Do you fear The Reaper? Well, let me introduce you to him (but you may regret getting to know this villain).
The original Reaper (AKA Dr. Judson Caspian) is a devious vigilante who first appeared in Detective Comics #575 (June 1987) – created by writer Mike W. Barr and artists Alan Davis and Todd McFarlane. He was the main antagonist of a four-part story arc called, Batman: Year Two, which in my opinion is one of the most riveting arcs in any Batman timeline. The Reaper character was created to challenge a newly established Caped Crusader. Caspian’s motivations and origin story are very similar to Batman’s.
I Am Become Death
One day after taking his wife and daughter to the circus, the family finds their home being broken into by some street thug. Caspian attempts to stop the thug and ultimately Mary, his wife, gets shot and dies. Being devastated by this loss, Caspian exiles himself from Gotham for some time. Later, he makes his return to the city to visit his daughter, Rachel, who is set to become a nun and the new love interest of Bruce Wayne.
It doesn’t take long for Caspian to take on the criminals of Gotham as the ultra-violent vigilante known as The Reaper. He also quickly gets Batman’s attention through his murderous ways of achieving justice. His weapons of choice are two large scythes and guns, which leave a trail of bodies in his wake. While he is ridding the streets of criminals, it’s not up to the moral standards the city or Gotham P.D. are accustomed to. A newly appointed Commissioner Gordon asks Batman to help and a first encounter between the two vigilantes doesn’t end well for Batman. While in bandages after their initial fight, Bruce starts questioning his tactics and begins target practice with a gun as his new defense.
Wait a second. Batman doesn’t use guns! I know you thought Batman was above this, but here’s a villain who shook him to his core that he was willing to go against his own moral code. We get to see Batman stoop down to the same level as the men he is fighting against. And if that wasn’t enough he’s even pushed to team up with the underbelly of Gotham in a momentary truce. This new twist comes with a temporary new sidekick, Joe Chill.
Dealing with the Devil
Spoiler Alert! Isn’t Joe Chill the man who killed Bruce’s parents? How can he work with that guy? This is what makes this story so intriguing and the character of The Reaper so interesting. He can get under Batman’s skin so much so Bats is willing to team up with his ultimate nemesis. The whole story comes to a head when Batman can’t take working with Chill anymore and leads him to Crime Alley, the site of his parents’ death. Batman pulls a gun on Chill finally confessing he was the little boy and about to get his revenge, but in true Batman fashion, he refrains. Then bang! In comes The Reaper shooting Chill and stealing Bruce’s only chance for true vengeance.
Of course, the two fight and there ends up being a point where Batman has a chance to let The Reaper fall to his death but he stops. When he realizes The Reaper is really Caspian and the father to his new love interest he extends a hand and gives Caspian the opportunity to end their quarrel. Instead, Caspian chooses to fall to his own death, not allowing Batman the satisfaction of defeating him.
Reap What You Sow
What a riveting introduction to this bone-chilling character. While the original Reaper did die at the end of this arc, there was a second Reaper in a one-shot sequel called, Batman: Full Circle. After seeing his father killed by The Reaper, Joe Chill Jr. puts on the costume and seeks to capture and drive Batman insane. Ultimately, Batman decides to spare Joey’s life even after being captured and all the havoc that ensued with him masquerading around as the murderous villain.
The Reaper was a truly iconic villain. He challenged Batman further than most of the well-known rogues have – shaping the fledgling vigilante to the superhero he is today! Yet, there has been very little in the way of collectibles. Fans of the villain will be excited to pick up the DC Comics Multiverse 6-Inch Action Figure Wave 6 Case because it has the first-ever Reaper action figure. The figure has his original red costume, black cape, skull mask, and two large scythes. Bringing this chilling character to life as an action figure is something you won’t want to miss out on!
Do you know any other lesser-known Batman characters that deserve their own action figure? Let us know in the comments.