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Count Vertigo

Count Vertigo
Rags Morales, artist.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance World's Finest Comics #251 (July, 1978)
Created by Gerry Conway (writer)
Trevor Von Eeden (penciller)
Vince Colletta (inker)
In-story information
Full name Count Werner Vertigo (1978–2011)
Count Werner Zytle (2011–present)
Team affiliations Secret Society of Super Villains
Suicide Squad
Injustice Society
Notable aliases White Queen's Knight
Abilities Flight
Superb hand to hand combatant
Magnetic boots
Vertigo effect (which can alter the balance of others and induce dizziness)

Count Vertigo is a fictional character created by Gerry Conway, Trevor Von Eeden and Vince Colletta as an enemy of Black Canary and later Green Arrow in the DC Comics Universe. First appearing in World's Finest Comics #251 (July 1978), Count Vertigo is the last descendant of the royal family that ruled the small eastern European country of Vlatava that was taken over by the Soviets and later became devastated by the Spectre.[1]

Fictional character biography

Starting his career

Count Vertigo first appeared in Star City, where he attempted to steal back the jewels his parents had sold when they escaped to England after the war. The victim of a hereditary inner ear defect that affected his balance, Vertigo had a small electronic device implanted in his right temple that compensated this problem. Tinkering with the device, Vertigo learned he was able to affect other people’s balance as well, distorting their perceptions so that they literally couldn’t tell up from down, an effect known as vertigo. Donning a costume and taking the name "Count Vertigo", he embarked on a life of crime. This would bring him in conflict with the heroes Green Arrow and Black Canary.[1]

Running with the Suicide Squad

He would later come to join the Suicide Squad in exchange for a shortened prison sentence, and it was revealed that he was plagued by bipolar disorder. After the Suicide Squad disbanded for the first time, Count Vertigo was captured by Vlatavan rebels, who wished to use his powers to overthrow the current Vlatavan government. They used a variety of drugs on him, each with a differing effect on the Count, as he would for example suddenly see himself as an Angel of Vengeance, sent to wreak havoc on the current rulers. Although he largely believed himself master of his own will, his mood swings were completely subject to his captors.[1]

He was captured by Poison Ivy when the Suicide Squad came in and resolved the conflict and Kaligari (then-ruler of Vlatava) was murdered. Count Vertigo was Poison Ivy's slave for a long period of time, during which he grew to hate Poison Ivy and frequently threatened to kill her when he was free of her control. Amanda Waller was able to free Vertigo of her control so that he could stop a group of missiles hitting Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem at the behest of the villain Kobra. If the Dome had been destroyed, innocent lives would have been lost in a resulting war.[2]

Vertigo succeeded, and it turned out that as he went into rehab and expunged the chemicals that had been pumped into his body by both Ivy and the rebels, that he was unwittingly cured of the disorder that had plagued him for so long. This was something he found hard to deal with and he approached Deadshot, one of his teammates, hoping that Deadshot would be willing to end his life. As it happened, Deadshot was unmoved by his teammate's plight, and saw no problem in killing once again. However, he cautioned Vertigo to make his mind - after all, he would not fail or hesitate.

In the meantime, he was also approached by members of the Vlatavan government, who sought to see Count Vertigo reclaim his rightful place as ruler. He declined, stating that he wasn't fit to rule at this point, as he wasn't even sure if he wanted to live or die.

Although willing, Deadshot warned him to think it through, because Deadshot would not hesitate, and Vertigo had better be sure this is what he wanted. The running subplot would ultimately culminate in the last pages of the first volume of Suicide Squad, in which Deadshot and Vertigo stood across one another, Deadshot ready to kill him. Count Vertigo realized that this was ultimately an indirect suicide, and that would ruin his chances for the afterlife. Deciding for now that he would deal with the disease that now indirectly plagued him, he walked away from the duel.[3]

Vertigo also resolved his grudge with Poison Ivy. During the War of the Gods crossover, he was perfectly willing to let her die when he found her abandoned on an Amazonian island; ironically, she was bound and promised whoever freed her her undying devotion. Snickering snidely, Vertigo left her to die in the ruins of the collapsing temple they were in.[4] Still, Ivy was saved, and Count Vertigo would later reluctantly work alongside her in the Suicide Squad, leaving their grudge be.

