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75 Greatest Friends and Foes of Batman: Villains #40-31

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In honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Batman, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Batman. Future installments will deal with Batman creators and stories, but this month will be about Batman’s allies and his villains. Here is a list of all the characters revealed so far.

You all voted, now here are the results (40 bad guys, 35 good guys for a total of 75)! Bring on the bad guys! For the first day of the villains, we’ll open with ten characters and the installments will get smaller as we countdown to #1.

Enjoy!

40. Maxie Zeus

Maxie Zeus was a brilliant professor of history who went insane and decided to use his knowledge of the history of warfare to become a successful Gotham mob boss. He was a brilliant strategist, so he was a handful for Batman to deal with. He first debuted in a Batman 40th anniversary story by Denny O’Neil, Don Newton and Dan Adkins, where he interrupted Batman’s annual pilgrimage to Crime Alley. Batman decides to take him down, but the Batmobile is first struck by lightning!!!

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Zeus has shown up a number of times since, although it seems as though later writers have had a hard time playing him straight and have instead played up the oddity of the character.

39. Rupert Thorne

Rupert Thorne was a corrupt politician who nearly succeeded in turning the entire city of Gotham against Batman during Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin’s run on Detective Comics (Thorne was introduced a couple of issues before that run, with Englehart as the writer but Walter Simonson as the artist)…

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In the end, it was not Batman who did Thorne in, but his own treatment of Dr. Hugo Strange. Later, Gerry Conway brought Thorne back during the 1980s for a second try at taking Batman down. This time, the disgraced Thorne controlled Gotham from behind the scenes as he orchestrated the election of a corrupt mayor and a new police commissioner in Thorne’s pocket. In the end, Strange is once against his undoing, as Strange “haunts” Thorne from seemingly beyond the grave. Thorne is one of the few Batman villains to actually figure out Batman’s secret identity and live!

38. Killer Moth

Killer Moth eventually became known as a bit of a joke villain, but when he was first introduced in 1950 by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Lew Schwartz and Charles Paris, he was a legit threat to Batman, as essentially the villain version of Batman…

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He was considered such a top villain that he actually returned for a story in the next issue after his debut, which was an honor typically reserved for only the top Batman villains.

Killer Moth is also probably best known for being the villain in the first appearance of Batgirl.

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Over the years. he has certainly seen better days (he even sold his soul during Underworld Unleashed and became some weird bug-like creature – not one of Chuck Dixon’s best ideas during his Robin run) and today is more of a joke character than anything else (plus a number of different guys have used the name and costume).

37. Catman

Like the Killer Moth, Catman was a villain that writers had trouble taking seriously for years. He debuted in 1962 in a story by Bill Finger and Jim Mooney as a wealthy friend of Bruce Wayne who traveled the world capturing lions. He got bored of his success and decided to become Batman’s rival…

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Over the years, one of the ways that writers tried to update Catman was to reveal that his cape had magic powers and that he literally had nine lives, so long as he wore his costume.

Eventually, during the 1990s (after an ill-fated attempt at becoming partners with Catwoman), he officially became a “loser” during a Shadow of the Bat story. Brad Meltzer later picked up on that angle during a Green Arrow story, having Catman now be fat and totally out of it. Gail Simone, though, showed that Catman didn’t HAVE to be a joke when she made him a member of the Secret Six. He got back into shape and now he was the bad ass he always COULD be. He was a long time member of the Secret Six. Sadly, the New 52 pretty much erases the Secret Six and we haven’t seen Catman since.

36. Carmine Falcone

Carmine Falcone was known as the “Roman.” He was the main crime boss in Gotham City during Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One. He was at the famous party where Batman effectively declared war on Gotham’s top bosses and crooked politicians…

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Later, Catwoman scarred him with her claws.

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale used their Batman: The Long Halloween to take a further look at the Falcone crime family, especially since Miller left the family in chaos at the end of Year One…

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Go to the next page for #35-31!

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59 Comments

So hard to tell whether it’s Thorne or Thorpe, but otherwise love this list with the focus on a lot of regular-type crime bosses.

And reminds me of my love for the Gotham Central story on Firefly selling his suit online. Batman always feels like a character I know so little about, but some of my favorite stories involve him or his rogues gallery. Loved that Catman appearance in Green Arrow, but I loved the way Simone revamped him for Secret Six.

Probably the worst thing that ever happened to Anarky was Fabian Nicieza’s decision to have another juvenile villain, the sociopathic “General” Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong, beat Lonnie into a coma and steal his costumed identity.

