This Friday, Batman fans gets to continue their digital journey into the Arkham franchise with the release of Batman: Arkham Origins. Unlike Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Origins is a prequel, detailing the early career of the Dark Knight. This means the classic rogues gallery that Batman faces is still in its infancy. We know we'll be seeing popular mainstays like the Joker, but the rest of the villainous cast is taken up by eight assassins hired by crime boss Black Mask to hunt down Batman on Christmas Eve.
Warner Bros Montreal has already revealed six of the assassins: Bane, Deadshot, Deathstroke, Copperhead, Firefly and the Electrocutioner. All Games Beta obtained two leaked screenshots of the final two: Killer Croc and Lady Shiva. Alongside Black Mask, there's a lot of unfamiliar faces for non-comic readers in the cast. Since it's comics day, I felt it was the perfect time to illuminate those of you who don't spend $20 every week on printed floppies. You can't beat a villain up unless you truly know where they're coming from.
In the comics, Black Mask has been the name of two unpowered criminals: Roman Sionis and Dr. Jeremiah Arkham. Black Mask #1's first appearance was Batman #386 in August 1985, and he was created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake. Sionis is a former rich kid friend of Bruce Wayne turned to a life of crime; this is probably the version that will feature in the game. His black mask is forged from his father's ebony casket and he leads a band of thugs called the False Face Society, each with their own distinctive mask.
His big claim to fame was during the "War Games" storyline in 2004. The arc involved former Robin Stephanie Brown enacting a Batman plan to start a gang war in Gotham and unite the entire criminal overworld under Matches Malone, one of Batman's aliases. Black Mask kidnaps and kills Stephanie, taking over the plan and most of Gotham's criminal underworld in the process. He was later killed by Catwoman, who shoots him in the head.
The second Black Mask is the more insane of the two, who popped up in the "Battle for the Cowl" arc in 2009. Arkham is the head of Arkham Asylum, who later has a psychotic break and becomes the second Black Mask. He's later found out and incarcerated in his own asylum.
DC rebooted its continuity with the "New 52" in 2011. Following the reboot, the black mask has been passed back to a distinctly not-dead Roman Sionis by a distinctly not-jailed Jeremiah Arkham. Sionis also now has direct hypnotic control over members of his False Face Society, because "why not?"
Deadshot is a non-powered hitman named Floyd Lawton with perfect aim. He first appeared in Batman #59 in 1950 and was created by Bob Kane, David Vern Reed and Lew Schwartz, but most of his major character work was done by writer John Ostrander in the Suicide Squad series. Lawton isn't crazy, just a pure mercenary; he'll do the job for the highest bidder. He wears a mask with a built-in sniper scope and most incarnations feature wrist-mounted guns of some sort.
Lawton is one of the survivors of the US government's Suicide Squad program, which outfits captured supervillains with lethal countermeasures and forces them to perform high-risk black ops missions. Lawton was involved in three Suicide Squad series prior to the New 52 reboot. He was also a member of the Secret Six, a group of supervillain mercenaries. With the reboot, Deadshot has returned to the Suicide Squad.
Deadshot was also featured in a few episodes of the CW's Arrow, which is based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow.
Deathstroke the Terminator is the full supervillain name of Slade Wilson, a merc and assassin with heightened agility, strength, mental prowess, and reflexes. His first appearance was in New Teen Titans #2 in 1980 and the character was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Deathstroke is an anti-Captain America, the result of a US Army program to create superpowered soldiers.
Deathstroke is a long-time antagonist of the Teen Titans. His big moment was during the Teen Titans arc "Judas Contract," where it was revealed that new Titans member Terra was actually working for Deathstroke to take down the team from the inside. The plan failed when Terra had a change of heart; the arc ended with her dead and Deathstroke in jail. He returned to fight the Titans a number of times over the years, an older mercenary obsessed with killing teenagers and twenty-somethings (weird, right?). Oddly enough, two of Deathstroke's children have been Titans: his son Jericho and his daughter Ravager.
Post-New 52, Deathstroke's solo series had him as the top mercenary in the DC Universe, but that series ended this past July. He was also a major villain in the Teen Titans cartoon. Deathstroke and Slade Wilson are two different characters in CW's Arrow show, with Deathstroke as a villain and Wilson as hero Oliver Queen's mentor.
Fun fact: Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson, is superficially based on Deathstroke.
