2018 was a busy year for the New Zealand Mint as they continued to popularise the silver foil with a whole swathe of variously sized designs. They’ve obviously had some success with the relatively new type of coin as 2019 has seen the selection expand further. We can now add Batman Villains to the list. The mint has three formats in general use. One apes the dimensions of a banknote (5g, 150 x 70 mm), another called ‘Premium Format’ weighs 35 grams (262 x 175 mm), and in the middle is a foil that is orientated and proportional in size to the premium foil, but the same weight as the banknote style. It is this latter one that has been chosen for Batman Villains.
Eschewing the simple reproduction of a movie poster or a comic book cover, Batman Villains has some very cool new artwork on display. Each foil depicts a selection of the characters incarnations from their comic book history. There are no nods to the movies or TV shows, despite the NZ Mint having issued foils based on them (Justice League being a prime example). We think the series is an outstanding one for the comic collector, attractive and at $39.00 USD, not overly expensive – something needed to bring new collectors into the hobby.
The obverse is patterned and has the standard Ian Rank Broadley effigy in its centre, so this is a coin (some of the other foils are not). The foil is sealed in acrylic and comes presented in a heavily themed sleeve that makes display nice and easy. A brightly coloured shipper box keeps it all together and is neither bland or excessively bloated in size.
At the time of writing (May 2019), four foils are available, with a fifth due on the 24th of this month. Batman has probably the most inventive, extensive and downright unusual group of enemies in either the DC or Marvel universes, so if this format is to be a success, the mint has chosen wisely for its debut series. Batman Villains is heartily recommended to admirers of the characters massive pantheon built up over the last eight decades.
In his comic book appearances, the Joker is portrayed as a criminal mastermind. Introduced as a psychopath with a warped, sadistic sense of humor, the character became a goofy prankster in the late 1950s in response to regulation by the Comics Code Authority, before returning to his darker roots during the early 1970s. As Batman’s nemesis, the Joker has been part of the superhero’s defining stories, including the murder of Jason Todd—the second Robin and Batman’s ward—and the paralysis of one of Batman’s allies, Barbara Gordon. The Joker has had various possible origin stories during his decades of appearances. The most common story involves him falling into a tank of chemical waste which bleaches his skin white and turns his hair green and lips bright red; the resulting disfigurement drives him insane. The antithesis of Batman in personality and appearance, the Joker is considered by critics to be his perfect adversary.
The Joker possesses no superhuman abilities, instead using his expertise in chemical engineering to develop poisonous or lethal concoctions, and thematic weaponry, including razor-tipped playing cards, deadly joy buzzers, and acid-spraying lapel flowers. The Joker sometimes works with other Gotham City supervillains such as the Penguin and Two-Face, and groups like the Injustice Gang and Injustice League, but these relationships often collapse due to the Joker’s desire for unbridled chaos. The 1990s introduced a romantic interest for the Joker in his former psychiatrist, Harley Quinn, who becomes his villainous sidekick. Although his primary obsession is Batman, the Joker has also fought other heroes including Superman and Wonder Woman.
The Riddler has an obsession with riddles, puzzles, and word games. The character frequently delights in over-stating his “intellectual superiority” and on forewarning both Batman and the police of his capers by sending them complex clues. His name is a pun itself, Enigma (Edward Nygma) which means a person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand. With this self-conscious use of a gimmick, Riddler’s crimes are flamboyant and ostentatious. The character is depicted as wearing a domino mask either with a green suit and bowler hat, or a green unitard with question mark prints. A black, green, or purple question mark serves as his visual motif.
Like most of Batman’s enemies (and Batman himself) the Riddler has no superhuman abilities, but is a highly cunning criminal strategist. He is not especially talented in fisticuffs (although his endurance has grown from having to engage in them over the years), but sometimes employs weaponry that exploits his gimmick, such as exploding jigsaw pieces, his infamous question mark cane, known to house a wide variety of technological devices and weapons, and question mark-shaped pistols. He is shown to be skilled with engineering and technology, confronting Batman and Robin with unique and elaborate deathtraps. He is also well known for being Batman’s most intelligent adversary.
