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75 Greatest Friends and Foes of Batman: Villains #10-6

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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.

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…

Enjoy!

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…

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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…

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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.

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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…

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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…

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Badass.

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.

8. Catwoman

Catwoman first debuted in Batman #1 by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson as a traditional thief right out of the pulps…

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“Papa spank.” Yikes.

The next issue was the first to begin calling her Cat-Woman.

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She soon became one of Batman’s most popular villains, appearing regularly through the 1940s and 50s…

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(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…

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later in that issue, she went back to being a crook.

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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…

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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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46 Comments

Well, got 4 of the 5. I didn’t have Bane, not because I don’t like him, but he had a great start and end (pre-Nu52), but the middle was a lot of crap. In fact, Bane was going downhill from the moment Azbats beat him. Did Bruce ever get to prove he could take a Venom strong Bane? Then he basically became a henchman. Secret Six basically saves the character.

Thought Catwoman would be a little higher. But maybe too many ally votes. But I had her, Scarecrow, Ivy, and Mr. Freeze on there. Can’t remember when Ivy became a plant goddess. They tied her into Jason Woodrue, but that was I think after she suddenly had powers. And the whole bit about Mr. Freeze being defined by other media is so true. It made him more than just another in a line of Captain Cold guys with an ice gun.

I’m not sure the Scarecrow’s really that unchanged: the use of fear chemicals rather than just a gun and then his being classed as totally insane amounts to a big change over the years. And now we have him in Nu52 as yet another villain traumatized by childhood abuse. As if we didn’t have enough of them already.

Bane. There’s probably an alternate universe where his rise from the bottom to greatness led to something interesting, but the breaking of Batman never worked for me–I just never felt he was that good.

Poison Ivy has definitely gotten more interesting than the original Sexy Bad Girl.

I have always like Mr Freeze, beginning even before I read any comics. I do not think I would have put him so high on the list, but congratulations to him anyway.

I thought his Batman The Animated Series stories were great, but I never liked how they influenced the comics. I did not like how the comics just adopted his origin as if that was how it had always been. I would have been better if the dead wife back story was a newly discovered fact. The Animated costume never looked that good in the DCU comic books either. The name Victor Freise was horrible, too.

Like M-Wolverine, I think Bane had a good start, but was not well served later. Legacy was good, but he was more of a henchman there.

Bane ended up dying in Gotham Knights right? After he found out King Snake was his father. Then he sowed up okay in Infinite Crisis, because of a super-punch to the walls of reality I guess.

I think Poison Ivy’s role as an ecoterrorism is mostly from the cartoon. (As late as Suicide Squad, she’s merely evil.)

I’m pleasantly surprised Penguin’s in the top 5.

Bane survived Gotham Knights. King Snake shot him, but Bruce dunked him in a Lazarus Pit to save him. King Snake died, but Bane wandered off to try to lead his new life and hopefully find a better way of living., He then appears in Infinite Crisis as a villain again with no explanation as to how he went from this sort of anti-hero back to back breaking bad guy.

Bill Williamson

May 1, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I think I voted for most of the villains here. This is certainly the big guns section of Batman villains.

This is a great, great batch of villains, as is appropriate for so high up. I’d say Bane is the sole exception, because Secret Six is the only time I’ve been remotely interested in him, but it’s not like his ranking is any big surprise. Doomsday would likely rank high amid Superman’s foes for similar reasons, despite being just a one-note ’90s plot device.

Here’s where Red Rum-18’s Iron Bat villains start to get more intense:
-Mr. Freeze was mixed with the first Blizzard to make Dr. Victor Shapanka, aka Mr. Blizzard.
-Poison Ivy was mixed with Plantman/Blackheath to make Black Ivy, a former student of the Botanist (Floronic Man/Brother Nature), and a former member of the Thunder Squad (Suicide Squad/Thunderbolts).
-Catwoman was mixed with Madame Masque to make Madame Cat, daughter of Count Zeus (Maxie Zeus/Count Nefaria), and a former student of the martial artist Master Midas (Armless Master/Mordecai Midas).
-Scarecrow was mixed with the Living Laser to make the Living Scare, a founding member of the Secret Society of Evil (Secret Society of Super-Villains/Masters of Evil).
-Bane was mixed with Sunset Bain to make Sunset, who’s powered by the drug VNM (Venom/Mutant Growth Hormone).

Bernard the Poet

May 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

George Sanders’ turn as Mr Freeze in the ‘Sixties television show is one of the highlights of the series, but I’m still surprised that Mr Freeze ranked so high.

Never liked Bane. A bare chest and a gimp mask is not a good look – not very practical either.

I didn’t realize that was Sanders. A great choice for the role, though.

Bernard the Poet

May 1, 2014 at 2:57 pm

@Fraser – “but the breaking of Batman never worked for me–I just never felt he was that good.”

