February 4, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #381: The Terrible Trio

Three crime bosses put on animal masks and think that makes them special or something.

Batman the Animated Series did a lot of good using lesser known Batman foes and giving them exciting or new stories that proved many of these old character could still be used in high-quality stories.  But then there was the Terrible Trio, a threesome of criminals that wore animal-themed masks and challenged Batman from time to time.  They got all of one episode, one Bruce Timm apparently has listed as among the episodes he hates the most and, that when Jimmy and I were going through the series in our chats, we found rather forgettable at best.  Perhaps there were limits to what even the people behind BTAS could do.

But who were these guys?

First appearing in Detective Comics #253 in March of 1958, the Terrible Trio were Fox, Shark, and Vulture, three brilliant inventors who decided to challenge themselves by giving crime a go, possibly just so they could challenge Batman.  They wore animal masks over business suits and, being inventors, had a lot of high tech gadgetry on hand.  Their actual names were Warren Lawford, Armand Lydecker, and Gunther Hardwick, and I think Lawford was Fox, Lydecker was Vulture, and Hardwick was Shark, but Wikipedia doesn’t make it that explicit, and quite frankly, these guys are kinda dull and I don’t care enough to do more research into such boring characters.

Besides, it just so happens that these guys were actually more interesting in how often new versions of the trio appeared, and I don’t think any of them were all that interesting.  It’s always just three people in masks.  One iteration, the second, were a new batch where the Vulture was actually Lucius Fox’s son Timothy.  Why was Timothy Fox not Fox?  I don’t know.  Maybe he thought that made him extra clever.

Essentially, the Trio are a group of masked crime lords that often have high tech stuff and cause trouble, usually for Batman but also for Dr. Mid-Nite and, apparently G’nort.  In the case of Dr. Mid-Nite, they were now known as Fisk, Shackley, and Volper, and that iteration was the first case for that version of Dr. Mid-Nite.

That trio seems to have reappeared in a more recent issue of Detective Comics where Shackley, first name apparently Sherman, faked his own death so he could strike out on his own away from the other two, and he yanked all his teeth out and replaced them with actual shark teeth.  He then set about attempting to murder Fox and Vulture, only to be stopped by Batman.  Batman then put all three of them into Arkham Asylum, where Fox and Vulture formed a partnership with the crime lord the Great White Shark, a guy who is probably just screaming for a column in this series.

OK, I get why Shackley went to Arkham, but why the other two guys?

Never mind.  It sounds like the sort of laziness dealing with the Trio would provoke.

Most recently, yet another Terrible Trio appeared in the pages of a high school-set series called Gotham Academy, but this time the Trio were students and two them were girls.

And yes, the Trio have appeared in cartoons, like the aforementioned Batman the Animated Series where like the original Trio, the three did it out of a sense of wanting to challenge themselves, and a superpowered version where the Trio turned into animal-human hybrids appeared on The Batman.

These weren’t the shapeshifting ones.

They also appeared on the more comedic Batman the Brave and the Bold as millionaires who took up martial arts out of boredom.

If anything, it looks like their real enemy is boredom.

So, that’s the Trio, known more for their masks than their names, and apparently, there are a lot of bored people out there with more money than sense in a superhero universe.

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