Historically, I’ve always preferred X-Men comic books, in which each character has his own fantastic, innate ability: telepathy, indestructibility, heightened senses, and so on — one guy even has a star for a brain! But over the years I’ve acquired a taste for Batman villains, many of whom have no special powers per se. Instead they’re all style, all pathological obsessions — a former district attorney who commits crimes on the theme of duality and who makes major decisions with a coin toss, a ventriloquist with multiple personality disorder who takes orders from his dummy, a pyromaniac with a flame-thrower — the list goes on.
Which is why I have a special appreciation for a recent story in The Baltimore Sun that begins, “A man brandishing a syringe robbed an Ellicott City pharmacy of prescription medication…” So peculiar — and yet so thematically cohesive! Since we don’t know his identity, we’ll call him Hypo, or the Needler, or Side Effect.
Now Ellicott City just needs a stylish, psychologically-tortured vigilante, someone who can end the reign of crime that has terrorized the populace and driven tourists away from the antique stores and boutiques downtown — someone who will apprehend Hypo and throw him into an institution for the criminally insane.
Or maybe the cops should just look into it, or whatever.