Art by Marcos Marz
|First appearance||Detective Comics #469 (May 1977)|
|Created by||Steve Englehart|
|Alter ego||Dr. Alex Sartorius|
|Team affiliations||Secret Society of Supervillains|
Toxic fume emission
Doctor Phosphorus (real name Dr. Alexander Sartorius) is a fictional character who has appeared in various comic book series published by DC Comics. Primarily an enemy of Batman, the supervillain exists in DC's main shared universe, known as the DC Universe. He first appeared in Detective Comics #469, and was created by Steve Englehart.
Fictional character biography
A crack in a reactor core causes Alex Sartorius to get "five million slivers of (radioactive) red-hot sand" into his body. Nuclear reactions caused the silicon in the sand to be booted up by one proton each, to phosphorus. Burning forever, he starts a quest for revenge against the people he blames for his terrible fate, getting into conflict with Batman on a few occasions.
During the Underworld Unleashed storyline, he is one of many villains to sell his soul to the demon Neron. In exchange for his soul, he is granted greater power and more control; for example, he can now wear normal clothing without it bursting into flame.
In James Robinson's series Starman he is initially hired by the Mist to kill the original Starman, Ted Knight, but is defeated by the retired hero. However, they face each other a second time; this time, Phosphorus has given Knight a significant dose of radiation, which gave him terminal cancer. In a third and final confrontation, Knight is determined to ensure that Phosphorus would harm no one else. During the battle, he uses his cosmic rod to tear the pavement from beneath Phosphorus and drive him into the earth, apparently killing him.
Phosphorus returns in Detective Comics #825, where he is being held in Cadmus Research laboratories. When one of the scientists examining him says he heard Sartorius had died, the other replies, "From being crushed? Hardly. Everything human in Sartorius was consumed by fire long ago. We believe his powers manifested a fusion reaction that completely sublimated his central nervous system — creating functional facsimiles of his heart, his lungs, his kidneys — all working in concert to produce a near-endless supply of clean energy." 
Phosphorus escapes from Cadmus, and once again seeks revenge on those responsible for his condition. He is defeated by Batman during an attack on Rupert Thorne, and he is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.
During Batman's absence after his presumed death, Phosphorus escapes custody along with the other Arkham inmates. He kidnaps both Kirk Langstrom and his wife Francine for information about Langstrom's research.
Powers and abilities
Doctor Phosphorus has burning skin, toxic emissions, and can manipulate radiation. When he sells his soul to Neron, he is granted better control of his powers so his clothes won't burn off.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Doctor Phosphorus was invited by Lt. Matthew Shrieve to be the new member of Creature Commandos, but Doctor Phosphorus then betrays him and kills his family. It is revealed that Doctor Phosphorus had been working by General Sam Lane who is responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family.
Doctor Phosphorus appears in Smallville: Titans.
In other media
- In The Batman, Firefly's mutation from the Phosphorus Isotope causes him to become Phosphorus. He has the same radioactive powers of Doctor Phosphorus, but he burns orange flame instead of white and his skeleton is not visible. Phosphorus also shares his comic book counterpart's insanity.
- Dr. Alex Sartorious can be heard in Batman: Arkham Knight. In Simon Stagg's audiotapes, he can be heard bitterly confessing how his employer, Stagg, is profiting from his research and using it to create weapons. Before he can take action against Stagg, he is taken in by the Arkham Knight's army. One of the Gotham Stories implies that Sartorious was punished by being used as a test subject to Scarecrow's latest fear toxin, developing intense pyrophobia.
- Wallace, Dan (2008), "Doctor Phosphorus", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 105, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Detective Comics #825
- Titans (vol. 2) #28
- Forever Evil #1
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2 (July 2011)
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #3 (August 2011)