Comics Reviews

How Batman Got Outsmarted and Humiliated by DC’s Dumbest Villain

Batman is considered the World’s Greatest Detective, but in Legends of the Dark Knight #6, he is outwitted by one of DC’s dumbest villains.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for “The Curse of Slaughter Swamp” from Legends of the Dark Knight #6, on sale now from DC Comics.

Batman is one of the smartest people in the DC Universe. Not only does he keep his body in peak condition but he keeps his mind sharp as well. He’s outsmarted the likes of Lex Luthor, sat on the Mobius Chair, and is known for being the World’s Greatest Detective. All of these factors make his latest confrontation with DC’s dumbest villain all the more embarrassing.

Batman is tracking down Solomon Grundy in the aptly titled “The Curse of Slaughter Swamp” from Legends of the Dark Knight #6 (by Becky Cloonan, Dike Ruan, Dave McCaig and Ariana Maher). After finally catching up to the dim-witted zombie, he follows him into the sewers and tries to reason with him as well as understand where he’s coming from. Although the World’s Greatest Detective doesn’t entirely believe the monster’s claims that he is being framed, the Dark Knight clearly wants to build some sort of trust with him. This leads him to make a hilariously huge mistake.

As they talk about the “Bad Man” following Grundy, he suddenly tells the Dark Knight that man is right behind him. Batman, the trusting person that he is, turns to look. When he notices there’s nothing there, he turns back, only to see that Grundy is long gone. Considering how smart Batman is, it’s staggering to see him falling for one of the oldest tricks in the book, especially at the hands of the traditionally dim-witted zombie.

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Even though he can articulate thoughts well enough here, other times he has been portrayed as a far more mindless creature. A number of interpretations have had him only able to say the lines to the Solomon Grundy nursery rhyme, most notably Arkham City‘s version of the undead goliath. Some even have him revert into a mindless beast incapable of speech altogether, as was in the case in the tragic episode “Wake the Dead” from Justice League Unlimited.

However, Grundy has also been shown as capable of great intelligence in the comics. Created by Alfred Bester and Paul Reinman in All-American Comics #61, this zombified villain was originally a mobster called Cyrus Gold before he was murdered and his body left in Gotham’s Slaughter Swamp. He was revived one hundred years later, without any memory of who he was, and terrorized the world as the villain Solomon Grundy.

His old personality as Cyrus Gold has emerged from time to time. When he was revived after his death in Infinite Crisis, he came back with a surprising intelligence in Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes’s Justice League of America, so much so that he was able to kidnap the Justice League member Red Tornado and enlist the help of Professor Ivo. However, he was killed by Tornado and resurrected with his more traditional level of intelligence.

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Though it isn’t Cyrus Gold who tricked Batman here, Gold is ultimately the reason why Batman believed Grundy. The mobster has been vying for control over the body he shares with Grundy this whole time, which is why the monster of Slaughter Swamp claimed he didn’t kill those people despite the Dark Knight witnessing the whole thing. The World’s Greatest Detective believed there really was someone behind him because in Grundy’s mind there was.

In the end, Batman leaves Solomon Grundy to contend with his demons in Slaughter Swamp. Though being tricked by one of DC’s dumbest villains is something the Dark Knight can never live down, he isn’t concerned about that. All he cares about now is whether he did right by Grundy and whether the beast can overcome his demons alone.

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