Spellbinder (DC Comics)
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Spellbinder from Detective Comics #358. Art by Carmine Infantino
Detective Comics #358 (December 1966)
Justice League International vol. 2, #65 (June 1994)
Detective Comics #691 (1995)
John Broome (writer)
Sheldon Moldoff (artist)
|Alter ego||Delbert Billings
Use of optical and aural devices that hypnotize people
Minimal hand-to-hand combatant
Genuine mystical abilities
Spellbinder is the name of three fictional characters that appear as supervillains in comic books published by DC Comics. Versions of the character have appeared on the animated series Batman Beyond and The Batman.
Fictional character biography
Spellbinder (Delbert Billings) first appeared in Detective Comics #358 (December 1966), and was created by John Broome and Sheldon Moldoff. He was a painter who used optical illusions and hypnotic weapons to commit crimes.
Delbert was a forger of pop art who decided to put his talents to use as a supervillain. He created the Spellbinder identity, designed hypnotic weapons, and assembled a team of henchmen. He ran into Batman during his first robbery, but hypnotized the crimefighter into believing he was involved in an entirely different situation, as his gang made their getaway. This ploy worked twice, but on his third robbery, Batman was able to overcome it and send him to jail.
After leaving prison, Spellbinder faced off with Superman in Superman #330 (1978). Using a miniature turntable, he was able to create sonic blasts that would make targets more susceptible to his hypnotic suggestions. The addition of a shock absorbing chin-guard to his helmet protected him from being knocked out by Superman, and special lenses protected him from hypnosis by the Man of Steel. He was finally defeated when his own sonic blasts were echoed back on him (rendering him unconscious). This issue also revealed how Superman uses sub-conscious hypnosis (heightened by the Kryptonian lenses in his glasses) to successfully disguise himself as Clark Kent.
Spellbinder joined a loosely knit conglomerate of crime organized by the Monarch of Menace. He was the first member of the group to be captured by Batman, who later disguised himself as Spellbinder to infiltrate the group and capture the Monarch.
Later, Spellbinder was on the run from the law with his new girlfriend, Fay Moffit, when he was confronted by the demon-lord Neron. Neron made an offer of immense power in exchange for Spellbinder's soul, but he declined. Fay, however, thought it sounded like a great idea, so she shot Spellbinder in the head and accepted the offer for herself. Neron was not surprised and explained that he had never actually been addressing Spellbinder with the offer; he had been addressing her all along.
A second Spellbinder appeared in Justice League International vol. 2, #65 (June 1994), as a member of the government sanctioned "League-Busters".
During the Underworld Unleashed crossover, Delbert Billings (the original Spellbinder) turned down Neron's offer of immense power and was shot by his girlfriend, Fay Moffit, who then became the third Spellbinder (also known as Lady Spellbinder).
Neron granted her the ability to induce genuine hallucinations. She was followed by Batman and Robin, but they did not know the scale of her illusion-casting abilities, which extend to making absolutely everything disappear. She escaped from the heroes due to her ability to create a total illusion in her immediate vicinity, which remains even if they close their eyes. They realize that the only way to be able to approach her safely is if the approach is controlled by someone outside her immediate area of influence. Robin acts as Batman's eyes once Spellbinder is tracked down by the police, guiding him using a version of virtual reality technology. Once captured, Spellbinder discovers that her deal with Neron was not all she had hoped — if her eyes are covered, her illusion-casting abilities no longer function.
She subsequently appeared in Birds of Prey, where she created an illusory world in which Barbara Gordon was Batgirl (although she did not realize this had once been true). She had been hired by Blockbuster to kidnap Barbara. Barbara was able to defeat Spellbinder when she attacked her with a fire extinguisher (to blind her and prevent her from casting illusions) and a club, and then tied her up for the cops.
Spellbinder returned to Birds of Prey when Black Canary and Catwoman were kidnapped by the rogue parademon Pharzoof. She was being transported with several fellow villains when their train was hi-jacked and taken to Apokolips. The villains battled the parademons and eventually were returned to Earth where they were taken to the Slab.
Spellbinder returned again in the mini-series The Joker: Last Laugh. In Birds of Prey #36, she battles Black Canary, who is trapped inside Slabside Penitentiary along with a host of villains infected by the Joker, making them even more crazed than ever. Black Canary's sonic cry is able to give most of them pause, but the Joker sends Copperhead and Hellgrammite after her, as neither have ears. After dealing with them, she is briefly confronted by the Shadow Thief before meeting, to her great relief, Batman, Superman, and Mary Marvel. However, Black Canary soon notices that Marvel's lightning bolt is backwards, and the heroes are revealed to be an illusion created by Spellbinder, who was the first of the female villains infected by the Joker.
Spellbinder was apparently killed alongside the Trigger Twins by a group of gun-toting superheroes during Infinite Crisis. It is noted that she bears a striking resemblance (both physically and in terms of powers) to the mysterious Harlequin. Although very similar, they appear to be two separate characters.
Powers and abilities
The original Spellbinder used a number of optical and aural devices of his own invention to hypnotize others. His fighting skills were minimal. The second unnamed Spellbinder had genuine mystical abilities. The third Spellbinder, better known as Lady Spellbinder, can create terrifying realistic illusions, and the recipients can feel the actual pain of the illusions. If she is blinded or has her eyes closed, she is unable to cast the illusions.
In other media
- In Batman Beyond, Spellbinder is the alter-ego of Ira Billings, the psychologist at Hamilton High. He wears a costume featuring an orange-and-black swirl design, and uses a large floating "eyeball" that allows him to project images into the minds of others using hypnosis. He appears in the episodes "Spellbound", "Hooked Up", and "Eyewitness"; and was voiced by Jon Cypher. Dr. Ira Billings was a school psychologist, dissatisfied with students he has worked with for years, whom he sees as merely spoiled brats, he utilizes his virtual technology to trick them into acts based on their fantasies which in reality are stealing valuable possessions.
- In The Batman, Spellbinder has a third eye which he acquired while meditating in the Far East. This third eye gives him the ability to induce hallucinations in others, a power he uses to steal from Gotham City's wealthiest citizens. This Spellbinder wears a red cape over a grey suit with three black-rimmed eye holes. In "The Butler Did It", he posed as a photographer during photo shoots for a charity event to beam hypnotic commands into the minds of Bruce, two of his colleagues, and their butlers. He had the butlers steal from their employers, only for the Batman to interfere. Despite this, his real objective was a rare gemstone at the charity event that would enhance the powers of his third eye. He came close to discovering Batman's secret identity when Batman responded to a hypnotic command directed to Bruce Wayne. Fortunately, thanks to Alfred's timely intervention and his audio link to Batman, he breaks free from the hypnosis and Spellbinder believes that Batman just pretended to be under his command to catch him unguarded. Despite the gemstone allowing Spellbinder's illusions to feel more realistic to him, Batman managed to break free by relying on his strength of mind training and defeated Spellbinder. Spellbinder later appears in "Rumors". He was voiced by Michael Massee.
- Batman #336
- Detective Comics #691-692
- Birds of Prey: Batgirl
- Birds of Prey #12-14