Return of the Supervillain Self-Help Expert



You’ve probably seen this panel of the Rainbow Raider triumphantly shouting, “I believe in me!” (especially if you follow Lia’a Rogues blog). It’s from Brave and the Bold #194 by Mike Barr and Carmine Infantino. As a motivational therapist, Professor Andrea Wye approaches Bivolo and D-list Batman villain Dr. Double-X about their failures as super-villains, and convinces them to “Trade heroes and win.”

So Rainbow Raider goes after Batman, and Dr. Double-X goes after the Flash. The heroes aren’t used to fighting each other’s villains, and actually get captured. Of course they turn the tables before she’s able to learn what she wants from them, and overpower the villains before going after the mastermind. She escapes, but Flash figures she’ll return sooner or later. As far as I knew, she disappeared at that point.

I recently discovered that she does return, after all, in the opening two-parter of the 1985 Outsiders series — no surprise, also written by Barr. This was when the team had just split off from Batman, causing a title change, and moved from Gotham to Los Angeles.

In “Nuclear Fear,” Prof. Wye stages a fake terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant near Los Angeles to observe how the city reacts. It’s research material for her next book on the psychology of fear. (Ethics, schmethics, right?)

The Outsiders stop her team before it can make a scene, but the scientist she contacted to help plan the raid wants to go further. He wants to actually blow up Los Angeles in order to make people understand the horrors of nuclear war, and he sends a group of robots modeled after his dead family to do it. Naturally they’re called The Nuclear Family, and they’re this weird idealized 1950s family — except for the fact that they want to kill everyone. (Strange that nuclear war and twisted nostalgia for the 1950s are suddenly topical again.)

Once Wye learns about her ally’s plan, she hightails it out of town. Meanwhile the Outsiders are in a race to find the robots before they detonate themselves. In the end, the only thing they can do is destroy the robots in a normal explosion before they go critical and take out the city. The Nuclear Family is never seen again, as far as I know…and neither is Professor Wye.

I wonder if she ever finished her book?


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Heh, great post!  I read the Nuclear Family story a while back solely because Wye was in it; she’s kind of a fun satire of the skeevy snake-oil psychologists who were proliferating in the late 70s and early 80s.  It’s interesting how she doesn’t quite commit crimes herself, but manipulates villains into doing her bidding for her own ends.

The Nuclear Family actually appeared recently in the Justice League Action animated series, probably because they’re topical again as you say. (It’s a Firestorm episode, which IMO are some of the best in the series.)  The DC Wiki tells me they also appeared in the Battle for Bludhaven series, but I’ve not read that myself.

Battle for Bludhaven? Wow. I don’t remember hearing much about that one. I didn’t read it myself, but I don’t remember it even rating the kind of reaction that Amazons Attack got. Anyone here read it? Is it any good?

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