- "I am the judge, jury, and Executioner!"
- —Nathaniel Barnes[src]
Nathaniel Barnes is a former marine, and the former captain of the Gotham City Police Department. Taking on the role from former captain then Commissioner Sarah Essen after her death at the hands of Jerome Valeska. He was a strict by the book law enforcer until he became infected with the the Tetch blood virus he went insane and gained anger-induced superhuman abilities, he took on the role of The Executioner, to murder guilty criminals against the law but was brought down by the efforts of James Gordon and was sent to Arkham Asylum. He was later abducted from Arkham by The Court of Owls to help them judge Gotham, but ended up killing their leader when she didn't take his motive seriously. His current location is unknown.
Service as a Marine
During a mission in the desert as a marine, Barnes and his colleagues captured three insurgents in the middle of a sandstorm. They were involved in a shootout, whilst almost completely blinded by the dust. At the same time, a child soldier they had taken as a prisoner of war tried to escape. Barnes immediately went after him, and ended up putting his gun in the kids mouth, before he pulled the trigger in a mental breakdown. He was tormented by the memory for years, until he made peace with it, and came to accept that he was just a man who acted unpredictably in such a stressful situation.
Captain of the GCPD
After the massacre at the GCPD and death of the newly-appointed Commissioner, Nathaniel Barnes was assigned as the captain of the GCPD, in order to finally bring order into the precinct. Barnes made his presence known to the rest of the staff at the precinct. Upon introducing himself, Barnes lectured the entire precinct on what had happened several days prior when Jerome Valeska and The Maniax broke into the precinct, leading to the deaths of nine officers and Commissioner Sarah Essen. During this speech, he made it quite clear that he had read through everyone's files, and fired Pollard, Guthrie, Coulson, Drowler, Brooks, Perez, and Hightower for their records of bribery, drug abuse, extortion, and racketeering. Barnes stated that crimes committed by GCPD members would no longer be tolerated, and that a new set of rules were being implemented. Barnes proceeded to invite Detective Gordon into his office, where he made Jim his second-in-command. The next morning, Barnes called Leslie Thompkins, and asked to speak to Jim. He requested for Gordon to meet him at the Gotham Police Academy. Once they arrived, Nathaniel stated that they should find a group of cadets that were about to graduate and had yet to become jaded or corrupt. After a series of in-depth interviews with several of the cadets, Barnes allowed them to join Unit Alpha of the Strike Force team under the Gordon's command. At the GCPD precinct, Barnes presented the new team with their uniforms, and was informed by Alvarez about the murder of Janice Caulfield. He later presented the group with their first mission to build a case that would led them lock away The Penguin. Barnes cooperated with the Strike Force to lead a raid on one of Penguin's counting houses, where the group was attacked with an RPG after their arrival. They later went on to raid The Merc, where Barnes and Gordon ran after Evan Pike, and accidentally ended up killing him by hitting an explosive he was carrying with a bullet. Barnes later informed Gordon, Bullock, and all current members of the Strike Force about Luke Garrett's death, after he had been taken to the hospital for his burns that couldn't be cared for in time to save his life.
Barnes later reprimanded Gordon and put a note in his file, after learning that Gordon had used abusive methods to obtain information from a suspect. He later showed Gordon footage of Bridgit Pike and Selina Kyle, who had been caught on a security camera after they committed a roberry. When Gordon tried telling him that he had promised his informant he'd keep Bridgit safe, Barnes told Gordon not to make promises that he couldn't keep, and to continue looking for Bridgit. Barnes, Gordon, and the Strike Force later cornered Bridgit, after she went on to free several women from a human trafficking operation, leading to her catching on fire due to a malfunction with her flamethrower. Barnes was visited by the new Mayor named Theo Galavan, and was told that Penguin tried to kill him. As a result, Barnes was officially issued an arrest warrant for Penguin and all his known associates by Harvey Dent, along with showing his support for Galavan's plan to implement martial law in Gotham until Penguin was found and apprehended. He later gave a speech to the precinct about their duty, which involves protecting Galavan during his victory celebration that night. Gordon ended up visiting him with the suspicion that Theo Galavan, the new Mayor of Gotham, was responsible for the breakout at Arkham Asylum and the attack on the GCPD. Despite this, Barnes ordered him to find solid evidence in order to support his suspicion. When Gordon and Lee Thompkins were kidnapped by Barbara Kean, Barnes teamed up with Detective Bullock to rescue them. Afterwards, they saved Mayor James from captivity and obtained evidence leading to the arrest of Theo Galavan.
