28 July 2007

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Blockbuster

Originally a foe of Batman and Robin, Blockbuster later became a Nightwing foe. He has appeared in the Justice League Unlimited animated series.

Mark Desmond

The first Blockbuster was Mark Desmond, a chemist who wanted to become stronger. Experimenting on himself, he grew stronger and taller, but in the process was turned into a mindless brute (Hmm, kinda sounds like the Hulk). Desmond was cared for by his criminally-minded brother, Roland, who shielded Mark's monstrous appearance from their mother.

Roland used Mark to commit crimes until they were stopped by Batman and Robin. Desmond had years earlier been rescued from drowning by Bruce Wayne, and the Dark Knight Detective discovered that he could calm and stall the behemoth by removing his cowl and revealing his face. The sight did indeed calm the giant, preventing further destruction. Blockbuster sought solitude when free, only to find himself opposing the Caped Crusader on various occasions. He served as a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains during a battle with the Justice League. He was recruited by Amanda Waller's new Suicide Squad, and died battling Darkseid's creation Brimstone.

Roland Desmond

Roland Desmond became the second Blockbuster after a debilitating malady forced him to be treated with experimental steroids. Like his brother Mark, Roland found he was now a child-minded super-strong behemoth. He went on a rampage in the Southwest, strong enough to give Starman V trouble, but Batman and Starman together ensured that he wound up behind bars.

Acquiring a genius-level intellect became Desmond's obsession, and the demon Neron made it a reality. Selling his soul to the demon, he obtained awesome acumen that matched his phenomenal physical power.

There was an irony to his deal with Neron that he would later reveal to the young hero Impulse during their final showdown. As an unintelligent brute he had only the dimmest understanding of what he wanted, and had wished for intelligence. Once that had been granted, however, he realized that what he had truly desired was simply to be normal.

Desmond set up shop in his mother's home of Blüdhaven, a city bereft of heroes. He forced out crimelord Angel Marin and took over the criminal organizations there. Roland's plan was to build a criminal empire in the 'Haven, that would eventually enable him to extend his dominion over Gotham, Star City, Metropolis and New York's underworlds. For that purpose, he bought the corrupt elements of the city's Police Department, most notably the Police Chief Redhorn and Inspector Dudley "Deadly" Soames.

Despite his swift and vicious consolidation of power, Blockbuster's hold on Blüdhaven's organized crime was nevertheless weakened by the intervention of the city's new protector: Nightwing (Dick Grayson, the former Robin), who, with Oracle's help, fouled Desmond's plans at every turn.

Thus, the kingpin's primary goal became the elimination of the young vigilante in order to insure the longevity of his criminal cartel. Not only placing a sizable contract on Nightwing's head, Blockbuster also employed the services of several assassins, including Lady Vic, Stallion, Brutale, the Trigger Twins and Shrike. However, Desmond's attempts and resources failed to stop the hero.

Desmond later developed albinism and heart defect: side-effects of his transformation. He received a heart transplant from one of Gorilla City's talking apes, and was tightening his grip over Blüdhaven and contemplating a takeover of Gotham City. But this changed with the death of his beloved mother. Blockbuster wrongfully blamed Nightwing, and started a vengeance campaign against the vigilante. Now knowing his secret identity, the criminal kingpin bombed Dick Grayson's apartment complex, killing most of its residents. Still shocked, Nightwing enlisted the help of Blüdhaven's newest vigilante: the amoral female Tarantula, Catalina Flores.

Blockbuster had beaten down Grayson both physically and emotionally. When an exhausted Nightwing confronted Blockbuster, he was at his lowest ebb, but still managed to champion the battle. During the fight and for a short time after its end, Blockbuster threatened Dick with killing all the people that he cared about, even the strangers who approached him in the street. The timely arrival of Tarantula would end it all, however; she shot Blockbuster dead at point blank range as Nightwing didn't stop her when he could. Suffering a panic attack, Dick fled to the rooftop, where he broke down, begging for Bruce's forgiveness. Nightwing's inaction has became a source of tremendous guilt for the young hero. But Blockbuster's demise ended his stranglehold over Blüdhaven once and for all.

Friend and Foe Profiles:

Ra's al Ghul
Talia al Ghul
Baby Doll
Bat-Hound (Ace)
Black Mask

The Dark Knight returns in 356 days!

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