Superman McGee

April 22, 2014 at 9:08 am

Firefly, Killer Moth, and especially Owlman (whom I voted for) are my favorites on here so far.

Come to think of it though, I probably would have voted for the entire CSA if I had thought of it. It’s just that I tend to think of them as Justice League of America villains as a group, whereas I think of Owlman individually as a Batman counterpart.

I like Killer Moth’s anti-Batman role, but I’m surprised he scored so high.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Grant Morrison’s version of the Crime Syndicate, but I did love Dwayne McDuffie handling Owlman in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (video) as the ultimate nihilist. Plus Bruce’s comment that “we both looked into the abyss—but when it looked back, you blinked.”
KGBeast just annoys me. One of my pet peeves during the 1990s was how much comics recyled Cold War cliche villains as if the collapse of the USSR had never happened.

Willie Everstop

April 22, 2014 at 9:23 am

Why didn’t KGBeast just cut the rope?

Not familiar with any of them aside from Falcone. Not sure what that means other than I’m out of my depth on this blog. Yes, definitely swimming in the deep end without water wings.

Captain Librarian

April 22, 2014 at 9:26 am

Although I get the controversy around the ending (and would have done it differently myself, at least a little bit), and I understand if people don’t like real life politics entering into their story, I really dug “10 Nights of the Beast.” It’s interesting to compare him to Bane. To me KGBeast almost works better than Bane because he’s not grandstanding about how he figured out his secret identity by watching body language or fixated on Batman himself, he has a mission that Batman is trying, and often failing, to stop him from completing. Not saying Bane is terrible or that Nightfall wasn’t a good story, but even reading the 80s based story in the late 2000s for the first time, I liked it.

Captain Librarian

April 22, 2014 at 9:29 am

Also, @ Willie Everstop, the coloring seems to suggest rope, but Batman calls is a ‘cable’ so I’m assuming that it’s stronger than simple rope. I don’t have the book on me at the moment.

Why didn’t KGBeast just cut the rope?

No good reason (the axe was just used on the previous page cutting the cable, so it wasn’t that the axe couldn’t cut through the cable). It’s actually a huge plot hole in the story. I guess the best excuse is that he’s just a moron?

On deviantart, a guy rebooted Amalgam comics–you should see some of the villains he made for Iron Bat (Batman/Iron Man). Going off this list alone, there’s:
-Count Zeus (Maxie Zeus/Count Nefaria)–one of the heads of the Intermaggia (Intergang/The Maggia)
-Fire Moth (Killer Moth/Firebrand)
-Catman (DC’s/a foe of the android Human Torch)–a member of the Secret Syndicate (Secret Six/Sinister Syndicate)
-Crimson Beast (KGBeast/Crimson Dynamo)–a member of the People’s Super-Soldiers (The
People’s Heroes/The Soviet Super-soldiers)
-Firekiln (Firefly/Firepower)
-Dark Claw (Daken/Owlman)–a member of the Revenge Syndicate (Crime Syndicate/Dark Avengers)
-Kaos (Anarky/Ezekiel Stane)–who may or may not be the son of the Laugh Monger (Joker/Iron Monger)

Where’s Magpie?!

I, and I imagine a lot of people my age, got to know and love Thorne from his portrayal in Batman: The Animated Series.

The only one on the list so far that I actually voted for is Maxie Zeus, but I do like Owlman, depending on the writer. Anarky was fun, too. And of course Catman was great in the Secret Six era. And now I’m afraid that Holiday stole the slot rightfully belonging to the Calendar Man. Maybe that’s his raison d’etre. The only one here that I straight-up dislike is the KGBeast, but I’m sure there’ll be more to come!

Bill Williamson

April 22, 2014 at 10:36 am

@ Omar: I agree. It was Alan Grant’s lament that DC made him ‘just another asshole villain’.

However, he didn’t make my list. Largely because A) He’s a one trick pony B) His first appearance was his best.

@ Captain Librarian: While I did enjoy Ten Nights of the Beast, I’d have to disagree that KGBeast is better than Bane. Firstly KGBeast is obviously quite dated, whereas Bane is timeless. Secondly there’s not really much going on with KGbeast, other than the fact that, like Batman, he’s fiercely determined and devoted to his mission. There’s so much more going on with Bane. Particularly in Knightfall, there’s this idea of the American dream going on within Bane, that coming to Gotham and beating Batman represents to him the Scarface ideal if you will.

The only time I had any interest in Bane was in Secret Six. It was pretty disorienting at the time, like the whole world had turned upside down. I thought “Wait, I’m actually enjoying Bane?! BANE?!”

