Arkham City Turns a Forgotten Batman Foe Into Gotham’s Most Terrifying Villain
In Arkham City: Order of the World. one of Batman’s silliest villains is transformed into one of Gotham City’s scariest monsters.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Arkham City: New World Order #1, on sale now
The history of the DC Universe is full of reinventions that have occurred across various reboots, with relatively silly earlier versions of characters giving way to something far more fierce or unique in later stories. It’s especially prevalent with Batman villains, with many silly Silver Age-era characters being brought back in new forms over the years.
Building on the latent horror of a previous redesign, the Ten-Eyed Man is the latest Gotham villain to evolve from a joker into a horror, as he’s confirmed to be one of the survivors of the A-Day Massacre in Arkham City: New World Order #1 by Dan Watters, Dani, and Dave Stewart.
The Ten-Eyed Man was introduced in 1970’s Batman #226 by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. Ten-Eyed Man was originally a former soldier turned villain, who had the ability to see through his fingers. The Pre-Crisis version of the character was one of the casualties of Crisis on Infinite Earths, one of the numerous goofy concepts that were wiped out by the event. The concept wouldn’t return in the Post-Crisis timeline until the events of 52 and Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, where the Ten-Eyed Men of the Empty Quarter were introduced as a nomadic tribe of warriors who battled Bruce Wayne, with costumes more like the one that appears here. He’s been displayed as one of the inmates of Arkham Asylum in the current continuity with possible mystical connections but has had little role in storylines outside of brief appearances in Batman: Eternal.
Due to his inherently silly name and concept, the character has primarily appeared in outside media as something of a joke character. But his reinvention in Arkham City: Order of the World paints him as a genuinely terrifying figure. Following the events of A-Day — where the Joker seemingly was framed for an attack on Arkham Asylum that left almost all the inmates and staff dead — Ten-Eyed Man is confirmed to be one of the villains who escaped custody and escaped into Gotham City. His eyes seem to be able to gaze across the city, allowing him to watch his other escaped fellow inmates from afar. He’s gained a skin-tight black suit that covers his whole body save for his fingertips and his shoulders.
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The Ten-Eyed Man is introduced confronting a businessman in the city, demanding his teeth as part of a ritual to protect Gotham from deep darkness that’s infecting the city. He’s also shown to move like a contortionist, stretching and straining his body in bizarre ways while speaking with a distinctly wavering tone. While many of the escaped inmates have found homes for themselves or continue their strange “work” across Gotham, Ten-Eyed Man has actually been taken in by Doctor Joy, one of the only Arkham psychiatric staff who survived the A-Day attack, due to her unexpectedly lucky vacation time. She’s trying to keep him safe, but he keeps breaking out across the city — even returning and showing her a bloodied jawbone that he needed for his ritual. Distressingly, Joy even helps him with his ritual.
It’s the scariest incarnation of the character yet, who was previously defined by a goofy costume and hairdo that only added to the ridiculous nature of the character. But by making his “eyes” more ethereal and bizarre, Arkham City: Order of the World found a way to make him decidedly more frightening as a concept. As revealed by the end of the issue, the stolen jawbone was retrieved even though he hadn’t broken the man’s skin — hinting that his powers really are magical in nature. Like previous Batman villains who were reinvented from silly concepts into genuine characters — like with Mister Freeze and Deadshot — the Ten-Eyed Man’s new incarnation might (and likely should) become the default version of the character going forward.
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