Orpheus is a Gotham City crime-fighter and member of the Batman Family. He's a dancer and martial artist, trained and funded by an unnamed secret organization. His equipment includes a high-tech helmet and stealth suit. Batman uses him to infiltrate Gotham street gangs and control them from within.
Gavin King was born and raised in Gotham City. His mother was a professional dancer and his father was an ex-soldier turned TV sports producer. He began dancing as a child and quickly fell in love with it. To avoid getting beaten up, he learned Martial Arts beginning with Kung Fu. Fighting became another dance. When he graduated college, he left America to see the world in a traveling dance troupe. This exposed him to many new styles of dance and martial arts. It also exposed him to brutality and injustice across the globe. He saw poverty and oppression, as people tore each other apart for trivial differences. During this time he also lost several friends in related tragedies. This inspired him to try and end the madness. He was recruited by a secret organization who trained him as a crime-fighter. They provided his new identity and equipped him with a high-tech costume. This support also included sizable funding and back-up through their computer systems. Batman mentions that he first heard of Orpheus five months before his arrival in Gotham. There were rumors of several vigilantes in Washington, D.C. employed by the same organization. The name "Orpheus" was linked to a local crimelord's arrest and a captured serial killer. He returns to Gotham five years after graduating college, with a job in the entertainment industry. Living in an upscale apartment funded by his benefactors, he works as a record and video producer.
Orpheus is first seen in Gotham when he interrupts a raid conducted by Crispus Allen, Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya. Batman pursues him to The Hill, where he's found beating up gangsters for harming women and children. They work together when a serial killer begins murdering cops. Batman tells Orpheus to go home as Gotham does not need another inexperienced vigilante. Orpheus insists that he is competent and necessary, as Gotham's black youths need a stronger role model. The two men fight, but Orpheus gains Batman's respect when he proves he is willing to die for his cause. Batman begins to accept Orpheus when Nightwing helps him realize that they can't reach everybody. They team up when the cop-killings lead to a full-blown riot over police brutality and racial profiling. Orpheus takes down the man responsible, an officer named Karl Esterhaus trying to get support for his own brutal tactics. Batman gives Orpheus his approval, and Gavin begins enjoying Gotham again as he tries to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend Andrea.
Nightwing briefly encounters Orpheus while trying to prove Bruce Wayne's innocence during the Fugitive event. Orpheus introduces himself outside the Moxon Corp building and suggests they team up. Nightwing refuses as he doesn't know him, and Orpheus leaves heavily annoyed. He's next seen fighting the Network in Family. When he's attacked by a mutated senator, he follows the trail to a treatment center turning its cancer patients into monsters. This leads him to a fight with Bugg and Doctor Excess, who drug him and leave him for the Russian Mob. Black Canary rescues him from getting beaten with a baseball bat. He's unable to stop his friend, writer Marcus Cooper, from dying at the same treatment. Despite this failure, Canary reminds him they must never give up, and he swears revenge against the Doctor. Oracle enlists him to help track down other members of the network. He agrees, but counts it as a favor, because he doesn't take orders from Batman.
The Hill Gang's leader Capo Siegel is killed in a fight, and Batman notices their gang is weak and lacking direction. Batman has Orpheus take leadership of the Hill Gang so he can control them. When a riot starts a a waste treatment plant at The Hill, Orpheus takes his gang to control the situation, but he loses in a fight to Tarantula, and Batman determines he is not ready to lead a gang alone. To protect him, Batman recruits the ex-assassin Onyx as his bodyguard. They stage a fight in the Iceberg Lounge, where Onyx and Orpheus hold their own against Batman and Batgirl. This solidifies his reputation as a major player in the Gotham Underground.
Orpheus was summoned to a mysterious meeting along with several other gang leaders and the meeting ended up in a gun fight between all of them. After this, Orpheus reports the situation to Batman and goes to interrogate Penguin about his involvement in the massacre. He returned to the Hill and fough several enemies along with his gang. He kept the members of the Hill gang from going to pointless battles and protected their territory as best as he could. Batman told him to meet they Yakuza gang and offer them a merge in order to control their gang. However, the Yakuza double-crossed Orpheus and he had to be saved by Onyx. She joined back a few days later and Orpheus send her on an important mission.
