Outright Classic Geek Picks: Gotham City Villains!
Of course Batman is an iconic character. But there’s no denying that much of his appeal is thanks to that color rogues gallery of his. As we sit out another week of no new comics, the OG staff has gotten together (remotely) to share with you their favorite moments in all of media starring the villains of Gotham City!
William: Operators Are Standing By
William: When Joker kills Robin in “Death in the Family”.
Written by Jim Starlin
Art by Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo
Batman relieves Jason Todd of his duties as Robin due to his impulsive nature. Enraged, Jason storms off. On his own, he learns that Catherine Todd is not his biological mother and sets off to find his real mother, eventually tracking her to the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum, and Batman learns that he has obtained a nuclear weapon and plans to sell it to terrorists in war-torn Lebanon.
Originally published as Batman #426-429, December 1988-March 1989.
Thanks to a 1-900 number, Jason Todd’s fate was in own hands!
Final Vote: 5,343 Kill Robin
5,271 Save Robin
From Batman #497, Late July 1993
Written by Doug Moench
Art by Jim Aparo
A.J.: A Different Point of View
When Bane breaks Batman’s back in BATMAN #497 – now that’s a crucial moment in the history of the DC Universe ! And this classic issue was recently reprinted in TALES FROM THE DC DARK MULTIVERSE, which came out on February 26th. In the Dark Multiverse, Bruce Wayne never reclaimed the Mantle Of The Bat from Azrael – BATMAN #497 is reprinted to give context to the new story. And this is just one of five alternate-ending stories in TALES, printed along with the story that inspired each of them.
Tales From the Dark Multiverse TP, March 2020
Knightfall tale by Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins with art by Javier Fernandez
Sean: Mister Freeze’s Moment
Victor Freeze in Sean Gordon Murphy’s The White Knight (so much heart) in this moment, just another side to a “villain”
From: Batman:White Knight #1-8, January 2018- July 2018.
In a world where Batman has gone too far, The Joker must save Gotham City. He’s been called a maniac, a killer and the ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ but ‘white knight’? Never. Until now? Set in a world where the Joker is cured of his insanity and homicidal tendencies, The Joker, now known as ‘Jack,’ sets about trying to right his wrongs. First he plans to reconcile with Harley Quinn, and then he’ll try to save the city from the one person who he thinks is truly Gotham City’s greatest villain: Batman! Superstar writer and artist Sean Murphy (PUNK ROCK JESUS, THE WAKE) presents a seven-issue miniseries of a twisted Gotham City with a massive cast of heroes and villains that, at its heart, is a tragic story of a hero and a villain: Batman and The Joker. But which is the hero-and which the villain?
Written by Sean Murphy
Art by Klaus Janson
Joe: A Cycle of Life and Death
This underrated and little remembered mini-series is at its heart a character study. If you couldn’t guess from the title, the character being studied is Poison Ivy. At its core, the story is a murder mystery. Yet it also examines Ivy’s unique morality and what it means to be a mother. This title is also sort of a Gotham City Sirens reunion as both Harley Quinn and Catwoman make appearances. It also marks one of the first (if not THE first) mention of my favorite dangling plotline. Namely, that Poison Ivy might become the next Avatar of the Green. As much as I love Swamp Thing, who also appears in this mini-series, I would love even more to read a story where Ivy is the Green’s Avatar.
Written by Amy Chu
Art by Clay Mann
Life. Death. Poison Ivy has power over both. But can she keep her friends and hold down a regular job at the same time? As Dr. Pamela Isley, she joins the prestigious plant sciences department at Gotham Botanical Gardens, but things quickly get complicated when a fellow scientist is murdered and it looks like the work of Ivy
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death originally published as issues #1-6, January- August 2016.
Thomas: Detective Comics #826
Detective Comics 826 is a masterpiece of story telling. The Joker saves Robin early in the issue only to take him on a joyride through town as he maims and kills. Plus the little life lesson Joker delivers about quality help in the workplace is one for everyone.
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Don Kramer
Series writer Paul Dini returns as an unexpected twist of fate places Robin directly in the clutches of Batman’s archenemy, the Joker! Alone and incapacitated, Robin must summon every bit of his courage and ingenuity to free himself before the madman ends the Boy Wonder’s life!
