Comic Book Origins: Count Vertigo

Comic Book Origins: Count Vertigo
VOICE OVER: Dan Paradis
Script written by Clayton Martino

Some villains are a little off-balance, but this guy takes that to an extreme. Join as we explore the comic book origins of Count Vertigo. As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character's past.

Special thanks to our users theenlightenedone, Donathan Rogers, aldqbigsquare and Zachary Forest for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at http://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest

Script written by Clayton Martino

Supervillain Origins: Count Vertigo

Some villains are a little off-balance, but this guy takes that to an extreme. Welcome to and today we will explore the comic book origin of Count Vertigo.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1978’s World’s Finest Comics #251 and which was expanded upon in 2013’s Green Arrow #23.1.

Don’t you love a villain whose name says it all? Count Vertigo’s power is essentially the ability to cause crippling dizziness and disorientation in his foes. It can even disrupt non-human things, like the guidance system in a missile. A pretty handy power to have.

The Count debuted in a 1978 Black Canary story. In her civilian identity of Dinah Drake-Lance, Black Canary was viewing the premiere of her new fashion line when suddenly a mysterious figure appeared. All at once, everything went all topsy-turvy. In the resulting chaos, the mysterious figure grabbed a diamond necklace and fled. That thief would turn out to be Count Vertigo.

Later, Black Canary learned of another jewel robbery. All of the items stolen were part of the famous Vertigo Jewels, a collection of items owned by a royal family who once ruled a small Balkan country. The Vertigos suffered from a genetic flaw which affected their inner ear and therefore their balance. When the country they ruled was taken over by the Soviet Union, the Vertigo family was forced into exile, where they had to sell their precious gems.

Black Canary quickly discovered that a necklace stolen at the fashion show was also a part of the Vertigo collection and that one other piece remained in private hands. The heroine rushed to warn the owner of this jewel and found CountVertigo there already. She deduced that the Count was the heir to the Vertigothrone and therefore suffered from an inner ear malfunction. She also figured out that he was using some sonic device which both corrected that malfunction and caused disabling dizziness in others. Fortunately, the Canary’s own sonic scream was able to destroy the device, enabling her to capture the villain.

The Count showed up in numerous other stories through the years, even becoming a reluctant member of the Suicide Squad for a while. When DC relaunched its universe with the New 52 project, the Count was given a new and expanded backstory.

In this story, the Count’s real name is Werner Zytle. As before, he was the heir to the throne of a Balkan country, now named Vlatava. As a child, he and his mother were forced to flee when rebels stormed the palace, killing Werner’s father. They ended up in Canada. Werner’s mother became a prostitute and a junkie and blamed Werner for her problems.

Eventually, she was approached by scientists who paid her in order to take Werner to a special hospital with them. There they performed experiments on children. In Werner’s case, they implanted devices into his head which gave him the ability to project a sonic field which disrupts the inner ear function of others – often to the point of causing death.

As a teenager, Werner killed the doctor who had given him his powers and returned to Vlatava, where he re-assumed the throne. With his newfound power and control, he located his mother and had her captured. Bringing her to the hospital where he was experimented upon, he confronted her and then ordered her death. And with that accomplished, Count Vertigo felt free to continue his quest for even more power.

With his unique abilities, Count Vertigo makes an especially dangerous foe. After all, it’s hard for a hero to hit a target when he’s too disoriented to get a solid bead on the enemy. The visual elements that accompany the vertigo effect also tend to look pretty cool, which is an added bonus. All in all, the Countdoesn’t make it easy for a hero to bring him down.

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