|First appearance||Batman Beyond
"Rebirth, Part 1"
|Created by||Bruce Timm
|Alter ego||Derek Powers|
Derek Powers, also called Blight, is a fictional character, a supervillain who appears in the Batman Beyond (1999–2001) animated series, voiced by Sherman Howard. He served as the primary antagonist of the series' first season. Powers is the archenemy of the second Batman, Terry McGinnis.
Fictional character biography
Derek Powers is a corrupt businessman who gains control over Wayne Enterprises (now called Wayne-Powers) when Bruce Wayne's health declines. Powers develops a lethal mutagenic nerve gas and intends to sell it as a weapon. One of his employees, Warren McGinnis, discovers evidence of the gas, and Powers has him murdered, setting Warren's son Terry on the path to becoming Batman. McGinnis 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. Dr. Stephanie Lake, a scientist working for Powers, had the idea that, by using Powers' baseline DNA, she could create a new body unaffected by his radioactive 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 due to a mutation caused by exposure to extreme cold (similar to Powers being exposed to nerve gas and extreme heat). At first, the procedure seemed like a success, until his condition starts to resurface. Powers believes a biopsy of his organs will show why the procedure failed, and orders Lake to kill Freeze. Freeze escapes, however, and later returns to Wayne-Powers, wearing a cybernetic suit he had "kept in cold storage", ultimately freezing Powers and Lake. Powers survives the attack by melting off his skin and the ice which mutates him into his glowing skeletal alter ego, Blight, before attacking Batman and Freeze. When Batman asks who the villain is, he identifies himself as "Blight", because his powers make him a walking styx plague. After a fierce struggle, Freeze eventually succeeds in jettisoning him away from the battle.
Over time, Powers discovers that his condition is worsening rapidly, to the point that his artificial skin is no longer effective to maintain his facade and slowly driving him insane. He decides to withdraw from public life and focus on finding a cure, but not before summoning his estranged son, Paxton Powers (voiced by Cary Elwes), to run the company under his own direction; however, Paxton betrays his father during a televised business meeting by hiring a group of actors to pretend to be fishermen, who throw mutated fish in front of the share holders and claim that Paxton had dumped poison in the river. As his anger grows, Powers' artificial skin starts to crack and flake off, exposing him to the world as Blight. Powers hides inside a nuclear submarine, but is discovered by Batman. Paxton uses a device called a "Pinch Cell" to drain Powers' radiation and nearly succeeds in killing him, until Batman intervenes. Upon freeing himself of the Pinch Cell, Powers goes berserk with massive radiation bursts that sink the submarine with him inside. An exchange between Batman and Paxton, has Batman, unable to expose Paxton's machinations without jeopardizing his own secret identity, hinting that Derek Powers may have survived, though as he makes no future appearances.
In comic books
Blight makes his only appearance after his apparent death in Batman Beyond #18. Powers survives the submarine explosion and swims to shore, only to become the new target of the hunter Stalker. After injecting Batman with a non lethal radiation poisoning, Stalker attempts to use him as bait to lure out Blight, who has been hiding in the Gotham sewer system, after the hunter had apparently tried to capture and kill him. Blight has by now gone completely insane and forgotten his original identity as Derek Powers, referring to himself only as Blight. He blames 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 magma-covered statue. Stalker 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)