Of all the superheroes out there, no one has a better line up of evil jerks looking to ruin their day than the Dark Knight Detective himself, Batman. Part of the beauty of Batman’s rogues is just how varied they are. They go from straight up goofy – Condiment King – to completely terrifying. When I say terrifying, I’m talking about characters that, if you really think about them, will give you nightmares. If these killers existed in reality, we would all be way too afraid to leave our homes. Don’t believe me? How about we discuss a few of them?
When Victor Zsasz was twenty-five, his parents died in a boating accident. Their deaths sent the young but very successful businessman into a deep depression. Zsasz turned to gambling, drinking, and drugs, spending every penny he had looking for something, anything, that could break him out of his darkness. With his finances exhausted and nothing left to live for, Victor Zsasz decided to take his own life by jumping off Gotham Bridge.
As he headed to the bridge, Zsasz was attacked by a wild eyed knife wielding homeless man. In the struggle, Zsasz was able to take the knife from his would be killer but not before taking a deep cut to his arm. Looking deep into the eyes of the crazy man, Zsasz saw the truth – life was meaningless. To thank the man for teaching him such an important lesson, Zsasz stabbed him multiple time, killing him.
Now, Zsasz has taken it upon himself to free as many people from the agony of life as he can. While he’ll kill pretty much anyone, Zsasz prefers to prey on teen girls, slashing their throats and posing their dead bodies to imitate everyday living activities. For each life Zsasz has taken, he adds to the scar left by the man who attacked him, putting notches on his flesh. These days, his body is covered in notches.
Waylon Jones never had it easy, born with a form of regressive atavism – which Wikipedia tells me is inherited traits of ancestral species of the human race, in this case reptiles – Waylon’s body is covered in thick scales and his teeth are sharp, like a crocodile. As a child, Waylon was endlessly bullied and when he was eight, Waylon lashed out at one of his bullies, nearly killing the child. For his crime, Waylon was sent to a reform school where things only got worse.
As he entered puberty, Waylon’s body became more reptilian, and the other kids at the reform school became meaner and meaner. Waylon became a recluse, spending as much time away from other people as he could, sinking deeper into his own mind. Finally, on his eighteenth birthday, Waylon Jones, filled with rage and a mouth of razor sharp teeth, gave in to his animal side and murdered his first victim.
After a stint in prison, Waylon joined a circus and gained the name Killer Croc. Soon enough, his murderous side came out again, and Waylon went on the run. With each passing year, Waylon becomes more animal and less human. He has taken to living in the Gotham sewers, eating rats and, when the chance comes by, humans.
Lazlo Valentin was a chemist for the UN funded covert operations group Spyral when he designed a gas that would essentially leave anyone who inhaled it a mindless zombie. When he was forced to inhale his creation Valentin went insane, becoming a paranoid schizophrenic obsessed with perfecting humanity.
Taking on the name Professor Pyg and wearing a pig mask, Valentin began to create his perfect people, which he calls Dollotrons. These people, these poor souls, are lobotomized, made genderless, and have red-haired Kewpie doll masks fused to their heads. To cover his costs, Professor Pyg sold his gas to gangs who used it to create an endless supply of mindless prostitutes.
COURT OF OWLS
The idea of an elite secret societies of rich jerks is nothing new. The Illuminati, Bohemian Grove, the Order of the Skull and Bones – we all know these kooky groups are out there (well, probably not the Illuminati, but some of the others totes exist) but as far as we know, they don’t do much more than let old rich dudes have kinky sex away from their wives.
The Court of Owls is kind of like that, but instead of weird sex stuff, they like to kidnap child performers from the circus and turn them into assassins. The higher members of the Court of Owls all wear super cool looking masks to hide their identities even from each other. The lower members are surgically altered to look like owl people, which is real messed up.
The Court of Owls has secretly been behind every political move in Gotham for generations, and tired of just controlling a single city, they have started to branch out to the rest of the world.
A lesser known Batman baddie, Wrath was also known as the Anti-Batman.
As a boy, Wrath, whose real name Batman never learned, watched as his criminal parents were shot and killed by a young police officer named Jim Gordon. The boy, not unlike Bruce Wayne, went down a path of making himself a perfect human fighting machine, but where Bruce used his skills to protect the people of Gotham, Wrath purposely dressed like Gordon’s best buddy Batman and became an assassin with a focus on cops.
The original Wrath died in a fight with Batman (he fell off a building) but as it turned out, he had his own version of Robin. The boy, Elliot Caldwell, was one of five orphans Wrath kidnapped and “trained” – aka tortured and brainwashed. In the end, Elliot was the only orphan who survived Wrath’s training. Elliot picked took on the mantle of his mentor and while he wasn’t killed in a battle, he did end up locked up in Blackgate prison for life.
Once a promising psychiatrist, Dr. Harleen Quinzel set her sights on being the person who would cure Joker. Instead, her mind was twisted by the evil clown. Harleen, believing that she was in love with Joker, took on the name Harley Quinn and broke her “puddin” out of Arkham.
Over the years, Harley Quinn has been a mix of good and bad, all depending on who she is with at the time. Joker’s actions wiped away the identity of Harleen Quinzel, leaving behind a blank slate that takes on aspects of the personalities of the people around her. When she is with Joker, Harley Quinn is a murderous psychopath, but if she is with Batman, she becomes obsessed with solving crimes.
