By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Halloween is almost here, and Jake’s Take’s ode to the bad guys continue with the greatest rogues’ gallery of all-time!
For 76 years, Batman has been facing some of the most colorful and dangerous felons in the DC Comics Universe. They have become household names through their numerous appearances in comic books, films, TV shows, and video games.
Without further ado, here are ten of the most dangerous villains that Gotham City fears the most!
#10: The Court of Owls
(Created by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo; First appearance: Batman, Vol. 2 #2, 2011)
Kicking off the countdown is one of the newer antagonists to appear in the Batman universe: The Court of Owls. This menacing secret society whose talons have controlled Gotham City for centuries. They would have gotten away with it too until they decided to make the Caped Crusader and his allies: targets. The Batman Family drove them away from Gotham, but several members such as Lincoln March (who claims to be Thomas Wayne, Jr.) have come close to burning Gotham to the ground for the sake of the Court of Owls and nearly killed many Robins in the epic Robin War.
Recommended Reading: “Batman-The Court of Owls,” “Batman-The Night of the Owls,” & Robin War
(Created by Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee; First appearance: Batman, Vol. 1 #619, 2003)
Another villain that would love to see Gotham and Bruce Wayne’s worlds burn is Dr. Thomas Elliott. Once, an old childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, Tommy Elliott became envious of his friend’s social status and hoped to one up him by sabotaging his parent’s car. Unfortunately, Dr. Wayne was only able to save Elliott’s mother and held a grudge against Bruce ever since. As he got older, Hush co-created a dangerous cat and mouse game with the Riddler using Batman’s valuable allies and dangerous foes. While the Caped Crusader was able to defeat him, Hush decided to turn his attention towards other members of his Rogues Gallery such as Catwoman, Ivy, Joker, Prometheus, and Riddler. Recently, he made his re-appearance in Batman: Eternal, where he aligned himself with Lincoln March to burn Gotham to the ground.
Recommended Reading: “Batman: Hush,” “Batman-Heart of Hush,” & Batman Eternal
Best portrayal of Hush: Kevin Conroy in the Batman: Arkham games
#8: Poison Ivy
(Created by Robert Kanigher & Sheldon Moldoff; Batman, Vol. 1 #181, 1966)
Dr. Pamela Isley was one of the brilliant botanists in her field. She has twisted love for the environment and chose plants over humans drove her over the edge. After she had discovered that she was immune to any poison, Isley transformed herself into the villainous vixen, Poison Ivy. Over her 50 years of existence, Ivy teetered over the line between menace and heroic. From taking in and developing relationships with both the Robinson Park orphans and Harley Quinn during Batman: No Man’s Land to bending Superman to her will in Batman: Hush, Poison Ivy continues to be one of Batman’s most unpredictable and powerful foes.
Recommending Reading: Gotham City Sirens, No Man’s Land, & “Batman-Poison Ivy”
(Created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger; World’s Finest Comics #3, 1941)
Never underestimate a guy in a scarecrow costume. Dr. Jonathan Crane was harassed from his youth and all of his years of being tormented transformed him into a psychology professor who studied the dark art of fear. Fired from a job at Gotham State University, Crane went on a crime spree and killed his former colleagues as his new moniker: The Scarecrow. Batman got wind of Crane’s attacks and promptly defeated him. However, sensing that the Dark Knight that had little fear in him, Scarecrow started to plan his experiments on answering the question: “How could fear break Batman?” Despite several brief power upgrades in the form of Scarebeast or a short stint as a member of the Sinestro Corps, Scarecrow continues to be one of Batman’s most formable non-powered adversaries.
Recommending Reading: “As the Crow Flies,” “Absolute Terror,” & Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight: “Terror.”
(Created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger; Detective Comics, Vol. 1, Detective Comics #58, 1941)
To the untrained eye, Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot looks like an odd fellow that would not harm a fly. Looks can be deceiving! For over 75 years, the Penguin has been a thorn to the Caped Crusader and his allies. From leading thugs on jewel heists in the Golden and Silver Ages of comic books to being Gotham’s leading racketeer with questionable clients such as Joker, Black Mask, and Lex Luthor, the Penguin continues to dream of ruling his criminal empire without interference from Batman and his band of vigilantes.
Recommended Reading: Batman: Earth One, “Night of the Penguin,” & No Man’s Land
#5: Dr. Simon Hurt
(Created by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris; Batman, Vol. 1 #156, 1963; Revised by Grant Morrison & Tony S. Daniel; Batman, Vol. 1 #673, 2008)
Even though he is one of the newest entries on this countdown, Dr. Simon Hurt was one of the very few villains to break down the Caped Crusader throughout four years of Grant Morrison’s epic Batman run. He originally appeared as a scientist that tested Batman in an experiment for NASA. Years later, Hurt reappeared on the scene and claimed to be Bruce Wayne’s late father, Thomas Wayne. Throughout Batman: R.I.P. and Batman and Robin, Hurt used psychological warfare tactics to bring chaos to Gotham City until a furious Joker, who was jealous that he did not have the opportunity to defeat his longtime foe and buried him alive. While Hurt was seen briefly in Convergence, I really hope that the Batman family creators bring him back soon.
