CLUB OF VILLAINS

Membership: Charlie Caligula, Dr. Hurt, El Sombrero, King Kraken, Le Bossu, Pierrot, Scorpiana, Swagman

Base of Operations: Gotham City

First Appearance: Batman I #676 (June, 2008)

History (Batman I #676) - Dr. Hurt created the Club of Villains as a villainous counterpart to Batman’s Club of Heroes. Hurt invited Le Bossu to join the Club, saying their reach extended far and wide because of their association with the Black Glove. Le Bossu arrived at the Club headquarters and killed a stranger on their doorstep to see if they had the connections they claimed to have. Hurt assured him he was already faking the man’s medical records and composing a suicide note to his widow to hide the crime. The Club was preparing for the Danse Macabre, and the Black Glove invited Bruce Wayne and his girlfriend Jezebel Jet to their exclusive party. Le Bossu traveled to Gotham City, shut the power to Arkham Asylum, and told Joker he was cordially invited by the Black glove to Batman’s Dance of Death.

(Batman I #677, 678) - Dr. Hurt brought his Club of Villains to Gotham City, telling them their mission was to break Batman in body and soul. Hurt said Batman went to great lengths to make himself strong, which only revealed the weakness he felt he had to overcome. He told his club that their targets, Batman’s family, awaited. Jezebel Jet visited the Batcave for the first time, telling Batman it was a shrine to violence and the reaction of a scared boy to his parents’ death. She told him there were other ways he could help society. Batman had a brief suspicion that the Black Glove was manipulating her into undermining his confidence in his mission. Batman watched his viewscreens and saw a number of Gotham alleys with graffiti reading Zur-En-Arrh, and he went into convulsions. Le Bossu’s Gargoyles and King Kraken invaded the Batcave, setting fires, and when Alfred Pennyworth arrived they beat him mercilessly. Bruce woke to Dr. Hurt standing over him, and the villain dosed him with crystal meth before dumping him in a Gotham alley. Robin was ambushed by Pierrot and Swagman, but escaped them on his motorcycle. Charlie Caligula sent his roman centurion themed goons after Nightwing, who beat them in a fight. He was then confronted by Scorpiana. She captured him, and Le Bossu had him committed to Arkham Asylum as Pierrot. Dr. Hurt kept Alfred hostage, and delighting in his triumph he took Thomas Wayne’s Bat Man costume from its’ Batcave display case and donned it. He shared champagne with his Club, saying that with Batman out of the way Gotham was theirs for the taking. Bruce, having wandered into Crime Alley, sewed a motley Batman costume, and even though he doubted weather or not everything he was experiencing was real de declared himself the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh.

(Batman I #679) - The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh talked to the city and after a chat with some stone gargoyles he felt he saw the lines that connected Gotham with the lives of its’ inhabitants. He found Le Bossu’s hideout, but Bat-Mite warned him Dr. Hurt had implanted a homing device on him, and he was forced to dig it out of his tooth with a knife. Batman took a baseball bat to Bossu’s Gargoyles, and then went to wash his wounds in a public restroom. Bat-Mite told him he’d first hallucinated bout Zur-En-Arrh, the planet with two Batmen, when Professor Milo doused him with hallucinogenic gas. Dr. Hurt was subjecting him to isolation experiments at the time, and used Zur-En-Arrh as a mental command he could use to shut down Batman. What he hadn’t anticipated was that Batman was prepared for mental attacks, and created the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh as a psychotic backup personality. There was internecine conflict in the club when Charlie Caligula learned Le Bossu was muscling in on his Gladiator territory. Charlie and King Kraken interrogated a Gargoyle before Kraken killed the thug, with Charlie feigning disgust, saying he hated to get his divine hands dirty. Batman confronted them and captured Charlie, but Kraken managed to flee. Batman interrogated Charlie, who threatened him saying he’d ruin his entire life. Batman knew Charlie was once an up-and-coming Mafioso “Little Boots” Calzone but said he was past his prime. The white makeup he wore and psychotic babblings he feigned made it obvious he was a pale imitation of the Joker, and Batman called him a has-been before taking a baseball bat to him. Robin realized Nightwing was MIA, and had his motorcycle tires shot out by Swagman. They clashed in a junkyard, and Robin set off an avalanche of trash to pin down Swagman before stealing his motorbike and fleeing. Commissioner Gordon and a GCPD officer went to Wayne Manor demanding to see Bruce Wayne. El Sombrero laced the manor with death-traps, and the officer got an arrow through the head after tripping a laser beam. Dr. Hurt was confident Gordon would soon be dead as well, and prepared for the final confrontation with Batman at Arkham Asylum. He was disappointed in Swagman for not capturing Robin, saying he’d promised the boy to Joker. Dr. Hurt claimed to be Thomas Wayne and beat Alfred, saying he knew he was Bruce’s real father. Alfred said he knew Thomas Wayne well, and knew Dr. Hurt was not the man he loved and admired. The Club kidnapped Jezebel Jet and handed her over to the Joker, telling him it was showtime.