Along with Detective Gordon, Barnes visited Theo Galavan's penthouse so they could gather evidence against him, and was present when several assassins were sent to kill Jim. Barnes was injured during the encounter, but while they were waiting for reinforcements, he seized the moment to tell Jim that he should fight his inner darkness and that there was no line, but there is really just the law that separates humans from animals. After this series of events, Barnes tried to keep Jim away from the Galavan case, but was forced to allow Jim's work to continue when they needed more evidence about a homicidal religious sect working with Theo.  After Galavan was physically assaulted by Gordon due to paying the courts off, two policemen were killed and Gordon disappeared, leaving Barnes with no choice but to issue a warrant for his arrest once he became convinced that Gordon was in cohorts with Penguin. After some time passed, Barnes was greeted by Lucius Fox and Harvey Bullock, as Fox tried to tell him that Bruce and Alfred had been abducted. Yet Barnes kept refusing to believe him without any physical evidence. After finding Alfred in a cell in the precinct, Barnes told the trio that they'd dig up a health and safety issue, and get a warrant for Galavan Tower. At Galavan's penthouse, Barnes attempted to convince Jim that he shouldn't to kill Theo, so that his surrender to justice would prove his innocence. However, Cobblepot knocked him out with a blow to the head.
After Theo was shot by Jim during his arrangement with Penguin, Barnes sent the entirety of the GCPD. after Cobblepot.
Barnes ended up being present during a hearing when Gordon was questioned about the circumstances leading to Theo's death. Gordon claimed that Cobblepot and his gang took Theo away, while he ran off to see Leslie, lying about the fact that he was the one who killed Galavan. The charges were lifted, but Barnes still suspected that Gordon wasn't telling the truth. Cobblepot eventually got brought in, but he refused to snitch on Jim, and confessed to the murder with a simultaneous plea of insanity.
Barnes later arrested Gordon when he was accused of murdering Carl Pinkney. Four weeks later, Barnes was seen watching Gordon being escorted out of the courthouse upon him being found guilty and being sentenced to Blackgate Penitentiary.
Following Gordon's escape from Blackgate Penitentiary, Barnes had his police officers working 24/7 to find him, whilst also becoming suspicious about Bullock. It was also mentioned by Barnes that the governor has issued a bounty for Gordon's capture. He and Bullock were later informed by Selina Kyle about where Gordon was last sighted. Thanks to a trick set up by Gordon, Barnes and the other officers he brought with him were close enough to hear Edward Nygma's confession for the murders he had committed whilst being pursued by Gordon. This led to Barnes and the police officers surrounding Nygma. After Nygma's arrest, Barnes apologizes to Gordon for not believing him and attempts to make up with Gordon by giving him the number of the Medical Examiner office that Leslie Thompkins had started working at while he was in Blackgate. However, he makes this offer in exchange for the files on the Wayne murder case. Barnes agrees to the terms, as he goes to retrieve the Wayne files.
Nathaniel Barnes interrogates Bruce Wayne after he, Alfred Pennyworth, and Karen Jennings were apprehended by the police when they got caught whilst breaking into Pinewood Farms. When he began having Karen Jennings prepared for her return to Blackgate Penitentiary, he told Bruce that he is free to go and that he should take his leave before Barnes changes his mind.
