Cornelius Stirk
Cornelius Stirk.jpg
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceDetective Comics #592 (November 1988)
Created byAlan Grant (writer)
Norm Breyfogle (artist)
In-story information
Notable aliasesFear
AbilitiesCan cause fear or hallucinations through telepathy

Cornelius Stirk is a fictional character appearing in DC Comics. He is a cannibalistic supervillian with the ability to cause fear or hallucinations through telepathy and appears as a recurring adversary of Batman.

Publication history

He first appeared in Detective Comics #592 (November 1988) and was created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle.[1]

Fictional character biography

Stirk is a supervillain who, like Scarecrow, uses fear to get to his victims. Stirk has the ability to make other people see him as someone else, allowing him to get close to his victims. He operates under the delusion that he requires the nutrients and hormones from peoples' hearts in order to stay alive, and these are best prepared with norepinephrine by inducing fear in the victim prior to death.

In his first appearance, Stirk is released from Arkham Asylum after being certified as sane. He had been confined since the age of 16 for trying to kill a classmate. After his release, Stirk subsequently stops taking his medication and begins his escalation into a serial killer.

Despite his many murders, Stirk professes to dislike violence. He also dislikes light and therefore operates almost exclusively at night. Oddly, he refers to almost everyone as "sir".

The Last Arkham

Stirk makes a brief cameo in the beginning of the four-part storyline The Last Arkham, where Jeremiah Arkham, Arkham Asylum's new director, utilizes more barbaric methods to "cure" him. When Stirk refuses to take his medication, for instance, Jeremiah has two orderlies brutally beat him with billy clubs and forces the medication down to his throat.


During the "Knightfall" storyline, Stirk works with the Joker in an attempt to kidnap Commissioner Gordon. However, Stirk tries to kill Gordon rather than kidnap him, much to Joker's dismay. Gordon hallucinates that Stirk is actually Batman as Stirk tried to kill Gordon with a knife. Batman stops Stirk, but Gordon is still screaming in fear. In order to capture Stirk, Batman is forced to leave a terrified Gordon with his wife, who brings him to a hospital.[2]

Stirk later appears during the "Madmen Across the Water" storyline, taking place after his capture but before Arkham Asylum (destroyed by Bane beforehand) is rebuilt. He, along with the likes of Riddler, Ivy, and Amygdala, are instead incarcerated in Blackgate Penitentiary, and involve themselves in a softball game with the prison's "normal" criminals. During the game, Stirk is revealed to be an excellent pitcher, because the ball feels "just like a human heart".[3]

Road to No Man's Land

Stirk makes several more cameos in the "Waxman and the Clown" story arc (Shadow of the Bat #80–82), itself part of the "Road to No Man's Land" crossover, the prequel to "No Man's Land". He is seen in the story arc offering to eat human hearts to save medication (as Arkham Asylum, in post-earthquake lockdown after the "Cataclysm" storyline, is running short of supplies). He later watches the gladiatorial match between fellow inmates Killer Croc and Pinhead, and is released with all the other inmates under Jeremiah's demand that none of them return to Gotham.

The Widening Gyre

Stirk returns in Kevin Smith's storyline, Batman: The Widening Gyre. Stirk gets the drop on a distracted Batman but Robin manages to save Batman.

Powers and abilities

Cornelius Stirk is able to cast a hypnotic aura which allows him to take on any face he chooses, generally a face that people will trust.

In other media


  1. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2008). The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. Del Rey. p. 335. ISBN 9780345501066.
  2. ^ Batman #494
  3. ^ Showcase '94 #3–4