It's time for another round of Justify Your Existence, the super-fun game where I judge the validity of a series of superfolks' motivations for their actions. Today: more villain types, because they usually have much more interesting origins!
First up, from Batman Comics No. 130, we've got Master of Weapons, a real no-hoper. His story starts on a movie set, as a man known only as Graham acts like a bit of a baby:
Seriously, buddy, take it up with the appropriate person, at the very least. Graham finishes his hissy fit by taking a header off of that there... windable trebuchet? Very tall catapult? He is sent to the hospital, but soon disappears.
Not long after Graham's disappearance, this sprightly fellow makes an appearance. I don't recall him being given a name in the story's text, but the title of the thing is 'Master of Weapons' so I'm going with that. The Master of Weapons has a plan, and that plan is to build siege engines and drive them to potential robbery sites, for the purpose of knocking the doors in.
Now, let's think for a second. The MoW has adopted a scheme that, unlike picking the locks on those double doors or blowing them up or throwing a rock through that giant window, telegraphs what he is about to do a very long time before he has a chance to steal anything at all. Even if Batman weren't involved in this case I reckon that the police could round this guy up pretty quickly if they asked the general public to report all instances of wooden, tension-powered devices in the city streets.
The Master of Weapons compounds his foolishness by choosing, when Batman and Robin show up, to attack them with a weapon meant to be used against gigantic stone walls. I don't know if the guy has been paying attention to the news or what, but I have personally seen the Batman avoid being killed by machine and regular guns, poison gas, various jungle creatures and Superman. I think that using that giant bolt as some sort of club would be a much better bet than having his two thuggish companions slew this thing sideways and fire off a wild shot. I know that Silver Age Batman villains take a lot of flak for their odd choices in weaponry but even an umbrella gun or hat-cannon doesn't take two or three minutes to reload.
Upon the Master of Weapons and Batman's next encounter, the MoW is using a catapult to fling a rock roughly three feet, the better to bust down a door. Again, I must point out that the effort involved in building, transporting, assembling and firing this contraption might have been better spent in other ways, like shopping around town for the best deal on crowbars. Note how Batman throws down some catapult slang in the second panel. This will be important... right now.
See, Batman was trying to trip up the MoW by deploying some specialized language, as the only people in Gotham city who resort to slang are carnies, Gypsies, siege weapon experts and the people who have been to prison, so identifying suspicious characters by their verbal tics is actually very easy. Graham, meanwhile, in his only really clever move, pretended not to recognize what the hell Batman was talking about, thus immediately throwing the World's Greatest Detective off the scent.
My grudging respect for Graham doesn't last long, however:
Yes, it turns out that even though Graham's plan all along was to frame another dude for his crimes, the only real way that he attempted to put that into effect was to go "Huh?" when Batman mentioned a nickname for what was evidently not a catapult but an onager. Master of Weapons, yes, Lord of Thinking Ahead, no.
What are his chances today? Not too good, frankly. I see ol' Graham as the token "super-villain" at those real-hero comic-cons that showed up in the Bulleteer portion of Seven Soldiers. At best. At worst, he's got a future as an "appear in one panel and then get killed to add dramatic weight to a storyline" stype guy.
What does the internet say? Not much. I think that I got more hits back about the Punisher than this guy.
Next, from 1st Issue Special No. 9, we have Khalis, "The Mummy That Time Forgot".
Khalis is one of a long series of villains who prove that in a super-human-infested universe, Archaeology Is A Bad Thing. Seriously, for every ancient scarab that you dig up and use to fight crime, at least ten mummies, four cursed weapons and one haunted temple or pyramid rampage across the landscape and/or cause great spiritual turmoil inthe lives of millions. I'm surprised that the Justice League hasn't just started nuking ruins from space as a preemptive measure.
Turns out that Khalis was an early adopter of religious intolerance. In fact, he was such a prodigy that he was intolerant within the bounds of a polytheistic system. Let me emphasize this a bit more: the god that he worshipped was almost certainly related to the gods that he was calling false. It's like me devoting my life to convincing my cousins that my uncle is fictional. But, you know, effort should be rewarded, so Anubis gave the guy an amulet for being such a colossal dumbtwit.. And then, when the rest of Egypt's priests joined Nabu in mummifying him alive, Anubis kindly granted him eternal life.