On the whole “why didn’t KGBeast just cut the rope” thing, Starlin(the writer) said it was a coloring error, and it was supposed to be colored like steel. The implication is that its a steel cable(which Batman says in the comic), and Beast is such a hardass that he’d rather chop off his own hand then be captured by Batman.

But its colored like a rope, so it really just makes him look like a dumbass.

o good reason (the axe was just used on the previous page cutting the cable, so it wasn’t that the axe couldn’t cut through the cable). It’s actually a huge plot hole in the story. I guess the best excuse is that he’s just a moron?

I could buy that if not for the rest of the plot holes that kept popping up in Starlin’s run, especially Death in the Family. I think it’s easier to just say the problem is Starlin’s Batman writing rather than KGBeast. EVERYONE was a moron in Starlin’s Batman stories.

However, he didn’t make my list. Largely because A) He’s a one trick pony

Aren’t most Batman villains?

I will never apologize for liking Killer Moth as much as I do.

Aww, man, you left out the “punchline” of the Anarky bit, where Batman investigates “Dave Stang” to find out if he attacked Johnny Vomit. Honest to God, that’s one of my favorite moments from any comic, ever.

No no no, the great Gerry Conway wrote the second Boss Thorne epic, not Doug Moench. I just re-read Conway’s epic run on both Bat books (which came right before Moench’s own epic run) and I think it might be the all-time peak of the character in terms of consistent high-quality epic-storytelling and stunning art in both books at the same time (and hugely influential on Batman: The Animated Series).

did not expect given how almost lame both killer moth and zeus are over time for either one to even make the list. plus interesting to see thorn here too given he also was used on the batman animated series. and holiday interesting pick since the story still leaves it open on if roman or gilda is really the holiday killer. plus exepected catman to be higher

Lame

Oh man! I love Maxie Zeus! There needs to be more stories with Maxie.

Also I’d, love to see a race between the batmobile, the mothmobile, and the catmobile.

I assumed that while the KGBeast could cut the cable, it was much easier and quicker to go for his hand in that position.

Through now that I look at the page again, why does Batman fall when The Beast cuts his hand off? The cable is clearly still attached to the roof.

Bill Williamson

April 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm

The thing with the Beast is, even if it was a steel cable and not a rope, it still would’ve been easier for the Beast to untangle himself instead of cutting his hand off.

@Annoyed Grunt: Perhaps the sudden jolt caused by Beast removing himself from the cable caused Batman to reflexively let go of it.

I fear that this means that Two-Tone didn’t make the list.

Maybe The Spook snuck in at #30?

Gerry Conway wrote the second Boss Thorne epic, not Doug Moench.

Thanks. I actually put Moench down as a placeholder before I meant to check if it was Moench or Conway but it must have slipped my mind. It’s fixed now!

On the whole “why didn’t KGBeast just cut the rope” thing, Starlin(the writer) said it was a coloring error, and it was supposed to be colored like steel. The implication is that its a steel cable(which Batman says in the comic), and Beast is such a hardass that he’d rather chop off his own hand then be captured by Batman.

But its colored like a rope, so it really just makes him look like a dumbass.

That doesn’t work, though, since just a page earlier, KGBeast is shown using the axe on the cable and while it did not cut through the cable right away, it clearly was able to cut through it with a couple of things.

So it was just a screw-up period. If he wanted to establish that the axe wouldn’t cut through the cable, he should have made that clear by showing the axe NOT cutting through the cable earlier.

kgbeastcable

Anarky, it’s hard to find a balance with the character. A British leftist like Alan Grant writes Anarky almost too sympathetic, IMO. Later American writers, more conservative politically, write him too evil or too delusional. But I suppose that says a lot about MY political views.

Aren’t most Batman villains?

Not Crazy Quilt! He doesn’t even have the one trick!

Jim Starlin’s run on the Batman comics was pretty poor-mediocre all round, but the KGBeast really was one of his worst moments.

I was actually kind of bummed that I forgot to vote for Crazy Quilt. I blame the timeless allure of the Penny Plunderer.

Crazy Quilt seriously almost made the list. The first few cuts, though, went to a few villains I am really surprised almost made a Batman villain list, as I really don’t see them as Batman villains (the support Deathstroke got seriously shocked me – the dude has fought Batman, like, twice! And one of those times was during Deathstroke’s anti-hero phase!).