(Batman I #680, 681) - Dr. Hurt invited the Black Glove to Arkham Asylum for the annual Danse Macabre, where they’d bet on the life or death of a victim chosen by Hurt. Batman was this years victims, and they watched his progress through viewscreens.  Dr. Hurt set Joker loose, and Le Bossu told Joker how much they all admired him. Joker was unimpressed, and after Le Bossu explained that his hunchback disguise represented the ugliness within him Joker took a razor to him and disfigured his face. Joker told El Sombrero his hat made hi m laugh, and hung him, breaking his neck. Batman confronted Joker, demanding to see Jet. Joker told Batman he’d learned that he’d allowed Dr. Hurt to perform isolation experiments on him in hopes of understanding Joker’s psychopathic mind, and Joker was amused that Batman thought he could ever understand him. Joker said Batman couldn’t analyze him or break him down into components like a crime scene. Joker was still furious that Batman broke their arrangement as eternal arch-enemies by shooting him in the face. Batman protested that the man that shot joker was Josef Muller, an imposter trained and set on Joker by Dr. Hurt, but Joker refused to listen. After a brief clash Batman saw Jet behind a glass case with flower petals falling on her. The petals contained powerful neurotoxins, and Dr. Hurt told Joker to let things play out. Batman broke the glass, but the petals poisoned him and further warped his mind. Jezebel Jet laughed, revealing herself as a member of the Black Glove. Dr. Hurt buried Batman alive in a shallow grave. The Black Glove held a mock funeral for Batman, and some of the members told Dr. Hurt they weren’t yet satisfied with his promise that they’d see a noble spirit completely broken. Hurt said that they’d dine, and then dig up Batman.. He only had thirty minutes of oxygen in his coffin, and when they unearthed him he would have suffered permanent brain damage. Jezebel Jet suggested they take the helpless Batman and torture and mutilate him. They returned to Arkham, and Joker said he wanted to bet on Batman’s survival. Dr. Hurt told Joker only members of the Black Glove could vote, and Joker argued he was worthy of membership because he’d burned more money than most of them had and was more infamous than any of them. He broke the neck of a Black Glove member and said he bet Batman would not only survive but make them all regret they’d ever tried to destroy him. He presented Batman’s Bat-Radia, which Jet said was a broken radio he’d found in a homeless man’s shopping cart, but realized it was sending out a signal to the Batcave, locking down Arkham. Joker said he was leaving and would collect his winnings from the Black Glove in due time. Batman, his original personality having been restored, escaped his coffin and grave to confront the Black Glove. Jet goaded him, saying there was no court, judge or jury they couldn’t buy, and no matter what they’d never be brought to justice. Batman knew that Jet and her mother were won by President Mkele during a wager with the Black Glove, and claimed he had the only thing Jet valued in life, the last note her mother sent her before being executed. Jet called Batman a liar, and said that after her he’d never be able to love or trust another woman again. Batman had always suspected something was off about Jet, and realized that what he was attracted to was the darkness he knew was inside her. Nightwing freed himself from Bossu and Scorpiana, and helped Batman fight off the Club and Dr. Hurt at Arkham Asylum. Hurt prepared to takeoff in a helicopter piloted by Bat-Devil, and claimed to be Thomas Wayne. Batman didn’t believe him, and Hurt said he’d staged photos that would paint his parents and Alfred as criminals and degenerates, threatening to release them unless Batman agreed to serve the Black Glove. Batman refused and jumped on the helicopter. Bat-Devil couldn’t control the flight and the helicopter plummeted into Gotham Harbor, exploding in a burst of flames. Nightwing dredged up Batman’s uniform, and Talia al Ghul, who came to Gotham as soon as she learned Batman was in trouble, promised to avenge the father of her child. In the coming months several members of the Black Glove turned up dead. Talia wanted personal revenge on Jezebel Jet, and sent a squad of Man-Bat Commandoes after her private plane as she was trying to return to her home country of Mtamba.

Comments: Created by Grant Morrison & Tony S. Daniel.

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