Derek Powers was a powerful, corrupt businessman and the head of Powers Technology (later Wayne-Powers). After a freak accident, he was transformed into the villain Blight, and became the archenemy of the second Batman.
Dubbed a "financial czar" and "corporate kingpin" by the media, Derek Powers was Gotham City's most successful and powerful chief executive officer. While little is known about his past, Powers ran Powers Technology and attempted to take over Wayne Enterprises at least once as early as twenty years prior, and also was extremely distant with his son, to the extent that he even backed out of a promise for a fishing trip. After finally succeeding in taking over Wayne Enterprises, he turned the merged company into Wayne-Powers. One of his first actions upon assuming leadership was to fire its Vice-President. Powers soon gained the reputation of a corporate shark for his strategies of downsizing and gobbling up smaller companies. Under his leadership, Wayne-Powers continued to grow, and entered into the research and manufacture of weapons. In addition, Powers' influence was such that he even had the Gotham City Police Department in his pocket. Although Bruce Wayne was disgusted with what Powers was doing to his company, his poor health had left Powers free to run Wayne-Powers unsupervised.
At one point, he developed a deadly viral mutagen and intended to sell it internationally. In order to test it, Powers infected his employee Harry Tully, making it look like an accidental leak due to not being able to directly experiment on Tully as a result of such being illegal.
When his body began to deteriorate, Tully handed Warren McGinnis a disc containing information about the virus, and also attempted to tell him to reveal it to the public should "anything happen to [Tully]". Powers quickly tried to contain the leak, so he sent Mr. Fixx after him. Powers then summoned Warren to his office and explained that Tully had simply suffered an allergic reaction to a chemical compound in the laboratory. He also assured Warren that Harry was under care, even though it was nothing to worry about. When Warren was on his way out, Powers nonchalantly asked him about a missing file from Tully's records. Warren claimed to know nothing about it, but Powers could tell he was lying. So, he ordered Fixx to murder Warren and blame it on the Jokerz. When Warren's body was found, Powers publicly pledged to use all his resources to trace and prosecute the culprits to the full extent of the law.
Powers had Mary McGinnis's apartment under surveillance. When Terry McGinnis found the file, Powers intercepted him, when the latter was en route to the GPD. Powers threatened Terry into giving him the disc.
Shortly after, Vilmos Egans, Finance Minister of Kaznia, visited Gotham to attend to the World Trade conference but had business with Powers. Both met in Powers' office, where Powers pitched his nerve gas to Egans. Powers screened a film that depicted the deadly effects of the gas, showing experiments conducted on plants and animals, and finally pictures of Tully's steadily worsening condition. The last photograph confirmed that Tully had died, and his body had disintegrated completely. They sealed the deal, which according to Powers would open the entire Eastern Bloc for Wayne-Powers. However, Powers still was concerned about Terry's escape, as he didn't want him to ruin the deal and told Mr. Fixx that when the time came, he deal with Terry as Fixx dealt with his father. Unbeknownst to either, however, Terry was nearby in a stolen batsuit and heard this. As Powers was on his way to the docks with Fixx, the alarms started sounding, with his getting a report from one of his security personnel about a potential sighting of Batman within the compound, or at least someone dressed like him, causing him concern.
When the shipment was being prepared at Wayne-Powers loading dock, Powers and his team were interrupted by the arrival of Batman. Powers ordered Fixx with the cargo ship to lift off, while he stayed behind to finish Batman. Armed with a pistol, Powers easily shot a batarang that Batman had thrown at him. The next thing Batman threw was a left-behind gas canister that Powers shot reflexively, thus exposing himself to his own gas. He attempted to flee, but the damage had been done, and began developing sores, pleading to security personnel as they were fleeing to help him.
Powers was hustled into a secret clinic beneath Wayne-Powers, where he was exposed to intense radiation to counteract the effects of the gas and save his life. The procedure eradicated the virus, but the mutational properties of the virus combined with the radiation made his entire body radioactive, emitting radiation so powerful that it rendered his skin translucent. Upon witnessing his new appearance, he only let out a deranged cackle.
Powers's medical staff concocted a synthetic skin that temporarily contained the radiation and allowed Powers to continue appearing in public. For some time, his condition was kept a secret to all but a few people. Powers continued with his business while his scientists strove to find a cure.
