When it comes to villains and rogues galleries, Batman has the best ones. They're extremely colorful and there is a wide variety in what motivates each of them. When DC Comics announced "The New 52," many were concerned with characters being rebooted. The fear was decades of history would be erased in order to make the comics easier for new readers.
There have been some changes seen but in the Batman universe, pretty much everything has remained intact. What many fail to remember, we have seen reboots and updates over the years. With the Golden Age, Silver Age and Crisis on Infinite Earths, there have been different versions of the DC characters.
Mr. Freeze is a good example. He has seen some changes over the years but never really had a definitive shining moment in comic books. When Mr. Freeze first appeared, he wasn't even called Mr. Freeze. His origin was simple but he never really had impressive motives. Later updated by Paul Dini in Batman: The Animated Series, this was the origin readers wanted. Yet there is still room to add a little more and "The New 52" is the perfect time to give him another update.== TEASER ==
If you ask comic readers to give the definitive Mr. Freeze story, the answer will probably be "Heart of Ice" from the animated series. Mr. Freeze needs a big epic story/origin in comic books to elevate him even further among the Batman Villains. First, let's look at who he was.
When he first appeared in 1959's BATMAN #121, he called himself Mr. Zero. He was a scientist who developed an ice gun. An accident occurred and his freezing solution splashed on him. This made it that he could only breathe in the extreme cold. Luckily his lab also had a cold storage freezer. He later created an air-conditioned costume to "help [him] commit [his] crimes."
The origin might have been enough for the time but he never had a motive. It wasn't clear why he was building a freeze gun. It's possible he was a simple scientist trying to develop the freeze gun for altruistic purposes. Because there were thugs at his side when the accident happened, you have to wonder if his intentions were always geared towards crime. There was no mention of stealing in order to fund research to cure his condition. He actually was cured by Batman accidentally in this first appearance due to steam from a busted pipe.
It seems Mr. Zero didn't make another appearance until 1968's DETECTIVE COMICS #373. No explanation was given to where he had been all this time besides being in a "deep freeze hideout." He was back and ready to make his debut with his new name, Mr. Freeze. His reason for coming out of retirement was simple. He wanted to steal a painting that was a "perfect representation of a winter wonderland.
Mr. Freeze was an ordinary criminal forced to live in a special suit. He used his invention to steal. That was his only motive.
"Heart of Ice"
It wasn't until 1992 in Batman: The Animated Series that Mr. Freeze was given an actual motivation besides just stealing for money.
Dr. Victor Fries was a molecular biologist. He created a cryogenic freezing chamber that was used to preserve his wife, Nora, who was suffering from an inoperable ailment. The hope was for her body (and others) to be preserved until a cure could be developed.
Fries had locked himself in the lab and was using the funding from the corporation he worked for. Despite funding being shut down, Fries caused the corporation to be $3 million dollars in debt. When security attempted to shut down his experiment, including the chamber, Fries was exposed to the chemicals and was transformed.
As Mr. Freeze, he was determined to find a way to save Nora.
Is That Enough?
Trying to save Nora gave him more of a motive. It gave him more depth instead of being a simple crook with a cold gun. There still weren't any truly great Mr. Freeze stories. With all his appearances, he doesn't really have an epic, stand out story in comics. And why does he keep getting sent to Arkham Asylum? Does being obsessed with saving his wife make him insane?
Now is the time for a change. He doesn't need to be radically changed and shouldn't be completely altered. But with some changes occurring in "The New 52," now is the perfect time.
DC Comics has announced BATMAN ANNUAL #1 for May and it's said to "introduce Mr. Freeze into the 'New 52.'"
The first thought again could be one of fear. Should Mr. Freeze be altered? Is DC going to make changes just for change's sake? They haven't so far. But Mr. Freeze needs more of a motivation besides just trying to save his wife. He never did and I don't consider throwing her in a Lazarus Pit and transforming her into Lazara counts. I've blocked that from my memory.
Scott Snyder's Take on Mr. Freeze
Because BATMAN writer, Scott Snyder, is involved, that should restore our confidence in the Annual. When asked about Mr. Freeze in the "New 52," this is what Scott told Comic Vine:
I love Mr. Freeze, but my favorite stories with him are actually from the animated series. "Heart of Ice," Sub-Zero, Batman Beyond... In comics, there are stories I love with him in them, like the opening arc of GOTHAM CENTRAL, but for the most part, I feel like he's been more like one of the rogues than a singular frightening villain. So what we wanted to do here, James Tynion IV, Jay Fabok and I, was to take our favorite iterations of Mr. Freeze and build on them here, sort of use them as a foundation for a version that wouldn't tread on what came before so much as expand the mythology and history of the character - in ways that'll be both comforting and surprising at times to readers old and new. My feeling is that he needs to be scary - someone with that tragedy and sadness through Nora - but also someone obsessed, someone deeply disturbed, someone downright fucking terrifying to meet. I really hope you all enjoy our version as much as we've enjoyed creating his story.
That sounds good to me. Mr. Freeze should be scary. We can look forward to the change in May. But for as much enthusiasm and creativity Snyder will put into Mr. Freeze to make his scary. Nothing could ever be as scary as this: