A high-tech scientist named Jake Baker, whose body is irradiated granting him "magnetic" powers to attract or repel metal, wood, stone, and human flesh turns to crime as the Zebra-Man. His name comes from the black and white stripes on his body. A second Zebra-Man (probably not the same as the original) is later created by Kobra.
Jake Baker was a high-tech scientist whose machinery has irradiated his entire body. It also gave him superpowers that enabled him to attract and repel anything besides metal (referred to in "the real world" as Diamagnetism). His super-strength allowed him to bend steel and his magnetism was strong enough to lift sunken ships from the ocean. With his body covered by black and white stripes and highlighted by a glowing aura, he became Zebra-Man.
Fleeing the site of his gang's first robbery, Zebra-Man craned out of the back of the getaway car and forced Batman and Robin to give up their pursuit when he thrust a water tank into their path.
Inevitably, Batman accumulated enough physical evidence to track down the gang's lair but circumstances would prevent a simple capture. As would happen more than once in his career (as in the case of 1961's Element Man, for instance), Batman was accidentally bathed in the same energy that created his foe. Without an inhibitor belt like the Zebra-Man had created for himself, the Dark Knight was incapable of controlling his powers and repelled anyone or anything that came near him ... including his adversary. "We both have the SAME charge, Batman -- and like charges repel each other!"
With trees uprooting as he neared them and boulders flying from his path, Batman begged Robin to "finish the job I couldn't do. I can't ever work with you again." Miraculously, Batman devised a solution and challenged the Zebra-Man, pulling towards him instead of away. The Zebra-Batman decked his opposite number, repelled the gang towards Robin and the GCPD, and put on the control belt himself, purging the energy from his body.
"A little while ago," he explained, "I was surprised to find myself being drawn towards a junk yard's electro-magnet. I realized that the electro-magnet's force field was opposite to mine, because OPPOSITE forces ATTRACT. That gave me an idea. Knowing you were coming here, I charged that manhole cover so that it would reverse your force field, making it OPPOSITE mine."
The Dynamic Duo laughed that the villain would still possess his stripes "... only this time they're from prison bars!"
The original Zebra-Man has not been since, and is presumed to be still serving out his jail sentence, although he did make a cameo appearance in the non-canon Solo #7. In that issue, a version of Adam West's Batman from the 1960s Television Series awakened in a "real" world where he is no longer needed and must face the reality of changing modern times. Even Police Commissioner Gordon and Chief O' Hara reject the Caped Crusader because they feel he is no longer needed to fight costumed criminals he attracts anyway. One such villain was the Zebra-Man, sporting a new red version of his original costume.
Leaping from a height, Batman seized the villain by his neck during a crime spree, throwing him backwards before he could react and subduing him. Baker was eventually delivered to the (unimpressed) GCPD.
In 1987, the international terrorist Kobra successfully duplicated the experiment that created the original Zebra-Man after concluding that Zebra-Man's transformation could be repeated. He provided the original villain's control belt to the new successor. The new Zebra-Man lacked the aura of the first and had a mohawk that evoked the image of his equine namesake. As part of Strikeforce Kobra, the villain put his powers into action against the Outsiders but chafed at his alias: "The name 'Zebra-Man' don't inspire much fear ... but people stop laughin' QUICK!"
"Is that right?" asked Black Lightning with a swift kick to his jaw. "First thing that comes to MY mind is to ask if you're a black man with WHITE stripes ... or a white man with BLACK stripes!"
The conflict was never resolved to anyone's satisfaction and Zebra-Man ended up fleeing the scene with the Elemental Woman, the Planet-Master, Eve, and Kobra himself (OUTSIDERS (first series) # 21-22). To date, they remain at large, though Kobra seems to have severed his ties with the Strikeforce long ago.
Zebra-Man II has since appeared briefly in Infinite Crisis #7 as a member of Alexander Luthor, Jr.'s Secret Society of Super Villains.
Powers and Abilities
The original Zebra-Man had the ability to magnetize anything, although he relied mostly on his powers and was a not a good combatant.
In other media
- The original Zebra-Man appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Legends of the Dark Mite." He is an illusion created by Bat-Mite when he "becomes" Batman. Zebra-Man is defeated when the real Batman steals his stripes, causing him to become embarrassed, and leave. Zebra-Man later appears in "Duel of the Double Crossers", violating his parole and using his magnetic powers to rob an armored truck. He is easily defeated by Batman. The "Zebra Batman" appearance Batman had during his first battle with Zebra-Man in the comics is also shown in the previous episode.