Summer is at an end, and the seasons begin to change yet again. Leaves turn colors and winter will be here before we know it.
And as the changes come once more, and time passes evermore, there is a knocking at the door. And no, it’s not a raven saying “Nevermore.” Just the next installment in this A-Z of Lesser-Known Villains of Batman.
There is a point to all this of course, because soon the calendar will be filled with holidays and important dates. Which is why it is particularly fitting to cover Calendar Man, as well as a villain whom, while not as high up the ladder as Joker or Mr. Freeze, still has the honor of being the first traditional supervillain to face the Dark Knight.
Some villains who have a particular modus operandi oftentimes become pigeon-holed initially, while others like Joker, Catwoman, or Lex Luthor, grow beyond their earlier material and get fleshed out into something more.
Such is the case with Calendar Man (Julian Gregory Day), a bad guy who at first glance in his history, will make new fans of Batman scratch their heads and ponder, “What was this guy’s deal?” But as this article will attest, he certainly blossomed into a very interesting adversary.
Not only was the character a far cry from his later material, his crimes were very bizarre, even by Gotham City standards. Instead of his well-known habit of crimes related to calendar events, they were centered around the four seasons.
It wasn’t until later showing in Batman #312 (June 1979) that audiences were given a more scaled-up foe. Garbed in a costume that included a cape made of calendar pages, Calendar Man set about to commit crimes themed to days of the week.
Sporadic issues in the 1980s moved him into the territory of holiday-themed capers, even going as far as to attempt to kill Jason Todd during his tenure as Robin on the first day of Spring.
Gone was the goofy costume and silly shtick. In its place was a bald-headed man, locked away in Arkham Asylum for committing murders at particular holidays on the calendar.
This total turnaround into a Hannibal Lecter-esque figure who taunted Batman with the knowledge of the story’s main nemesis, combined with his showing up throughout the other Loeb/Sale Batman stories, elevated him from a low-level position on the step-ladder of crime to something higher up the food chain.
It even carried over into him the mainstream books once more, all the way into the present age. Though at the moment, he may be even a touch superhuman as well, with Julian’s body aging and regenerating during his crime spree in accordance to the passing of seasons.
Thanks to the explosion in popularity in the recent years, Calendar Man has found his way into a variety of media tied to Batman and his world.
The New Adventures of Batman – A female version of the character named Calendar Girl, voiced by Sela Ward, appeared in a singular episode. Retooled as a former model who suffered from mental scarring, she terrorized Gotham with crimes committed around the Four Seasons.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Voiced by Jim Piddock in ‘Legends of the Dark Mite!,’ Calendar Man is decked out in his classic costume, summoned by Bat-Mite to fight the Dark Knight. After a brief (faked) battle, Bat-Mite endows the villain with the power to summon henchmen and monsters themed around holidays including Mutant Easter Bunnies, Biker Santas, etc. as the Calendar King. He also shows up in the episodes ‘Mayhem of the Music Meister’ and ‘A Bat Divided.’
Batman: Arkham Series – Voiced by Maurice LaMarche, Calendar Man is an unlockable character profile in Arkham Asylum after Batman locates his cell. He makes a full-fledged appearance in Arkham City, locked in a cell underneath the Solomon Wayne Courthouse. Players can interact with the foe by approaching his cell, with particular holidays (Christmas Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, Halloween, etc.) leading to more detailed dialogue. When Catwoman speaks with him, it leads to a conversation that implies that Catwoman is the daughter of crime boss Carmine Falcone.
Even though he may not command the public knowledge and “respect” of the likes of the Joker, Doctor Death holds a special place in many the heart of die-hard DC fans. As Batman’s first supervillain, he has made constant comebacks over the years, always plaguing Batman and his team.
Created by Bob Kane, Doctor Death first showed up in Detective Comics #29 (July 1939). A demented individual with a background in chemistry, Doctor Death planned to hold the wealthy of Gotham at his mercy with a poisonous pollen he developed. After being foiled by Batman and seemingly dying in a lab explosion, he made a comeback in Detective Comics #30, attempting to once again extort wealth. Upon being unmasked by Batman, readers saw that despite surviving the destruction of the lab, his face was horribly burned.
After wallowing in limbo for decades, Gerry Conway brought him back in Batman #345 and Detective Comics #512 (both March 1982). Given the name of Doctor Karl Hellfern, he is shown as a fad doctor treating the “illness” of Gotham’s elite, while using their money to fund his fiendish experiments. While confined to a wheelchair, he is still a formidable adversary for Batman.
Going off the grid again, writer Dylan Horrocks revived him again in the pages of Batgirl (2003-2004), this time as a small, bald man who sells his biological weapons on the black market to the highest bidder.
It wasn’t until Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo began their run on Batman, during New 52, that Doctor Death changed even more radically. Gone were the elaborate plots of years past. In this latest reinvention, Dr. Karl Hellfern is a Wayne Enterprises scientist who develops a bone growth serum in an attempt to eliminate human weakness. He tests the serum on himself, altering his form into a bony, monstrous thing. In a battle with Batman aboard a blimp, an explosion causes the formula to mutate him further, leading to an apparent and final death.
In the course of 80 years, the beloved Caped Crusader has taken on every manner of criminal alike. From mobsters and garden variety thugs, to the maniacal machinations of Joker, Two-Face, and more. And still, going beyond his city in his adventures with Superman, the Justice League and other DC Comics characters.
When next this writer puts the power of the pen to work, it shall be in tackling another pair of oft-overlooked Batman baddies…Egghead and Film Freak. Make sure to tune in…same Bat-time, same Bat-Channel!