Mr. Zsasz ( or ) is a fictional character in the DC Comics universe. He is a serial killer and is an enemy of Batman. He usually kills with a knife and carves a tally mark somewhere on himself for every victim.
Zsasz first appeared in Shadow of the Bat #1 (1992) as part of the Batman: The Last Arkham four-parter story arc, and his Origin story was told in Batman Chronicles #3 (1996); both stories were written by Alan Grant and drawn by Norm Breyfogle. As revealed in the foreword to the TPB form of The Last Arkham, Zsasz's name is derived from that of psychiatrist Thomas Szasz; Grant saw the name while visiting a library.
Victor Zsasz was the head of his own international company and had amassed a large personal fortune in addition to his family's wealth. At the age of 25 his parents died in a boating accident, sending him into a deep depression. He turned to gambling, losing money in competitions around the world. One night, he ended up in a Gotham City casino, where he gambled everything he owned and ended up losing it all to the Penguin; afterwards he saw that his life was empty, driven by desire, and there was no point to his existence. While he was attempting to commit suicide by jumping from Gotham Bridge, a homeless man tried to assault him with a knife after he refused to give him money. Instinctively grabbing the knife, Zsasz saw in the man's eyes that all life is meaningless and that nothing nor anyone matters. He then proceeded to stab the man to death as a "gift" for saving his life. From then on, he dedicated himself to "liberating" others from their pointless existence (Zsasz often refers to victims as "zombies"). He usually preys on young women, but has no qualms over whom he murders. He slits his victims' throats and leaves them in lifelike poses, adding a tally mark to himself each time. He has been diagnosed as insane and is regularly incarcerated in Arkham Asylum courtesy of Batman, breaking out on occasion to carry on killing.
During his debut appearance in Batman: Shadow of the Bat's opening story arc, Batman: The Last Arkham, Zsasz bribes a contractor to include a secret passage leading out from his cell during the asylum's reconstruction under its new head, Jeremiah Arkham, who inherited the asylum from his uncle, Amadeus Arkham. Although Zsasz is restrained during the daytime when he is being treated personally by Jeremiah Arkham, he is brought back to his cell at night where he would leave the asylum through the secret passage, unbeknownst to the night guards. After murders fitting his modus operandi begin surfacing, Batman and Commissioner James Gordon fake Batman's insanity in order to get him inside the asylum and investigate Zsasz. Jeremiah Arkham is exceptionally brutal towards Batman, who had supposedly murdered a police officer; over the course of the "treatment", Zsasz had warped Jeremiah's mind and turned him into a mere henchman. Due to these continuous conversations with Jeremiah Arkham, Zsasz realises Batman is a plant and subsequently murders both the contractor and another inmate at Arkham who knows of Zsasz's ploy. However, both Nightwing and Batman catch up to Zsasz when he tries to escape for the final time and put him back in Arkham.
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