Wizard I(pop culture)
Tibet—the one-stop shopping source for superheroes and supervillains craving mastery of occult or martial arts—was where “W. I. Zard” (William Asmodeus Zard) studied to become DC Comics' wicked Wizard. First seen in the Justice Society of America (JSA) serial “The Wiles of the Wizard!” in All Star Comics #34 (1947), written by Gardner Fox and drawn by several artists including Irwin Hasen and Joe Kubert, the Wizard is garbed like a stage magician—a tuxedo, cape, top hat, and magic wand. An accomplished illusionist, having mastered hypnotism under the tutelage of a Tibetan monk he later slays, the deceitful Wizard mistrusts the JSA, believing their altruism to be a façade, and dares them to stop a quintet of his crimes. When thwarted by the JSA, he appears to leap to his doom. But this is merely an illusion. The Wizard returned as a founder of the Injustice Society of the World (issue #34, 1947) and made another outing (again partnered with other villains) before vanishing as the final curtain was drawn on comics' Golden Age (1938–1954). Writer Fox revived him in Justice League of America (JLA) #21's (1963) landmark JLA/JSA crossover “Crisis on Earth-One,” this time as one of the Crime Champions, working with the Fiddler and the Icicle. Rarely a solo villain, the Wizard regularly appeared in the Secret Society of Super-Villains series (1976–1978) and conjured chaos in several JLA/JSA team-ups. Author Neil Gaiman used the character in his original Books of Magic miniseries (1990–1991), and as an occasional player in DC's Vertigo imprint the Wizard's misadventures became more supernatural in scope, with his perverted soul at one time being imprisoned within the cloak of the bizarre hero Ragman. Never one to remain out of the limelight for long, in 2005 the Wizard joined forces with Lex Luthor's Society in the pages of Villains United. The Wizard was not the first supervillain to use this name, nor was he the last. Top-Notch Comics #1 (1939), from MLJ Publications (Archie Comics), offered the Wizard, the “man with the Super Brain” who started as a Mandrake the Magician imitation but later gained a superhero costume and a sidekick (Roy the Super Boy)—but when revived in Fly-Man #33 (1965) had acquired mystical powers and used them for crime. A blackhooded instigator called the Wizard (played by Leonard Penn) with a remote control that stopped machinery and vehicles was the adversary in Columbia Pictures' movie serial Batman and Robin (1949). Marvel Comics' Wizard became a regular foe of the Fantastic Four starting in 1962, and DC introduced a second Wizard, a devilish persona of Robby Reed, in the 1980s version of its “Dial H for Hero” concept.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.