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Batman has no shortage of amazing villains in his rogue gallery, so it is no wonder we are bound to forget a few names. But there’s a villain who is fondly remembered by fans. Even though he’s not in the same rank as the likes of Joker, Penguin, and Two-Face. In this Batman Killer Moth Guide, I’ll explain why I think this villain is around since 1951, after his first appearance in Batman #63. Is it his colorful costume? His crazy antics? His business savviness? Let’s find out!
My Bottom line Upfront
Killer Moth is a Golden Age villain who remained present until modern times. His colorful costume and his goal to be the Batman of criminals make him a compelling character. Even when his attempts are quite laughable, his charm remains.
- Basic information on Killer Moth
- Most important arcs pre and post flashpoint
- Opinion- Is he awesome or lame?
Information on Killer Moth can be quite dubious. He has assumed numerous aliases throughout publication history. Though his real name is more likely to be Drury Walker, that information wasn’t revealed early on. When he first appears, he is simply known by his prison identification number, 234026.
Killer Moth is obsessed with Batman. While in the Gotham state penitentiary, he frequently visited the library in search of articles and periodicals about the Caped Crusader. When the felon was released from prison, he decided to create not one but two new identities for himself. During the day, he is the millionaire philanthropist Cameron van Cleer, and at night he is Killer Moth. Just like Bruce Wayne. But that makes me wonder where he got the money to pose as a millionaire? Did he have a hidden stache of money the police never found? I have no idea because the comics never explain this.
Anyway, while reading, I just decided to roll with it. Instead, I paid attention to how ingenious Killer Moth is. Cameron’s activities as Killer Moth are far from what we are used to. He doesn’t commit crimes in hopes of collecting the loot himself. Instead, he takes an entrepreneurial approach to villainy and becomes the Batman of criminals. Just as Batman protects the citizens of Gotham, Killer Moth will protect the criminals of the city for a price.
Copying Batman’s idea in a twisted way wasn’t enough for the villain, and he took the concept to the last consequence. Killer Moth has gadgets and places named after himself, just like the Dark Knight. In the comic pages, we get to see the Moth-Signal, the Mothmobile, and the Mothcave. I really like the fact that he copied the bat to a T! This original premise with a parody-like sense of humor is what made Killer Moth stand out as a character. Most times, I am not a big fan of Golden ager comics, but this is the kind of thing that makes me reconsider.
One of Killer Moth’s most definitive character traits is arguably greed. He doesn’t have any chaotic or psychopathic motives for doing what he does like other Batman villains. He simply saw an opportunity and created a market in which he could thrive. He is also very studious, as he learned every detail possible of Batman’s Modus Operandi through articles and periodicals. I mean, I just wish I was as good at writing as he is about knowing Batman.
Unfortunately, to our moth guy, his defeats at the hands of Batman only increase. So Killer Moth starts developing a new trait, an obsession with his image. He began to realize that he was the subject of ridicule by other villains because of his failures. As more menacing threats appeared, he was relegated to a low-class villain. This got even worse after he was defeated by the teenage amateur heroine, Batgirl. He pinpointed this event as the reason behind his business failure.
Though he wasn’t initially considered insane, his obsession with his image drove him down the path of madness. When convicted, he would sometimes be sent to Blackgate Penitentiary and other times to Arkham Asylum. Finally, the latter became his permanent home. A tragic end to a beloved and almost harmless villain, if you ask me.
Drury Walker is a caucasian man with brown hair. In his first appearance, his costume is made of a lavender top with a moth symbol, yellow gloves, and a striped bottom in the colors green, orange, lavender, and yellow. He also wore a distinctive green helmet with antennae that hid his face and orange moth wings.
Throughout publications, the original concept of this costume would remain the same, with a few variations. Sometimes there would be an orange cape instead of wings, his shirt could be a stronger purple color, and his pants could have fewer colored stripes. A notable version of the costume appears in Batgirl: Year one, where the villain wears a more tame color scheme based on purples and grays.
