Tony Zucco
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceDetective Comics #38 (April 1940)
Created byBill Finger (writer)
Bob Kane (artist)
Jerry Robinson (Illustrator)
In-story information
Alter egoBoss Zucco
Team affiliationsMaroni family
Black Lantern Corps

Anthony Zucco is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. First appearing in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940), Zucco is a mobster responsible for murdering the parents of Dick Grayson, which leads to Grayson's adoption by Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman and becoming the latter's sidekick and original Robin and Nightwing.

The character has appeared in Batman: The Animated Series, voiced by Thomas F. Wilson, and The Batman, voiced by Mark Hamill. Richard Zeppieri portrayed him in the first season of the DC Universe series Titans.

Publication history

Tony Zucco first appeared in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940) and was created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson.[1]

Fictional character history


Antonio Zucco (originally just "Boss Zucco" in his first appearance) is a Mafia crime boss or simple low level thug (his position of power varies depending upon the Golden and Silver Age continuity) in Gotham City who is responsible for the death of Dick Grayson's parents. Throughout the years, Zucco's role in Robin's origin remains largely the same.


Zucco tries to extort the Haly's Circus, where the Flying Graysons are the main attraction. When the ringmaster C.C. Haly (who runs an honest business) refuses to pay him protection money, Zucco has his henchman Blade sabotage the trapeze ropes the Graysons use in their act. The ropes break while John and Mary Graysons are in mid-air. Because the Graysons perform their act without a safety net, they fall to their deaths. This caused C.C. Haly to pay him protection money to prevent any further "accidents". After overhearing Blade talking to Zucco about committing the sabotage, Dick is subsequently adopted by Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman) and becomes his partner Robin. Both of them locate Tony Zucco where they defeated his henchmen. Robin was able to secretly record Zucco punishing his henchman Blade by pushing him off the skyscraper. The police used this as evidence to arrest Zucco. Afterwards, Robin becomes Batman's sidekick.[2]

Many years later, Zucco was seen in the hospital where he has become senile. At the time when he was under the influence of the Stream of Ruthlessness, Robin combated Infinity, Inc. to get to Tony Zucco and finish him off. When he does get to Tony Zucco, Robin finds that he does not recognize him.[3]


On Earth-One, Tony Zucco's history and his showdown with Batman and Robin is the same as his Earth-Two counterpart.[4]


Batman: Year Three

Dick Grayson's narration establishes Zucco's backstory. A first-generation immigrant from Italy, Zucco is orphaned at a young age when a gang of criminals murder his parents for refusing to pay protection money. Zucco is sent to an orphanage, where he is cared for by Sister Mary Elizabeth. She tries to counsel Zucco, but he is a lost cause; consumed by anger, he prays only for the deaths of the men who killed his parents. As a young man, he runs away from the orphanage and joins one of Gotham's major crime families, and quickly moves up Gotham's criminal food chain.[5]

After Batman apprehends him for murdering Dick Grayson's parents, Zucco is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in Blackgate Penitentiary. After serving seven years of his sentence, he files for a parole hearing and offers testimony against other Gotham criminals. He professes remorse for his crimes, but hides an ulterior motive. Before he was sent to prison, Zucco had hidden a ledger in the orphanage where Dick briefly resided following his parents' deaths; the ledger contains incriminating information about the Mafia's operations in Gotham. Zucco plots to remove the ledger from the orphanage before it is demolished. Wanting to keep the truth from Dick (who has recently become Nightwing), Alfred Pennyworth goes to the parole hearing and pleads for the judge to keep Zucco in prison, but Dick soon learns of Zucco's release. Despite Alfred's attempts to stop him, Dick races to Blackgate to confront his parents' killer. As he steps out of the prison, Zucco is gunned down by a helicopter hired by a rival crime boss. While Zucco's death gives Dick some closure, his already-strained relationship with Batman becomes further complicated. When Dick presses him, Batman insists he knows nothing about Zucco's murder.[5]

