Art by Marcos Marz
|First appearance||Detective Comics #469 (May 1977)|
|Created by||Steve Englehart|
|Alter ego||Dr. Alexander James Sartorius|
|Team affiliations||Secret Society of Super Villains|
Doctor Phosphorus (Dr. Alexander James Sartorius) is a fictional character who has appeared in various comic book series published by DC Comics. Primarily an enemy of Batman, the supervillain exists in DC's main shared universe, known as the DC Universe.
Fictional character biography
Dr. Alex Sartorius, alias Doctor Phosphorus was a member of the Tobacconists' Club, who wanted to build a nuclear power plant in Gotham City with help from the Club's chairman, Rupert Thorne. However, the people of Gotham refused the construction of the plant and he was forced to take the project far from the city. Eventually, Sartorius was transformed by sand irradiated during the nuclear plant's meltdown, driven up one element on the chemical table, from silicon to phosphorus. His body was changed as his skin would burn at any contact and his skeleton showed through his skin. For his mutation, he swore to make Gotham pay by poisoning the water supply. This plan was foiled by the timely intervention of Gotham's protector, Batman, but Phosphorus escaped from the vigilante and contacted Thorne to eliminate Batman.  Batman however continued his search for Phosphorus and they eventually clashed in the nuclear power plant where everything started. During the struggle, Dr. Phosphorus fell into the nuclear reactor, creating a big explosion and he was presumed dead.
During the Underworld Unleashed storyline, he is one of many villains to sell his soul to the demon Neron. In exchange for his soul, he is granted greater power and temperature control. For example, he can now wear normal clothing without it bursting into flame.
In James Robinson's series Starman he is initially hired by the Mist to kill the original Starman, Ted Knight, but is defeated by the retired hero. However, they face each other a second time; this time, Phosphorus has given Knight a significant dose of radiation, which gave him terminal disease. In a third and final confrontation, Knight is determined to ensure that Phosphorus would harm no one else. During the battle, he uses his cosmic rod to tear the pavement from beneath Phosphorus and drive him into the earth, apparently killing him.
Phosphorus returns in Detective Comics #825, where he is being held in Cadmus Research laboratories. When one of the scientists examining him says he heard Sartorius had died, the other replies: "From being crushed? Hardly. Everything human in Sartorius was consumed by fire long ago. We believe his powers manifested a fusion reaction that completely sublimated his central nervous system — creating functional facsimiles of his heart, his lungs, his kidneys — all working in concert to produce a near-endless supply of energy". 
Phosphorus escapes from Cadmus, and once again seeks revenge on those responsible for his condition. He is defeated by Batman during an attack on Rupert Thorne, and he is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.
During Batman's absence after his presumed death, Phosphorus escapes custody along with the other Arkham inmates. He kidnaps both Kirk Langstrom and his wife Francine for information about Langstrom's research. However, Phosphorus caused Kirk to transform into Man-Bat and throw Phosphorus into the ocean.
In 2011, The New 52 rebooted the DC Comics universe. Doctor Phosphorus is reintroduced fighting Catwoman in the Forever Evil storyline, appearing among the villains that the Crime Syndicate of America recruits to join the Secret Society of Super Villains.
In the pages of Batman: Three Jokers, Doctor Phosphorus is shown to be incarcerated at Blackgate Penitentiary at the time when Batman arrives to see Joe Chill.
Powers and abilities
Doctor Phosphorus has burning skin, toxic emissions, and can manipulate radiation. When he sells his soul to Neron, he is granted better control of his powers so that any clothes that he wears will not burn off of him.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Doctor Phosphorus was invited by Lt. Matthew Shrieve to be the new member of Creature Commandos, but Doctor Phosphorus then betrays him and kills his family. It is revealed that Doctor Phosphorus had been working for General Sam Lane who is responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family.
In other media
- Doctor Phosphorus' appearance was used as inspiration for the character Derek Powers in Batman Beyond voiced by Sherman Howard, who later becomes Blight. His skin is burned off due to the high levels of radiation his body emits and all that is left is the glowing, radioactive skeleton associated with Doctor Phosphorus.
- In The Batman, after numerous defeats at the Dark Knight's hand, Garfield Lynns / Firefly (voiced by Jason Marsden) and his girlfriend, Dr. Jane Blazedale, attempt to steal a phosphorus isotope so he can upgrade his arsenal. However, an accident occurs and Garfield is transformed into Phosphorus, leaving him with a magma-like physiology and a burning touch. He becomes insane and attempts to destroy Gotham in retaliation for no one being able to remember his name. He was later defeated by Batman when he uses liquid nitrogen on him. This version of Phosphorus resembles molten lava and burns orange flames, though he shares his comic book counterpart's insanity.
Doctor Phosphorus appears in The Lego Batman Movie. He appears as one of the villains that assist Joker in his attacks on Gotham City.
- Doctor Phosphorus appears in Smallville Season 11: Titans, where he is broken out of prison by Rose Wilson and attacks an amusement park. Superman and the Teen Titans led by Jay Garrick arrived. Despite initial trouble, Superman and the Teen Titans defeated Phosphorus when they threw him into the ocean. Doctor Phosphorus is then imprisoned by the D.E.O. and put on ice.
Dr. Alex Sartorius can be heard in Batman: Arkham Knight. In Simon Stagg's audiotapes, he can be heard bitterly confessing how his employer Stagg is profiting from his research and using it to create weapons; how he was raised as a Catholic who chose science over faith; and mentioning Stagg collaborating with Scarecrow. Before he can take action against Stagg, Dr. Sartorius is told by a member of Arkham Knight's army that Stagg wants to see him. One of the Gotham Stories reveals that Dr. Sartorius was punished by becoming a test subject for Scarecrow's latest fear toxin; developing intense pyrophobia.
- Dr. Phosphorus: Walter Simonson recalls the real origin of the brilliant bad guy in Comic Book Artist Collection: Volume 2 by Jon Cooke, TwoMorrows Publishing (2002) page 20-22
- Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Korte, Steve; Manning, Matt; Wiacek, Win; Wilson, Sven (2016). The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. DK Publishing. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-4654-5357-0.
- Wallace, Dan (2008), "Doctor Phosphorus", in Dougall, Alastair (ed.), The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 105, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Greenberger, Robert (2008). The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. Del Rey. pp. 115–116. ISBN 9780345501066.
- Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Supervillains. New York: Facts on File. p. 102. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X.
- Detective Comics #469. DC Comics.
- Detective Comics #470. DC Comics.
- Detective Comics #825. DC Comics.
- Titans (vol. 2) #28. DC Comics.
- Forever Evil #1. DC Comics.
- Batman Eternal #2. DC Comics.
- Batman Eternal #6. DC Comics.
- Batman Vol. 3 #19. DC Comics.
- Detective Comics #1003. DC Comics.
- Detective Comics #1005. DC Comics.
- Batman: Three Jokers #2. DC Comics.
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2 (July 2011). DC Comics.
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #3 (August 2011). DC Comics.
- Smallville Special Titans