Reaper (DC Comics)

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Reaper is the name of three characters in the DC Comics universe.

Publication history[edit]

Created by writer Mike W. Barr, and designed by artist Alan Davis, the Judson Caspian version of Reaper first appeared in Detective Comics #575 (June 1987), the first part of the four-part Batman: Year Two storyline. After the changes in DC continuity Zero Hour established, Year Two, Joe Chill's death and The Reaper have been wiped out. Chill was back in continuity after 2005's Infinite Crisis. A character dressed as the Reaper has appeared in The New 52, a 2011 reboot of the DC Comics universe, but it has not been revealed which (if any) of the previous Reapers is in the costume.

Fictional character biographies[edit]

Pre-Crisis[edit]

The Pre-Crisis Reaper debuted in Batman #237 (Dec. 1971). This Reaper is Dr. Benjamin Gruener, a German Jew who was placed in a concentration camp run by Colonel Kurt Schloss. He kills Schloss at a Halloween parade and dies battling Batman when he falls off the edge of a dam. He was created by Denny O'Neil.

In Tony S. Daniel's Batman: Life After Death story arc, Dr. Gruener aka The Reaper is "Resurrected" by Hugo Strange who is working with the Black Mask to take down Batman. He is seen in an underground chamber in a glass tub, while Hugo instructs his doctors on bringing him back to life. When he regains consciousnesses, Black Mask reminds Gruener of his childhood in a concentration camp in hopes to fuel him with anger and revenge. Black Mask hands him a necklace with The Star of David on it that was given to him by his father, and then his scythe, the weapon he chose when first taking up the alias Reaper.[1]

Reaper is seen briefly in scenes and it is understood that is murdering people because he wishes to bring justice to the "Children of Gotham". He is fueled by his hatred toward Colonel Kurt Schloss, the Nazi who killed his parents.[1]

Reaper is then seen at Gotham Harbor demanding Hugo for his serum that is later found out to keep his skin from deteriorating. The serum is injected into him by Dr. Death. He soon attacks Mario Falcone, and Huntress takes to his defense, to prevent Reaper from killing him. Batman sweeps in to take out Reaper but instead he escapes by throwing gas at Batman. Batman later finds him and when Reaper's face is seen rotting and asks Batman what they've done to him, Batman explains that he is only a pawn. "You weren't built to last, just to follow orders. The gentlemen behind you might want to explain themselves" he says referring to Hugo Strange who had appeared behind him. With that, Batman leaves.[1]

Judson Caspian[edit]

Reaper
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Detective Comics #575 (June 1987)
Created by Mike W. Barr
Alan Davis
In-story information
Alter ego Judson Caspian
Abilities Spiked leather armor
Scythe-shaped weapons with hidden firearms

Judson Caspian is a socialite by day, and a vigilante by night. After losing his wife to a robber in the streets, he becomes The Reaper, who prowls Gotham City during the 1950s, murdering juvenile delinquents by impaling them with a scythe. His murder spree prompts Alan Scott to briefly emerge from retirement to confront him as Green Lantern. Vastly overpowered during an encounter between the two, the Reaper lashes out in a panic with his nunchaku and, by happenstance, strikes Green Lantern, whose force-field is vulnerable to the wooden weapons. The Reaper subsequently moves to Europe.

After Caspian returns from Europe he renews his rampage as the Reaper, which brings him into conflict with Batman. After losing a fight with the Reaper, Batman is forced to join forces with Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents. Having been assigned by the Gotham mob to kill both the Reaper and Batman when he had finished, Chill hunts the Reaper alongside Batman, the two briefly assuming that the Reaper has been killed in an explosion. After revealing his identity to Chill in a confrontation in Crime Alley and putting a gun to his head, Batman's revenge is taken from him by the Reaper, who shoots Chill in the head. The Reaper engages Batman in a fierce battle, losing; the Dark Knight leaves him hanging from the scaffolding of a building under construction, and unmasks him. Batman, who had intended to marry Caspian's daughter, Rachel, is shocked, and holds out his hand to help the Reaper. However, Caspian, who knows what charges he is up against, tells Batman that he will make a fine successor, and lets go of the ledge, plummeting to his death. After being exposed as the Reaper, Caspian is given a funeral funded by Bruce Wayne, who says that he deserves a peaceful death. Rachel, who was initially unaware of her father's crimes, becomes a nun after Caspian's life as the Reaper is exposed.