I think my favorite thing about Crazy-Quilt is that he jumped over to the Bat-books by becoming Robin’s arch-enemy wannabe. Even better, the story where he did so begins with him making a villainous rant to the people of Gotham….which they completely miss, because he’s standing in the middle of a garish display that makes him impossible to see or hear. Man, even the Ten-Eyed Man did a better job of things.

Bill Williamson

April 22, 2014 at 3:58 pm

@ T: While it is true that many Batman villains are indeed, one trick ponies, most of their tricks are more exciting than a thirteen year old boy constantly pontificating about anarchy.

Look at Firefly for example. He sets things on FIRE!

Deathstroke? That’s just crazy. The Shaper of Worlds is my favorite Batman villain.

Catman made it! Awesome. He was on my ten. Gail Simone made him one of favorite characters for quite some time.

@buttler

The Penny Plunderer is awesome!

Joe Coyne rules!

I love that panel where he finds his purpose and he’s screaming:

“Pennies! Pennies!”

@Omar Karindu

Man, even the Ten-Eyed Man did a better job of things.

Hey! Fun is fun, but don’t go too far! Show a little responsibility! ; )

Come onnnnnnnnnnn King Tut!

Everyone knows that Peter Criss is the best Catman.

Man, I really liked Catman in Secret Six. Especially his relationship with Deadshot. It’s a shame that Secret Six had to go (for whatever reason, since most of the characters went to Comic Book Limbo, I think).

Btw, I doubt I’ll get a response, but I gotta ask, what if, for instance, Jason Todd was voted highly for both villains and allies? Would he be on both lists, or just the one he ranked higher in, e.g. 45 points in villains and 50 points in allies?

@Holski Could of won a Grammy. Buried in his jammies.

Had a condo made of stone-a.

joe the poor speller

April 23, 2014 at 3:30 am

voted for thorne. I don’t understand why no writer has brought him back (except for a cameo on detective 825). hell, even paul dini didn’t use him.

Hoosier, I like Coyne too.
Matt, one of the things I liked about Conway’s Thorne story is that it’s one of the few times Dr. Thirteen gets credit for being an expert ghost-buster (outside his own stories of course) rather than just a moron skeptic.
Speaking of Coyne, I know that story is usually credited with being the origin of the giant penny, but IIRC there’s no such penny in the story–it’s from a Joker tale. Or am I wildly misremembering?

Firefly!!! I forgot about him!!! Anyway it’s good he made te cut.
As for Anarky, I sympathise with the charachter but only Grant wrote him in a fashion that I can almost accept. Although he looks like V, or is it just me?
And KGBeast…??? American propaganda against anything other than capitalism is so stupid that it’s hillarius! or just sad…

Yes, as opposed to the current “Dr. Thirteen doesn’t make sense because there are real ghosts”, Conway showed he could still be a fun character because there were still some fake hauntings that had to be exposed.

It’s the Penny Plunderer story. See here

I’m actually surprised some of the people made the list. I mean, Max Zeus made someone’s top ten?? But you only need a few votes to be 40th, I guess.

I didn’t remember that Firefly had been revamped so late, relatively speaking.

Anarky made my just cut honorable mentions list. Was trying to find a Grant bad guy to add, as he did most of the best next generation bad guys, actually having some success getting guys to stick for more than one appearance.

Didn’t think to vote for KGBeast, but that first appearance was great in that he actually seemed like a competent threat for Batman. Then he fell to a similar fate as Bane for awhile, in that he was just a stooge and a moron a lot of appearances after it. Bane got a second change. KGBeast never did.

And while I agree it was probably just a screw up, I’ll go for my no prize (wrong company) and say that if you look at the picture, he is using two hands to hold it taut, and is taking multiple whacks at it to get through. Batman wasn’t under the impression he could hold KGBeast there forever, just long enough for the police to arrive. So he doesn’t have time to take even more swings than it was taking him the first time when he needed to get out right then before help arrived.

I forgot….how “great” a line is “Imagine what I, a man, could do!”

For me Anarky never got past being a V for Vendetta knock-off. But looking at this list, and participating in the voting, made me realize how many of Batman’s rogue are criminally under-used or used stagnantly. So much fun potential with these rogues! Catman’s definitely an excellent example of that.

Hoosier, thanks.

More absurd than KGBeast cutting off his hand needlessly is his bizarre S&M costume. Seriously, was that intended to be an inside joke? It looks like it was designed by Tom of Finland.

[…] questions, it undermines his reveal. Besides, even if he’s only an appetizer, the Roman is pretty far down the list of terrifying Bat-foes. I can understand not wanting to trot out recently used villains like Talia, the Riddler or the […]

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