Derek Powers's ambition and illicit methods would often lead him to enlist high-profile criminals to help him get ahead. When the government decided to build a new lunar station, Wayne-Powers became one of two possible contractors for the job, the other being Foxteca. Powers hired corporate saboteur Inque to hinder Foxteca. Bruce Wayne became suspicious of the sabotage and confronted Powers smoothly denying any involvement. Afterwards, Inque expressed worry, but Powers soothed her, telling her Bruce was too old to be any threat.
On the next day, Powers was informed, much to his displeasure, that Inque's second sabotage attempt had caused only minimal damage, and the company was still on schedule. Although he did not let his displeasure show to his secretary Miss Winston when she reported it, he then demanded for Inque to give a good reason for her failure when she arrived. She reported that someone in a costume had interfered, and that such had been the second time she had encountered interference. Recognizing Batman from her description, Powers became enraged and his artificial skin began to flake. He gave Inque a new assignment: find and kill Batman, and his elderly accomplice when he learned of the latter's involvement, offering to pay her whatever she desired for the hit. Shortly after Inque set fire to Foxteca industries as bait to lure Batman over so she could infiltrate his Batmobile, she also sent a call to Powers reporting Batman's arrival as the latter was about to undergo his synthetic skin treatment, citing that he'll meet with her afterwards around the same time the treatment is complete, also damaging the phone he was using in the process due to the extreme radiation he was currently emitting. Since Inque failed and was captured, it's unknown which of the two companies got to build the lunar station.
As a businessman, Powers never made a move which he couldn't profit from, in any kind of way. Among the several local companies he acquired, Powers took over Shreeve Sound Laboratory Gotham City. He bailed out Walter Shreeve's company from bankruptcy, seemingly with the interest in financing his sound research. However, his ulterior motive surfaced when he commanded Shreeve to use his sound suit to assassinate Wayne.
Powers wanted to purchase Gotham City's historical district, the place once known as Crime Alley, and bulldoze it to make way for another industrial complex. Wayne opposed the move, and called a stockholder meeting to put the matter to a vote. Knowing full well that Bruce still commanded enormous influence and respect among his stockholders, Powers decided the only solution was to remove him, permanently.
After failing to kill Bruce, Powers was slightly angry with Shriek for failing to fully kill him, but nonetheless agreed to a more subtle attempt at killing him. After buying off one of the nurses, he arranged to have a large bandage placed on Bruce Wayne's head that secretly contained one of Shreeve's two-way radio transmitters in an attempt to manipulate Wayne into committing suicide by jumping down the window, although this failed due to Wayne knowing the voices don't actually belong to him. Despite this failure, Powers nonetheless arranged for Wayne to be relocated to the Psych ward of the hospital. However, around that time, Shreeve was tracked down by Batman, and became a fugitive. Blaming Powers, Shreeve sought revenge, but Powers smoothly dissuaded him by reminding Shreeve of the power his sound suit gave him, which deserved him the moniker "Shriek". He then told him to finish his job, and this time target the new Batman as well. Much to his displeasure, Shriek failed to complete his assignment, and Powers's motion was defeated by the stockholders.
Among Derek Powers's illegitimate doings, there was also toxic waste dumping. One night, during a late-hour negotiation with one of his business rivals in an obvious attempt at buying out the rival, Powers got a phone call from Batman letting him know he had foiled one of those shipments and apprehended his lackeys. Furious, Powers's fake skin flaked off again, so he quickly sought his medical staff (as well as forcing him to postpone the meeting for another night), who informed him that the radiation emanating from his body was getting stronger. At that point, Dr. Stephanie Lake interceded and made a bold suggestion: to use Powers's baseline DNA to build him a new body to transfer his consciousness into. But first, Dr. Lake wanted to test that procedure in someone who also had systemically damaged DNA: Victor Fries.
After the procedure's apparent success, Powers announced to the press that Victor had paid his debt to society, and that the technology used to restore him would be used to save millions of lives. However, when Fries's genetic makeup began to collapse, Powers remarked that the only way to find the cause would be to biopsy his organs at that stage. Dr. Lake interpreted that observation as a suggestion and tried to kill Fries who managed to flee.
Later on, Powers and Dr. Lake were attacked by Fries sporting a new, deadly containment suit. When Powers tried to make a run for it, Fries froze him in a block of ice. However, he unleashed his body's full radioactivity, thawing him out and shedding his artificial skin. In his glowing skeletal form, he attacked Victor while the latter was trying to destroy the laboratory and fighting Batman. Thwarted by Batman, and when asked whom he was, he introduced himself as "Blight". Blight bombarded the new Dark Knight with a dose of radioactive bolts, until a blast from Fries's cold gun sent him hurtling out of the building and across the city, to crash into a frozen pond. He was retrieved by a team of his doctors.
