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!
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.
75. The Rupert Thorne Saga (Batman #339-346, 348-356 and Detective Comics #507-512, 514-522)
This storyline was Gerry Conway’s first epic tale during his run writing both Batman and Detective Comics in the early 1980s. It was a continuation of the Rupert Thorne/Hugo Strange haunting from Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers’ stint on Detective. It was a sprawling tale that worked in a number of plots, from Thorne manipulating Gotham City’s elections to Vicki Vale returning (after being gone for about a gazillion years) to try to learn Batman’s secret identity to Robin returning to be Batman’s partner once again (and the two not exactly getting along) to Batman dealing with vampires to Batman being OUTLAWED in Gotham City, a whole lot of stuff happened on top of finally seeing the resolution to Thorne’s haunting by Strange. Guest stars were used wonderfully, as well, in this epic, as Conway embraced the whole DC Universe, using the Human Target, Jason Bard AND Dr. Thirteen well.
The whole thing was beautifully handled by a variety of artists, most notably Gene Colan, Don Newton (who drew the featured pages here with inks by Alfredo Alcala) and Irv Novick.
74. “The Lazarus Affair” (Batman #332-335)
The Lazarus Affair was a rollicking action-packed international adventure that worked sort of like a big budget James Bond-like blockbuster, only starring Batman. It was drawn by Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin and written by Marv Wolfman, who spun it out of his back-up stories during Len Wein’s Batman run.
Wolfman used Talia, Catwoman, Robin and King Faraday as supporting players in this tale that zigged and zagged all across the globe, ultimately leading to one of the top Ra’s Al Ghul/Batman battles.
Along the way, we got scenes like the following…
Bad guys on skis with lasers!! Awesome!
73. “The Batman Nobody Knows” (Batman #250)
This charming Frank Robbins/Dick Giordano joint was the first story in a now familiar type of tale – the “Everyone sees Batman for what they want to think of him”…
Very fun stuff.
Read on to the next page for #72-69
72. Earth One (Batman: Earth One Volume 1)
When Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Jonathan Sibal re-invented Batman for this alternate reality “fresh start” graphic novel series, they didn’t just slightly adapt the Batman mythos, they took an entirely different approach to Batman and how he evolved as a character. Here was a Batman who was still unsure of himself even after BECOMING Batman.
It was a heartfelt and inviting look into a new hero who doesn’t even really realize just how badly his parents’ deaths has messed with his head, even as he swears vengeance for their deaths. Alfred, also, is a much more hardened character…
It was a smash success and DC is continuing the series.
71. “The Night of the Reaper” (Batman #237)
This story was based on an idea by Bernie Wrightson and was drawn by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, scripted by Denny O’Neil and involved some input from Harlan Ellison. It was one of the classic 1970s trips that DC and Marvel made to Rutland, VT for their annual Halloween celebration. Here, Dick Grayson heads out to the celebration but gets caught up in a dangerous situation…
Holy crap that Reaper page is amazing.
The story behind the reaper is a very much “of the time” story, but Adams and Giordano’s artwork sells the story beautifully. Such epic pages.
70. War on Crime (Batman: War on Crime)
Speaking of epic pages, War on Crime is an oversized graphic novel by Paul Dini and Alex Ross.
Ross just goes nuts with all the space he is given as he puts a tragically human face on crime in Gotham City, juxtaposing Bruce Wayne’s ruined childhood with kids whose childhoods are ruined in a whole other fashion…
Epic is a great word to describe it.
69. “Deathmask” (Detective Comics #437)
This powerful story by Archie Goodwin was the first time that Jim Aparo drew a Batman story outside of The Brave and the Bold. Aparo did not disappoint as he was wonderful on this gripping story of men being “driven mad” by a “haunted” mask…
68. World’s Finest (World’s Finest #1-3)
World’s Finest was a prestige format mini-series written by Dave Gibbons with artwork by Steve Rude.
The series was mostly centered around what happens when Lex Luthor and Joker strike up a bargain….
It is very well remembered for how astonishingly good Steve Rude’s artwork is in the series. As you can see from these sample pages. However, I thought Gibbons also did a very nice job on the character work, which this series was heavy on – this was a slowly delivered series – lots of room to dwell on the little character interactions between the various Superman and Batman cast members.
And, of course, we got this awesome gift sequence…
67. Batman vs. Predator (Batman vs. Predator #1-3)
Dave Gibbons is on the list again! Again with a prestige format mini-series, although this time it is almost more impressive because it is a inter-company crossover and those rarely turn out well (but when they do, wow, are they memorable!). This was a good one as the Batman/Predator match-up is such a clearly cool one.
Andy and Adam Kubert combine to do the artwork. The story is a simple but effective one – Batman fights the Predator and gets his ass kicked. So he has to make some…adjustments…
66. “Zero Year” (Batman Vol. 2 #21-27, 29-current)
I would imagine that as time goes by, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Danny Miki’s Zero Year will only rise in voters’ minds, but it is understandable for a story that has not yet actually finished that people might not be ready to judge it fully. However, in just the issues that HAVE been released we’ve already been treated to a powerful epic, split into three parts (Secret City, Dark City and the current Savage City).
This is sort of a re-telling of Batman’s origins, but it is SO much more than that. It is a man still learning how to be the best symbol that he can be, but it is also one of the Riddler’s most notable stories of all-time. The basic gist is that the Riddler has been manipulating people and events to the point where he basically has taken over Gotham City, cutting it off from the rest of the world. This runs through the background of Secret City and comes to a head in Dark City, leading to Savage City, where Riddler is in charge and Batman has seemingly failed. However, you know that can knock the Bat down, but you can’t KEEP him down…
Greg Capullo has been outstanding on this series and Snyder just keeps upping the ante with more and more outrageous sequences like the ones I showed you above. He has really taken a hold of all the freedom that comic book writers have of not having to worry about special effects budgets and logistics to just tell an endlessly surprising and entertaining series of stories that simply keep building and building and just when you think that they have to plateau – they keep building! It’s been a hell of a ride and I look forward to seeing how it all ends.