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In the adventure “Night of the Reaper” (Batman, No. 237, Dec. 1971), Batman comes to Rutland, Vermont, to bring his help to Dr. Gruener, a German Jew who was deported to a concentration camp run by Colonel Kurt Schloss, known during the war as the Butcher. Schloss has allegedly been sighted in the Rutland area, and Dr. Gruener wants to find him and bring him to justice, but the Colonel is killed by a mysterious Reaper at a Halloween parade.

As it turns out, the Reaper is Dr. Gruener himself, seeking his private vengeance. He dies battling Batman when he falls off the edge of a dam. Batman is conflicted whether to hunt the Reaper or let him go. As is the case of many superheroes, Batman’s powers are rooted in a traumatic experience (he has witnessed the murder of his parents as a child), so he fully understands Gruener’s unstoppable lust for revenge.

Lastly, when a Star of David dangles before his eyes, Gruener questions what he has become. His story resonates with that of Magneto – supervillain of the X-Men whose superpowers firstly appeared in Auschwitz – and finds its place in a long tradition of “Holocaust Avengers” in comics, traced by Kathrin Bower (“Holocaust Avengers: From The Master Race to Magneto”, International Journal of Comic Art 6.2, Fall 2004: 182-19).

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