|First Appearance:||Detective Comics #511|
|Created by:|| Gerry Conway
|Abilities:||Can create powerful illusions|
"Mike" alias "Kerry Austin", is a common man who takes a course at the Academy of Crime and starts using illusions as a gimmicked supervillain. He fights Batman several times and has also faced Mark Shaw, the third Manhunter, once. He uses a gem that causes people to see elaborate illusions. He comits crimes while his victims are occupied fighting against these illusions. His first crime waves bring him to the attention of Batman. Batman usually has to face Mirage several times before coming up with a strategy to beat him. Mirage should not be confused with the heroine of the same name who is affiliated with the Teen Titans.
Gina Corolla performed all sorts of functions at the Gotham Funfair but she had taken her greatest pleasure in the hypnosis/illusion act that she and her boyfriend Mike performed as the Mindbenders. Mike felt that his luck changed for the better on the day he found a unique round jewel. He began using the prism as a prop in the act and confided in Gina that "I don't know how, but it amplifies my thoughts -- makes the illusions I create seem so real, hardly ANYONE can resist them." Gina was certain that the Mindbenders would boost the Funfair's flagging ticket sales but Mike ominously suggested that "there's quicker ways to make a fortune, babe -- MUCH quicker ways" .
He resolved in that moment to become one of the costumed criminals that Gotham City had become infamous for. Taking a short vacation from the Funfair, he took a crash course in the fine art of villainy at the Hollywood-based Academy of Crime and returned to Gotham for a short but hopefully profitable career as the Mirage. Mike's costume was composed of light and dark orange pieces, including a full face mask and a hood. His all-important jewel was mounted in a bracelet on the underside of his right wrist.
He arrived at New Jersey's Raytona Raceway in a November issue of 1981, intent on stealing the box office receipts. The drunks who mocked his costume suddenly found themselves stalked by a lion in the jungle. The guard who was carrying the money imagined he was plummeting from a cliff. And Gotham newspaper photographer Vicki Vale abruptly found herself in the arctic being faced down by a polar bear. She kept snapping pictures anyway. Those photographs proved crucial in verifying that what each of those people experienced had been an incredibly realistic illusion.
The crime spree escalated over the next twenty-four hours with an a.m. robbery at Gotham Federal Savings and an assault on the Boston Express in the evening. "The robberies are bad enough," Commissioner Gordon explained to The Batman, "but we've had reports of people passing out from terror ... one possible stroke ... and two potential cardiac arrests."
Mirage's next attack raised the stakes considerably. After shaking off the effects of an underwater illusion, Batman discovered that one of the other victims of the fantasy had suffered a fatal heart attack. Gotham's illusion master was now wanted for murder.
Batman and Robin had observed a ringing in their ears prior to their immersion in the hallucination and Batman was convinced that the effect was "created by a combination of optical and audial stimulation. High-frequency sonic waves reinforce the images projected visually --giving them a heightened 'reality.'" Using a special earplug, the Dark Knight successfully blunted the impact of the illusions when he faced Mirage again -- until a blow to the head smashed the circuitry.
Defiantly ignoring his senses, The Batman shook off the illusion and charged towards Mirage, smashing his two henchmen aside. Frozen in his tracks, the villain stammered, "They never covered this at the Academy! I don't know what to do!"
"Here's a clue, Mirage," Batman suggested, grabbing his wrist and crushing the prism. "GIVE UP!"
He was sentenced to "ten to life" at Blackgate Prison, but escaped soon enough when Ra's al Ghul orchestrated a massive prison break of Batman's foes, providing each with replicas of their costumes and weapons. Mirage was seen in their midst, choosing to pursue his own schemes rather than aid Ra's. Taking the fake identity of Kerry Astin, Mike left Gotham in a disguise and relocated to Chicago, where he hoped to use the replica of the prism in combination with the lights and sounds of a disco to pull off a series of robberies at various society functions (MANHUNTER # 13).
Mark Shaw, the bounty hunter known as Manhunter III, eventually picked up Mirage's trail but hadn't expected Mike to be as skilled in the art of illusion as he was. While he struggled to shake off the hallucinations, Mirage shot him three times and dumped his body in an alley. Thanks to the efforts of police officer Sylvia Kandrey and Mark's brother James, the wounded Manhunter managed to fire his energy baton at Mirage, rendering him unconscious.
