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Section of cover of Batman and the Mad Monk
art by Matt Wagner
|First appearance||Detective Comics #31 (September 1939)|
|Created by||Gardner Fox
|Alter ego||Niccolai Tepes|
|Team affiliations||The Brotherhood|
|Notable aliases||Louis DuBois, The Mad Monk|
|Abilities||Vampirism, hypnosis, longevity, ability to transform into a wolf, bat, or other creature of the night|
Fictional character biography
The Monk first appeared in Detective Comics #31 in 1939. He is one of the earliest significant villains of the series, his battle with Batman being one of the Dark Knight's first multi-part adventures. The Monk is a vampire who wears a red, monk-like outfit, with a hood that bears a skull and crossbones. The Monk hypnotises Bruce Wayne's fiancee, Julie Madison, into trying to kill a man. Batman stops her and next day as Bruce Wayne takes her to a Doctor, who has also been hypnotised and tells them to go on a cruise. Batman uses the Batgyro to get to the ship Julie is on and meets the Monk, who is after Julie. The Monk tries to use his hypnotic powers on Batman, but Batman uses a Batarang to escape his trance. The Monk lures Batman to his base in Paris, and Batman defeats a giant ape set on him. However, the Monk succeeds in catching Batman in a net and tries to lower it into a den of snakes, but using the Batarang for the first time, Batman knocks the lever up, breaks a glass chandelier, and uses the glass to cut through the net. He has a female assistant named Dala, who lures Batman to the Monk's lair using Julie Madison as bait.
The Monk places Julie in a hypnotic trance again, but Batman again rescues her. After rescuing Julie after following her to Transylvania, Batman meets Dala, whom he takes towards the Monk's Castle. Nonetheless, he is caught in a net, hypnotised, and trapped in a pit by the Monk, who transforms into a wolf to summon others, but Batman escapes, using gas to knock out the wolves, then using a rope attached to a batarang to climb out. He kills the Monk and Dala by shooting them with silver bullets made from candlesticks as they lie in their coffins. This use of silver bullets was attributed to writer error.
The Monk returned several decades later, when writer Gerry Conway revived him in 1982's Detective Comics #515. The Monk's appearance is preceded by Dala's return in Detective Comics #511, during which she romances Dick Grayson (a.k.a. Robin) as part of her master's plan.
Conway's story is ostensibly an update of the original tale, establishing an Earth-One counterpart of the Monk during the days of DC Comics' Multiverse. It departs from the original, however, by establishing the Monk's true identity and origin. In Conway's version, the Monk is a post-Civil War plantation owner in New Orleans named Louis DuBois. He and his sister Dala are attacked by their vengeful ex-slaves and subjected to a voodoo ritual which transforms them into the undead.
During the course of the story, Batman himself is transformed into a vampire by the Monk but is eventually cured by a serum administered by a priest/exorcist named Father Green. At the conclusion of the tale, Green departed with the captive Monk and Dala, hinting that he had been pursuing them for a very long time indeed.
Although later events have called this story into question, the Monk's continued existence in the post-Crisis version of the DC Universe was confirmed by the presence of a familiar red hood displayed as a trophy in the Batcave.
Batman and the Mad Monk
In this version, the Monk is referred to as Niccolai and is the vampiric leader of a cult called The Brotherhood, based in an abandoned castle/manor house on the outskirts of Gotham City. His followers, among whom is the gothic Dala, feed upon the blood of captured victims. Only the most devoted acolytes are transformed into true creatures of the night however. Maintaining a link with the 1939 version, Julie Madison is once again turned into the Monk's pawn, as she is lured to the castle by Dala under the guise of the Monk being a self-help guru. At present, the current origin of the character has not been revealed for certain (though he could be wealthy Gotham son Richard Rallstone), as he was electrocuted and seemingly incinerated by a bolt of lightning and presumed dead during a fight with Batman, with Batman expressing disbelief in the idea of the Monk as a true vampire. Dala is not a vampire, but she hopes to become one so she can serve as Niccolai's right hand.
In other media
- In Batman: the Brave and the Bold Dala appears in "Shadow of the Bat".
- Monk appears in issue 12 of the All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold (which is based on Batman: The Brave and the Bold). Klarion the Witch Boy summons him alongside Blockbuster, Dala, Hugo Strange's Monster Men, Man-Bat, Professor Milo's werewolves, and Solomon Grundy to help fight Batman and Zatanna.
- The Dark Knight #5
- Batman: The Dark Knight #7