Happy new book day, everyone! Welcome back for the fifth week of my series on Batman. Continuing from last week’s post on Bruce Wayne, I want to spend this week talking a little about my favorite versions of the character. I’ll break these up into two lists—one for canonical and semi-canonical depictions from the main comics series themselves, and one for non-canonical depictions in Elseworlds stories and non-comics media for next week. Let’s dive in!
Three of my favorite comic book depictions of Bruce Wayne as Batman in reverse chronological order:
- Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo‘s run on the main Batman title has been pretty strong since the beginning of the New 52. The calculating violence, the addition of new villains like the Court of Owls and their Talon assassins, somehow making Bruce Wayne look roughly 30 despite having raised four Robins… This team has serious graphic storytelling chops. That, and issue #13, the first appearance of the Joker after he cuts off his own face and disappears for a year, is one of the most chilling single issues of a comic book I have ever read. There may have been urine.
- Grant Morrison‘s run from several years ago (not to mention periodic earlier forays into the character with Arkham Asylum, Batman: Gothic, and in his run on Justice League) are some of the best Batman stories around. Morrison’s writing style is controversial, though, so definitely try him out yourself before taking my word for it. Morrison really understands the mythical side of superheroes (as you can see in his highly underrated Final Crisis and in his prose book Supergods) and combines that with sprawling stories that show off Bruce Wayne as a world-hopping playboy and Batman as an unparalleled detective. One of the genuine joys in this version of the character is the revelation of how little Batman actually trusts the people around him; deep down, he expects everyone to fail him eventually, except maybe Alfred. Morrison‘s run also provides us with Batman, Incorporated, another concept worth returning to for discussion.
- Frank Miller‘s 80s Batman stories, though not entirely canonical anymore, definitely deserve a spot on this list. As the man who claims he “gave Batman his balls back,” Miller rightfully helped return the character to his ultra-violent roots and successfully reinvented him into the dark, brooding antihero so many of us know today. I want to hold off on Miller’s Batman for future iterations of this column, but I do want to drive home how different the character would be today had Miller never gotten the chance to write The Dark Knight Returns.
Bonus: The classic 70s Batman of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams was a wonderful and necessary stepping stone in moving the character from the campy 1966 television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward toward what he would become in the 80s. I haven’t read much of this run, though I want to badly. Some parts of it, such as the pair’s creation of Ra’s al Ghul and his daughter Talia, have been released in trade paperbacks in recent years, so I must check them out sometime soon. I want to return to this run in future installments, but (much as with Miller’s run) this bears mention in this list.
Next week: the non-canonical list!
My new release picks for this week:
Earth 2 #20
Forever Evil #5
New Avengers #14
Let me know your thoughts below. Remember to support your local comic shops! I guarantee you can find a lot of what I mention right there. Tweet me @quaintjeremy. See you next week!
Batman Triumphant cover: comicvine.com
Dark Knight2K panels: i289.photobucket.com
Dark Knight Returns panels: J.A. Garrett