Gotham City is a giant group therapy project, and just like in real-life psychiatry, nobody benefits from it.
I've graded the top villains by how well they stand up to the aspect of Batman's personality they're trying to challenge.
Batman's whole schtick is being so Busey-grade crazy it blows criminal's minds. The next time you get mugged, try this: interrupt the mugging by mugging yourself. No petty crook is going to start trouble with a man crazy enough to rob a crime in progress.
The only person not scared by all this? IT WAS YOU ALL ALONG. And that's why the best Batman characters are an aspect of his own psyche.
Imagine the police report?
"12:25: Responding to report of a half-naked man in a a spandex bat-costume terrorizing seniors, we helped Mr. Batman find his shirt and drove him home again. His butler thanked us profusely...with a HINT of eroticism."
Great comedians pull humor out of horror, but Joker's so hilarious he does the reverse, such as two hours of the scariest Jerry Lewis impression ever in the film Dark Knight. If he ever gets his own series, the villain will be Carlos Mencia, sucking all the humor out of a murder spree at the nursing home.
Carlos Mencia should get on his knees every day and thank God
that Dave Chapelle chose to stay funny rather than get rich.
Detective work: Riddler
Speaking of people who steal a great comic's schtick, here's Joker Lite. Only hobbits and educational book series tell riddles. He carries a cane in case he can't support a storyline by himself. Batman can analyze soil samples with his tongue, so he usually arrests Riddler over breakfast instead of doing the crossword puzzle. Here's how sad The Riddler is, in riddle form.
Q: What is a thing which, having itself, loses itself, becomes itself, and finally...divulges itself?
A: Shut up, Riddler, and put this Kool-Aid lipstick on if you want to get out of prison with all your teeth.
The darkness within: Two-Face
More than any other villain, Two-Face acts as a foil for Batman's tortured soul. He lets his lucky coin make all his decisions. Statistically speaking, the day will come when fate says 27 times in a row not to go to the bathroom, soiling his haute couture pants. Evan Dorkin wrote the best Two-Face story ever in a single panel:
Avatar of fear: Scarecrow
Some men have so inured themselves to eroticism the only way they can get aroused is to be beaten with a sack full of tangerines by a robot that looks like a Japanese schoolgirl. Scarecrow's that guy for fear. The only things to give him a shot of dread are fighting Batman and seeing Barbara Walters without airbrushing.
Ruthless activism: Ra's al'Ghul
If Batman is the kind of militant liberals fantasize about becoming (and some do), Ra's is the eco-terrorist that liberal would grow into. It's not hard to picture him making porn in the mid-'70s, though. He looks like he stepped out of a Turkish bath preceded by a whiff of scented oils.
Self-made man: Bane
Jeez, if prison-rape had a face...
Survivor's guilt: Mr. Freeze
He came by his condition while trying to find a cure for his wife's complaining about her illness. Freeze is the only supervillain with an actual doctorate, but he goes by the humble prefix "Mr." That's class. Freeze, baby, you're A-OK.
These folks only compare to the lesser aspects of Batman's personality.
Wearing a tuxedo: The Penguin
WAKK! WAAAK! WAAAAAAKK! There, now you know everything about The Penguin.
Leaving a party early: Clayface
I don't know what his problem is. This would be a great power for getting into exclusive nightclubs, and if he accidentally reverts to his natural melty features, he can just pass himself off as Heidi Montag walking backwards.
Preying on orphans: Killer Croc
It's easier to feel sorry for people with deformities when they're not such enthusiastic cannibals. Yes, I am talking about you, mom.
Having lots of scars: Zsasz
Pronounced "Sassafrass," His schtick is he's a serial killer. Seriously, that's it. He'll warm up the crowd with a litlte nihilism soft-shoe, but at the end of the day, he's a guy with a knife. So's Gordon Ramsay.
Growing up rich: Hush
He's just a prick. So yeah, I guess a wealthy childhood is one of his superpowers.
Women are advised to stay out of Gotham, as the main roles available are prostitute and Bruce Wayne's beard. Here are some females brassy enough to defy the odds. Some even have two or more dimensions!
Boldly stepping out of the shadow of "Batman's wife" and into the shadow of "Batman's lesbian"! That's all I know about her until DC releases a press release about her personality.
They crippled this character to drive her male protector crazy with rage. That's not the editorial process I'm describing, that's the villain's stated motive. You think a real-life redhead ever lets anyone get the drop on her? No way. They can see entire bandwidths of light normally reserved for birds. Anyway, she's a pretty cool character these days.
She's essentially Batman with huevos. He hates her because she's killed a few crooks, which is hilarious in light of how many innocents die every time he lets the Joker escape Arkham.
She seems like a really fun gal for a bunny-boiler. She got dumped by the Joker, meaning at some point an evil clown had to look up from strangling a pre-schooler and say, "Woah! I'm crazy, but I'm not Obsessed Ex-Girlfriend crazy."
The only difference between Ivy's and Ra's al Ghul's respective misanthropies is writers use hers to suggest she's a lipstick lesbian. That's why Batman always has to avoid her poison kiss. Am I making things up? Maybe I am, but ask yourself this: where's my whiskey? Come on, whiskey! You and I are going to get this article finisehd beford nkdlbght a.z...
This is a sweet gig when you're not getting shot at. Batman solves all the crimes, and convictions are sloughed off on Arkham Asylum. Can you light a pipe and turn your back on an open window? Welcome aboard, Commissioner YOU!
Quite an interesting character you're free to look up while I make a sandwich.
He's basically Jeeves with more frontier surgery. Sometimes he's ex-MI-6, because Americans only know of seven occupations available to English people:
Oh yeah, Alfred was also an actor.
Most kids ponder running away from home to join the circus but the circus was Robin's home, so when his parents were killed, he was immediately out of options. Fortunately, where there's an unprotected child with limber joints, there's an unhinged loner ready to take him in. Society normally disapproves, but when you're rich, you get to do anything you want. I think it's because your money can't buy happiness, so people feel sorry for you.
Everyone knows Batman molests Robin. Congress even put it on the record during the Wertham/Kefauver/Luthor Senate hearings. Very few people would ferry an orphan to their private estate, have their man-servant garb him in chainmail hot pants and make him wrestle the underclass.
Like, four billionaires, tops.
Batman has to be up to something, right? He must be molesting Robin, even though we've never seen it--
Or maybe we have. It's kind of hard to tell.
Yet Robin acts healthier than even the most unmolested teens. What gives? Something way weirder than a rentboy gig is going on here. Let's examine the facts:
Don't you see? He deliberately misleads people to think he's molesting Robin, because it's so much easier to explain than his actual neuroses.
There's a lot more to this Batman story. If you want to know the rest, send $5 to:
Batman is Bruce Wayne's Secret Identity!!!
PO Box 27
Gotham, NY? MA? IL?