Tito Daka

The second and last character from the Batman 1943 serial is the big bad guy, the mysterious Prince Tito Daka portrayed by J. Carrol Naish. The Japanese mad scientist uses a mixture of hypnosis and technology to turn regular citizens into mindless zombies at his command, and obviously the Dark Knight stands in his way on his path to world domination (in quite a lethal way, as it was custom even in the comics, at the time). In the comics, Daka is a secondary villain who appears in just a couple of issues, but who however poses a great threat to the mightiest heroes from the World War II times. Let’s see together.

Tito Daka, known both as Prince Daka (albeit without any explanation of his title) and Doctor Daka, was born in Japan, and was a loyal servant of the Emperor Hirohito. When World War II began, and Japan sided with the Axis to keep at bay both China and the United States of America, Daka enthusiastically joined the war effort, and used his remarkable genius to develop new weapons and technology to aid the imperial army. His many successes led Hirohito to entrust him with the lead of some pivotal attacks to the US. One of these involved a second attack on Pearl Harbor, one that would have humiliated the enemy. The highly guarded Pearl Harbor was impossible to reach to anyone, but to Daka: he used a groundbreaking cloaking device to make two bombers invisible, and he led them to the target. On his way, however, he found the superhero Starman, who used his Gravity Road to reveal the presence of the planes. The first bomber was destroyed, but Daka managed to use the second to knock Starman on Mount Tantalus. The Gravity Rod, however, was powerful enough to execute commands even with the wielder barely conscious, and it stopped the bombs, crashed the second plane and led Starman to safety. Daka was a man able to learn from failure, and he organized a plan to take possession of the weapon that he now wanted to destroy America: the Gravity Road. First, he assembled a team with some of the most powerful Japanese super-agents: Kung the Assassin of a Thousand Claws, able to transform into any animal; Sumo the Samurai, who was granted superhuman physical attributes and limited mind control by the Potion of Power; and Tsunami, who could control water. Then, he provided to them a portable version of his cloaking device, leading an invisible strike force to attack the All-Star Squadron and steal the Gravity Road.

Daka led his team to the Squadron’s headquarters, in the Trylon and the Perisphere, and waited until most of the enemy group was out, leaving inside only Starman, Firebrand, Robotman, Tarantula, Amazing Man and Liberty Bell. Knowing he wouldn’t have had such an occasion ever again, Daka ordered his men to attack, and before anyone realized what was happening Kung, Sumo and Tsunami had knocked out Robotman, Firebrand, Starman and Tarantula. From that point, Liberty Bell and Amazing Man kept passing the Gravity Rod one to the other, until Daka, who had been hidden up to that point, finally reveled himself and caught it in midair. With the weapon finally in his possession, Daka ordered the execution of the All-Star Squadron, but Robotman had called for reinforcements just before passing out, and the Guardian intervened just in time to save his friends, and he knocked Tsunami out. The other heroes started to come back to their senses, and Firebrand took the Rod from Daka: outnumbered, Daka took Liberty Bell and ordered a strategical retreat, then he sent a message to the Squadron, telling them that he would have exchanged Liberty Bell’s life for Tsunami and the Gravity Rod. After an animated discussion, the heroes accepted Daka’s terms, and they met at midnight at the Bronx Zoo. Despite he gave his word, Prince Daka didn’t want to leave Liberty Bell alive, and he booby-trapped the place of the exchange. As Tsunami was released by the Squadron with the Rod, however, she noticed the bomb on Liberty Bell’s path, and believing it not to be the honorable way to proceed, she knocked her enemy off her course, thus saving her life. With his betrayal exposed, Daka was attacked by everyone, and a new battle ensued… but much to his surprise, also Sumo and Tsunami were against him, as they were disgusted by his behavior. They even stopped him from using the Rod to kill the Squadron, and Daka was soon overpowered. Kung, who didn’t have his teammates’ ethical doubts, saved Daka, and the two escaped together. The time for payback would have come, if, of course, Daka survived his failure…

Prince Tito Daka is a brilliant and ambitious man totally loyal to his Emperor and his country, and who uses his brilliance exclusively to the service of Japan… and of his own career, of course. He’s one of the best inventors of his country, as well as a great tactician and a precise planner. Unlike most of his countrymen, Daka is a pragmatist, and he doesn’t keep in great consideration values like honor and nobility: he rather prefers whatever tactic allows him to win, even if he has to lie and deceive to reach that goal.

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