Doctor Phosphorus
Doctor Phosphorus.png
Doctor Phosphorus, art by Marcos Marz.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceDetective Comics #469 (May 1977)
Created bySteve Englehart
In-story information
Alter egoDr. Alexander James Sartorius
Team affiliationsSecret Society of Super Villains
  • Burning skin
  • Toxic fume emission
  • Radiation manipulation
  • Thermokinesis
  • Chemical secretion
  • Nuclear beams/blasts

Doctor Phosphorus (Dr. Alexander James Sartorius) is a fictional supervillain who has appeared in various comic book series published by DC Comics. Primarily an enemy of Batman, the villain exists in DC's main shared universe, known as the DC Universe.[1]

Publication history

Doctor Phosphorus first appeared in Detective Comics #469 and was created by Steve Englehart.[2]

Fictional character biography

Dr. Alex Sartorius, alias Doctor Phosphorus was a member of the Tobacconists' Club, who wanted to build a nuclear power plant in Gotham City with help from the Club's chairman, Rupert Thorne.[3] However, the people of Gotham refused the construction of the plant and he was forced to take the project far from the city. Eventually, Sartorius was transformed by sand irradiated during the nuclear plant's meltdown, driven up one element on the chemical table, from silicon to phosphorus. His body was changed as his skin would burn at any contact and his skeleton showed through his skin. For his mutation, he swore to make Gotham pay by poisoning the water supply.[4] This plan was foiled by the timely intervention of Gotham's protector, Batman, but Phosphorus escaped from the vigilante and contacted Thorne to eliminate Batman. [5] Batman however continued his search for Phosphorus and they eventually clashed in the nuclear power plant where everything started. During the struggle, Dr. Phosphorus fell into the nuclear reactor, creating a big explosion and he was presumed dead.[6]

During the Underworld Unleashed storyline, he is one of many villains to sell his soul to the demon Neron. In exchange for his soul, he is granted greater power and temperature control. For example, he can now wear normal clothing without it bursting into flame.[2]

In James Robinson's series Starman he is initially hired by the Mist to kill the original Starman, Ted Knight, but is defeated by the retired hero. They face each other a second time; this time, Phosphorus has given Knight a significant dose of radiation, which gave him terminal disease. In a third and final confrontation, Knight is determined to ensure that Phosphorus would harm no one else. During the battle, he uses his cosmic rod to tear the pavement from beneath Phosphorus and drive him into the earth, apparently killing him.[2]

Phosphorus returns in Detective Comics #825, where he is being held in Cadmus Research laboratories. When one of the scientists examining him says he heard Sartorius had died, the other replies: "From being crushed? Hardly. Everything human in Sartorius was consumed by fire long ago. We believe his powers manifested a fusion reaction that completely sublimated his central nervous system — creating functional facsimiles of his heart, his lungs, his kidneys — all working in concert to produce a near-endless supply of energy".[7]

Phosphorus escapes from Cadmus, and once again seeks revenge on those responsible for his condition. He is defeated by Batman during an attack on Rupert Thorne, and he is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.[2]

During Batman's absence after his presumed death, Phosphorus escapes custody along with the other Arkham inmates. He kidnaps both Kirk Langstrom and his wife Francine for information about Langstrom's research. Phosphorus caused Kirk to transform into Man-Bat and throw Phosphorus into the ocean.

During the Brightest Day crossover event, Phosphorus is freed from Arkham when Deathstroke and the Titans attack the facility. Before Phosphorus can escape, he is attacked by Arsenal.[8]

In 2011, The New 52 rebooted the DC Comics universe. Doctor Phosphorus is reintroduced fighting Catwoman in the Forever Evil storyline, appearing among the villains that the Crime Syndicate of America recruits to join the Secret Society of Super Villains.[9]

He has since being seen in the background during the Rebirth Batman titles such as Batman: Eternal and being one of the Arkham Knight's soldiers.[10][11][12][13][14]

In the pages of Batman: Three Jokers, Doctor Phosphorus is shown to be incarcerated at Blackgate Penitentiary at the time when Batman arrives to see Joe Chill.[15]

Powers and abilities

Doctor Phosphorus has burning skin, toxic emissions, and can manipulate radiation. When he sells his soul to Neron, he is granted better control of his powers so that any clothes that he wears will not burn off of him.

Other versions


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Doctor Phosphorus was invited by Lt. Matthew Shrieve to be the new member of Creature Commandos, but Doctor Phosphorus then betrays him and kills his family.[16] It is revealed that Doctor Phosphorus had been working for General Sam Lane who is responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family.[17]

In other media



Doctor Phosphorus appears in the animated film The Lego Batman Movie.

Video games

Dr. Alex Sartorius appears in Batman: Arkham Knight via Simon Stagg's audiotapes. This version was raised as a Catholic, but chose science over faith, and went on to work for Stagg forming Stagg Industries. Sartorius discovered Stagg was collaborating with the Scarecrow with their Cloudburst trenchology, but Stagg exposes Sartorius to Scarecrow's fear toxin, causing him to develop extreme pyrophobia.


Doctor Phosphorus appears in the comic book miniseries Smallville Season 11: Titans. After Rose Wilson breaks him out of prison, he attacks an amusement park until Superman, Jay Garrick, and the Teen Titans arrive and defeat him. Phosphorus is later taken into the Department of Extranormal Operations' custody.[18]

Further reading

See also


  1. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Korte, Steve; Manning, Matt; Wiacek, Win; Wilson, Sven (2016). The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. DK Publishing. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-4654-5357-0.
  2. ^ a b c d Wallace, Dan (2008), "Doctor Phosphorus", in Dougall, Alastair (ed.), The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 105, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
  3. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2008). The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. Del Rey. pp. 115–116. ISBN 9780345501066.
  4. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Supervillains. New York: Facts on File. p. 102. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X.
  5. ^ Detective Comics #469. DC Comics.
  6. ^ Detective Comics #470. DC Comics.
  7. ^ Detective Comics #825. DC Comics.
  8. ^ Titans (vol. 2) #28. DC Comics.
  9. ^ Forever Evil #1. DC Comics.
  10. ^ Batman Eternal #2. DC Comics.
  11. ^ Batman Eternal #6. DC Comics.
  12. ^ Batman (vol. 3) #19. DC Comics.
  13. ^ Detective Comics #1003. DC Comics.
  14. ^ Detective Comics #1005. DC Comics.
  15. ^ Batman: Three Jokers #2. DC Comics.
  16. ^ Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2 (July 2011). DC Comics.
  17. ^ Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #3 (August 2011). DC Comics.
  18. ^ Smallville Special Titans