Same old same?
There are hundreds of these batman top 10/20 etc floating around the interwebs and most of them are pretty much the same. So with that in mind I’ve stretched it to over 40 with the strict criteria that I am positive a lot of these lists do not adhere to. If I have not read it……it will not be going onto my list. Sounds obvious but I know what goes on in these sneaky lists, I have my integrity dammit! No folding to peer pressure here and If I think it warrants a place then it goes on the list….if I think something is overrated, it won’t. …..That said, most of the classics will still end up on here so my rant is probably redundant as usual. Also, this doesn’t really extend to other members of the batman universe as I’ll be doing a robin list, a joker list etc. I’ll be releasing these in stages so it’s not all dumped at one time. I know you folks are busy and don’t want to trawl through tonnes of my ramblings. That said, here we go!
47. Hush: year-2002/03
Ok ….here we go. Nothing like starting off with some controversy eh? I’ll either get comments saying “WHIT?! HOW COULD IT BE SO LOW? PURE CLASSIC MATE!” or “WHIT?! OVERRATED NONSENSE, DOESN’T BELONG ANYWHERE NEAR HERE!” There seems to be no middle ground when discussing Hush so let’s break the mold. Anyone familiar with Batman comics will have probably been involved in an argument about the merits of Hush, written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by superstar artist Jim (there will be boobs) Lee. Whatever your thoughts on the arc which ran from Batman #608-619, there is no denying the impact it had on the business. It sold like ….like Cameron’s Forfar bridies (that’s a lot) but boy has it caused a lot of fights on various forums, where the line between fact and opinion are blurred, leaving the righteous posters confused as to why anyone on the planet would have the gall to have a differing opinion……..aaaaand relax. Anyway it seemed like this whole collaboration was just a way for Lee to show off his skills as Loeb wrote almost every character ever into his story which makes for a fun, if confusing cluster mess of an arc. Jim Lee is one of the most popular artists in comics and has been since his big break on the x-men in the early 90s but I’ve always been divided on him. He’s technically stunning and draws some jaw dropping scenes but he seems to be quite repressed about something because every woman he draws seems to have massive boobs and hips that could fit through a wedding ring, striking poses that would make porn stars blush. It’s always been off putting to me and he’s from that generation of “kids love massive guns and huge boobs in every situation ever” but there’s no denying that some of his work on Hush is breathtaking. I always see this story being recommended to new readers but I don’t agree at all, it’s quite confusing in places and I don’t think I could properly explain the ending to you without reading it again. That said, seeing all the characters and the bright art beautiful inked and coloured by Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair respectively is quite a sight. I haven’t even explained what it’s about have I? Some bandaged fella knows who Batman is and is trying to bring him and everyone in his life down. Chaos ensues yaddy yadda. Good fun and not nearly as bad as the backlash against its popularity would suggest. Definitely worth a read.
Essentially a showcase of Lee Bermejo’s stunning artistic talents but he also wrote this one shot based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The two universes collide as there are Dickens characters coming into contact with the likes of Batman and The Joker. It’s wonderful to just look through with your jaw slightly agape and I’m a huge Bermejo fan. I’m hoping for more of these kinds of showcases in the future.
45.The Batman vs Predator Trilogy-Year:92/92, 93/94, 97/98
One of those crossovers where you wonder how on earth it’s going to work but lo and behold they nailed it. From Andy Kubert’s gritty, grimy and filthy art to Dave Gibbons’ interesting story we see the alien hunter let loose in Gotham and The Dark Knight is up against a real challenge. as the predator is every bit as fight smart as he is, maybe even more so as Bats finds himself on the end of an arse beating. The first in the trilogy is by far the best but I put the three in as they work as one entry.
