WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains

The Fiddler

Personal information

Real Name: Isaac Bowin

 

Residence: Usually Mobile 
Occupation: Professional Criminal 
First Appearance (Golden Age): All=Flash #32 (December/January 1947/1948
First Appearance (Post-Golden Age): Flash #123 (September 1961)

Character History

Little is known of Isaac Bowin's life before he was thrown into an Indian prison in 1942. The son of well to do British parents, both he and his brother possessed musical talent, though his twin honed his while Isaac developed a wanderlust, ending up in India in 1942. A young man in his early 20's, Isaac possessed no skills and resorted to crime to make ends meet and was eventually caught stealing from a local merchant. Quickly tried and convicted, Bowin was thrown into prison with a Hindu fakir convicted of similar crimes. As the two men became acquainted, the fakir recognized Bowin's musical talent and offered to teach him the musical aspects of Hindu mysticism. Over the next 5 years, Bowin created a crude violin (an instrument he and his brother had been trained in as youths) and learned an amazing array of hypnotic arts from the fakir. In 1947, Bowin had reached a level that he felt comfortable enough with to make a jail break. Using the hypnotic powers of his violin, Bowin convinced his jailers to open his cell and then kill themselves. Playing a murderous melody, he led the fakir on a rampage through the prison and out into the surrounding backwaters. Deciding his need for the fakir had ended, Bowin played a paralyzing tune that left the fakir an easy mark for the Asian crocodiles Bowin summoned. To complete his affairs in India, Bowin returned to the merchant who had had him arrested 5 years before and murdered him, completing his need for local vengeance.

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     Later that year, Bowin arrived in America to settle another score: His twin brother. For reasons unknown, Bowin had fallen out with his family and determined to use his likeness to his twin to ruin his career as a master violinist by staging a massive crime wave in the city where the Maestro next performed: Keystone City.  Adopting the nom du crime "The Fiddler", Bowin intercepted a police chase and defeated the Flash with an battery of sonic tricks. To cement his reputation, he took a photo of the defeated hero and air-dropped thousands of copies over Keystone City. His goal to humiliate his brother was less than successful, however. When the Maestro visited Garrick Labs, the Flash arrested him but the police cleared the Maestro without further discussion. That evening, Bowin kidnapped his twin brother and replaced him at a concert hall. As he concluded, his music took a criminal turn and he robbed the attended patrons. The guest of the Maestro, Jay recognized the danger and immediately switched to his identity as the Flash. With a particular vibration, the Fiddler caused a chandelier to fall on the speedster, knocking him unconscious.


With the Flash in tow, the Fiddler returned to his hideout where he revealed a trap for both his twin and the bothersome hero. The two were tied together with taut wire, the movement of which caused a bullet to fire and strike a piano key. If the wrong key was struck, the piano would explode, killing the pair instantly. The Fiddler departed but paused just long enough to wait for the inevitable explosion. Preparing to depart by river, he was surprised by the Flash, who had vibrated fast enough to free himself and the Maestro. The Fiddler quickly attempted to defend himself but losing his balance, fell into the river to be swept away by the fast moving current. The Flash assumed the Fiddler dead and took the remainder of his gang to jail. To what extent the revelation of his brother's villainy ever had on the Maestro has never been revealed (All-Flash Comics #32).

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  As is the case more often the not, the Fiddler survived his plunge into the river and returned to battle the Flash again a few months later.  The villain refined his appearance, shaving his dark locks and donning the powered white wig that became his trademark for the remainder of his life. After the Flash thwarts a petty theft and arrests most of his gang, the Fiddler followed the hero at a distance but was in time to piece together a quarrel between Flash and Joan Williams. The exchange, with Joan annoyed at the time Flash's life took him away from home, inspired the Fiddler to undermine the hero. Using local criminals, the Fiddler arranged for "common citizens" (really members of his gang) to demonstrate that the Flash was not needed. As the Flash arrived always just in time to see the "citizens" route the criminals, he was advised to rest, relax or take a vacation. Eventually, the tricks took their toll and the Flash announced his retirement. As soon as he had supposedly departed, the Fiddler instigated a reign of terror across Keystone, staging almost daily robberies. One evening, Joan was particularly regretful of her admonition of the Flash and took it upon herself to become the solution. Using mirrors to blur her form and give her the illusion of speed, she donned a spare uniform and took up pursuit of the Fiddler. While the athletic Joan was quite capable of dealing with ordinary thugs, she was no match for a master criminal such as the Fiddler. To the criminal's astonishment, The Flash appeared to be a woman. Nonetheless, the Fiddler resolved to dispose of her and tied her to the trellis of a near-by train track. As the train bore down on her bound form, the genuine Flash quickly rescued her and bore down on the Fiddler. Not to be easily taken, the Fiddler dove between the ties, falling to his presumed death (Flash Comics #93).


