13 COVERS: Batman’s Dorkiest Villains — RANKED

They can’t all be the Joker.

It looks like The Lego Batman Movie is going to feature at least cameos by some of Batman’s wackiest villains, much like the Brave and the Bold cartoon did. (Click here for more on that.)

Now, of all the thousands of words I’ve spent writing about Batman, it occurred to me that I’ve never really delved into the underworld of the Caped Crusader’s strangest villains. And there are so many!

Some of them, like Calendar Man and Firefly, were successfully converted into modern-day threats on the comics page or in animation. Then there are those like the Riddler who, I gotta say, if not for Frank Gorshin would have in all likelihood ended up a punch line in the annals of Gotham. (Don’t send hate mail! I’m a huge Riddler fan!)

Others? Well, I suppose there’s no helping them. But I still love ’em.

So here are Batman’s 13 Dorkiest Villains, ranked for your entertainment and consternation. I’m almost certain some of you will be peeved that your favorite (?) made the list — or didn’t. That’s cool. If you have a villain you’d like to add to the mix, do so in the comments below or in whichever social-media thread you found this. (I cut it off in the Bronze Age, by the way. You don’t have to.)

Here goes:

13. The Crime Olympians. In 1976, the Bat-office sought to skim off Olympic Fever by putting Batman at the center of an international crime competition. Because that’s exactly how international crime works.

Ernie Chan (as Chua)

12. The Rainbow Creature. This is the only monster/alien on this list because it would be too easy to include them. I just love this big lug, though, so here he is.

Sheldon Moldoff

11. Calendar Man. Jeph Loeb did such a great job modernizing him as a Hannibal Lecter knockoff that I almost didn’t include him. But at the outset he was as dorky as they come. I’d argue his high point was when Len Wein and Walt Simonson revamped him in the Bronze Age. In Batman #312, Calendar Man changed outfits to reflect each day of the week — like underwear, I suppose. This is actually Thursday’s get-up, which honors Thor (!) …

… but none was as awesome as his overall outfit, from inside the issue:

10. Firefly. Same as Calendar Man. He’s become downright respectable today, but back in the ’50s he cut a pretty silly figure. They even tried a second time, with a different crook in a different suit. Enjoy the bonus cover:

Win Mortimer on the left. Curt Swan pencils and Stan Kaye inks on the right.

9. Killer Moth. Why did they persist in trying to make bugs that aren’t the least bit scary into Bat-threats? I mean, I dig Killer Moth’s insane threads, but still…

Bob Brown pencils, John Calnan inks

8. Kite Man. This is all about branding. Because a bad guy who does his crimes and makes his escapes by air isn’t a bad idea at all.

Dick Giordano

7. Signalman. He fares better than the next two because I like his outfit better. It’s pretty rad.

Enjoy another bonus cover. The Chan (Chua)/Vince Colletta job on the left is a great shot of Signalman. But I had to include the one on the right (by Murphy Anderson) because I dug that issue as a kid. It was an early indication that Batman had villains not on the TV show. (But how cool would that have been?!)

6. Planet Master. He fares better than the next guy because I like his outfit better — even if those rings should put him near the top of the list.

Dick Dillin Pencils, Sheldon Moldoff inks

5. Zodiac Master. I just like the idea that some dude decided that it wasn’t enough to plot crimes based on the zodiac (which is cool) but that he needed to do it in a powder-blue leotard.

Moldoff

4. Mr. Polka-Dot. Which brings us to this guy.

Moldoff

3. Zebra-Man. He’s not on the cover — the editors made the wise decision to focus on Zebra Batman instead…

Moldoff

… but here he is nonetheless:

Script by Bill Finger. Pencils by Moldoff. Inks by Charles Paris.

2. Dr. X/Dr. Double X. A scientist creates an evil doppelganger? Not unheard of. BUT THAT COSTUME. Burn it! Burn it NOW.

Swan and Kaye

1. The Eraser. Did you really think anyone else would top this list? I’m just hoping he turns out to be the big villain of The Lego Batman Movie. Because, really, what could be better than that?

Carmine Infantino pencils, Joe Giella inks.

Cover images and credits from the colorful and wacky Grand Comics Database.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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4 Comments

  1. Dan, have you ever played along when reading a Top # list; making your top choice before reading the article — and then seeing where your choice ranked?

    I was playing along and hoped the Eraser would be #1 — YES, Lenny Fiasco claims the top spot! (Perhaps I’m a bit biased, Batman #188 was cover dated the month/year I was born.) I’m glad Mr. Polka Dot made the top 5. Overall, some great, great calls — Signalman, who once trapped Batman inside the bat signal; the Firefly, who once battled the Creeper in a story drawn by Steve Ditko.

    Villains I’d add in the mix?
    1. The Monarch of Menace (Detective Comics #350, Batman #336); with a scepter that shoots electricity, a royal cape that emits gas, and a crown that shoots fireworks!
    2. Dr. No-Face (Detective Comics #319); how could this guy see with no visible eyes? Whereas …
    3. (The) Ten-Eyed Man (numerous appearances, first app. Batman #226) could see through his fingertips?!
    4. Mr. Incognito (Batman #173); sees Batman unmasked; does not recognize Bruce Wayne.
    5. Gunshy Barton (Detective Comics #360); who thinks to get an edge on Batman comes up with a shorthand, abbreviated language to give orders to his henchmen! (Batman breaks a fingernail during a fight; uses jagged fingernail to cut through a rug he gets wrapped up in.)

    I’ll let someone else mention Condiment King! I loved this article! Thanks! (And btw, great website and articles- I recently found it. I’m glad I subscribed!)

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  2. Kite-Man deserves extra points for being the DC Universe’s grown up Charlie Brown still dealing with that “kite in the tree” trauma from his time as a kid.

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