Batman is well-known for having an answer to everything, even Superman. Has he ever faced magic in the DC universe and if so how did he fight it?
Batman has an extensive Rogue's Gallery, one of the largest in comicdom. But he does not face magical foes very often, if at all. Having taken a look at a list of Batman's most common enemies, almost none of them have, use or exercise the use of magical abilities.
Batman's top twenty most famous and dangerous villains have no magical abilities of any kind. Consider his most iconic foes, the enemies who are strongly identified with Batman first and foremost. These are his most mentally unhinged and chaotic enemies capable of doing almost anything. Their tools are almost exclusively technological.
- The Joker - completely immorally insane and fortunately has no magical abilities. However, he did have a moment as Emperor Joker when armed with the reality altering powers of Mxyzptlk was defeated by his psychological flaw of being unable to consider a universe without Batman. While Batman does not defeat the Joker, he never surrenders to his power either.
- Two Face - has never had magical abilities but has depended on his psychological capers which usually require Batman to make the right choice as posed by Dent.
- The Penguin - has never had magical abilities, his strengths lies in the quality of his psychology as an effective if eccentric crime boss.
- The Riddler - a master of misdirection, puns, and illusion, his capers revolve around their complexity, of riddles within conundrums, forcing Batman to reach into the mind of a madman to find an answer.
- Mr. Freeze - no magical powers but a very capable and driven scientist who using his cryo-tech, proves again and again, exactly how motivated he was to find a cure for his dying wife. He is a dangerous enemy because he is quite willing and able to kill anyone who stands in his way.
His foes who have proven to be the most capable of affecting his body or his mind and in some cases have proven to be physically superior to him. Again no magic, but with properties used by magicians and sorcerers including mind control (Poison Ivy, The Scarecrow), psychological terror and fear (Bane, Killer Croc), shapechanging (Clayface), and environmental mastery (Poison Ivy).
So while having few villains with actual magical ability, Batman's ability to face magic wouldn't seem as impaired as one might think.
Batman's work against magical foes almost always is the result of working with another magically-theme hero or with magical members of the Justice League. (see Zatara, Zatana, Doctor Fate, Wonder Woman or The Spectre).
An occasional run in with a Flash villain who uses "magic-like" abilities derived through advanced futuristic science or gadgets which use illusion to simulate magic. (see Abra Kadabra, Trickster) Other occassional run-ins against magic include:
- Jason Blood (See Etrigan the Demon)
- Etrigan the Demon
- Morgaine le Fey
- Felix Faust
- Klarion, the Witch Boy
Batman's methods of dealing with magical foes are the same as dealing with any of his other enemies. Indeed, when looked at closely, most of them use a similar motif as magical foes; misdirection, illusion, theatricality, fear, audacity, and technology to be successful as criminals. As far as Batman is concerned he tends to treat magic as just another technology, that must have rules and structure for it to function.
If we were to break Batman's techniques down to an understandable half dozen, here is what you might expect, no matter who his foe is, magical or technological:
Fear is a weapon: Even the insane understand fear at a fundamental level. Batman leverages that innate fear to find and exploit tiny vulnerabilities in his enemies. This is the most fundamental tool in his arsenal.
Understand your enemy and their modus operandi: If you know more about them, you have better ways of surviving a conflict with them.
Know their weaknesses and exploit them. Prepare yourself with a diverse range of tools that affect as many different kinds of enemies as possible, (so you can carry fewer of them). Ex: Smoke pellets which double as gas pellets or sleeping gas pellets or choking agents.
Consider your enemy during moments of calm - think about them while you are not fighting them so you do not have to improvise as often. This is what Batman excels at; he creates and maintains a file on all of his interactions with his enemies, their methods, their connections, their evolution as well as samples of their technology and tools.
Exploit their humanity (assuming they have any left) Batman is not above trying to reason with an enemy, using psychology to disrupt, distort, or disturb his enemy into making a mistake. He may also use his foes psychological weaknesses against them; i.e. Suggesting to Two-Face to flip his coin which may alter the result of Dent's decision-making capacity.
Embrace Chaos: Unpredictability is a weapon both for your enemy and yourself. When surrounded, do the unthinkable, confront enemies stronger than you, use their doubt to your advantage.