    Again, the Fiddler survived and return in late 1948.  Disguising himself as the master violinist Vardo Vanessi,  Bowin played his music for a sell-out crowd. Unfortunately for the criminal, his craft was not up to the legendary master and he was soundly booed. Furious, he stripped off his disguised and changed his tune to a more numbing medley, rendering the audience unconscious. However, Jay Garrick, also in the audience, recognized the change and with lightning fast reflexes, vibrated out of the harmonic range of the Fiddler's trap and raced toward the stage. Recognizing his old foe was out of the range of instrument, the Fiddler targeted the statuary above his head, which collapse onto the oncoming speedster, knocking him unconscious. When the Flash awoke, the Fiddler was long gone. Stung by his reception at the music hall, the Fiddler stage two more crimes, the theft of a Stradivarius violin and a heretofore unknown violent concerto by Shuboven.  After the Fiddler's successful theft of the Stradivarius, the Flash faked his own demise to lull the villain into a false sense of security. To the Fiddler's dismay, when he stole the entire armored car containing the Shuboven work, found only the Flash inside. After a brief scuffle and a dip for the Flash when he as thrown off the Fiddler's submarine, the villain was captured and carted off to jail. The Shuboven had been a fake, a ruse to lure the overconfident villain into the Flash's trap (Comic Cavalcade #28).  In addition to his battles with the Flash, the Fiddler encountered a number of other mystery men of the era. In 1947, he became a member of the Wizard's re-organized Injustice Society. This case led him to attempt to steal the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, which led him into conflict with Wonder Woman and Dr. Mid-Nite (All-Star Comics #41). 

Fiddler 2

    The activities of the Fiddler between 1949 and 1961 remain largely unknown. It is known that he had spent some period of time in prison, from which he escaped just before 1961. Joining up with fellow Flash foes, the Thinker and the Shade, the Fiddler waged a crime spree across Keystone City. Fate had plans for the villains however, as indicated by the surreptitious arrival of Barry Allen, the Flash of Earth-One. Tracking down his predecessor, Allen convinced Jay Garrick to return to his role as Keystone's protector and the two tracked down the villains, returning them to prison (Flash Comics #123). The experience was not lost on the Fiddler however and after contacting former members of the Injustice Society the Wizard and the Icicle, the three broke jail and the Fiddler used his knowledge of parallel earths to stage an escape for the trio to Earth-1. There they formed an alliance with three villains from Earth-1 (Chronos, Dr. Alchemy and Felix Faust) as the Crime Champions. Using the Fiddler's vibration technology, the two teams of villains bounced back and forth between Earths, bedeviling two generations of super-teams. Their crime spree was eventually ended by the historic first meeting between the Justice League of American and Justice Society of America (Justice League of America #21-22).


    After this sensational return, the Fiddler's career reached a plateau. He engaged in a wide range of cases, including interfering with a rock concert in the early 1970's (Flash #201), renewing his membership in the Injustice Society (All-Star Comics #63, Justice League of America #183-185) and even a foray to Earth-One (Teen Titans #46). He renewed his acquaintance with the Crime Champions for a single case (Justice League of America #219-220) and was seen participating in the Crisis on Infinite Earths prior during the Villain War.  Whether he survived the Crisis on Earth-Two and his activities subsequent if any have yet to be revealed.

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Powers and Abilities

The Fiddler has the almost mystical ability to play hypnotic or, in later years, matter altering melodies. While the psychic effects of the Fiddler's music is undoubtedly coming from his own skills, the more advanced vibrational and sonic effects may be from the advanced equipment purchased by the arch-criminal over the years. In addition to a wide array of violins, the Fiddler also owns customized vehicles, including a Fiddlermobile, a Fiddle Sub and a Fiddlecopter.

Weaknesses and Limitations

The Fiddler possessed no super-powers that aided him in hand to hand combat and separated from his equipment, could be captured as an ordinary criminal.

Multiversity Villains

Multiversity

Prior Earth-0

The career of the post-crisis Earth-0 Fiddler appears to be largely similar to his Earth-2 counterpart with a few additional cases that may or may not overlap with his Earth-Two history.  He encounter the Flash and the Justice Society in Las Vegas while Jay and Joan Garrick are on their honeymoon during an attempt to rob the Blue Heron Hotel and Casino with the Shade and the Thinker (The Flash Vol. 2 #161). When the Flash ceased handling local cases in 1949, the Fiddler had a brief run in with his successor, The Spider (The Shade #3). In 1952, when the Flash and most other heroes and had ceased handling national level case work, the Fiddler join the Gambler and the Icicle in an attempt to kill one of the few remaining heroes, Starman, in Opal City (Starman vol. 2 #46).  At some point, the Fiddler joined with the Shade and the Thinker to place a hypnotic hold on the popular of Keystone City, creating the illusion that it had never existed and that the Flash was similar an urban legend.  This was said to have gone on for years but the exact duration is unclear or if time passed the same within the bubble created by the Shade and the Fiddler.  The illusion was disrupted when the second Flash Barry Allen stumbled upon it and woke Jay Garrick, after which the two quickly defeated the criminal trio (Secret Origins Vol. 2 #50).