44. Blades: Year-1992
James Robinson wrote this short tale which was originally released in Legends of the Dark Knight #32-34 drawn by the brilliantly expressive and unique Tim Sale, who will feature on this list a few times. The story itself concerns a new vigilante in town who dresses sharply like a musketeer and is oozing charisma. This gains the confidence of the people of Gotham until he begins to act less honourably as the story progresses. He is a very skilled swordsman who carries a rapier and manages to beat Batman in a sword fight. That’s right, a Z-list villain that’s barely remembered managed to do something that his more famous villains could never do. He’s not to be confused with the original Cavalier who debuted in the Bob Kane days. Tim Sale delivers his usual quality work and this is just one of those little throw away stories that stay with you…..so it’s not throw away at all but you get me. One of those filler stories that end up being better than some of the big epic stories that plague comics these days. It’s nice to quickly read through a short story that keeps a nice pace and can be done in no time. Growing up with British comics, that style still appeals to me as short, punchy stories are a very British style of comic. You can get this in the Tim Sale edition of Tales Of The Batman and I suggest you do.
43. Going Sane: Year-1994
Legends of the dark knight was a great series, asking up and coming and established writers to add to Batman’s mythos by scribing self contained stories. Writers such as Grant Morrison, Denny O Neil, Matt Wagner, Alan Grant all contributed and created stories that for the most part have become somewhat memorable classics still talked about by many fans today. Going sane was written by J.M DeMatteis, probably best known for the spider-man classic “Kraven’s Last Hunt” which will no doubt be appearing on a future Kinker Korner and asks the question “What would happen if the Joker succeeded? If he killed Batman then what next?” The answer is, he becomes the most normal and boring man on the planet. Living in a cosy house in a nice part of Gotham, meeting a nice girl and repressing memories of his past under the name Joseph Kerr…….took me until half way through the story to figure that one out, utterly ashamed of myself. Only problem for old Joe is Batman isn’t really dead and his memories start creeping back in. Great stuff here but my gripe is with the art. Not a fan of the work here by Joe Statonand , in particular his take on Joe which made him look like a Saturday evening quiz show host from the 70s. Just personal taste though, some may really enjoy it. This doesn’t detract from the unique concept and textbook delivery from DeMatteis which make this a very interesting read.
42. A Death In The Family: Year-1988/89
Ok, I’m imagining if you’re used to these kinds of lists you would be expecting this to be higher but here we are. The fact it’s made my list shows that I do like it but in all honesty I much prefer the behind the scenes stories than the arc itself. For those that don’t know, Robin grew up and became Nightwing and was all like “Na Batman stop making me wear the pixie boots….and can I get a pair of breeks it’s freezin’” so he went on to become Nightwing and fight on his own. Batman felt he needed a new Robin. Enter Jason Todd, a massively controversial character who was the polar opposite of the much beloved Dick Grayson who had preceded him. Jason was a wee brat, brash, violent and street tough. Batman found him hard to control and he even possibly murdered someone (more on that later). The fans did not take to Jason and the feedback was not positive. To be fair it was always going to be difficult to replace a character that had been so ingrained in popular culture for 40 years and people just hated him. I suspect like usual, the loud minority made things seem worse than they were. I’m sure there were many who liked him but didn’t cry and moan so nobody knew about it. DC came up with the innovative idea of having a phone in where you could decide if Todd lived or died at the end of the upcoming arc. The “die” calls slightly outnumbered the “survive” bunch and so Jason had to go…..and boy did they make a statement. Jason is brutally beaten by the Joker with a crowbar to the face and then blown up in a warehouse. No more Jason but what we did get was a Batman with PTSD that stills haunts him today…..or did anyway, who knows with this new 52 timeline? A rumour always circulated about a guy that hated Todd so much he left his phone on repeat dial for hours to get as many “die” votes as possible. There are some sad people in the world. Oh almost forgot, it was written by Jim Starlin and drawn by Jim Aparo and the story is mental …..it’s not very good but the ending is so great and the ramifications were so monumental. Massive legacy left by this arc and that’s why it’s here.
41. The Return Of Scarface-1992
I love me some Ventriloquist/Scarface and I truly believe there’s an amazing horror gangster hybrid movie to be made in the Batman series. After his initial and seemingly final defeat at the hands of Batman when he debuted he obviously wasn’t seen for a few years but the gang is back together for this. Rhino, Wesker and the evil doll are back to stake their claim for Gotham with the drug fever hitting the streets again. There’s also a very interesting love triangle subplot with Bruce Wayne, Vicki Vale and her new work partner.
