Works Cited

Posted: October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

Khan, Jenette.  The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told.  VII.  DC Comics Inc.  1992.

Kane, Bob.  The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told.  VI.  DC Comics Inc.  1988.

Wikia.  DC Database:  Batman Villains.  http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Batman_Villains

Villains of Gotham

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Comic books are vulgar.

Comic books are low-brow art forms.

Comic books have nothing meaningful to say.

Comic books are for children.

Comic books are a waste of time.

These common presumptions about the comic book prevent many people from seeing what their true nature is.  Comic books, and in some cases, graphic novels, combine the use of pictorial representation and a series of texts.  Consider the work of Gary Larson and Bill Watterson.  These daily comic writers have a vast well of knowledge and an immense artistic skill, and most importantly, they always seem to have something important to say.  How can we say that Calvin and Hobbes contribute no philosophical inquiries to our daily life?  Should this not consider itself ‘high-art?’  Then what of the work of Bob Kane, Neal Adams, and Gardner Fox?

Batman comics are some of the most distinguished comic books out there, bringing fans and readers together for more than seventy years.  Why did the Batman become so popular?  Is it because of his menacing presence?  Is it because of his fantastic array of tools and gadgets?  Is it because of his vigilance for justice?  Does it have anything to do with Batman himself?

Ra’s al Ghul

Posted: October 23, 2012 in League of Assassins, Ra's al Ghul

       Ra’s al Ghul was born around six hundred years ago to a nomadic tribe in the Arabian Peninsula.  The reason he has lived so long without old age is due to his discovery of the Lazarus Pits, which grant immortality and purifying healing powers.  Ra’s travels the world with his uncle, learning of every martial art and of every developed scientology available.  Ra’s al Ghul, which means the Head of a Demon, would gain an understanding in fencing, martial arts, germ theory, industrialization, environmentalism, boxing, and many other fighting or practical ideas.  Ra’s would later take these ideas and form the League of Assassins, an eco-terrorist organization bent on destroying modern society.  Bruce Wayne even went to the League of Shadows to train as a martial artist, under the leadership of 

David Cain.  This would, of course, lead Ra’s to Batman’s city of Gotham.  Ra’s even studied Batman for a time before facing him, and determined that he would make a good heir to his regime, but Batman denied, based on having completely different philosophies of their training.  Mainly, Batman refuses, for any reason, to fight using guns or other armaments on people, believing that everyone deserved due process.  Batman claimed “Knowing how to kill does not mean that one has to kill.”

Ra’s al Ghul is, in many ways, a fallen hero.  Ra’s al Ghul sends many harbingers of death to the corrupt places of the world, in hopes of destroying these places and starting fresh with good, simple lifestyles, that he was familiar with as a nomad in Arabia.  His approaches were not, however, exactly kind or compassionate, which were ideas that Ra’s hated.  He felt that there was little need for concern over what the individual felt; they have lived and died many times in Ra’s’ lifetime.  It takes someone as brave and compassionate as the Batman to stand against him.

The Catwoman

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Catwoman, Central Rouges

       Born Selina Kyle, the Catwoman grew up in a very unfortunate home.  Both parents had committed suicide, and left Selina and her younger sister to grow up in a penitentiary orphanage.  Selina decided to try her luck living on the streets alone.  She discovered her gymnast talent there, deftly stealing from more fortunate households without anyone noticing.  She did not, however, hoard these stolen goods for herself; she was very generous, giving away much of the treasure to her fellow poor.  In time, she became the Cat, a beautiful cat burglar, capable of nearly any robbery.  Upon meeting the Batman for the first time, however, she gained a vicious love-hate relationship with Batman, sometimes acting as Batman’s partner, sometimes, his nemesis.  She employs steel-tipped claws and a ‘Cat-o’-nine tails’ whip, with nine bullwhips on the end.

The Catwoman appears to suffer from bi-polar disorder, or according to the new DSM-5, borderline personality disorder.  she cannot maintain any personal relationship, and constantly switches from loving Batman to hating and mauling Batman. To many readers, she brings an air of mystery; you never know when she might snap, and turn on any character in the story, whether they be good or bad.  Batman also has a very complicated relationship with Catwoman, he never knowing when she might snap.  She has ensnared Batman on more than one occasion, and even faked amnesia just for forgiveness, only to turn around and attack again.  Her affiliation with felines and feral cats influences her to perform ‘cat crimes,’ that is, any crime that has to do with cats.

