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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Top 10 Batman Stories

First Appearance of The Batman
Now that the hype over The Dark Knight Rises has calmed down a little and not to mention the subsequent reaction over the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings, I would like to continue blogging as usual...and since it's Wednesday, being new comic book day, I wanted to look back at all the great Batman stories that have impressed and inspired over the years. I have been a huge Batman fan almost all my life. Ever since watching the "Super-Friends" and "Batman" cartoons of the late 70's reruns and the "Super-Powers" show. I even enjoyed the laughable '60's TV show when I was a kid and grew up during the height of the original Tim Burton Batman movie and of course remarkable "Batman: The Animated Series". Since his first appearance in "Detective Comics" #27 in May, 1939, THE Batman has gone through many different incarnations from dark avenger to family-friendly crusader and back again. For over 70-years there have been many talented writers and artists who have added to the Batman mythos some changing the character forever or forgotten in the annals of comics history. Creator Bob Kane left a legacy for generations of readers and fans and all those involved from Bill Finger, Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and many others who have kept the Bat-signal lit over the years. CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Proudly Presents The Top 10 Batman Stories...Enjoy!

#10 "Gotham By Gaslight" (Feb. 1989) Written by Brian Augustyn, art by Michael Mignola - Originally a DC Comics one-shot it is considered to be the first "Elseworlds" story. Set in 1889, Batman searches for a murderer in Gotham City whose crimes resemble Jack the Ripper! The story spawned a sequel: "Master of the Future" in 1991.

#9 "The Long Halloween" (1996-1997) Written by Jeph Loeb, art by Tim Sale - With the success of the "Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials" by Loeb and Sale, the team reunited and published a 13-issue maxi-series featuring holiday themed storylines with some of Batman's major villains. Set in the early years of Batman's career, Batman tracks down a villain known as Holiday, who kills on holidays.

Breaking of the Bat
#8 "Batman: A Death in the Family" (1988-1989) Written by Jim Starlin, art by Jim Aparo with covers by Mike Mignola - Featured in the pages of "Batman" #s 426-429, the story followed the infamous events that lead to death of the second Robin (Jason Todd) who died at the hands of the Joker. The unique aspect to the story was that DC Comics planned two alternate endings where Robin either lived or died and left it to the readers to a vote by phone call to a 1-900 number. The vote was close, but ultimately Robin died horrifically in a bomb explosion. The disadvantage to the vote was that many who voted were not current readers and thought it was deciding the fate of the original Robin (Dick Grayson) who had recently become Nightwing.

#7 "Hush" (2002-2003) Written by Jeph Loeb, art by Jim Lee - A 12-issue storyline in featured in Batman #'s 608-619, Hush, is a mysterious stalker later revealed to be Dr. Thomas "Tommy" Elliot, a former childhood friend of Bruce Wayne's, who attempts to destroy Batman by manipulating many of Batman's allies and enemies.

#6 "Birth of the Demon" (1992) Written by Dennis O'Neil, art by Norm Breyfogle - Following the campy 1966 Batman TV show as the 1960's came to a close and the 70's began, Batman was going through some major changes. Under the direction of DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz and with the help of writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams, Batman would once again return to his darker roots. With the change also came the introduction a new major villain: Ra's Al Ghul, The Demon's Head! Created by O'Neal and Adams, Ra's first appeared in Batman #232, June 1971, with the story "Daughter of the Demon" the daughter of Ra's al Ghul, Talia and Robin are kidnapped but it turns out all to be a plot by Ra's to prove whether Batman was worthy. "Birth of the Demon" is the telling of Ra's al Ghul's origin and the death of his wife surrounding a story where a dying Ra's sends his forces to search for new Lazarus pits which leads to the ultimate confrontation between The Demon and The Detective!

#5 "Batman: Arkham Asylum (A Serious House on Serious Earth)" (1989) Written by Grant Morrison, Illustrated by Dave McKean, lettering by Gaspar Saladino - A fully-painted graphic novel  All Hell breaks loose when the inmates of Arkham Asylum led by the Joker takes over and takes the staff hostage and threatens to kill them unless Batman agrees to meet with them. "Arkham Asylum" is a truly unique and disturbing story and an artistic masterpiece!

#4 "Knightfall" (1993-1994), Quite possibly the longest running crossover storyline in Batman's history with multiple writers and artists contributing to five different titles including "Detective Comics", "Batman", "Legends of the Dark Knight", "Shadow of the Bat" and spin-off titles "Robin" and "Catwoman". The story featured a new villain Bane, who plotted to "break" the Batman, first by releasing the inmates of Arkham Asylum and then beating Batman and breaking his back. The story continued with "KnightQuest" which featured a new Batman: Jean-Paul Valley (now Azrael) and his exploits as he defeats Bane and grows unstable until the conclusion "KnightsEnd" as Bruce Wayne returns and fights Valley for the title of Batman. Bruce wins but ultimately passes on the mantle of the Batman to Dick Grayson concluding the story with "KnightsEnd: Aftermath".

The Dark Knight Retunrs
#3 "Batman: Year One" (1987), Written by Frank Miller, art by David Mazzucchelli - Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986), DC Comics rebooted many of it's titles including Superman and Batman. Featured in the pages of Batman #'s 404-407, this modern retelling of the origin and early career of The Batman, featuring Selina Kyle as the Catwoman a dominatrix prostitute. The story continued with Year Two in 1987 but with the events of Zero Hour in 1994, Year Two was erased from continuity. Later, Year Three retold the origin of Robin.

#2 "The Dark Knight Returns" (1986), Written by and art by Frank Miller - This Four-issue limited series tells the story of an aged Batman who comes out of retirement to battle the rising crime-rate of Gotham City, recruiting a young female Robin (Carrie Kelly). Batman goes to extremes in battling a gang called The Mutants, nearly killing The Joker and almost beating Superman to death! Afterward, Batman has a heart-attack and fakes his death.

#1 "Batman: The Killing Joke" (1988), Written by Alan Moore, art by Brian Bolland - This monumental one-shot graphic novel features the origin of The Joker, who started out as a petty-costumed criminal known as The Red Hood, who jumps into a vat of chemicals to escape the Batman but emerges permanently altered with white-skin, green hair and red-lips. Later The Joker attempts to drive Police Commissioner Gordon insane by imprisoning him in a cage at a freak show, then shoots and paralyzes Barbara Gordon (Batgirl, who later becomes Oracle). Batman soon tracks down the Joker but instead of fighting him attempts to offer to help him, putting an end to the madness. Joker declines and instead tells him a joke that actually makes Batman laugh.