Friday, February 12, 2016

Who's the Best... Batman Story?


Doug: Our long-awaited (yeah, seriously - people have been clamoring for it) review of The Dark Knight Returns lands in just a few days. Ahead of that, let's talk Batman stories. Whatcha got for a fave? Is it TDKR? How about something from the Englehart/Rogers/Austin team? There has been some love around here before for "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!" Or, maybe it was an episode of Batman: The Animated Series? Whatever -- let's have some fun reminiscing on the adventures of the Caped Crusader.






23 comments:

Anonymous said...

It might be the least original answer anyone could possibly give, but I have to say Year One. David Mazzuchelli's art is gorgeous yet perfect for the noir-ish feel of the story. Frank Miller's script is arguably his best, and the plotting is much tighter than what's on display in Dark Knight Returns. There are so many memorable sequences and one-liners. The first time I read the page in which Batman surprises the gangsters during their dinner meeting I got chills. Just writing about it makes me want to take out the trade paperback and dive in for the umpteenth time.

- Mike Loughlin

Redartz said...

My first response would be pretty obvious too; Englehart/Rogers's "Laughing Fish" story. A perfect combination of great script, art, and characterization. This story just defines the Joker for me, and epitomizes Batman's famed detective skills.

Yet my 'real' answer will be a bit less obvious: "Batman/Spirit" by Darwyn Cooke and Jeph Loeb. An absolute romp of a story, with art and script perfectly meshed (totally different from the above instance, but still excellent). It is such fun seeing the Batman face up to some of Denny Colt's adversaries, and vice versa. And the scenes with Pamela Isley hitting on Dolan, while P'Gell entrances Commissioner Gordon, are worth the price of the ride alone. I'm a sucker for well-done humor, and this story doesn't disappoint.

Edo Bosnar said...

I'm going with "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne" from Brave & the Bold #197. It's simply one of the most memorable Batman stories I've ever read.

Doug said...

Edo --

I noticed last night while searching for some info. for yesterday's post that DC is going to collect all of their Elseworlds stories. There will be volumes for Batman, Superman, the JLA, and Wonder Woman. Figured you'd want to be on the lookout.

Doug

J.A. Morris said...

Since Doug brought up comics and cartoons:
The best comic book story:Jokerfish by Engelhart/Rogers/Austin gets the slight nod over the first Ra's Al Ghul story.
Best animated:A tie:"Christmas With the Joker from Batman:TAS"(brilliant Mark Hamill performance!) and "Invasion Of The Secret Santas" from the recent Batman:The Brave and The Bold series.

Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, thanks for the tip - it's nice to know that the Elseworlds line is getting some love. However, over the years I've managed to find quite a few of the various Elseworld books, so I'm wondering if I'll have any need to get these.
Personally, I'd prefer it if DC would just finally get around to collecting a few of the ones I don't have, like JLA: Destiny and JLA: Secrety Society of Super-heroes, and - especially - reprint Chaykin's Thrillkiller tpb (since it's gone out of print, it's been impossible to find a copy for less than $30-40).

William said...

My personal favorite Batman story combines comics and the Timm-verse animated series. It is the Batman: Mad Love graphic novel by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. Not only my favorite Batman story, but one of my all time favorite comics period.

Doug said...

The sample image from BTAS that I included on the post is from the episode "Almost Got 'im". It's is one of my favorites in that series, and I recall that our boys had a book-and-tape set when they were little.

Generally speaking, most episodes in that original couple of seasons could qualify as a favorite in some way. Quality writing and animation throughout.

I've always liked the Alan Davis-drawn Joker/Catwoman story that I reviewed here some time ago. It's from Detective #s 569-570. Maybe not my favorite, but really enjoyable.

Doug

Garett said...

I'm loving all of Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol.3, and some of my favorites are the ones with Ra's Al Ghul and Talia in Batman 232, 243-44. It's fun to have a love interest for Batman with Talia, and Ra's is a mysterious figure, more real life and less cackling supervillain. It's too bad the recent Batman movies weren't closer to these comics. Also Joker's 5-Way Revenge in Batman 251 is great, many classic Neal Adams images in that one. The Halloween special in Batman 237 is awesome, and fun that they included real people in the story, including artist Bernie Wrightson.

Favorite Batman guest appearance: Swamp Thing 7. Wrightson draws a cool Batman.

Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vol. 1 is packed with great Brave & Bold stories by Haney + Aparo. I don't think I can name one favorite, but some teamups that come to mind are the ones with Wildcat, Deadman, Kamandi, Black Canary, Man-Bat, Metal Men....

Story I'd like to read again: Adventure 461-63 with the death of the Earth-2 Batman, by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton. Staton was the best at drawing the Justice Society.

Plus I have to include Garcia Lopez Batman. Favorite review I'm looking forward to: Batman vs. Hulk!

Garett said...

Looking forward to your Dark Knight review too Doug! I loved that book and Year One when they came out, and have read them several times since, but I get a more positive vibe from the comics I listed. Frank Miller over the years has seemed like more and more of a downer.

The art by Jim Lee on Batman Hush is pretty to look at, but I haven't been able to reread the story. The writing doesn't have the personality that Denny O'Neil or Bob Haney or Len Wein brought to their stories.

