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

Professor Gurn

Personal information

Name: Leland Gurn
Occupation: Scientist Professional Criminal
First Appearance (Golden Age): Detective Comics #60 (behind the scenes), Detective #61 (March 1942)

Character History

Little is known of the life of Professor Gurn before he first appeared in New York in the early 1940’s.  A scientist turned to crime, he began his career in an undocumented case as a member of the Scalotti Gang before they were rounded up by Air Wave (Detective Comics #60).  Out of jail, Gurn resolves to eliminate Air Wave and move up the ranks of the criminal underground.   Broadcasting his plans, Air Wave picks them up via radio and follows the signal to find Gurn and his associate Parry fighting over Parry’s desire to escape.  Gurn convinces Air Wave that Parry was a criminal who had accosted him and that a third party, since departed, had sent that signal.  Air Wave thanks Gurn for the tip and heads off in pursuit.

Smug in this deception, Gurn plans his next move – kidnapping heiress Sandra Stowe while on a horse riding expedition.   Ambushing her and companion, D.A. Preston Cole, Gurn and his men capture the heiress, leaving Cole unconscious.  Recovering, Cole finds Gurn’s spectacles and returns with them to his office where he shares his finding with his clerk Larry Jordan.   Jordan slips away with the glasses and adopts his identity as Air Wave.  Using advance radio tuning capacities, he finds that the spectacles let him eavesdrop on Gurn again, learning that he has laid a trap a nearby foundry.   Air Wave further hears that once Stowe has signed her ransom letter, Gurn expects to kill her to remove evidence.

Arriving at the foundry after summoning the police, Air Wave engages Gurn’s men.  He soon learns that the trap Gurn has planned in a device to neutralize static, overwhelming Air Wave’s radio sensors and disorienting him so he could be knocked out.  Unobserved, Sandra Stowe steals next to Gurn’s device and inactivates it, allowing Air Wave to arrive.  A melee ensues,  with Gurn using considerable physical prowess to battle Air Wave.  Eventually, gaining the upper hand, he flings Gurn in his device, causing it to explode.  The remainder of the gang flee into the arms of the waiting police, who enter the building to find that both Air Wave and Gurn have disappeared (Detective Comics #61).

Gurn was not dead and had retreated to a hideaway in a nearby slum. Realizing the human subordinates were unreliable and Air Wave a greater threat than he had originally appreciated, he decided to use his science for a different solution – a mechanical body to commit crimes directly.  Creating a robotic suit, Gurn went on a spree of robberies  and was dubbed a “Machine Man” by the press.  He taunted the police, ineffective against his armor, by inviting them to summon Air Wave.  Monitoring police radio traffic, Air Wave heard of Gurn thrashing several cops and threatening murder until he used a belt microphone to broadcast voices off Gurn’s armor suggesting he was surrounded.  Fooled, Gurn fled with Air Wav in hot pursuit.

Catching up with the mechanical villain, Air Wave engaged in fisticuffs only to be thwarted by tear gas released by Gurn’s armor.  The arriving policy interrupted Gurn before he could kill the hero, who fled to commit more crime.  Finding an armored car, Gurn tears it open and takes off with its contents to a construction site to lay a trap for Air Wave. Gurn climbed up the frame of the building and as the hero closed in, Gurn seemed to slip and fall.  Knowing Air Wave’s ethics would drive him to stage a rescue, Gurn lured him close enough to fling him off the girders to be his death below.  Air Wave executed a last-minute save, using his magnetic skates to draw him to the metal frame of the building and return to where Gurn was waiting.  Enraged by his failure, Gurn charged Air Wave but lost his balance, crashing to the street below.  His robot body cushioned his fall but was destroyed in the process, leaving Gurn easy prey for the police and vowing revenge on Air Wave (Detective Comics #65).

The further activities of Professor Gurn are unrevealed.

professor gurn inks resize

Powers and Abilities

Professor Gurn was a genius level mechanical engineer and excellent strategist.  His success in crime had allowed him to accumulate enough resources to create the equipment used in his crimes.  His battlesuit augmented his strength and speed and was impervious to bullets.  Limitations to the suit are not well-defined.

Weaknesses and Limitations

Stripped of his equipment, Gurn was an ordinary middle-aged man and could be captured as such.

Multiversity Villains


No version of Professor Gurn has been verified to exist in any timeline but Earth-Two.





Reprinted in

Detective Comics #60

No actual appearance, behind the scenes revealed in the next issue

 Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman: The Deluxe Edition

Detective Comics #61

First actual appearance, vs. Air Wave


Detective Comics #60

Build battle suit, vs. Air Wave