And so we continue.

All the As can be found here, along with an explanation of what the billy-o I’m doing

Bane

break-you

Amy’s already done this one and it can’t be bettered. All that’s left to be said is that Amygdala and the rest of those muscle men live permanently in Bane’s liefeldian shadow. If Bane is leader of the cult of bulk then they can only ever be his disciples; Sweaty, raging, flesh machines lost in the stink of his meat locker come gymnasium.

Black Mask

black-mask-horrid-head

Dirty. Nasty. Fucker.

Start with the mask: you’ve got dehumanisation and the death of identity. This guy’s face isn’t just a black skull, these days it’s a black skull with red eyes – that’s demonic evil straight outta the 80s. There’s also something specifically horrific about a skull wearing a suit, it brings to mind the triumph of the material, modern monsters like the denizens of Hostel, and Patrick Bateman, terms like slasher and torture porn.

The character’s origin is begging to be jeuged up into a full blown Giallo nightmare. After murdering his parents for interfering with his love life, Roman Sionis takes control of their business and markets a cosmetic that hideously scars thousands of women. You’ve got brutality, misogyny, matricide and patricide, operatic vileness. Dirty. Dirty. Dirty. People who care about boring shit will be quick to point out here that Roman didn’t know what the product would do, but I like to think of Sionis spending his nights “market testing”, and fucking his lover, Circe, over the same desk where he makes the phone calls, has the meetings, and deliberately and methodically works to ensure that his facial treatment will do the maximum damage possible.

While we’re feeling gratuitous, perhaps it would be good to work an oedipal subtext into his background: maybe his mother, a woman who wore a disturbing amount of make-up, loved him just a bit too much, maybe his Father hated him for it, maybe that’s why they tried to destroy Roman and Circe’s burgeoning romance.

As a paid up member of the misogyny can fuck off club, and someone who isn’t particularly interested in seeing the Bat-franchise rub more grime n grit into its spandex I’m not very keen on Black Mask’s torture happy ways. I could do without a villain who lives to stuff women into refrigerators, but I’m happy to concede that he readily gives himself to the kind of voyeuristic violence and horror so popular with today’s audiences. So I say go with it, have him be all that stuff that the crime lord incarnation of the Penguin couldn’t hope to be. Have him be one hell of a nasty bastard.

Play up the monstrous verging on supernatural slasher angle by having his masked henchmen simply be an extension of him – think you’ve killed the fucker? Guess again, kid – and forget all that cultist stuff. The false-face gang aren’t his minions, they’re his claw. Have him kill and kill and kill, give him an ebony room with an operating table, and casino where the patrons can bet against the lives of their enemies’ children. Have him make Catwoman’s sister watch while her husband is tortured to death and then force her to eat him.

Hang on, he’s already done that…

Or maybe just bin the horrible git.

Blockbuster

There’s two sorts of Blockbuster and they’re both more than a little yawn inducing.

1. The chap who drank the science potion and got strong and dumb and was exploited by his criminal brother. He’s a bit like the green Hulk.

2. The chap who got strong and then did a deal with the devil so that he could also be clever. He’s a bit like the grey Hulk but with a bigger head.

The first has the whole tragic monster thing going, which certainly fits with the kind of story that some people like to tell with Batman but I couldn’t give a monkey’s about, mainly because it’s been done to death in Batman and elsewhere (the Hulk, Frankenstein, why am I bothering to list these?, etc…). The second is just… well… it isn’t really anything. Big strong criminal = so what? I suppose you could do something with the hackneyed Faustian bargain bit but I wouldn’t want to.

Whatever, see the Bane entry.

33 Responses to “Alphabetical villain thing: B is for…”

  1. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Alphabetical villain thing: A is for… Says:

    [...] I’ll be back with the Bs some time over the next week. Ah, here they are… [...]

  2. Bucky Sinister Says:

    I’ve always kind of liked the super-intelligent version of Blockbuster, though I could do without his deal with Spandex Satan.

    Of course, the same sort of thing could be done far more entertainingly with the Gorilla Boss of Gotham, so… Never mind.

  3. Zom Says:

    It’s his genericness that bores me. He’s just a strong criminal mastermind and the superverse has got a million of ‘em. I latched onto his deal with Neron because it’s one of the few hooks to hang something semi-interesting on

  4. Neon Snake Says:

    Is Black Mask dead or alive at the moment? I thought Catwoman blew his head off with a shotgun, but then he popped up later in Battle Of The Cowl (I think), and I couldn’t really be arsed to fnd out who he was in the end.
    Anyone know?

  5. Zom Says:

    See the whole think you killed him thing above. The mask makes it difficult to be sure.

