Watching Doc's Batman Live clips made me think again about how dated the Dark Knight's most well-known villains are. This has nothing to do with the arena show but it does seem to downgrade Gotham's worse into Ice Capade territory!

The Joker: I have mentioned several times that the Joker has gone beyond the realm of modern believeability. He has become Chaotic Death, yet protected by his fame and merchandise value. In a recent Action, Luthor threatens to kill him, an act he says no one will care about, but the Grinning Ghoul proudly and confidently states that Batman will and he will go after Lex for it. The Joker has committed the most brutal, heinous and unforgiveable murders and crimes (Barbara Gordon, Jason Todd, Sarah Essen) since he returned to his killing ways in Batman #251 from 1973! Yet he never pays for his crimes and is completely realizes that no hero will try to put him down because that will make them just like him. He's thrown into Arkham Asylum and escapes at will. Chooses a victim and slaughters them at will! Everyone wants to do their Joker story and his slayings multiply. As I say detective comics featured a new style Joker.

More to follow!

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Well, he's been around since 1940, which means he's 71 this year, and past retirement age.
But, then, so should Batman.  Time for him to step aside, and let someone else have a chance!

Well...Dick is Batman in Gotham currently and Bruce is looking to create a worldwide Batman society, so he's planning for the future. 

 

I think expecting new writers not to use the Joker is same as expecting them to not use Moriarty, Daleks, or the devil in stories...some villains will be around as long as stories are.

That's the problem with the Joker because everyone wants to use him and keep upping the ante! In Morrison's JLA, he murders 16 children but that is erased but not the fact that it didn't bother him to do it! He gets worse and worse and no one, super-hero, vigilante, cop, criminal just shoot this non-powered clown! Beam the Punisher to the DCU for a day! Frank knows what to do with homicidal maniacs!

That would make a great Secret Six mission because you can't convince me that Cat-Man, Bane and Deadshot are afraid of him or reluctant to eliminate him!

The Joker is the best known super-villain of all time but he has been over-exposed, over-used and over-killing to realistically justify his continued existence!

As for the others,

The Penguin: I love his quirky Golden Age stories, his campy Silver Age stories and, of course, the sheer brilliance of Burgess Meredith's portrayal of him on the TV show! But since the 70s, I have not read a Penguin tale and think, "How can Batman survive?" There have been many, many attempts to update and strengthen the Bold Bird of Banditry, to make him a physical match for the Dark Knight, the freakish outsider of Batman Returns, the barterer of No Man's Land and so forth. From his top hat, monocle, tuxedo, cigarette holder and his perilous parasols, he belongs to an earlier, less complex time. He should have been a casualty of the Crisis!

The Riddler: Another villain given importance by the TV show. He's a little man in a green jumpsuit covered in question marks! His compulsion for leaving riddle-clues gets old fast. His constant revisions haven't helped him, either! He appeared in Birds of Prey as a joke, more or less! He is more Batman:the Brave and Bold than Batman: The Dark Knight!

Catwoman: Does DC even want her as a villainess? Or an anti-heroine? She now (once again) knows Batman's secret identity. She is more his partner than any Robin. She is merchandised more than Wonder Woman. She is now a hero with a roguish attutude! 

See now I like The Penguin as he is now which is more of a Kingpin type and not so much as a guy trying to go head-to-head with Batman.

They should definitely retire or kill all Batman's enemies "permanently".

 

At any rate, in the comicbook sense of that word, where everyone says/believes it is permenant but it only lasts for 5 years or so.

 

Then DC should allow all the creators a 50% ownership of the villains and concepts they make up to replace them.  At last we would have Batman battling fresh new 21st Century problems and creators committed to hitting a modern audience right between the eyes with up-to-the-minute stories as the early Batman and Superman stories did.

 

This would also involve Warner Bros taking a step back and being less 'corporate' as their not scaring the horses policies is another cushion between the great stories good creators come up with and making an impact with the public.  I'm sure there are a lot of avenues that creators can't explore because WB doesn't want to rattle the cage of their corporate affiliates.

The Riddler:  He is more Batman:the Brave and Bold than Batman: The Dark Knight!


You say that like its a bad thing, Philip.  Brave and the Bold is a highly entertaining and well thought through show.

 

Batman's world has to include both B&B elements and DKR elements.  It makes Gotham richer and widens the emotional tone and well of subjects of the stories that can be told.  Why restrict the stores to such a narrow waveband.


