1957, "The Signalman of Crime"

The Signalman

Batman 113
Batman #113, December 1957, "The Menace of False Face"
False Face is a master of disguise. That's it. While the police don't know what he really looks like, eventually Batman captures and unmasks him.

This micro is based on the one panel in the story where False Face speaks to his gang while not in disguise. Once you introduce a villain who can change his entire shape, as they did with the second Clayface, someone who just changes his appearance is pretty tame.  It's also hard to make a compelling villain out of someone who has no striking appearance, but False Face was reused in the Batman TV show, where he was shown in a Clayface-like mask. (I assume they did not have the budget to use a shapeshifter.)
False Face
False Face

Detective Comics 253
Detective Comics #253, March 1958, "The Fox, The Shark, and The Vulture"
The Fox, The Shark, and The Vulture were criminal scientists, each specializing in the production of criminal weapons suited for land, sea, or air robberies, respectively.  They were collectively known as the Terrible Trio.  Not much to say about this story.  With three villains, we get three encounters: The Vulture wins the first one (though Batman wasn't really around for it, only called in afterwards), The Fox is stopped but escapes (a tie), and The Shark is tricked into taking Batman to the Trio's group hideout, for the win.  They returned once in the '60s, then fell into obscurity until nostaglically reimagined in various stories in the '90s, after which they returned to the Pool of Forgotten Bat-Villains.

The Fox
The Shark
The Vulture
The Fox
The Shark The Vulture

Detective Comics 259
Detective Comics #259, September 1958, "The Challenge of the Calendar Man"
Someone calling himself The Calendar Man challenges Batman in the newspaper: he will commit one crime a day, for five days, each based on a season, unless Batman can stop him. Five seasons? For each crime, the Calendar Man is wearing a different costume, but Batman can stop only some of the crimes. On the fourth day, Batman realizes the fifth season is the Indian Monsoon season, and a magician called Maharaja is revealed as the Calendar Man.

Since he's come back a few times since, it seems many people like the Calendar Man, especially the gimmick of wearing a different costume for each crime he commits, but no one can figure out how to make him into a more prominent Bat-villain.
The Calendar Man: Spring
The Calendar Man: Summer
The Calendar Man: Fall
The Calendar Man: Winter
The Calendar Man: Monsoon
The Calendar Man: Spring
The Calendar Man: Summer
The Calendar Man: Fall
The Calendar Man: Winter
Maharaja the Magician (Monsoon)
Detective Comics 261
Detective Comics #261, November 1958, "The Amazing Dr. Double X!"

Doctor X Double X

Detective Comics 262
Detective Comics #262, December 1958, "The Jackal of the Underworld!"
Dr. Coombs is thrilled about the Anubis head-mask he found on a recent expedition in Egypt -- so thrilled, he's often found in the museum, wearing the mask.  So when an Egyptian costumed crime boss, calling himself Jackal-Head, turns up wearing the head-mask and vowing to become lord of the Gotham underworld, the natural conclusion is that Dr. Coombs has gone mad.  Natural to everyone but Batman, however, who soon finds the real Coombs a victim of a frame-up.

Batman 121
Batman #121, December 1957, "The Ice Crimes of Mr. Zero"
Mister Zero was a scientist who was accidentally saturated with a cryogenic solution, forcing him to live in refrigerated conditions. He uses the solution to power a freezing gun and commits crimes.

Sound familiar? This was the original name of Mister Freeze, who only got that name when this story was adapted for the '60s TV show. I'm guessing "Mr. Zero" sounded like a loser's name.

In this story, Zero is cured of his condition at the end. But when Freeze became popular on TV, DC brought him back under the new name.

Mister Zero
Mister Zero

Detective Comics 267
Detective Comics #267, May 1959, "Batman Meets Bat-Mite!"

