Tony Zucco

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Tony Zucco
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Detective Comics #38
(April 1940)
Created by Bob Kane
Bill Finger
Jerry Robinson
In-story information
Alter ego Boss Zucco
Team affiliations Maroni family
Black Lantern Corps

Anthony "Tony" Zucco is a fictional character in the DC Comics universe. He was introduced in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940) and is best known for his connections to the origin of Robin.

Fictional character history[edit]

Pre-Crisis[edit]

Antonio Zucco (originally just "Boss Zucco" in his first appearance) is a Mafia boss, or simple low level thug (his position of power varies depending upon the Golden and Silver Age continuity) in Gotham City who is responsible for the death of Dick Grayson's parents.

Throughout the years, Zucco's role in Robin's origin remains largely the same. Zucco tries to extort the Haly's Circus, where the Flying Graysons are the main attraction. When the ringmaster Mr. Haly (who runs an honest business) refuses to pay him protection money, Zucco sabotages the trapeze ropes the Graysons use in their act. The ropes break while Dick's parents are in mid-air. Because the Graysons perform their act without a safety net, they fall to their deaths.

Dick is subsequently adopted by Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman) and becomes his partner Robin. Both of them locate Tony Zucco and send him to jail. In the Golden Age version, he is sent to the electric chair. In the Silver Age version, he is sentenced to life in prison.

Post-Crisis[edit]

Batman: Year Three[edit]

Having been sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the Grayson murders, Zucco is incarcerated in Blackgate Penitentiary. After serving seven years of his sentence, he files for a parole hearing and offers testimony against other Gotham criminals. He professes remorse for his crimes, but hides an ulterior motive. Before he was sent to prison, Zucco had hidden a ledger in the orphanage where Dick briefly resided following his parents' deaths; the ledger contains incriminating information about the Mafia's operations in Gotham. Zucco plots to remove the ledger from the oprhanage before it is demolished. Wanting to keep the truth from Dick (who has recently became Nightwing), Alfred goes to the parole hearing and pleads for the judge to keep Zucco in prison. Unfortunately, Dick learns of Zucco's release. Despite Alfred's attempts to stop him, Dick races to Blackgate to confront his parents' killer. However, as he steps out of the prison, Zucco is gunned down by a helicopter hired by a rival crime boss. While Zucco's death gives Dick some closure, his already-strained relationship with Batman becomes further complicated. Bruce insists he knew nothing about Zucco's murder.[1]

Batman: Dark Victory[edit]

In Batman: Dark Victory, Zucco (dubbed Anthony "Fats" Zucco) is portrayed as a low-level thug working for Sal Maroni, a member of Carmine Falcone's Mafia empire. He and another minor family head, Edward Skeevers, are put in charge of drug trafficking. After constant attacks by other enemies such as Penguin, Zucco starts a new method of smuggling these drugs. He only lets Skeevers in on the secret, believing that its success will make their minor families greater than the Falcones and the Maronis put together, and attempts to take over Haley's Circus in order to use its trucks for his trafficking activities. He kills Dick Grayson's parents as a demonstration of power to the circus' owner, and then quickly goes underground. He is later found by Batman and Dick Grayson, who is not yet Robin, and is chased down a dark alley by Grayson until he has a heart attack, confessing to various crimes.[2]

Blackest Night[edit]

Tony Zucco's remains have been reanimated as a Black Lantern in DC Comics' 2009/2010 crossover Blackest Night, with John and Mary Grayson, Jack and Janet Drake, Captain Boomerang, and the original Dark Knight's deceased rogue gallery members. They all attempt to take the lives of Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, who became the new Batman and Red Robin. Grayson eventually cryogenically suspended himself and Drake during the battle, which forced the Black Lanterns to retreat as they are unable to read any sign of life from them.[3] This Zucco has an appearance similar to his depiction in Dark Victory.

The Black Mirror[edit]

It is eventually revealed that Zucco had fathered a daughter named Sonia. Unlike her father, she is a seemingly a legitimate businesswoman and runs the GGM Bank under the alias of Sonia Branch.[4] Batman (Dick Grayson), who initially hoped that Sonia is not as corrupted as her father, is disappointed when he realizes that Sonia manipulated him into subduing rivals who wish to take over her bank. Due to the lack of evidence, Sonia remains beyond the reach of the law.[5]

The New 52[edit]

In "The New 52" (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), a young Dick Grayson had spotted Tony Zucco threatening C.C. Haly for protection money. When C.C. Haly refused to pay the protection money, Zucco sabotaged the trapeze which caused John and Mary Grayson to fall to their deaths. Ever since he was taken in by Bruce Wayne, Dick still looked for Zucco even to the point where he encountered Batman up to the point where Dick learned that he and Bruce Wayne were the same person.[6] Tony is still the father of Sonia Zucco in this reality as Dick would try not to have a relationship with her.[7]

