In this week’s installment of my celebration of the Caped Crusader’s lesser known villains for Batman’s 75th anniversary, I take a look at a villain who may be more popular than all the other villains featured thus far, but has yet to be featured in a movie. Also, you’ll find out about (for many readers for the first time) to a villain who truly belongs on a list of z-list characters.
Man-bat1 – Kirk Langstrom
First Appearance – Detective Comics #400 (June 1970)
Created by – Frank Robbins and Neal Adams
I have to imagine the entire thought process behind the creation of Man-bat was something along the lines of ‘What if we changed Batman’s name around?’ I’m sure there was more to it, especially since Kirk Langrstrom has grown into a beloved and layered character in the bat-mythos. Dr. Langstrom specializes in experimental treatments to cure deafness in humans. He uses an extract from bat DNA in an attempt to replicate their sonar abilities in himself, however this turns him into Man-bat (as we’ve come to expect from comics) and robs him of his intelligence (otherwise a hero would have been born, it’s a formula people).
Discovering the truth, Batman concocts a cure that reverses the effects of the serum, and all is well in the world (so to speak). That is until Kirk decides to take the serum on another occasion, and later convince his wife to join him on his nocturnal hunting.
In recent years, Langstrom’s serum has been stolen and modified by Talia and Ras al’Ghul of the League of Assassins, and also stolen (and modified) by his father, creating deadlier versions of Man-bat.
Personal Favorite Moment:
Kirk as Man-bat has many memorable moments in various mediums (unfortunately no movies yet) but my favorite is pretty simple. Talia al’Ghul pilfered the serum and injected it into her League of Assassins. Seriously, think about that. ‘Man-bat’ ninja assasins! So much better than a meek scientist who loses his intelligence when transforming into his villainous alter ego.
Crazy Quilt – real name unknown
First appearance – Boy Commandos #15 (May 1946)
Created by – Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby is undeniably one of (if not THE) greatest comic creators of all time, but that’s not to say he hasn’t has a few missteps along the way. Enter Crazy Quilt, a criminal who gives his gang instructions for their crimes via his paintings. After being betrayed by one of his crew members he’s blinded, and is forced to undergo an experimental procedure that restores his sight. Of course, being comics there’s a caveat to this, colors are so bright he’s effectively unable to see passed them.
Enter one of the most outlandish costumes ever! In an effort to control the light he dons some spectacular head gear that allows him to shoot light beams, and do a pretty good impersonation of a DJ light show.
Even his creators must have realized how sad a character he was because he’s become more of a Robin villain, not warranting the attention of Batman himself.
Personal Favorite Moment:
The short lived Batman: Brave and the Bold cartoon, introduced the absurdity that is Crazy Quilt for a whole new generation, but my favorite moment is from the JLA-80 Page Giant #1.
In this issue, the JLA devises a plan to stage a fake villains meeting luring many of the more dimwitted villains into their defunct base, apprehending all of them. During this ‘meeting’ Crazy Quilt’s costume is mocked by Monocle. Monocle for Christ’s sake! He looks about as intimidating as a modern age Bela Lugosi Dracula without any of the vampire abilities.