Batman: The Rogues Gallery

Because Batman is super-duper awesome, I felt the need to sort the major players in the Batman universe. This first post will go through the major/recent members of the Rogues Gallery, the villains we know well, and the antagonists we love. The next post will dive into sorting the heroes.


CatwomanCatwoman

It’s such a waste when pretty things get broken. (Catwoman vol. 1 #2)

Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman, is being counted as one of the villains, even though she doesn’t act particularly villainous. This is a woman who knows what’s important in life, and what’s important is taking care of numero uno. Also cats.

Catwoman is a thief. She’ll help whoever suits her to get what she wants, and whether that’s one of her fellow and more devious rogues, or whether it’s Batman, she’ll do what’s required to get the shiny, plain and simple. Catwoman is all about the shortest path between her and the thing she wants. But she doesn’t mow over anybody who stands in her way. Her game is more to finesse them to the side of the road, or better, into helping her. Rather than crushing her obstacles, she finds a more cunning and surreptitious way.

Honestly, Selina Kyle is one of the easiest people to sort.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Red HoodRed Hood

You can’t stop crime. That’s what you never understood. I’m controlling it. You want to rule them by fear but what do you do to those who aren’t afraid? I’m doing what you won’t. I’m taking them out. (Under the Red Hood)

If it isn’t obvious, let me make it very clear: I’m talking about the Jason Todd version of Red Hood here. And honestly, I really hesitated putting him in the Rogue’s Gallery. I think that’s a little unfair.

Red Hood goes to war against crime, and unlike Batman, when he goes to the gunfight, he brings a gun. And we all know Batman’s got a thing about killing, no matter who’s doing the dying, which is why they were enemies of sorts. (Not to mention Jason Todd’s a little pissed that Joker’s still running around alive when he got to die, painfully. I’d add “that’s neither here nor there” except for Jason Todd it’s kind of everywhere.)

This Red Hood has the goal of cleansing the city of crime, which is good and noble and true, except for the part where he will use any means necessary to get what he wants, even becoming a criminal himself, if that’s what it takes. He wants succeed where Batman failed, to be better than the mentor who let him down, and to destroy the thing that nearly destroyed him.

Frankly, though, I like the cut of his jib.

VERDICT: Slytherin


The ScarecrowThe Scarecrow

Scream. Or I will make you scream. (Batman #630)

Dr Jonathan Crane, professor of psychology at Gotham University and practicing psychiatrist at Arkham Assylum, had a fixation on fear. What drives people to fear? How do they respond? What do they fear? Why do they fear? Any and all data he can gather on the topic, not a single bit is irrelevant to him.

I suspect you know where this is going.

Crane adopts the Scarecrow persona and uses psychotropics to induce fear in patients, and eventually, in anybody he can get his hands on. After awhile people catch on, because, well, I’m sure they have boards for this kind of nonsense, and when your patients seem to be getting worse instead of better, there’s probably some kind of inquiry process. The defense of “Hey, they’re crazy, why do you think they’re in here in the first place?” won’t fly forever.

Scarecrow is after the pursuit of knowledge, plain and simple. A very specific, and honestly kind of useless knowledge, but pure knowledge. He has no real application for it. He just wants to better understand the human experience of fear.

VERDICT: Ravenclaw


BaneBane

I will watch him. Study him. And when I know him and why he does not kill, I will know this city. (The Vengeance of Bane)

Most famous for being The Man Who Broke The Bat, Bane grew up in the school of hard knocks, and he studied. Hard. He picked up a multitude of skills: the art of kicking ten kinds of ass, strategy, and surprisingly enough, a classical education. From a priest. Whom he later killed. (That’s just how he rolls.)

Growing up in prison, serving out his father’s sentence (because that’s how Santa Prisca rolls), he becomes the top dog, the guy nobody screws with unless they want to find the shortest path to dead. And the super-scientists, brilliant lads they are, inject him with Venom, just to see what happens. You know. For shiggles.

The drug makes the Strongest Guy In Prison even stronger, though he needs a steady stream of it (hence the lovely tubes you see protruding from the back of his neck). And what does The Guy Who Is Stronger Than The Strongest Guy In Prison Now That He’s Juicing decide to do? Break out of prison and go be the strongest guy in all the things, forever.

Which means he has to beat Batman.

But it isn’t enough to take him on in a head-to-head fight. Nope. If we’re listing qualities Bane has, “fair” is not even remotely on that list. He’s a strategist. He knows to wear down his enemy before engaging directly. Which is exactly what he does, when he breaks out the prisoners of Arkham and lets Batman run himself ragged trying to round them up.

Obsessed with being at the top? Cunning strategist? Will do anything to get what he wants, hang the rules? Yeah, this one’s easy.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Black MaskBlack Mask

I’m listening, and when I say I’m listening, I’m also thinking about killing you. (Under the Red Hood)

He’s a scarred crime lord who hides his face behind a mask of carved ebony, but he didn’t start out that way. In fact, Black Mask might be a good study in nature versus nurture. Born Roman Sionis, his childhood was not entirely unlike Bruce Wayne’s: born to wealthy parents, raised among Society-with-a-capital-S, set up to inherit a successful company. But where Bruce’s parents had hearts of gold, Roman’s had hearts of lead. They were cruel and spiteful, and all but ignored their son except when appearances demanded. And when Roman dared to seek love outside of his caste or whatever, oh the fit they threw.

