DC Animated Universe
Batman rogue

"Gasp! Can it be? Old Sally "The Wheezer" Valestra!"
The Joker[1]

Salvatore "Sal" Valestra was once the most powerful gangster in Gotham City. One of his underlings was the Joker, who would reappear when Sal was in old age and being marked for death by the Phantasm.


Before the Batman[]

Younger Sal Valestra

Valestra in his prime.

Sal Valestra ruled Gotham's underworld with an iron fist alongside chief lieutenants Chuckie Sol and Buzz Bronski for several years prior to the first known appearance of Batman. About a year before Batman came to be, Valestra's organization loaned a large amount of money to Carl Beaumont, a local businessman. Despite promises to the contrary, Beaumont could not pay them back, and he and his daughter Andrea fled to Europe once he managed to squeeze an extra twenty-four hours of time from Valestra.

However, Valestra was able to track them down thanks to Arthur Reeves, who had been in Beaumont's employ. Reeves, who was short on funds for his election campaign for councilman, gave up the secret location that Beaumont had entrusted to him. Sal then delivered the needed funds to Reeves, as well as a bonus of giving him inside information on Gotham politics which would bolster his nascent career as a fledgling alderman. What Reeves failed to realize was that Valestra sought "payment in blood" and wanted Beaumont dead for taking advantage of his reprieve. Valestra then sent his top hitman to Europe with instructions to kill Beaumont, which was successful.

Final days[]

Valestra poisoned

Valestra, mortally poisoned by Joker venom.

Years later, an aging Valestra had lost prominence in the underworld, and his partners had advanced to more prominent positions. His youthful habit of smoking had damaged his health, now being dependent on oxygen tanks. While Valestra may have accepted some of this due to his age, there were other factors that were accelerating his decline. His favorite trigger man had become a white-faced, green-haired psychotic and his businesses were being pressured by both the sharp new police commissioner James Gordon and a mysterious vigilante called Batman. To make matters worse, his two oldest and closest partners, Chuckie and Buzz, had been killed within days of one another—apparently by the Batman.

Realizing he could very well be next after reading about Bronski's death in the first page of the Gotham Gazette while drinking a cup of tea, Valestra turned to Reeves, but he thought that Valestra's fate was already sealed and that he was now an old man who couldn't cause any harm. Desperate, Valestra turned to the last person who could help him—his old hitman and current notorious criminal, the Joker. He offered to hire him to kill the Batman, but Joker was uninterested, citing he wasn't 'pest control'. In a desperate attempt to make the Joker understand the gravity of their situation, Valestra made the last mistake of his life: he grabbed a hold of the Joker while reminding him that he was more guilty than even Valestra. Enraged, the Joker lashed out, but then calmed down. He told Valestra he would not let anyone hurt him. Joker then murdered Valestra with his signature toxin. Joker later placed the unfortunate mobster's corpse in Valestra's penthouse rigged to a bomb as bait in an attempt to kill Batman. Typical to Joker's giddiness, he also rigged the trap with a camera and microphone where he taunted the killer with phrases such as "Yoo hoo, Batsy!" Through this setup, Joker was able to discover what Valestra would never know: the killer wasn't Batman, but rather Andrea, under the alias of the Phantasm, who was out for revenge on the mob that killed her father. The Joker then revealed his final trap intended for Batman, a remote-controlled bomb which he detonated anyway in order to kill this mysterious assassin. Valestra's body was incinerated in the blast while the Phantasm fled.[1]


Feature film[]

The New Batman Adventures


  1. 1.0 1.1 Melniker, B., Uslan, M. (Producers), & Radomski, E., Timm, B. W. (Directors). (1993). Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. United States: Warner Bros.