Dr. Alex Sartorius was invited by Gotham's General Dr. Bell to join the Tobacconist's Club, an influential institution in Gotham. After becoming a member, Sartorius was asked to invest and run a proposed nuclear power plant that was being constructed outside of Gotham. Sartorius invested his life savings without realizing that the plant was being built with cheap substandard safety systems. It turns out the power plant was a tax evasion scam set up by City Councilman Rupert Thorne and Dr. Church, a rival physicist who wanted to steal Alex's technological secrets then patent them as his own.
Alex visited the construction site of the power plant when all of a sudden, the nuclear core went unstable. Alex went for cover by hiding behind a pile of sandbags in order to survive the explosion. The radiation from the explosion altered Alex's body and irradiated the sand to the elemental scale of phosphorus. His body transformed into living Phosphorous and his exposed skin would burn anything on contact with air.
This transformation drove Alex to the brink of insanity. Every breath he took emitted deadly fumes and he glowed bright white with a coruscating nuclear flame. He tried to kill the people who hired him to work at the plant, namely the city council. This lead to a series of clashes with Batman. He then vowed vengeance on Gotham City for turning him into a freak.
Dr. Phosphorus was created by Detective Comics writer Steve Englehart in issue #469 dated May 1977.
Major Story Arcs
Deals with Neron
During Underworld Unleashed, Neron offers him greater power than his current state, he agrees and gains much greater control over his power. He can now control his body's flames to the point that he can finally wear clothes again, although why his pants didn't burn before was not explained. Dr. Phosphorus then went on to fight bigger heroes than Batman, namely Starman. He was hired by the Mist to kill the original Starman: Ted Knight. He was defeated in his first battle with Knight, but Phosphorous fed him a dose of radiation giving him terminal cancer. During their third confrontation, Ted used his cosmic rod to destroy the pavement Phosphorous was standing on and drove him into the ground, possibly killing him.
Return to Batman's Rogues gallery
Dr. Phosphorous did not die however, but was held at Cadmus Laboratories. One of the doctors explained his powers as being a result of his body's nervous system turning to gaseous forms and created facsimiles in his lungs and heart to create a near endless supply of energy. He then escaped from Cadmus laboratories and returned to Gotham in order to kill the people he believes made him work at the plant which caused his accident. Two of them were Doctor Bell and Rupert Thorne. He goes after Bell first, but Batman had already learned of his return (due to the destroyed Cadmus lab), they both fight and Dr. Bell is seriously injured. Phosphorous defeats Batman as a result of his powers being increased somehow. Later, Phosphorous confronts Thorne at a prison, but Batman arrives and the two fight but Batman defeats him by using bicarbonate soda (baking soda). Dr. Phosphorous is then returned to Arkham for further treatment.
Dr. Phosphorous appeared in Battle for the Cowl: Man-Bat. He captured Man-Bat and his wife. He was defeated by Man-Bat who submerged him in a river.
New 52: Post-Flashpoint
Dr. Phosphorus is set to appear in the Catwoman title.
Dr. Phosphorus appeared as a member of the Creature Commandos during the Flashpoint crossover.
Doctor Phosphorus' appearance was used as inspiration for the character Derek Powers, who later becomes Blight. His skin is burned off due to the high levels of radiation his body emits and all that is left is the glowing, radioactive skeleton associated with Doctor Phosphorus.
After numerous defeats by Batman, Firefly (Garfield Lynns) asks his girlfriend, Dr. Jane Blazedale to help him steal a phosphorous isotope. She helps him steal it and Garfield uses it to upgrade his arsenal. However, an accident occurs and Garfield is transformed into Doctor Phosphorus. He becomes insane and whatever he touches burns. He was defeated by Batman when he uses Liquid Nitrogen on him. This version of Phosphorus resembles molten lava and burns orange flames.