Amygdala (comics)

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Detec Comics Amygdala cover.png
Cover to Detective Comics #659, featuring Amygdala and Batman fighting during the Knightfall saga.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceBatman: Shadow of the Bat #3 (Aug. 1992)
Created byAlan Grant
Norm Breyfogle
In-story information
Alter egoAaron Helzinger
Team affiliationsSecret Society of Super Villains
AbilitiesNear superhuman strength and endurance
Mental instability and explosive rage that further enhances his strength

Amygdala is the alias of DC Comics character Aaron Helzinger, who is a sometime opponent of Batman. He has reduced mental capacity, near superhuman strength and endurance, and is prone to outbursts of violence due to medical experimentation on his brain, chiefly the removal of his amygdala.

Publication history[edit]

Amygdala first appeared in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #3 and was created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Anatomically, the amygdala refers to the bundle of nerve cells in the brain that control emotional associations of many kinds. Aaron Helzinger's amygdala cluster was removed in an attempt to cure him of his homicidal rage; this procedure resulted in Amygdala becoming exceedingly angry and was the opposite of what the surgery was intended to achieve. Easily led due to his childlike nature, Amygdala has been the pawn of a number of Batman villains, but when properly medicated, he can be peaceful.

Amygdala first appeared in Shadow of the Bat #3 in 1992 during the story arc Batman: The Last Arkham. In the issue, Amygdala was forced to attack Batman by the maddened Jeremiah Arkham. Batman subdued Amygdala, but was then forced to face more inmates.[1]

Amygdala later appeared in Part 2 of the year-long story arc Batman: Knightfall, which also saw other characters introduced in Batman: The Last Arkham return to the comic book universe, most notably Zsasz and Jeremiah Arkham. In Knightfall, Amygdala was freed from Arkham Asylum by Bane along with numerous other inmates and was soon under the control of the Ventriloquist. Batman intercepted Ventriloquist, but was promptly attacked by Amygdala; as Ventriloquist escaped, Batman subdued Amygdala once more and the villain did not appear again in Knightfall.[2]

He has been released into the community on numerous occasions, where he has been an ally and friend of Dick Grayson (Nightwing, the former Robin), he lived in the hero's apartment building and worked as a warden in Lockhaven Prison. When Blockbuster was in the process of breaking Nightwing down both physically and emotionally, Blockbuster destroyed Grayson's apartment complex while Amygdala was inside. Amygdala survived, but he was heavily traumatized by the death of his friends.

In the Infinite Crisis storyline, Amygdala was among the villains that joined Alexander Luthor, Jr.'s Secret Society of Super Villains.

He also appeared in the 2008 mini-series Gotham Underground, drinking in the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge.

In the DC Rebirth reboot universe, Amygdala appears as one of the many villains attempting to kill Batman to stop Two-Face from leaking secret information. Alongside Killer Croc and King Shark, Amygdala attacks Batman on a train.[3]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Amygdala is a huge man with the strength and endurance of a championship bodybuilder, his emotional instability and explosive rage enhance this even further, making him prone to bouts of boundless violence unrestrained by the usual barriers and limits set in place by one's self-awareness.

Other versions[edit]

In the Elseworlds tale Batman: Crimson Mist—the third part of the trilogy that began with Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, in which Batman becomes a vampire—Amygdala makes a cameo during Batman's assault on Arkham Asylum. Amygdala is killed and then beheaded by the vampire Batman. [4]

In science[edit]

Amygdala is briefly referenced in an article by Joseph LeDoux,[5] a neuroscientist and expert in the role of the anatomical amygdala in fear processing, as testament to popular interest in the brain area.

In other media[edit]

Aaron Helzinger appears in season 2 of Gotham, but before in the first season appears a character based on Amygdala called Aaron Danzig:

  • Aaron Danzig (portrayed by Kevin McCormick) is a patient of Arkham Asylum. He was turned into a murderer by the eccentric Jack Gruber's electrical experiment and escaped with him during a prison riot. Originally a docile inmate at Arkham Asylum, Aaron was an unfortunate victim of Guber aka Buchinsky's quest to create a perfect henchmen through the use of crude electrical lobotomies. Unlike Buckinsky's other victims, Danzig lobotomy was successful, leaving him open to suggestion and extremely aggressive. Telling his new partner to kill the guards, Danzig and Buchinsky escape Arkham together. Danzig followed Buchinsky, now being called "the Electrocutioner" by the press because of his electric-based weapons of choice, as Jack attempted to get revenge on the criminals that had turned their backs on him, causing the Electrocutioner to get arrested in the first place; when Buchinsky's attempt on Sal Maroni's life was thwarted by James Gordon, Danzig was captured along with the Electrocutioner and sent back to Arkham.
  • Aaron Helzinger/Amygdala properly appears in the second season of Gotham, played by Stink Fisher.[6] According to Edward Nygma, Helzinger can't stand criticism because of his overbearing mother and wants love and approval (he becomes angry when he doesn't get it). At an unknown point in time, Aaron killed his entire family with his bare hands. An inmate at Arkham Asylum, Aaron was seduced by Barbara Kean, with the latter asking whether he wanted to be friends with her or not, which he agreed to, also swearing to protect her if anyone tried to hurt her. Aaron was later rendered unconscious by the knock out gas that came out of Zaardon, and abducted by Tabitha Galavan, he and five other inmates were later offered the chance to become a team that would make Gotham City tremble, by Theo Galavan. While the remaining Maniax attacked the Gotham City Police Department, James Gordon followed Barbara Kean into an alley where Aaron badly beat him up. Barbara kept Aaron from finishing Gordon off and they both left. At some point, Aaron was recaptured and re-incarcerated at Arkham Asylum; when Hugo Strange puts Oswald Cobblepot through the "Ice Cream Therapy" in Arkham Asylum's cafeteria, Aaron attacked Oswald out of anger that nobody else was offered ice cream. Upon not seeing Oswald fight back, Hugo sent the guards in to break it up. Oswald was later thrown in the same room with a chained-up Aaron so that Hugo can see if Oswald would kill him. Hugo sees that he didn't kill Aaron and declares that Oswald is sane. Edward Nygma later broke up Aaron Helzinger's attack on Rudy by stating that the "Lucy" that talks to Rudy is a ghost. Upon overhearing Hugo Strange and Ethel Peabody, Edward Nygma offers to help Hugo as he tells him about the motives behind the conditions of Aaron Helzinger, Sharon, and Norton. Ethel Peabody later retrieves Aaron Helzinger; when brought to where a revived Theo Galavan is, Aaron remembered him. Hugo then tells Theo that Aaron is a demon as Theo knocks him out with the chest that contains the recently-forged Sword of Sin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shadow of the Bat #3
  2. ^ Detective Comics #659
  3. ^ All-Star Batman #2
  4. ^ Batman: Crimson Mist
  5. ^ LeDoux, J (1998). "Fear and the Brain: Where Have We Been, and Where Are We Going?". Biological Psychiatry. 44 (12): 1229. doi:10.1016/s0006-3223(98)00282-0.
  6. ^


  • Breyfogle, N. & Grant, A. (1996). Batman: The Last Arkham. DC comics. ISBN 1-56389-190-5.