I agree. It might have worked better if the writers had introduced Bane prior to Knightfall. If Batman and Bane had already fought to a standstill and then – following the mass escape from Arkham – Bane breaks his back, it might have felt a bit less contrived.

It would have helped, if various allies hadn’t kept telling Batman to slow down. No doubt, the writers imagined by having Batman refuse to sleep or eat until every last villain was returned to Arkham, they were demonstrating his determination and obsessiveness, but instead, he just comes across as a bit of an idiot.

Bernard the Poet

May 1, 2014 at 3:09 pm

@Fraser – “I didn’t realize that was Sanders. A great choice for the role, though.”

Three actors played Mr Freeze in the ‘Sixties – George Sanders, Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach – Sanders is the best.

There is a story, that about the time Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on to play Mr Freeze in the ‘Nineties. Eli Wallach appeared on David Letterman and said, ‘I got paid $400 to play that part and now he is getting $40m’. Schwarzenegger saw the show and sent Wallach a set of dumbbells, with a note that said, ‘use these and maybe you’ll get paid $40m too.’

Bill Williamson

May 1, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Bernard: If I recall, in the lead up to Knightfall Batman was having medical problems, necessitating that he go and see Sondra Kinsolving for treatment. It wasn’t so much that he refused to sleep or eat so much as he couldn’t.

I wouldn’t blame you if you forgot about those issues. DC never saw fit to collect them, even when they did a more comprehensive collection of KnightSaga leading up to the release of The Dark Knight Rises.

Bane, and Knightfall, are brilliant in their conception, and Knightfall, at least, in its execution, though Bane lost his “pop” as a character over time through over- and mis- use.

Here you had a villain who was extremely intelligent, calculating, and patient, and practically admired Batman as much as he wanted to destroy him.

Comparisons made to Doomsday and Death of Superman are superficial. Doomsday didn’t even receive an origin story until well after Death of Superman. He was truly one-note, and outside of, say, Hunter/Prey, was never really utilized that well. Bane had a mythos, a short mythos, but a mythos, and a better build up. And a personality.

I know that Dini and Timm didn’t like him, because in BTAS, Bane was little more than a thug, but Bane was really interesting at the beginning, until around the time he became a punchline (though I did like Bane of the Demon).

Bane was my #3 Bat villain.

Excited to see Ivy, my favorite, so high. That scene with Clayface from No Man’s Land is chilling.

Don’t know why, but I’ve always preferred Mr Zero to Mr Freeze as a name. Perhaps because it’s a bit less on the nose?

Regarding Poison Ivy, it’s interesting to see that she was inspired by Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter. Counting MARVEL’s Carmilla Black, that makes two characters who were derived from “Rappaccini’s Daughter.”

Bane was probably the most successful version of “Anti-Batman”, in that like Prometheus or Owlman or Wrath, he has that dark mirror origin story, which fueled his rage into training to be a pretty bad dude. Bruce was born in a world or privilege, while Bane didn’t have shit in the South American prison outside his natural smarts and athletic abilities. Its like that popular line from Dark Knight Rises, “you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it.” And like Batman, he doesn’t get on sheer physical prowess, but masterminds a plan to take Bruce out.

Of course, the problem is that he’s a character created for one specific story, like Dr. Hurt earlier, so besides Batman rising up and beating him in a rematch, what else do you do?

Secret Six, that’s what you do. The best version of Bane, baby.

There is a story, that about the time Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on to play Mr Freeze in the ‘Nineties. Eli Wallach appeared on David Letterman and said, ‘I got paid $400 to play that part and now he is getting $40m’. Schwarzenegger saw the show and sent Wallach a set of dumbbells, with a note that said, ‘use these and maybe you’ll get paid $40m too.’

I hope this isn’t a true story, but it sounds just like something Schwarzenegger would do.

Wallach has made some true movie classics of all time – Baby Doll, The Misfits, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – in his filmography.

Arnold is the luckiest meathead that ever lived, with a few films like Terminator under his belt. (And I love Red Sonja as a guilty pleasure.) Arnold also made some real crap, like The Last Action Hero, and his Mr. Freeze was the worst thing that was ever in a Batman movie.

I can’t believe I’ve commented on this thread without the obligatory sign-off!

Freeze you later,
buttler

Hoosier, while I agree Wallach is far superior as an actor (IIRC he has a great supporting role in the film Cinderella Liberty too), Ah-nuld is more than just lucky. He schmoozed well with the Hollywood press and picked lots of projects that had box office potential, enough to make him a major star (to paraphrase a friend of mine,it’s almost more impressive someone with his limited range became as big as he did). Though yes, he starred in lots of misfires too. And was apparently a complete dick to a lot of people.
I’ll have to go back and watch the Sanders episodes because I love him. The only TV I’ve seen him in was a Mission Impossible episode not long before he died and he’s pretty much sleepwalking through it.

Anyone recall who was it that exactly gave her her powers for the first time?