Discovering the truth
Barnes later held an interview at a crime scene, where he ran into Gordon and Bruce. Gordon told Barnes he needed to speak with him, and after quite a bit of convincing from both Bruce and Jim, Barnes agreed to talk. Although, he only agreed to talk to Jim for three minutes. Gordon tried to tell Barnes the truth about Hugo Strange, and the experiments he's been doing on dead criminals in Arkham's basement. Barnes says that Gordon sounds insane, but then Azrael shows up to attack Gordon. Barnes is left with Gordon to confront Azrael. Yet Bullock ends up arriving with backup in the nick of time. Azrael is forced to retreat whilst under fire from the cops, leaving Bruce and the members of the GCPD in awe as they watch his nimble escape. In the GCPD headquarters, Barnes holds Gordon as a suspect under accusation of breaking Karen Jennings out of Blackgate. A blackout occurs in the precinct following their conversation through the cell bars, and Azrael shows up again to attack Gordon, Barnes, and several new members of the Strike Force in the building. The battle results in the death of several Strike Force members, and culminates on the roof of the GCPD. Whilst on the roof, Barnes makes a last ditch effort to engage in close quarters combat with Azrael. During the duel, Barnes knocks Azrael's mask off, and is shocked to discover that Theo Galavan is behind the facade. This proves that Gordon is right about Hugo Strange, and leaves Barnes in a state of confusion. During this brief moment of stunned silence on both sides, Azrael stabs Barnes in the stomach with what remains of his broken blade. Jim arrives on the scene following this event, and shoots Azrael in the chest of his armor, causing him to fall off the roof. Barnes is wheeled away from the scene on a stretcher.
Barnes survived the attack and began his recovery in the hospital.
Return to duty
Following his recuperation after Azrael's attack, Barnes returned to his position as the captain at the GCPD precinct (which was temporarily held by Harvey Bullock during his absence). Despite his recovery, Barnes became required to walk with a cane. Six months following the escape of Hugo Strange's nightmarish experiments from Indian Hill, Barnes and Aubrey James held a press conference at the precinct to assure the public they were doing the best they could to handle the situation, but this got interrupted by Oswald Cobblepot. Penguin made a grand entrance, and accused the GCPD of not doing enough to protect the citizens of Gotham. He then told them that Fish Mooney is responsible for leading the monsters, and urged the public to hunt her down. After Hugo Strange's former assistant Ethel Peabody was captured and killed by Fish Mooney's monsters due to Gordon trying to use her as a pawn, Barnes put him and Bullock on full-throttle in his office at the precinct for their behavior in the situation He then revealed his disappointment in Bullock, claiming he had previously been proud of how the detective handled things as acting Captain in his absence.
After Bullock was captured by Mooney with the goal of discovering the location of Hugo Strange, Barnes, Gordon and many other officers went to an old mansion where the professor had been kept since his imprisonment so that the federal government could study his research. Despite Barnes ordering them not to let anyone in, Cobblepot arrived with an angry mob to kill Fish and the remaining monsters accompanying her, throwing Barnes into a state of anger since Cobblepot's interruption could pose a serious risk to the safety of Bullock. Gordon enter the mansion to call Cobblepot from within, and informed him that Fish was escaping with Strange through the back entrance. Cobblepot stirred his mob into a frenzy to distract the police while he confronted Fish in the woods behind the building. Two monsters working for Fish were killed by the mob of people and ended up being burned on a flaming trash pile, with Cobblepot subsequently being hailed as a hero for leading the attack.
Infection and corruption
Gordon ended up bringing in a young woman named Alice Tetch to the GCPD, who was the sister of a mentally unstable hypnotist known as Jervis Tetch, who wanted Alice back after she fled from his sexual abuse through hypnosis. Barnes shows genuine concern for Gordon during a visit in his office, as he appears to be in discomfort and is ordered to explain. Gordon tells him that Tetch put him under a hypnotic spell during their confrontation before Alice was detained, and that he has been experiencing uncontrollable suicidal tendencies. Barnes decides to allow Gordon to speak with Alice, so that he can get information on her brother, and possibly discover a cure for his growing psychosis. During Jim's conversation with his sister, Jervis Tetch launches an assault on the precinct with assistance from a family of luchadore wrestlers named the The Terrible Tweeds, who he puts under a spell of hypnosis in an effort to abduct her. This ends up being successful, as Tetch escapes with two of the Tweeds and his sister. Gordon attempts to follow them, but Jervis uses his hypnotic effect on Jim to force him put a gun to his head, which leads Barnes knocking him out with his cane. Barnes has Gordon placed on suicide watch, and gets him transferred to another facility, but Bullock helps him escape by bribing the driver so they can go after Jervis and rescue Alice. Despite Gordon managing to break the effects of his hypnosis during their confrontation with Jervis at an abandoned amusement park, Alice ends up dying during a struggle with her brother, when she is impaled on a metal spike. When Barnes investigates the crime scene, a drop of Alice's blood falls into his eye, infecting him with her virus.
