by Richy Craven
Villains are always one of the hardest part of a story to get right. The Batman comic books have been running for over 70 years now and that invariably means that for every iconic bad guy like the Joker or Bane there are at least three who were dreamt up the night before by the writer basing a character around a random object.
How else can you explain…
1. Calendar Man
Ladies and gentlemen! In the blue corner we have Batman, the Dark Knight. A billionaire master detective proficient in dozens of martial arts who is packing an arsenal of gadgets that would make James Bond turgid with envy.
And in the red corner we have…a guy who always knows whether or not it’s a leap year.
Calendar Man was a criminal who based his activities around the holidays and specific dates, which–unless not knowing how many days there are in February has been Batman’s secret weakness all along–we’re guessing wasn’t hugely effective. Sure enough Batman tended to beat his ass like a piñata every time he showed his face. Hell! Even Robin managed to take him down solo once.
Attempts were made to de-ridiculize Calendar Man by turning him into a Hanibal Lecter-type villain incarcerated at Arkham. The newly designed CM had the months of the year tattooed around his forehead making that the least intimidating prison tattoo since the “Property of Killer Croc” tramp stamp.
Forget Batman or Robin, Calender Man could have been taken down by Alfred (and not even badass Michael Caine version of Alfred either).
2. Bag O’Bones
When Ned Creegan was exposed to high levels of radiation he became the living x-ray “Bag O’Bones” (because comic book writers have a limited understanding of how radiation works) and took to the streets of Gotham to battle Batman in a sure contender for the “Worst decision ever” award.
Since Batman is responsible for more broken bones than osteoporosis, all Bag O’Bones was doing was giving our Caped Crusader an opportunity to admire his own handiwork. You just know that Bats used this once-in-a-lifetime chance to view bones breaking in real time to perfect his multiple fracture technique
The only advantage that Creegan’s abilities give him is that, presumably, the doctors had an easier time assessing the damage once he’d been carted off to the E.R.
Okay, technically BoB had other powers, like the ability to shoot electrical blasts. But each of these blasts takes months off of his life and if we’re considering something that slowly kills you as a superpower then we have good news for any smokers out there.
3. Mr. Camera
Look, we get that, in order to be taken seriously as a criminal in Gotham, you need some sort of gimmick but it seems increasingly like some of the villains’ choices of code names had less to do with intimidation and more to do with the fact that there was a sale on at Radio Shack.
Mr. Camera’s whole claim to supervilliany was that his helmet was a giant, functioning polaroid camera. Now, this could arguably be useful if your evil plans involved copying sensitive information or blackmailing people in compromising positions but this evidently never occurred to Mr. Camera as he just chose to steal stuff (more cameras of course) in the least practical outfit possible.
The character was a minor one-shot villain back in the 1950s but he was so idiotic that a recent artist resurrected him for the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic book and TV series just so Bruce could punch him in the face again for being so goddamned stupid. Aptly, in the episode where he appears, the only picture that Mr. Camera gets to take is one of Batman’s fist approaching the lens at terminal velocity.
Orca is a relatively recent Batman villain and proof that Comic book writers come up with new characters by typing “She has all of the powers of a…” and then blindly picking a page at random from the Big Book of Animals for Kids.
Orca is actually Dr. Grace Balin, a paraplegic scientist specialising in Marine Biology and Bio Medicine (which seems like an odd combination of degrees to us). Since the only two career paths for Gotham scientists are “turn evil” or “get killed by one of your colleagues who has just turned evil,” Balin becomes a giant whale monster when she injects herself with killer whale spinal tissue in an attempt to regain the use of her legs.
Don’t bother checking to see if killer whales can actually regenerate spinal tissue because even Google will think less of you for it.
The injection gives Dr. Balin all the powers and abilities of a killer whale which basically just means that she’s now really, really good at swimming.
Now we’re not saying that Orca wouldn’t be a threatening villain for the likes of, say, Aquaman. A giant, superstrong whalewoman might present a few problems for him (or cause him to fall in love, we’re really not sure with that guy) but Orca chooses to do all her crime on land, which just makes her swimming skills an interesting footnote in her obituary after Batman’s done kicking her ass.
Yes, she also has super-strength but that’s not even a superpower against Batman. That just increases the amount of property damage he’s going to have to pay for after he carts your ass off to Arkham. It’s pretty much just changing the difficulty for him from “easy” to “moderate.”
5. The Ventriloquist.
Since his arrival in Gotham, villains have tried everything from explosives to magic to mind control to take down the Caped Crusader but only one man looked at the unstoppable force/immovable object that is Batman and thought “Yeah, I could probably take him out by throwing my voice.”
The Ventriloquist is that man. Arnold Wesker is a timid, mild-mannered ventriloquist who channels his violent, angry side through a 1920s gangster-themed dummy called Scarface and no, we swear we’re not making that up to screw with you.
Wesker suffers from multiple personality disorder and actually believes that Scarface is in control and that he’s the one coming up with all the evil plans, something that the rest of his gang just… sort of goes along with it. Yes, we should mention that this guy is the leader of a gang so either all his goons are just really supportive of those with mental illnesses or else they see nothing wrong with taking orders from a 2 foot tall wooden puppet doing a bad Marlon Brando impression.
Or they could be afraid of being shot since Scarface is packing his own adorable miniature Tommy gun. Giving Scarface his own gun is actually a stroke of genius on Wesker’s part because its small size means it will hurt a lot less when Batman forces him to eat it.
Since at the end of the day Wesker is just a chubby guy in his late forties with an above average ability to throw his voice Batman usually has little trouble taking him out. In fact, The Ventriloquist’s skills have probably increased since turning to a life of crime since he’d presumably have to learn to talk without moving his broken jaw.
Richy Craven is an Irish freelance writer and semi-professional idiot. You can check out more of his stuff over at Cracked, A Series of Terrible Decisions or keep up with his ongoing quest to find gainful employment on Twitter @RichyCraven.
We don’t know what Batman’s laughing at. Just check out how many times he’s made himself look dumber than these criminals. –>