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Zeiss as seen on Batman #596 (December 2001)
|First appearance||Batman #582 (Oct 2000)|
|Created by||Ed Brubaker|
|Alter ego||Philo Zeiss|
|Abilities||Surgically enhanced speed, reflexes, vision-enhancing goggles, martial arts training|
Fictional character biography
After the death of his parents, Philo Zeiss was taken in by his uncle Victor, the gardener of a Sicilian mafia lord. When his Uncle died soon after, the Sicilian took the young Zeiss in and, seeing something in the youth, prepared him for life as a killer for the mob. At first the young Philo was brought to watch mob enforcers work, then later was trained him as a mob enforcer himself. Feeling a debt to the Sicilian, Zeiss agreed to have surgery performed on his spinal column and optic nerves to enhance his perception and reflexes to superhuman levels, at the cost of needing to wear specially-designed goggles to cope with the new level of information he was receiving. As an adult, Zeiss relocated to Gotham City and became the bodyguard of Gotham mob boss Lew Moxon, developing an obsession with proving himself Batman's superior after recording Batman in a fight but forced to flee when his goggles were damaged. Returning with a new set of goggles, he attempted to engage Batman again, but Batman always found a way around Zeiss's skills, whether by giving him something else to deal with or pitting him against Batgirl when he had no experience with her skills.
After a falling out with Moxon following Deadshot's assassination attempt, he took up an offer to work for "Junior" Galante. He fought against Catwoman when she impeded Junior's efforts to expand into Gotham's East Side, nearly killing her in single combat and threatening those around her. When she fought him a second time, during the War Games incident, she defeated him after he killed Lew Moxon and his bodyguard Hellhound.
Zeiss harbors a personal vendetta against the Batman, and considers himself a superior combatant and strategist in comparison to the Dark Knight. His single-mindedness for defeating Batman in single combat has interfered with Zeiss' success on at least two occasions:
- Zeiss allowed his employer Lew Moxon to be critically injured by the assassin Deadshot when (instead of focusing on protection) Zeiss was trying to kill Batman hand-to-hand. Zeiss was subsequently relieved of his protection duties and thrown out of Moxon's mob.
- After repairing his goggles (which were damaged by a batarang), after a fight against Batman, and reviewing the information he had gathered with them about Batman's combat style, Zeiss fought Batman to a standstill, boasting that he knew every move Batman would make before he made it. As in their previous battle, also this fight ends in stalemate, however, with the entry into the scene of Batgirl, who manages to hit aback Zeiss, Batman manages to deprive him of his powerful goggles. Zeiss waiver to continue the fight and decides to surrender.
- In Batman #632, Batman and Zeiss fight again. Batman will win the fight, and Zeiss will be stopped and arrested.
Powers and abilities
Zeiss has cybernetically accelerated reflexes and his eyes and optic nerves have been altered to maximize his abilities. To this end, he wears a pair of high-tech goggles, which are wired directly to his frontal lobe. The goggles allow him to record and analyze with great detail the movements and tactics of the enemies he faces and to anticipate or emulate those tactics to a degree. This system, combined with his extensive martial-arts training, makes him a formidable hand-to-hand combatant, although his reliance on the goggles has been used against him as he is unable to operate without them.