Sonia has mentioned that she has been in different foster homes ever since her father was arrested for the murder of the Flying Graysons. It is revealed that Zucco is already presumed dead after his arrest for the Flying Graysons' deaths, until six months ago, Sonia receives an e-mail where she learns that her father is still alive in Chicago and tells this to Dick, who is shocked by this revelation.[8]

Since learning that Tony Zucco is still alive, Nightwing has come to Chicago to find him. Mayor Wallace Cole is briefed on the fact that it was the Prankster who alerted the police to Nightwing's presence. He learns that Nightwing had asked Johnny Spade about Tony Zucco. Mayor Cole has the police commissioner put some detectives on that case. However, Mayor Cole already knows Tony Zucco is living in Chicago because he has hired the man as his driver.[9] Mayor Cole has been covering up Tony Zucco's status by claiming that Tony Zucco is dead when talking with the police commissioner. Even so when Mayor Cole meets with Tony Zucco in his office, Zucco is worried and is carrying a gun just in case Nightwing comes for him again. Mayor Cole suggests he take some time away for a few weeks.[10] When Nightwing finds the house of Billy Lester, he discovers evidence that reveal to him that Billy Lester is an alias of Tony Zucco and now has a wife and son.[11]

Nightwing surprises Mayor Cole in his office in order to question him as to why he's protecting Tony Zucco. Though it could be a coincidence that Tony Zucco and the Mayor's brother William Cole were in prison at the same time or that he is now working for the mayor under an alias, Nightwing is not inclined to believe that it is. Even so, he assures Mayor Cole that he is not threatening, but promising because so long as Mayor Cole hides Zucco from him, the longer Nightwing will stay in town and spend that time looking into Mayor Cole himself. Surreptitiously, he sneaks a bug onto the underside of the mayor's desk and then disappears before Mayor Cole can utter a response. In Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Zucco is living his life as Billy Lester, a father and a husband. When his son Brian takes another child's toy, he makes the boy return it explaining that when adults make mistakes, they have to take responsibility for it. Despite promising they could stay at the pool for a while yet, he spots a news report of the two vigilantes warring in Chicago and hurriedly urges his family to leave because he needs to call Mayor Cole about something. After eight hours of listening to the bug he planted in Mayor Cole's office, Dick finally hears Zucco calling in to complain of Nightwing hunting him. Still, all he can learn from the call is that Zucco is worried. Suddenly, Dick is distracted by the sight of the Prankster's face on every screen in the city. The Prankster claims that Mayor Cole is not who he appears to be and has been harboring wanted murderer Tony Zucco for three years.[12]

In Wisconsin, Tony Zucco is still on vacation with his new family under the name Billy Lester. Unfortunately, the news has reached them there, and his wife Nancy soon susses out the fact that he really is a criminal. However, he warns that they can't go home yet because he knows who the Prankster is and things are about to get a lot worse for Chicago. Angrily, Nancy notes the irony of how Tony had been trying to teach their son lessons about taking responsibility for his actions all week and now he refuses to go back and face what he did. What's worse is that one day, his son Brian is going to figure out what he really is, and that it was all a lie, which convinces Tony to return to Chicago himself to save help Nightwing reluctantly.[13]

As Nightwing attempts to rush Tony Zucco to jail, the man shouts from the back of the Wingcycle that Wallace Cole became mayor of Chicago because of two events. The first was a train line that he and his brother William convinced City Hall to run through their old Pilsen neighborhood. When the project's electrical engineer Harold Loomis died on Halloween, William took the fall. The chaos that the Prankster is causing isn't because Wallace Cole stole money from the City, it's because he wants payback, and that the Prankster is Harold Loomis' son. Tony had learned this because he shared a cell with William Cole, who had received a reminder from the boy of the crime he had committed: the same mask that the Prankster wears today. It is no coincidence that the Prankster's crimes are taking place in October. Tonight is Halloween, and the Prankster intends to bring things to a boil tonight. Rushing, Nightwing has Zucco get the mayor away from the blast radius, just as he feels the Prankster hacking into his mask's lenses again. Having learned already, Nightwing activates a kill-switch that lets him see again, but by the time he does, the Prankster is long away. Nightwing is then attacked by the Prankster just moments after getting to shore. Suddenly, though, he falls away as three shots hit him in the shoulder from the bullets shot from Zucco's gun. Dick is relieved to see that the bullets went clean-through, and Oswald Loomis will survive. Wistfully, Zucco explains that he had only started carrying a gun in the first place because he worried that he'd have to kill Nightwing on this encounter. Instead, he had used it to help the vigilante. As the police arrive on the scene, Nightwing swings away, leaving Zucco and the Prankster to face justice. As he is arrested, Tony Zucco never takes credit for saving anyone. All he asks is that someone tell his family that he loves them. Dick watches the police place handcuffs on Zucco, and feels that maybe the thing he had wanted so badly wasn't worth having after all. Some moments later, Tony Zucco receives a visit from a man who suggests that his employers can help Tony beat the rap for the Flying Graysons' murder. Tony insists that he wants to take responsibility to set a good example for his son. The man reveals though that Tony's wife and son have left him which means that there is nothing to hope for if he goes to prison.[14]

