Count Werner Vertigo is the last descendant of a royal family in the small Balkan country of Vlatvia, until the end of World War II when it was enveloped by the Soviet Union. Count Vertigo first appeared in Star City, attempting to steal back the family jewels his parents had sold when they escaped to England after the war.
Count Vertigo first appeared in World's Finest #251 and was created by Bob Haney, Vince Colletta and George Tuska.
Victim of a hereditary ear defect that affected his sense of balance, Vertigo had a small electronic device implanted into his right temple that enabled him to compensate for the problem. By making certain adjustments to the device, Vertigo learned he could affect other people's balance as well, distorting their perceptions so that they could not tell up from down.Thus armed, Vertigo came into conflict with Green Arrow and Black Canary, who thwarted his crimes by using her ultrasonic cry to overload his implant.
Vertigo has escaped from prison several times since then, attempting to gain revenge on Black Canary and Green Arrow. At one time, Vertigo even attempted to blackmail the Soviet Union into restoring Vlatvia's independance by threatening a nuclear strike against them. Captured by Green Arrow, Vertigo was handed over to the Soviet authorities, who in turn sent him to the United States to assassinate a prominent business man,he was once again thwarted by Green Arrow. Vlatvia was later destroyed by the Spectre, with Vertigo and one of his political rivals as the only survivors. He later joined Alexander Luthor's Secret Society. Count Vertigo has reformed, and has joined Checkmate, working mainly with the Suicide Squad.
The rebooted DC Universe features a radically different depiction of Count Vertigo. Here, he is Count Werner Zytle, and his country is called Vlatava. Werner's father was killed by rebels when he was young, and his mother fled with him to Vancouver. She blamed her weak son for being forced to leave. The king stayed and lost the castle when it was overran. Living in severe poverty, Werner's mother turned to prostitution to survive, and handed her son over to a company called Crius. The young Werner, living under the name "Warren", was used as a test subject for a bionic disorienting weapon. Giant pieces of metal were attached to his skull to strengthen and focus his ability. He overrode the fail-safes as a young adult and used the weapon to kill Dr. Witchell, the head of the program. Werner returned to his home country, single-handedly retaking his castle. Having now reclaimed his country, Count Zytle projects the image of a benevolent ruler, while simultaneously funding his secret criminal empire.
Major Story Arcs
The Kill Machine
Green Arrow first clashed with Count Vertigo during his mission to rescue the Japanese archer known as Shado from imprisonment. Although he briefly seemed to have the upper hand, the combined efforts of Shado and Green Arrow proved too much for Vertigo and his men, and they managed to escape. Vertigo pursued the two to Seattle, stopping briefly in Vancouver to visit his mother and kill her-- as he felt her life of prostitution and drugs made her a disgrace to her home country.
When he reached Seattle, Vertigo used his abilities to wreak havoc and kill many civilians as well as police officers. Ollie went to confront him and manged, due to his prior confrontation with Vertigo, to get past his abilities. This allowed him to punch the count, disabling him long enough to pull out the Vertigo device from the back of Zytle's head, the source of his powers.
Powers and Abilities
Werner Vertigo's power stemmed from a device he used to treat an inner ear infection. Somehow he has been able to use it to induce intense vertigo and nausea in his opponents. Later on life, he was able to internalize the power. The power is unusual in that can also affect sensors such as video camera, infra-red sensors, laser detection grids, floor plates which pressure sensitive even disrupting the guidance systems of missiles. The range is unknown.The power also can effect beings as mighty as Superman and Aquaman, but through training beings such as Kanto have proven it possible to fight through the effect.
He is capable of flight as well though the speed hasn't been accurately measured, but in the least he can keep up with fighter and military transport planes. Vertigo wears a pair of boots which allow him to walk on walls and ceilings, further adding to the illusion of his "Vertigo Effect."
Unarmed / Armed Combat
In addition to his powers, Vertigo is trained in martial arts. From the classical such as boxing, fencing, judo and karate to those learned from his time in Task Force X's Suicide Squad and Checkmate (2nd incarnation). He is also skilled in equestrianism due to his noble upbringing. Furthermore Vertigo is also trained as an assassin as seen during Suicide Squad's mission on Apokolips (where he faced off Darkseid's most skilled assassin Kanto) and a seasoned agent in covert and espionage operations (able to trick and subdue Metamorpho , while he was undercover). He was also one of Checkmate's trainers, helping select the elite agents who would later become Pawns.