Back to the present. Khalis takes his amulet back from Dr Fate, who apparently got it from Nabu, and uses it to summon a giganto temple to Anubis, and then Anubis himself!
Yep, things are reall looking up for old Khalis.
Except, of course, for the fact that Anubis no longer has any idea who the hell he is. In fact, I'm not too sure that he liked him much in the first place, as "being alive for three thousand years even though you've been mummified" doesn't seem like a very good god-given ability. Does it surprise you very much that Khalis is dust just three or four pages later?
What are his chances today? I'd say pretty good: mummies look cool in both wrapped and unwrapped states, and are among the few varieties of undead that aren't being over-used at the moment. Plus, Dr Fate doesn't really have many good enemies and a sad mummy who is trying to get his god to remember who he is is a concept with at least a couple of good stories in it.
What does the Internet have to say? Well, his story's been reprinted once. That's something, right?
Last, but certainly not least is Professor Hugo from Detective Comics No. 306, "The Wizarrd of 1000 Menaces". I'll let some Gotham City important types set things up:
Yes, it's another bizarre Gotham City society event. I guess that there's a reason that every time a horrible gelatinous blob starts rampaging around town the man on the street assumes that it's a publicity stunt: because it has a fairly high chance of being one. Hell, the Gotham Jelly Company hired men to dress up as blobs just last year.
Of course, Bruce Wayne is pegged to participate, and of course it's because his ancestor attempted to fly using a bat-suit. Because every single ancestor that Bruce Wayne has was either a detective or found occasion to dress like a bat or both. Science fact. But while Bruce is thinking about how ironic this all is, thugs armed with lightning cannons and jet-skis attack the bridge! But why?
The culprit turns out to be one Professor Arnold Hugo, who is upset with the Cosplay Selection Committee for not choosing him, even though his ancestor was a great warrior. In an attempt to gain recognition as a scientist, Prof. Hugo subjected himself to his experimental Brain-Stimulator and grew a gigantic, science-filled noggin. At this point, Hugo's plans diverge from what mine would be in a similar situation. Rather than registering a few hundred patents and then figuring out a way to shrink his head back down to size, all the while not really giving a damn about whether anybody wants him to dress up and pretend to fight some dudes, Hugo decides to devote all of his energies to destroying a publicity event. Which, when you think about it, would probably generate even more publicity for the museum, ensuring that its opening would be the event of the season. To this questionable end, in addition to deploying lightning guns and jet skis, he develops a remarkable tiger-growing solution and then, after twice being foiled by Batman and Robin:
He dispatches invisible flying robots to abduct them. At this point, Hugo is winning on style points alone. Is there any doubt that he has a death-trap lined up for Our Heroes?
Yes, Hugo is on top of the world. He even has a plan to... make another moon? Yes, I appear to have read that correctly: Professor Hugo plans to make a second moon so that everyone will remember who he is, The Guy Who Made the Tides Way Too High To Go To The Beach.
Don't worry though. He made the mistake of leaving Batman alone with a ball-point pen, so this happened:
What are his chances today? Despite the existence of Oolong Island, the DCU doesn't have nearly enough of the kind of mad science that unleashes invisible flying robots and glorious second moons on the world. Professor Hugo would be a perfect foil to the Cry for Justice-style, taking themselves way too seriously comics that crop up far too often nowadays.
What does the Internet say? Why, it turns out thatt he returned four times to fight the Martian Manhunter! How nice! Wouldn't it be great if he had shown up in an early issue of Run! to give the Human Flame a hard time for killing J'onn first?
So, three more existences, three justifications. I reckon that Khalis and Prof. Hugo can get away with what they do due to being completely bug-nuts, but the Master of Weapons is going to have to settle for a copy of out home game (our home game consists of a copy of Showcase Presents: Batman and access to the Internet).
Good afternoon, everyone!