Bug-Eyed Bandit (Atom enemy) (DC Comics)

Bug-Eyed Bandit

(Pre-Crisis version)


The Bug-Eyed Bandit is a Silver Age  DC Comics villain. He primarily fought the Atom of the Silver Age – Ray Palmer.

Though he’s on the kitsch side and didn’t appear much, the Bug-Eyed Bandit landed a Who’s Who entry in 1985, and has a memorable name and costume.

Plus, his schtick with miniature insectile robots is useful and easy to use.


  • Real Name: Bertram Larvan.
  • Other Aliases: The Insect Bandit.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Ivy Town.
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 187 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Larvan knows a lot about insects and arachnids. Furthermore, he is an excellent robotics engineer specialising in tiny units patterned after our six- and eight-legged friends. Those are usually remote-controlled from a console with a video screen and numerous switches and levers.

While he never was successful, Larvan is one sharp customer. He’s intelligent, observant, good at strategy, and making quick and efficient decisions. He’s certainly not an absent-minded academic.

Physically the Bug-Eyed Bandit is in decent shape and can throw a punch. But that’s about it.


Circa 1960, the multi-talented Bertram — an entomologist, robotics engineer and inventor — came up with an idea.

Having always struggled financially, he wanted to come up with a killer invention to make a fortune. It occurred to him that a mini-robot able to terminate all sorts of vermin (rats, locusts, boll weevils, mice, etc.) could save billions of dollars and make him rich.


Enthused, Larvan met with numerous bankers with his designs. However, they all wanted to see some sort of working prototype before they’d finance him. Of course, Larvan lacked the funds to build such a prototype. As he kept running into refusals, Larvan grew depressed, then angry and obsessive.

As he tried again and again to build a prototype with very limited means, his fiancée Alice Morse left him. The obsessive Larvan wouldn’t spend time with her anymore.

Eventually cracking, Larvan decided to use a very crude robot insect to steal some money. He would use these funds to build a slightly better robot, and just keep this cycle running. His goal was no longer to secure capital, but to gain revenge against society. At the height of his bitterness, he even made himself a super-villain costume.

I, rule the midnight air, the destroyer

Through a series of mini-robots based on insects and arachnids, Larvan led a discreet crime wave through Ivy Town. He gathered intelligence and stole ever-increasing sums, using robots that became remarkably sophisticated.

The Bug-Eyed Bandit captures the Atom

By 1966, Larvan attacked the well-heeled Clifford Rogers with a robot-bug. Not only could it ambush Rogers, but the mini-robot knocked him out using gas, stole his keys, lifted his wallet, dosed him with another gas inducing short-term memory loss, and flew away.

Using the keys and a combination number stored in the wallet, Larvan then stole the payroll of Roger’s company.

The theft attracted the attention of the Atom (Ray Palmer) via the Ivy Town Police Department. A series of clashes ensued. Larvan discovered that the Atom was Ray Palmer after accidentally detecting the energy signature of the Atom’s belt. While spying on Palmer, Larvan erroneously came to the conclusion that Palmer was Alice Morse’s lover. Morse looked strikingly like Jean Loring.

The Atom attacked the Bug-Eyed Bandit in his lab, fighting off his traps. At the conclusion of the fight Larvan was accidentally exposed to a burst of his own amnesia-inducing gas. This also made him forget that Ray Palmer was the Atom.

I, shall soon be there, deadly mass

Larvan spent a year in prison, though he had forgotten everything about his criminal career. He retained his technical talents, and spent his time building remote-controlled toy robots. The prison then gave those to charities for children.

However, an accidental blow to the head brought back every missing memory. As a result, the fuming Larvan decided to use his toy robots to kill Ray Palmer. A flying assassin bug was sent out, and the death of Ray Palmer was announced on the radio.

One of the Bug-Eyed Bandit robot insects attacks the Atom

Using his super-robot, Larvan easily escaped from the penitentiary. He then relaunched his criminal career, soon rounding up enough funds to build sophisticated new robots. These included a centipede, a dragonfly and a grasshopper. However, one of his thieving bugs was attacked by the Atom.