This is what makes Harley Quinn so terrifying – at any given moment her personality can switch. Something as small as seeing Joker on TV can send her down a path of murder. When she’s around, you never know what you’ll get.
If there’s two things that Jervis Tetch loves more than hats, it’s young girls and mind control.
As a child, Tetch suffered from hypogonadism, which kept him from maturing. To combat his illness, Tetch was put on testosterone-enhancing medication, but the drugs messed with his head. When he was still in his teens, Jervis Tetch suffered a mental breakdown and was admitted to Arkham Asylum.
His career as an evil and super creepy baddie started when Jervis was released from Arkham and moved into Ella Littleton’s boarding house. While there, Jervis became “friends” with Ella’s pre-teen daughter, Connie. Jervis, would help Connie and her school friends with their science projects. When Connie becomes pregnant, claiming that it was one of the boys on the school baseball team that knocked her up, Ella convinces Jervis that the whole team needs to be taught a lesson.
Jervis uses his patented mind control tech to take over one of the kids on the team, forcing him to plant a pipe bomb in the locker room. Sure enough, the pipe bomb does what it was made to do and kills the baseball team.
Over the years, Jervis has become more and more obsessed with hats, reaching the point that he will not eat something unless it has a hat on it. He has also shown signs of pedophillia, though this has never been a focus of his crimes.
Jonathan Crane started his career in fear while in high school. When Sherry Squires, the girl of his teenaged dreams rejected him and went to prom with the Bo Griggs, the bully who had made Crane’s life a living hell, the skinny nerd decided to get revenge.
Crane’s method of revenge was to show up at prom dressed like a scarecrow and wielding a gun. In the chaos of the moment, Bo Griggs, tries to take off in his car but loses control and crashes it. Griggs ended up paralyzed and Sherry Squires, who was in the passenger seat, died. Seeing just how much power fear has, Crane (who ran off and was never identified as the scarecrow suited weirdo at prom) became a psychologist and took a position at Arkham Asylum.
At Arkham, Crane began to experiment on the inmates, developing a fear toxin that just made the poor crazy people in Arkham even crazier. At the same time, Crane was teaching a class on phobias at Gotham University when he accidentally shot a student during class. Crane was fired from his teaching position because even in Gotham they look down on shooting students. Being totally sane, Crane once more put on his scarecrow outfit and began murdering other teachers at the college.
As Scarecrow, Crane terrorizes the people of Gotham, using his fear toxin to drive innocent souls mad. He has little to no interest in the usual crime stuff – Crane sees all of his evilness as experiments to help the world better understand fear.
Harvey Dent had a rough childhood. His father, a schizophrenic, was both mentally and physically abusive, but Harvey kept it all quiet, burying his anger deep down and letting it fester like an Irish mother would.
Harvey worked hard. He wasn’t the smartest kid in school, but he made up for it by doing twice the work. He graduated school, got his law degree and quickly moved up the ranks to become District Attorney in Gotham. Harvey was the most famous and handsome bachelor in Gotham for a few months. Then Bruce Wayne came back to town. The two men became friends, the original Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.
Harvey was good at his job, too. He was locking up mafia guys like there was no tomorrow. It was during one trial that a real jerk of a mob underling threw sulfuric acid in Dent’s face. When he awoke, Dent saw a face, well half a face, that he didn’t recognize. The pain, mixed with every bit of anger he had been keeping locked up inside since his childhood, overtook the young D.A. Harvey saw the scarred half of his face as the truth – the piece of himself that he had kept hidden finally coming out and demanding a voice of its own. From that day on, the two parts of Harvey’s mind could never agree on what to do, using a coin to break every tie.
For those who have come across Harvey Dent, the most sympathetic of Batman’s rogues, that coin is the most terrifying thing they have ever seen. When Two-Face flips the coin, how it lands decides your fate. Sometimes people get lucky and it lands on the safe, clean side. Those people walk away unharmed. Sometimes it lands on the scarred side. Those people aren’t so lucky.
You knew he would be here, right? How could he not be?
The Joker is the perfect form of creepy. The Clown Prince of Crime has no origin, or, to be precise, multiple origins with none of them being “true”. Even Batman, the greatest detective the world has ever seen, can’t figure out who this guy was before he became the white faced, green haired freaky dude we all know and fear.
Sometimes, Joker is explained as a failed comic who turned to crime to support his wife. On the night of his first job, the poor sap found out his wife died in a car accident. Distraught over that, but still forced to take part in a burglary, the guy then had the misfortune of falling into a vat of chemicals, forever bleaching his skin.
Sometimes, Joker claims he was abused as a kid by his alcoholic dad. Sometimes he says Batman gave him the scars that make his permanent smile. Hell, Joker has even claimed to be an immortal jester of an Egyptian pharaoh.
The mystery of Joker’s past is only a piece of what makes him so creepy. The other part is his impossible to guess murders. From poisoning fish to spending months stalking a single person who made a bad joke, one can never be sure of what Joker will do next. There’s no way to keep count of just how many people Joker has killed – from releasing toxins into the air to randomly offing people in a deli to beating Jason Todd with a crowbar before blowing him up, Batman’s greatest foe would easily be the serial killer with the highest number.
Header Image: DC Comics