40. There is no hope in crime alley: Year-1976
Ahhh that cover from Dick Giordano, look at it! Just wonderful. He does the art for the whole issue which is written by long time bat-scribe Denny O Neill. The story itself focuses on Batman’s annual return to Crime Alley to pay respects to his parents. O Neill writes a very different Batman here as a debuting Leslie Thompkins is mugged in the spot that Martha and Thomas Wayne lost their lives. Batman shakes with nerves and yells uncontrollably as he beats the dog crap out of the mugger, only to be held back by Thompkins. It’s weird watching Batman puff his chest and scream at the mugger as he wonders why anyone would dare pull a gun on him. Batman really doesn’t like guns and the mugger finds out the hard way. It’s a completely unrecognisable Leslie to the one we’re used to these days. While the bond between she and Bruce remains, here she is a little old lady. Denny O Neill really was/is a great writer, he always managed to nail heart-warming stories so well. I’d encourage younger readers who may not like older looking stuff to go back and check out the classic recommendations. It’s what I did as a new comic reader, eager to learn all I could. I’m glad I did as I found gems like this from before my time.
39. Under The Hood: year-2005/2006
Jeez the first ten on this list is filled with controversial stories…….and Jason Todd stories. Not deliberate I promise. Judd Winick of The Real World, AIDS awareness activist and not very popular comic book writer fame, took on the task of bringing Jason Todd back to life much to many fans outrage (seeing a pattern here?) He produces his best work (that I’ve read) to date here and created a very intense and emotional reunion for Batman and the now grown up body of the ghost who has haunted him for years. Todd is now an adult and has become a ruthless vigilante with no limits much like The Punisher and is wiping out gangsters left, right and centre. Batman must deal with him but also deal with his guilt, which now has a voice and is making it heard. Jason was popular enough in this adaptation that he even got his own ongoing series called “Red Hood and the Outlaws” and this particular arc was adapted into an animated movie starring among others, Neil Patrick Harris.
38. son of the demon: Year-1987
An original graphic novel from 1987, Son of the Demon by Mike W Barr was intended to be an elseworlds tale that introduced the notion of Batman and Talia Al Ghul conceiving a child. A shared target brings Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul together and thus brings Talia and Bruce together. Things become heated and a child is created…..there’s more happening involving assassins and it’s all good but let’s be honest, the kid is what we all remember. This is the story Grant Morrison references when he brought Damian Wayne into the Batman universe in 2006, bringing the events seen here from elseworlds into main canon. The art from Jerry Bingham is solid but is hugely enhanced by his strange yet very effective colouring. It creates a kind of sunburnt aesthetic to the book and looks very unique. This story isn’t often talked about which is a shame as it’s really different and incredibly important due to what happened with Damian over the last few years.
37. A Lonely Place Of Dying: Year-1989
Jason Todd is dead at the hands of the Joker. Dick Grayson has had enough of playing second fiddle to Batman so he’s now doing his own thing as Nightwing and Bruce Wayne is a man without control. He takes responsibility for Todd’s death and stares with nihilistic emptiness at the retired Robin uniform. He’s become nothing more than a thug, beating on criminals with reckless abandon and taking unnecessary risks. Someone has deduced his identity and is following him, hoping to reunite him with Nightwing in an attempt to get them working together again. That someone is Tim Drake who has impressed Batman so much with his detective skills that he has been offered the open Robin spot for himself. Although reluctant to take the role, the reader is on his side as he is a likeable and relatable kid. Tim would go on to be Robin from then on and is the Robin most people consider when they think of the character these days. Anyone interested in his origins should definitely check this Marv Wolfman classic out.