Wasn’t it Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man? I thought everyone knew that. :)

I like a lot of Arnold’s movies, like Red Heat and the Conan movies. But that story about sending barbells to Wallach, if true, can’t be categorized as anything but a jerk move.

From this list #10-6, voted for Scarecrow and Bane. I thought that Bane would be in the top 5. I imagine that the 3 left from my top ten villains list, Two-Face, Ra’s al Ghul and The Joker are gonna be in the top 5.

Andy E. Nystrom

May 1, 2014 at 7:27 pm

I checked the Mr Freeze story online and keep coming across the same variation: Wallach complained to his wife and his wife told him to lift weights. I’m betting that’s the real story, as much fun as the Arnold version would have been

Awesome, this means my #1, K. Tut, is top 5!!!

interesting thought catwoman would be higher like at number six. followed by bane who proved how smart he is as a baddie by figuring out how one beats batman. mr. freeze always liked the guy mostly because his story is something almost out of a shakespearin tragedy. poison ivy always found her more interesting once she got her powers over plants. ala a evil female swamp thing almost . scarecrow one of the few bat baddies who hasn’t changed much given how his weapon is fear . plus also he was used on the old super friends cartoon as part of the legion of doom

I’m surprised Scarecrow beat out Catwoman. She must have lost a decent amount of votes as an Ally.

That dumbell story is a great one. I don’t think Arnold comes off as a dick at all, I think it’s just funny. After all, if the story is true, Wallach is the one that basically threw the first stone. Seems like fairly good-natured ribbing between the two.

Bill Williamson

May 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Jazzbo: I wouldn’t say Wallach threw a stone as such. He just made an observation.

Poison Ivy was first shown with plant controlling powers in the chilling Neil Gaiman story “Pavane”, where she went from a cheesy Silver Age seductress to a lethal threat worthy to be incarcerated in Arkham. Gaiman then developed her plant goddess persona further in his graphic novel Black Orchid. The Neil Gaiman Ivy stories have played a defining role in her complexity ever since.

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

May 2, 2014 at 1:01 am

Bane, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy all ranked this high? You folks must really love that “Batman & Robin” movie.

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

May 2, 2014 at 1:02 am

Bane, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy all ranked this high? You folks must really love that “Batman & Robin” movie.

Bernard the Poet

May 2, 2014 at 1:40 am

If the Wallach/Schwartznegger story is true, I don’t think Arnie comes out of it too badly. Surely, he is being quite self-deprecating? By sending the dumbbells, he is suggesting that the only reason he is worth $40m is because of the size of his muscles.

If anyone comes out of this badly, it is the Batman television show. Wallach got $400 for a part that was shown around the world and is still getting repeated nearly fifty years later.

Mr. Freeze was my #8, Poison Ivy closed out my ballot, Scarecrow was one place higher and Bane ended up at #7.

Funny that some of my placings reflected the final countdown.

I much preferred the Wrath to Bane as an anti-Batman, but the Wrath was a one-shot foe (or should have been. Hated the attempt at a sequel from some years back).

Glad to see that Crazy Quilt made it to the top five; I’m more than a little surprised but can’t deny that I’m pleased by this.

Crazy Quilt actually did appear early on, but now I’m wondering whether Calendar Man or the Penny Plunderer just might win this thing.

scarletspeed7

May 2, 2014 at 9:16 am

Ivy and Scarecrow both were on my lists. Two of my favorite villains. My all-time favorite Scarecrow moment is actually in Sandman though – there’s are two great scenes that bookend the Dr. Destiny story in the first story arc of Sandman, and it’s been etched in my mind ever since.

Brian Cronin

May 2, 2014 at 9:46 am

Crazy Quilt actually did appear early on, but now I’m wondering whether Calendar Man or the Penny Plunderer just might win this thing.

Crazy Quilt hasn’t shown up yet!

You said YET, Brian. ;-)

And I’d have to lean towards Otto’s “Wild” Mr. Freeze. (Though apparently he wasn’t very popular with the cast.

And I’m not sure how I or the rest of the comments got this far without….I’ll just leave this here…

http://youtu.be/Pa-qgRasdvc

Let it GOOOOOOOOOOO!

Ohhhhh, I misremembered. It was that showed up in a Cover Theme Game recently.

Who was that artist on the Poison Ivy NML story? That was beautiful stuff

Brian Cronin

May 2, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Who was that artist on the Poison Ivy NML story? That was beautiful stuff

Off the top of my head without checking, I believe it is Dan Jurgens inked by Bill Sienkiewicz (quite a unique combo).

Bane? Seriously?

Bane was good in Knightfall but has been forgettable since then -so not good enough for my vote

unlike the other 4

Catwoman has such a long history as ally, enemy and ambiguously between them that I included her in both lists.

Was there anything that Bruce Timm and Batman TAS series did that WASN’T pure gold? Besides being a great series it gave us Renee Montoya, Harley Quinn, and a better back story for Mr. Freeze.

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