Copperhead is another villain with multiple versions, who first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #78 in 1968 and was created by Bob Haney and Bob Brown. The first version was an unnamed contortionist with a powered snake costume who strangled his victims to death. He later sold his soul to the DC version of the Devil, Neron, who turned him into a snake/man hybrid. He died at the hands of Manhunter, Kate Spencer. The second Copperhead, Nathan Price, was a member of the Teen Titans villain group, the Terror Titans. He also had no powers whatsoever.
The New 52 version of Copperhead is 100 percent snakeman, with increased agility and poisonous fangs. Like the first version, New 52 Copperhead has no human name.
Yeah, Copperhead isn't a very interesting villain, which is why Warner Bros Montreal created a completely different version of the character for Arkham Origins. The new Copperhead is an acrobatic female assassin, a weird mix of the original and Catwoman. This version is reportedly based on a character that will appear in upcoming DC comics.
Firefly is another low-level Batman villain that Warner Bros Montreal gets to play around with. He first appeared in 1952's Detective Comics #184 by France Herron and Dick Sprang. Garfield Lynns is a pyrokinetic expert for films whose latent pyromania manifests when he turns to crime. He builds himself a fireproof flight suit, a flamethrower, and other flame-based weapons. DC hasn't even seen fit to reintroduce the character in the New 52 yet.
Despite doing little in the comics, Firefly has appeared in The New Batman Adventures, Justice League, The Batman, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He was in CW's Arrow as a scarred ex-firefighter seeking revenge.
Look, he flies and he burns things. I don't have much else for you.
The Electrocutioner is a thug in a electric-powered suit who first appeared in 1981's Batman #331, created by Marv Wolfman, Jim Aparo, and Irv Novick. The second Electrocutioner used a similar suit to kill criminals before he was killed by an anti-hero, Vigilante. The most notable version of the character - and that's not saying much - first appeared in 1992's Detective Comics #644, created by Chuck Dixon, Tom Lyle, and Scott Hanna.
Electrocutioner's main moment in the spotlight is getting killed by Arsenal/Red Arrow, Green Arrow's former sidekick. See, the villain was the trigger for a bomb that blew up Star City, Green Arrow's stomping grounds, and killed Red Arrow's young daughter. Not the mastermind behind the bomb, just the trigger. It was the super-powered version of pressing the button or throwing the switch.
He's been seen in Justice League Unlimited, but so was most of the DC Universe. Sometimes you just need another bad guy for Batman to hit. Electrocutioner fits the bill. Plus, Batman has some cool shock gloves in Arkham Origins. He probably steals them off of this guy.
Anarky was originally the alias of child prodigy Lonnie Machin, who debuted in Detective Comics #608 in 1989. The character was created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle to interject a bit of political and philosophical discussion into Batman comics. Anarky has no powers, but comes with a ton of gadgets and a strong anti-authority, anti-corruption, and anti-militarist bent. The fact that he looks like today’s Anonymous is no coincidence: both the character and the movement’s visual style are inspired by the main character of Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta.
Anarky is the character that Batman writers use when they have something important to talk about. In earlier versions, the character’s philosophies were closely aligned with creator and writer Alan Grant.
Anarky has a number of fans from his original debut and following series, so the character is seeing an interesting little revival. A different, less politically-charged version is the headlining villain in Beware the Batman. Anarky in Batman: Arkham Origins is an anti-villain in charge of an Occupy-style movement trying to tear down Gotham’s elite class, hence the new look.
Last, but not least, is the rumored final assassin, Lady Shiva. Shiva is one of the DC Universe's best martial artists and an assassin who specializes in killing with her bare hands. Whenever some writer needs to establish that their new character is really awesome at martial arts, Lady Shiva appears and gets her butt kicked. She's the DC version of Lt. Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Lady Shiva first appeared in Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #5 back in 1975, created by Denny O'Neil and Ric Estrada.
Shiva has been a villain, an anti-hero, and a hero over the course of her fictional career. She's trained a few heroes and is the mother of Batgirl number three, Cassandra Cain. In the New 52 continuity she's still a martial arts-based assassin, but her age has been tweaked so she's roughly the same age as the first Robin and current Nightwing. Dick Grayson. Plus, I hear her new armadillo-style costume is all the rage these days. (Disclaimer: I'm lying)
The Arkham Origins version seems to be based on her look just prior to the New 52 reboot. Lady Shiva has appeared in the Birds of Prey live-action series and a number of episodes of the Beware the Batman cartoon.