36. War On Crime: Year-2005
Whenever Alex Ross is involved in a mainstream comic there is a lot of buzz and excitement. His photo-realistic artwork is a sight to behold, stunning, but I have often had a problem with his struggle to convey emotion in his characters. Don’t get me wrong I really do enjoy his work, it’s beautiful but it often comes off as portraits and profiles rather than sequential action. This is probably due to his technique which has him paint models posing for his work. In War On Crime he absolutely nails it which is essential as Paul Dini creates a very emotional story in which Batman sees a kid who is dealing with tragedy much like he did. Only this kid is a down on his luck street hood whom Batman can somehow see the good in. They are both dealing with the same issues, only from very different backgrounds and Batman tries his best to teach him the right way to deal with tragedy. While Ross’ art is the main attraction here, Dini deserves credit for creating a simple, yet very effective tale of kinship forming from both sides of the tracks.
35. Batman and Robin: Reborn: Year-2009
From the superstar team of writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely (Scotland represent!!) Reborn gives us an entirely new type of Batman and Robin adventure. How? You ask….well, (and don’t interrupt again) the Batman under this cowl is Dick Grayson (Nightwing) and his young ward is Bruce Wayne’s assassin son Damian Wayne. This was due to Bruce being supposedly deceased after the events of Morrison’s DC crossover “Final Crisis”. Ok, so the concept isn’t entirely new as Dick wore the cowl around 15 years previous in the story arc “Prodigal” but having Damian, a polarising character, in the mix really shook things up. I have said many times that I am not the biggest fan of Morrison’s long and beloved recent run on Batman but this was just great fun. The brilliant thing about this was switching the roles of Batman and Robin. Batman was now a carefree adrenaline junkie and Robin was a sociopath who had been reared by the Al Ghul’s league of assassins. Quitely was on unbelievable form at this time and to my mind this is some of his best work to date.
34. Earth One: Year-2012
Another alternative look at how Batman came to be, this time from the seemingly tireless Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank who does a wonderful job in this 2012 graphic novel. Inker Jonathan Sibal deserves a lot of credit too as his colouring adds so much to Frank’s art, creating an overall gorgeous look to the book making it a pleasure to read. So, another elseworld retelling of a famous comic book character, ugh. Only this….”ugh” was quickly turned into a…”yay” as Johns really does switch things up and creates a genuinely intriguing back story for a character whose origin has been told countless times to the point of tedium. The best of the re imaginings is Alfred “apples and pears” Pennyworth who is now a badass and a clear inspiration for Sean Pertwee’s role on the TV series “Gotham”. Earth one was such a smash hit that there is a sequel planned for this year. Let’s hope it’s as good as this as it’s become the biggest mainstream smash since Hush…..probably, no facts to back that up…..it’s late and I’m tired. …….hello?
33. The Mud Pack-Year:1989
Part of the brilliant Detective comics run by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle which you will be seeing a lot on this list. This intriguing wee tale plays out like a Hammer horror movie where the latest Clayface seeks out the most famous previous adopter of that moniker to form an alliance with all the Clayface villains in an attempt to take out Batman. With all the shapeshifting bad guys messing with Batman’s mind it leaves the reader guessing as to who is real and who is a Clayface. It’s good, Hammer style fun with some incredible Breyfogle work as he is at his most dynamic.
32. Requiem For A Killer-Year-1991
Speaking of Grant and Breyfogle, here we have an incredibly underrated stand alone issue focusing on Killer Croc, a character who doesn’t get much play and when he does it’s usually as a big dumb heartless monster. Grant flipped that by adding a load of pathos to his character and having him find like minded people to whom he finally feels some sense of belonging. He becomes an unlikely hero to them and I love these stories of the monster with a heart.
31. Batman/Judge Dredd:Judgement On Gotham-Year:1991
It’s Alan Grant again and he’s teaming up his regular writing partner on Dredd and fellow Scot (he wasn’t born here but we took him in as our own) John Wagner. Regular 2000AD artist Simon Bisley brings his beautifully disgusting painted art and it’s twisted, demented and utterly brilliant as every page looks like an 80s thrash metal album cover. Scarecrow and Judge Death team up, Mean Machine goes on a headbutting spree and Dredd and Batman beat each other up before teaming. Done.