The destruction of Vlatava

Ultimately, Count Vertigo did return to his homeland in order to ensure that he would once more become the country's rightful ruler. While his forces were at war with the government's army, the Spectre appeared, and already unhinged, was horrified by the slaughter that occurred. In a fit of rage he deemed the entire country and its inhabitants to be full of sin and decided to cleanse it, leaving behind only Vlatava's president at the time and Count Vertigo.

Grudges and a new Injustice Society

Working for the American government for a while, Count Vertigo eventually sought out his old enemy Green Arrow and after the two had a fight, Count Vertigo decided to leave the vendetta behind and focus on more positive prospects, getting his life back on track. Afterwards he showed up as a member of the new Injustice Society.[1]

He also shows up as an operative of the Suicide Squad when they attempt to dissuade the Justice League from investigating the "Salvation Run" project.[5]

Infinite Crisis, 52 and One Year Later

Count Vertigo has been seen among Lex Luthor's ranks in the Secret Society of Super Villains in the pages of Infinite Crisis.[6]

He appeared during the 52-week series, as a member of a Suicide Squad led by Atom Smasher against the Black Marvel Family. He is with Captain Boomerang (Owen Mercer), Persuader, Plastique and Electrocutioner.[7]

He appears "One Year Later" in the revamped Checkmate title as part of its regular cast as the White Queen's Knight under White Queen Amanda Waller.[1] He is later seen capturing the Rogues responsible for the murder of the Flash, alongside a new Suicide Squad composed of Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang (Owen Mercer), Plastique, Multiplex and Deadshot.

Even later, he would feature again as an operative of Waller's Suicide Squad, siding faithfully to her side in destroying a conspiracy to release a violent viral agent, working alongside fellow agent King Faraday. In this capacity, he would also duel against the Secret Six, and briefly take down Black Alice with his vertigo abilities.

During the events of Final Crisis, he is seen defeated as part of a Checkmate squad sent against the forces of Darkseid in Bludhaven. Seen with him is Negative Woman, Mr. Bones and members of the Atomic Knights.[8] The novel version of Final Crisis says Count Vertigo and the others have all been slain.

The New 52

Count Vertigo made his New 52 debut in Green Arrow #22.[9] Here, he is Werner Zytle, ruler of the tiny nation of Vlatava. Though of noble heritage, his family lost their fortunes and had to flee to Canada. While there, Zytle became involved with organized crime, using the profits from his illegal activities to finance return to Vlatava and reclaim his birthright. Though appearing to be a kind and benevolent monarch, he continues to be involved in organized crime, using the alias Count Vertigo. When Green Arrow travels to Vlatava to rescue a kidnapped Shado, Vertigo notes that the Emerald Archer will have to aim to fight him, and his power will make that impossible. Oliver's allies remotely detonate an EMP arrow in his quiver, giving him and Shado a chance to escape. Green Arrow #23.1 a "Villains Month" tie-in, also known as Count Vertigo #1, examines Vertigo's youth in Vancouver and his return to Vlatava.

Powers and abilities

Being raised in a noble family, Vertigo was trained in classical martial combat and the sports of boxing, fencing, and equestrianism. He has also been trained in judo and general karate.

Upon joining Task Force X and Checkmate, he learned other hand-to-hand combat skills.

His "Vertigo Effect" has long since been internalized through circumstances that have not yet been revealed. He uses his power to disrupt his enemies' balance. In hand-to-hand and melee combat, Vertigo uses his power to disorient his opponents. He also uses the Vertigo Effect to disrupt the aim of gunmen, snipers and the like. The exact range of the power is yet to be determined seeing as how on one mission[volume & issue needed], guards watching him in action on camera were also affected by his power. This ability is also capable of disrupting guidance systems on missiles, vehicles and detection systems of all kind (lasers, cameras, pressure-sensitive floor plates, infrared, thermal and night vision). Count Vertigo also wears magnetic boots with which he can walk walls or ceilings. He also has in recent years gained the ability of flight.

