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Croc is one of those Bat-villians that, if you’re not careful, can turn the modern, post-Miller Dark Knight back into the goofy fifties Caped Crusader who flies around the galaxy in a bat-rocket. Or worse, into the postmodern incarnation who refers to himself as “the Gaddamn Batman”, and seems to be the belligerent, testosterone-pumped version of the fifties Batman, fighting hulk-sized sewer mutants and extra-terrestrial death gods.
Yet as Chip Kidd so eloquently put it, the Batman’s greatest appeal is that he can endure so many reinventions without breaking. Everybody has a different take, from the early creepy Bat-Man of Bob Kane, to Bill Finger’s Caped Crusader with kid side-kick, to the dorky pointy-eared Buck Rogers of the fifties, to Marv Wolfman and Neal Adams’ Dark Knight Detective, to Miller’s gritty street monster and beyond… and they’re all the true Batman.
My personal favorite take exists in a world that, if not possible, is not patently impossible. It’s a world without magic or science fiction, without Lazarus pits or aliens in red capes. And certainly no giant mutated crocodile men with super strength.
And so my Killer Croc is not the big green monster of the current comics and videogames. He’s just a guy who won the circus freakshow lottery, suffering from ichthyosis, AND gigantism, AND a harelip. The odds of someone getting so many rare disorders is probably next to impossible, but only for the given value of impossible. He COULD happen. And that’s how I like my Batman. He’s impossible, but only because he’s never happened…
Once again, I’m indebted to Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s ‘Batman: the Animated Series’ for a much less outrageous, much more believable monster, with potential for very human pathos.