So he did what any reasonable villain-in-training would do, and burnt their house down. Killing them both.

He then went on to sink the company, but that was kind of by accident, showing that while he has some skill with a lighter and a bottle of kerosene, he’s distinctly lacking in business acumen. However, I have some suspicion that it was simply the whole straight-and-narrow of business that eluded him, because he went on to a somewhat successful career as a crime lord (except for the parts where Batman keeps fucking up his Christmas, but you can hardly fault Black Mask for that).

Black Mask has a burning desire to rise to the top and sit there, and keeps going at it, looking for a new way to get there. Legit company? Thuggery? Drug trafficking? Whatever helps him climb that ladder to power.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Mr FreezeMr Freeze

I failed you. I wish there were another way for me to say it. I cannot. I can only beg your forgiveness and pray you hear me somehow, someplace. Someplace where a warm hand waits for mine. (Batman: The Animated Series – Heart of Ice)

Dr Victor Fries (pronounced “Freeze” — thanks, comics!) is one of the more tragic and sympathetic members of the rogue’s gallery, I think. He’s forever bound to a cryogenic suit after having suffered an industrial accident. For those who don’t know, you might be thinking, oh, mad scientist suffering an industrial accident, he was probably being a jerk or something, right? Well, he was trying to save his wife from a terminal illness. So, yeah. Don’t you feel like an ass.

When his attempt to get revenge on the man who ruined his experiment to save his wife is foiled by Batman, Mr Freeze vows revenge. The whole “you have destroyed what I love, I will destroy what you love” kind of revenge. His loyalty to his wife is unwavering, and his method for revenge is direct and head-on. He isn’t cunning and conniving about his attacks. (They’re all cold-themed, you prettymuch know who you’re dealing with right off.) He works hard to get what he wants, compromising nothing.

VERDICT: Hufflepuff


The PenguinThe Penguin

Where’s the thrill in committing the perfect crime if nobody knows it was you? (Detective Comics #611)

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot has the kind of face even a mother doesn’t know how to love. He thinks of himself as a gentleman criminal, though he’s not much of a gentleman, and he’s a fairly mediocre criminal. Initially mocked and rejected by the underworld for his stature and appearance and persistent umbrella, he went back and killed them all with a .45 caliber umbrella.

He wants to be a crime lord. He wants to be the mayor. He wants to be respected by all those around him. He wants to be a lot of things, and he tries really hard, but he never quite makes it. Honestly, Batman has bigger fish to fry, and probably goes after him out of pity more than anything.

(Editor’s note: It should be noted here that the author absolutely despises The Penguin and is gritting her teeth throughout this sorting. That would be the grinding sound you heard earlier.)

VERDICT: Slytherin (though he’s not very good at it)


Poison IvyPoison Ivy

I have no interest in your deals. No interest in you, in any of you, on the outside. This park, this is Gotham now… its future. Reclaimed by nature, pure without mankind’s assaults. It is a sanctuary now, and I am guardian. I will not let it be defiled. Not by anyone. Certainly not by you. (Shadow of the Bat #88)

Pamela Lillian Isley is an environmentalist-turned-eco-terrorist. In some incarnations she is more plant-like, in others, more human, but regardless of her appearance, she’s always looking out for all plants everywhere. She is incredibly misanthropic, to say the least.

She doesn’t appear to have anything against Batman specifically. Her main opponents are those who kill plants, such as the companies who deforest for resources or land, who pollute rivers and lakes and kill off the surrounding plant life. She also doesn’t much care for the men who’ve wronged her in her life and will go after them, but that breed of revenge is more when she gets around to it, or when she’s feeling bored.

Ivy is brave and daring when it comes to saving her plants. For her, plants are the true victims, and humans are the criminals, and she will be noble and honorable in standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Those who would harm the innocent, defenseless plants, must answer to her.

The Lorax ain’t got shit on Ivy.

VERDICT: Gryffindor


Two-FaceTwo-Face

You believe in the justice system, don’t you, Vernon? You didn’t spend all those years in law school for nothing, right? Then you know, justice has two sides. Innocent or guilty. Like this coin. One side clean. The other side scarred. (Batman: The Long Halloween)

Specifically Two-Face. Harvey Dent sold separately (and by that I mean he’ll be sorted in the next round).

Two-Face is the darker side of attorney/hero/champion Harvey Dent, the side which emerges when Harvey Dent has been pushed too far. Dent himself struggled growing up, and when he is mutilated after the mob flung acid on his face, mutilating him, his demons surfaced and took control.

While his means have changed, his goal of wanting to control the crime in Gotham is still a defining characteristic. He will go head-to-head with The Penguin (he deserves better (Editor’s Note: We get it, you hate The Penguin)) or other crime bosses as he needs to. However, instead of using the legal system which exists in Gotham, he turns to his famous two-headed coin, now scarred on one side.

