Best Comics of 2017: Batman's Year of Unprecedented Growth


Few writers in recent memory have had more standout issues/stories in a single year than DC Comics' current Batman scribe Tom King. Let’s run down the list of just a few of the 2017 highlights from King and his artistic collaborators: “Rooftops,” “The Button,” “The Brave and the Mold,” “Every Epilogue is a Prelude” (a.k.a. the proposal issue), “The War of Jokes and Riddles” (including the “Ballad of Kite Man” interlude), Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1, Batman Annual #2, and “Superfriends."

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Whether they were one-shots, crossovers or full-fledged story arcs, these were some of the most talked about comics of the year, and that they all came from King makes this feat all the more impressive. (Admittedly, the twice-monthly schedule does create a larger sample size.) But Batman isn't just one of the best-written books on the stands but one of the best-looking, as well.

David Finch, Mikel Janin, Joelle Jones, Mitch Gerads, Lee Weeks, Jason Fabok and Clay Mann, who all contributed to Batman in the past year, are some of the most talented artists in mainstream comics. Jordie Bellaire and June Chung's picturesque color art has been at the forefront of nearly every issue this year.

Aside from buzzworthy stories and gorgeous aesthetics, though, what is it that truly makes Batman one of the top books of 2017? Well, when you look back at the Caped Crusader’s near-80-year history, you can clearly see that he’s evolved from the gun-toting vigilante of the Golden Age to the campy detective of the Silver Age to, eventually, the modern depiction of the character we’ve all grown accustomed to. Yet the amount of development readers have seen from Batman in 2017 alone is practically unprecedented.

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How many people ever thought we’d see the brooding Dark Knight pop the question to Catwoman, or invite Joker and Riddler to Wayne Manor for dinner, or eat a burger with a fork and knife? (OK, that last one was a little weird.) And how many of us ever considered that, before the trauma of his parents’ murder drove him to war on all criminals, it nearly drove a young Bruce Wayne to suicide? (This revelation was from late last year in “I Am Suicide,” though the ramifications have bled into 2017 through the ongoing Bat/Cat love story.)

In 2016, Tom King and David Finch gamely took over DC's flagship title in the unenviable position of following the beloved 51-issue run by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. In 2017, King and the series' illustrators established Batman as easily one of the best comics of the year.

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