Zsasz (He keeps count… in lives!)

By  Phil Perich for Before the Bat: The Gotham Podcast

Alright, I know everyone’s been waiting for this one since Victor Zsasz showed up on Gotham!  Zsasz appeared earlier as I’ll explain, but his origin was revealed in The Batman Chronicles #3 (1996).

It was revealed that Victor Zsasz was the head of a large international company who had amassed his own fortune along with the wealth he inherited from his parents.  His parents died when Zsasz was 25, sending him into a deep depression.  He began to gamble his fortune away.  After losing at the Iceberg Lounge (Oswald Cobblepot’s place), he attempts to jump from a bridge to kill himself.  A homeless man attempts to mug him, Zsasz takes his knife and stabs him with it.  It is at this point that Zsasz sees the empty waste of human existence.  He begins his career as a serial killer, setting his victims, who he calls zombies, up in lifelike poses after death and marking a “tally” on his skin with his knife for every life taken.  Zsasz’s favorite targets are young women, but Zsasz doesn’t discriminate.  The first time we see him is in Shadow of the Bat #1 (1992).

Murders are taking place in Gotham matching Zsasz’s M.O. but Batman confirms that Zsasz’s is locked up in Arkham Asylum.  Batman then fakes that he killed a cop to get himself locked up in Arkham where he learns that Zsasz bribed the new asylum builder to make a secret tunnel so Zsasz could leave, murder, and return with no one the wiser.  Zsasz next appeared in Batman #493 (1992, Knightfall part 3). 

After Bane frees all of Batman’s enemies from Arkham Asylum to wear him down, Zsasz takes an all girls boarding school hostage.  Before a mentally and physically exhausted Batman arrives, Zsasz kills 2 police officers that attempted to sneak in.  After saving the girls, Zsasz tells Batman that the 2 of them are alike, savage monsters.  Already on the verge of a breakdown, Batman snaps and brutally beats Zsasz only to be stopped by Renee Montoya.  Zsasz would go on muder sprees for years, but it didn’t get personal until Detective Comics #815-#816 (2006).  

After escaping during a psychiatric review by killing his guards, Zsasz shows up at a charity banquet and stabs Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth.  Thinking him dead, Zsasz makes a mark on his skin, but Bruce manages to get Alfred to a hospital in time to save his life.  Bruce then holds a press conference to announce that Alfred is alive.  Zsasz cannot resist trying to kill Alfred again since his “count” is now off by 1.  After another fight between the 2, Batman follows Zsasz to the hospital and subdues him.  Victor Zsasz has been portrayed in live action 2 times.  The first was in the 2005 film Batman Begins by actor Tim Booth.

The other is on the TV show Gotham portrayed by Anthony Carrigan.  This version of the character could have the most fleshed out background since this version of the character is to reappear again on the show.  So, Zsasz, scary huh?





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Until next week, be good. Remember, it’s the numbers that’ll kill you!

Posted on January 11, 2015 and filed under Comics, Superheroes, Television.