Larvan couldn’t detect the Atom’s energy signature anywhere in town. Puzzled, the Insect Bandit assumed that Palmer had built an Atom miniature robot to carry on after his death. Actually the Atom was in hiding, had distorted his belt’s energy signature, and was working on locating the Bandit’s hidden lab.

Despite all this planning, though, it was Palmer who was captured by the sophisticated robotic insects.

A fight ensued in Larvan’s new lab. The Atom ended up redirecting an electronics-disruption ray (which the Bandit had built to neutralise the hypothetical “Atom Robot”) at the Bandit’s headgear. This triggered a backlash in his cybernetics and rendered him amnesiac just like before.

Creep, the steps and floors, final darkness

During the 1970s the Bug-Eyed Bandit recovered a confused, garbled version of his memories. He rebuilt a score of robot bugs, though these were much less sophisticated than before. He remembered the energy signature of the Atom’s belt, though he could not recall who the Atom was.

He sent his bugs out, and they kidnapped Jean Loring. Her wedding ring held a minuscule piece of white dwarf matter like the Atom’s belt did. The Atom intervened in time and easily freed Jean, then took out the befuddled Bug-Eyed Bandit.

Some years later, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Bug-Eyed Bandit was recruited as part of the army of super-villains led by Lex Luthor of Earth-1 and Brainiac. He was spotted briefly as his contingent of villains was defeated by the Metal Men.

During the final onslaught launched against Earth by the Anti-Monitor, the Bug-Eyed Bandit was working with Clayface in Gotham. They were attacked and overwhelmed by shadow demons. Bertram Larvan was killed by the touch of one of these creatures.


Curiously, Mr. Larvan made several post-mortem appearances :

  • He was one of the shades conjured by the Psycho-Pirate during a mental breakdown about the consequences of the Crisis.
  • He was fetched in time by Chronos, along with a number of gaudy pre-Crisis Atom opponents, to oppose Ryan Choi – the new Atom. These villains came without their equipment and looked addled and disoriented. Choi easily beat them back and Chronos dismissed them.
  • During the Blackest Night crisis , the corpse of Bertram Larvan was animated as a Black Lantern. This Black Lantern was destroyed by two members of the Indigo Tribe – Ray Palmer and Indigo-1.

Son of the Bug-Eyed Bandit

A man wearing the distinctive Bug-Eyed Bandit was seen on several occasions post-Crisis, almost always in crowd scenes.

From a short scene in Adventures of Superman, this man is the son of Betram Larvan. He inherited his robot insects and wants to be a super-villain. He’s been seen in super-villain bars and clandestine pit-fighting events, presumably networking to get jobs.

A contract he took in 2002 was apparently one of his first paid jobs as a super-criminal. However, he ran into Superman. Larvan later joined the Society.

The second Bug-Eyed Bandit apparently knows how to use his father’s robot insects. But that’s all the information we have.


See illustrations.


A typical Silver Age criminal scientist, chiefly motivated by profit as his way toward social revenge. Bertram Larvan grew up poor, and is sick to death of his lack of access to capital.

He’s obsessed by his work. What he really wants in life is to be in his Lab and build cool robot insects. As time went by his crimes just became a mean to fund his Lab so he could experiment with even more sophisticated robot bugs.

Perhaps as a side-effect of all the time spent alone, Larvan started getting a bit nuts. He was often talking to his robots, praising them as if they had feelings, etc.. This concerned him.

The Bandit has a huge ego. Thus, he feels insulted by the notion that anything could be as awesome and sophisticated as his creations.

Larvan initially meant well. He wanted to find a way to destroy vermin and thus increase agricultural production. When he captured the Atom,Larvan was interested in using his size-changing secrets to grow plants to giant size and alleviate world hunger.


“Only because of its programming was my banged-up insect able to return to me… From the bug’s condition, it’s obvious the Robot-Atom is a more sophisticated machine than my insect — and this I find intolerable.”

“Where did he go ? My size-changing bug will find him !”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Bug-Eyed Bandit

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Power
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 04 Occupation: Renegade scientist
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 013 HP: 020

Gadgetry: 06, Scientist: 07, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Firearms)*: 03

Expertise (Entomology), Stroke of Genius (Super-Robot, see below), Scholar (Miniaturisation), Sharp Eye.


