Possessing physical enhancements, vision-enhancing goggles, and training, Zeiss was brought up by the Sicilian mafia to be a contract killer and bodyguard.
After the death of his parents, Philo Zeiss was taken in by his uncle Victor, the gardener of a Sicilian mafia lord. When his Uncle died soon after, the Sicilian took the young Zeiss in and, seeing something in the youth, prepared him for life as a killer for the mob. At first the young Philo was brought to watch mob enforcers work, then later was trained as a mob enforcer himself. Feeling a debt to the Sicilian, Zeiss agreed to have surgery performed on his spinal column and optic nerves to enhance his perception and reflexes to superhuman levels. As an adult, Zeiss relocated to Gotham City and became the bodyguard of Gotham mob boss Lew Moxon. After a falling out with Moxon when his fixation with defeating Batman caused him to compromise his duty as a bodyguard in favour of taking down the Dark Knight, he took up an offer to work for Pasquale "Junior" Galante. He fought against Catwoman when she impeded Junior's efforts to expand into Gotham's East Side, nearly killing her in single combat and threatening those around her.
Zeiss was among the various criminals that met under mysterious circumstances and he managed to escape when they meeting turned into a shootout. This events unleashed a massive gang war in Gotham and Zeiss was soon contacted by Henry Aquista, who hired Zeiss to eliminate the Gotham crime lords. Zeiss went after Orpheus, unaware that Orpheus was already killed by Black Mask, who was now posing as Orpheus. Zeiss almost killed him, but Batman's timely arrival saved the impostor. When Batman was distracted, Black Mask allowed Zeiss to escape.
After this, Zeiss was confronted by Catwoman for a second time and he was defeated by her. Catwoman used a flash grenade to eliminate Zeiss' advantage and chained him to the docks.
- Zeiss harbors a personal vendetta against the Batman, and considers himself a superior combatant and strategist in comparison to him. His single-mindedness for defeating Batman in melee combat has interfered with Zeiss' success on at least two occasions:
- Zeiss allowed his employer, Lew Moxon, to be critically injured by Deadshot, when instead of focusing on protection, Zeiss was trying to kill Batman hand-to-hand. Zeiss was subsequently relieved of his protection duties and thrown out of Moxon's mob.
- After repairing his goggles (which were damaged by a batarang) and reviewing the information he had gathered with them about Batman's combat style, Zeiss fought Batman to a standstill, boasting that he knew every move Batman would make before he made it. Batman then sought help to defeat Zeiss, and was aided by Batgirl. Batgirl had never been "recorded" by Zeiss, and was a hand-to-hand fighter comparable (if not superior) to Batman himself. Thus, Zeiss was quickly defeated and imprisoned.
- 25 Appearances of Philo Zeiss (New Earth)
- 14 Images featuring Philo Zeiss (New Earth)
- 2 Quotations by or about Philo Zeiss (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Philo Zeiss (New Earth)
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