Who's Kite-Man?

Who's This? One of the worst Batman villains of all time, on page 25 of Who's Who Update '87 #3.
The facts: Did you get the joke? His real name is Charles "Chuck" Brown, a play on noted kite-flyer Charlie Brown. Yeah. (Cough.) Not that it was revealed as early as his first appearance in Batman #133 (1960), mind you. He was created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang. He would not appear again for almost 20 years, showing up in Batman #315 (1979; unless you count a reprint of his first in Batman Family #3, four years before). His entry in Who's Who was no doubt prompted by a 1986 appearance in Hawkman #4, where he was given an origin and that jokey alias. It did not, at the time, lead to more, unless you count background shots of him with other loser villains in Justice League America (which led to such appearances in DC Retroactive and Formerly Known).
How you could have heard of him: He has had a small number of post-Crisis appearance, most "notably" in a couple of issues of Young Justice and in Gotham Knights #33, and was said to have been killed in Infinite Crisis #3 (2006) for not agreeing to join the Secret Society of Super-Villains. He survived, however, just so he could should up in 52, where he was killed for good by Bruno Manheim. But if you actually remember him, it's probably thanks to a couple of appearance on the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series, voiced by Jeffrey Combs.
Example story: Batman #133 (1960) "Crimes of the Kite-Man" by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang
Get ready to be reminded how many types of kite there is! Kite-Man is more than just a Charlie Brown wannabe, you know. He's actually pretty well equipped. Case in point his first crime, in which he uses a box kite to drop bombs on a high-rise restaurant terrace before snatching a ruby of a Maharajah's head and escaping with a spring-loaded kite-glider.
Batman and Robin were eating lunch with the Raj (because Silver Age Batman) so they try to stop him, but though nimble, our heroes can't fly. Still, for all those who don't rate Dick Grayson highly as Robin, we offer this sequence:
Don't worry, he twists his body so he falls into a water tank. In the ensuing days, we're told, Kite-Man pulled off daring robbery after daring robbery, without getting caught by the Dynamic Duo. Maybe it's because Batman is busy judging kite-skiing contests, I dunno. (Because. Silver. Age. Batman.)

Not only isn't Kite-Man as predictable as Batman's regular, Arkham-worthy crop of villains, but he's springing mobsters from prison for a price, using a giant self-propelled kite, no less. Spotted by Batman, the Light-to-Mid-Dark Knight Detective raids the contest to kite-ski up to the bad guys!
He gets knocked out by a kite however. Yep. Just looks like an ordinary kite. Though the mobsters want to throw him overboard, Kite-Man plays the evil supervillain card and wants to strap him to a kite and give the underworld community the chance to take pot shots at him. He throws him in a cell with peeling wallpaper while he gets that set up, and learns the hard way that he really should keep his lair in better repair. Because wallpaper becomes...
That's twice Batman's used a kite to solve a problem. Who's the REAL Kite-Man here? After getting sprung by Robin, the Bat raids Kite-Man's armory and...
Kite-Man is out-kited again! He tries to escape, but Batman easily catches him using the dragon kite (see splash page, above). Then a 19-year prison sentence, I guess. I think the judge didn't find his gimmick amusing. Ouch!

But a perfectly fun story, with high-flying action and plenty of variety. Batman is probably the better kite-flyer, but then, he's good at everything. That's HIS gimmick. I'm not surprised Kite-Man didn't get a lot of play, but I think he makes a good Jack Schiff-era or '66 villain.

Who's Next? Moving on to Update '87 #4... anyone you'd like to see covered?

12 comments:

tomg said...

Phantom of the Fair?

American Hawkman said...

Especially if you use one of his Centaur comics issues. :)

Siskoid said...

Centaur's Phantom... okay, I'll put that one the list... anyone else?

Andrew Gilbertson said...

Magpie?

Erich said...

Marine Marauder or People's Heroes, just to keep the Outsiders-agony going...

Siskoid said...

You're cruel.

I never "Who's" Outsiders villains.

But I have been thinking about continuing my take-down of the original B&TO series. I think I was up to Halo's belated origin arc.

American Hawkman said...

I did quite like the Muse, who has a genuinely strange motivation and less than ten people planetwide who cared enough to remember him.

American Hawkman said...

And I just realized even I don't remember Mindancer...

Siskoid said...

Neither was obscure at the time, just one-"hit" wonders. Minddancer was Booster Gold's second opponent, and Update '87 was filled to the brim with one-off Blue Beetle villains like the Muse. Their entries basically tell their entire story.

Paul said...

Magpie!

Boosterrific said...

Hideous costume, nebulous powers... the best part of Mindancer was when her mask was pulled off to reveal a skull underneath! She ran away screaming, so we never learned who what how why. In my head canon, she was Mr. Bones' long-lost twin sister.

Siskoid said...

Being part of the Helix batch would certainly explain the costume.

 

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