Derek Powers desperately continued to seek a cure for his condition, which was steadily worsening. His artificial skin now lasted less than a day, and his increasing fits of temper caused him to burn through it even sooner. Blight broke into Plas-Tech to heist a batch of Polymold canisters, in hopes of devising a more resistant synthetic skin, but he was foiled by Batman. To make matters worse for him, one of his minions was left behind with full identification tying the minion to Wayne-Powers, causing Batman to realize that Powers was somehow tied to the radioactive supervillain's crimes. Frustrated with his worsening condition, Powers eventually decided that he could no longer keep up public appearances and he had to retire behind the scenes while searching for a cure.
He summoned his exiled son Paxton Powers, the head of Wayne-Powers's Verdeza office, back to Gotham. Derek proposed to appoint him acting chairman of Wayne-Powers, though only as a figurehead. However, Paxton dismissively turned down the offer. In his desperation, the ailing tycoon revealed his condition and, in a rather feeble attempt to exhibit paternal warmth, implored his son for help.
At a meeting of Wayne-Powers's board and major stockholders, Powers announced that he was taking a temporary leave, citing health problems. The meeting was abruptly interrupted by a spokesperson of Verdeza's population accusing Paxton of polluting their rivers, and cutting off his people's livelihood. Powers lost all composure and started to burn through his skin, exposing his identity to the board, including Bruce Wayne. Because the conference was televised live, it also resulted in everyone watching the conference seeing him for what he truly was, including Terry McGinnis, who realized that Powers and Blight were one and the same. Powers attacked the fisherman, and when Wayne stepped between them, tried to finish Wayne. However, Batman crashed in on time, foiling him once again. Powers went berserk, made a run for it, and thus became a wanted fugitive.
Unbeknownst to him, this incident had been staged by his son who wanted to bait his father into exposing himself, so he could assume leadership of Wayne Powers in fact as well as name. Blight contacted Paxton and told him to dispatch Wayne-Powers's medical staff to restore his skin, so that he could get out of town. Instead, Paxton called an ambulance, under the pretense of trying to help. Facing the possibility of being arrested, he was compelled to go underground. He retreated to an abandoned nuclear submarine that cloaked his radiation signature. Apparently the only person aware of his location was his secretary Miss Winston who provided Powers with food.
However, Batman managed to track him down, at Paxton's behest, and taunted Blight, luring him into a prearranged location. Enraged, Blight asked why he was tormenting him, and Batman revealed that he had killed his father. However, Powers didn't know who he was talking about. At that point, Paxton's men entrapped Blight in a special net built to drain his radiation. Paxton revealed his true intentions, saying his father had taught him that the only way to acquire true power is to seize it, which is why Derek now had to die. When Batman tried to stop Paxton, the net was damaged, and Blight revived. His rage and radiation went out of control. The submarine was destroyed from within, and sank with Blight on board. His body was never found, and he is presumed dead, though Batman still believes him to be alive.
Derek Powers, even before his mutation into Blight, was shown to be extremely ruthless and corrupt, using any means to get what he wanted, whether it involved unethical business practices, such as forcing potential business rivals to fold via a late-hour negotiation, or blatant violations of the law such as arranging for corporate sabotage of rival companies to take out the competition, illegally monitoring people's homes, and even murder. He also implied that he had committed enough crimes involving murdering people's fathers at the very least that such a claim wasn't enough for him to narrow down Batman's true identity. He also was shown to do actions within his company that are highly illegal, such as human experimentation, at least if done in a way that looked accidental, such being demonstrated with Harry Tully where he subtly experimented the nerve gas on him to see if it was effective on humans by staging a chemical leak and ensuring he got exposed. In addition, he was also shown to be extremely Machiavellian in his outlook, pursuing any means to gain power and influence over a wide scale. At one point, he even briefly quotes Machiavelli's dictum of it even being better to be feared than to be loved towards Walter Shreeve, who by that point was a fugitive for being exposed as a criminal, when convincing him to become a supervillain. He also believed that he is supposed to seize power the moment the opportunity arrives, and likewise taught this to his son, which ultimately backfired on him severely and led to his downfall.
