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75 Greatest Batman Writers and Artists: Writers #25-21

by  in Comic News Comment
75 Greatest Batman Writers and Artists: Writers #25-21

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 celebration of Batman’s anniversary at the end of July. The last installment will deal with Batman stories, but this month will be about Batman’s writers and artists (40 artists and 35 writers).

You all voted, now here are the results! Here is a master list of all the writers and artists featured so far. We continue with Batman writers #25-21.


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. Specifically, no “Creator X better not be in the top ten!” or variations of that idea (“Creator X better not be ahead of Creator Y,” etc.) I’ll be deleting any comments like that and, depending on how jerky the comment was, banning commenters.

NOTE #2: Due to an error, Frank Robbins was originally in this section. Now he is in a previous section. So keep that in mind when you see comments referencing Robbins.

25. Marv Wolfman

Marv Wolfman had a short, action-packed run writing Batman between Len Wein and Gerry Conway’s run, but he is best known for his return to the character following Jim Starlin’s run. Wolfman wrote an excellent examination of Batman’s relationship with Dick Grayson (who Wolfman obviously famously wrote in New Teen Titans for over a decade) in Batman Year 3 before writing the introduction of Tim Drake as the third Robin, a much more popular Robin than the previous one, Jason Todd (and the first Robin to gain his own solo title – although obviously Dick Grayson had had a number of regular features as Robin over the years)…

Wolfman followed that storyline, which featured Two-Face, with two other excellent stories featuring two of Batman’s other most prominent rogues, a return of the Joker and a compelling Penguin storyline that crossed over with Detective Comics. I don’t know why his stint on Batman was so relatively brief, but for whatever reason, Wolfman was off the books for good by 1991.

24. Matt Wagner

Matt Wagner made his Batman writing debut with a bang with the stunning three-part Legends of the Dark Knight tale known as “Faces,” where Two-Face kidnaps a group of so-called “freaks” to live out a real-life freak show with him. He is stunned at the end, though, to realize that they don’t consider themselves to be the monster that he sees in himself due to his scars. This leads to a striking conclusion to the story (go to the next page now if you don’t want to ruin the end of this 22 year old story)…

Wagner quickly followed this up with the powerful Batman/Grendel crossover.

Wagner did two striking mini-series set in Batman’s early days where he examines that point in Batman’s life where he truly seemed to believe that he was going to win his war on crime.

Wagner also did a strong mini-series involving Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

23. Peter Milligan

Peter Milligan had a strange little run on Detective Comics, where he really didn’t have a run at all, exactly. He just did a series of one-offs mixed in with longer form stories that even included a crossover with Batman and even a stand-alone arc in Batman proper to bridge the gap between the end of Marv Wolfman’s run and the beginning of Alan Grant’s run. Milligan’s stories were bizarre little tales. His most famous one is undoubtedly “Dark Knight, Dark City,” which involves the demon Barbathos (who possesses the Riddler) who Grant Morrison later used in his own Batman run.

I, for one, though, am partial (as the son of a librarian) to Milligan’s final issue of his Detective Comics’ non-run, #643’s “Library of Souls,” where a demented former librarian decides to improve on the Dewey Decimal System and show his improvement by killing people according to the system!!

So weird it is is awesome.

Go to the next page to see #22-21!

22. Gerry Conway

Gerry Conway came on to the Bat-titles full-time in 1981 with a novel idea, to use both Batman and Detective as if they were, in effect, just one combined title that just came out twice a month. It’s basically the same approach that Marvel did on Amazing Spider-Man with Howard Mackie and more recently with Dan Slott (DC did a variation of it with their Superman titles, although those were multiple writers just working in concert – Mike Carlin was a hell of an editor to have made sense of that approach for so many years). Conway’s first major epic was this fascinating and complex narrative based on the return of Rupert Thorne, who decides to control Gotham’s politics from behind the scenes and ends up with Commisioner Gordon losing his job. At the same time, Vicki Vale comes back into Bruce Wayne’s life, only she’s now more adamant than ever about learning Batman’s secret identity. Conway also brought Dick Grayson back as Robin on a more regular basis (he also returned Batman to the Bat-Cave). Commissioner Gordon got more character development under Conway’s pen than he had received in the previous forty years’ worth of appearances.

Here’s an example of all the plot lines that Conway was juggling at once…

After his Thorne epic finished, Conway told one last big storyline involving the introductions of Killer Croc and Jason Todd (plus the deaths of Todd’s parents).

21. Len Wein

Len Wein had been writing one or two Batman issues here and there for EIGHT YEARS (including the last story before Steve Englehart’s Detective Comics run and the issues after Englehart tying up any loose ends Englehart left) before he finally took over as the regular Batman writer in 1979. Wein’s run was a compelling mixture between action and character-driven work. Character-wise, this run is likely best known for introducing us to Lucius Fox and for re-introducing Catwoman into the Bat-books as a regular supporting cast member.

Wein also wrote a tremendous mini-series detailing Batman’s history, something that was, at the time, quite novel (now stories recapping characters’ origins happen all the time) with John Byrne and Jim Aparo (WOW!) working together on art…

Wein set the title up nicely for Gerry Conway’s run on the book. Wein also has a special piece in Batman lore as being the first writer to have Batman vanish on Commissioner Gordon (in the pages of Swamp Thing, of all places!).

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