Victor Zsasz created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle in
Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1 (June 1992)
Formerly wealthy man, scion to a business empire - when his
parents died, he sank into depression, and lost everything gambling
- as he was preparing to kill himself, he encountered a vagrant who
tried to rob him, and Victor said he realized the man was operating
as a “robot” on base emotion and desire - he killed the vagrant to
“free” him, and marked his body
There is no MO to his choices - although he prefers to slice
the neck, he will kill however he can, and ritualistically marks
his body for each kill
The number of kills must match the number of marks - marked
himself after stabbing Alfred, only to discover Batman saved his
life, and he said his skin was “crawling” because the tally was
Regularly escapes Arkham every time he is held there
Considered by Batman to be the nemesis he hates the most
Although he typically works alone, he does occasionally partner
with other criminals - was working with/for Black Mask at one
point, and during the War of Jokes & Riddles, he sided with the
Nihilistic view of the world
Ego to think of himself as a “savior” to others (11:00)
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In-universe - Use electrolysis to change the number of marks on
his body and see what happens
Out of universe - (36:03)
Hello Victor, I’m Dr. Issues. - Hello Doctor. And which
professional school of therapy do you subscribe to? You appear to
be too modern for Skinner or Freud. I peg you for a Beck man.
I appreciate the guesses, but I find that locking myself into
one particular mindset does a disservice to my patients. No one
fits neatly into a set of labels. - Oh, but that’s where you’re
wrong, Doctor. The overwhelming majority of people walking this
earth are zombies. Sheep. Slaves. They know nothing of free will or
independence. It’s my job to free them from their prisons.
Ironic that a man confined under lock and key talks about
freeing others. - As Dean Martin said, “life’s really funny that
way”. And I do enjoy a good laugh.
I wouldn’t have pegged you for a Rat Pack guy...and even then,
would’ve gone with the Chairman. But enough banter, what’s with the
killing? -So my intuition let me down for once. I figured this was
more of a chess match, feeling each other out. You delivered the
first blow. So be it. I want to save the world.
That’s...so off the beaten path -*tsk tsk tsk* You tried to be
hard-nosed, get to the point, then backtrack when I show my hand?
You definitely are an eclectic man.
How am I supposed to believe that you want to save anyone when
you end their existence AND keep score? -It’s actually very easy
once you see all of the pieces lined up properly. Who was
it...Sherlock I think...when you have eliminated all other
possibilities, the only one remaining must be the answer, no matter
So that means I’m supposed to follow you down the rabbit hole
to see how you came to that conclusion. -It’s only natural.
Living is natural. -So is death.
So is survival, struggle, resistance, challenge -And defeat,
despair, inevitability. PAIN.
All a part of the human experience...and all can be healed,
except death. You bring people to that conclusion too quickly. -Are
you familiar with hospice, doctor? Imagine if you knew that
everything is coming to an end, sooner than you think. How would
you live those final days? Would you really be pushing papers and
worrying about binary code on a screen with visual inputs to dull
your mind? Or would you maintain intimacy with those closest to
you? Wouldn’t you want to spend every waking hour with those you
care about? Now imagine you could have that life, right now,
without the agony of breathlessness or your body riddled with
tumors. The freedom to have all of the urgency, without the
suffering of losing your mind to dementia. I grant that freedom,
and I do it graciously.
*pause* The best and worst part of that diatribe is that I find
myself resonating with any part of it. It means that we have a
connection. I’m going to chalk it up to both of us remaining human
on a base level, and nothing more. -I’m glad to let you dip your
toe into the water. Now, will you have the courage to dive in?
Are you trying to remain civil when discussing this? Because as
polite as I may sound, I’m actually disgusted. -*slight anger*
Don’t show faux disgust when you just admitted that you have a
twisted mind...the kind of mind that most don’t understand. Let me
You’re really trying to make this that kind of session, where I
get so empathetic that I misplace my ethics. You’re not even close.
I’m not going to be an added mark on your visceral scorecard.
-*quick switch to excitement* You FINALLY got to it. I’m impressed.
Usually therapists comment within the first 30 seconds of meeting
me. What took you so long?
It’s an obvious thing. I figured you were tired of people
asking, so I wasn't going to do it for the millionth time. I wonder
though, what happens when you have no more space? -There are
ways...in fact, there is one area that I keep a hidden set of marks
that no one knows about.
-*interrupting* I am NOT that kind of doctor so -Oh don’t be so
childish. That's not what I meant. Just a few spots that I have
left over, so I savor those occasions...a little bit extra. You
know who I’m talking about, right?
But you don’t obsess over what hasn’t happened yet. You go over
what you’ve done...again, and again. Sounds droll to you, dull to
me. -Then I can make it droll to you. There’s one mark that’s
incredibly special to me. It’s my most cherished. In fact, without
it, I don’t think I can go on like this. It would absolutely
devastate me if anything happened to it.
Fascinating. Perhaps we can delve into that specifically, who
was it? *stutters* I...I...this is embarrassing...2..3...4…
What are you doing? -I can’t tell you about that mark until I
actually get to it *keeps counting, quicker*
47...48..49…***whispering sounds, then excited*** yes...YES! Here!
Come quick, I can show you! Here, on my arm!
Okay then, let me just ***gags while Zsasz laughs*** -You
foolish man. You walk into your own demise for the sake of pitiful
transference? I’ll have you know, I have made it my personal
mission to maintain my strength through a series of isometric
exercises...there is no way that you can escape my grasp. Tell
me...is it true about what they say about your life passing before
*physical struggle, brief* *Doc is gasping but can still talk*
I wouldn’t know. - *clearly pissed off* How...HOW?
Who knew that doing Tough Mudders for fun and having self
defense training for acute care situations would come in handy so
well? *pause* Aw crud, call in a medical consult, I may have
injured something here...and there’s blood somewhere. -There will
be more than blood when I…*realizes he has been cut* you don’t cut
your nails...you scratched me...Do no harm indeed… but it...it
touches another...no...it’s wrong. The count is wrong. You’re not
dead but your scar is with me! This is not the way!
*whispering to someone* and next time have the injection ready
ahead of time -You’re not listening? Are you really just going
about your day as if you haven’t destroyed the balance of my
being?! This is on your head. You will never be forgiven. Yours
will be swift, when you LEAST expect it! ...GET THAT NEEDLE AWAY
FROM ME! I WILL NOT HAVE MY BODY DEFILED! YOU ARE ALL MONSTERS!
RESTRAINTS MEAN NOTHING TO ME!
Saving the world doesn't necessarily mean you go home happy. How's the mental health of your favorite superhero? A comic aficionado and a board-certified psychiatrist look at the various neuroses of your favorite heroes and villains and provide options for treatment.