Redartz said...

William- great call on "Mad Love". A favorite here too.

Doug- you are also quite right on the quality of those BTAS episodes. My kind wife gifted me with season 2 on dvd for Christmas, and I'm amazed at how good each episode was.

Anonymous said...

Batman #331 with the Electrocutioner...I loved that one when I was a kid.

Seriously though, I can't really pick just one. A lot of those stories by Englehart, O'Neil, Conway, Moench, Aparo, Rogers, Colan, Novick, et al. were great. So I can't really narrow it down. I'll have to re-read some of those one of these days.

Mike Wilson

Anonymous said...

Detective Comics #500 Anniversary Issue - the title of the story (I think) was "A Dark and Stormy Night" by Len Wein and Walt Simonson. Only a couple of pages long but it always makes me smile. It perfectly encapsulates the character of Batman.

Kevin

Anonymous said...

Oooh, tough question...
DKR is great of course - although DC seem determined to diminish it with sequels - as is Swamp Thing 53 by Alan Moore and John Totleben.
And I really like Dave Gibbons' contribution to Batman Black and White.

But the best would have to be drawn by the definitive Batman artist, right? So my pick is Neal Adams' Batman Odyssey.
Its in a class of its own!

-sean

Garett said...

Did you actually make it through Batman Odyssey Sean? I have it and I'm going to give it another go sometime. It's interesting, because I've been reading through the Deadman series from the '60s, and Neal Adams wrote quite a bit of that. It's quite good, and of course the art is marvelous. So Adams can write. But I found Odyssey a tough one to get through--only made it about halfway. I didn't think the art was up to Adams' previous work, but it was still good. But I was wishing Denny O'Neil had done the scripting. I'd be interested in hearing your take on it.

derek marrero said...

These are all great choices, but I'm gonna have to throw a curve ball here. Brave and the Bold 124, where Batman teams up Sgt.Rock and Bob Haney and Jim Aparo help them out! One of the weirdest and most fun Batman stories I've ever read.

Also, any Batman story written by Alan Brennert automatically qualifies as a favorite to Me.

Anonymous said...

DKR!

- Mike 'the mysterious Batboy' from Trinidad & Tobago.

William said...

Been reading through the comments and I can totally agree that it's hard to pick a favorite when it comes to the Batman Animated Series. I love that show so much. It's really what is responsible for my becoming the huge Batman fan I am today. Just about every single episode was so quality. It is still the standard of what I consider to be the real Batman. Because when I think of Batman, that is what I picture in my head.

As for comiconly versions of Batman, I am big fan of the Marshall Rogers / Englehart era. So many classic stories from such a short run is pretty amazing.

And Garett, I am also loving those Neal Adams Illustrated Bat books. I read Volume 2 and 3 last year, and I got Volume 1 for Christmas, but I haven't read it yet. Though I am exited to check it out.

Lloyd Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lloyd Smith said...

Ol' Groove here (via phone as my laptop is in the shop)...As much love as I have for the Englehart/Rogers/Austin run, the Denny O'Neal Adams run, Miller/Mazzuchlli,and Moench/Jones, my all-time fave Batman story is the original Monk two-parter by Gardner Fox and Bob Kane. So gritty/spooky/cool, and its my definitive idea of The Batman (right down to the grim smile he gives the fear-filled crowd he flies over in the Bat-Gyro-- perfect pulpy combo of The Shadow and Doc Savage right there). My all-time favorite Batman mag is the 1978 Batman Special.

Anonymous said...

Garett - Whats not to like about Batman on a pterodactyl?

To be honest, I was being a bit mischievous citing Batman Odyssey; of course the other stories I mentioned are better - as are Year One and Killing Joke - and I tend to agree with your comments.
For me theres something about Batman as a character that doesn't quite work, but he has a visual appeal that often brings out the best in artists... so outside the 80s Miller and Moore stuff, I usually find Bat books a tough read. In that context, Odyssey is great. It gives us the definitive Batman artist doing a distinctive, fresh take on the character.
Which I guess is another way of saying - Batman on a pterodactyl!

I kind of like the craziness of it; I actually have read the whole thing, and still can't really explain what happens! Last I read, Neal was talking about reviving Kamandi. Now that really sounds like something - he is the perfect writer for DCs Kirby stuff(I believe his upcoming Superman book is Fourth World related...?)

As for the Odyssey art.. seemed like there was some mismatch with the inkers in places? A pity Sienkiewicz didn't do the whole thing.

-sean

Anonymous said...

PS Bit surprised there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm for Killing Joke here. I know its come in for a bit of criticism in recent years - not least from its writer! - but has it really gone that much out of fashion...?

-sean

JJ said...

My favorite is "Son of the Demon", a 1987 graphic novel by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham. The art is exquisite, very much in the definitive Adams/Rogers/Garcia-Lopez vein, while the story sees Batman take on his arch-nemesis Ras Al Ghul. Talia plays a big role, and we actually get a love story here that manages to shake up the Batman status quo. Grant Morrison would use elements from this years later in his long Batman run. This is a poignant, action-packed story, one of the character's best. The relationship between Ras and Batman is written beautifully.

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