Another transformation to Killer Moth’s appearance, this time more radical, was when he was transformed into the creature Charaxes by the demon Neron. Charaxes is a hybrid of moth and human with red eyes and sharp teeth and claws. He has the ability to create cocoons on which he traps his human victims to later feed on them.
There’s also the new 52 version where he wears plain clothes and a gas mask. But that is so boring. I wish it never existed. Trying to make Killer Moth more normal never works. His charm is the silliness.
Batman: Killer Moth’s main foe and inspiration. The two fought many times on the comic pages. Once Killer Moth even kidnapped Bruce Wayne and discovered he was Batman. As more dangerous villains started to wreak havoc in the streets of Gotham, Batman stopped engaging with Killer Moth as he thought the police were perfectly capable of dealing with him. And, of course, Killer Moth was very sad for being abandoned by his hero.
Batgirl: Killer Moth was the first-ever villain the heroine defeated in Detective Comics #359. After his importance dwindled, he became a recurring villain for Batgirl. A highlight encounter between the two of them is Batgirl: Year One, which is my favorite story with the villain.
Cavalier: One of Killer Moth’s many partners in crime. They once tried to use illusions as a way to hijack the USS Constitution in Batman Family #10. Fortunately, they were stopped by Batwoman and Batgirl.
Firefly: Initially a valued ally of Killer Moth, Firefly helped him take his loan shark’s revenge. But when Killer Moth realized how dangerous Firely’s obsession with fire was, their relationship began to crumble. Killer Moth was totally right. Firefly was a psychopath. Our Moth guy can be a villain, but he has principles. At least sometimes.
Misfits: A group of criminals formed by Killer Moth, Catman, Calendar Man, and Chancer. Killer Moth seemed to have an amicable relationship with his teammates, but he lied about his plans. It’s a shame they appear so little in comics. I think the idea of a group with C-class villains is very entertaining. I could see a successful spin-off with the misfits. Maybe with the same vibe as the Harley Quinn animated series.
Here’s my pitch, Warner Bros! Make that happen!
Robin AKA Dick Grayson: As an ally to Batman, Robin was naturally a foe to Killer Moth. They often fought each other, and once Killer Moth captured the boy. But Robin never gave the moth a chance and thought he was a joke.
Robin AKA Tim Drake: Another Robin who fought Killer Moth. The villain was an essential part of some of Tim Drake’s stories. Among them was when he turned into the demon Charaxes.
Pre – Crisis
Killer Moth’s incarnation prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths event is camp and over the top, just like the comics of its time. But therein lies the charm of the character. I think his flamboyant costume is probably one of the most extravagant a villain has used in DC comics.
Batman #63 -64: These issues comprise the origin story and follow-up of Killer Moth. After spending his days learning all about Batman, prisoner 234026 is finally released. He decides to offer his services to criminals as a protector in exchange for a percentage of their loot. When he finally meets Batman and Robin, he gets the best out of the conflict and captures both of them.
Killer Moth has got Robin in a deadly trap at the Moth cave, so he blackmails Batman into taking him to the Batcave. The Boy Wonder can escape the trap and uses the police’s communication frequency to warn Batman. The Dark Knight stops the Batmobile, but Killer Moth gets out and lures the hero to a bridge’s cable. The two fight, but Killer Moth falls and is assumed dead.
In issue 64, Killer Moth uses his privileges as a member of the board of directors from Gotham Municipal Museum to steal a valuable moth idol. Bruce Wayne is a member too and figures Killer Moth can only be of the directors. Batman is called in to investigate, and a battle of wits to discover each other’s identities ensues. Batman is victorious when he learns Killer Moth is Cameron Van Cleer.
I talk about these two issues together because they follow a chain of events. They are a nice introduction to the character. I find the premise original, and both stories keep you guessing what’s going to happen next. A fun chapter in Batman’s story!