Recommended Reading: “Batman: R.I.P.,” “Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne,” & “Batman & Robin.”
Dr. Hurt remains one of the villains that has not been adapted into any “Batman” related media.
#4: Talia Al Ghul
(Created by Denny O’Neil, Bob Brown & Dick Giordano; Detective Comics, Vol. 1 #411, 1971)
When I counted down the Dark Knight’s greatest adversaries back in 2012, Talia shared a spot with her infamous father (more on him later). Talia is amongst the few women in Batman’s life that know both his public and private life. However, after being scorned multiple times by the Dark Knight, the Daughter of the Demon lived up to her nickname included taking over Lexcorp when Luthor became President of the United States and became a vicious leader in both the business community and the criminal underworld. Talia’s greatest triumph and personal tragedy happened during the final arc in Grant Morrison’s epic Batman storyline when she became the head of Leviathan, a terrorist organization branched from her father’s the League of Assassins. She nearly brought Gotham to its knees by infiltrating all of the city’s important groups. Talia’s monstrous henchman, the Heretic, also played an instrumental role in Damian Wayne’s death. Despite being killed by the original Batwoman (Kathy Kane) at the end of Batman, Incorporated, Talia was resurrected at the end of “Damian Rises” and reunited with her son in his limited series: Robin, Son of Batman.
Recommended Reading: Batman: Son of the Demon, “Batman and Son,” & Batman, Incorporated
(Created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger; Detective Comics, Vol. 1, #66, 1942)
Two-Face remains one of Batman’s deadliest adversaries, but he was also once one of Batman’s greatest allies. After surviving a horrible childhood at the hands of his abusive father, Harvey Dent grew up with a passion for law and worked his way to becoming one of Gotham City’s brightest District Attorneys in city history. By partnering with Batman and James Gordon, the trio cracked down on crooked politicians and the mob. Unfortunately, when mobster Sal Maroni threw acid in Dent’s face, the crime transformed the DA into a monster whose obsession with duality pushed Batman and his allies to the breaking point. Currently, in All-Star Batman, Two-Face placed a bounty on his longtime foe and thanks to his psychological ploy, his enemies, allies, and ordinary citizens are hunting for Batman’s head.
Recommended Reading: “A Lonely Place of Dying,” “Face the Face,” & “The Big Burn.”
#2: Ra’s Al Ghul
(Created by Dennis O’ Neil & Neal Adams; Batman, Vol. 1, #232, 1971)
One of the Dark Knight’s greatest foes does not just want to destroy Gotham, but he intends to rule the world. Known as the Demon’s Head, the immortal Ra’s Al Ghul has survived for centuries thanks to his vast array of Lazarus Pits and has amassed a loyal army of followers known as the League of Assassins. Ra’s and the Dark Knight’s lives have always intersected for years thanks to Talia’s attraction to the Caped Crusader. Time after time, the Dark Knight has turned down Ra’s influence as the international crime lord made his life a living hell. From unleashing the Clench which nearly destroyed civilization to using Batman’s contingency plans to destroy the Justice League personally, Ra’s has proven to be not only one of the Caped Crusader’s greatest mortal foes, but a force to be reckoned with in the DC Universe.
Recommended Reading: “Batman: Death and the Maidens,” “JLA: Tower of Babel” & “The Return of Ra’s Al Ghul.”
#1: The Joker
(Created by Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger, & Bob Kane; Batman, Vol. 1, #1, 1940)
The Clown Prince of Crime tops our countdown! Batman’s greatest foe had one bad day to alter the source of his history. A failing comedian lost his wife and unborn child, which made him fall victim to the underworld’s influences as he put a giant Red Hood. As soon as he jumped into a silo of chemicals, this former small-time crook was transformed into the most monstrous antagonist in literature history. The Joker’s many crimes range from murdering both Jason Todd and Sarah Essen-Gordon; crippling Barbara Gordon for a short period and nearly drove both Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and (in the animated universe) Tim Drake insane. While he lacks immortality or a massive bank account, the Joker made laughing gas lethal, created deadly weapons out of simple items (such as bouncing balls and a rubber chicken) and even had off his face cut off, which brought his intimidation level to brand new heights of darkness.
Recommended Reading: “A Death in the Family,” “Batman: Endgame,” & “The Killing Joke.”
I do not own any of the clips that are featured in this article. They belong to 20th Century Fox, DC Entertainment & Warner Bros. Productions.