Harley Quinn is a frequent accomplice and lover of the Joker, whom she met while working as an intern psychiatrist at Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum, where the Joker was a patient. Her name is a play on the name “Harlequin”, a character which originated in commedia dell’arte. The character has teamed up with fellow villains the Catwoman and Poison Ivy several times, the trio being known as the Gotham City Sirens. Poison Ivy is known to be a close friend and recurring ally of Harley, even being depicted as her girlfriend in recent comics.
With the help of her girlfriend Poison Ivy, who is toxic by nature and did not want to poison Harley with her natural toxins, Harley Quinn is immune to various, though not all, toxins and heals quickly from minor wounds. It also enhanced her strength and natural agility. She also has developed an immunity to the Joker’s venom and toxic gas, and other knock-out chemicals. If she is over-extended though, like when she was turned into a Man-Bat, her immunity can be worn down and such things will work for a time. Harley is a trained gymnast with fighting skills honed by years of her criminal undertakings. She is also well-educated, as she practices criminal Psychiatry and has her own non-lethal version of the Joker’s gas. She has a slight immunity to mind control due to her insanity and not being sure what is going on in her head herself and has broken free of such before and from mentally damaged beings who have tried to read her mind.
Once an upstanding Gotham City District Attorney, Harvey Dent is hideously scarred on the left side of his face after mob boss Sal Maroni throws acidic chemicals at him during a court trial. He subsequently goes insane and adopts the “Two-Face” persona, becoming a criminal obsessed with duality and the conflict between good and evil. In later years, writers have portrayed Two-Face’s obsession with chance and fate as the result of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and dissociative identity disorder. He obsessively makes all important decisions by flipping his former lucky charm, a two-headed coin which was damaged on one side by the acid as well.
Before his transformation into Two-Face, Harvey Dent had a successful career as Gotham’s upstanding district attorney, proficient in nearly all matters pertaining to criminal law. Following his disfigurement, he became obsessed with the number two and duality, and thus staged crimes centred around the number two—such as robbing buildings with ‘2’ in the address or staging events that will take place at 10:22 p.m. (2222 in military time).
Two-Face has also proven to be a genius in criminal planning, and has constantly demonstrated a high-level of intelligence in plotting heists as a brilliant and respected mastermind in the criminal underworld. In addition, Two-Face is a skilled marksman, and regularly used a variety of firearms such as pistols, shotguns, grenade launchers, Tommy guns, knives and rocket launchers during his battles with Batman. To further improve his proficiency in the use of firearms, Two-Face hired the sharpshooting assassin Deathstroke to train him. He often carries dual pistols that he has grown to use skillfully.
The Penguin is a Gotham City mobster who fancies himself a “gentleman of crime”, often wearing a monocle, top hat, and tuxedo. The character is a short, obese man with a long nose, and he uses high-tech umbrellas as weapons. The Penguin runs a nightclub called the Iceberg Lounge which provides a cover for his criminal activity, and Batman sometimes uses the nightclub as a source of criminal underworld information. Unlike most of Batman’s rogues gallery, the Penguin is sane and in control of his actions, giving him a unique relationship with Batman.
Although he often delegates the dirty work to his henchmen, he is not above taking aggressive and lethal actions on his own, especially when provoked. In spite of his appearance and stature, he is a dangerous hand-to-hand combatant with enough self-taught skills in judo, fencing, ninjutsu and bare-knuckle boxing to overwhelm attackers many times his size and physical bearing. The Penguin is usually portrayed as a capable physical combatant when he feels the situation calls for it, but his level of skill varies widely depending on the author; the character has been written both as a physical match for Batman and as someone the masked vigilante is capable of defeating with a solid punch. His crimes often revolve around stealing valuable bird-related items and his car and other vehicles often have an avian theme.
|DENOMINATION||$1 New Zealand (Niue)|
|DIMENSIONS||98.0 x 148.0 mm|
|MINTAGE||50,000 per design|
|BOX / C.O.A.||Yes / On-foil|