You should have a look at the collected 'Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader', Philip.  It has an earlier story by Gaiman about the Riddler which addresses that gulf between the Riddler and the modern superhero world.

 

And anyway, having the Riddler be a goofy reformed semi-criminal does avoid him becoming a mass murderer who's every successive appearance becomes less believable.  You can't have it both ways.

 

I like that they have essentially made the Penguin and the Riddler supporting characters in the Batbooks rather than terrible threats that have to come back with the ante upped every few months.  Supporting characters are vital, and they both perform roles in adding texture to Batman stories.  Further, they are the kind of supporting characters that aren't going to disappear when the writer who created them moves on.  That gives the Batbooks some much-needed long-term consistancy: a consistant imaginative world.

 

If it's the Riddler's story from the Secret Origins Special, I read it and it basically "kills" Edward Nigma as a menace. He was a relic from the Silver Age/TV show era, distraught on how dark his world had gotten!

"The Joker's killing people now!" or words to that effect.

I just read Batman: The Dark Knight #2 which features the Penguin as a grotesque, ineffective little man with no chance of delaying Batman, let alone kill him! Only the true visciousness of Killer Croc allows him to defeat (temporarily) the Masked Manhunter.

Now if they want to use the Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman as supporting cast and semi-allies, fine. That leads to good storytelling but the temptation to use them as the Villain is too great for some writers. That's why the Penguin sometimes plays legitimate businessman and sometimes is a freak of nature. It's why the Riddler can be regarded as a minor foe of the past, a contemporary wanting approval or a twisted killer just to make him dangerous. Imagine my surprise when I read that both Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepott and Edward Nigma were "always" sent to Arkham Asylum!

With Catwoman, there is the sexual and dramatic tension that's never really shown because when was the last time Selina was arrested. There was The Silver Age event from a few years back where Catwoman allied herself with Luthor, the Penguin and other villains against the Justice League. There was a scene where these criminals discover Brainiac's shrunken cities and step on them, committing genocide!! Now she wasn't with them then but she was working with them so that's aiding and abetting at least! Now that was just one of those "special flashback" series for the older fans but it was used as the rationale for Batman's Anti-JLA strategies, so it definitely happened.

If they want to use these classic villains a certain way, they must pick a path and stay on it. But it is my contention that their time as the antagonist is over!

Why do all Batman's foes have to be killers?

 

We've been up and down this one, where different writers have different artistic visions of what they are doing with the characters.  (Tired, overused, corporately owned characters at that!)

 

The more the DCU sticks to a single artistic vision, the blander and less capable of surprising us it gets.  A lot of the fun is in these cross-pollination of visions.  One price of that is a little inconsistancy now and again.

 

Now that was just one of those "special flashback" series for the older fans but it was used as the rationale for Batman's Anti-JLA strategies, so it definitely happened.

 

The things you know, Philip.  Where was this revealed? 

 

The trouble with acknowledging that Silver Age event, is that it adds yet another Seven Soldiers team to continuity!  Gah!

This is probably my all-time favorite Riddler story. And I'm a big fan of the Riddler. He's the villain where you get to play along (when he's used best). Neil Gaiman wrote both my favorite Riddler story and my favorite Poison Ivy story, both in the pages of Secret Origins.

For the latter, I liked how he made her use the "innocent face" for manipulation. Seems much more realistic than how she's normally portrayed.

Philip Portelli said:

If it's the Riddler's story from the Secret Origins Special, I read it and it basically "kills" Edward Nigma as a menace. He was a relic from the Silver Age/TV show era, distraught on how dark his world had gotten!

"The Joker's killing people now!" or words to that effect.

The Poison Ivy story is also in the collection, Jeff.

"Why do all of Batman's foes have to be killers?"

Well, they don't but that's what they have Batman facing in every title he's in. They don't rob banks in Gotham City anymore. So the villains become murderers or inconsequential. If you were reviving the Legion of Doom, Figs, would you put the Riddler or the Penguin on the team? Would anyone not named Alex Ross?

As for The Silver Age, it was in JLA #46, the last part of "Tower of Babel" where Batman tells Superman that it was Agamemno, the villain who switched the JLA's minds with their foes that "inspired" his Anti JLA protocols. Both were written by Mark Waid.

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