Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Makeover: The Mole

There are no bad characters, just characters that no one has spent far too much time thinking about how to make work. I intend to fix that.

Mr. Harrah, better known as the Mole, made his first appearance in 1956's World's Finest #80.  It was a simpler time then when it took the combined crime fighting might of the Dynamic Duo and Superman to stop a guy who simply tunneled into bank vaults.  That's it, the Mole was just a dude who was really good at digging tunnels.  Most of his first story focuses on Superman and Batman competing to see which one of them is the better reporter (the winner of course, is Lois Lane).  Ultimately the Mole is captured when Batman figures out which bank he's going to hit next and Superman diverts his tunnel so he comes up in a jail cell instead of the bank vault.  And there he stayed until 1981's Batman #340.  The Mole reappears horribly mutated into, well, a mole creature bent on murdering the parole board that denied him a release leading him to dig a tunnel out of jail that ends up with him falling into radioactive waste.  After killing the first two, Bruce Wayne invites the third and final member to hide out at Wayne Manor where she'll be safe.  Which of course leads the Mole into discovering the Batcave underneath, having a climatic battle with Batman, and then going missing and presumed dead when Batman floods the Batcave to wash him out.

There really isn't a lot to say about either incarnation of the Mole.  I don't know why Robin needed Batman's help catching him the first time, let alone why Superman had to be dragged into it.  And then after literally digging his way into a jail cell, he sat in it for (in comics time) like 8 years before attempting to dig out.  And while radioactive waste causing mutation is a pretty common trope in comic books, there isn't really any explanation given for why a guy nicknamed the Mole mutates into a Mole, other than the nickname (which is an important lesson about nicknames kids, choose a cool one like Falcon or Maverick, otherwise you might find yourself turned into a disgusting creature someday).  Then he just kind of becomes the stock mutated monster villain whose not all that interesting.

But that doesn't mean that the Mole is entirely without merit.  He's become a creature consumed by revenge, rapidly losing his grip on his sanity and his humanity.  He hates Batman and blames him for his condition.  And he knows where the Batcave is.  Ya, that could work.  After all, there have been countless stories about Batman's other mutated foe, Man-Bat, being drawn to the Batcave by the host of Bats who live there and then attacking the Dark Knight in his sanctuary.  Why can't the Mole be his ground based opposite?  There are a few other potential story opportunities as well.  Those (literally) digging into Gotham's past like the Bookworm could easily stumble upon a murderous beast.  And surely someone like the Big Game Hunter could be convinced to be bothered to track down a creature that knows where Batman lives.  And worst case, having the Mole around means there's someone besides Killer Croc to get beaten up to show that the latest villain in town is a badass.  Which would be nice, because I like Killer Croc.

The Mole knew it had not always been this way, but so little else remained.  Except the rage.  The batcreature had hurt it.  The Mole knew that much.  The puny batcreature that lives in the ground under the house.  The house was important.  The batcreature had tried to drown the Mole!  Have to remember the house.  Make the batcreature suffer.  Kill the batcreature.  Thinks it's safe in it's cave.  Not safe from the Mole.  Nothing safe from the Mole!  Have to remember the house.  When the batcreature comes home hurt, smell of blood.  That time kill batcreature.  Make pay. Make everyone pay.  What is happening to me???

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