Here are the next three storylines on the countdown, as voted on by you, the readers!! Here is the master list of all storylines featured so far.
Note, there may be some spoilers ahead! You are forewarned!
NOTE: All of these storyline posts will be image intensive, so I’ll be spreading them over multiple pages.
6. “Year One” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Batman #404-407) – 1270 points (26 first place votes)
Whatever aspects of the Batman character weren’t already re-defined by Frank Miller in his Dark Knight Returns series were done so with this landmark new origin for Batman, courtesy of writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli.
The story tells the tale of Bruce Wayne and James Gordon, and how one man became Batman and the other became the symbol of honest cops in Gotham City (Harvey Dent also plays an important role, but Batman and Gordon’s stories are the main ones in the story).
Originally, Bruce tried to be a vigilante without a costume. It did not go well. He barely gets home alive and that’s when a new idea comes to him…
That this story was the basis for the blockbuster film, Batman Begins, is of no surprise, since Miller writes the story in a totally cinematic style, and Mazzucchelli’s brilliant artwork certainly has a cinematic style to it, as well.
This is especially evident in the way that Miller uses the passage of time via calendars. Check it out in this legendary sequence from the second issue of the story, as Jim Gordon tries to get extra support to take down Batman but his superiors ignored him…
What a great use of the passage of time.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the comic is just how strong of a character Jim Gordon is in it. He truly works as the co-lead of the story. While writers certainly had done solo Gordon stories before this storyline, never had he gotten the attention Miller gave him, and a result, Gordon HAS had the same attention since.
Richmond Lewis’ colors should get some attention – she does a marvelous job setting the mood. Very evocative washes.
Add it all together and you have an engaging and entertaining new origin for Batman as we see him go from green vigilante to a trusted friend of the Gotham City police (as the police also go from being totally corrupt to only being significantly corrupt – a major step up!).
5. “Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Batman: The Dark Knight #1-4) – 1637 points (41 first place votes)
Dark Knight Returns is one of the most influential Batman comics, well, ever, really. In his four-issue series set 10 years after Bruce Wayne retired as Batman, Frank Miller basically established the way Batman would be presented in comics for the next…well…27 years and counting!
The comic is literally about the return of the Dark Knight, as Bruce Wayne realizes that his city needs Batman again, so he, well, returns.
Miller plays with the concept (not originated by Miller but certainly cemented by Miller) that perhaps Batman’s existence draws OUT the crazies in an action-reaction deal.
As soon as Batman returns, so, too, does Two-Face and the Joker.
The other major characters in the story (besides Alfred) are Carrie Kelly, the teenaged girl who becomes the new Robin…
and Superman, whose conflict with Batman makes up the finale to the series (Superman is depicted as a servant of the United States)…
Miller’s art is in strong form in the series, especially the action sequences, which are dramatic as all hell.
Batman has three (one is a two-parter) extremely memorable fights in this series.
The first is against the leader of the Mutants, the screwed up gang of thugs who are terrorizing Gotham (in his first night back, Batman saves Carrie Kelly from a pair of them, leading to her wanting to become Robin), where Batman tries to compete like he was still young…
The second is a chilling conflict with the Joker, who figures out the best way (in his mind) to “beat” Batman – it’s quite twisted.
The third is the aforementioned battle between Superman and Batman, where we see perhaps the debut of the whole “if Batman had enough prep time, he could beat anyone” mode of handling Batman.
So yeah, Dark Knight Returns – major comic book work.
4. “All Star Superman” by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (All Star Superman #1-12) – 1658 points (58 first place votes)
All Star Superman is both a reimagination of Superman as well as a bit of a farewell to the character. The story is basically about the death of Superman, as his death is foretold in the first issue and the comic depicts the last year in the life of Superman.
During that year, Superman has to complete twelve trials before he dies. As he completes the trials, Morrison and Quitely deliver brilliant new approaches to classic Superman plots.
Their “Silver Age ideas with modern sensibilities” approach works extremely well, particularly with Quitely’s ability to make pretty much anything dynamic.
Look at the detail in this sequence from #1, where we see Quitely’s stunning depiction of how Clark Kent can make himself look differently (while we also see the casual heroics of Clark) and he slowly changes his posture until he is Superman…
Possibly one of the coolest aspects of All Star Superman is that it is not, in the least bit, cynical. It’s quite a feat to see a re-envisioning of Superman that does NOT involve some sort of post-ironic cynical approach to the character.
In addition, the story was told with a series of (mostly) one-off issues, so each issue was like its own little epic, they just combine to tell one long story of Superman’s last year of life.
Morrison’s take on Superman and his supporting cast is innovative while completely familiar, and Quitely, well, Quitely just goes out of his mind with some of the layouts and dynamism in this series. Really top notch stuff.
From issue #3, where Superman gives Lois Lane superpowers for a day…
Or the classic #5, where Clark Kent interviews Lex Luthor during the middle of a prison riot. One of the greatest Luthor spotlight issues in history…
How amazing is seeing Luthor drawing a crooked eyebrow!?!
There are just too many memorable moments to mention, but I’ll end with the introduction of a new character Superman meets on Bizarro World. The BIZARRO Bizarro, Zibarro…