Detective Comics 275
Detective Comics #275, January 1960, "The Zebra Batman!"
An unnamed scientist developed a means of charging himself with a special force, enabling him to draw or repel physical objects to or from him at will. The visible force lines travelling over his body gave him a striped appearance, so he called himself The Zebra-Man. Accidentally, Batman was charged with the same force, making him not only a "Zebra Batman" but also unable to come near The Zebra-Man as their forces repelled each other.

In a 1980s' Batman and the Outsiders story, cult leader Kobra replicated the abilities of five of Batman's early foes and gave them to five of his hirelings. A previous Zebra-Man micro was based on that version of the character, but no one had done the original (as far as I know) until now.

The Zebra-Man
Batman 129
Batman #129, February 1960, "The Web of the Spinner"

The Spinner

Batman 133
Batman #134, August 1960, "Crimes of the Kite-Man"

The Kite-Man

Batman 129
Batman #134, September 1960, "The Rainbow Creature"

The Rainbow Beast

Detective Comics 287
Detective Comics #287, January 1961, "The Raven and the Wasp"

The Raven The Wasp

Detective Comics 294
Detective Comics #294, August 1961, "The Villain of 100 Elements"
A laboratory accident gave research assistant John Dolan an uncontrolled ability to transform randomly into living versions of various elements. His principal helped devise a belt to control the changes until a cure could be found, but Dolan decided to use these powers to rule the underworld. In an attempt to cure Dolan, Batman was accidentally given the same powers, and it was only by pretending the powers had warped his mind and made him a criminal that Batman was able to gain Dolan's confidence (and a spare belt) and lure him into a trap which cured them both.

This is another character whose powers were replicated by Kobra in that Batman and the Outsiders story, although Kobra created an Elemental Woman.

The Elemental Man

Detective Comics 296
Detective Comics #296, October 1961, "The Menace of the Planet Master!"

The Planet Master

Detective Comics 298
Detective Comics #298, December 1961, "The Challenge of Clay-Face"
Skin diver Matt Hagan surfaced in an undersea cavern and found a pool of glowing protoplasm. He fell in and was turned into a monstrous clay-like being. Desperately wishing he could look like his old self again, he found he could mentally mold his clay into whatever form he was thinking of. Using this power for crime, he fought Batman and Robin, after which the newspapers gave him the name "Clay-Face". Hagan found the protoplasm exposure had a 48-hour limit and had to return to the pool to restore his powers. Batman noticed him fleeing abruptly after one encounter, deduced some sort of weakening of the powers, and arranged to hold Clay-Face at bay until the powers wore off, after which Hagan was easily captured.

This was one of the first comics I remember owning. "Clay-Face" became "Clayface" in his next appearance, which I also bought. I didn't learn about the '40s Clayface until many years later, when that story was reprinted. Since the original Clayface was never referred to in the '60s, this character wasn't called Clayface II until someone created a Clayface III, many years later.

Clayface II
Clayface II

Detective Comics 300
Detective Comics #300, December 1961, "The Bizarre Polka-Dot Man"

The Polka-Dot Man

Detective Comics 306
Detective Comics #306, August 1962, "The Wizard of 1,000 Menaces"

Prof. Arnold Hugo

Detective Comics 308
Detective Comics #308, October 1962, "The Flame-Master"
Acrobat Pete Dale (wanted by Batman on unspecified charges) finds a previously unknown ancient pueblo to hide in. Accidentally exposed to a mysterious gas, he gets the powers of the four classical elements -- earth, air, fire, and water -- for a month. Only by giving himself the same powers can Batman maneuver Dale and himself into a situation which removes both their powers.

This is the second of four stories in which Batman gives himself the same powers as a villain, the others being stories about The Elemental Man, Clayface II, and Doctor Double X. Stories in which Batman transforms into a strange shape or wears odd costumes were common in the late '50s and early '60s, so that we had a winged Batman, a merman Batman, a rainbow Batman and an armored Batman, among others, before the idea of duplicating the villains powers popped up in the Elemental Man story. Here, Batman gets Dale's powers in the same story in which Dale did, but Dr. Double X needed a second appearance, and Clayface a third, before they got their turn.

