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 appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character is most commonly known for his connection to the origin of Dick Grayson, who once used the Robin persona and later became Nightwing.

Publication history[edit]

Tony Zucco first appeared in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940) and was created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson.

Fictional character history[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 C.C. 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. This caused C.C. Haly to pay him protection money to prevent any further "accidents."

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 and he is eventually sentenced to the electric chair.


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 become 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]

Tony Zucco's remains have been reanimated as a Black Lantern in DC Comics's 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. Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, who have become the new Batman and Red Robin, respectively face down Zucco and their parent's corpses. 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 become 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]

Tony Zucco in Nightwing vol. 3, #18 (May, 2013 DC Comics). Art by Juan Jose Ryp.

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, 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]


  • Tony Zucco appeared in the two-part Batman: The Animated Series episode "Robin's Reckoning," voiced by Thomas F. Wilson of Back to the Future fame. This version is a nephew of Connie Stromwell, the former wife of Rupert Thorne's rival Arnold Stromwell. Tony Zucco's aliases included by Billy Marin, Simon Dirks, Sid the Squid, Killer Coburn, and Punky Lesh. 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 after Haly violently refuses him. After Bruce Wayne adopts Dick, Batman goes after Zucco with a vengeance. Following a visit from Batman while denying any involvement in the incident at Haly's Circus, Stromwell becomes enraged at Zucco's actions and kicks him out of the Stromwell Crime Family while disinheriting him, though he does not give him up to the police. After a couple of brief run-ins with Batman, an increasingly paranoid Zucco escapes but returns to Gotham nine years later for the episode's main events. After learning that his parents' murderer has returned, Robin goes after Zucco against Batman's wishes. While hiding at an abandoned amusement park, Zucco is tracked down by Batman, who injures his leg. Zucco eventually corners and very nearly kills Batman, but Robin arrives and subdues Zucco after the two fight. He almost throws Zucco off the pier, but relents and gives him up to the police, finally finding justice for his family.
  • Tony Zucco appears in The Batman episode "A Matter of Family", voiced by Mark Hamill (voice actor of the Joker in the DCAU). This version acts as Gotham's Mafia Don with his three brothers that are his underlings and 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. His own 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 but he missed one time, killing his father. When Zucco offers his "protection" to the Flying Graysons, John Grayson refuses. When John is attacked by Zucco's brothers, Dick Grayson calls the police minutes after Zucco first appears in the Flying Graysons' big top tent. The call is intercepted by Batman quickly taking Zucco and his brothers down, resulting in Zucco's "Lion Tamer" brother being taken away by Gotham police 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 John and Mary Grayson. After John's and Mary's murder, Batman corners every one of Zucco's remaining brothers until learning their boss' whereabouts: Haley's Circus. When Zucco knocks Batman out at Haley's Circus, he straps the Dark Knight to a knife-throwing wheel. However, Robin arrives just in time and battles Zucco long enough for Batman to free himself. At one point, Robin has the chance to enact revenge when Zucco falls from the trapeze platform. Robin chooses to save his parents' murderer and Zucco is then arrested by the police.


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]


  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 (November 2012)
  7. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #15 (February 2013)
  8. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #18 (May 2013)
  9. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #19 (June 2013)
  10. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #20 (July 2013)
  11. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #21 (August 2013)
  12. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #22 (September 2013)
  13. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #23 (October 2013)
  14. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #24 (December 2013)
  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 (February 2014)