It is later revealed that the original meeting was the first step on one of Batman's plans and it was set in motion by Spoiler without Batman's knowledge. Spoiler went looking for Orpheus to tell him that he was the main key in Batman's plan, but right after she finds him and told him that the whole plan depended on him, Black Mask snuck up from behind and slit Orpheus' throat. After learning about Orpheus' role, Black Mask steals his identity and poses as him, gaining control of the Gotham underworld. However, before doing so, Black Mask carved a bat on Orpheus' dead body, right on the chest. Onyx returns from her mission and finds the dead body of Gavin King.
Despite this failure, his assassination made him into a martyr. Onyx takes over his gang, still reporting to Batman. They fight harder than ever to keep Black Mask out as they are unified against a common enemy. The teachings of Orpheus transformed his rag-tag crew of gangsters into a hard-working force for good in their community.
Orpheus uses a tough street persona, but he's less grim than other Gotham vigilantes. Even while taking down street gangs, he makes irreverent quips such as quoting West Side Story. It's shown that Orpheus tries to be cold and methodical. However, he cannot separate emotion from his work, and wonders how Batman does it. Orpheus is very conscious of racial relations. He believes there are not enough black super-heroes for children to look up to, and strives to be a strong role-model. When accused of being an "Uncle Tom," he responded that he protects his people but will take down criminals regardless of race. Batman has accused him of not taking the job seriously enough, but Orpheus explains that joking is his way of dealing with the stress.
- Acrobatics: He's a capable acrobat when necessary in the field.
- Dancing: King has studied different styles of dancing across the world. There have been several places mentioned including Germany, Kenya, Kosovo, Los Angeles, Paris and the West Indies.
- Martial Arts
- Mini-cam: Orpheus has a miniature camera in his visors that allows him to record crime scenes. He can display this footage using a hologram projector on his wrist.
- Respiratory system: Orpheus can deploy a gas-mask to cover his mouth. This filters air and allows him to breathe in toxic environments.
- Thermal imaging: His visors can detect heat signatures.
- Sonic Gloves: His gloves can project sonar, which he uses to detect nearby objects. The vibrations can also be used offensively. He can break through stone walls using "sonic drills."
- Stealth Suit: The fibers of Orpheus' costume can change to make him blend in with the shadows. His suit is normally royal purple in color, but it can change with its background to become almost black.
- Motorcycle: Orpheus has been shown to ride a purple motorcycle.
- SUV: Orpheus owns several SUVs in different colors provided by his benefactors.
- There is very little known about Gavin King's family. His parents have been seen in flashback. He also mentions having a younger sister, although she is never seen.
- Gavin King uses the fake identity of Caribbean reporter "Basil Brass" to get information.
- His name is a reference to the character Orpheus in Greek mythology, who literally traveled through Hell.
- In a 2002 guide, Orpheus is originally listed as weighing 195 lbs. The 2004 edition of the DC Comics Encyclopedia lists his weight as 180 lbs, as does the 2008 edition.
- 29 Appearances of Gavin King (New Earth)
- 17 Images featuring Gavin King (New Earth)
- 5 Quotations by or about Gavin King (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Gavin King (New Earth)
- Batman: Orpheus Rising #4
- Guide to the DC Universe 2001-2002
- Batman: Orpheus Rising #3
- Batman: Orpheus Rising #1
- Batman: Orpheus Rising #2
- Batman: Orpheus Rising #5
- Nightwing (Volume 2) #66
- Batman: Family #3
- Batman: Family #8
- Detective Comics #794
- Detective Comics #795
- Detective Comics #796
- Batman: The 12-Cent Adventure (Volume #1) #1
- Detective Comics #727
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #182
- Nightwing (Volume 2) #97
- Batman: Gotham Knights #57
- Detective Comics #799
- Batman #634
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #182
- DC Comics Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded
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