Pete Dale
The Flame-Master The Liquid-Man The Earth-Man The Cyclone-Man

Detective Comics 311
Detective Comics #311, January 1963, "The Challenge of the Cat-Man!"

The Cat-Man

Batman 157
Batman #157, August 1963, "The Villain of the Year"
The costumed villain called The Jackal has been so successful, reporter Hal Lake's paper has named him "Villain of the Year". Of course, he's successful because, like his namesake, he steals from other crooks as they flee with their loot, rather than taking on the thefts directly. Batman learns Lake leads a double life as a petty thief called Kale, whose ear to the underworld provides Lake his stories. But what's this? Kale is revealed to be The Jackal! But honest Hal Lake hates criminals! It's a complicated psychological condition, in which Lake is aware of his Kale identity, but not of Kale's identity as The Jackal. Batman, having saved The Jackal from gangland vengeance, sends Lake to a psychiatrist for treatment.

This was a very interesting story. I liked the idea of a thief who stole for himself but from other thieves, but The Jackal never returned. He's "Jackal II" in my micros (not in the story) because there was a previous Jackal in the '40s, a fat criminal who looted the sites of natural disasters, unrelated to this villain.

The Jackal (II)

Detective Comics 306
Detective Comics #319, September 1963, "The Fantastic Dr. No-Face"

Dr. No-Face

Detective Comics 306
Detective Comics #323, January 1964, "The Zodiac Master!"
At first, the costumed astrologer called The Zodiac Master warned people of coming disasters. But when Batman found evidence he was secretly engineering those disasters, The Zodiac Master turned to offering horoscopes for crimes. Although he wasn't above using the zodiac-themed weapons on his costume in pursuit of his own goals, if his clients' futures did not turn out as expected -- if, say, Batman caught them despite the Zodiac Master's predictions -- he wasn't about to risk his neck to fulfill his prophesies.

This story changes course in the middle. First it's about making the ZM's public prophesies come true, then it's about his not caring if his private ones do or not. Not one of the best villains, even for the '60s, when a new villain popped up about every other issue.

The Zodiac Master

Batman 170
Batman #170, March 1965, "Genius of the Getaway Gimmicks!"
Gang boss Roy Reynolds has one unbreakable rule, which he insists his henchmen follow: never tangle with the Batman. Plan the escape for your crime, and stick to it no matter how tempting a target the Batman may be, and you'll be free to spend your loot. He proves it a couple of times in encounters with Batman. So Batman sets up a situation where he'll be so helpless, Reynolds's men won't be able to resist taking a shot at him. Naturally, they fail, are caught, and choose to bring down Reynolds with them, even though, had they stuck to his advice, they'd not have been caught.

The Getaway Genius appeared a couple of time in the '60s and '70s, but then disappeared. There's just not much of a Batman story to be had when your villain's stated goal is to avoid Batman at all costs, rather than confronting him. Despite that, a new Getaway Genius, who claimed to be Reynolds's daughter, appeared once, shortly before DC rebooted their universe (yet again) for "The New 52" line of titles.

Roy Reynolds, the Getaway Genius

Detective Comics 346
Detective Comics #346, December 1965, "Batman's Inescapable Doom-Trap!"
Magician and escape-artist Carando must have a startling new escape every year, or his act will go stale. So, every year, he commits a crime to pay the $100,000 fee master designer Eivol Ekdal demands for his traps. Only this year, Ekdal's trap is so good, neither he nor Carando can figure a way out. They decide to get the only escape artist better than Carando -- The Batman -- to do it.

Ekdal appeared in one more story, in which he snitched on a fellow escape designer (who was helping East German refugees escape) and was killed by the secret police for his troubles. But he also appeared on the Batman TV show of the '60s, in a rewritten version of this story where Carando became a female magician, Zelda the Great.

