Temple Fugate: Taking Time for Himself
by Scott Summers
Apart from Gotham’s surplus of malignant narcissism, the psychological hallmark of the town is obsession. Up and down the Rogue’s Gallery, leaving not a foe unturned, not one of these guys and gals has the wherewithal to let it go, whatever it might be. How many of these felons would be walking the streets today, chins unbruised by Batman’s knuckles, if they had only learned to move on? If only Poison Ivy had taken a deep breath and conceded that displacing a rare blossom wasn’t worth abduction and murder; if only the Riddler had focused on the future and turned over a new leaf, preferably to the Help Wanted page; if only Jervis Tetch had given Internet dating a shot when Alice broke his heart. But no. Each and every one is a pit bull of perseverance, a master of monomania.
And the poster man-child for this unpleasant tendency to replay the mental tapes and stoke himself into a frenzy? None other than Temple Fugate, the Clock King. Even as a law-abiding citizen, Fugate observed the passing of time like a scientist determined to master it. The minutes and seconds of every day ruled his judgment; he budgeted his business and leisure activities as if perpetually concerned that time, if squandered, might slip away forever. Obsession is not easy on the constitution, and Fugate, apparently unchecked by the disapprobation of friends or family, worked himself into a quotidian frenzy. To stay the panic that arose at the thought of drifting loose from his schedule, Fugate organized his days into serial pageants of compulsion with a drill sergeant’s severity. No doubt a heart attack loomed on the horizon; Fugate would have been dead by fifty.
One winces at the thought of a life imprisoned by the passing of valuable seconds, an anxiety so pervasive that not one fragment of a moment could be wasted. Out of this uneasy obsession with time the springs and cogs of a vengeful nature began to mesh. Were he of a more forgiving temperament, Temple might have thanked Hamilton Hill for knocking down the oppressive structures he’d built; then again, with any more laxity in his character, he would never have been coiled so tightly in the first place. As it is, the Clock King emerged from the wreckage of his former daily grind with a freer, more comfortable joie de vivre, taking a spiteful new satisfaction in having stepped out of sync with the workaday world. Before the incident in the park, Temple Fugate was at the mercy of his own passion for timeliness; afterward, he was able to turn that fervor outward, onto Batman and the mayor.
Formerly obsessive-compulsive—a victim of his own rules and demands—now Fugate is merely obsessive and free to victimize others. He checks his watch calmly before stepping off the parapet onto the roof of a moving train, now supremely confident that the train will arrive on schedule rather than anxious that it might not. And so it is that he no longer merits the full OCD diagnosis. The Clock King could even be said to have “cured” himself, such as he is, from his ex-disorder. Now, with his grandiosity, perpetual irritability and relentless pursuit of elaborate, bloody revenge, Fugate might be best pinned down as hypomanic rather than compulsive (but with the miserly, rigid, perfectionistic traits of the personality disorder still intact). His obsessive surveillance of the passage of sands through the hourglass has not diminished, but now it efficiently serves his own malicious ends. Can it be that going crazy was the sanest thing Temple Fugate ever did?
Previous DSM-IV-TR Diagnosis: 300.3 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with poor insight
Current DSM-IV-TR Diagnosis: Hypomanic episode with obsessive features; 301.4 Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder