Originally Published: May 10, 2011, on Comicvine.com

A short while ago, I remember reading that DC planned on giving Dick Grayson his own rogues gallery, on top of those we’ve seen him fight for years as Robin and Nightwing, that would fit more his interpretation of Gotham’s Batman. And so far they’ve been true to their word with the introduction of Professor Pyg, The White Knight, and The Dealer to name a few.

Now, one of my nightly routines, when not out and about, is to watch the Adam West Batman series on The Hub. It is one of my earliest comic book related memories to watch its syndicated re-runs growing up, usually right after Captain N the Game Master and the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, so it’s a nice way to relive my childhood for 30 minutes every night now that I’m an “adult”.

This all got me thinking back to a three-issue Batman: Confidential storyline from a couple years ago that introduced King Tut into the comic world of Batman. It seemed like a blatant reach to introduce new villains into the comic universe, but if DC is desperate for some new foes, then maybe they’ll be willing to reach back a few more times to those 1960s classics to help flesh out Dick’s rogues a bit more with some faces that us old-school fans might also have an extra appreciation for. Here’s a list of a few suggestions that I think would fit and not be too cheesy if written right.

1. False-Face: Originally played by Malachi Throne of Star Trek fame, False-Face was rumored to be a replacement for a story line that was going to incorporate Two-Face played by Clint Eastwood, but was scrapped because of a conflict he had since he was shooting a little movie called “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” at the time.

This expert jewel thief and master of disguise was actually featured in one three issue story arc in the comics in the late 1950s before retiring, but found his way into infamy more as a ghastly looking figure in the Adam West Batman series.

In order to modernize this character, instead of just making him a regular jewel thief that’s awesome with make-up, we make him a professor at STAR Labs or Cadmus. For one reason or another, one of the Clayfaces has been transported there for another gauntlet of tests and much like how many of Arkham’s inmates corrupt those around them, this time there is an accident and some of the basic compounds of Clayface splash onto a random scientist’s face, giving it malleable properties similar to Clayface. From there you can do a couple of things. Obsessed with the power he now has, False-Face attempts to finish the experiment and become the ninth Clayface, which I would like NOT to happen, but DC loves making more Clayfaces as laid out in a previous article of mine here. Or, he simply uses his abilities to turn to a life of crime and crosses Batman’s path.

2. The Minstrel: An electronics expert played by Van Johnson, The Minstrel appeared in only two episodes of the Adam West Batman and covers up his strong technology and electronics background with the simple motif of a wandering minstrel who distracts with both his song and various gadgets in order to pull off his crimes, including holding all of Gotham ransom to the whims of a sonic earthquake machine he creates.

Similar to the Joker in that he loves hijacking TV signals to torment the people of Gotham with his songs, The Minstrel takes pride in the fact that most people think his character is simply a joke while they listen to his pre-recorded telecasts consisting of him strumming and singing threats directed at Batman and the GCPD while he robs Gotham blind at the same time.

This classic use of misdirection and his strong electronics background makes The Minstrel could be just as worthy of being in the comics rogue gallery as The White Knight or Professor Pyg if this wandering wannabe musician becomes a bit more vicious and apt to kill while holding all of Gotham ransom with a more modern doomsday device.

3. Egghead: One of Hollywood’s most well-known actors of the last century, especially for the low budget horror films he would take part in, was Vincent Price. But when speaking of his favorite roles, Price went on record several times as saying the five full episodes and several cameos where he played Egghead in the Adam West Batman series was some of the best times he had on a soundstage.

Although featured in the background of several Batman comics and even having one issue of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic based off the Cartoon Network show (that pays homage to the campy days of Batman more than some may realize) devoted to him, Egghead has never been a major player at any point in the main DC continuity. But if Egg Fu can become a major player like in the series 52, why can’t Egghead get a facelift and get a couple issues devoted to him?

The biggest problem with Egghead is just trying to figure out how to revitalize arguably the campiest character ever. He has some interesting weapons like egg shaped tear gas bombs and laughing gas, but maybe he’d have to go darker. Acid filled eggs and mustard gas filled eggs for example. His crimes could still have the egg theme as well. Some kind of priceless Faberge eggs could be on display by the Wayne Foundation when he drops his mustard gas eggs on the wealthy socialites of Gotham. He’d definitely have to lose the egg-related puns though.

4. Zelda the Great: The great Anne Baxter would be called upon the play Zelda the Great very early in season one of the Adam West Batman series before being recast to play Olga, Queen of the Cossacks, in the third season. Her time as Zelda though was one of the more interesting two episodes of the series as Zelda was the first of several reluctant villains over the course of the series.

Zelda was once one of the greatest magicians and escape artists in the world, but as time went on her act grew stale and her career began to flounder. It is here that she procures the services of a retired trickster who promises to revive her act at the price of $100,000 per new trick and escape maneuver. Unable to come up with the funds but not willing to relinquish the spotlight, Zelda resorts to crime to pay for her rejuvenated act.

This could be the easiest character to rejuvenate. Cut out the secondary trickster and you could link Zelda back to the Dick’s Haley Circus days, turned to a life of crime for various reasons. Or, you could put it up as a Batman and Zatanna team-up, as Dick needs assistance with the more magical element. A disenchanted magician and escape artist who only saw the craft as a means to make money and once no longer able to fill the theatres, she turned to things more macabre than simple parlor tricks and sets her sights on robbing Gotham blind.

5. Sandman: Played by the English born Michael Rennie and only featured in two episodes, and even those saw him needing to be supported by the lovely Julie Newmar’s Catwoman, the Sandman is another easy modern conversion.

An infamous European criminal mastermind, Sandman concocts a plan to retire for good if he could pilfer the fortune of Gotham’s billionaire noodle queen, J. Pauline Spaghetti. J. Pauline is an infamous insomniac and so Sandman poses as Doctor Somnambula, an expert in curing insomniacs. In reality, Sandman simply sprays her with his sleep inducing powder where the victim slips more into a hypnotic trance and has J. Pauline reveal the location of her private financial records including stocks, bonds, and a couple hundred thousand dollars in “petty” cash that Sandman documents in the hopes of pilfering later on.

Obviously, if Sandman were to be done in a modern story arc, he’d have to be a bit more grandiose in his schemes. Instead of putting one billionaire to sleep, he could focus on the whole of Gotham before he lets loose with his sticky fingers. Or maybe you could make it a bit more personal and have the billionaire he plans on targeting be Bruce Wayne.

There are several other villains who were also original or adapted to fit the series like the counterfeit stamp maker Colonel Gumm, the wayward cowboy Shame, the master thief, assassin, and bowman the Archer who tangled once with Superman, or the first Puzzler who was also adapted from a Superman adventure, and many more, but I felt these five would be the easiest to adapt to modern times and also fit somehow into Dick Grayson’s Gotham.

So, what do you folks think of this list? Would these characters fit into modern times after a facelift? Are there some other villains that could work if they shed their campy origins and were brought into modern times? Let us know what you think with comments below and be sure to always stay tuned to the SAME COMICVINE TIME, SAME COMICVINE CHANNEL!

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