Other versions[edit]

All Star Batman and Robin[edit]

In Frank Miller's All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, Grayson's parents are killed by a low-level hitman called "Jocko-boy" Vanzetti. Throughout the early issues, he is toyed with and brutalized by Batman (even coating his batarangs with snake poison).[15] Later, he is brought to the Batcave, to be tortured and interrogated by Dick Grayson (at one point with an axe) while Batman looks on. During this period, he reveals that the Joker ordered the hit.[16] Afterwards, he is thrown into Gotham Bay with his hands tied behind his back.[17]

Earth 3[edit]

In the Earth 3 universe as seen during the "Forever Evil" storyline as part of "The New 52," Anthony Zucco is a clown who is the owner of a circus. He was later killed by Jonathan Grayson who used the circus as a front for his criminal activities.[18]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Tony Zucco appeared in the two-part Batman: The Animated Series episode "Robin's Reckoning" voiced by Thomas F. Wilson. Zucco starts off as a young man eager to make a name for himself in the racketeering and protection money business. As in the comics, he threatens Haly's Circus' owner Mr. Haly for protection money and kills Dick Grayson's parents by sabotaging the trapeze ropes. Batman, who as Bruce Wayne adopts Dick, goes after Zucco with a vengeance. After a couple of brief run-ins with Batman, an increasingly paranoid Zucco escapes town, but returns nine years later. Batman tries to handle it on his own, not wanting Robin to get involved. when Robin learns that his parents' murderer is back in town, he goes after Zucco on his own, ultimately saving Batman's life. Robin is briefly tempted to kill Zucco, but ultimately spares him and leaves him to be arrested.
  • Tony Zucco appears in The Batman episode "A Matter of Family" voiced by Mark Hamill. In this version, Tony Zucco has three brothers who act as his underlings and acts as Gotham's Mafia Don. They are all involved in circus acts. His brothers are a strong man (referred to in the credits as Bruiser), a lion tamer, and a juggler. Tony Zucco's skill is knife throwing. As a child, he was part of a knife-throwing duo with his father, with Tony throwing the knives while his father was bound to the giant target. One night, he missed, killing his father. When John Grayson appears in the tent near the Grayson's trailer and Zucco offers his "protection", John refuses. John Grayson is attacked by Zucco's brothers. Dick calls the police minutes after Zucco first appears in their big top tent. The call is intercepted by Batman, who quickly arrives and takes Zucco and his brothers down. The police arrive and take Zucco's "Lion Tamer" brother away while Zucco and the other two brothers escape. Swearing revenge on Batman and the Graysons, Zucco tampers with the railings of the Graysons' trapeze act, resulting in the deaths of Dick's parents. After the Graysons' murder, Batman corners every one of Zucco's remaining brothers until he learns their boss' whereabouts, which turns out to be Haley's Circus. When Zucco knocks Batman out at Haley's Circus, he straps the Dark Knight to a knife-throwing wheel. Dick arrives in his Robin costume just in time and battles Zucco long enough for Batman to free himself. At one point, Dick has the chance to enact revenge on Zucco for the murder of his parents when Zucco falls from the same platform as the Flying Graysons. Dick chooses to spare Zucco, who is then arrested by the police. Afterward, Dick Grayson officially becomes Batman's sidekick, Robin.

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Tony Zucco appears in issue 6 of the Young Justice comics. He was featured in a flashback when Robin recaps his history. Like the comics, Tony Zucco tried to offer protection money to Mr. Haly who denied him. On April 1, 2006 during a trapeze routine without a net, Tony Zucco's men sabotaged the trapeze rig which broke during the act killing Dick's parents, aunt, and cousin while his uncle survived but was paralyzed. When Dick Grayson became Robin for the first time, he helped Batman bring Tony Zucco to justice.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Batman (vol. 1) #436-439 (August-September 1989)
  2. ^ Batman: Dark Victory #0-13 (November 1999 - December 2000)
  3. ^ Blackest Night: Batman #3 (December 2009)
  4. ^ Detective Comics (vol. 1) #876 (April 2011)
  5. ^ Detective Comics (vol. 1) #878 (August 2011)
  6. ^ Nightwing Vol. 3 #0
  7. ^ Nightwing Vol. 3 #15
  8. ^ Nightwing Vol. 3 #18
  9. ^ Nightwing Vol. 3 #19
  10. ^ Nightwing Vol. 3 #20
  11. ^ Nightwing Vol. 3 #21
  12. ^ Nightwing Vol. 3 #22
  13. ^ Nightwing Vol. 3 #23
  14. ^ Nightwing Vol. 3 #24
  15. ^ All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #1 (September 2005)
  16. ^ All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #7 (November 2005)
  17. ^ All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #8 (January 2008)
  18. ^ Justice League Vol. 2 #25