There are a lot of villains in ALL STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY.
No, really. If “most super-villain cameos per issue of a comic” were a record that could be awarded, All Star would probably win it. It averages around five or six supporting characters per issue in the first arc alone—and they’re not all familiar faces. Far from it, in fact. Scott Snyder and John Romita, Jr.’s My Own Worst Enemy is a veritable who’s who of Gotham’s lesser-known criminal element. And with the first trade paperback about to hit shelves, now is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with some new (old) bad guys, no matter how obscure they might seem. These are just a few of the ones you’ll find in this wild road trip of a Batman tale.
Anatoli Knyazev, aka KGBeast, aka the Beast, is a deadly, cybernetically enhanced assassin and relic of the Cold War. He’s rumored to have almost 200 kills under his belt and is said to have mastered every deadly weapon known to man.
His introduction to the Batman mythos came in 1988 during a story bearing the ominous title “The Ten Nights of the Beast,” where Bruce had to intervene before Anatoli could successfully execute ten different high ranking US officials—both military and civilian alike.
Despite his initial, incredibly intense beginnings, KGBeast fluctuated wildly from top-tier villain to D-list character and back again as time went by until he was eventually killed by Two-Face during the “One Year Later” event, post-INFINITE CRISIS, in the early 2000s.
Now, All Star Batman brings the rebirth of the Beast...and a decided return to his original, terrifying, status quo.
Like many villains that got their start in the early years of Batman, Killer Moth’s beginnings were...um…interesting. He had a “mothmobile” and a “mothsignal,” he even eventually had a “mothcave.” Because why not, right? If you’re going to try and beat the Bat, you may as well try and be the Bat...Or, the bug, I guess.
From these camp-filled origins grew a shockingly complex lineage of super-villains working under the Killer Moth mantle. Some followed closely in the footsteps of the original Bat knockoff while others were mutated into truly Kafka-esque human-moth hybrid monsters more in the vein of Man-Bat. Interestingly enough, Killer Moth is a villain with some of the strongest ties to Barbara Gordon’s origin as Batgirl, and is often featured in stories about her first days as a vigilante.
Another insect-themed legacy villain, Black Spider got his start in the late ’70s with a gritty, addiction\-filled origin story befitting of the Bronze Age of comics. The first Black Spider, a man named Eric Needham, was actually something of a Red Hood type antihero at the beginning—a former heroin addict who swept through Gotham, brutally murdering drug lords. And just like Red Hood, his brutal methods put him at odds with Batman. Interestingly enough, Needham was brought into the New 52 as a short-lived member of the Suicide Squad.
Over the years, as new heirs to the Black Spider title stepped in, his motivations shifted further and further away from “cleaning up” the streets and more into profiteering. Eventually, the most recent Black Spider, a man by the name of Derrick Coe, would put aside all pretense of having any altruistic motives and go on to become a full-fledged member of the Society of Supervillains.
Not to be confused with Warren White, aka Great White Shark (the Gotham City crime lord who is a mostly human looking guy, albeit with alabaster skin and a scary rictus grin), King Shark is a shark who only kind of looks like a human. Of course, in addition to looking like a monster, King Shark is an unstoppable killing machine who may or may not be the son of the literal God of all sharks. So, you know, not someone you want to run into in the water or otherwise.
That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a totally bad guy though, right? Like his fellow animal-styled monster, Killer Croc, King Shark occasionally had moments of moral ambiguity. Eventually he found a home on the Suicide Squad and the Secret Six. So not always totally evil, right?
By the way, you can also catch King Shark in this month’s issue of TEEN TITANS.
The story of Aaron Helzinger is actually a pretty tragic one. The victim of brutal medical experimentation that removed the amygdala part of his brain (see where he got his name?), the procedure resulted in the severe hindering of Aaron’s emotional maturity. Essentially, Amygdala’s a giant, superhumanly strong man with the mentality of a very young child. It is, needless to say, a very dangerous combination.
Like so many others, Aaron’s brushes with real villainy are rather hit or miss. He usually finds himself the victim of manipulation rather than the conscious aggressor in most of the situations he falls into. In fact, for an extended period of time back in the early 2000s, Aaron was successfully rehabilitated by Dick Grayson with the help of some high-powered and experimental medication.
Of course, like most good things, it clearly couldn’t last forever.
And finally, to round out our list (and pull it to the more heroic side of things)—a friendly face! That’s right, All Star Batman Vol. 1 marks the return of more than just villains. Bruce got an ally back as well.
Harold Allnut was brought into the Bat family back in 1989, around the same time Tim Drake first picked up the mantle of Robin. A mute with a brilliant mind for mechanical engineering, Harold was trusted by Bruce to work in the Batcave during the “Knightfall” saga, where he proved useful working as a mechanic and inventor for the team. One of Harold’s most recognizable contributions to the Family was the modern Nightwing costume, which he created for Dick just before his move to Bludhaven.
Over the years, Harold faded in and out of the background, always ready to lend a helping hand to a Bat in need, until he was tragically killed during HUSH. For those of you playing along at home, that means his return in All Star Batman marks his first appearance in around 13 years.
Welcome back, Harold! You’re just in time. Bruce is going to need all the help he can get to make it through this one.