Batman has found Catwoman as one of the top three villains of Gotham.

The Penguin

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Central Rouges, The Penguin

       Born Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, the Penguin is a real ‘gentleman of crime.’  Born into a wealthy family, Oswald was a complete social outcast, even to his family, due primarily to his somewhat deformed physical characteristics.  He is rather short, obese, and has a grotesquely hooked nose, much like that of a penguin beak.  One night, Oswald’s father came home when it was pouring rain,and ended up dying of pneumonia.  As a result, Oswald’s overbearing mother forced him to never leave the house without an umbrella, hence the Penguin’s use of trick umbrella’s as a primary weapon.  Oswald was eventually on his own,after his family’s decline, and decided to maintain his extravagant lifestyle, which could only be done through crime, andthus he took to his new alia, the Penguin.

       The Penguin exhibits symptoms of histrionic personality disorder, that he always desires attention, particularly towards his self-worth.  He may show some signs of narcissism, due to his affiliation with bird-related crimes.  His main appeal to readers is his classy, gentleman-like nature.  What he makes up for in physical prowess, he makes up for in his commanding leadership abilities.  He always moves around with an escort of hired thugs and goons, never compromising himself as the center of attention.  Batman must use more than brute strength to overcome the dastardly plans beset by the Penguin, who lays some of the most brilliant, well-conceived plans of any villain of Gotham City.  The Penguin is considered to be in the top three greatest Batman villains of all time.

Assorted Criminals

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Assorted Criminals

Throughout Batman’s career, there have been many criminal masterminds and super-villains that have ultimately defined Batman’s character and purpose.  Let’s not forget the more simple, down-to-earth criminals that have made just as much, if not more, impact on Batman’s life.  We remember these mobsters and criminals not only due to their effect on Batman, but because of their realism.  They are not criminals because they want to make a fortune investing in contraband markets, nor to declare their superiority among other villains through feats of strength, nor to… dare I say… take over the world?  These are the ordinary people who get caught in the net of bad fortune, who have to turn to the streets to keep food on the table.  It does not take an evil genius to change the world – for better or for worse.

These criminals are not the most difficult for Batman to take down, but they are usually the most emotional for him to face.  He sees in them a lost opportunity; they’re forced to do things they might not normally do, had not Gotham fallen into the hands of organized crime.  It is from the commonplace mugging and murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents that forced him to do something he might not have done otherwise: become the Batman.  It is here, on the streets, that is Batman’s dominion, to prevent that from happening to anyone ever again.  He feels a special connection with the common citizen.  In Batman’s own words “…to you, the loss of a dollar is more important than the loss of thousands to a banker!

The Joker

Posted: October 23, 2012 in The Joker

The Joker is Batman’s archenemy and his most feared opponent of all time.  Making his debut in the early 1940’s, the Joker uses a variety of comical weapons, yet with devastatingly lethal effects, such as an electrocuting joy-buzzer, an acid-spraying flower lapel, razor-tipped playing cards, and the ‘Joker poison,’ which is a lethal injection of laughing gas that strains your facial muscles into a ‘Joker grin.’  His origin and real name is unknown, and goes by many names: the Clown Prince of Crime, the Ace of Knaves, and the Harlequin of Hate.

The Joker is based on the personality disorder of psychopathy, or as listed in the DSM-5, antisocial personality disorder.  The Joker is nothing short of a homicidal maniac, with a death count listed up in the thousands.  He is an ego-centric nihilist, a narcissist, with absolutely no care for other people.  In fact, he derives pleasure from the suffering of others.  Yet, he is described in one word – unpredictable.  Sometimes, he is simply a mischievous clown filled with laughs, and sometimes he goes on homicidal rampages for sport.  He is truly an evil, unstoppable force of hedonistic anarchy.

So how come such an evil, twisted creature remains so popular?  Mike Gold, a former DC comics Editor, continues, “Why is the Joker so successful? Why has he endured for so long while other great villains are also-rans?”