30. Scottish Connection: Year-1998
Bruce Wayne is on holiday in Scotland for a sight seeing visit but also because he has distant relatives from Edinburgh. Yup….Batman has Scottish lineage and for that reason alone Alan Grant should be your favourite writer ever. All kidding aside, Grant is a superb writer and particularly excels at delivering short, punchy stories much like this one. Look, I’ll be honest, it’s not a game changer, it’s not an epic but personally I fell in love with the fact it was set in Scotland. It’s fun watching Batman fighting members of a cult who have clearly sat through hours upon hours of Braveheart and Rob Roy with lush, realistic picturesque backdrops drawn by the wonderful Frank Quitely. It’s a little love letter to Scotland from a Scottish creative team and I love it to bits.
29. Fever: Year-1988
The first story by Alan Grant (with John Wagner) and Norm Breyfogle hits the ground running by introducing one of my favourite villains in The Ventriloquist and his doll Scarface.I say “with John Wagner” by the way as he has himself admitted that he was never fully invested in writing Batman and mainly let Grant do the work while he focused on Judge Dredd. After a few issues together he felt bad that he was keeping Grant from making all the money he deserved and let him get on with it alone. Anyway Scarface is introduced in this violent two parter about a new drug craze hitting the streets of Gotham with kids getting off their tits and killing homeless people.
28. Gothic: Year-1990
Look up the word “Gothic” in a dictionary and blah blah blah…..sorry couldn’t finish that cliché. What I’m saying is Klaus Jansen drew this and he has a very Gothic style. This is another tale from the Legends Of The Dark Knight series written by Grant Morrison. This is his second Batman story( the first will be coming up later) and it’s a really interesting, almost Victorian feeling adventure that begins like a typical whodunnit with mob bosses being killed by a mystery man. After Batman begins to investigate, the story turns into a supernatural horror with souls being sold to the devil in a bargain for longer life. Creepy stuff and a lot for a human hero like Batman to deal with. Klaus Jansen is one of those artists who fits some characters so much better than others. For instance, here it works incredibly well with creepy architecture, churches and villainous creeps being right in his wheel house. Other times he is involved with projects that do not suit him. The Gambit mini series from 1997 springs to mind where the supposedly handsome titular character looked like something from a Lovecraftian nightmare. Thankfully he didn’t have to draw any good looking people here and his style matches up perfectly with Morrison’s writing. A great wee tale that often gets overlooked.
27. Court Of Owls: Year-2011
The latest entry on the list comes from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s much lauded current ongoing run and focuses on an organization that has been secretly running Gotham for years known as the Court Of Owls. They see Bruce Wayne as a threat to them as he is part of the wealthy elite and may interfere with their control. So they decide to kill him, naturally. The Court train assassins known as “Talons” who are experts in all forms of combat and have little trouble striking from the dark. Bruce must use everything in his repertoire both physically and mentally to stop his own assassination. Snyder is a very good writer and he’s pretty much the golden boy in the business just now but there are issues I personally have with his take on the Dark Knight. He cleverly turned Gotham city into a character itself by filling it with history and intrigue but boy he doesn’t half go on about it. The words “this city” or similar must be used every few pages, it’s gone from a clever idea to an obsession. Nonetheless he’s very good otherwise and it’s not the biggest gripe in the world . Capullo used to draw Spawn and comes from that Todd Mcfarlane “extreeeeme duuuuude” school of drawing and is excellent at sequential action….he’s just superb at it but I have to be honest and say it doesn’t mesh with Snyder’s writing too well. It’s very over the top and angular with something of a comedic vibe whereas Snyder has a very sombre tone to his writing. Jeez, sounds like I hate this arc which obviously I don’t. It was an incredibly interesting and exciting start to the new 52 and none of the proceeding arcs have matched it’s quality.
