Every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!
Today, based on a suggestion from reader Jim S. (who saw it referenced on Reddit, based on Billy Arrwosmith's detailed write-up on the story), we look at the time that Batman was tricked into slicing a baby's throat open by the Riddler.
"Dark Knight, Dark City," by Peter Milligan, Kieron Dwyer and Dennis Janke (with covers by the great Mike Mignola) in Batman #452-454 (bridging the gap from Marv Wolfman's run on Batman to Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle's run) was, for years, one of the most underrated storylines in Batman's history. Eventually, largely due to Grant Morrison later relying on it heavily during his run on Batman, it got more and more attention until finally it has been reprinted in a few different formats so it is much better known today.
The storyline opens with the Riddler kidnapping four babies and putting Batman through a twisted scavenger hunt, like having to save a security guard from hanging or having to avoid hitting a baby with the Batmobile (while then being doused with blood from a blood bank). The Riddler is acting quite bloodthirsty throughout the story, leading to the most messed up trick he has planned. The Riddler is holding a baby hostage and is telling Batman that he has just fed the baby a ping pong ball!
Awesome sequence by Milligan and excellent Dwyer/Janke artwork.
Batman eventually finishes the hunt, only to be captured by the Riddler, who reveals that all of this has been about doing a ritual needed to control the bat-demon Barbathos...
Of course, this leads to the twist - Barbathos has been controlling the Riddler the entire time, all to draw Batman in to STOP the attempt to control Barbatos! And instead to free the spirit of the original sacrifice used back in the 18th Century (scenes of the former sacrifice had been intercut throughout the three issues)...
Batman does so, ending the threat of Barbathos. So the Riddler luckily was not really THAT messed up. Still, it made for a striking (and strange) sequence - Batman slicing a baby's throat!
Thanks to Jim for the suggestion (and, I guess, in turn, thanks to Reddit for inspiring Jim to contact me)! If YOU have a suggestion for a strange comic book story, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org