Of all the bizarre characters appearing in writer and director James Gunn’s rebootquel, seeing Polka-Dot Man in The Suicide Squad is so odd and unexpected that it almost seems like a joke on the audience. Believe it or not, the nearly 60-year history of this recurring DC Comics villain and secrets behind his otherwise laughable gimmick make me surprised he has not appeared in any DC movies already.
To clarify, Polka-Dot Man briefly appeared in 2017’s The LEGO Batman Movie alongside Condiment King, Kite Man, and other rogues you might have initially assumed were made up. Now, experienced comic book adaptation veteran David Dastmalchian (known for The Dark Knight, the Ant-Man movies, and a guest spot on Gotham, just to name a few) has joined The Suicide Squad cast to portray the character in his live-action movie debut. But, before the often mocked antagonist receives his highest honor to date, we should also do him justice by becoming more acquainted with him before The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max this August, starting with his very batty beginnings.
Polka-Dot Man Is A Batman Villain Introduced By Another Name
Before he came to be known as Polka-Dot Man, Detective Comics #300 introduced him (fairly accurately) as “the bizarre” Mister Polka-Dot in February 1962. The alter ego of Abner Krill was the collective brainchild of artist Sheldon Moldoff and writer and Batman-co-creator Bill Finger, which is fitting since his debut also depicted his first encounter with the Dark Knight and Robin.
As we have already established quite well, Polka-Dot Man is one of several “unusual” villains (putting it lightly) to emerge in the Silver Age of DC Comics, and especially in Batman’s rogues gallery, with a ridiculous quirk or gimmick that has them as the butt of many jokes ever since. However, those who mock him must not realize the fascinatingly wide range of his abilities and just how dangerous of a supervillain he can be.
Polka-Dot Man’s Polka-Dots Double As His Utilities
It is easy to understand why the average comic book movie fan would take one look at Polka-Dot Man’s bright, multi-colored jumpsuit and laugh at him as if he were a sad birthday clown. Yet, if they knew what those polka-dots were capable of, I assure you that they would be the sad ones.
Each one of the colorful dots on Polka-Dot Man’s uniform can be removed and, with the use of a controller device on his belt, can literally transform into a gadget of his choosing before disintegrating to leave no trace. The villain has been able to use his dots as weapons or even getaway vehicles like a flying saucer. Batman and Robin would discover this after narrowly escaping death by a polka-dot that turned into a red buzzsaw right before their eyes.
Many Of Polka-Dot Man’s Crimes Are Related To His Gimmick
You have to admit that Abner Krill’s ability to turn an absurd gimmick into an advantage in evil-doing is impressive. However, it's a slight disadvantage to him because, like how Two-Face compulsively does everything in twos or Calendar Man only works on holidays, most of Polka-Dot Man’s offenses have something to do with dots.
He would actually prove to be not too strict about how to relate his crimes to dots or what could even be considered a dot, as when he robbed Gotham’s Domino Game Factory or sent a cryptic map with dots indicating his possible hideouts to Batman. In fact, Robin came close to tracking down the hideout with the help of a spotted leopard. Silver Age Batman managed to craft a healthy amount of dot puns when finally apprehending him, and a “dot” of sorts would even be what sealed Polka-Dot Man’s ultimate downfall. However, before we get to that, we should cover the events that led him to that crushing blow.
Polka-Dot Man Once Lost Use Of His Polka-Dots After Going Broke
To bring up Two-Face again, you know how Harvey Dent is pretty much a lost, helpless ball of indecision without his coin? The equivalent to that, in essence, would be Polka-Dot Man losing the use of his utility dots, which is exactly what happens in the first issue of Batman: GCPD in 1996.
Out of work for years and penniless, Abner Krill was desperate for a redemptive crime spree, but could not afford to create any more utility polka-dots, forcing him to use a baseball bat to hold up a jewelry store. Out of his peak vexation for costumed criminals, Gotham City detective Harvey Bullock beat the living crap out of Polka-Dot Man instead of arresting him for the robbery. Upon recovery, Krill fell deep into alcoholism, accepting living out his years as a joke within Gotham’s criminal underbelly.
Polka-Dot Man Was, Technically, Killed By A Dot
Abner Krill would get a second chance to shine as Polka-Dot Man after Batman disappeared during DC Comics’ Final Crisis storyline event in 2009. He became part of a team of other strange supervillains, including the aforementioned Condiment King, and Professor Milo (another creation of Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff), led by Doom Patrol villain General Immortus, who offered the rogues enhanced abilities and equipment in exchange for being his experimental subjects.
After frequent Martian Manhunter enemy Human Flame betrayed Immortus, he sent Polka-Dot Man after him. The incendiary criminal then lit a gas line under the city streets that sent a manhole cover flying toward him, fatally crushing his head. Since a manhole cover could be seen as a dot, you could consider this one of the most ironic DC character deaths on record.
Since James Gunn has already filled us in on the fact that some The Suicide Squad characters have a better chance of surviving the movie than others, I wonder how David Dastmalchian’s Polka-Dot Man will fair among the other rogues. I mean, seeing him fall prey to Amanda Waller’s explosive head implants could be an interesting way to pay homage to his fate in the comics, but only if it was punishment for stealing a polka-dotted item out of her closet or if, when his head explodes, the blood spatter forms into a perfect polka-dotted pattern. Otherwise, I would vote to keep the weirdo around and see what other “bizarre” adventures he could bring to the future of the DCEU.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.