Now, if you've never read it, The Killing Joke by Alan Moore is one of THE Batman graphic novels to read. In it, we get...a Joker backstory. Like 2008's The Dark Knight, this Joker prefers his past to be multiple choice.
Anyway, I'm going to low-key spoil at least the setup for the book so pause now if you don't want to hear that. Anyway, Joker's main thought in the Killing Joke is that all it takes from someone to snap - to go mad - is one bad day. He argues that Batman has had a bad day - and of course he's not wrong, why else would someone dress up like a bat and take their trauma out on criminals? The Joker has had a bad day - I won't spoil that much of the book for you. You know who else has had a bad day?
Stand-up comic Buddy Standler had a bad day. In one version - the Animated Series Version where the condiment king makes his debut, the Joker a former failed stand-up comedian before falling into a vat of dangerous chemicals, remember - watch out for vats. Someone really needs to investigate the company making those railings.
Anyway, Joker kidnapped Buddy Standler, who had apparently made fun of him before his transformation, and worked his Joker magic on the man, twisting and torturing his mind until he snapped becoming...The Condiment King.
Just goes to show that trauma alone does not make a superhero/supervillain. Batman, Spider-man, Joker. Takes something special to translate your pain into a brand name.
The Condiment King, yes, shoots condiments. He wears a head that looks like a pickle, but he does wear tighty-whitey underwear on the outside of his purple spandex. Gotta leave something to the imagination.
The jokerized story isn't his only backstory and not even his main one and if you think that a villain like the Condiment King doesn't seem serious...well, he's not. I mean, he's totally into harming people and wants to be taken seriously, but he's a joke to almost every hero.
He's really in the vein of the 1966 Batman with his puns like "I knew you'd ketchup to me batman, how I relished this meeting. Let's see if you can cut the mustard.
It's...honestly probably pretty exhausting. It's so difficult to take him seriously that sometimes he actually gets the jump on Robin and some others. Not Batman, though. Batman just...gives him concussions.
Condiment King doesn't Cut the Mustard
In the comics, The Condiment King is usually an enemy of Robin and Batgirl. He made his first appearance in the 90s as Mitchell Mayo. If you're thinking, wow, with a name like that he's pretty much destined to become the condiment king. No...he wasn't. He was just a sad, sick, deeply uncreative man who was squirting condiments at people in a crowded public square. Of course, this was a job for Robin and the newly minted Batgirl...and they got there...really fast. Like, going 80 miles per hour through a crowd fast.
Kind of makes you wonder who's the real villain in this situation. You can understand why people might not like vigilantes when they're driving motorcycles through crowded areas, putting everyone at risk to catch a guy slinging, according to his belt, relish, ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and mayo at people.
But, at least in the comics Batgirl and Robin subdued him, kept him safe, and got him the help he needed. Nah, I'm just kidding. They took a non-threatening, clearly sick man and got him committed to Arkham Asylum where he could rub elbows with actual supervillains. It didn't make him better. It only pushed him further toward super villainy. To make matters worse, the doctors at Arkham put him to work in the kitchen. I mean...that seems like an oversight at best, enabling at worst.
It didn't help that he had a cell near Poison Ivy, who actually taught him all about peppers, spices, grasses, roots. When he got out as part of a massive escape attempt, he was ready.
Relishing his Victory
He actually managed to subdue Robin and friends after they yes, proved that they were the heroes when they broke through a mall skylight sending thousands of razor shards down on innocent civilians being held hostage by the Condiment King.
The Condiment King's greatest weapon? Spicy ketchup. Ketchup with the heat of a Carolina Reaper or Ghost Pepper, right in Robin and friend's face.
We're not sure what his endgame was here, though. He did have a bomb barrel ready to go with "Mean Mustard," written on it, with the s backwards like he's a cartoon toddler.
His true nemesis wasn't Batgirl, Batman, or Robin. It was milk. The Blue Beetle, along for the ride in this issue, liked his hot sauce and knew that milk was the best way to counteract it and, hey, they just happened to be in a food court. He splashed some milk in his own face, threw some punches in Condiment King's face, and after safely exploding the barrel above a populated metropolitan area, the three heroes took Mitchell Mayo back to Arkham.
In a Pickle
But, he was paroled. In a city with a crocodile man, a mass-murdering clown, a woman who controls plants, a former DA who leads a violent gang, a man with a freeze ray, and a mob boss shaped like a penguin...the Condiment King was pushed out the moment someone more serious came in...because he's the Condiment King, that's anyone.
The Condiment King is a tragic example of recidivism in Gotham and Bludhaven. Here was an ill man who was inspired in the wrong ways, did little more than squirt ketchup at strangers, and, because of a broken system, became a hardened-ish criminal who spends what time he isn't in prison trying to rob banks with dijon mustard.
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