Two-Face’s loyalty resides with justice and the eradication of crime, even though his methods have slipped into the criminal. He is dedicated, hard-working, and when it comes to eradicating crime, he can be incredibly patient, ready to settle in for the long con. And he is obsessed with fairness and balance, as is given to him by the flip of his unbiased coin.

VERDICT: Hufflepuff


The RiddlerThe Riddler

I, on the other hand, live for mental challenges! Games of wit! The chance to outsmart worthy opponents!” (Harley Quinn #6)

Edward Nigma is obsessed with riddles, puzzles, and wordplay. For him, crime isn’t about the financial gain or the power over others. It’s about being the smartest and cleverest there ever was.

Unlike other members of the Rogues Gallery, The Riddler isn’t plagued by suffering and torment. He became obsessed with puzzles and with being the brightest and knowing everything when he was very young, and quickly became an ego-maniacal narcissist bent on feeding his image of himself as the most brilliant man alive.

The Riddler sets up puzzles for other people to solve, so that when they fail, he once again gets to feel like the smartest person in the world. His entire identity is based on being the smartest, cleverest, wittiest person around.

VERDICT: Ravenclaw


Ra's Al GhulRa’s Al Ghul

The only thing that thrives outside these walls are the six billion shortsighted parasites who continue to ravage our planet’s natural resources. On its own, humanity is a destructive force. It needs a master. (JLA: Tower of Babel)

There’s a part of me that admires the justice-seeking nobility of Ra’s Al Ghul, except for the part where “kill all humans” is the only solution he can come up with. An immortal by way of the Lazarus Pits, he has lived for hundreds of years, ruling over a secret organization and working on controlling the world. He and Dr Horrible would have been best-good frienemies, I’m sure.

Born 600 years before his first appearance, he was a master of science and medicine when neither were well understood. He used infected blankets to assassinate the leaders who wronged him, and then to prove a point, had the city razed and burned to the ground, killing everybody who lived there. He’s nothing if not thorough.

Everything Ra’s Al Ghul does is very precisely calculated. He has spent his life acquiring knowledge and skill, all of it for the use of increasing his own power and wealth. Nothing stops him from living forever, not even stabbing followed by cremation.

If you think about it, he’s like Voldemort, except way better at it.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Harley QuinnHarley Quinn

You’re just jealous ’cause you don’t have a fella who’s as lovin’ and loyal as my Puddin’ is to me! (Batman: The Animated Series — Trial)

Dr Harleen Quinley worked at Arkham Assylum, and started off totally sane, until she met the Joker and fell head-over heels for him. It’s obvious to everyone but Harley, however, that the Joker is just using her to his own ends. He is emotionally and physically abusive to her, verbally degrading her, threatening her with violence, and sometimes actually becoming violent. And yet, she remains by his side.

Harley is a hard one because of everything she isn’t. She isn’t particularly cunning or subtle or clever or ambitious. She isn’t noble or brave. She doesn’t seek out knowledge with an unrelenting thirst. She doesn’t believe in fair play.

But what she is, is loyal. That girl will stay by the Joker’s side come hell or high water. It’s a dark, twisted, and disturbing loyalty, a trait to be feared and horrified by, not deserving a single ounce of admiration. But really, she’ll stick to the Joker, no matter what.

VERDICT: Hufflepuff


The JokerThe Joker

In my dream, the world had suffered a terrible disaster. A black haze shut out the sun, and the darkness was alive with the moans and screams of wounded people. Suddenly, a small light glowed. A candle flickered into life, symbol of hope for millions. A single tiny candle, shining in the ugly dark. I laughed and blew it out. (Identity Crisis)

If Harley was tough, Joker was near impossible. When I first asked the question of where he’d be sorted, I had to ask if there could be a fifth house, called Batshit Fucking Crazy, where the house colors are purple and green and the mascot is a Cheshire smile. Where do you sort someone who’s in it “for the lulz”?

I thought about that for awhile. The Joker is insane, which is what makes him hard to sort. His mind doesn’t work like ours. He doesn’t have loyalties or ambitions. He doesn’t play any societal game. He’s a free agent. He’s the bazooka in the plan.

But there is one thing he likes. Lulz.

If we take Lulz as a goal, as a code, as something he lives for, things begin to fall into place. There is nothing about Lulz that is honorable. Lulz does not favor hard work, intelligence, wittiness, bravery, daring. Lulz favors itself, and anything that can be done for it.

A single-mindedness towards a goal, with the willingness to do anything to achieve that end, it becomes clear where The Joker belongs.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Morgan Dempsey (geardrops.net) is a writer and software engineer, currently living in Silicon Valley, California, USA. She blogs at Inkpunks (inkpunks.com) and reads slush for Scape (scapezine.com). Her fiction is currently available at Redstone SF Issue 14, and will be featured in Broken Time Blues (August 1, 2011). She tweets obsessively as @geardrops.

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