Over the next few days, Barnes asks to see the results of Alice's blood on rats, and the end result was that they either they died or were driven to madness. He soon discovers he no longer needs his cane to walk. Barnes is driven mad when a psychotic surgeon named Dr. Maxwell Symon is released from custody, and shows up at the engagement party of Lee Thompkins and Mario Calvi. Barnes goes mad with rage when Symon taunts him about his escape from justice, causing Nathaniel to brutally kill him by throwing him straight through a brick wall. Barnes ends up becoming convinced that the only way justice can truly be served is by executing criminals as a vigilante, regardless of their crimes. Jim disagrees with this twisted idea of justice, and this leads to Barnes trying to kill him, whilst attempting to turn the whole GCPD precinct against him. Bullock manages to turn the tables on Barnes, and he ends up being shot in the shoulder, before he is taken to Arkham Asylum under restraints.
Leslie Thompkins later goes on to visit Nathaniel in Arkham after Gordon kills her husband due to his infection with same virus, but is terrified by Barnes ranting about the virus being a "cure". Whilst Leslie takes her leave from the asylum, Barnes states that he will break out of his chains, and that Gordon will be the first person he purges from Gotham City.
Becoming the Executioner
Whilst fighting with a Talon in the yard of Arkham during a failed transportation to another location, Barnes is abducted by the Court of Owls using a knockout dart, so that they can use the virus contained in his blood. When Gordon foils their plan, they send Barnes to exact their vengeance. He raids the GCPD headquarters, resulting in the deaths of five people, including Kathryn. His hand is blown off with a shotgun by Jim, which results in Barnes being weakened enough to be brought back into custody. While he is on route to Arkham, Barnes manages to escape custody once again and goes into hiding, much to Bullock's dismay. His current location is unknown.
Nathaniel takes his job as a police captain very seriously, unlike most members of the Gotham City Police Department, he is non-corrupt, Nathaniel has no toleration for any crooked cop in the GCPD. It has been shown that he will arrest them without hesitation. Nathaniel can be very stubborn and abides by the law at all times. He does not believe any suspect is innocent or guilty until official evidence has been given; despite this, Nathaniel is not about apologizing or admitting when he is wrong.
After he was exposed to Alice Tetch's blood, Nathaniel became angry, aggressive, violent, immoral, unstable and delusional, as he killed his victims without any guilt or remorse; acting as judge, jury and executioner. This darker side to him contradicted his former personality almost entirely, formerly believing strongly in enforcing the law by the book and dissuading Jim from taking the law in his own hands. He now believes himself of high enough authority to disregard the law and take it into his own hands.
Powers and abilities
- Superhuman strength: Alice Tetch's blood gave Nathaniel superhuman strength, but only activated in states of true rage against criminals and guilty people.
- Accelerated healing factor: After he was exposed to Alice Tetch's blood, Nathaniel was able to heal from the permanent injury that he received from Theo Galavan; as he is now able to walk without his crutch.
- Expert hand-to-hand combatant: Due to his time in the USMC, Nathaniel is an expert in unarmed combat.
- Expert marksman: Due to his military training, Nathaniel is an expert with firearms.
- Acess to an array of weapons: Due to his alliance with the Court of the Owls Nathaniel Barnes has acess to grenades, a crescent shaped blade, and firearms.
- He is the only known person still infected with the Alice Tetch virus.
- In DC Comics, Willy Hooker AKA The Executioner was a vigilante who murdered wanted criminals in order to collect the reward money, which brought him into conflict with Batman and Robin. He made his first and only appearance in Detective Comics #191, published January 1953.
- Barnes' "Executioner" persona shares similarities to "The Judge" from The New Batman Adventures, who was a third personality of the show's version of Harvey Dent. This includes Barnes hearing "guilty" over and over in his mind, and the end scene with Barnes in his cell and in a straight jacket and repeating guilty is similar to the ending of "The Judge" episode, in which Dent is also seen in a straight jacket repeating the words.
- Barnes' bladed hand is similar to a weapon used by The Phantasm, another character originating from the DC Animated Universe, appearing in the 1992 animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Similar to Barnes, the Phantasm is on a crusade to kill criminals in Gotham City, although the motives differ from Barnes.