75 Greatest Friends and Foes of Batman: Villains #15-11
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.
You all voted, now here are the results (40 bad guys, 35 good guys for a total of 75)! Here is a list of all the characters revealed so far. We continue with Villains #15-11…
NOTE: There’s so many images in these pieces that I’ll be breaking them up over two pages.
15. Ventriloquist and Scarface
One thing that seems pretty consistent with characters created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle (in this instance, John Wagner was still part of the picture – I don’t recall if this was during the period where Wagner was on the book in name only or not) is that Breyfogle sure designs some visually stunning Bat-characters. The hook by Grant here is great, that a meek, nearly mute schlub like Arnold Wesker uses a dummy named Scarface to lead a gang of crooks through ventriloquism.
Here they are in their second appearances…
The problem with the Ventriloguist came when Alan Grant stopped writing the Bat-books, and later writers didn’t really seem to know what to do with the pair (despite their strong showing on the Batman Animated Series), so eventually Joker tortured and then murdered Wesker in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis (no, not really, but the actual death of Hesker is extremely similar – killed right AFTER Infinite Crisis as the introduction of a new crime boss in Gotham, since everyone knows when you establish a new crime boss in Gotham you have to kill off cool characters by other writers – it’s sort of a rule).
There have been a couple of Ventriloquists since Wesker, including a new one for the New 52.
14. Hugo Strange
Hugo Strange has the record for being the very FIRST recurring Batman villain, debuting in Detective Comics #36 (created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane)…
He was a nice mixture of mad scientist and mob boss. His creation of “Monster Men” led to the last time we saw Batman gun down bad guys in the comics in Batman #1 (as Batman machine guns the monsters created by Hugo Strange).
Strange seemingly died in Detective Comics #46 and oddly enough STAYED dead until the 1970s when Steve Englehart brought him back during his acclaimed Detective Comics run. Strange learns Batman’s secret identity…
And in the next issue, decides to auction it off, but in the process becomes so obsessed with Batman that he actually chooses to be beaten to death than to reveal the truth of Batman’s identity to Rupert Thorne…
For the rest of the arc, Strange’s ghost haunts Thorne. It is not until years later that it is revealed what the deal is with Strange’s ghost (all a plot by Strange – he faked his death from the beating and then used hi-tech stuff to mess with Thorne).
Strange has appeared in a couple of notable Doug Moench Legends of the Dark Knight stories since and has made his new 52 debut, as well.
Created by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, Hush was Thomas Elliot, a boyhood friend of Bruce Wayne’s who tried to kill his own parents. Bruce’s father, though, Dr. Thomas Wayne, miraculously was able to save Tommy’s mother. Now instead of having the Elliot fortune to himself, Tommy instead had to take care of a bedridden mother. When his friend Bruce’s parents DID die, Tommy grew resentful of Bruce as Bruce was now living the life Tommy wanted. Eventually Tommy does, indeed, murder his mother and begins to travel the world planning revenge against Bruce. He encounters the Riddler, who had figured out Batman’s secret identity in a moment of clarity. From this point on, Tommy decides to declare war on both Bruce and Batman, systematically using Batman’s enemies (AND friends) against him. Tommy fakes his death and takes on the identity of Hush. This was all depicted in the Batman best-selling storyline “Hush”
After “Hush,” Hush shows up again in Batman: Gotham Knights in a plotline where he tries to take over Gotham’s underworld by knocking off rivals, such as Joker. The Joker, though, gets revenge by messing with Hush’s heart, controlling him with a pacemaker.
This would influence his next big storyline, “Heart of Hush,” where a now-healed Tommy uses the same plan against Catwoman, removing her heart to mess with Batman. He then gets plastic surgery to make himself look like Bruce, with the intent of taking over the Wayne fortune.
First Batman (Bruce) and then Batman (Dick Grayson) tangled with Hush’s plans. He was last seen pre-new 52 in a storyline involving Batman being forced either to rescue Hush or rescue Wayne Tower (as a bad guy was trying to destroy buildings in Gotham connected to famous Old Gotham families, like the Waynes and the Elliots). He hasn’t shown up yet in the new 52.
Go to the next page for #12-11!