Detective Comics #173: After his identity was revealed by Batman, Killer Moth went to prison. However, he escaped imprisonment and set out to build a new life. He underwent plastic surgery to look like Bruce Wayne to assume his identity and money. Killer Moth soon discovers Bruce is Batman and makes a plan to discredit the hero and rebuild his criminal business. Trapped in a vault, Bruce escapes and thwarts Killer Moths’ plans. The villain was badly injured from a confrontation with another villain and had to go through surgery. As a result, he lost the part of his brain that stored recent memories and forgot all about Batman.
This issue falls short when compared to the two prior. The whole situation with the plastic surgery and then Killer Moth forgetting Batman’s identity is too convenient for me. It’s lazy storytelling.
Detective Comics #359: This is Batgirl’s comic debut. Killer Moth is back again with the plan to threaten Gotham’s richest men and get 100,000 dollars from each one of them. While Batman and Robin investigate, Batgirl runs her investigation in parallel. The two men decide not to enlist the hero’s help, but she goes after Killer Moth anyway. In the end, the three heroes are able to defeat Killer Moth and retrieve the stolen money. And thanks in great part to Batgirl’s interference.
This is a great debut for Batgirl. Besides, Killer Moth is well used in the story. This becomes even cooler when you read Batgirl: Year one and realize how much the series was inspired by this comic.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Comics have portrayed Killer Moth in a more threatening manner. He’s smarter, more dangerous, and even becomes an inhuman creature for a time. But I love the fact that even with these alterations, he remains as camp as when he was created. I guess a colorful costume never goes out of style!
Shadow of the Bat #7 – 9: After years of being ridiculed, Killer Moth decides to make a group with other low-class villains. Killer Moth, Catman, Calendar man, and the newly recruited Chancer make up the Misfits. And they have a bold new plan! The villains captured Bruce Wayne, Commissioner Gordon, and Gotham’s Mayor to ask for a ten million dollar ramson. Robin’s efforts to find the group, coupled with Bruce’s wits to escape, bring a close to the villains’ plans. The misfits will now fit in jail!
Robin: Year One #2: At the beginning of this issue, Robin defeats Killer Moth easily. The villain’s gadgets like the moth mobile and the cocoon gun are made fun of by the young boy. This incarnation is seen as a joke and something to come out of a comic book. Ironic, right?
Batgirl: Year One: This 9 part mini-series serves as an origin story for Batgirl but also for Killer Moth. The villain has difficulty establishing his business as a criminal protector, so he partners up with the sadistic Firefly. Killer Moth soon realizes Firefly is too crazy for him, but there’s no stopping his plans now. Fortunately, they were both arrested by Batgirl in Batgirl: Year One #9.
This is one of the coolest Batgirl stories. But for me, it is also one of the best Killer Moth arcs alongside the Shadow of the Bat arc I mentioned before.
Robin #23 -24: During the Underworld Unleashed series, the demon Neron appears in Killer Moth’s cell at Arkham and offers him everything he wants. The man known as Drury Walker is haunted by nightmares of people laughing at him. He wishes to be respected and succumbs to the demon’s offer. He transforms into a moth and human hybrid who feeds on human flesh. The creature captures Robin when he interferes, but the Boy Wonder is able to escape. However, the creature known as Charaxes runs free to wreak havoc.
This transformation was an interesting change for the character. Although he loses his personality. But a good portrayal of Charaxes that still retains some humor can be seen on the Teen Titans animated series. I recommend the episode Date with Destiny. It is a lot of fun!
Infinite Crisis #7: In the Infinite Crisis event, Charaxes takes part in the battle of Metropolis. But Superboy-Prime rips him in half. This event can be seen in a small panel. Blink, and you’ll miss it. A C-list end for a C-list villain.
A new reality emerges after the Flash resets the universe in the Flashpoint paradox. Events go back 10 years before Underworld Unleashed and Infinite Crisis. As a result, Drury Walker is still alive and acting as Killer Moth.