Ménière's disease

During a fight with the Justice Society of America, Doctor Mid-Nite suggested that the source of Count Vertigo's powers was a condition known as Ménière's disease. This condition causes constant vertigo in those afflicted and in some cases - such as that of Count Vertigo - deafness. Therefore, the hearing aid devices used by Vertigo to inflict his condition on others are necessary for him to be able to hear or maintain his balance, creating a weakness that his opponents can easily exploit.

Other versions


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Vertigo lost his family from the Amazon/Atlantean war. He volunteered to be part of the Resistance to rescue some circus members, Boston Brand, Dick Grayson and Rag Doll for the Resistance. Vertigo then retrieves Doctor Fate's Helm of Nabu from the Amazons' attacks.[10] Vertigo and the other circus members run at the countryside for reinforcements, but Vertigo is killed, impaled on a spear. A dying Vertigo tells Dick to take the Helm and secure it.[11]

In other media



  • In Batman: The Animated Series, Count Vertigo (referred to simply as Vertigo and voiced by Michael York), was seen in the episode "Off Balance". The "Vertigo Effect" ability is utilized through an eye patch he wears, and in the episode Batman theorizes that Vertigo's eyepiece gives off radiation that causes the distortion of visual perception and the loss of sense of balance. In this episode, he appears to be the leader of the Society of Shadows and with them steals a sonic drill that is being developed by Waynetech. Although the sonic drill has been developed for use in construction, Vertigo steals the prototype to use as a weapon. Batman has to escape with Talia al Ghul from Vertigo's castle. He is defeated when Batman and Talia ring the castle's bells. The bells are so loud that Vertigo jumps off the tower into the river.
File:TB vertigo.jpg
Count Vertigo as depicted on The Batman.
  • Count Vertigo appeared in the fifth season of The Batman played by Greg Ellis. In this show, he is an ex-employee of Oliver Queen and a scientist. When he is fired, he uses his mechanical eye piece to set Oliver Queen off balance while yachting and end up stranded on a deserted island for years. Some time later, Vertigo uses one of Wayne Enterprises' labs in order to build a gyroscope to cause guards at the mint to lose balance (which also affects children) only to be thwarted by Batman and Green Arrow.
  • Count Vertigo appears in the Young Justice episode "Revelation" voiced by Steven Blum reprising his role from DC Showcase: Green Arrow. He is seen as the leader of the Injustice League. However, he used diplomatic immunity to avoid prison with the others. In this episode the Injustice League are using plant monsters to attack major cities around the world. In "Coldhearted," he tries to gain the throne of Vlatava by stopping Kid Flash from delivering the donor heart needed by his niece, the ten-year-old Queen Perdita (voiced by Ariel Winter, who also voiced her in the short). Though Wally succeeds, the news reports that Perdita died on the operating table. Vertigo goes to Wally to gloat only to discover that Perdita is alive and that the news report having been faked to trick him into confessing his attempt to kill her. With his diplomatic immunity revoked, Count Vertigo is arrested. He is later seen at Belle Reve being served cafeteria food by Brick who mocks Count Vertigo for his fall from grace.

