In Drawing Crazy Patterns, I spotlight at least five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Note that these lists are inherently not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I’ll be nice and toss in a sixth). So no instance is “missing” if it is not listed. It’s just not one of the five examples that I chose.
Today, we look at supervillains who made their debut as if they were already established members of a superhero’s rogues gallery. I don’t mean supervillains who debuted alongside a superhero, I mean villains who show up as already established members of an established hero’s rogues gallery.
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THE RED HOOD
In Detective Comics #168 (by Bill Finger, Lew Schwartz and George Roussos), Batman is visiting a Gotham criminology college course and he challenges them with trying to solve the riddle of one of his old villains, the Red Hood!
Later in the issue, after one of the students PRETENDS the be the Red Hood, we meet the ACTUAL Red Hood and we learn the mystery that the Red Hood was the JOKER!
It’s fascinating to see them present Batman’s crimefighting history as over ten years at the time.
In Avengers #4 (by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and George Roussos), we see that Captain America and Bucky were going against SOME bad guy when Cap was thrown into suspended animation during World War II…
Two issues later (by Kirby, Lee and Chic Stone), we meet Baron Zemo for the first time, but learn that he was that mystery man from Avengers #4 (in a clever move, Marvel also had Zemo appear in an issue of Nick Fury set in World War II that very month, to really up the whole “established villain” feel to him).
In X-Men #7 (by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Chic Stone), Professor Xavier leaves the X-Men for unexplained reasons.
Two issues later, he reveals that he has discovered the supervillain Lucifer, who he also reveals is the bad guy who cost Xavier the use of his legs!
In The Brave and the Bold #78 (by Bobs Haney and Brown), the issue opens with Batman befuddled by a new villain, the Copperhead, but we discover that this has been going on for so long that Commissioner Gordon is starting to lose patience with the Dark Knight Detective…
Shadow of the Bat #2 (by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle) is about Arkham Asylum, specifically how a murdered is escaping the asylum without anyone noticing. That villain is Mister Zsasz, who makes his memorable debut in this issue, but we are treated with the fact that Batman and Commissioner Gordon are very familiar with this notable psycho…
If anyone can think of more examples of this trope, I wouldn’t mind doing another one of these. Thanks to Scoot Allan and Tim Webber for helping me figure out Lucifer’s eligibility for this bit!
If anyone else has an idea for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns, drop me a line at email@example.com!