    But, no, I have no idea whatsoever

  6. Yahtzee Says:

    I want Insomnia :-( minus chortz

  7. Neon Snake Says:

    It’s probably telling that I can’t even be bothered to Google for the answer.

    And yeah, the Catwoman’s sister thing still sticks in my throat. I’m not sure I’d want to be the one defining the limits, but I’m pretty sure that those issues went over whatever limits should exist.

    That said, I quite liked Black Mask in the Judd Winick “return of Jason” issues. Quite witty, if I remember.

  8. Zom Says:

    Neon, you must be the only long-term mindless who would happily own up to having enjoyed a Judd Winick comic.

    You are without prejudice and I salute you

  9. Thrills Says:

    I enjoyed Winick on MTV’s ‘The Real World’ in the early 90s, who to my eyes and brain was the ultimate in exotic American middle classness, with his constant battles to get his daily comic strip included in a newspaper, despite the presence of cosmic trickster and XxxxTREEEM D00D, Puck.

    Wh..what?

    He gets to write Batman?

    ‘Win’ for him, ‘ick’ for everyone else.

    Fnaaaar.

    (I have yet to read a Winick comic, or look myself in the mirror without spitting).

    ANYWAY. A super-misogynist horror Black Mask would be an interesting grotesque for Batlad to deal with, ramping up the euuuurgh/rage factor for some cathartic justice, but I do not know if I would want to read it.

    There’s enough hideous misogyny in the everday world (the fucking hideous WKD billboards I can see fae my flat being just one example) already. But you know this, hence yr “Or maybe just bin the horrible git.” quote.

    I think I just wanted to moan aboot WKD ads.

  10. Zom Says:

    Always happy to hear your moans, Thrills. Fnark.

    Forgot about the Real World connection.

  11. Zom Says:

    Cosmic tricksters on the other hand, man, I thank god for those guys! Never forget them.

    Or my shotgun.

  12. amypoodle Says:

    DEATH TO DISCORDIA

  13. amypoodle Says:

    i quite like the idea that there are some baddies in the batverse who’re utterly horrible, and if there was ever a contender for that it’s black mask. you’ve just got to make sure it’s good horror.

    morrison ultra fast rogues review of him in arkham asylum is pretty good, and in keeping with what you’ve got going on here. if you can’t remember it, it’s at the back with all the admission forms; his only answer to the questions (name:, etc) is a black scrawl.

  14. Zom Says:

    I think that’s it, the guy screams horror in a way that no other bat-villain does

  15. Duncan Says:

    I think the current Black Mask farting about is – has been – the central tranche of (at this point, you sort of can’t help but like him) Tony Daniel’s writer/artist/auteur run on Batman and is not Roman Sionis who was shot in the face by Catwoman, just before DC had a really good go at seeing if they could produce half-a-decade’s worth of comics with no intrinsic value whatsoever. (I really think that Bru Catwoman is top ten of the decade shit, if only I’d ever been arsed to write that up, I’d tell you why; the art, probably.)

    Anyway nu-Black Mask, I’m not going to check wikipedia, this is cheating, but I think he’s Jeremiah Arkham, I hope there’s some reverse-Lacan action gone in there, but I expect probably not.

  16. amypoodle Says:

    i read a few of those catwoman books and they were pretty good, i agree, esp the one where she and batman have a race across the rooftops at the end.

  17. RetroWarbird Says:

    There is indeed some “reverse-Lacan” action going with the new Black Mask. And god, he’s black leather modern horror if ever there was one. Nazi styled arm-bands on black leather trenchcoats … tanks full of toxic projects in secret sewer bunkers … super-long fingernails and false faces that are mindless slaves.

    The old Black Mask was sadistic to the sounds of … whatever old money listens to so as to appear ritzy and with “art appreciation”. The new Black Mask is 100% industrial fingernails on chalkboards. Black Mask by way of Nine Inch Nails.

    Tony Daniel might not have impressed with Battle for the Cowl, but I’d recommend his six-arc Batman run for the sheer audacity of it. For starters, it’s an actual detective mystery. Plus it brings back a Falcone. And a Frank Miller concept. Make sure to supplement with David Hine’s Arkham story. They dovetail.

    And both seem like love letters to the previous best “Arkham Asylum” stories – “The Last Arkham”, and naturally Grant’s Arkham Asylum.

    In fact, if you read Grant’s “bio” on Black Mask as “BLACK” being a void or an absence or a hole for a soul … the possibly psycho-mind control or ghost possession supernatural angle (both were hinted at, neither confirmed) fits that concept to a tee. Catwoman killed Black Mask … but nature abhors a vacuum.

  18. Yahtzee Says:

    Eeek!

