|First appearance||Batman Beyond "Rebirth"|
|Created by||Bruce Timm
|Alter ego||Derek Powers|
Derek Powers, also called Blight, is a fictional character, a supervillain that appears in the Batman Beyond (1999–2001) animated series, voiced by Sherman Howard. He served as the primary antagonist of the series' first season.
Fictional character biography
Derek Powers is a corrupt businessman who managed to gain control over Wayne Enterprises (now called Wayne-Powers) due to an elderly Bruce Wayne's poor health. When Powers develops a lethal mutagenic nerve gas and intends to sell it as weapon, one of his employees, Warren McGinnis, discovers evidence of the gas, and Powers has him murdered, causing the vengeful son Terry McGinnis to become Batman, who stops Powers' plans and exposes him to the gas; Powers is subjected to extreme radiation exposure to save his life, but as a side effect, his entire body becomes radioactive, rendering him translucent. He is able to hide his state and contain his radiation with a special cosmetic skin that, over time, flakes off. The cosmetic skin begins to disintegrate faster and faster as his temper becomes more and more uncontrollable and his radiation levels keep rising.
He first introduces himself as Blight when he attacks Mr. Freeze. A scientist working for Powers, by the name of Dr. Stephanie Lake, had the idea that, by using Powers' baseline DNA, she could create a new body for him unaffected by his condition, then transfer his mind into that new body. To see if the procedure would fully work, Mr. Freeze was used as a test subject, because, like Powers, his DNA had been corrupted by a condition. At first, the procedure seemed like a success, until his condition started to resurface. Powers believed a biopsy of his organs would show why the procedure failed, and ordered Doctor Lake (who had been feigning romantic feelings for Freeze) to kill Freeze, but he escaped and later returned to Wayne-Powers, wearing a suit he had "kept in cold storage", ultimately freezing Powers and Lake. Powers survives the attack by melting off his skin and the ice before attacking Batman and Freeze. When asked by Batman who he is, he identified himself as "Blight", because his powers make him a walking plague. After a fierce struggle, Freeze eventually succeeds in jettisoning him away from the battle.
Over time, Powers discovered that his condition was worsening rapidly, to the point that his artificial skin is no longer effective to maintain his facade and slowly driving him toward insanity. He decided to withdraw from public life and focus on finding a cure, but not before summoning his estranged son, Paxton, to run the company under his own direction. However, Paxton Powers (voiced by Cary Elwes) betrayed his father during a televised business meeting, by hiring a group of actors to pretend to be fishermen (which blended in perfectly for the setting considering a very large group of legitimate protesters had gathered outside protesting Powers dumping toxic waste in their rivers), who threw mutated fish in front of the share holders and claimed that Paxton had killed their rivers by dumping poison in the waters. As his anger grew, Powers' artificial skin started to crack and flake off, allowing all of the shareholders and everyone watching the TV broadcast to see, and exposing him to the world as Blight. To avoid being tracked down and captured, Powers hid himself inside a nuclear submarine, but was discovered by Batman (who was asked by Paxton to find his father with the supposed offer of curing his condition). Paxton used a device called a "Pinch Cell" to drain Powers' radiation and nearly succeeded in killing him, until Batman intervened. Upon freeing himself of the Pinch Cell, Powers went berserk with massive radiation bursts that sank the submarine with him inside. An exchange between Batman and Paxton hinted that Powers may have survived, though as he makes no future appearances he is presumed dead.
In comic books
Outside of Rebirth’s comic incarnation in Batman Beyond Limited Series issues 01 & 02, and one story set within season 1 of the television series in issue 03, Blight makes his one and only appearance post his apparent death in the episode Ascension, in issue 18 of the main Batman Beyond comic. Having survived the submarine explosion, Powers swam to shore, only to become the new target of the hunter Stalker. After injecting Terry with a non lethal radiation poisoning, Stalker attempts to use Batman as bait to lure out the now utterly insane Blight, who has been hiding in the Gotham sewer system, after the hunter had apparently already tried to capture and kill him before. Once confronted with Batman, Blight appears to have been completely affected by the radiation in his system, which has caused him to forget his original identity as Derek Powers, referring to himself only as Blight, and blaming Batman for all that has happened to him. After a long fight in a steel mill, Blight is engulfed in melted steel and apparently killed, leaving only his corpse as a dead magma covered statue. Stalker having thanked Batman for his trouble, subjects Terry to a powerful electrical shock, causing him to pass out. When he awakes, both the hunter and Blight’s remains are gone. At the end of the comic, Terry questions Bruce as to what Stalker was going to do with Blight; a cut to one last panel reveals Stalker in a cave alone, with all the trophies of the dead captured targets he has killed.
Blight returns in the Batman Beyond series, of the “Industrial Revolution” storyline. No longer using his artificial skin, Blight now wears a containment suit to keep the radiation he's emitting held back. He anonymously arranged for his son Paxton to be released from prison, then set a trap for him in a former Wayne-Powers facility. Blight apparently gets his revenge when the facility is engulfed by an explosion with Paxton and Batman with it, only to find out later that Paxton escapes with Batman. The elder Powers plans to ruin his former company, then rebuild it from the scraps. It is revealed after his confrontation with Batman and Paxton, Blight has been trapped beneath Gotham Harbor for months and, because of his condition, he no longer needs oxygen and food to survive. After Blight emerges from the water, he came across a former Wayne-Power scientist, Doctor French, who helps Blight build his suit. However the suit begins to be as ineffective as his artificial skin and also reveals that Powers' condition is slowly killing him. Eventually, as Batman investigates the identity of the culprit who's been sabotaging Wayne Enterprises and Powers Technology financially, Blight reveals himself and had the young hero at his mercy. Although Batman is almost killed, he manages to escape by puncturing Blight's suit, forcing him to back off. Batman confronts Blight again when he attacks Wayne Manor. He uses the control module on the back of Blight's suit to overload its settings, reducing him to radioactive slime. The slime is taken in by Gotham PD, although it is mentioned that they are not sure whether Powers is actually alive or dead.
- Batman Beyond episode "Rebirth"
- Batman Beyond episode "Black Out"
- Batman Beyond episode "Shriek"
- Batman Beyond episode "Meltdown"
- Batman Beyond episode "Ascension"
- Batman Beyond vol. 4, #5 (May 2011)
- Batman Beyond vol. 4, #6 (June 2011)
- Batman Beyond vol. 4, #7 (July 2011)