DC Comics' July Highlights: "Batgirl," "Nightwing" and a "New Super-Man"
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 Allies #20-16…
NOTE: There’s so many images in these pieces that I’ll be breaking them up over two pages.
10. Mister Freeze
Mister Freeze (created by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris) is possibly the most interesting example in Batman’s Rogues Gallery of the power of outside media on the popularity of a comic book character. Originally introduced in 1959, he went by the name Mr. Zero…
He didn’t show up that often. However, then the 1966 Batman series had Mr. Zero on the show, only calling him Mr. Freeze. So he then appeared in Detective Comics under his new name…
Again, though, while Mr. Freeze was definitely more popular than Mr. Zero, he was not exactly all THAT popular. His generic “dude with a freeze gun” motif did not exactly endear him to Batman writers and Chuck Dixon ended up killing him off in 1992 (victim of Joker’s electric joy buzzer). However, right around that same time, the Batman Animated Series was coming up with a new, tragic origin for Mr. Freeze, as he is now Victor Fries, a scientist desperate to save his dying wife by cryogenically freezing her but the cyrogenics experiment backfired and he ended up as Mister Freeze.
This new haunting origin made him a much more interesting character and writers have used him much more frequently since then. He even made it into a Batman movie (although perhaps he would have preferred not to).
9. Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy is an odd little duck. Introduced by Robert Kanigher, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, she first appeared as a normal crook, just one with a great deal more flair than most…
Soon she developed into more of an expert in toxins and stuff like that. Sort of like the Captain America villain Viper.
She also gained an origin and a name (Lillian Rose) from Gerry Conway that Neil Gaiman later retconned for the cooler Pamela Isley origin, which is still around to this day (read about that in this old Abandoned an’ Forsaked).
Over time, she gained plant powers and that made her a much cooler villain and I think helped her popularity a ton. Anyone recall who was it that exactly gave her her powers for the first time? Here she is using her powers in No Man’s Land, taking revenge over Clayface, who had imprisoned her for a time…
In recent years, she has taken on more of an anti-hero role (she even got decent support on the allies voting), even working with Catwoman and Harley Quinn for a while in an informal team.
She was a member of the Birds of Prey in the new 52 but she seems to be more of a villain as of late.
Catwoman first debuted in Batman #1 by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson as a traditional thief right out of the pulps…
“Papa spank.” Yikes.
The next issue was the first to begin calling her Cat-Woman.
She soon became one of Batman’s most popular villains, appearing regularly through the 1940s and 50s…
(although there were occasional times even back then that she tried to reform) but by the time that Julie Schwartz took over the book she was not a regular feature in the book but when the Batman series debuted in 1966 and she appeared on THAT, then she was brought back to the title with a new look…
later in that issue, she went back to being a crook.
Over the years, Catwoman spent more and more time on the side of angels. Frank Miller changed her origin post-Crisis and she had more of a hard edge to her. At the same time, she became more and more of a hero to the point where she was really about as much of a hero as anyone else.
She and Batman also had a go at a relationship in a famous moment in Hush…
In the new 52, she is a thief once again but still mostly a hero.
Go to the next page for #7-6!
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