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After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, he joined the Wizard's second generation team of super-criminals, Injustice Unlimited (Infinity Inc. #34-36) but by this point, the Fiddler was getting older. After the arrest of Injustice Unlimited, the Fiddler apparently retired. Along with many other villains, he was offered renewed power by the demon Neron but the Fiddler declined (Underworld Unleashed #1). He may have also made an appearance with a nascent Secret Society of Super-Villains but this report may be apocryphal (JLA 80-Page Giant #1). When see at the funeral of his former colleague David Cannon, formerly known as Chronos, he arrived at the funeral in a wheel chair and complained of advanced arthritis depriving him of his ability to play the violin (Chronos #7), though he was at some point returned to prison (Flash Vol. 2 #208).  In the early 21st century, a revised Secret Six was formed under the mysterious Mockingbird and the Fiddler was included. Outclassed by the HIVE in the first target, the Mockingbird had Deadshot execute the Fiddler as a liability (Villains United #1).   A few years later during the Nekron incursion resulting in the formation of the Black Lanterns, The Fiddler was resurrected (Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #67) and sought vengeance on the Secret Six who had murdered him until he and his fellow Lanterns are destroyed by Amanda Waller (Secret Six Vol. 3 #17-18).  His violin fell into the possession of a new female criminal who now goes by the name Virtuoso (Villains United #5)

Earth-5

A criminal using the same nom du guerre as The Fiddler appeared in 1943 and battled Bullet Man and Bullet Girl but was evidently killed in a plane crash when he attempted to defeat the heroes with a suicide attack.  Whether he was truly dead or whether there were similarities with Isaac Bowin is unknown.

Earth-22

The Fiddler likely had a similar career on this as his Earth-2 counterpart.  He was glimpsed briefly at the assembled vigilantes summoned to Washington by Senator Tex Thompson, secretly the Ultra-Humanite.  He was not seen in the ensuing battle  (The Golden Age LS) and likely survived or escaped as either he or an inheritor was seen on Scott Free's Monitor Board decades later as the Justice League attempted to assert order of the broke world of Earth-22 (Kingdom Come #3).

Appearances

Issue

Comment

Reprinted in

All-Flash #32

1st appearance and origin,  vs. the Golden Age Flash

The Flash Vol. 1 #160

Flash Comics #93

vs. the Golden Age Flash

 

Comic Cavalcade #28

vs. the Golden Age Flash

 

All-Star Comics #41

joins the Injustice Society, vs. the JSA

Justice League of America #113, Justice League of America Super-Spectacular #1 (1999), All-Star Archives #9

Flash #123

with the Thinker and the Shade, vs. The Flashes of Earths-One and Two

80-Page Giant #9, Flash Archives #3, Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told (1989/1990), Millenium Edition Flash #123, Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups Vol. 1, Showcase Presents The Flash #2, Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, The Flash Chronicles #4.  The Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus #1, The Flash: The Silver Age TPB #2, DC Classics Library, The Flash of Two Worlds

Justice League of America #21-22

vs. the Crime Champions, vs. the JLA and JSA

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 1 TPB, DC 100-Page Spectacular #6, Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told, Justice League of America Archives #3, Showcase Presents: The Justice League of America #2, Justice League of America: The Silver Age Omnibus #1, Justice Society, A Celebration of 75 years

Flash #201

vs. the Golden Age Flash

Justice Society of America 100-Page Spectacular #1

Teen Titans #46

vs. the Teen Titans on Earth-One

Teen Titans: The Bronze Age Omnibus

All-Star Comics #63

With the Injustice Society, vs. the JSA

Justice Society TPB Vol. 1, Showcase Presents All-Star Comics Vol. 1, All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever

Justice League of America #183-185

with Injustice Society, vs. JLA, JSA, the New Gods

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 5, The New Gods HC

Adventure #460

Appears as an "character" in a trap laid by the Wizard for Jay Garrick

 

Justice League of America #219-220

vs. the Crime Champions, vs. the JLA and JSA


Crisis on Infinite Earths #9

In the Villain War

Crisis on Infinite Earths HC, Crisis on Infinite Earths TPB, Crisis on Infinite Earths Absolute Edition