After his latest capture, Mike began using his prison time to beef up. "Physically, I'd been no match for Batman," he recalled. "So I worked out -- played sports -- joined the pen's self defense classes -- but even better," Mike recalled, "When Batman crushed the jewel, several fragments caught in my costume. I managed to remove them, and wangled a job in the optics workshop -- and the contact lenses I made from the shards were everything I hoped for!" Shortly after, he escaped but left the guards with a long-term hypnotic suggestion that indicated he was still in the cell.
Mike had learned that the Gotham Funfair was on the verge of bankruptcy and sought out Gina, offering to commit a new series of robberies to bail out the theme park. Gina was deeply troubled over Mike's solution but she reluctantly agreed.
Police reports cited "six robberies in ten days, all bars within a dozen blocks of each other. Average take of six thousand dollars per -- no violence used-- no witnesses able to say more than that they saw a nondescript white male who may or may not have been acting suspiciously. Like the invisible man walked in, emptied the safe, and walked right back out again!"
Spotting a lone man standing outside a bar in the area, Batman's suspicions were immediately aroused when the stranger began running -- and transformed his street clothes into Mirage's familier costume. The chase eventually took the Dark Knight to the "Gotham Freaks" section of the Funfair, where he lost his subject and gained the enmity of Gina Corolla. Infuriated by Batman's interrogation of several of the so-called freaks, including a man with no limbs named Texas, Gina ordered the hero off the premises.
Troubled by Gina's extreme reaction, Batman resolved to keep the carnival under surveillance. His instincts paid off when he found the young woman in a private conference with Mirage. Despite her misgivings about Mike's robberies, Gina refused to stand by and allow him to be captured. Lunging at Batman, she gave her lover time to escape, even nailing the Dark Knight's cape to the wall in a demonstration of her knife-throwing skills. With no solid evidence that Gina was harboring a fugitive, Batman was forced to leave empty-handed.
In her next encounter with Mike, Gina was emphatic that he stop the robberies even as he assured her that "one major job can net enough for us to retire on." She refused to listen. "NO! Don't you see --it's crime that's come between us. Two wrongs can NEVER add up to make things right. I've had enough, Mike. I just can't take any more!"
Elsewhere, Batman had been investigating Gina's past, discovering a photo of the Mindbenders and a very familiar prism in the process. A quick check of Mirage's cell confirmed that he had escaped. Returned to the Gotham Freaks exhibit, the Dark Knight acted on a hunch and attempted to take the armless and legless Texas into custody. The Funfair crew was horrified but his allegations were confirmed when Texas metamorphosized into Mike, then his old orange Mirage persona.
After demonstrating his newfound physical strength in a brief fight, Mirage cast one of his enhanced illusions, a fantasy that left Batman convinced he was being strangled. "I've had a long time to practice," he said as he ran away. "Even if you're wearing earplugs, like you did before -- it'll take more than willpower to break free from THAT!" Refusing to become an accessory to murder, Gina slapped the Dark Knight until he snapped out of the hypnotic state.
A final desperate chase amidst the carnival rides found Batman subjected to another illusion, this one suggesting that he'd been cast into Hell and come face to face with the Devil. The heat Batman felt was actually being generated by a floodlight and, when the hero realized it, he slammed it back into Mirage, knocking him out and ending the hallucination.
The night ended with Mirage taken into custody and Gina brought in for questioning. Given her role is saving Batman's life, Lieutenant Kitch speculated that "I don't think we'll be holding you." The rest of the Gotham Freaks expected nothing good from the incident, observing that the Funfair was still slated for foreclosure. Elsewhere, Bruce Wayne was making arrangements to buy the carnival. (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 14-15).
Following the Infinite Crisis, Mirage was freed from prison again. He was murdered in 52 #25 by Intergang boss Bruno Mannheim when he questioned Intergang's ideas at a gathering of Gotham's local villains and crime bosses. Mannheim attempted to initiate Mirage into Intergang, ordering him to join Intergang and swear an oath by the "Crime Bible". Mirage demanded to known what he was talking about and questioned Intergang. Mannheim, in response to Mirage's doubts, told him to look closer at the "Crime Bible". Doubtfully, Mirage stared at the stone-bound book but then stopped dead in his tracks, quietly murmuring, "Is that blood?" Taking advantage of the moment, Mannheim grabbed Mirage, and bashed the villain's head into the "Crime Bible", crushing his skull and killing him.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Mirage can create believable illusions in the minds of the people around him by using a gem of unknown origin. The gem projects both optical and audio stimuli.