Posted by: Mark | February 6, 2015

My Favorite Batman Stories

Unlike Superman, I used to collect Batman comics in the early 80s. It was just long enough before he became popular that I can’t qualify as a hipster, just a dope. It does skew my favorite Batman stories in a direction that most fans think is nuts. For what it’s worth, here they are:

Dark Knight Returns/Batman Year One (1986/1987) Frank Miller – I’m lumping these together because, while I definitely enjoyed them and think they’re objectively better than the rest of my list, I didn’t read them until decades after their release. I can’t really leave them off, but, because they didn’t impact my childhood (at least directly), I can’t rank them any higher.

Justice League of America 186 (1981) Gerry Conway – This is one of those stories that I never want to reread because I’m sure it would turn out to be terrible. In it, Batman and the rest of the JLA once again took on the indestructible Shaggy Man. Everyone else, with all their fancy superpowers, were useless against Shaggy until Batman pulled out his Bat-smarts. I’m sure I’d be embarrassed by it today but when I was young, I loved this story.

Brave and the Bold 111 (1974) Bon Haney – The Joker started out as a deadly villain but Fredric Wertham and other well-meaning idiots forced DC to tone him down to a harmless goof. In the 1970s, DC made him dangerous again (but unlike today where he out-murders Stalin but nobody thinks to put a bullet in his head). In the middle of his 70’s rebirth, in the course of justice, Batman was forced to team up with his nemesis. In the end, the Joker turned out to be a fink and tried to steal the Batmobile. He was is thwarted because to start it, you have to punch up “BATMAN” on the Bat-radio. Seriously.

Batman 350 (1982) Paul Levitz – Batman fights a vampire and is temporarily changed into one. The concept was done before but this was my first exposure to Undead Batman. I liked it a lot. I’m worried that if I reread it, I won’t anymore. I’ll just keep the memories.

Detective Comics 514 (1982) Len Wein – Jerk villain Maxie Zeus manages to get Batman stuck in the mountains where he encounters a man called Haven. Maxie Zeus is a difficult character to pull off but Wein makes him work in this off-beat issue. Would anyone else pick this for a top ten list? Probably not, that’s why this is “favorite,” not “best.”

Batman 357 (1983) Gerry Conway – This is probably the only comic that I bought on the stands and that I still have that is worth anything. It’s the first appearance of Killer Croc, who later became a terrible character, but was initially pretty good. Despite the devolution of Croc, I always think of him as he started out.

Superman Annual 11 (1985) Alan Moore – Although this is a rare case of an animated adaptation being stronger than the original comic, it’s even more notable for being one of the few teaming of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman that works. It’s the only appearance of the Jason Todd Robin that works at all.

Batman 356 (1983) Gerry Conway – Hugo Strange was a fairly lame villain until he figured out Batman’s identity just before being killed by other criminals. Only it turned out that he faked his death to mess with everyone–Batman, the Mafia, supervillains, Ronald Reagan. In this issue he tricked Bruce Wayne into entering a fake Wayne Manor and began to drive him crazy. This issue features Batman’s greatest naked fight (seriously).

Batman 347 (1982) Roger Slifer – Two teenagers plan to commit a robbery while Batman is off-planet with the JLA (apparently they’re smarter than 97% of the criminals in Gotham). One of them remembers legends of Batman’s exploits and convinces the other to look for an honest job. This is one of the very few stories where Batman actually inspires someone to do good rather than just beat somebody up.

Batman 66 (1951) Bill Finger – “The Joker’s Comedy of Errors” aka “Batman’s Greatest Boner.” The greatest comic ever written (by the guy who at the very least co-created Batman). “Laugh at my boner, will they?” Pure magic.

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Responses

  1. I always thought Batman’s involvement with the Outsiders was very underrated.

  2. I never got many of those but compared to what I did get, I probably should have.

  3. […] one book for so long, I’ve got more personal, subjective material here than my Superman and Batman lists […]


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