I, like a number of DC fans, do enjoy Batman from time to time. While I do prefer other characters over Batman, including some of the Batfamily, I can still appreciate Batman (as a character and series) for what it is. Batman has a well known and established rogues gallery. From the crazed Joker to up and coming fan favorite Harley Quinn. Even a few eccentric characters like Poka Dot Man and Condiment King.
Everyone has their favorites, and today, that’s what I thought I’d discuss. Originally, I was only going to do my top three rogues, since three instantly came to mind. However, I thought of two characters that I also enjoy, and a top five just sounds right.
Disclaimer: Joker will not be on this list. While there is no denying how iconic Joker is, I can’t say that I consider him a favorite of mine. That’s not to say he’s bad in my opinion, just not my cup of tea.
5. Deathstroke (aka Slade Wilson)
Deathstroke is probably my second favorite overall DC villain, behind my number one. He has an interesting backstory, a former military veteran who was given a serum that enhances his abilities and eventually becomes a mercenary for hire. His family is equally as intriguing. Whether it be the son who was in a tragic abduction scheme, who gained the powers to possess others. Or the daughter who takes on the name Ravager and reflects the legacy of her father and the namesake of her deceased half brother, Grant. “But Artist”, I here you say, “if he’s your second favorite overall, why is he number five here?”
“But Artist”, I here you say, “if he’s your second favorite overall, why is he number five here?” Well, you see, while I love Deathstroke as a villain, I’m not thrilled that he became a Batman rogue. While it does have some logic behind it, I always kind of considered him a better Nightwing villain. Deathstroke started off as an adversary of the Titans (during the New Teen Titans run and briefly in the Geoff Johns run) and later became someone that was more of a Nightwing rogue. For that reason, I have knocked him down a few ranks.
Bane is a character who’s grown on me. I wouldn’t say I hated Bane at first, but he was never a villain I could really get into. But after getting to know some people who do like him, playing as him in Injustice 2, and am willing to read some of his stories like Knightfall, I have grown to like the character. He does have an interesting backstory, and being one of the few villains to break Batman, he’s got some impressive feats.
He’s also not just a mindless brute. Despite him coming off as a more brawn over brains type, that’s not the case. He has a perfect mix of both. And given everything he accomplished in Knightfall to break Batman, including breaking criminals out of Gotham, figuring out who Batman was, and waiting for Batman to be too warn out to beat him, you got to give the guy credit where its due.
3. Killer Croc (Waylon Jones)
Killer Croc is another character who has an interesting backstory, and not the most consistent design. He’s a more animalistic than Bane, but he does at times show his human side and that he’s not just some animal. His boss fight in Arkham Asylum is probably one of my favorites too (the pacing and horror-esque atmosphere).
That said, there is another reason I enjoy Killer Croc, and it might not be what you’d expect. His relationship with Roy Harper aka Arsenal. In the New 52, Roy’s history of addiction was changed up. Instead of a history of drug use, it was an alcohol addiction. When the two meet in Red Hood and The Outlaws (New 52), Roy is in a dark place mentally. But instead of killing Roy, Waylon offers to get him help, deciding to become his sponsor for treatment. The two have a few interactions since, and despite Waylon being a little rough around the edges, he does seemed to respect Roy for his progress and seems to consider him as a friend.
Depending on the Talon, I’d argue that at least one of them would be a Nightwing rogue. That being William Cobb, who is Dick’s great grandfather. However, if we disregard that for a moment, the Talons and the Court of Owls are some of the best things to come out of the New 52. No one in the Court likes Batman and several Talons (namely William and Lincoln March) went after him with a vengeance.
The concept of the Talons are pretty cool too. Their superhuman and nearly immortal/invulnerable. Their main weakness being extreme cold and Electrum (the material that lets them live for as long as they have and gives them their healing abilities). Talon is just a really neat concept and brought a refreshing addition to Batman.
1. Ra’s al Ghul
Probably the most human Batman rogue on this list, but no less dangerous. Ra’s al Ghul is my overall favorite DC villain. His origin, centuries of immortality, and skills as a fighter make him a formidable opponent. He also is a great intellect. In a lot of ways, Ra’s is considered to be the Moriarty to Batman’s Sherlock Holmes. Both have a similar set of skills, but their alignments are different. A prideful man, Ra’s only respects a select few people. And as the maternal grandfather to Damian, he brings a whole new layer to the Batfamily.
He may be a bit of an egomaniac in his drive to cleanse the world, but he is not crazy. He knows what he wants and how to do it. He’s also a rogue that Batman knows not to take lightly and to a degree respects. As the head of the League of Assassins, he also proves that he can be a respected leader.
In recent years, he is not nearly as utilized. The last series he helmed as the main villain was in the Batman and the Outsiders run in 2018. I’ve said before, and if you’ve read my previous blog on Red Robin, that Ra’s would be a great villain to Tim Drake. Since neither get used as much and the two having an interesting and respect filled rivalry in the past, having a series dedicated to them would be perfect.
These characters come from various origins and bring a unique take to the Batman Mythos. They have their strengths and weaknesses and history.