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: 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.[1]

Batman: Year Three[edit]

Dick Grayson's narration establishes Zucco's backstory. A first-generation immigrant from Italy, Zucco is orphaned at a young age when a gang of criminals murder his parents for refusing to pay protection money. Zucco is sent to an orphanage, where he is cared for by Sister Mary Elizabeth. She tries to counsel Zucco, but he is a lost cause; consumed by anger, he prays only for the deaths of the men who killed his parents. As a young man, he runs away from the orphanage and joins one of Gotham's major crime families, and quickly moves up Gotham's criminal food chain.[2]

After Batman apprehends him for murdering Dick Grayson's parents, Zucco is sentenced to two consecutive life terms 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 orphanage before it is demolished. Wanting to keep the truth from Dick (who has recently became Nightwing), Alfred Pennyworth 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. when Dick presses him, Batman insists he knows nothing about Zucco's murder.[2]

Blackest Night[edit]

Main article: Blackest Night

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 deceased members of the original Dark Knight's rogue gallery. They all attempt to kill Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, who have become the new Batman and Red Robin, respectively. Dick eventually cryogenically suspends himself and Tim during the battle, which forces the Black Lanterns to retreat as they are unable to read any signs of life from them.[3]

The Black Mirror[edit]

In The Black Mirror, it is revealed that Zucco had fathered a daughter named Sonia. She is seemingly a legitimate businesswoman and runs the GGM Bank under the alias of Sonia Branch.[4] Dick Grayson, who had recently became the new Batman, initially hopes that Sonia is not as corrupt as her father. However, he 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 sees Tony Zucco threatening C.C. Haly for protection money. When Haly refuses to pay, Zucco sabotages the trapeze, which causes John and Mary Grayson to fall to their deaths. Dick becomes obsessed with finding Zucco and roams the streets of Gotham City looking for him, eventually encountering Batman and learning that the Dark Knight and his new guardian, Bruce Wayne, are the same person.[6] Tony is still the father of Sonia Zucco in this continuity, and she and Dick have a tenuous relationship.[7]

Zucco had disappeared soon after his arrest, and is presumed dead. However, Sonia receives an e-mail saying that her father is still alive and living in Chicago, and relays this information to Dick.[8]

Zucco is revealed to be working for Chicago Mayor Wallace Cole under the alias Billy Lester. [9] Cole knows of Zucco's criminal record, and years before covered it up by having him declared officially dead. When Nightwing arrives in Chicago, Cole tells a panicked Zucco to go into hiding.[10] Nightwing discovers "Billy Lester"'s true identity, and learns that his parents' murderer has a wife and son.[11]

Nightwing shows up in Cole's office, demanding to know why he is protecting Zucco. He then secretly bugs Cole's office. Soon afterward, the Prankster addresses the whole city by video and reveals that Cole has been harboring Zucco for three years.[12] When Zucco learns what has happened, he returns to Chicago to help Nightwing.[13] Zucco tells Nightwing that he murdered Harold Loomis, the man who engineered the city's transportation system, on Cole's orders. He then explains that Prankster is Loomis' son, and he plans to blow up city hall as revenge; he also sent Sonia the email about Zucco to make sure Nightwing got involved. Nightwing and Zucco defuse the explosives and get Cole to safety, and Nightwing fights the Prankster. Zucco saves Nightwing's life by shooting and wounding the Prankster. He is then arrested for murdering Loomis. In jail, Zucco receives a visit from a man who suggests that his employers can help him beat the rap. Zucco insists that he wants to take responsibility to set a good example for his son. The man says there is no point in that, as Zucco's family has left him.[14]

Other versions[edit]

All Star Batman and Robin[edit]

In Frank Miller's All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson's parents are killed by a low-level hitman named "Jocko-boy" Vanzetti. Throughout the early issues, Batman brutalizes Vanzetti, going so far as to torture him with snake venom-coated batarangs.[15] Batman brings Vanzetti to the Batcave and allows Dick Grayson to "interrogate" him with an axe. Under this torture, Vanzetti reveals that the Joker ordered the hit.[16] Afterwards, Batman throws Vanzetti 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, Anthony Zucco is a clown who owns a circus. He is killed by Jonathan Grayson, who uses 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. 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. 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 trapeze platform. Dick chooses to spare Zucco, who is then arrested. 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: Dark Victory #0-13 (November 1999 - December 2000)
  2. ^ a b Batman (vol. 1) #436-439 (August-September 1989)
  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