Monday, August 17, 2009

My Top 5 Batman Stories

Yes. I am a Batman fanboy. He's always been one of my favorite comic characters. I can't really explain why he sticks out so much to me other than he's the world's greatest detective. He's a billionaire, expert martial artist, and a chick magnet. There's the great popcorn TV show from the past, there was the great movies from the 80's that starred Michael Keaton (followed by several crappy movies), and now we have the fantastic reboot of Batman that stars Christian Bale as the Dark Knight.
As of late I've been reading a lot of the latest DC big story arc -- the Blackest Night, which evolves around the new Black Lanterns and how they are going around terrorizing the DC universe. With this, my interest has been re-sparked and I've been re-reading some of the great Batman storylines. Well, here is my current top 5 reads. While they may not be everyone's favorites, they are mine and these are what I've been recommending to others when they ask about what good Batman stories there are.

5. Batman: The Man Who Laughs --> Any respectable Batman fan knows the story and background of his most famous arch nemesis --the Joker. Ed Brubaker re-tells the story of the very first battle between Batman and the Joker. This is Batman's first sample of Joker's crazy games, and well, he's not up to it at first and has to re-think his methods in order to defeat him. Up to this point Batman has only been battling the gangsters, thugs, and murderers. But after this there is no turning back, and this is just the beginning for what is in store for Batman and Gotham City.

4. Batman: A Death in the Family --> Jason Todd (Dick Grayson's replacement for Robin) finds out that his mother is still alive when thought to be dead for many years. Jason runs away from home to find her. The Joker steals a nuclear missile to sell to the highest bidder. In this whole mess Batman runs into both of them and during so the Joker ends up killing Jason Todd. Batman goes after Joker and in a fit of rage/revenge, comes close to killing Joker only to be stopped by ---Superman. While not many people liked Jason Todd as the new Robin this is one of the most significant moments in life of Batman/ Bruce Wayne.

3. Batman: Gotham by Gaslight --> This is one of the DC Elseworlds stories that I have grown to love over the years. It takes place during the Victorian-era Gotham City and pits Bruce/Batman against none other than Jack the Ripper. In this story Jack the Ripper continues his murder spree, but decides to move to Gotham City for fresh blood. In this book, Bruce returns from England and his timing is perfect--his arrival coincides with grisly murders within the city. With Bruce Wayne as the prime subject, time is of the essence as Bruce must not only prove his innocence, but stop the Ripper from killing more people.

2. Batman: The Long Halloween --> This story takes place during Batman's early days in his crime-fighting career. This story emphasizes Batman's ability as a Detective as he struggles to find the true identity of a serial killer--who kills his victims on National Holidays. This story also has Batman battling the mob and is one of the benchmark stories that every Batman fan should own in their collection. Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb are the masterminds behind this story (I call them the dynamic duo because they have such a fantastic history of working together) and create a legendary story that the recent movies pull a lot of inspiration from.

This was so hard for me. It was so hard to decide from 1 & 2 that each day I could pick one over the other. Next week I think I'll post a list of honorable mentions just to emphasize difficult this list was for me to compile.

1. Batman: Hush --> This book was written by Jeph Loeb (see a pattern??) and drawn by the great Jim Lee. This book flipped the Batman universe upside down and spun it around. In this year-long story, Batman begins dating Catwoman, Jason Todd's (Robin) body is found missing from his grave, Two - Face gets plastic surgery to fix his face, and ---oh yeah, fights every villain in the Batman universe. No, I'm not kidding. He starts off going toe to toe with Killer Croc, then moves onto the Joker, Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Superman. Yes, I freaking said Superman. And on top of all of this there is a new villain introduced, perhaps the most destructive and dangerous one yet.

Well, there it is, my top 5 Batman stories/books of all time. Let me know what you think and/or if you agree or disagree. Remember, these are just my favorites, and I plan on listing the top noteworthy mentions later this week.