My Favorite Batman Villains with Recommended Reading!
Credit: Comic Vine
You can't be the world's greatest superhero and not have a few enemies right? I used to not like any of Batman's villains simply because they gave my hero grief. Thankfully, I eventually realized how dumb this notion was. Needless to say adversaries are essential to the protagonist of any story. Would Muhammad Ali be as great if he didn't fight Joe Frazier or George Foreman? Of course not. I know it's a little different than comics but it's still very true. So many people are drawn to Batman because he is mortal, he is taking risks that simply are not present for Wonder Woman or Superman (or anybody with overwhelming power).
Still, how interesting would Batman's stories be if he was just easily taking out petty crooks every time? Batman's "Rogues Gallery" (as the collection of his villains are referred to as) is as interesting as the Dark Knight himself, which leads to the popular opinion that "Batman has the best villains".
I decided to rank them. I am using a different criteria here so my list will probably not be like most others. I am ranking these characters by their um, character. Their featured stories are , but however not to the degree that most lists do. Writers misunderstanding the character, in my opinion, isn't the character's fault and has little reflection on their personalities. Also, I underestimated how long this was going to take so I am going to keep it a top 5 list, and maybe add a 6-10 continuation list at some other point.
Credit: Den of Geek
Bane, to me, is Batman's toughest enemy. He's not the yin to Batman's yang (a la Joker), but in terms of capabilities, he at least matches Batman mentally and surpasses him physically (thanks to the super steroid, Venom). Also, outside of Joe Chill (killer of the Waynes) and the Joker, I don't think anyone has harmed Batman as much as him, which is impressive considering he's only been around less than 24 years and the other two have been here from the start. Bane is amazingly ruthless, and came the closest to "breaking" Batman. Which made his eventual defeat at the hands of the Dark Knight in Batman # 20 all the more emotional and one of my favorite single issues ever.
Knightfall By Various
Batman: Bane of the Demon By Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan / Tom Palmer
Batman: Vengance of Bane By Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan
Harvey Dent is Gotham's fallen angel. Once a man that was good, his permanent disfigurement and his failing mental health that went unnoticed by those once close to him (sometimes it could be either-or or both depending on the story) was too much for him and he transformed. He was now known as the brutal Two-Face, joining the ranks of those he used to prosecute as District Attorney. One of the best examples of a tragedy.
Batman Annual #14 By Andrew Helfer and Chris Sprouse
Batman: Two Face By J.M. DeMatteis and Scott McDaniel
Joker's Asylum: Two-Face By David Hine and Andy Clarke
Batman: Black and White #1, Two of a Kind By Bruce Timm
3. The Joker
Usually the overwhelming favorite of seemingly every Batman fan, I'm putting him at number three. Great character, but being relatable is a big issue to me for all characters. Even though he is definitely Batman's arch enemy, iconic as hell and as synonymous with "Villain" as Batman is with "Hero". However, to me, he just isn't as relatable as the two entries before him on this list are, at least personally. The obvious exception is my second favorite story, The Killing Joke, where Joker has never seemed so broken and real. Unfortunately, this kind of portrayal is usually foregone for the Joker that gleefully murders people with very little introspection. I don't blame the creators though because making this guy as sympathetic as Moore and Bolland did would be like lightning striking twice.
When Joker's wife and unborn child die in a freak accident and then, the same day, he falls into a tub of acid during a robbery he had to do to support them and is permanently rendered hideous, he cracks up. Also permanently. His glee and clown gimmick just drive his point that life is one big joke. And so, he devoted himself as an enemy of order and harmony forever.
Batman: The Killing Joke By Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
The Joker: Devil's Advocate By Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan
Batman: Going Sane By J.M. DeMatteis and Joe Staton
Batman: A Death in the Family By Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo
2. The Riddler
Credit: Batman Wiki
As I previously mentioned, I am currently working on a Scarecrow one-shot, but Riddler is definitely next. Usually dismissed as a goofy non-threat likely because of his ridiculous portrayals in the 1960s Batman series and Batman Forever, Riddler oddly still maintains his status as a household name in the Rouges Gallery. I have no idea how that works. Anyway, in reality Edward Nigma (his real name) harbored fears of "being a nobody" (sometimes attributed to an abusive father) and so had to prove that he was a somebody by being the guy who literally had all the answers. He goes about this at first by asking his fellow children riddles at school that they never solve, however this turns him into a target by bullies.
He figures out when he is older that he would be suited for the life of a criminal, so he can take on the best detectives around in battles of wit. Unfortunately for him when Batman comes into the picture, he starts losing. Riddler is extremely relatable, as no one wants to feel meaningless and small. He even admits that his life of crime has nothing to do with money, it is just a stage for him to perform. Even more compelling is that Riddler is rarely violent, except that time where he gets possessed by a demon and is very violent but I don't count that, which sort of validates his claim that it's all for the attention so he can rest from the fears that consume him.
Detective Comics Annual #8 By Chuck Dixon and Kieron Dwyer
Batman Confidential #26-28: A New Dawn By Nunzio DiFilippis / Christine Weir and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Batman: Zero Year By Scott Snyder / James Tynion IV and Greg Capullo / Rafael Albequerque
Batman #179 By Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff
Credit: Sell My Comic Books
My favorite Batman villain. I feel that he is such a great character that is shortchanged by only having a few good stories. So much so that I am currently writing and drawing a one-shot with him as Batman's foe. This may be highly subjective, but I relate to Jonathan Crane more than any other villain, ever. Being bullied is an unbelievably awful experience that reeks havoc on someone's mental health that stays for years. I know, I was. I was drawn to him immediately. Fortunately, I was blessed with two loving parents and a great younger brother that would give me relief in those dark times. Unfortunately Jonathan Crane, not only just had a father, but he was an abusive one as well.
Simply, Scarecrow uses fear as his method of accomplishing things. Usually via releasing a fear gas that makes people who inhale it hallucinate their worst fears. It's very simple, even with little psychology knowledge (unlike Scarecrow, who is usually portrayed as a former Professor of Psychology), to see why he's doing this. He sees fear as control. Something that he's never had after years of being pushed around by others. Batman also uses fear as a tool, which makes for an interesting match up. Seemingly broken beyond repair, he has given up on reasoning with a cruel world that stole his life away from him and just sees people now as test subjects or enemies. which he regards as scum.
Batman- The Dark Knight: Cycle of Violence By Gregg Hurwitz and David Finch
Absolute Terror (Detective Comics #835 & 836) By John Rozum and Tom Mandrake
Fear of Faith By Devin Grayson and Dale Eaglesham
New Year's Evil: Scarecrow Vol. 1 By Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo
Batman #296: Sinister Straws of the Scarecrow By David Vern Reed and Sal Amendola
Batman #373: The Frequency of Fear By Doug Moench and Gene Colan