Corto Maltese (DC Comics)

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Corto Maltese
First appearanceThe Dark Knight Returns (February 1986)
Notable locationsSouth America
PublisherDC Comics

Corto Maltese is a fictional country appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. It was initially created by Frank Miller as a homage to Hugo Pratt’s long-running Corto Maltese series of comic books.

Fictional history[edit]

Corto Maltese is a small island off the coast of South America. It is confirmed to exist in the mainstream DC Universe, where there was a tossed-off reference in a newspaper headline: "More Arms to Corto Maltese"[1].

The island nation is referenced in Superman: Under a Yellow Sun, in which Clark Kent wrote the book Under a Yellow Sun, which featured the fictional character David Guthrie who took a job on Corto Maltese working for a corrupt businessman.[2]

Batman and Superman battled zombies, vampires and werewolves on the island of Corto Maltese. The villainous Professor Combs escaped Arkham Asylum and travelled to Corto Maltese, where he bribed the island's leader so he could use a voodoo curse to raise the undead.[3]

The Dark Knight Returns[edit]

Corto Maltese appears in Frank Miller's graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as an island off the coast of South America. It is in a state of rebellion, and an armed uprising against the government occurs. The war escalates when the United States supports the government and the Soviet Union supports the rebels. With tension increasing between the United States and the Soviet Union, the U.S. President dispatches Superman to subdue the uprising. The Soviets respond to Superman's presence by launching a nuclear warhead called Coldbringer. Superman diverts the warhead to an uninhabited desert area before it detonates, but damage is done nonetheless: the warhead disrupts all electronics and communications in the United States, causing mass chaos across the country.[4]

In other media[edit]


  • Corto Maltese is referenced in the Smallville television show. In the episode "Justice", Green Arrow and the team (Aquaman, Cyborg and Impulse) ask Clark Kent to come with them to help break up one of Lex Luthor's operations targeting people with superhuman abilities, stating: "Gentlemen, our first target is a large facility on the island of Corto Maltese. You guys know the drill, wheels up in thirty-five minutes".
  • In the TV series Arrow, in the episode "Lone Gunmen", Oliver Queen mentions that the mercenary Deadshot operated in Corto Maltese. Corto Maltese is featured in episodes 2 (briefly) and 3 (prominently) of season 3 as the location where Thea Queen trains with her father, Malcolm Merlyn. The filming location for the overview of Corto Maltese is, however, not in South America, but in Monaco.[5] Episode 3 of the third season bears the title "Corto Maltese". In the season six episode "Reversal" it is mentioned that Cayden James is in Corto Maltese planning something big that could kill 4% of the world's population.
  • In the TV series Supergirl, in the first episode of the second season, Alex Danvers mentions that the "international assassin for hire" John Corben is linked to "genocide in Corto Maltese".


  • Corto Maltese is referenced in the 1989 Batman film. Photojournalist Vicki Vale travels there to take photographs of its revolution's aftermath. Her photos are selected for an article in Time magazine. Vicki Vale spends time in Corto Maltese, where she shoots a series of gruesome photographs during the violent rebel uprising. Upon seeing her pictures on the cover and throughout the magazine showing a desert war zone strewn with dead bodies, the Joker glibly comments, "I don't know if it's art... but I like it!"
  • Corto Maltese appears in the animated adaptation of the comic Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.


  1. ^ Time Masters Vol. 1 #4 (May 1990)
  2. ^ Superman: Under a Yellow Sun
  3. ^ Batman Confidential, Vol. 1 47 (October 2010)
  4. ^ The Dark Knight Returns (February 1986)
  5. ^ "Arrow Sara Trivia." IMDb. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.