“A superstitious and cowardly lot." That’s how Bruce Wayne refers to his enemies in the first Batman comic, written in 1939. It’s also the phrase that sparked the imaginations of Pop Chart Lab, whose latest poster is a handy guide to the hundreds of bad guys who’ve appeared in the seventy odd years since.
The Myriad Monikers of Gotham’s Villains took a few weeks of exhaustive (and fun sounding?) research to create. The Pop Chart team poured over Batman encyclopedias, websites, and a six-foot-high stack of comics that date back to the 40s, eventually coming up with long list of bad guys. “Not only did we find that there are hundreds of Batman villains,” they tell Co.Design, “but all of them seem to have hilarious, strange, and sometimes nonsensical names.”
Organized into loose genres like Plants & Animals and Big Guys (“there’s a frankly baffling amount of Big Jims, Big Jacks, and Big Mikes”), the names are indeed very funny. Highlights include Nails Finney, Happy Hoggsby, Dr. Phosphorus, Fingers Nolan, and the straight-to-the-point The Idiot. The best may be “KGBeast.”
Fascinatingly, the names are often clearly evocative of distinct eras in American pop culture. As I looked over the chart, it was obvious which names were from the 50s, and which were from the 90s. “We found that as Batman evolved, so did the nature of his villains,” confirm the designers. “When he started, he faced off against the likes of the Joker. As he became a more light-hearted crime fighter, less-grave villains like the Condiment King (evil shooter of ketchup and mustard) appeared. In present day, writers like Grant Morrison have created surreal and downright frightening foes (Dr. Hurt, or the luchador-mask-wearing Sombrero) for the Dark Knight to go toe to toe with.”