Batman has been missing from the Arrowverse for years now, but his mysterious disappearance made a newly introduced Batwoman villain more threatening.
Batman’s Arrowverse absence has already made a classic villain even deadlier. Batwoman has long established that Bruce Wayne/Batman, Kate Kane’s billionaire cousin-turned-vigilante, has been missing from Gotham City for several years now. No one knows where he disappeared to or whether he’s even still alive. However, in the years following his departure from Gotham, and before Kate assumed the mantle of Batwoman, Gotham transformed into a cesspool. Victor Zsasz’s revelation in Batwoman season 2 proves that the Dark Knight’s leave made the villain’s mark all the more devastating.
Victor Zsasz (Alex Morf) was introduced in grandiose fashion in season 2 of Batwoman. His first appearance came in the opening of the episode “Bat Girl Magic,” which saw him cruelly (and rather excitedly) kill a businessman and his paramour, stabbing them both with knives before carving a couple of marks onto his own skin. Separately, his ruthless murders drew the attention of Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie), Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), and Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang) and they investigated why he was mercilessly killing people who seemingly had no connection to each other. Zsasz — a hired assassin who kept count of every kill he made by carving a mark into his skin with a knife — was a disturbing villain who didn’t care about anything but getting the job done. He had a penchant for taking lives and worked with the highest bidder.
In Batwoman, that person just so happened to be Safiyah Sohail, who hired Zsasz to kill off everyone with knowledge of the desert rose and its magical healing abilities. Throughout “Bat Girl Magic,” Zsasz came face-to-face with Ryan, both as Batwoman and as a civilian. Ryan knew Zsasz because she dated someone who rolled in the same circles as the assassin, though he was unaware of Ryan’s new secret identity. While in the suit, Batwoman encountered Zsasz on a couple of occasions. Their final fight was intense, with the Scarlet Knight able to get the better of Zsasz at various points. Batwoman was incredibly good at fighting, so much so that it impressed Zsasz and led him to confirm that he hadn’t faced a worthy opponent since the last time he battled Batman.
Their exchange suggests that Victor Zsasz was on a non-stop killing spree in the years following the Dark Knight’s disappearance from Gotham. Without Batman’s involvement in thwarting criminals like Zsasz, the serial killer has had absolutely zero consequences for his actions. Already a formidable foe, Zsasz’s unchecked actions likely made him an even deadlier threat to Gotham’s citizens. There’s no telling how many people he killed during the three years Batman was missing; if his tally marks are any indication, however, then the number is high enough to have taken up the remaining space on his body, forcing Zsasz to start using his head to add more.
When Batman left Gotham behind, the Bat-Signal continued lighting up the night sky for three years. Shortly before Kate Kane became Batwoman, the iconic distress call was finally turned off, signaling the end of the Dark Knight’s time as the guardian of the city. In his absence, the crime rate rose and corruption reigned supreme. Without Batman around, Zsasz’s hitman gig likely saw a surge in numbers that kept him occupied and very rich for a long time. He admitted that hiring him for a hit job didn’t come cheap. However, it’s possible that Zsasz didn’t start charging more for his services until after Batman left, encouraged by the rate in which he was being sought after for assassinations.
From the little seen of Zsasz so far, it’s clear that the villain is rarely challenged. He seemed almost thrilled that he got to face Batwoman because she was someone who could actually match his skills. Zsasz is a sadist and a sociopath and he obviously has no qualms when it comes to killing anyone. If Ryan hadn’t been good enough, the hitman would have taken her out with no problem. Their interactions and his revelation about Batman also implies that Zsasz believes he will never really get caught. He’s confident in what he does, quietly and meticulously carrying out his kills without so much as a care in the world. This makes him incredibly dangerous and scary. Zsasz has been able to do whatever he wants for years, working his way up the ladder with no Batman or obstacles to stand in his way. At this point, his kill count will only keep increasing and, despite the villain now being on Batwoman’s radar, Zsasz has had a years-long head start.
In the aftermath of Batman’s mysterious disappearance, all of Gotham was his for the taking and he probably relished in the feeling. Zsasz was a good enough assassin that the Dark Knight no longer patrolling the streets of Gotham likely opened the doors to further his connections with other villains. In the years since, Zsasz became a gruesome and renowned hitman, seemingly attracting big-name clients who were willing to pay top tier for his services. After all, if Safiyah Sohail could hire Zsasz while still maintaining residence in Coryana, the island she ruled, then his reputation was clearly impressive enough to garner attention.
It’s hard to say exactly how Zsasz was operating prior to Batman’s absence or even how many times they had a run-in with each other. It’s possible that Batman investigated Zsasz’s dealings and tried to take him down. In any case, the deadly villain was able to escape his last confrontation with Batman to continue killing several (if not hundreds) of people. Now that Batwoman knows about his hits and that Safiyah has been funding his work, Zsasz’s freedom to assassinate and procure upscale criminal clientele without consequence could be coming to an end very soon. With Batwoman protecting the streets of Gotham, it’s possible Zsasz will be challenged for the first time in a long time. Whether he’ll actually be defeated in Batwoman season 2 remains to be seen, but the chances are exceptionally high.
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