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The Monk on the cover of Batman and the Mad Monk (October 2006); art by Matt Wagner
|First appearance||Detective Comics #31 (September 1939)|
|Created by||Gardner Fox|
|Alter ego||Niccolai Tepes|
|Team affiliations||The Brotherhood|
|Notable aliases||Louis DuBois, The Mad Monk|
The Monk, also known as the Mad Monk, is a fictional supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of the superhero Batman. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #31 (September 1939) and was created by Gardner Fox, Bob Kane, and Sheldon Moldoff.
Fictional character biography
The Monk made his first appearance in Detective Comics #31 (September 1939) and was created by Gardner Fox, Bob Kane, and Sheldon Moldoff. He is one of the earliest significant villains of the Detective Comics series, and his battle with Batman is one of the Dark Knight's first multi-part adventures. In his earliest appearance, the Monk is depicted as a vampire who wears a red, monk-like outfit with a hood that bears a skull and crossbones. Later depictions establish that Batman believes that the Monk only pretends to be a vampire, but he does possess skills to hypnotize others.
The Monk hypnotizes Bruce Wayne's then-fiancee, Julie Madison, into trying to kill a man. Batman stops her and the next day, Bruce Wayne takes her to a doctor, who has also been hypnotized and tells them to go on a cruise. Batman uses the Batgyro to get to the ship Julie is on and meets the Monk, who is after Julie. The Monk tries to use his hypnotic powers on Batman, but Batman uses a Batarang to escape his trance. The Monk lures Batman to his base in Paris, where Batman defeats a giant ape that is set on attacking him. However, the Monk succeeds in catching Batman in a net and tries to lower it into a den of snakes, but using the Batarang again, Batman knocks the lever up, breaks a glass chandelier, and uses the glass to cut through the net. The Monk has a female assistant named Dala, who lures Batman to the Monk's lair using Julie Madison as bait.
The Monk places Julie in a hypnotic trance again, but Batman again rescues her. After rescuing Julie after following her to Transylvania, Batman meets Dala, whom he takes towards the Monk's castle. Nonetheless, he is caught in a net, hypnotized, and trapped in a pit by the Monk, who transforms into a wolf to summon others, but Batman escapes, using gas to knock out the wolves, then using a rope attached to a Batarang to climb out. He kills the Monk and Dala by shooting them with silver bullets made from candlesticks as they lie in their coffins. This use of silver bullets was later attributed to writer error.
The Monk returned several decades later, when writer Gerry Conway revived him in 1982's Detective Comics #515. The Monk's appearance is preceded by Dala's return in Detective Comics #511, during which she romances Dick Grayson (a.k.a. Robin) as part of her master's plan.
Conway's story is ostensibly an update of the original tale, establishing an Earth-One counterpart of the Monk during the days of DC Comics' Multiverse. It departs from the original, however, by establishing the Monk's true identity and origin. In Conway's version, the Monk is a post-Civil War plantation owner in New Orleans named Louis DuBois. He and his sister Dala are attacked by their vengeful ex-slaves and subjected to a voodoo ritual which transforms them into the undead.
During the course of the story, Batman himself is transformed into a vampire by the Monk but is eventually cured by a serum administered by a priest/exorcist named Father Green. At the conclusion of the tale, Green departed with the captive Monk and Dala, hinting that he had been pursuing them for a very long time indeed.
Although later events have called this story into question, the Monk's continued existence in the Post-Crisis version of the DC Universe was confirmed by the presence of a familiar red hood displayed as a trophy in the Batcave.
The Monk, identified only by his alias of the Mad Monk, appears in the DC Rebirth reboot universe. He is one of the many villains taken down by Batman and Catwoman after Batman takes her along with him on an average night of his job.
Dark Moon Rising: Batman and the Mad Monk
In the summer of 2006, DC began publishing a six-issue miniseries by writer/artist Matt Wagner called Dark Moon Rising: Batman and the Mad Monk. This is once again a revised update of the original Monk story.
In this version, the Monk is referred to as "Niccolai" and is the vampiric leader of a cult called the Brotherhood, based in an abandoned castle/mansion on the outskirts of Gotham City. His followers, among whom is the gothic Dala, feed upon the blood of captured victims. Only the most devoted acolytes are transformed into true creatures of the night however. Maintaining a link with the 1939 version, Julie Madison is once again turned into the Monk's pawn, as she is lured to the castle by Dala under the guise of the Monk being a self-help guru. At present, the current origin of the character has not been revealed for certain, although he could be wealthy Gotham son Richard Rallstone, as he was electrocuted during a fight with Batman. The bolt of lightning seemingly incinerated and presumably killed the Monk, with Batman expressing disbelief in the idea of the Monk as a true vampire. It is revealed that Dala is not a vampire, but she hopes to become one so she can serve as Niccolai's right hand.
The Monk appears in issue #12 of the All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold (which is based on the animated TV series Batman: The Brave and the Bold). Klarion the Witch Boy summons him alongside the Blockbuster, Dala, Hugo Strange's Monster Men, the Man-Bat, Professor Milo's werewolves, and Solomon Grundy to help fight Batman and Zatanna.
- The Dark Knight #5
- Batman: The Dark Knight #7
- Batman (vol. 3) #14