Good Physical Condition
Vertigo is in great physical condition and keeps in good shape. His stamina in particular is exceptional. As a trained operative for multiple agencies, Vertigo had extensive physical training. He has been in many missions that required said physical training like covering vast distances, on extreme conditions, in difficult terrains (like jungles and tundras) and was also able to recover from a near fatal wound in the chest, in order to get his target. He was thought dead but survived due to his stamina. The Belle Reeve physician commented on Vertigo's stamina as "cast-iron constitution".
Leadership / Royalty
As royalty Vertigo has in multiple occasions proven to be a leader of his people on Vlatava, fighting for their freedom, sometimes showing actual concern and sometimes just to further his own agenda . He usually commands an army of soldiers and mercenaries loyal to him. Naomi Singh, a member of Green Arrow's "War Room" staff described Vertigo's activities as "real super-spy stuff". Additionally Vertigo was also one of Checkmate's "Elite Royals", as the White Queen's Knight, usually being involved in matters of strategy and tactics.
Batman: The Animated Series
A radically different version of Vertigo appears in Batman: The Animated Series, first and only appearing in the episode "Off Balance." In the series, Vertigo was formally a member of the Society of Shadows, the DCAU version of the League of Assassins. He was kicked out of the group when Ra's Al Ghul found out that he was a merciless sociopath. He-along with a group of assassins still at his command- attacked a Wayne Enterprises train carrying a ultra sonic drill. Later, at a monastery he was using as cover, Batman and Talia attack him. He's ultimately defeated by Talia and Batman ringing the monastery's bells. Their deafening ringing causes him to fall off of the monastery, into a nearby river, presumably killing him. This version of Vertigo uses an eye-patch to cause the vertigo effect. The effect can be blocked with contacts or by closing your eyes.
Count Vertigo also appeared in the animated series The Batman, during which his origins and back story were radically altered. In the show he is a scientist who had previously worked for Oliver Queen until being fired. In revenge he uses his vertigo effect to cause Oliver to crash his yacht,ship wrecking him for years while inadvertently helping him gain the skills to become the Green Arrow.He later builds a gyroscope in Gotham that effects several of the citizens which draws him into conflict with the Batman and Green Arrow.
Vertigo appears in Young Justice as part of the Injustice League alongside Joker, Poison Ivy, Atomic Skull, Wotan & Ultra-Humanite, creating a plan to battle the League and many of the worlds other heroes forcing Batman to send in the team to battle the villains.He like the rest of his teammates were defeated and taken into custody at the episodes end.
In a second episode Vertigo returns revealing that his status as a member of the royal family gave him diplomatic immunity an he was released from custody. This time he was trying to ensure the death of his niece, a young girl (about 11 years old or so), the crowned Queen of Vlatvia. The Queen had come to the United States for heart transplant surgery. Vertigo had tried to manipulate Kid Flash who was acting as the courier for the heart into being to late for the delivery. When that did not work his henchman tried to deceive Kid Flash into believing the girl had already died and giving the heart to them. When the real surgical team shows up Kid Flash realizes it was a trick and found the criminals and ends up in combat with Count Vertigo. After delivering the heart to the doctors Kid Flash collapsed and was hospitalized. The news announces the Queen died on the surgical table. Kid Flash wakes up with Vertigo already in his hospitial room and gloating how he is now king of Vlatvia and all his manipulations to ensure her death was unnecessary the girl would have died anyways. Then Kid Flash reveals the Queen is indeed alive and recording Vertigo's gloating. She then revokes his diplomatic immunity and Vertigo is arrested. He is last seen in Belle Reve prison being mocked by other prisoners.
Count Vertigo is a recurring character on the Arrow CW show first played by Seth Gabel and later Peter Stormare. Initially, and unlike his comic counterpart, he is not named Count Vertigo nor is he a foreign dignitary, rather he is the head of large narcotics operation known only as "The Count". His drug, Vertigo, produces highly disorientating effects and becomes a major source of crime in Starling City. After being forcefully overdosed on his own drug, The Count turns insane and becomes a persistent thorn in Oliver's side. He eventually adopts the moniker of Count Vertigo, though Oliver eventually kills him.
In season three, a new man calling himself Count Vertigo appears played by Peter Stromare, more in line with his traditional comic counterpart. Werner Zylte (as his name is also in the New 52 comics) takes it upon himself to become the new Count Vertigo. He tells Oliver that as long as he is alive, a Count Vertigo will take up the mantle to act as his nemesis.