26. Holy Terror: Year-1991
Norm Breyfogle on pencils? I’m sold already. Norm’s art does something to me, it’s just so expressive and unique. It’s not as recognisable as some one like say….Sam Kieth as it doesn’t step into the realms of surrealism but it does exaggerate and accentuate everything from expressions to capes, giving them a personality of their own. Alan Brennert was on writing duty here and created a brave story which was the first elseworlds story of the series. Well, it was the first one to carry the elseworlds logo anyway. Here we have an America that has become a fascist theocracy (a lot of great stories tend to come from anti fascist writing set in fascist dystopias) and Bruce Wayne’s parents’ murder comes at the demand of the state due to their continual insistence in providing medical care to anyone who needs it rather than just those who can afford it (There’s a lot of life imitating art in this list….almost as if……never mind) This causes Bruce to become Batman in an attempt to bring down the church/state upon which he finds out that those in charge are performing hideous experiments on people in an attempt to weaponise them. The people experimented on?….The Flash, Superman, etc which leads to some really interesting cameos. I love seeing different interpretations of well known characters in these elseworld stories and here it’s done expertly, helping create really vile antagonists to do what they’re supposed to do and anger you. At the time of writing this, Norm Breyfogle is actually suffering some serious health problems and as a fan I would like to wish him well and hope he recovers soon. His work has brought me much happiness over the years and I hope this story is another that ends happily.
25 JLA-Tower Of Babel: Year-2000
“…..But Batman’s human, how can he handle all those superheroes? it’s so stupid!!” Well first of all, calm down bud and second of all read this wonderful Justice League classic from the turn of the century. Mark Waid is a sublime writer, way up there with my favourites and he delivers big time here by showing the world just how the dark knight could take down his super buddies. Batman, being the paranoid, borderline sociopath that he is, has devised a contingency plan in the event of a monumental heel turn from the League. Everything is documented in his files, the perfect ways to take everyone down should the need arise. Problem is, that sly old fox Ra’s Al Ghul steals the files and tries to take everyone out himself. It’s a story of how Batman’s paranoid nature has often served him well but whenever he gets close to people it can end up causing serious trouble. You just can’t take that lad anywhere. There is decent art from Howard Porter and Steve Scott to compliment the story. The title comes from a biblical tale of the same name in which it explains the formations of the different languages we know today.
24. The Diplomat’s Son: Year-1988
The only really memorable Jason Todd (Robin) story before the “Death In The Family” Arc that killed him off (the arc straight after this one) asks the question of whether or not Robin just murdered someone. Batman misses the tail end of a battle between Robin and a criminal who has fallen from a tall building to his death. When asked what happened. Robin chillingly replies “He slipped, I must have spooked him”. Robin had been showing erratic behaviour since he and Batman had busted a rapist who was set free due to his institutionally powerful father having diplomatic immunity. The dynamic duo later bust the father and son for drug trafficking but again nothing is done. Further to this, the victim of the attempted rape is driven to suicide. Jason just can’t grasp how the world to work in such an unjust way so that did not bode well for the son, who is met by his righteous fury. Batman struggles to take his sidekick’s explanation seriously and wonders if he has taken on a murderer for a ward. Heavy stuff from Jim Starlin with a great (if a little on the nose) cover from Mark Bright. On the last list I mentioned that I was in the very small minority that like Jason as Robin and now is a good time to explain why. Jason was a brat, he was street smart and he was quick to anger. He was a kid, that’s what kids are like and there’s no drama in having a Robin who bows down to Batman and follows his every word. Jason was the antithesis of what Batman wanted in a Robin and that’s what made him great. A snot nosed little brat, it took Batman until only a few issues later when Jason would die, to realise that he wasn’t ready to be out there as Robin. Like I said…..he was a kid, written as a kid, so people complaining that he was immature need to remember that.
