75 Greatest Batman Stories: #45-41

by  in Comic News Comment
75 Greatest Batman Stories: #45-41

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 #45-41!


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.

45. “Ten Nights of the Beast” (Batman #417-420)

This action thriller by Jims Starlin and Aparo and inker Mike DeCarlo involves the introduction of a soviet super killer known as the KGBeast who has taken an assignment involving killing LOTS of people in Gotham City, including ultimately Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States (who was coming to town for a visit).

The big thing that Starlin wanted to establish in the series was that the Beast was something different than Batman’s typical foes – this was a guy that Batman might not be able to beat on his own…

There is an (in?)famous scene in the storyline where the Beast even chooses to cut his OWN HAND OFF to escape from Batman. He then has a gun grafted on to place where his missing hand was!!! Say WHAT?

Ultimately, Batman decides that he has to make a decision he never thought he would have to do to finally take the Beast down.

44. “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne” (The Brave and the Bold #197)

The first time that we learned that the Earth 2 Batman and Catwoman were married was the same issue that we learned that they had a kid and that Catwoman was killed (which sent their kid, Helena Wayne, into becoming the Huntress), so we never really had much time for background on their romance. As it turned out, it was not until they BOTH had been killed that we finally learned about their courtship, in an issue of The Brave and the Bold by Alan Brennert, Joe Staton and George Freeman.

The concept behind the issue is that the Earth 2 Scarecrow douses Batman with fear gas that makes all of Batman’s friends and loved ones invisible to him. He thinks that they’ve all been killed or taken prisoner. Since he has no more friends to turn to for help, he decides to ask one of his old enemies, Catwoman, for help. As they track the Scarecrow down, though, they begin to bond. First through an awesome moment involving Batman’s history of pain…

and then a moment of honesty between a pair of old foes…

Of course, you might be thinking “But if Batman’s loved ones disappear, then what happens if he falls for Catwoman?” Well, read the darned comic book! It’s a really good one.

43. “The Cult” (Batman: The Cult #1-4)

The Cult was essentially Jim Starlin and Berni Wrightson’s attempt to take what Frank Miller did in The Dark Knight Returns and adapt it to both modern times and the then-current Batman continuity.

It involved a man named Deacon Blackfire who has taken over an army of “underworlders.” At the beginning of the series, he has captured Batman and has been torturing him to try to break him. He eventually succeeds. Batman eventually escapes but his spirit is practically broken. Gotham City has been taken over by Blackfire’s army and many Gotham politicians are killed (with Commissioner Gordon almost killed as well). The National Guard is called in but things seem bleak. However, Batman is able to muster up the courage to conquer Blackfire’s brainwashing…

Go to the next page for #42-41!

42. KnightsEnd (Batman #509-510, Shadow of the Bat #29-30, Detective Comics #676-677, Legends of the Dark Knight #62-63, Robin #8 and Catwoman #12)

So a couple of notable things happened during KnightQuest. First off, Bruce Wayne’s back healed. Secondly, the new Batman, Jean-Paul Valley, had gone sort of nuts and had turned his Batman costume into more and more of an armored suit (adding flamethrowers, all sorts of stuff). He was also getting harsher and harsher with criminals. Eventually, Bruce decided he had to return to Gotham City to take the Batman mantle back, but he found Jean-Paul was not going to give it up peacefully…

And so the two Batmen had a lot of major fights, with Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman along for the ride (a lot of fans took issue with Nightwing not being around for the original Knightfall storyline, so he was heavily featured in this story).

Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, Doug Moench and Denny O’Neil delivered the story for the crossover and there was a whole pile of artists working on it (Mike Manley and Joe Rubinstein did the art for the issue of Batman I sampled above).

41. “The Player on the Other Side” (Batman Special #1)

“The Player on the Other Side” is one of those stories that is based on an idea that is so brilliant that you can’t believe it took until 1984 before someone thought of it. Mike W. Barr was the one who finally came up with the idea of doing a story about a young boy whose criminal parents were killed by a cop, thus sending him into a life of crime to avenge his parents’ death.

Of course, as cool as the concept of The Wrath is, if the story wasn’t drawn by Michael Golden (with inks by Mike DeCarlo), maybe it would not have been quite as well-remembered…

Wow, that is some amazing artwork.

Anyhow, the Wrath is a hired killer who specializes in killing cops. He is hired by a mob boss’ daughter to avenge her father by killing Commissioner Gordon. Along the way, the Wrath realizes his and Batman’s shared origin, leading to one heck of a final showdown.