Batman is known for not using lethal force when facing his enemies; many of them are sent away to get help before resurfacing to confront the Dark Knight another day. Batman tries not to kill characters in his comics, but he has taken the lives of people in the past.
In most cases, Batman kills because there is no other way for the villain to be stopped, or their death means many other lives will be saved. But in early Batman comics, the villains often died. It wasn’t until Batman #4 that he vowed not to kill anymore, but this couldn’t bring back the lives he had already taken or keep death from happening in future Batman comics.
14 Alfred Stryker
Alfred Stryker was a one-off villain that appeared in Detective Comics #27. Since this was the start of Batman, there were no rules for the character to follow, as readers were getting to know the new hero and expected him to follow the pattern laid out by other comic heroes.
During their final confrontation, Stryker is punched into a vat of acid and dies. This death was ironic because the acid was a creation of Stryker’s company, leaving him to lose his life to his creation. The end of Stryker was written into the New 52, but this time he was kicked into the vat of acid rather than punched.
13 Dr. Death
Detective Comics #29 gave Batman his first villain that wasn’t a corrupt businessman or street-level criminal. Dr. Death was the alias of Karl Helfern, who was a mad scientist who created biochemical weapons.
His death was one of the most disturbing, as he was burned alive in his lab after Batman started a fire to stop Dr. Death from creating more weapons. Dr. Death doesn’t seem to understand his dire circumstances as he laughs and calls Batman a fool before being engulfed by the flames and dying.
The death of Mikhail was a swift one as Batman kicked him and broke his neck while swinging past the window he was from. The confrontation in Detective Comics #30 looks like it could have taken place in the Batman television show.
Instead of the villain being unconscious, he is killed by the injuries he sustains. This may have been an accidental killing as Batman tried to stop Mikhail from shooting, but it still resulted in the death of another one-off villain in Batman comics.
11 The Mad Monk
Detective Comics #32 had Batman leaving Gotham City to pursue a mysterious villain. Once he arrived in Hungry, Batman traveled through a vast mountain range to find the villain known as the Mad Monk. Despite his name, the Mad Monk is not peaceful and is actually a vampire. Batman had to resort to known methods of killing paranormal creatures to rid the world of the villain.
Unlike current versions of the character, Batman used a gun during this time and shot the Mad Monk with a silver bullet. This is usually the method used to subdue werewolves, but the silver affected the Mad Monk and resulted in his death at the hands of Batman.
10 A Man In Detective Comics #37
Batman’s early days in Detective Comics was a weird time period. This includes the 37th edition in the series, where Batman faces off with an unnamed man who likes to throw swords.
This man is described as a billionaire, much like Bruce Wayne, but less generous and more villainous. The man’s weapon of choice betrays him as Batman punches his attacker, and he falls on a sword, killing him almost instantly. This is another case of an accidental death at the hands of Batman.
9 A Super Serum Giant
Hugo Stange appeared in Batman #1 but isn’t the first to die in Batman’s solo debut. Instead, one of the subjects of his various experiments fell victim to Batman in one of the most brutal ways. Batman fights a man who has been turned into a giant during Strange’s experiments; during their fight, a rope is wrapped around the giant’s neck.
Eventually, the giant is hung, with Batman seeing it as a mercy killing. Seeing Batman fly with the body hanging from the rope is disturbing and shows just how different the early versions of Batman were compared to the current versions.
8 Hugo Strange
Hugo Strange has been a staple in many Batman comic storylines, but the debut of Batman in his own comic was the first time Batman killed Strange. After defeating the giant in Batman #1, the Dark Knight decided he had to take down the source of the experiments.
After using his superior detective skills, Batman finds Hugo Strange and hits him with the Batmobile. This issue showed a more ruthless Batman than the one readers know now. Using the Batmobile as a weapon wasn’t something that was explored before this issue and wasn’t used in the same way after.
KGBeast is one of a select few villains that Batman kills more than once. The first time comes in Batman #420 when Batman buries the villain alive and tells KGBeast he isn’t worth the energy or time it would take to fight him physically before closing the metal door and chamber that would become KGBeast tomb. This was especially merciless for Batman and ultimately differs from how the character would react now.
The pair meet again in a more modern version of the comics (DC Universe Batman #57), where Bane uses KGBeast to get to Batman and his sidekick Nightwing. Even though KGBeast tries to reason with Batman, he is left to die in the tundra after a brutal fight between the two. This marks one of the few times in the modern age that readers see Batman take a life.
6 Jose Garzonas
Batman #425 included Jose Garzonas as a villain looking for revenge after the death of his son. With Jim Gordon as his hostage, Garzonas lures Batman and Robin to him but never gets revenge. Like many other one-off villains in the early days of Batman, Garzonas was killed quickly and without much pomp.
Batman toppled a pile of demolished cars onto Garzonas, crushing and killing him in the junkyard. Even though Batman lured Garzonas toward the vehicles while they fought, the death was a matter of circumstance and may not have happened if the fight had occurred elsewhere.
Some Batman covers don’t live up to the story written in the comics, but Red Rain isn’t one of these comics. This storyline pits Batman against Dracula and the two winged men of the night fight in Gotham. Dracula’s death came after an epic battle and followed the lore around vampires.
A broken tree is used to impale the vampire and kills him almost instantly. The death of Dracula highlights how Batman uses his surroundings to take out opponents. Dracula was one of the few villains to appear in Batman comics that had to die to be defeated; there was no way to rehabilitate the famed vampire.
4 Bleach Thieves
All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder brought about a new version of the Dark Knight who was more ruthless and less likely to follow the no-killing rule he had set early on in his career as a hero. Even the most minor crimes are treated like a master plan by the Joker with this version of Batman.
This is exemplified when Batman catches low-level street criminals stealing from a shipping container. Rather than taking them to the police, Batman lights the chemicals the thieves were stealing on fire. As a result, the criminals burned alive, while Batman had a romantic moment with Black Canary in front of the flames.
Final Crisis had the Caped Crusader breaking his own rules but brought about one of the biggest victories Batman scored in DC Comics. When Darkseid tries to take over the world and potentially kill billions of people, Batman has no choice but to kill the villain.
This is one of the few cases where the death of a villain is justified to Batman, as he will save the entire world, not just Gotham. Using a specifically designed bullet and gun Batman takes out Darkseid but also finds himself mortally wounded, leaving the rest of the Justice League to finish their mission and honor their friend.
Villains aren’t the only ones who have had their lives ended by Batman. Superman/Batman Annual #1 saw the two leaders of the Justice League engaged in a battle that resulted in both heroes dying. It is common for Batman to sacrifice himself when killing another person, as it seems like an equal trade, a life for a life.
This was not the mindset of Gotham’s hero when he was first created, but modern versions of the character have him trading his life with others occasionally. While Superman and Batman have squared off many times, with Superman dying, he usually comes back to life quickly, but this death was the end for both heroes.
1 The Joker
As Batman’s most iconic nemesis, the Joker has starred in several DC Comics of his own but has only been killed in two Batman comics. The first time came in the Red Rain storyline, where Batman faced off against vampires. The Joker was transformed into a creature of the night and used this as a new tool to try and defeat Batman. However, as usual, Batman got the upper hand and killed Joker with a wooden stake.
The next time the Clown Prince of Crime would meet his end came in Justice League: The Nail. This alternate timeline followed the formula of Joker’s schemes laid out in other comics. But this time, Batman showed no mercy to his archnemesis and killed Joker to end his reign of terror for this storyline at least.
Next: 10 Best DC Comics Origin Stories
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