Batman is widely considered to have the <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/15497-the-10-greatest-rogues-galleries-of-all-time.html>greatest rogues gallery</a> in comic books, and just from looking at this list, there is certainly a strong case to be made. <p>In fact, a few of the villains that didn't make the cut are among some of the greatest characters in the history of the medium, but that's just how deep the bench is when it comes to Batman's bad guys. <p>The characters on this list have nearly all been translated to movies and TV (with a fresh round <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/21389-gotham-villains-trailer-focuses-on-future-foes-of-batman.html>coming soon in <b>Gotham</b></a>), and range from debuting in Batman's early history during the Golden Age of comics, to just coming on the scene in the past decade, showing that Batman's rogues gallery continues to improve as it grows. Most of these characters fall into that "even my mom has heard of them" category; they're just that enduring and iconic. <p>DC gave no less than 16 Bat-villains a spotlight issue during their September 2013 <b>Villains Month</b>, event, and with the weekly series <b>Batman: Eternal</b> seeking to rehabilitate at least one of <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/15564-the-10-worst-batman-villains-of-all-time.html>Batman's <i>Worst</i> Villains</a>, now is as good a time as any to look back how our contributors ranked the 10 greatest Batman villains of all time.
Shhh. Be very quiet. That's the sound of this once nameless, faceless villain, a creation of the 21st Century, sneaking his way onto this list. Introduced in the 12-part arc of the same name by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, Hush kicks off our list mostly because he embodies many of the features the rest of these characters do. <p>The best Bat-villains share a lot in common with Batman himself, and who better than his childhood friend Tommy Elliot to do that? Much of Tommy's tragedy was shockingly self-inflicted, however, but that didn't mean he couldn't blame the Wayne family for it. In his first story, he made Batman run a gauntlet of his worst villains including what appeared to be the recently resurrected Jason Todd, his second Robin, but that was just the beginning. Later, Hush would literally take Catwoman's heart out, striking at Bruce's on-and-off paramour in a vicious manner. <p>How much of Hush's past with Batman remains in the DC's reconfigured "The New 52" continuity has yet to be established, but you can bet a character this strong, this popular, and this co-created by DC co-publisher Jim Lee likely won't be gone for too long. While he didn't appear in Villains Month, DC's other co-publisher Dan DiDio promises there are big plans in the works for Hush. <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Hush-Jeph-Loeb/dp/1401223176?&tag=newsarama-20&ascsubtag=[site|news[cat|NA[art|15456[pid|1401223176[tid|NA[bbc|manual" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><input name="Button" type="button" value="Buy Batman: Hush on Amazon.com" /></a></p>
If you can get past the fact that she was one of the primary antagonists in 1997's <i>Batman & Robin</i> film (foiled by wax lips!), you can see how Poison Ivy is one of the greatest Batman villains of all time, and one of the most iconic female characters in comics. <p>A relatively new addition to Batman's rogues gallery (debuting in 1966), Poison Ivy is like a lot of the best Batman villains in that rather than just being totally evil, she actually she has some good points, and would be more sympathetic if she didn't happen to be dangerously crazy. Rather than being out for herself, Pamela Isely fights for the Earth albeit through criminal (and frequently murderous) means. <p>Poison Ivy's distinctive look (what's not cool about being green and covered in leaves?) has inspired countless cosplayers, and recently displayed a more heroic side in The New 52's relaunched <I>Birds of Prey</i> series. <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Birds-Prey-Vol-Trouble-Graphic/dp/1401236995?&tag=newsarama-20&ascsubtag=[site|news[cat|NA[art|15456[pid|1401236995[tid|NA[bbc|manual" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><input name="Button" type="button" value="Buy Birds of Prey on Amazon.com" /></a></p>
Decades later, the most famous version of the Penguin is still probably the character portrayed by Burgess Meredith in the 1960s <i>Batman</i> TV show, what with the litany of gimmicked umbrellas and various non-verbal, bird-like noises. <p>And you know what? That's actually OK, because that colorful rendition was one of the most memorable performances in a TV show full of actors bringing Batman's villains to delightfully over-the-top life. <p>Despite that, Penguin has proven to be a surprisingly versatile character. Sometimes a quasi-legitimate businessman, sometimes a disfigured weirdo (see: <I>Batman Returns</i>), Penguin has been many things over the years, and as a result has maintained a consistent presence in comic books for 70 years now. <p>Unlike most of Batman's villains, Penguin is actually rather sane which also helps to distinguish Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot III from the rest of the, um, flock. Instead of being driven to do bad things, he does them because he stands to gain from them, and isn't that a true villain? <p>The character is a main recurring member of the cast of <b>Gotham</b> premiering this Fall on Fox, and there's already praise for his role in the series.