MIA toward Workaholism.


  • LAB. Larvan’s house’s basement held a micro-robotics Lab. The Lab has 7 APs’ worth of security measures, including against miniature invaders – for instance miniature net launchers, the nets being glue-coated steel mesh.
    The APs of Lab rise as he steals money to buy equipment – it usually starts at about 4 and will eventually rise to 12. One of the security systems is a sort of cocoon that can constrict around a person placed into it to crush them – it has a STR and BODY of 07.
  • CONSOLE [BODY 01, Radio communication: 13, Eye of the cat: 13, Limitation: both Powers can only be used on robots built by Larvan]. A 1960s type remote-control console with a high-resolution video feed.
  • Later on, the Bandit tricks out his costume’s strange antennae with Radio Communication: 04 (Limitation: only with his robots), so he can give basic orders to his nearby bugs without having to fumble with consoles and/or remotes.
  • .38 Special Revolver [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 06, R#02, Drawback: Long Reload]. This standard handgun is kept within his Lab, for self-defense.
  • Antennae [BODY 01, AV 12, Glue: 01, Ammo: 04]. The Bug-Eyed Bandit’s odd headgear can emit colourful flying bubbles that affix themselves on a small object or person and each pull in a different direction – leaving the target to rotate in place like a propeller. This is only useful on minuscule targets, though.

Creeping death

Larvan’s robots look like large, obviously metallic and artificial insects or spiders. They’re about the size of a tarantula.

Below are the base stats of such a robot. Please note that the Shrinking APs are *not* Factored Into the stats – hence the STR, movement, speed, etc. The assumption is that these robots are probably going to threaten characters who themselves have Shrinking at a comparable level, making Shrinking effects irrelevant.

Insect Robot [DEX 05 STR 04 BODY 05 INT 01, Shrinking: 09, Skin armour: 02, Limitations: Shrinking is Always On but not Factored In, Skin armour only vs. blunt attacks, R#02.]

Each Robot will have 2 to 5 Powers loosely based on insects and spiders, such as :

  • Claws.
  • Flight.
  • Snare (w/ Swingline Bonus).
  • Glue.
  • Knockout Gas (not diminished by Shrink if used point-blank) or Sleep (same).
  • One specific kind of Knockout Gas had a Combined Hypnotism effect that induced amnesia about the events of the past week or so.
  • Mental blast (a sand blast, presumably with limited Ammo).
  • Flame being (a heated shell).
  • Detect (a specific energy signature).
  • Shrinking.
  • Growth.
  • Acid.
  • Projectile Weapons.
  • Microscopic vision.
  • EMP (as a directed beam rather than a burst), which somehow had the effects of sneezing powder on humans.
  • Flash (Audial).

These Powers generally have 6-7 APs. But it was possible to “stack” these APs to some extent to have a specialised robot. For instance a stabber robot just had Claws: 03 and Flight: 07 – both corrected for Shrinking, this time. Between its miniature rocket engine and large spike could kill an adult man, especially when attacking by surprise.

The INT marks that the robot have a crude AI. They can be given instructions (such as “find this energy signature and attack it”) if they cannot be remote-controlled by an operator. Later generations of robots had a better AI – INT 02 WIL 02. Furthermore, they were outfitted with a small voice synthesiser allowing them to report to the Bug-Eyed Bandit.

One generation of robot insects could be disabled simply by crossing their antennae. But that will generally require to be small enough to firmly grab those, and a STR of 03 or more.

Creeping deadlier

A particularly advanced robot insect had the following stats :

Super-Robot [DEX 05 STR 04 BODY 05 INT 01, Animal mimicry: 12, Shrinking: 07, Skin armour: 02, Limitations: Animal Mimicry is limited to insects and arachnids, Shrinking is Always On but not Factored In, Skin armour only vs. blunt attacks, R#02.].

This specific robot could reconfigure itself on the fly (he he), for instance to switch from a bug shape to a spider-shape, and manifested insect-themed abilities as needed.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Pre-Crisis over Infinite Earths DC Universe (Earth-1).

Writeup completed on the 3rd of November, 2011.