Top 10 Batman Villains (Part 1)
A good superhero will only remain interesting if they have a strong line-up of villains to face off against month to month. This is one of the many reasons why Spider-Man consistently outsells Captain America, The Hulk and Iron Man. And since Batman is the worlds greatest superhero character it stands to reason that he has the most interest bad guys as well!
After scouring through the long list of memorable characters, I’ve compiled and ranked the ten most interesting, memorable and strongest bad guys that Batman has ever faced. Since there’s plenty to say about each one, this list will be split over three entries, so stay tuned: same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!
Hush in one of the few villains introduced in the past decade that’s made their mark on the franchise and managed to become part of the regular line-up – in part due to Jim Lee’s fantastic artwork on the original story arc.
In the original story, Loebb wrote a twisting, turning story focusing on the mystery behind this new figure (although any reader with two functioning brain cells could work it out quickly in spite of the endless red herrings thrown their way). It began with a number of Batman’s regular enemies acting outside of their usual M.O.’s and a shadowy figure that was acutely aware of each of Batman’s weaknesses. Around this time Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend, Thomas Elliot, re-entered his life.
As children, Wayne and Elliot were each other’s only real friends. Both were from wealthy families and had an interest in strategy games. When a traffic accident puts both of Elliot’s parents in the emergency room, Thomas Wayne only manages to save his mother. Enraged with Bruce, Thomas Elliot disappeared from his life. It is later revealed that Elliot was in a sociopath, and orchestrated the accident in order to claim his inheritance early, and was now responsible for caring for him mother.
Reaching adulthood, Elliot became a ground breaking neurosurgeon but still secretly wanted to destroy Bruce Wayne. Learning he is also Batman, he concocts a scheme worthy of the master strategist. He easily manipulates a group of villains to wear Batman down – Poison Ivy took control of both Catwoman and Superman, whilst Killer Croc, The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Riddler, Solomon Grundy, The Scarecrow, Clayface, Two-Face and Ra’s al Ghul filled out the rest.
The battle took Batman through a gauntlet of his enemies before confronting Thomas Elliot aka Hush, sporting a trench coat, duel pistols and bandages around his face, but like any good villain he escaped to fight again. He has made several appearances since that saw him reteam with The Joker, literally steal Catwoman’s heart and adopt Bruce Waynes’ face, but none of these stories have matched the expectations the first story gave us.
9. Mr. Zsasz
Whilst the Joker and The Scarecrow fill the pages of Batman’s more horror inclined stories well, none of the bad-guys he faces are genuinely scary – except for Victor Zsasz. ‘The Butcher’, as he also been known – doesn’t go for elaborate schemes and riddles or death-rays – he murders people with a knife because it liberates them from a pointless life.
Having both earned and inherited a massive fortune for the age of 25, the effluent Zsasz had his own company and a life of leisure. When his parents died in a boating accident, he fell into a deep depression that led to gambling addiction. Losing all his money to The Penguin, he sought to end his life by jumping off Gotham Bridge. On the way a homeless man attacked him because Victor couldn’t give him money. Disarming the hobo’s knife, Zsasz looked into the mans eyes and saw that his life was empty, leading him to stab the man to death as a ‘gift’.
Driven insane by his loses and experience with the homeless man, Victor Zsasz came to see all people as ‘zombies’ leading empty lives, whom he would ‘liberate’ from their meaningless existence by stabbing them to death. With each new victim he would then mark himself with a scar to tally the souls he’s ‘set free’.
Being tall, strong and extremely flexible (traits he’s developed during long bouts in isolation in Arkham) he is capable of going toe-to-toe with Batman long enough to escape, but the real threat of Zsasz is that he is totally indiscriminate as to who his victims are. Left to his own devices Victor Zsasz will continue to murder any and all who he happens upon, making him one of the deadliest foes Batman has to contend with.
8. Harley Quinn
Quite unusually, Harley Quinn started out as a character on the Saturday morning cartoon ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ before crossing over into the comics where she’s become one of Batman’s most popular characters.
Originally acting as The Joker’s wacky sidekick, her character was further developed with an engaging backstory. A trained acrobat turned psychologist, she was completing her studies at Arkham Asylum when she encountered The Joker. During patient interviews with him, Dr. Harlan Quinzel was manipulated into assisting with an escape attempt. Renaming herself Harley Quinn, she donned her jester’s outfit and joined his gang, becoming his girlfriend.
Although she was and is fanatically devoted to The Joker (or ‘Puddin’) and seeks to please him any way she can, he is highly manipulative and very often abusive, both verbally and physically. No matter how often he harms her or leaves her behind, she still finds her drawn back to him and often makes excuses for him behaviour on his behalf. Her frequent team-mate Poison Ivy attempts to help her out of the abusive relationship, but she’s often facing a losing battle.
With her acrobatic skills, giant hammer, pet hyena’s and madcap antics, Harley Quinn has proven herself a decent rival for Batman whether she’s acting solo or on behalf of ‘Mister J.’
The Second Part of the Countdown will appear…as soon as I get round to it.
I always thought Zsaz is a very underused and underrated villain