The Bookworm was a villain created for the 1960s Batman television series. The character was identifiable by his thick glasses and dark brown leather suit, made to match rare old book bindings. He had an affinity for books and centered many of his schemes around them. The character was first referenced as part of the mainstream Batman comic books in 1989's Secret Origins Special #1 and appeared, in a form dramatically different from his television counterpart, as an enemy of the Huntress in The Huntress #7-11. He has since appeared in his original television form, with a cameo on the animated Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and as the main villain in Batman '66 #6, a comic book based on the 1960s series.
The Bookworm appeared in two consecutive episodes of the 1960s television show, "The Bookworm Turns" and "While Gotham Burns." Little was disclosed of Bookworms origins or motivations over the course of the show, other than the fact that he had an apparent vendetta against Batman and Robin and committed crimes inspired by literary plots. Like the Riddler, he left clues to lure the caped crusaders to the scene of his next crime -- the clues, of course, always inspired by books. He also carried knockout gas in trick books, usually the boring type that "put people to sleep," like the Congressional Record. By the end of the story, it was revealed that his ultimate objective was to steal a heavily guarded stockpile of valuable books.
Bookworm didn't make the jump from television to comic books for a couple of decades. In 1989's Secret Origins Special #1, the character's name was referenced by the Riddler, along with a number of other villains created specifically for the 60s television series. Riddler called him one of the villains "you never see anymore."
A very dark version of the character appeared in The Huntress series in a story arc that ran from late 1989 to early 1990. This version of the Bookworm was named Alexander Wyvern. A victim of child abuse, his mother would lock him in a closet while she worked on puzzles. Wyvern once started a fire in the closet in a desperate attempt to get his mother to release him -- only to wind up badly burned and, after he got his mother's attention, badly beaten. Psychologically damaged, the boy grew into a serial killer. Though the violent character bore little resemblance to the literature-obsessed felon of the 1960s, this version did still leave Riddler-style clues for the police to hunt him down. Bookworm ultimately met his demise when he set a deadly trap for the Huntress. Huntress dressed as his mother, frightening him into running away and tripping his own contraption, killing him.
Other characters named Bookworm appeared in the comics Deathstroke the Terminator and Teen Titans in the 1990s.
In 2013, the original version of Bookworm returned to comic books, albeit outside the mainstream DC continuity, in the pages of Batman '66. In this story, inspired by the 60s television series, Bookworm attempted to deduce Batman's true identity using a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings covering the Caped Crusader's crime-fighting career.
The Bookworm had a few people who assisted him in his crimes:
- Pressman (portrayed by Tony Aiello) - Bookworm's henchman.
- Printer's Devil (portrayed by John Crawford) - Bookworm's henchman.
- Typesetter (portrayed by Jan Peters) - Bookworm's henchman.
- Lydia Limpet (portrayed by Francine York) - Bookworm's moll.
- Trick Radio Eye Glasses- Used to communicate with his associates.
- Fedora Booklight Hat- Used to read books.
- Congressional Record March, 1919 Book- Knockout gas book.
- The History of the English Language Book- Another Knockout gas book.
- For Whom the Bell Tolls Novel- A disguised bomb the Bookworm used in an attempt to blow up the Batmobile.
- '''Bookmobile'''- The Bookworm's vehicle which he uses to travel around Gotham City. It has a mounted Photo Projector on its roof.
In Other Media
Batman: The Animated Series
Bookworm was apparently one of the villains considered to appear in Batman: The Animated Series. Similarly to King Tut and Egghead however, Bookworm could not be used as a result of the rights to the character being held by the American Broadcasting Network and not DC, due to the characters having been created for the show.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
The Bookworm makes a cameo as a prisoner at Iron Heights prison in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Day of the Dark Knight!" along with fellow inmates King Tut, Egghead, Imposter Mad Hatter, The Archer, False Face, Black Widow, Siren, Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, Louie the Lilac, Ma Parker, and Shame. They are all defeated by Batman and Green Arrow when they tried to escape.