Joe Chill, Jr.[edit]

Reaper
BatmanFullCircle.jpg
Cover to Batman: Full Circle by Alan Davis
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Batman: Full Circle
In-story information
Alter ego Joe Chill, Jr.
Abilities Spiked leather armor
Scythe-shaped weapons with hidden firearms

In the 1991 one-shot sequel, Batman: Full Circle, Chill's son Joe Jr. briefly assumes the mantle of Reaper, as part of a plan to drive Batman insane.

Chill, in collaboration with his sister Marcia, attempts to lure Batman into a confrontation, where they would finally dispose of the Dark Knight with a very different kind of weapon. Chill's schemes are hampered by the arrival of his own son, Joey, with whom Chill attempts to bond. It is revealed that Chill witnessed his father's death at the original Reaper's hands, though he could not make out Bruce Wayne's unmasked face. Overcome with grief, Chill seeks revenge on Batman by taking up the mantle of the Reaper. At the same time, Batman faces some personal issues with Rachel Caspian, who has returned to Gotham convinced The Reaper is her father reborn. Chill and his sister use this to their advantage, plaguing Rachel with a series of encounters which create doubt in her and Batman's minds that he is the returned Judson Caspian (It is also revealed in this story that Joe Chill Sr.'s body was stolen before it could be taken into custody at the end of Year Two). The Reaper uses an explosive to destroy the cornerstone of the Wayne Foundation building, freeing his father's old gun, which was used to murder Batman's parents.

Batman is eventually captured by Chill, who unmasks the unconscious crime-fighter, but does not recognize him (Batman had applied extensive make up to hide his identity). Chill subjects Batman to a video reel showing a child witnessing his parents' death and showing glee at the fact that he wasn't killed, which, combined with a hallucinogenic drug, is intended to reduce Batman to a quivering wreck suffering from survivor's guilt. Chill has Batman posed at the top of a tall pedestal overlooking a pool of acid, and hopes Batman will kill himself. Marcia, who sees her father as nothing more than a thug who abused her mother, attempts to double cross her brother in order to deliver Batman to mob boss Morgan Jones. Chill slashes Marcia, apparently killing her. Robin arrives on the scene and coaxes Batman out of his hallucinogenic haze, spurring him to break free of his bonds. Batman and the Reaper fight, and Batman emerges victorious. As Batman holds the unmasked Chill over the acid pool, urged by Robin to drop him in, Chill's son Joey reveals himself and his father's identity. Deciding to act on the indecisions that he faced when he had Joe Chill at his mercy years earlier, Bruce spares Chill's life. After the police arrive and Chill is taken away in an ambulance, Batman goes to a bridge and discards Joe Chill's firearm into the ocean.

Equipment[edit]

As the Reaper, Caspian wears a large hooded black cloak with heavily armored red leather or cuir bouilli, which prevents bullets and punches from affecting him in any way. The knees and fists of the red leather armor are tipped with spikes that add more power to blows Caspian inflicts. Caspian also wears a skull shaped mask with hooks on the mouth to cover up the lower part of the face, and red glowing eyes. The Reaper also wields two scythe-shaped weapons, with various other lethal implements contained in the spiked shafts of both weapons. The haft contains a very powerful handgun and smoke pellets to help give to the illusion that the Reaper is in fact an incarnation of death. The scythes are stored in two inverted sheaths located on his back, under his cloak.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Batman (vol. 1) #692-697 (December 2009-May 2010)