Eivol Ekdal

Batman 180
Batman #180, May 1966, "Death Knocks Three Times!"
Twice, Batman has encountered the mocking macabre calling himself "Death-Man", and twice, the villain has died immediately following capture, after vowing to return again. Only after seeing a yogi buried alive does Batman realize that Death-Man can stop his own heartbeat and place himself into a trance long enough for henchmen to later recover his body. But who will answer when Death knocks for the third time?

Well, duh! It's not gonna be Batman.

There's an interesting book called Bat-Manga which collects some Batman stories which, during the Batmania of the '60s, were retold by Japanese manga artists.  Death-Man's was one of those stories retold, though he appeared as Lord Death Man. Author Grant Morrison must have a copy of that book, as, 50 years after the character supposedly died, "Lord Death Man" returned, as a masked foe of a Japanese Batman analogue, in the first two issues of Batman Incorporated (January - February 2011). I may do Lord Death Man in the future, as he has a fancier costume, but in the meantime, here's the original version.


Batman 195
Batman #195, September 1967, "The Spark-Spangled See-Through Man!"
Thief Ned Creegan unwisely enters into a laboratory room where a scientist is conducting experiments against radiation poisoning. Exposure to the radiation mix turns his flesh transparent and causes his bones to weirdly show through. It also gives him, as he discovers in an encounter with Batman and Robin, a paralyzing electric touch.  "You don't scare me, you bag o' bones!" declares Robin, but Creegan nevertheless makes Robin's hair stand on end -- because his power is a kind of static electric charge. Creegan makes a deal with the scientist: Creegan can have a supply of temporary antidote pills, if the scientist can study the radiation's effects on a human.  And Creegan needs the pills, because every second he spends in his skeletal form costs him a day of his expected lifespan.

I remember being very excited to buy this comic, as a child, because of the cover -- and being very disappointed by the story once I read it.  "Bag o' Bones" never appeared in Batman again, but the character apparently excited other children at the time, because two later comics writers brought him back, retaining radiation-based powers though not his skeletal form.  First, in the '70s, he returned as The Cyclotronic Man in an issue of Black Lightning, and then, in the '80s, as Meltdown in Batman and the Outsiders.
Bag o' Bones
Bag o' Bones

Detective Comics 434
Detective Comics
#434, April 1973, "The Spook That Stalked Batman"
The Spook runs an interesting racket: for a price, he can spirit you away from Gotham Penitentiary, although he's careful not to show how he does it.  One moment, you're in a cell at night, speaking to him (and how did he get in in the first place?), the next, you're safe outside with directions to a safe house in which to hide out for a while. Batman finds The Spook as elusive as his namesake, as over the course of their encounters, The Spook melts away, walks through walls, and even escapes the electric chair. After a few issues of mystery, his gimmick is revealed: he's Val Kaliban, a magician and escape artist, who secretly had built a series of tunnels and hidden doors in the new prison and is now making that investment pay off.
The Spook
The Spook

Detective Comics #446
Detective Comics
#446, April 1975, "Slaughter in Silver"
A Goldfinger knockoff, Sterling Silversmith loves only silver and will go to any lengths to hoard it, including murder. He was brought back in 1980 for another appearance but hasn't, as far as I know, been back since. No one had done a micro of him, so I filled the need.
Sterling Silversmith
Sterling Silversmith

The Brave and the Bold #200
The Brave and the Bold
#200, July 1983, "Fire and Brimstone"
Brimstone, a criminal mastermind with a devilish motif, decides the way to rule the criminal underworld (as the Devil rules the spiritual one) is to kill Batman. Naturally, this is easier said than done, and Brimstone is knocked unconscious and captured...

