In honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Batman, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Batman, culminating with the official 75th anniversary of Batman on July 23rd. We’ve done Batman covers, Batman characters, Batman creastors and now, finally, Batman stories!
You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 75 Greatest Batman Stories! Here are #10-7!
NOTE: Don’t be a jerk about creators in the comments section. If you are not a fan of a particular creator, that’s fine, but be respectful about it. No insulting creators or otherwise being a jerk about creators. I’ll be deleting any comments like that and, depending on how jerky the comment was, banning commenters.
10. “Knightfall” (Batman #491-500, Detective Comics #659-666)
The basic gist of Knightfall (written by Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench with art by Jim Aparo, Graham Nolan, Norm Breyfogle, Jim Balent and a bunch of inkers) is that a fellow named Bane shows up in Gotham City with basically one goal – “break” Batman.
To achieve this, Bane frees all the inmates of Arkham Asylum to force Batman to capture them all before they can do too much damage.
This results in a frantic series of stories as Batman hunts down all the escapees, allowing writers Moench and Dixon to feature the whole gamut of cool Batman villains.
Meanwhile, the man formerly known as Azrael, Jean-Paul Valley, has been training with Robin to be a hero.
When Batman finally captures all the villains, he is naturally exhausted. Unknown to him, though, this is the time that Bane chooses to strike, and he ultimately deals Batman a tragic blow.
This leads to Jean-Paul Valley taking up the mantle of Batman, giving Bane quite a surprise!
This story was a bit of a social experiment on the part of Batman editor Denny O’Neill. He wanted to show just why Batman was so special, and to do so, he would have a “Batman for the 90s” show up, all the better to contrast with the original (and, of course, hopefully this new character could be spun off into his own book when Batman returned, which is just what happened).
9. “First Tale of the Demon” (Batman #232, 235, 240, 242-244 and Detective Comics #411)
The storyline does not really HAVE a name, although I guess you might call it “Daughter of the Demon,” but since it is collected in Tales of the Demon with another Ra’s al Ghul story, I figure “The First Tale” is an appropriate enough name!
Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano are the only constants in this storyline. It begins in Detective Comics with a Bob Brown penciled issue, then the story continues to Batman, where Irv Novick and Neal Adams draw three issues apiece (although Adams draws more total story pages, as two of Adams’ issues are full-length stories while none of Novick’s are).
An interesting aspect of the first stories involving Ra’s Al Ghul by Denny O’Neil and friends is the fact that the Batman within these stories is barely recognizable to the super-competent Batman of today. The Batman of the first Ra’s story really needs the help of other practically ordinary people to help bring down Ra’s.
Ra’s and Talia had been around for a little while before the famous first duel between Batman and Ra’s took place.
Batman fakes Bruce Wayne’s death and takes on the identity of Matches Malone for the first time (Malone is introduced and is killed in these issues, leaving the identity available for Batman to use). He teams up with a scientist who had worked with Ra’s (not of his own volition) and they race to stop Ra’s and Talia from unleashing a deadly plague. Through the story, Batman gets aid from some unlikely sources, like a famous skier!!
Ultimately, Batman tracks them down only to discover Ra’s dead. He takes Talia into custody but is then confronted by Ra’s – this is the first time we see the use of the Lazarus Pit. Batman is quickly subdued and Ra’s and his daughter take off.
This is probably the first “wow, Batman is tough” scene, as Batman manages to catch up with them and confront them again in the desert. Ra’s is suitably impressed.
We then see one of the most amazing four-page sequences in superhero comic book history…
Absolutely stunning work by Adams. This absolutely DEFINED Batman comics of this era. Heck, this pretty much defined Batman for the entirety of the 1970s!
8. “Hush” (Batman #608-619)
Hush took a similar approach to Jeph Loeb’s highly successful Long Halloween and Dark Victory comics.
Basically, he took an over-arching storyline and a mysterious villain, and then had each issue work as a spotlight on a different member of Batman’s large supporting cast of heroes and villains.
In Long Halloween, Loeb worked with star artist Tim Sale. Here he worked with Jim Lee, one of the most popular artists in all of comics.
In many ways, Loeb’s intention was simply to give Lee as much cool stuff to draw as possible, and to that end, Loeb wrote the series (where Batman is besieged by a mysterious new villain named Hush) with lots of notable events taking place, including Batman and Catwoman getting together and Batman and Superman having a dramatic battle (Superman was being mind-controlled by Poison Ivy).
During a period when comic sales were in a notable slump, these twelve issues were like manna from heaven for comic book retailers, as they were strikingly popular. The storyline also worked as a sort of basic guideline for many later story arc by different comic book writers. Much like how Die Hard became the foundation for a number of other action films, so, too, did Hush become the prototype for many other significant superhero stories.
7. “R.I.P.” (Batman #676-681)
Batman R.I.P. is the conclusion of Grant Morrison’s initial Batman run, and it basically is as straightforward of a “Good” versus “Evil” story as there is out there (which is particularly interesting seeing as how it came out concurrent with another major Good vs. Evil story, Final Crisis).
Batman has been fighting against the criminal organization the Black Glove, but by the beginning of Batman RIP, the Black Glove has struck at Batman through various methods, some physical but mostly psychological, all designed to destroy Batman’s virtue.
Then Batman essentially goes insane, becoming a twisted form of himself…but is that REALLY what’s going on?
Morrison teases the reader with the question – could anyone go through the events that Batman has gone through over the last 60 plus years and NOT go insane?
So that lends some dramatic tension to Batman’s seeming insanity.
But really, R.I.P. is basically a love letter to Morrison’s view of Batman as “Batgod,” as when the bad guys think that they have broken Batman mentally and physically…well, they forgot one thing…
The whole story turns on its head when you realize just HOW prepared Batman is. I love that the story even forces you to go back nearly twenty issues and see exactly when Batman figured out one part of the plan. It’s all there in the story.