Ira Billings, also known as Spellbinder was a disgruntled high school psychologist turned mind-controlling criminal.
Ira Billings was once a psychologist working at Hamilton Hill High School. Feeling under-appreciated — and more importantly, underpaid — Billings decided to use his talents to get back at the very people he claimed had spurned him: the rich. Under the guise of his position, he probed the minds of wealthy students, and in turn — via mind control — used them to abscond with valuables from their own homes.
Billings donned a spandex suit with black swirls, and developed a floating "eyeball" imbedded in his right-hand glove. This contraption allowed him to project images into the minds of others. His first known victim was Chelsea Cunningham. Billings approached her during a stroll back home, and mesmerized her with a jungle adventure to retrieve a valuable trinket from an ancient temple, which in reality was one of her father's possessions. Afterwards, Billings was dubbed Spellbinder by the media, given his modus operandi.
On the next day, Dr. Billings was visited by Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon, who solicited his professional opinion on Chelsea's conduct. Billings discredited her behavior as a recurring cry for attention nourished by her father.
His next victim was Mr. Deakins, an auction house manager forced to endure a Vietnam War-like fantasy, upon which he had to carry and secure a wounded combatant, which was in reality a priceless dress. However this time, Spellbinder was spotted by Batman.
Afterwards, went after Lorraine Tate, Jared's mother. On her wedding day, Spellbinder planted his spell-casting eyeball in a hovering photo machine that he controlled from a remote position. He injected Lorraine with a nightmarish fantasy where she found herself besieged in an insectoid monster world. While running scared for her life, she left her precious jewels behind her under the belief they were insects, which Spellbinder managed to collect.
Batman caught up with him, but Spellbinder reacted quickly and ensorcelled him with a waterfall hallucination. This provided him with a chance to escape, as Batman dove straight down to the road.
On the next day, Billings summoned Terry into his office, under the pretense of wanting to check on him, given all the recent radical changes in his life. However, what he really wanted was information on Bruce Wayne. Then, he spellbound Terry into looting Wayne Manor, thinking he was a contender in a Supermarket Spree contest. Spellbinder was waiting outside the mansion to collect the plunder; however, unbeknownst to him, Terry had snapped out of the trance and set off to confront the mindbender as Batman.
Spellbinder once again mesmerized Batman; this time making him think he was under attack by zombies. Taking advantage of Batman's disorientation, Spellbinder fought dirty, striking him with everything he could grab. He then attempted to lure Batman into falling down a cliff, but the tables were turned on him, and Batman winded up saving Spellbinder from certain death. Billings was unmasked and taken into custody shortly after.
The Addictive VR Rooms
A few months later, Spellbinder went back to his criminal ways. He developed underground VR Rooms that generated realistic fantasy worlds, in which the users experienced adulation, and even love. Moreover, the process induced addiction, and thus the feeling of realism became overwhelming. Spellbinder lured runaway teens into the addictive grip of his VR technology, and then coerced them into stealing and doing his bidding. Among his recruits, there were Donny Grasso, Kip, and Jessie.
However, Spellbinder's VR Rooms dangerously increased the level of serotonin in the brain, and, as a result, many of his recruits overdosed. He would then send the others to dump the comatose consumers, and enlist substitutes. When Jessie overdosed, Spellbinder hooked up Max, who initially had set out to investigate him, but eventually became addicted to his technology. After Batman followed Donny into Spellbinder's hiding place — an abandoned Med Lab — he tried to extricate Max. Upon this, Spellbinder sneaked up on Batman and shocked him with an electrical cable. He then attempted to fry Batman's brain with his "eyeball" glove. However, Spellbinder was promptly foiled by Max, who pinned him against a control panel, electrocuting him. Spellbinder was once again arrested, and his VR technology impounded and studied, so that the comatose youngsters could be treated.
The Compelling Frame-Up
Sometime later, Spellbinder was out on the streets again, and sought to take revenge on Batman. During a battle between Mad Stan and Batman, Spellbinder generated an illusion that made Barbara Gordon witness an alternative outcome: Batman murdering Mad Stan. This frame-up drove Batman to become a wanted fugitive. At some point, Spellbinder abducted Mad Stan's unconscious body and placed him in a VR Room, so that the mind-warping criminal could keep up the charade. Spellbinder kept tabs on Batman thereafter. He hid behind an illusion that concealed him from human eyes, while trying to ensure Batman's arrest.
When Batman went to the city morgue to investigate Mad Stan's body, Spellbinder activated the alarm. Even though the hero-turned-fugitive eluded capture, he was tracked down by the GPD in the old Majestic Theater. Spellbinder was hiding behind Barbara, but thanks to Bruce Wayne, who had uncovered the mystery, Batman destroyed Spellbinder's "eyeball", thus ceasing the illusion. Spellbinder was once again arrested. As he was led away in cuffs, Ira took the opportunity to insult Barbara's intelligence, saying she had been so ready to believe the worst in the new Batman that hypnotizing her had been an easy matter.
Spellbinder initially moved around on a wasp-looking craft, but it was destroyed in one of his earliest mêlées with Batman. Spellbinder had a genius-level intellect, but he was not a skilled fighter. His dexterity relied heavily on his artillery and mind-warping technology. His main weapon was a floating "eyeball" that fed information into his victims' brain, which then replayed it before their eyes. By this means, he created illusions so realistic that allowed him to oblige nearly anyone into doing his bidding. It remains unclear, however, how Billings — being an underpaid High School counselor — managed to gather and develop such a complex array of weaponry and advanced technology before his first heists. It can be assumed, given his knowledge and intellect, that he created his devices from scratch. Bruce Wayne even admits that his technology is highly advanced, meaning much more so than standard consumer technology.
His vast knowledge of the human psyche, combined with his ghastly costume and mesmerizing voice, made Spellbinder one of the most compelling rogues Batman had ever had to face.
In DC Comics, the Spellbinder is Delbert Billings. Other than his surname, the Batman Beyond incarnation of Spellbinder has little in common with his namesake, appearing to take most of his inspiration from the Scarecrow and the Mad Hatter.
In the Batman Beyond tie-in comics, Spellbinder came close to finding out Batman's secret twice. The first time, in Batman Beyond #1, Bruce was forced to fight the mind controlled Terry in his old batsuit. On the second occasion, in Batman Beyond #7, Billings returned to Hill High in disguise because he suspected a student was Batman. He used his mind reading machine to give psychic profiles to students he believed might secretly be Batman.
Appearances and references
- Goodman, Robert (writer) & Lukic, Butch (director) (May 1, 1999). "Spellbound". Batman Beyond. Season 1. Episode 10 (airdate). Episode 9 (production). Kids WB!.
- Goodman, Robert (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (November 13, 1999). "Hooked Up". Batman Beyond. Season 2. Episode 8 (airdate). Episode 21 (production). Kids WB!.
- Fogel, Rich (story) & Bader, Hilary J. (telepay) & Lukic, Butch (director) (January 22, 2000). "Eyewitness". Batman Beyond. Season 2. Episode 14 (airdate). Episode 27 (production). Kids WB!.
- Fogel, Rich (writer) & Lim, Kyung-Won (director) (May 27, 2000). "Where's Terry?". Batman Beyond. Season 2. Episode 25 (airdate). Episode 40 (production). Kids WB!.