...but he remains in a coma for 40 years, waking up an old man and finding that Batman has already died.  Feeling cheated of his revenge, he meditates deeply on a feeling he's long had, that there are parallel worlds, and if another Brimstone exists somewhere, perhaps another Batman does as well, and he can kill him instead, by influencing his counterpart.

This was one of the last stories to play with DC's Earth-One/Earth-Two concept. Brimstone was created for the story, and Part One was done in the style of the '40s Batman, while the post-coma episode was in a modern style. This was all before the Crisis on Infinite Earths smooshed all DC's parallel worlds into a single continuity -- which was the situation until a few years ago, when editorial fiat decided to unsmoosh them again.  I like devil-themed villains, and I was always sorry Brimstone never returned.  (A post-Crisis fiery giant took the same name a few years after this, effectively killing the possibility of this Brimstone having somehow survived into the new continuity.  Oh, well.)


Showcase '94 #3
Showcase '94 #3, March 1994, "Madmen Across the Water"
While Arkham Asylum is being rebuilt, its inmates are housed in Blackgate Penitentiary, where Dr. Jeremiah Arkham's theraputic practice of letting his patients wear their costumes is frowned upon by the warden, Governor Zehrhard. After a number of altercations, Arkham and Zehrhard agree to a baseball game between their respective charges, which leads to much amusement for the reader.

Doctor Faustus is one of a series of one-shot Arkham inmates created by author Alan Grant. Faustus believes he was given immortality by Satan and must regularly sacrifice victims in his name.  He apparently dies in the second half of the story (Showcase '94 #4), recklessly causing a helicopter crash because, what the heck, he's immortal, right?  I think there's some potential to Dr. Faustus, which is why I chose to do a micro of him.
Doctor Faustus
Doctor Faustus

Arkham Asylum - Tales of Madness
Arkham Asylum - Tales of Madness one-shot, May 1998, "Tales of Madness"
The Arkham inmates have taken a guard hostage and decide the one who tells the most frightening story will get to kill him.  In addition to some old standbys like the Joker, the Riddler, and Killer Croc, this issue introduced two female inmates.
  • Vox hears voices, which lead her to violence.
  • Samantha believes she is the reincarnation of a innocent woman who was burned as a witch but who nonetheless cursed everyone present at the burning.  Now she "recognizes" the reincarnations of those people in many people she sees.
As with Faustus, created by Alan Grant and having, I think, some potential.  These two have turned up in cameos in other Grant Arkham stories, but nothing with more meat.  (Except I have a niggling notion that Samantha has actually gotten a story of her own in the last year or so.  Anyone remember better than I?)
Samantha the Witch
Vox Samantha the Witch

Gotham Knights 22
Batman: Gotham Knights
#22, December 2001, "Bugged Out"
The Joker believed he was dying and wanted to go out spectacularly, so he came up with a chemical formula which would transform people into "Jokerized" versions of themselves.  This was all covered in the Joker: Last Laugh crossover event of 2001 and merely serves as the trigger for the creation of this villain.

Some cockroaches got "Jokerized" and, acting as a hive mind, decided to kill a well-known exterminator.  Having accomplished that, they used his body in a Swamp Thing-ish "I think I'm human so I'll take human form" bit and reshaped themselves and went mindlessly looking for more food.  When Batman encountered this thing, he drew an analogy to Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" and called the creature Kafka.

Kafka has only appeared once more after this, in Detective Comics #s 794-795, where it fought (and apparently devoured) a "monster of rot" from Santa Prisca (generic DC Caribbean island nation) called The Mugre.

Gotham Knights #28
Batman: Gotham Knights
#28, June 2002, "The Mortician, Part 1: Anti-Hero"
The Mortician thinks death is a disease which, like any disease, might be conquered with sufficient research.  But although his intentions are nominally good, his process creates zombies which are too easily turned to violence.

