Who Is 'Gotham' Villain Victor Zsasz? DC Comics' Killer Has Important Ties To The Penguin

The last thing this show needs is more balls to juggle, but DC Comics villain Victor Zsasz will appear on Gotham in Monday night's new episode. And while Gotham may be biting off more than it can chew, Zsasz is a great choice for the show because he's an antagonist who doesn't have to be disposed of at the end of his first episode. He also poses a threat to both law enforcement and the organized criminals, something that all of our other villains have been lacking so far. In the comics, Victor Zsasz is a serial killer who uses a knife to stab his prey, and is easily recognized by the gruesome tally marks he carves all over his body to commemorate each of his victims. In the Gotham trailer featuring Zsasz, we saw a glimpse of his arm covered in scars as a voiceover intoned "That's 28." So Zsasz already has 28 victims, years before he'll ever encounter Batman.

Like many of Batman's foes, Zsasz has a unique origin story. While standing on a bridge preparing to commit suicide, a homeless man attempted to stab Zsasz, but he was able to overpower the man and killed him as "thanks" for preventing him from killing himself. After hitting rock bottom, Zsasz became a nihilist, convinced that life is meaningless and killing people is "liberating" them from their empty lives.

But you may be wondering — why do they need to introduce this character to Gotham? Batman is still a teenager, and Gotham City is still on the precipice of becoming a haven for criminals and eccentric killers. Well, Zsasz's origin was influenced by the Penguin. As we've seen in Gotham, Penguin's story is building to his control of Gotham City's nightlife, and he eventually opens a huge casino/nightclub called the Iceberg. In the comics, after Zsasz finds out about the news of his parents' deaths, he becomes a gambling addict, traveling around the world spending his fortune. It all culminates in a single night where he loses everything he owns to Penguin. It's then when he falls into a suicidal depression and goes to the bridge, preparing to jump off.

So Gotham including him is a little nod to comics history. However, they've changed quite a bit from Zsasz' story in the comics. First of all, they've adjusted his age — like Harvey Dent, he's now a good deal older than Batman. And, since Cobblepot obviously doesn't own the Iceberg yet, he can't be the catalyst for Zsasz's nihilistic awakening. Though we could see a flashback of Zsasz betting his life away at a casino owned by Fish Mooney while Penguin was still working for her — maybe that's why, in another trailer for the episode, Falcone says "I'll call Victor" when Fish mentions they need someone to threaten Jim. Victor Zsasz could have become a contract killer after losing everything to the Falcones instead of to the Penguin. Another potential change is that we see Zsasz brandishing a gun at the police station in the Gotham trailer below, when in the comics he only uses a knife.


Even though they've changed quite a bit for Zsasz's adaptation to the TV screen, he already looks like Jim Gordon's most threatening foe yet.

Image: FOX