WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Batman: Gotham Nights #7, by Mark Russell, Ryan Benjamin, Richard Friend, Alex Sinclair and Troy Peteri, available now.
It’s no secret that Batman has one of the most popular rogues galleries in all of comics. From Joker and Bane to Penguin and the Riddler, Gotham City is plagued with all sorts of villains—but not all of them are criminal masterminds capable of bringing the city to its knees.
One of those lesser-known villains is Killer Moth, who was created by Bill Finger, Dick Sprang, Lew Schwartz in 1951’s Batman #63. This bug-themed bad guy rarely posed a real threat in the main timeline, but the non-continuity Batman: Gotham Nights #6 finally gives the villain the respect he always wanted.
Throughout his history, Killer Moth, also known as Drury Walker, has been largely portrayed as anything but killer. Although he’s largely seen as a joke, his biggest claim to fame was his status as the first supervillain that Barbara Gordon defeated single-handedly during her stint as Batgirl. In traditional continuity, Walker was originally inspired to be the antithesis of the Batman. Believing that Gotham’s criminals needed someone to protect them as Batman protected its citizens, he was more than willing to do it for a fee. Completely ripping off Batman’s modus operandi, he even devised his own Mothmobile and Mothcave.
Tired of the constant disrespect that came along with his absurd criminal theme and failed capers, Walker sold his soul to the demon Neron, in 1995’s Underworld Unleashed event by Mark Waid, Howard Porter, and Dan Green. This devilish exchange turned him into the mothlike mutant named Charaxes—the monstrous form he inhabited until his murder at the hands of Superboy Prime in Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez, and Jerry Ordway.
Like Infinite Crisis, Batman: Gotham Nights #7 depicts the death of Moth’s career at the hands of another. But unlike traditional continuity, this Moth is the criminal mastermind that his mainstream counterpart always dreamed of being. As the one villain Batman could never catch, this version of Moth was constantly one step ahead of the Caped Crusader, to a point where the Batman even considered him to be a bit of an inspiration.
In the continuity of Gotham Nights, Batman first faced off with Moth early on in his career as a vigilante, with Moth was already at his prime. Their constant game of cat and mouse sharpened Batman’s skills, helping him become the crimefighter that villains know and fear. But despite all his efforts, however, Batman had never managed to capture and unmask Killer Moth.
After finally tracking Moth to a warehouse, Batman enters to find his most elusive foe shot dead on the ground by an elderly security guard. Knowing his old foe wouldn’t go out that easily, Batman quickly deduces that the security guard was really Killer Moth hoping to evade capture. Once he’s subdued, fans get a better idea of the history this version of Moth and why he tried to pass off that body as the real Killer Moth.
Moth reveals the body to be that of his old mentor, Night Moon, the man trained him to become a master criminal. With his old friend dying in anonymity as one of Gotham’s forgotten villains, Moth saw this as his opportunity to finally get out of the supervillain game once and for all. Dressing Night Moon in his costume and shooting his body, Moth planned on using his friend as his ticket out of the lifestyle that he knew would be the death of him.
He tells Batman how, as he got older, he grew more and more tired of the constant stress and competition of the criminal life. What had started out as little more than a game to him had become so much more, and he was sick of it, wishing only to retire in peace without constantly looking over his shoulder. Ironically, that’s exactly what he gets when Batman brings him in for the final time. With Bruce Wayne making a generous donation to Arkham Asylum, the living quarters of permanent residents are greatly improved, giving Moth the peace and quiet he was so desperately seeking.
While he may have ended up in Arkham anyway, Batman: Gotham Nights goes a long way towards improving the rep of one of Gotham’s lamest villains. If he’s lucky, Killer Moth can will go through a similar metamorphosis in the main continuity as well.
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In Batman: Gotham Night, one of Gotham City's most infamous villains just became the one villain the Dark Knight could never catch.