Live action

  • Two versions of Count Vertigo exist on The CW's Arrow.
Seth Gabel as "the Count", the character's first version in Arrow
Peter Stormare as Werner Zytle in third season's episode "The Calm".
    • Seth Gabel portrayed the character The Count/Count Vertigo. He is first seen in the first season's twelfth episode, "Vertigo". He is the leader of a ring of drug dealers. His name was derived due to the victims of his drug, Vertigo, each having dual syringe marks on their necks, reminiscent of a vampire bite. It is revealed that Vertigo, when injected directly into the blood stream, affects the thalamus and causes the victim to feel excruciating pain for days until the heart stops. Arrow (Oliver Queen) sets his sights on Vertigo after his sister Thea crashes her car while under the influence of the drug. Oliver sets up a meeting with the Count, who escapes when the police arrive and subdues Oliver by injecting him with the drug. After being cured, Oliver confronts the Count as the Arrow, injecting him with a considerable amount of his own drug. The Count is sent to a hospital and declared insane. In "Unfinished Business", when the drug returns to the streets, Oliver initially believes that the Count had faked his madness and was behind the resurfacing, but it was Doctor Webb, his supervising physician, who synthesized a new version of Vertigo based on analysis of the residue in the Count's kidneys. Arrow kills Webb but spares the Count, reasoning that killing him in his current state served no purpose. In the second season episode, "State v. Queen", in a flashback, the Count has made a full recovery and is now residing in Iron Heights Penitentiary, but he escapes during the earthquake caused by Malcolm Merlyn's device and even freed Barton Mathis/Dollmaker. Six months later, he is in league with Sebastian Blood and poisons almost the entire city with Vertigo by means of flu vaccination vans and requiring the infected people to buy his antidote. He has also officially adopted the Count Vertigo name. Felicity Smoak discovers his methods and is taken hostage when she investigates further. The Count deduces the Arrow's true identity, and calls Oliver to inform him that he is holding Felicity hostage. Then, out of sadism, he attempts to inject a fatal dose of the drug into Felicity, but Arrow kills him before he can.
    • Peter Stormare portrays Werner Zytle/Vertigo, another character who has taken up the mantle and business left by the Count. Zytle's version of the drug has added substances from certain mushrooms which leaves its victims in a narcotic state, experiencing their deepest fears. Zytle uses Vertigo as a weapon, throwing darts filled with the drugs at opponents. Months after the original Count's death, Zytle seeks to eliminate Arrow and various other criminal gang leaders to become the head mob boss in Starling City. He uses an RPG to kill Arrow which fails, then attempts to blow up a boxing stadium full of mobsters. He is shown to be an accomplished hand-to-hand combatant, holding his own against Arrow. Werner is ultimately defeated by the Arrow and Canary (Sara Lance). After his capture, Zytle warns Arrow that no matter how many men he defeated, there would always be another to pick up the moniker of Count Vertigo. Months later Zytle schemes his escape from jail by forcing a journalist, holding his wife's life against him, to drug his escort guard and allow him to escape so he can restart his operation. He also forces the journalist to blow himself up in an attempt to kill Arrow and Arsenal, which fails, and he later encounters Black Canary (Laurel Lance), but Zytle mistakes her for Canary (or not caring that the Black Canary is another woman in her mantle) and drugs her in retaliation against the Canary. Black Canary hallucinates Zytle as her predecessor and almost kills her. Later Zytle drugs Black Canary once more and not only sees the Canary but also their father Quentin Lance, but Black Canary is able to overpower the drug and beat Zytle once more.


  • Count Vertigo is the main antagonist in the DC Showcase: Green Arrow animated short voiced by Steven Blum. In the film, he hires Merlyn to assassinate Princess Perdita (Vertigo's niece and the heiress to the throne of Vlatava). After Merlyn is defeated by Green Arrow, Count Vertigo steps in and attempts to kill both the Green Arrow and Perdita, rendering them defenseless by using his vertigo attack. Before he could move in for the kill, Count Vertigo is defeated when Black Canary arrives and knocks him unconscious with her "Canary Cry".

Video Games

  • Count Vertigo was mentioned in an unlockable Detective Case in the video game Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. He never makes a physical appearance, however.


  1. ^ a b c d e Wallace, Dan (2008). "Count Vertigo". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-7566-4119-1. OCLC 213309017 
  2. ^ "Suicide Squad" vol 1 #45 (Sept. 1, 1990)
  3. ^ "Suicide Squad" vol 1 #66 (June 1992)
  4. ^ "Suicide Squad" vol 1 #58 (Oct. 1, 1991)
  5. ^ JLA: Salvation Run #2
  6. ^ Infinite Crisis #3
  7. ^ 52 Week 34
  8. ^ Final Crisis #4 (2008)
  9. ^ "GREEN ARROW #22". [1]. 2012-04-08. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  10. ^ Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #2 (July 2011)
  11. ^ Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #3 (August 2011)