Derek Powers was a powerful but corrupt businessman who in a freak accident was transformed into the villain Blight, the archenemy of the future Batman.
Dubbed a "financial star" and "corporate kingpin" by the media, Derek Powers was Gotham's most successful and powerful chief executive officer. Little is known about his past, but before merging with Wayne Enterprises, Powers ran Powers Technology. He attempted to take over Bruce Wayne's corporate empire at least once until finally succeeding, making Wayne Enterprises into Wayne-Powers. One of his first actions upon assuming leadership was to fire Lucius Fox, Jr., 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.
Wayne became disgusted with what Powers was doing to his company, but given his poor health, Powers was 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 one of his employees, Harry Tully, making it look like an accidental leak. When his body began to deteriorate, Tully handed Warren McGinnis a disc containing information about the virus.
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 Mr. Fixx to murder Warren and blame it on the Jokerz. When the 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, and when Warren's son, Terry, found Harry Tully's file, Powers intercepted him, when the latter was en route to the GPD. Powers threatened Terry into giving him the disc. Subsequently, Terry swiped Bruce Wayne's Batsuit to pursue Powers on his own.
Shortly after, Vilmos Egans, Finance Minister of Kaznia, visited Gotham to attend to the World Trade conference. However, he 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.
When the shipment was being prepared at Wayne-Powers loading dock, Powers and his team were interrupted by the arrival of Batman. Powers ordered 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 was hustled into a secret clinic beneath Wayne-Powers, where he was exposed to intense radiation to save his life. The procedure eradicated the virus, but the mutational properties of the virus combined with the radiation made Powers's 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' 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'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 the corporate saboteur Inque to hinder Foxteca. Bruce Wayne became suspicious of the sabotage and confronted Powers, who smoothly denied any involvement. Afterwards, Inque, who had witnessed the argument, 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. She reported that someone in a costume had interfered. 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. Since Inque failed and was captured, it is 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 Bruce Wayne.
Powers wanted to purchase Gotham City's historical district and bulldoze it to make way for another industrial complex. Bruce 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 Wayne, 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 a new moniker, "Shriek". He then told him to finish his job. Much to his displeasure, Shriek failed to complete his assignment, and Powers's motion was defeated by the stockholders.
Blight is born
Among Powers's illegitimate doings, there was also toxic waste dumping. One night, during a business meeting, 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, 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' baseline DNA to build him a new body and then transfer his consciousness into it. But first, Dr. Lake wanted to test that procedure in someone who also had systemically damaged DNA — Mr. Freeze, whose head was stored in the laboratory.
After the procedure's apparent success, Powers announced to the press that Victor Fries 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' 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 Mr. Freeze, who was now sporting a new, deadly containment suit. When Powers tried to make a run for it, he was frozen 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 Freeze, who was trying to destroy the laboratory. Powers was thwarted by Batman, and when asked whom he was, he introduced himself as Blight. He bombarded the hero with a dose of radioactive bolts, until a blast from Freeze's cold guns 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.
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. As Blight, he 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. Powers eventually decided that he could no longer keep up public appearances, so he could retire behind the scenes while searching for a cure.
He summoned his exiled son, Paxton Powers, the head of the Wayne-Powers office in Verdeza, 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, who accused 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 and Terry McGinnis. Powers attacked the fisherman, and when Wayne stepped between them, tried to finish Wayne. 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 Powers, this incident had been staged by his son, who wanted to bait his father into exposing himself, and then usurp his throne. Powers contacted Paxton and told him to organize Wayne-Powers's medical staff to restore his skin, so that he could get out of town. Instead, Paxton sent an ambulance, under the pretense of trying to help. Facing the possibility of being arrested, Powers 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 Powers, luring him into a prearranged location. Enraged, Powers asked why he was tormenting him, and Batman revealed that he had killed his father. However, Powers simply retorted, "Do you have the slightest idea how little that narrows it down?" At that point, Paxton's men entrapped Powers 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 Derek revived. Powers's rage and radiation went out of control. The submarine was destroyed from within, and sank with Powers onboard. Derek Powers' body was never found and his fate remains unknown.
Powers and abilities
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 translucent. 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. 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. 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 Mr. Freeze's ice gun could not keep him down. This is enforced 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 towels for him in case he was "cold".
Derek Powers/Blight bears characteristics of both corporate villain Lex Luthor and DC Comics villain Doctor Phosphorus. Coincidentally, he is voiced by Sherman Howard, who played Luthor on the live-action series Superboy.
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", Powers is not seen again in any animated incarnation of the DCAU.
No family besides Paxton is ever mentioned in the series. However, in The Batman Adventures #15, a character named Warren Powers was originally supposed to appear as head of Powers Technology. As a sort of prequel to "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)