The Calculator

The Calculator
The comic book history of The Calculator, an enemy of Batman, from DC Comics.

It's important to be able to learn from your mistakes. To turn every failure into an opportunity to grow. That's what Noah Kuttler did. Unfortunately for Noah, that meant getting beaten to a all the superheroes in the world.

The Loser

The calculator is a dorky implementation of a legitimately very cool idea. The calculator would put himself in situations with various heroes where he would just get viciously owned by them and thrown into prison. He did this with five heroes straight, getting defeated and locked up, only to escape. That in and of itself isn't noteworthy. It describes pretty much any serial villain in any comic book ever. The Calculator's killer edge...was his calculator.

That...shouldn't come as a surprise, given the name, but remember when I said "the calculator" was a dorky implementation of a cool concept. Well, here we are at the dorky part.

The puns come with the suit. Image copyright DC Comics.

The Calculator walks around with a giant calculator on his chest. The readout is up on his forehead, and he's in blue shiny spandex. Because of course he is.

Now, The only worse place for a usable calculator is, in fact, on you chest. It's not even upside down. The Calculator had to memorize the button presses and his main weapon was also the biggest target on his body. But remember, the Calculator wasn't trying to win. He was trying to learn.

As the Calculator was beaten, the machine learned the heroes' moves. After each defeat, the Calculator only needed to commit the moves to memory, and he couldn't be touched.

Crunch the Numbers

Now, with a character like the Calculator, the devil really is in the details. With a name like The Calculator, it's already an uphill climb for this guy to be taken seriously. He had some options on how to implement this combat system. Did he have the machine fight for him? Did he have it interface with his brain, so he turned himself into an unbeatable super weapon?

...or did the writers just kind of give up halfway through character creation, meaning that stuff like giant books, fingers, and cages sprang from the calculator readout on The Calculator's head, in, quote, hardened light, completely subverting the coolest thing about this villain? Yeah...

Speaking of cool, this is something that happens for some reason. Image copyright DC Comics.

The Calculator can make anything spring from his head and, if he's learned how to battle a particular hero, he just creates a force field around himself. Would it be cooler if he matched them move-for-move, bewildering the heroes before crushing them in defeat. Yes. But writing and illustrating that would also probably be more effort than a character called the Calculator...who wears a giant pocket Calculator on his worth.

The Calculator's...calculator was both his greatest power and his biggest weakness. After Batman beat the Calculator, The Dark Knight couldn't touch him. But he could...mix it up. Batman threw everything at the Calculator all at once and, given that computers back in the 70s were multiple thousands of times slower than even your average laptop today, it didn't take much to overwhelm and overheat the Calculator's CPU. It crashed, and, with it, went the Calculator's active villainy career. He was thrown in jail and, without his ridiculous chest computer to tell him what went wrong, the Calculator called it quits. It also helped that he was sentenced to nine consecutive life terms which, yes, will put the kabash on many career ambitions.

The Calculator, melting all 64KB of RAM. Image copyright DC Comics.

But...the Calculator apparently had a second act in him. They say the people that actually made money during the gold rush weren't the people out there mining for gold. They were the people selling the pickaxes. After Batgirl, AKA Barbara Gordon, was shot by the Joker she became Oracle, what Ned from Spider-man would call the "guy in the chair." She was Batman's information center, his eyes and ears, and an always-there source of intelligence. The Calculator looked at her and thought...why not that...but for bad guys?

The Evil Internet. AKA The Internet.

And he found his niche. Called the Oracle without Morals, he continued going by the calculator because the No Moracles is the only name worse than "The Calculator". Still, though, he made himself indispensable to the criminal element in the DC universe. He sits in front of computer screens all day, with a Gen X hacker vibe with his glasses and ponytail, trafficking in information. He even made a lower, evil version of the internet, which, if you know the regular internet that...might just be the most evil thing that anyone on this podcast has done. I mean, think about 4chan, 8chan, social media, the dark web. The internet's default setting is basically evil already so The Ca. The Calculator's version is called It's apparently called the Ündernet.

Just goes to show, no matter where you start, you can end up a success...even if you begin by strapping a calculator to your chest and getting beaten up by a man dressed as a bat.

Props to the penciller for illustrating a visually-painful laugh for Batman. Image copyright DC Comics.

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