December 7, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #385: Lady Spellbinder

There have been a lot of Spellbinders. One was about as 90s as it was possible to be.

Some names keep popping up again and again, and there often isn’t a single character associated with that name all that much.  Take the name “Spellbinder,” for example.  Spellbinder is a minor DC villain, more often than not, and probably messes with Batman the most.  Heck, there was on on Batman Beyond.

But the one in the 90s, well, she eventually became “Lady Spellbinder” and may have been the most 90s-looking version ever.

For starters, consider if you will that the original Spellbinder looked something like this:

That character, real name Delbert Billings, first appeared in Detective Comics #358 in December of 1966.  He may or may not have had the power or ability to make Batman disoriented by doing cartwheels in that crazy outfit.  The Silver Age was a weird time.  But this isn’t a column about Delbert of the unnamed Spellbinder that appeared briefly in a Justice League comic.  No, this column is about Fay Moffit.  She would take on the Spellbinder name for a period, later change it to “Lady Spellbinder” to make it clear which one was being talked about maybe, and she first appeared Detective Comics #691 in November of 1995.  That issue was written by Chuck Dixon, and he used her more than pretty much anybody, so this may be another case of a character that was mostly used by her creator and not too many others.  Anyway, she looked like this:

So, that’s a 90s character if ever I have seen one.  Let’s look over that outfit:

  • Pink hair, shaved on one side of the head
  • Chains and wrist spikes
  • Pink leather jacket and matching gloves
  • Belts, ribbon streamers, and chains for some reason
  • Sunglasses to be worn at all times even at night
  • Bare legs ending in a pair of what I would guess were high-healed shoes.
  • And a thong bikini underneath to show off as much of her ass as possible

Now Lady Spellbinder was first seen as Delbert’s girlfriend.  They were hiding out at a seedy motel after a robbery ruined probably by Batman.  All Delbert wants is one big score, but he sure does look like a loser.  However, this was an Underworld Unleashed crossover story, so the demon Neron appeared on the room’s TV and offered power for a price.  Delbert may be a thief, but he didn’t want to sell his soul to a demon.  He knew what that meant.

Then Fay shot him in the head, killing him, and asked if the offer was good for her.  So, note she shot him after she asked if the offer was good for her.  As it was, Neron was talking to her anyway.

Fay, as the new Spellbinder, gained the power to cast real hallucinations, so good that closing your eyes doesn’t make them go away.  She managed to escape Batman and the Tim Drake Robin just fine after a first encounter, but a second one worked differently as she met Batman, but Tim was back at the Batcave in what looked like a VR rig, acting as Batman’s eyes and even moving for him because apparently, Fay’s powers had a special range.  The two working together that way managed to knock Fay out, and it turned out she had to be able to see to even use her new powers.

Basically, you can defeat her by putting a blindfold on her or a bag over her head or something.  If she can’t see, she can’t use her powers.

This is why you don’t make deals with demons.

Now, it is worth noting that this Spellbinder’s powers actually grew over time, leading to some interesting developments.  She managed to get her powers to the point where she could trick all of a person’s perceptions, not just their sight, and she tried to use that on Barbara Gordon by trying to torture the then wheelchair-bound woman into thinking she was Batgirl.  To be clear, Spellbinder had no idea Barbara was ever Batgirl, and it all had something to do with a kidnapping plot, but Barbara somehow proved herself the better of Batman and Robin by knocking Spellbinder out with a club and a fire extinguisher.  Spellbinder also was part of a supervillain transport train that got transferred to Apokalips in a Birds of Prey story where she found her illusions were useless because nothing she could come up with was scarier or more demoralizing than simply living on Apokalips.  She was also among the villains “Jokerized” in the Dixon-written crossover event Joker: Last Laugh.

Oh, and then she died in a single panel among a group of lesser baddies gunned down in the final issue of Infinite Crisis by some anti-hero types doing what they could to stop an army of supervillains from flattening Metropolis.

There have been other Spellbinders since then, all of them male, but for one brief moment, more or less, there was one who had a look that would just not fly in any other decade.

That is probably for the best.

You know what would have been a neat trick?  If she didn’t actually look like that but used her powers to make it look like she did.  Oh well.