Batman: Dark Victory

In Batman: Dark Victory, Zucco (dubbed Anthony "Fats" Zucco) is portrayed as a low-level thug working for Sal Maroni, a member of Carmine Falcone's Mafia empire. He and another minor family head, Edward Skeevers, are put in charge of drug smuggling. After constant attacks by other enemies such as Penguin, Zucco starts a new method of smuggling these drugs. He only lets Skeevers in on the secret, believing that its success will make their minor families greater than the Falcones and the Maronis put together, and attempts to take over Haley's Circus to use its trucks for his smuggling activities. He kills Dick Grayson's parents as a demonstration of power to the circus' owner, and then quickly goes underground. He is later found by Batman and Dick Grayson, who is not yet Robin, and is chased down a dark alley by Grayson until he has a heart attack, confessing to various crimes before dying.[6]

Blackest Night

Main article: Blackest Night

Tony Zucco's remains have been reanimated as a Black Lantern in DC Comics's 2009–2010 crossover Blackest Night, with John and Mary Grayson, Jack and Janet Drake, Captain Boomerang, and the deceased members of the original Dark Knight's rogue gallery. Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, who have become the new Batman and Red Robin, respectively face down Zucco and their parent's corpses. Dick eventually cryogenically suspends himself and Tim during the battle, which forces the Black Lanterns to retreat as they are unable to read any signs of life from them.[7]

The Black Mirror

In The Black Mirror, it is revealed that Zucco had fathered a daughter named Sonia. She is seemingly a legitimate businesswoman and runs the GGM Bank under the alias of Sonia Branch.[8] Dick Grayson, who had recently become the new Batman, initially hopes that Sonia is not as corrupt as her father. However, he is disappointed when he realizes that Sonia manipulated him into subduing rivals who wish to take over her bank. Due to the lack of evidence, Sonia remains beyond the reach of the law.[9]

The New 52

Tony Zucco in Nightwing (vol. 3) #18 (May 2013, DC Comics), art by Juan Jose Ryp.

In The New 52 (a reboot of DC Universe's continuity), a young Dick Grayson sees Tony Zucco threatening C.C. Haly for protection money. When Haly refuses to pay, Zucco sabotages the trapeze, which causes John and Mary Grayson to fall to their deaths. Dick becomes obsessed with finding Zucco and roams the streets of Gotham City looking for him, eventually encountering Batman and learning that the Dark Knight and his new guardian Bruce Wayne are the same person.[10] Tony is still the father of Sonia Zucco in this continuity, and she and Dick have a tenuous relationship.[11]

Zucco had disappeared soon after his arrest and is presumed dead, but Sonia receives an e-mail saying that her father is still alive and living in Chicago, and relays this information to Dick.[12]

Zucco is revealed to be working for Chicago Mayor Wallace Cole under the alias Billy Lester.[13] Cole knows of Zucco's criminal record, and years before covered it up by having him declared officially dead. When Nightwing arrives in Chicago, Cole tells a panicked Zucco to go into hiding.[14] Nightwing discovers "Billy Lester"'s true identity, and learns that his parents' murderer has a wife and son.[15]

Nightwing shows up in Cole's office, demanding to know why he is protecting Zucco. He then secretly bugs Cole's office. Soon afterward, the Prankster addresses the whole city by video and reveals that Cole has been harboring Zucco for three years.[16] When Zucco learns what has happened, he returns to Chicago to help Nightwing.[17] Zucco tells Nightwing that he murdered Harold Loomis, the man who engineered the city's transportation system, on Cole's orders. He then explains that Prankster is Loomis' son, and he plans to blow up city hall as revenge; he also sent Sonia the email about Zucco to make sure Nightwing got involved. Nightwing and Zucco defuse the explosives and get Cole to safety, and Nightwing fights the Prankster. Zucco saves Nightwing's life by shooting and wounding the Prankster. He is then arrested for murdering Loomis. In jail, Zucco receives a visit from a man who suggests that his employers can help him beat the rap. Zucco insists that he wants to take responsibility to set a good example for his son. The man says there is no point in that, as Zucco's family has left him.[18]

Infinite Frontier

In the Infinite Frontier Nightwing series, Zucco appeared to have another daughter named Melinda Zucco who is a newly-appointed mayor of Blüdhaven. However, later issues revealed that Tony is not Melinda's father, but rather John Grayson, making both her and Nightwing half-siblings.