23. The Last Arkham: Year-1992
Shadow Of The Bat was a way to give impressive writer Alan Grant his own series of self contained stories, which was absolutely in his wheelhouse. Grant comes from an old school British comic background where small, punchy stories are generally preferred to long winded epics. Grant had impressed on Detective Comics where his quirky, inventive prose blended perfectly with Norm Breyfogle’s emotive pencils and was rewarded with this series to show his skills off. Show his skills off he certainly did, starting with the 4 part story The Last Arkham in which Batman goes undercover into Arkham Asylum to investigate how a serial killer is escaping and committing more murders despite being tightly incarcerated. The killer? Well this is the debut of Victor Zsasz who cuts a score into his body every time he kills someone…..and he has a LOT of scars. Grant had a knack of bringing new characters into the Batman universe and Jeramiah Arkham, who runs the asylum also makes his debut here. This would be the last team up between Grant and Breyfogle until 2011’s Batman Retroactive 90s special. This is heartbreaking to me as there is call for them to be brought back but after Grant and DC split suddenly after he voiced concerns over the amount of crossovers and in particular No Man’s Land. He has since said he took issue with Batman taking time off following cataclysm at a time when Gotham needed him most after the earthquake destroyed the city. I have to say I am 100 percent behind him on this. According to Grant and Breyfogle, they have both pitched ideas to be reunited and work on Batman but everything has been shot down which I feel is incredibly disrespectful to a creative team that brought so much to the company. It’s a bittersweet read for me, knowing that this would be the last important story they would work on together. That does not stop it from being a fantastic read.
22. Nine Lives: Year-2002
Another elseworlds tale here and this one is set in the 1940s and told as a full on noir detective story……bliss. I’ve said numerous times that Batman and noir storytelling go together like tuna and pizza (trust me, try it) and boy does Nine Lives prove it. The best thing about all these elseworlds tales to me is what the writers do with supporting characters as they really can take them anywhere. In this case, Dick Grayson is a grizzled, alcoholic gumshoe who is investigating the murder of Selina Kyle (catwoman in the normal dc universe), encountering various sleazebags and miscreants like the two faced Harvey Dent (get it?) and the aristocrat Oswald Cobblepot. Kyle’s murder has the whole city on edge as it seems everyone had a reason to have her offed and there is where the fun lies. It’s a whodunnit up there with the likes of….”Who Shot Mr Burns?”. It’s well plotted for the most part by Dean Motter and the dialogue is sharp but the ending does leave a lot to be desired and falls a little flat after such tense buildup. Michael Lark of the brilliant Gotham Central fame is on the art here and boy does he nail noir visuals. He has a very simple looking but incredibly engaging style with thick lines and interesting angles and it’s so eye catching.
21. Batman/Scarface: A Psychodrama: Year-2001
It’s that man Alan Grant again, this time writing an analysis of a character he created along with long time writing partner John Wagner, the man responsible for creating Judge Dredd. Over ten years after making their debut, the Ventriloquist and his little wooden dummy Scarface are back and Grant examines whether the dummy is a figment of Arnold Wesker’s (The Ventriloquist) imagination or if in fact he is sentient and running the gang of his own volition. Grant had previously written that Scarface was carved from the wood of Blackgate prison’s gallows where 1000 killers were hung. This hinted at a possible supernatural element to the character but never explicitly said so, same here. It’s wonderfully ambiguous writing and while it’s no epic it appeals to a horror fan like me who often likes the underused characters in Batman’s world. The art from Charlie Adlard is solid enough but that cover from Bill Sienkiewicz is haunting and terrifying. The stuff of nightmares.
20. Year 100: Year-2006
Set in a future (2039) where Gotham is now a fascist police state where the thought of any form of secrecy is laughable….(sounds familiar) Paul Pope is let loose on a Batman elseworld tale, writing and drawing everything while the colours come from Jose Villarrubia. A long time after the talk of the mythical Batman has stopped, a caped avenger is seen in the rooftops and rumours begin flying. Could this be the same Batman from our time? Surely not, but the criminal underworld are convinced the Batman isn’t human……and neither is his helper Robin. Pope creates a terrifying setting and an even more frightful incarnation of Batman with his very recognisable and unconventional artistic style which may not be for everyone, but it sure is for me. Great stuff.
So there we go, the first installment of the Batman list. Hope you enjoyed it and I’m sure you all have your ideas of what should be where so chat with me. Tell me your thoughts. You can catch me personally on @swing_kinker or the site @BigGlasgowComic Also, if you want to request top 10s of any kind then ask away. This topic was suggested by my bud Darren Yeats. I’ve been Swing Kinker and this has been Kinker Korner