Green Arrow #25: This version of Drury Walker doesn’t have a villain name yet, but he believes it will be something along the lines of “Mothman” or “The Moth.” He wears plain clothes and a gas mask, which is pretty boring. Besides the obsession with moths, the only thing left from the original character is greed. So the villain captures Oliver Queen’s mother to secure a ransom. However, his plans are ruined by Batman and Green Arrow.
Green Arrow #33: Killer Moth reappears as part of a group of villains that are trying to capture Green Arrow in exchange for a bounty. Killer Moth and the hero face-off, but Green arrow gets the best out of the conflict.
Batgirl #45: During a flashback, we learn that Robin and Batgirl met when they were both trying to take down Killer Moth. During a big event, it makes me think it is a nod to Detective Comics #359 and Batgirl: Year One.
Batgirl #50: A villain named The Fugue discovers Batgirl’s identity and unites all her enemies to work for him. He will give out this information if the other villains help him. Killer Moth is part of the plan but is taken down by Blue Bird. I must say the new 52 version of Killer Moth is so boring! He has none of the charisma from previous incarnations.
With Rebirth, we have a new reboot. But this one recovers some aspects of the pre-flashpoint timeline. Once gain Killer Moth is the costumed superhero, I love. Unfortunately, he doesn’t make many appearances during this era.
Detective Comics #969: The Bat-family has made crime rates in Gotham decrease significantly. So Killer Moth has got the attention of criminals, and he has a new plan to protect them. He thinks he has Solomon Grundy working for him. But turns out that was Clayface disguised to fool him with the help of Robin and Batwoman. Killer Moth failed, but as Robin put it, “This was a very good idea.”
Awesome or lame?
Can I say that Killer Moth is both awesome and lame? Because I feel that is the only right way to describe him. Killer Moth is a product of its time, a colorful villain with all the silliness of Golden age era comic books. And as the years passed, this character could never be translated to the darker tone Batman’s comics adhered to. But that wasn’t a bad thing at all. New writers took a more interesting approach and embraced Killer Moth’s status as a second-tier villain. And I find this simply amazing!
Superhero stories are the sagas of those who succeed in the end. And even looking at the loser side, the villains are pretty effective. The reason they don’t succeed is not that they aren’t good at what they do — pun intended — but that superheroes are better. So having a character who struggles to be effective is a different and meaningful experience. Killer Moth is an everyday man struggling to reach his goals. And I think that is exactly why so many people like him.
Besides, it is not to say he doesn’t have any merits. I find the idea of offering services to protect criminals very business savvy. And the fact that he promotes himself as the Batman for Criminals is a demonstration of genius marketing. Plus, I really like the costume, despite what everyone says. Moths are cool, the colors stand out, and the helmet design is really beautiful. What’s not to like?
Question: Is Killer Moth in Gotham(series)?
Answer: No, he isn’t. He would be an exciting addition to the tv show. Still, his appearance would bring a meaningful change to the character. Killer Moth only exists because he was inspired by Batman. So if Bruce Wayne is still a child, there is no Batman, and there is no Killer Moth. And I don’t think there would be an excellent way to tell the villain’s story that way.
Question: Is Killer Moth dead?
Answer: In the Pre-Flashpoint timeline, yes. He was killed by Superboy-Prime in Infinite Crisis #7. At the time, he had been transformed into the creature known as Charaxes. However, he is still alive in the current timeline.
Question: Is Killer Moth in Batman the animated series?
Answer: No. He doesn’t appear in either Batman: The Animated Series or The New Batman Adventures.
Killer Moth is a divisive villain in Batman’s rogue gallery. Some think he’s just a weak character, while others think there’s more to Drury Walker than meets the eye. Truth is, he has gathered a cult following over the years, which has made him quite famous among comic book fans. So it’s fair to say that even if he’s not the most famous villain, he is the most prominent among the lesser-known villains. And I think that counts for something.