  19. Zom Says:

    You can’t kill an absence

    Tony Daniel got there first, then.

  20. Bucky Sinister Says:

    I know the conversation’s moved on to Black Mask now, but… I’ve been doing some thinking on what it is that I find appealing about super-smart Blockbuster. I think it’s that he’s not just another super-strong criminal mastermind. He’s the Hulk in reverse. Instead of being the brainy poindexter that turns into an angry roided-up freak, he’s a mindless monster who’s suddenly given access to a massive intellect. I’ve read maybe three panels that featured the character in any significant manner, so this is all just speculation. Pure potential that I’m sure has already been trod upon by unimaginative writing. But…

    I love the idea that he’s the same guy he always was, just a lot smarter. Terrifyingly smarter. Smarter than Batman. Genuinely SUPER-intelligent. But he’s still got the same blinding anger inside him. Only now he’s smart enough that it bothers him a little. Maybe he’s ashamed of his mindless past, and every time he feels that boiling red rage building up in his gigantic brain, he considers it a personal failure. Which of course only upsets him more, trapping him in a vicious circle of anger and violence he’s completely incapable of escaping, no matter how smart he is.

    And of course, intellect doesn’t equal knowledge. So, having started as a mindless lout, he’s got a lifetime’s worth of culture and science and art to absorb. Maybe he’s obsessed with it. I envision scenes of him furiously pumping iron while sweatily absorbing volumes of Proust, or the teachings of Machiavelli. And you could sexualize that huge, veiny brain of his every bit as much as the muscles, by playing to similar bodice-ripping fantasies. He doesn’t just learn things, goddammit! He TAKES the knowledge he wants, ripping it forcefully from whatever sources he can get his engorged frontal lobes on, his mind hyper-active with a violent eroticism, a seething lust for ideas.

    And he takes all that rage, all that obsession, all that furious pumping intellect, and he points it straight at the Caped Crusader. Determined to defeat Batman with his brain as well as with his fists, he creates maddeningly complex webs of crime based on his latest reading! He builds pointlessly intricate and devastatingly brutal death traps! He employs a gang of Pop Crime henchmen made up of vicious thugs in graduation caps, and computer hackers in gorilla masks! And, if Batman survives all that, Blockbuster still stands at the far end of the game, waiting to beat Our Hero into a bloody pulp. Or maybe just beat him at chess, depending on how red the rage is running that day…

    Or, you know. Maybe he’s just the Penguin on steroids. Which I’m sure is how he’s been written to date, and more’s the pity.

    Please forgive me for going on so long. I got on a roll, and didn’t want to stop.

  21. Zom Says:

    I find it hard to view any of that as particularly threatening, though, or challenging in a novel way. Proust crime just doesn’t work for me, and labyrinthine webs of crime are surely what a well written Riddler is all about.

    The thing is, overt super-smartness is extremely difficult to write – I’ve only ever seen it done convincingly once, by Alan Moore in Wildcats, and Moore eschewed obvious signifiers like littering his villain’s den with chess boards and books on quantum physics, or having his villain embark on crime sprees with a James Joyce theme (although maybe something could be done with that!).

    It’s also worth bearing in mind the question of redundancy here. Bane in Knightfall is a good case in point (along with the Kingpin in DD) because not only are his plans faultless – are therefore defacto super-smart – he is also, within the bounds of that particular bat-world, super-humanly strong.

  22. Zom Says:

    Reading some of what you’ve written, Bucky, I’m put more in mind more of some sort of nouveau riche themed bat-foe, rather than a super-smart dude

  23. Anonymous Says:

    thing is, bucky, i think i played bane like that in my rogue’s review, intellect in service of bestiality. if you want to go down that road, bane’s yer guy – not blockbuster.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    that was poodle.

  25. Lanmao, the Blue Cat Says:

    Oh, it’s been a long while since I read it, but TAO was pretty easily the best part of Moore’s Wildcats run. His intellect was shown not through the invention of death rays or whatever but just by flatly outsmarting everybody else in the book.

  26. The Satrap Says:

    I agree that the super-smart strongman angle for Blockbuster is covered by Bane (fuck me, but that one was a great Rogue’s Review; prolly the best so far). The way I see it, the problem with the nouveau-riche is twofold.

    First, it screams “Kingpin ripoff”. That wouldn’t be too bad if the superhero readership weren’t so jaded. More importantly, Batman is so very much larger than life that other alpha male types fail to impress as his foes, unless they bring something else, weirder, to the table.

    I think that Blockbuster was the main foe of Nightwing when Chuck Dixon (henceforth referred to as Chuck Norris) was writing him. That’s appropriate, because Grayson is far more of a reglar guy tryna get by than Bruce. Unsurprisingly, since Norris’ writing is eminently formulaic, his adventures were sub-Daredevil-esque.

