That Time Batman And Superboy Took On The 'Zodiac Killer'

‘Superboy’ was way ahead of the true-crime trend.
That Time Batman And Superboy Took On The 'Zodiac Killer'

It’s no secret that the upcoming The Batman will feature The Riddler as its main villain, who, according to director Matt Reeves, was inspired by the Zodiac Killer – thus giving us the closest thing we’ll ever get to an official LEGO toy of Zodiac, the famous Bay Area serial killer from the late ‘60s who was never caught, despite being investigated by both Iron Man and The Hulk.

But this isn’t exactly the first time that Batman has taken on a Zodiac Killer-like adversary – in the comics, Bruce Wayne actually caught the Zodiac Killer. Well, sort of …

In issue 182 of Superboy from way back in 1972, a young Clark Kent meets a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne and learns of a new serial killer who leaves zodiac signs at crime scenes. The press, naturally, dubs him the “Zodiac Killer” – presumably because everyone at DC was rolling the dice on the fact that children don’t read the news.

DC Comics

“Someone tried to get the name ‘Horrorscope’ going, but no one bit.”

Bruce overhears that the sign of Sagittarius was discovered near his parents’ bodies and deduces that they too must have been victims of Zodiac. And not to put too fine a point on it, but it is genuinely bizarre to see a comic book panel in which Superboy literally utters the words: “Leave The Zodiac Killer to me!”

DC Comics

“How can you even fight crime, nerd? You still wear your underwear on the inside of your pants.”

They eventually solve the mystery, and the Zodiac Killer turns out to be … no one? One lone reporter was just making it all up, implying that several unrelated deaths were all connected by a fictional murderer, purely in order to drum up readership. The astrological symbols found at the crime scenes were either random accidents or planted by the writer.

DC Comics

This is extra weird because this comic came out in ‘72, just a few years after the real Zodiac killings. So is this comic really some comic writer’s conspiracy theory manifesto suggesting that the press fabricated the Zodiac Killer story? At least Superboy’s plan didn’t involve producing a feature-length Zodiac-themed exploitation film purely as an elaborate trap.

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Top Image: DC/Paramount Pictures

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