Melinda's mother, Meili Lin explained that after she was forced to marry Tony, she ran away from him while visiting the circus where she was helped by John and Mary. Meili travelled with the circus and had a brief relationship with John which resulted getting pregnant with Melinda. Eventually, Tony managed to track her down and bring her back to Blüdhaven. Months later Meili gave birth to Melinda with Zucco having suspicions that Melinda wasn't his daughter. After Meili and Melinda left Zucco years later and offered protection from the Maroni Crime Family, Zucco killed both John and Mary and orphaned Dick, in which Dick came to terms that Zucco killed them out of revenge rather than owned him money.

Zucco was eventually released from prison and return to Blüdhaven to fill in the power vacuum of the criminal underworld after Blockbuster's death. He reunited with Melinda and offer her to run the city and take Sal Maroni's fortune to control his gangs but she refused. Zucco journeyed to the criminal bank the Hold to steal Maroni's prized gem the Eye of Kahndaq so he would use it to create his own criminal empire, but was tracked down and defeated by Nightwing. Upon returning to prison, Tony was visited by Melinda who revealed to him she legally changed her surname to "Grayson-Lin" and that John Grayson was her true father, disowning the Zucco name and walked away to leave him alone in his cell, leaving Zucco furious.

Other versions

All Star Batman and Robin

In Frank Miller's All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson's parents are killed by a low-level hitman named "Jocko-boy" Vanzetti. Throughout the early issues, Batman brutalizes Vanzetti, going so far as to torture him with snake venom-coated batarangs that cause terrifying hallucinations.[19] Batman brings Vanzetti to the Batcave and allows Dick Grayson to "interrogate" him with an axe. Under this torture, Vanzetti reveals that the Joker ordered the hit.[20] Afterwards, Batman throws Vanzetti into Gotham Bay with his hands tied behind his back, though Jocko-boy is later seen climbing out.[21]

Earth 3

In the Earth 3 universe, as seen during the "Forever Evil" storyline, Anthony Zucco is a clown who owns a circus. He is killed by Jonathan Grayson, who uses the circus as a front for his criminal activities.[22]

In other media




Tony Zucco appears in issue #6 of the Young Justice comics. He was featured in a flashback when Robin recaps his history. This version killed John and Mary Grayson as well as Dick's aunt and cousin, and paralyzed his uncle. When Dick Grayson became Robin for the first time, he helped Batman bring Zucco to justice.

See also


  1. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2008). The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. Del Rey. p. 385. ISBN 9780345501066.
  2. ^ Detective Comics #38. DC Comics.
  3. ^ Infinity Inc. #6. DC Comics.
  4. ^ Batman #213. DC Comics.
  5. ^ a b Batman #436-439 (August–September 1989). DC Comics.
  6. ^ Batman: Dark Victory #0-13 (November 1999 - December 2000). DC Comics.
  7. ^ Blackest Night: Batman #3 (December 2009). DC Comics.
  8. ^ Detective Comics #876 (April 2011). DC Comics.
  9. ^ Detective Comics #878 (August 2011). DC Comics.
  10. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #0 (November 2012). DC Comics.
  11. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #15 (February 2013). DC Comics.
  12. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #18 (May 2013). DC Comics.
  13. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #19 (June 2013). DC Comics.
  14. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #20 (July 2013). DC Comics.
  15. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #21 (August 2013). DC Comics.
  16. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #22 (September 2013). DC Comics.
  17. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #23 (October 2013). DC Comics.
  18. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #24 (December 2013). DC Comics.
  19. ^ All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #1 (September 2005). DC Comics.
  20. ^ All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #7 (November 2005). DC Comics.
  21. ^ All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #8 (January 2008). DC Comics.
  22. ^ Justice League (vol. 2) #25 (February 2014). DC Comics.