    Norris gave a mom to Blockbuster, I think, a typical evil, wheelchair-bound harridan. She was bitchy, Blockbuster was taciturn, as the cliché demands. If I were to update him, I would give a surreal spin to their relationship. Maybe she’s good with an uzi, likes getting stuck in the thick of the action and her son has to rescue her all the time, kind of Lois & Clark meets the Addams family. And/or maybe she is involved with another kind of rescue operation herself, she dabbles in daemonology and is obsessed about saving her son’s soul, which would have the undesirable side-effect of making him dumb again. He doesn’t know how he feels about that, and they double-cross each other all the time.

    You’re all on the right track concerning the Black Mask, who in my mind is an irredeemable fiend like the Red Skull(is the letter B reserved for Marvel ripoffs?), with less world domination and more black leather. To heighten the horrific contrast with that sexiest of clothing materials, I’d make him quite hideous under the classy outfits, emaciated and covered with livor mortis spots like a Maya death god. Maybe he’s a sadist because he envies the ability of healthier bodies to feel pain?

    Anyway, even if I’m warping the BM beyond recognition (I am), Batman definitely needs a villain who puts morbidity front and centre, an undead, half-dead kinda deal. With fetish clothing. Dracula doesn’t count.

  27. Bucky Sinister Says:

    Zom, I don’t disagree with you, really. The Blockbuster ideas I spewed out up above are more comedic than threatening. The character’s more than a little ridiculous, and that endears him to me probably more than it should. I wouldn’t argue that he could ever be one of the greats, but I do think he’d be good fodder for an occasional light romp. Which makes him inherently more interesting to me than most of his fellow second-rate strongman characters.

    I do like your nouveau-riche comparison quite a bit. That’s sort of what I was going for, but didn’t get across very well: he’s got this new intellect he wants to show off, but he’s ultimately unsophisticated. He can put together the mastermind crimes, but between the uncontrollable rage and the steep learning curve, he’s not going to be a truly major threat.

    Much like myself, it seems. I got carried away by my enthusiasm and purple prose, and didn’t express myself as clearly as I should have. My apologies.

  28. RetroWarbird Says:

    I think the best idea that could be done with Blockbuster (not that it matters so much now, with them all dead and a new “female” Blockbuster from the Bayou of Louisiana introduced by James Robinson as a one-off random character Mon-El fought) … would be exactly to take that “Addams Family” thing and apply it liberally.

    Some odd “The Hills Have Eyes” family of freak pituitary origins. Redneck mongoloids who answer to “Momma”. She doesn’t have to be big (Better if she’s small, and bitches about having birthed two 15 pound babies.) And maybe a skinny brother, and a father with no limbs, and years of inbreeding. Do they have inbred hill-folk in New Jersey? We have them in Upstate New York. And the Appalachians aren’t far West of Jersey. Hell, throw the Animated Series’ Farmer Brown character and his hot daughter in as well. He can be the dad, who breeds attack dogs, and she’ll be the hot blonde, normal one who flirts with Batman. The Marylin Munster … or Ellie-Maye Clampet. The Gotham Hillbillies.

    They’d be a threat and a counterpoint to … um … Bruce’s super-slick genetic pedigree? He’s bred from the upper crust of Anglo-Celtic old money, after all.

    Batman: Deliverance.

  29. Zodiac Firebroom Says:

    The only Blockbuster I know is the big lump that had the privilege of being the first member of the Suicide Squad to die in that 80s version of Final Crisis – Legends. Since the Shaggy Man became General Eiling there’s been a lack of inarticulate lumps in the DC universe, so I think I like my Blockbuster slow and stoopid. Love the idea of an Adams Family meets Hills Have Eyes Blockbuster family, or maybe the DC Universe’s version of the Angel Gang.

    Black Mask is too Red Skull to be interesting, made worse by the violent torture as distraction from lack of personality.

    Judd Winick is the guy from the Real World? I never knew. I like him more, but I’m still dropping that JLI Lost nonsense from by buy list

  30. amypoodle Says:

    a dcu angel gang would be superb.

    yeah, it’s a funny one that black mask capsule review, it’s full of great ideas – it really is – but i know zom would probably dislike seeing many of them implemented in a batman comic. as would i.

  31. amypoodle Says:

    but the lack of personality thing is entirely the point of black mask.

  32. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Alphabetical villain thing: All the Cs part 1 Says:

    [...] A, B [...]

  33. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Alphabetical Villains thing: Cs part 3 Says:

    [...] B, Cs part 1, Cs part [...]

Leave a Reply