He. Broke. The. Bat. 'Nuff said. <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Knightfall-Vol-Doug-Moench/dp/1401233791?&tag=newsarama-20&ascsubtag=[site|news[cat|NA[art|15456[pid|1401233791[tid|NA[bbc|manual" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><input name="Button" type="button" value="Buy Batman: Knightfall on Amazon.com" /></a></p>
Ah, the Black Glove. In a mind-bending and time-warping tale, Grant Morrison took us through Batman's history and showed how much of it tied into the machinations of a group hellbent on his destruction. <p>But just who <i>was</i> Doctor Hurt? He may have been the Devil. He may be Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father, and certainly claimed to be. The beauty of Morrison's tale is that it's easy to support just about every theory. So not only did this villain have his gloved hand in just about everything bad that happened to Batman, and not only did he successfully drive Bruce from "just crazy enough to dress like a bat and terrorize villains" to "bat-$#!* crazy," he also managed to do it all while staying relatively anonymous. <p>Morrison's Bat-saga is said to all tie together, and while the final chapter suggests that maybe Doctor Hurt is dead, Batman may be the last person to really believe that. <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Black-Glove-Grant-Morrison/dp/1401219454?&tag=newsarama-20&ascsubtag=[site|news[cat|NA[art|15456[pid|1401219454[tid|NA[bbc|manual" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><input name="Button" type="button" value="Buy The Black Glove on Amazon.com" /></a></p>
Yes, Catwoman hasn't been a traditional "villain" in the comic books for years, but there's still no denying that she belongs on this list. Her first appearances in the comics were as an antagonist, and Selina Kyle certainly makes any list of the "best" Batman characters, regardless of how her moral compass is calibrated. <p>Along with Wonder Woman and Supergirl, Catwoman is one of the most recognizable female characters in comic book history, and has evolved over the years from a burglar to a complex ally of Batman and intriguing character in her own right. For years, she's also been one of Batman's most prominent love interests, as seen most recently (and somewhat explicitly) in the New 52's <i>Catwoman #1</i> in 2011. <p>Unlike any other character on this list, Catwoman has been able to maintain her own ongoing solo comic book, starting in 1993 with a volume that lasted through 2001's issue #94. Another book started later that year by Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke, and a new <i>Catwoman</i> series was part of DC's "The New 52" relaunch in September 2011, with Selina again playing the role of antihero. <p>Now, thanks to the "Spoiler Issue" of <b>Batman</b>, we know that Catwoman will be stepping up to lead the entire Gotham Underworld soon in the pages of <b>Batman: Eternal</b>. <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Catwoman-Vol-Game-New-52/dp/140123464X?&tag=newsarama-20&ascsubtag=[site|news[cat|NA[art|15456[pid|140123464X[tid|NA[bbc|manual" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><input name="Button" type="button" value="Buy Catwoman (New 52) on Amazon.com" /></a></p>
This list includes some truly twisted murders and psychotics, and at times, Edward Nigma has been both. But what Riddler truly adds to Batman's crew of villains is something that's always been an important part of the mythos fun. <p>As much as the antics of the 1960s <i>Batman</i> TV show might have given some a warped sense of comic books as a whole, it did capture an important part of Batman a sense of free-wheeling adventure, as also seen in recent animated series <i>Batman: The Brave & The Bold</i>. Riddler isn't Batman's scariest or most intimidating villain, but he's the best fit for old-fashioned capers due to his obsessive drive to prove himself intellectually superior to Batman which, of course, he intends to demonstrate through a series of elaborate riddles. <p>Temporarily reformed in recent comics, the Riddler is once again back to his villainous ways. The character is the main villain throughout the year-long "Batman: Zero Year" storyline in the pages of <b>Batman</b>. <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Vol-Zero-Year-Secret-City/dp/1401245080?&tag=newsarama-20&ascsubtag=[site|news[cat|NA[art|15456[pid|1401245080[tid|NA[bbc|manual" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><input name="Button" type="button" value="Buy Batman Zero Year on Amazon.com" /></a></p>