He also displays no remorse for any of his actions, and very rarely has any changes in emotions, indicating that he was a sociopath. Nonetheless, despite his evil acts, he nonetheless garnered a relatively positive reputation in Gotham City and also acted as if the Jokerz were indeed responsible for Warren McGinnis's murder with the claim that he'll use his resources to find his killer, when he was actually responsible for Warren's death. He also held a strong hatred for Bruce Wayne, strong enough that he wished to do him harm for several years, as he implied when he was forced to expose his Blight identity in front of everyone when he told Wayne, when the latter interfered with his attack on Mendez, that he was "waiting to do this for years!" before attacking him.
However, after the mutation, he frequently had his temper increased, both because of his inability to retain his human form with his increasing radiation power (which was caused in part by his rising temper) for long and because of his anger and hatred of Batman. The only other emotion he actually had beyond anger was a brief panic attack during a demonstration by Walter Shreeve, which for unknown reasons never actually caused his cosmetic skin to flake.
Powers and abilities
- Marksmanship: Before his mutation, Powers did not demonstrate any notable abilities other than being somewhat of an expert marksman, easily shooting one of Batman's batarangs with a gun at one point. Ironically, his expert marksmanship also proved to be his weakness during this time as Batman exploited his marksmanship and muscle memory to trick him into getting himself exposed to his own nerve gas.
- Radiation Physiology: Powers' radioactive condition was symptomatic of his exposure to the nerve gas and subsequent radiation treatment. His cellular structure was permanently imbued with the radiation that cured him, and thereafter his body glowed bright green, leaving his skin and organs translucent showing his skeleton. His radiation could be contained with a special cosmetic skin devised by his medical staff, but every time Powers would lose control of his emotions, he would burn through the skin. As the radiation grew stronger the skin would last for shorter periods of time. Other than the special cosmetic skin, another way for him to retain his original form is by being exposed to a high-power radiation field. His very touch was lethal, and could burn through objects on contact. He also implied when giving Inque her new mission that even being in close proximity to him while he was "shedding" can prove lethal even to meta-humans. Powers soon learned how to concentrate his radiation into energy balls, which he then hurled at his opponents. Blight also seemed to be resistant to extreme cold as a shot from Victor Fries's ice gun could not keep him down. This is reinforced mere moments later when Powers was hurled into a frozen lake and didn't suffer any ill effects, even retorting "You are idiots" to his men when one of them brought blankets for him in case he was "cold".
- Energy Projection: Powers could manipulate this radiation for various effects . At first, he could only project this radiation from his hands as energy beams or fireballs. As his powers grew increasingly unstable, he was able to emit wide range waves of radiation.
Derek Powers/Blight bears characteristics of both corporate villain Lex Luthor and DC Comics villain Doctor Phosphorus. Coincidentally, he is voiced by Sherman Howard (the actor that played Lex Luthor on the live-action Superboy series).
Blight also bears some similarities to the Joker from the 1989 film Batman. Both were disfigured by chemicals by Batman, and the attempt to fix the injury caused by the chemicals also resulted in the creation of their new identities. Both characters also disguise their deformity by using a method to cover their skin to give a (relatively) normal appearance. Also, both characters were created by Batman after they ended up creating Batman, and their connection to the murder of Batman's parents were not made immediately apparent until their final moments.
Despite the foreshadowing of the season finale "Ascension", he is not seen again for the rest of the DCAU. Writer Robert Goodman explained the creative team had decided to move on from Blight, feeling that the Derek Powers story was concluded.
No family besides Paxton Powers is ever mentioned in the series. However, in The Batman Adventures #15, Warren Powers was originally supposed to appear as head of Powers Technology. As a sort of prequel to the episode "Meltdown", Warren acquires the head of Mr. Freeze and locks it away in his vault, believing it holds the secrets of immortality. It has been confirmed that Warren is the father of Derek.
Apart from issues #1, #2 (adaptation of "Rebirth") and #3 of the Batman Beyond limited series, Blight makes one more appearance after his apparent death in "Ascension", in Batman Beyond vol 2 #18. Having survived the submarine explosion, Powers became the new target of Stalker. Blight appears to have been completely affected by the radiation in his body, which has caused him to forget his original identity as Derek Powers, referring to himself only as Blight, and blaming Batman for all that has happened to him. After a long fight in a steel mill, Blight is engulfed in molten steel and killed, leaving only his corpse as a dead ore-covered statue. Stalker stores it in his trophy room.
Appearances and references
- "Black Out"
- "Hooked Up" (Hallucination)
- "Sneak Peek" (Mentioned Only)
- "Where's Terry?" (Mentioned Only)
- "King's Ransom" (Mentioned Only)
- "Countdown" (Mentioned Only)
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (indirect mention only)
- "Epilogue" (indirect mention only)