He later turned up as an Arkham inhabitant in a Batman story from 2010.
The Mortician
The Mortician

Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #1
Arkham Asylum: Living Hell
#s 1-6, July 2003-December 2003
Arkham Asylum: Living Hell was a six-issue series from 2003.  At the time, I bought it because I was buying all Bat-books, but it seemed nothing special... until issue 3, which was a really good character story about the new Humpty Dumpty.  By issue 6, I was amazed at the layered plotting which went into it. Rereading it to do these micros, I have to say it's one of the best comics stories I've read in quite a while.  I recommend the trade paperback collection to you all.

Briefly, financier Warren White, "The Great White Shark", thinks he's escaped responsibility for his misuse of others' money by getting a jury to declare him a victim of a mental disorder.  The disbelieving judge has the last laugh and sentences him to Arkham Asylum for indefinite observation.  Once in Arkham, White is abandoned by his associates and must survive among the genuine madmen. It's not giving any more away than would be learned by reading recent Batman comics to say he comes through it stronger and, more importantly, a new Bat-villain.

Among the new inmates of Arkham, we are introduced to:
  • Death Rattle, a cult leader who claims the dead tell him secrets.  And he does have an uncanny ability to know things he shouldn't.
  • Junkyard Dog, the smelliest inmate, who obsessively collects treasure from trash.
  • Lunkhead, an inhumanly strong bruiser.
  • Jane Doe, a living cipher who impersonates others.
  • Humpty Dumpty, whose attempts to take things apart and reassemble them to figure out how they work have led him to be known as "the Super-Saboteur of Gotham" (and the reason the Sprang Act, banning giant props from the Gotham skyline, was passed).
  • Doodlebug, a graffiti artist who is searching for the hidden patterns in the world, but especially in Arkham.
  • The Skarva, demons imprisoned in human bodies by Jason Blood a century ago and buried in Arkham's foundations.
  • And The Great White Shark, Warren White finding a new calling as a provider of goods and services to repeat offenders.
We also get brief appearances by Batman, Batgirl, Harvey Bullock, Jason Blood and the demon Etrigan, Two-Face, the Joker, Poison Ivy, Magpie (!), the Mad Hatter, and the Ventriloquist, all of whom have important parts to play in the story.

Many of these characters appeared only in Arkham jumpsuits.  Flashbacks gave some costume glimpses, but a moody coloring scheme made determining actual costume appearances guesswork.  (Don't get me wrong: great
coloring, not so good for making micros.) And Jane Doe got something of a redesign in other Bat-books later, from her rather plain original appearance to the skinned look shown here, which I've gone with.
Death Rattle
Junkyard Dog
Jane Doe
Death Rattle Junkyard Dog Lunkhead Jane Doe
Humpty Dumpty
The Skarva
Great White Shark
Humpty Dumpty Doodlebug The Skarva Great White Shark

Batman Unseen 2
Batman Unseen
#s 1-5, Late December 2009 - February 2010
Dr. Nigel Glass was fired from Wayne Enterprises for unauthorized experiments.  Gang boss Black Mask thinks those experiments could prove useful and so arranges to fund Glass. Glass has found an invisibility formula, Translux, but it takes a series of doses to affect every layer of the human body, and it wears off quickly.  It also drives the user mad.

This was so obviously an homage to the 1933 Universal monster movie, The Invisible Man, they even gave Glass a briefly used disguise based on that of Claude Rains's.  Since a micro of an invisible man isn't very interesting, I've put that disguise into my rendition.

Because the Translux took a while to work, the story showed Glass in various stages of transformation: his muscles showing, his internal organs, his bones, and finally completely transparent.  In some of the earlier stages, he was called "Meat-Man". I may do some of those stages in the future, but having just done bones for Bag o' Bones, and not feeling eager to cover the details of internal organs, I've opted for this simpler micro, just to get the character off my plate. (But here's the cover with the organs.)
Dr. Nigel Glass, the Invisible Man
Dr. Nigel Glass, the Invisible Man

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