There are two sides to everyone, a good and a bad side. This dichotomy of good and evil has often been explored in literature (and in Batman/Bruce Wayne himself), but none quite so literally as Harvey Dent. <p>A former lawyer who fought to keep those who'd seek to do Gotham's residents harm off the streets, an accident scarred Dent physically and revealed deeper emotional scars. With a half-healthy and half-hideously disfigured face, he let his good and bad sides be represented by his Two Faces. He takes things a few steps farther though, making all his decisions with the help of a two-headed coin (one head is scratched up, naturally), and usually theming everything from his crimes to his hideouts to his henchmen around the number 2. <p>Two-Face has made it into live action films twice (how fitting!), but his two-part (yes!) origin in <i>Batman: The Animated Series</i> probably best exemplifies the character for modern generations. It's just too bad he wasn't #2 on our list.
Ra's al Ghul makes this list – and earns such a high place – because he best represents the different type of threats Batman has to deal with. Most of these characters limit their scope to various crimes around Gotham City, but that's thinking way too small for Ra's, an international assassin who has been living for hundreds of years thanks to the recuperative powers of his Lazarus Pit. <p>And while a lot of these other villains like to kill, that's again, setting the bar too low for Ra's; he'd rather wipe out almost all of humanity, as he attempted to do during the "Contagion" storyline, waging biological warfare on Gotham City. He also nearly took out the Justice League of America for good during "Tower of Babel," by using Batman's own plans against him. And if that's not enough, he also has a predilection towards shirtless fencing bouts with Batman. <p>Ra's al Ghul was portrayed by Liam Neeson in 2005's <i>Batman Begins</i>, and his impact was felt again in the final part of the trilogy, <i>The Dark Knight Rises</i>. But perhaps the character's greatest legacy was/is in the form of the most recent Robin, Damian Wayne: the deceased (for now) son of Bruce Wayne and Talia, daughter of Ra's. <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/JLA-Book-7-Tower-Babel/dp/156389727X?&tag=newsarama-20&ascsubtag=[site|news[cat|NA[art|15456[pid|156389727X[tid|NA[bbc|manual" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><input name="Button" type="button" value="Buy Tower of Babel on Amazon.com" /></a></p>
HAAAAAAA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You didn't think anyone else could possibly fill this role, did you? The yin to his yang, the evil to his good, the chaos to his order, the utter insanity to his only slight insanity, The Joker is The Batman's ultimate opposite number. <p>No story quite showed this as definitively as Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke," but the Joker has been a defining villain in every era of Batman's comics and other media appearances. Be he zany, only slightly twisted, a truly maniacal mass-murderer, operating solo or with a sidekick like Harley Quinn (herself a nominee for this list), the Joker is always there to give us a laugh and torture Batman and his allies. He shot and crippled Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon (she got better). He killed Jason "Robin 2" Todd by beating him to death with a crowbar (um, he got better too). He more recently took things to a new level, unleashing his truly creepy brand of whole-scale vengeance on the Bat-family in the "Death of the Family" story, which severely damaged Batman's ties to the rest of the "Bat-Family." <p>The best part is, though, that the Joker is always just one step removed from Batman. If he had taken one wrong turn, given in to one bad feeling, Bruce Wayne may have turned out very much like the Joker. And isn't seeing a twisted reflection of yourself the scariest thing of all? <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Killing-Deluxe-Alan-Moore/dp/1401216676?&tag=newsarama-20&ascsubtag=[site|news[cat|NA[art|15456[pid|1401216676[tid|NA[bbc|manual" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><input name="Button" type="button" value="Buy Batman: The Killing Joke on Amazon.com" /></a></p>