With the new Dark Knight Rises so close we can taste it, I have gotten an itch to re-read some of my favorite Batman stories. Whilst doing that I figured I could write an article for all those people out there who want to do some leisurely vigilante reading. Thus, I have complied a list of my three favorite stories. Now I know some of you out there enjoy words like, TOP 10 GREATEST or BEST BATMAN STORIES OF ALL TIME, but I would never be so bold. 1) I have a diplomatic nature on this site, because I don’t have time to battle with other batman fans as to why my choices are the GREATEST or TOP picks. 2) Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even though I like a certain story for a certain reason (commentary to follow) that doesn’t mean others will get that same reaction while reading. So these are my favorites, hit the jump to read on
3. JLA: Tower of Babel
If there ever was a story that showed how Batman has obsessive compulsive disorder, it’s this story. With the statement in mind that Batman lives his life following the 98% preparation, 1% perspiration and 1% Cape, this story stands out from the crowd. With the promise of not giving too much away, this story is about Batman compiling data on all members of the JLA, in order to protect others in the event (no matter how low the chance) that the JLA members go rogue. From Batman’s point of view he is an ant compared to some member of the JLA in terms of power. Therefore, in order to do his job in protecting the innocent, keeping tabs on your friends is a smart move. The best part of this story is learning Batman’s contingency plans for all the heroes, and how he planned to shut them down if necessary (some of them are less than kind, and most of them are near-deadly). Obviously, someone gets a hold of these plans, and Batman being the great detective has to find out who, aid his allies and stop the baddie. Overall, this story ranks Batman as a total badass, and really separates him from the ‘boy scouts’ of the JLA. Another reason this is one of my favorite Batman stories, is because in most Batman JLA stories, Batman really pales in comparison to the rest of the heroes, which he should. I strongly believe Batman belongs in his own world full of heroes and villains with LIMITED power (this is an argument for another day), but JLA: Tower of Babel really speaks to the strengths of Batman, and deserves recognition.
2. Batman: Arkham Asylum
We have all heard the Joker say “We are not that different you and I?”, He’ll even Doctor Evil says it. There has always been that link between good and evil. The psychological capacity it takes to dress up as a bat and fight crime, couldn’t have fallen very far from the tree of the criminally insane. The tackling of Batman’s sanity is hardly an avoided topic in Batman comics, but Grant Morrison does it in a awe-inspiring way. This story will take you on a journey through the psychosis of each notable Batman villain. While doing this you are persuaded to question Batman’s sanity.
The story sounds similar to the popular Batman game with the same name, where the inmates have taken over the Asylum and Batman has to save the day; but this story is vastly unconventional. The art work is quite jarring and it really brings the villains into a frightening reality. As a side note, this is NOT a book children should read.
1. The Long Halloween
This is by far my favorite Batman story. It takes place early on in Batman’s career, and features quite a few members from the rogue gallery (let’s not forget the Italian crime bosses). The reason I enjoyed this book so much is because, it is a tragic, thrilling, murder mystery, with a film noir style. Batman really needs to be a detective here, and this amateur Batman is put to the test.
The basic synopsis is: Batman is investigating a mob serial killer who has been named “Holiday”, as he only kills on calendar marked days, starting with Halloween. Batman works with district attorney, Harvey Dent and Lieutenant Gordon as they race against the calendar to stop the serial murders before the next holiday.
Although it is not necessary, it might be advantageous to read Batman: Year One first, as it gives you a good start to the early years of Batman. The animated movie is also a viable option, if you do not feel like you want to spend too much time reading.
Coming from a childhood where I read an uncanny amount of Sherlock Holmes stories, and am today still an avid fan of a good mystery story, I highly recommend The Long Halloween. As I stated previously, everyone has their own preferences with which Batman story is their favorite. Mine are obviously the ones closely related to the criminal nature of things, and the detective story telling, as criminology is something I have an interest in; even something I studied in university.
Let me know which Batman story is your favorite, I’d like to hear some of the opinions out there, and if you disagree with one of my choices, let me know. Discussions could follow from this, I am always willing to talk Batman!