“Well, folks, for one thing, this guy’s real scary.”

 

We like the Joker because he is an evil, unstoppable force of hedonistic anarchy.  He is not some run-of-the-mill ‘I’m gonna take over the world!’ villain.  The Batman is fighting against evil incarnate, and evil wants to do as it pleases,

anytime, anywhere.  We see the heroic acts of the Batman against his terrifying foe, and we see him overcome the Joker again and again.  We now look up to the Batman, as he sets a heroic example for all of us to follow: that we must stand vigil against the forces of evil, no matter how utterly terrifying.  We love that the Joker tests Batman in new, inventive, cruel ways; he will fight for justice no matter how tough the situation.  We love to see the other villains of Gotham City scared stiff from the maniacal laughter, to scare each other with Joker stories.  Imagine!  All of the other Super-Villains, already terrifying monsters in their own right, end up scaring themselves with his name alone.  The Joker’s scariness is directly proportional to Batman’s courage.  The scarier the Joker gets, the braver the dark knight must become.  Again, in the words of Editor Mike Gold, “He is the villain we love to hate!”

Central Rouges

Posted: October 11, 2012 in Central Rouges

         Batman has faced a countless array of villains, most notably those who classify as Super-villains, or Costumed Freaks.  Many of Batman’s most famous cases involved such antagonists as the Catwoman, the Penguin, Bane, the Riddler, and of course, the infamous Joker.  There are a multitude of varying characterizations for these villains, coming from movies, television shows, comic book issues, and other popular culture references.  Over time, the stories and artwork have evolved throughout the decades, by generations of writers and artists developing their own styles and story arcs since Batman’s creation in 1939.  The style and mood of the Batman villains has changed considerably, from the Golden Age of comics to Modern Day, with help from such artists/ writers as Neal Adams, Gardner Fox, Bill Finger, Marshall Rogers, Dennis O’Neil, and Bob Kane.  Today, Batman and his enemies have cemented their own place in today’s culture, as they have become some of the comic world’s most recognizable villains.

But what is it about Gotham City’s masked criminals that makes them so unique?  What makes them so memorable, so terrifying, and yet so lovable?  Over time, we have seen the constant development and additions of new super-villains, yet, after over seventy years of Batman comics, most of these villains have maintained their solidarity and wit.

Ultimately, the reason that we love these characters is because they form a relational dialectic with Batman; their opposition with him really defines who Batman is.  The dangerous, and sometimes lethal, encounters between Super Hero and Villain define each other’s values, morals, fears, hopes, and dreams.  To even suggest that their opposition is simply the struggle between good and evil is to claim that the opposition between Gollum/ Smeagol in the Lord of the Rings has nothing to say about the human condition.  For most Super-villains present Batman with a terrible choice that must be made, and they must both see how far they are willing to push themselves before somebody gives in.  Everyone has a choice, and everyone has a moral line that they will not cross.  For example, Batman will never kill a foe, no matter the consequences.  Even if there is no end to the madness, if his own life is on the line, no matter how much harm a villain may have done to him, he firmly believes in justice, not vengeance.  We can see how far Batman will go depending on how hard the villain will push him.  The Villains cannot live without Batman, and in turn, Batman cannot live without them.

Most villains are designed around the portrayal of psychological mental and anxiety disorders, as each one represents their respective disorder.  Unlike most comic book evildoer’s, most criminals in Gotham City have no super power.  They are not super-human, and thus are far more realistic and even relatable.  These enemies are just the ‘backwash of a cosmopolitan capitalist society,’ personified through serious mental conditions that form their persona.  It is suggested that the trauma and pain that each villain causes and represents reflects back on Batman himself; his crusading through the streets of Gotham has left him scarred physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally, to some degree.  He has seen humanity at its worst, as each new enemy poses a new dilemma, further tacking on that pain into Bruce Wayne’s soul.  Batman makes up of these pains, as many of us are composed of these different sides, these facets that represent a failure in humanity.  He may never have known of these different sides of him had he not been tested by his nemesis’.  Batman, like all of us, has a darker side that he must suppress, that he must mask over.  In this cosmopolitan society, we choose to either don this mask, or hide behind it.

So who is this darker side: Bruce Wayne, or Batman?