Originally published February, 2007
Eli: The Dark Knight Returns
Joker breaking his own neck in Dark Knight Returns. The whole lead up to that moment was so intense and momentous. From Joker’s release from Arkham to the massacre on live TV. Then when Batman finally loses it and lays the most brutal psychotic beatdown on the Joker, yet still could not bring himself to finish the job. The scene epitomizes their conflict and sums up their insane connection. The Joker killing himself to frame Batman just proves the maniacal lengths he is willing to go while pulling off the ultimate prank on the Dark Knight. Definitely a moment that has inspired movies, comics, games and the mythology for years to come. Plus it’s so satisfying seeing Batman lighting the Joker’s corpse on fire.
From The Dark Knight Returns issues #1-4, February-May 1986
Written by Frank Miller
Art by Klaus Janson
Don: Don’t Open That Door
This one-shot will forever be burned into my memory. I can’t forget this scene no matter how hard I try. It wasn’t enough for The Joker to take down a Robin in the Batman mythos, but now he has the nerve to take down Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, right in front of her dad, Commissioner Jim Gordon! It was sheer terror, and at the same time, writing brilliance by the legendary Alan Moore. Brian Bolland’s art and John Higgins colors brought this nightmare to life with a mastery that my brain will never let go of. The Joker goes right to where Barbara lives, wearing a Hawaiian vacation outfit (which makes it seem even more creepier), and fires a bullet into her gut, which sets the stage for her to become Oracle. A historical moment! Never. To. Be. Forgotten.
From Batman: The Killing Joke, May 1988
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Brian Bolland
TV and Movies
Sean: Words of Wisdom
Right off the bat, Joker in this Dark Knight moment.
From The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. 2008
Tony: A Date to Remember
September 11th, 1992. The very first ever appearance of Harley Quinn. I was watching Batman: The Animated Series with my little sister, on the old FOX 22 station in Raleigh, NC when this little black and red pixie entered the screen and into my heart. I’ve been an original member of the Gang of Harleys ever since.
To read more about the creation of the character of the Joker’s Girlfriend, check out Dark Night: A Real Batman Story by Harley Quinn creator Paul Dini. Published by DC Comics, June 2016. Art by Eduardo Russo.
Angel: Mad Love
My favorite moment is when Harley Quinn captures Batman in the New Batman Adventures episode Mad Love. The only way Batman can get out of her trap to save himself is using Joker’s ego and his unwillingness to let Harley have the victory over Batman that he’s wanted. As Batman tells Joker, “She almost had me, you know. Arms and legs chained. Dizzy from the blood rushing to my head. I had no way out other than convincing her to call you. I knew your massive ego would never allow anyone else the honor of killing me. Though I have to admit, she came a lot closer than you ever did… puddin’.” This was such a profoundly important episode to me, and Batman admitting Harley could best him made me absolutely fall for her character and become a diehard fan ever since.
Zack: Heart of Ice
The “Heart Of Ice” episode of Batman TAS will probably be the most successful repackaging of a villain from a silly gimmick to a sympathetic villain, brought to life by Michael Ansara’s masterful voice work. TAS would go on to do this successfully with many other villains, but I’ll always remember the scene where Mr. Freeze apologizes to a snow globe of his wife, or explaining to Batman what his world is like.
The Fox series Gotham is mostly about the back stories of it’s criminals in my opinion. If you’re looking for an off the wall origin of Penguin, Riddler, Dr Hugo Strange, the Mad Hatter, Victor Zsasz(I didn’t care for Bane, because it was shoehorned into the final season), even Ra’s al Ghul was an interesting spin. It did suffer from being shortened from the originally planned 7 seasons into 5, so the last season was not as good as the show deserved.
David: Return of the Joker
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) Batman Beyond was such a great series, and its direct to DVD movie bought back Batman’s greatest villain, the Joker. There are several scenes that are worthy of being great bad guy moments. However, there is one that I consider broke a rule, and for me that is the Joker should never be in the Batcave unrestrained. Old Man Wayne is working on the Joker anti-toxin when Ace senses something and charges off. The next thing that happens is a gas bomb bounces down the stairs, releasing gas into the Batcave. As Bruce struggles with the gas, the returned Joker emerges and greets Bruce with “Hello, Batman” and laughs maniacally as only Mark Hamill can do.
Kevin: The End of the Joker
Oh shit how could I not pick the death of Joker from that movie?
Tarah: Injected and Infected
Favorite moment would have to be from Batman: Arkham City where Batman is injected with Joker’s infected blood. It was such a HOLY ***** moment… I was just in awe.