I was thinking about the series of “Rogue Profiles” we’ve been getting every once in a while in The Flash and realized that quite a few villains based their M.O. on a childhood trauma.
It’s been long established that Heat Wave was trapped in a walk-in freezer during a school field trip, and has had a life-long obsession with heat. So when he decided to go into crime, a flamethrower was a natural choice.
The Pied Piper is another one: he was born deaf, and his wealthy parents found a doctor who could give him hearing. Naturally he became obsessed with sound, so sonic tech was his weapon of choice.
The Trickster was born into a family of acrobats but afraid of heights. So he invented “air walker” shoes, which he later used to start his criminal career — by holding up and robbing airplanes.
Captain Cold only became a cold-based villain because that’s the tech he stole (although he studied and refined it). But the Rogue Profile issue focusing on him established that he’d had a terrible home life, and only felt happy when visiting his grandfather… who drove a truck delivering ice!
The second Mirror Master got a similar treatment a few months ago. It seems a key event in his life was standing up to — and killing — a bully when he was a child. The image that stuck with him was his own reflection in the water after he had drowned the other boy. (And he didn’t even seek the Mirror Master identity or tech — the costume and weapons were handed to him.)
And dare I mention the Rainbow Raider, who, bitter that his color-blindness blocked him from an otherwise promising painting career, decided to take color-based revenge on the world?
Sure, it’s not every villain, or even every Flash villain, but I was able to pull together six just from the Flash’s enemies. I’m sure, given time, I could amass a list of even more villains (or even heroes) who fit the pattern.
If you know of any, feel free to post them here!
Flash v.2 #215 established the Top’s claim that toy tops were his only escape from a childhood in which his parents unreasonably demanded that he be the best at everything — which he now insanely puns on using the double meaning of “top.”
Golden Glider’s ice-skating would seem to spring from the same source as Cold’s…cold.
Captain Boomerang was shown, in Suicide Squad v.1 #44, to have been hated by his own father because he was illegitemate (though Digger didn’t know so at the time). He also created a boomerang as a child in that story.
Magenta is the poster girl for bad childhoods, of course; much of her original mental problems stem from her parents’ Carrie-like belief that her magentic powers were evidence of demonic possession.
Hunter Zolomon became a profiler after his father, revealed as a serial killer, murdered his mother. His parents’ silence and seeming indifference towards him also seem to have fueled the identity issues that led him to become a new Reverse-Flash/Zoom.
Second-generation Trickster Axel Walker is still a youngster, a rich kid gone bad.
And then there’s Inertia….
and how not to mention batman, speaking of heroes? you’re right, seems that the childhood trauma is always a good escape goat.
Batman doesn’t really fit the pattern, unless you’re looking at the Batman Begins version. While his parents’ murder is what drove him to fight crime, it isn’t what drove him to dress like a bat.
The canonical version of his origin involves the adult Bruce Wayne, having decided to become a vigilante, trying to decide how to disguise himself, when a bat flies through the window. The childhood fall into the future Batcave is (AFAIK) unique to Batman Begins.
(P.S. It’s scapegoat. An “escape goat” would be like a getaway car for Hobbits.)
Supervillains as drug addicts?…
There were two storylines in the past year or so that struck me as rather contrived, and considering that these are rogues gallery villains I’m talking about here, that’s one more reason why I don’t see what it adds to them. From Spyder-25, here’s …