Real Name: Harry Sims
Powers / Skills: Mr. Camera has the ability to take photographs, although the evidence suggests he is not very good at it. He sometimes shines flashbulbs or other bright lights into people's eyes to temporarily blind them
Weird Obsession: Mr. Camera is mildly obsessed with cameras and photography, but not overpoweringly so. If there is a photography exhibit, film convention, or some other camera and photography themed event in Gotham City, he will be sure to try and rob it. But if there is not, he'll be perfectly happy robbing a jewelry store or a bank.
First Appearance: "The Boy Wonder Confesses" in Batman #81
Published in 1954, "The Boy Wonder Confesses" begins with Dick Grayson revealing to his classmates that he is really Robin the Boy Wonder! At first, the kids don't believe him, but then he "proves" he is Robin, by walking a tightrope and doing some aerial gymnastics. Which doesn't really make any sense, because before Dick Grayson was orphaned, he was a trapeze artist with his family, "The Flying Graysons." So his classmates should expect him to be able to do all of that stuff anyway. The news that Grayson is Robin quickly makes the news, which is followed by reporters speculating that is Dick Grayson is Robin, then his foster parent Bruce Wayne must really be Batman!
|I love those bat-shaped narration boxes. I can't help but hear the voice of William Dozier in my head when I read therm.|
|It's seems crazy, but shining a light in someone's eyes was a popular move among the super-villain crowd back in the day. Links to more examples: Batman and Robin have a rainbow shone in their faces, and Jimmy Olsen getting attacked by a flashbulb gun.|
What's never explained is just why Mr. Camera had this camera hidden in the alley to begin with. Was he hoping to get a shot of a hobo peeing on the wall, or something? The world may never know.
|Crime scene photos? Check. Photography equipment? Check. Giant movie projector and film reels? Check. Cuckoo clock? Check. Wait... a cuckoo clock? Who put that crazy thing there?|
Batman and Robin then spent the next nine months searching for that film, without any success. Then, Batman receives a letter from jail, written by Mr. Camera! "Dear Batman," it read. "A friend of mine gets out next month. I told him where to find the film. He knows what to do with it! So long, chump!" Signed, "Mr. Camera." The heat is on, now! Batman comes up with a bizarre plan. He will intentionally have Dick Grayson reveal to the world that he is Robin, which will convince everyone that Bruce Wayne is Batman! He will then DISPROVE that Bruce is Batman! By doing this, he believes that no one will believe Mr. Camera's photographic evidence when it is revealed in one month. Does that even make sense? No, not really, but let's see the whole plan before we decide for sure.
Step 1: Bruce Wayne will be wandering around on the streets, being hounded by reporters who think he is Batman.
Step 2: Robin will be seen standing on a nearby rooftop, when the Batplane lands on the roof of a tall building near Bruce Wayne. This will prove to the reporters that Robin is not flying the plane. WHAT THE REPORTERS DON'T KNOW: Robin is piloting the plane, using a remote control!
|Don't do it, Robin!|
Step 4: The plane flies away, and the reporters go to the rooftop, to make sure "Batman" was not really a dummy with a phonograph recording of Batman's voice. They find no evidence of a dummy with a phonograph inside it, which apparently proves that Bruce Wayne is not Batman! WHAT THE REPORTERS DON'T KNOW: The snowman had a small termite explosive inside it set to a timer, which melted it away! Plus, it was wearing a "self-disintegrating" Batman costume, which is the real reason no evidence was left behind!
Step 5: Tell the reporters that Robin and Dick Grayson teamed up on a hoax that Dick Grayson was Robin, in order for Dick to impress a girl.
Step 6: PROBLEM SOLVED. The next day, the newspaper reads, "Once again, Bruce Wayne proves conclusively he is not Batman." So when the photographs are released of Bruce and Dick in the alley, no one will believe them, because Bruce just proved he was not Batman a month earlier. Now it make sense, right? Right?
|Investigative journalism is not what it used to be.|
It seems like most Batman villains are only in jail or prison for a few days or weeks before they escape and start committing crimes again. Gotham city must have the worst guarded penal system in the USA. But I guess even a poorly guarded prison is enough for a criminal whose only skill is wearing a giant camera on his head, because that was the last anyone saw from Mr. Camera for nearly 60 years.
|One of Mr. Camera's cameo appearances on Batman: The Brave and the Bold.|
Mr. Camera's helmet is smashed and broken, but he tries to use it anyway. The helmet misfires, and the video feed from every camera in the world beams directly into his brain. The information overload causes Mr. Camera to go insane. The final panels show a straight-jacketed Mr. Camera talking to himself in his cell in Arkham Asylum. His dialogue? "I... spy... I spy with... my little eye... someone... named... WAYNE." This is a great ending, setting up Mr. Camera to be a much more formidable opponent in the future. Or at least it would have, if the Brave and the Bold comic had not been cancelled. And I for one, am not looking forward to Mr. Camera being introduced into the New 52. With his camera obsession, and the New 52's need to make all of their villains "edgy" and "extreme," they'll probably turn him into a child pornographer or something. No thanks, I'll pass on that.
Even though he only made one appearance in regular Batman comics continuity (Batman: The Brave and the Bold stuff basically exists in it's own, separate universe), Mr. Camera made a big impression. It's pretty hard to forget a guy with a giant camera on his head. The fact that he wasn't particularly good at what he did, and his only "weapons" were flashbulbs, makes him even more of an oddball treat. Thus, Mr. Camera easily joins the wacky ranks of "Batman's Weirdest Villains."
BONUS! MUSIC VIDEOS:
Spoon - I Turn My Camera On
A Flock Of Seagulls - Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)
The Vapors - Turning Japanese