Editor’s Choice: Top 5 Batman Stories

Being that it’s Batman month here at Needless Essentials, it’s only appropriate that as Comics editor, I have a list of my favorite 5 Batman stories. In the interest of full disclosure, I really don’t like Batman as a character. He’s been spoiled for too long by writers who forget that he’s supposed to be a detective and that he’s perfectly sane because he fights crime dressed as a bat. He’s not some borderline psychotic, he’s a guy who found purpose in a tragedy that would have ruined anyone else.

5) Something Terrible, by Dean Trippe.

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This is the Batman story not published by DC that completely gets what Batman is about. Batman is all about helping people and finding a way to do it, even though he’s got absolutely no super-powers. I’ve talked about it before and will again in the future because it’s that damn good.

4) Man of Steel #3 – John Byrne

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I don’t want to ruin this story for anyone, but the element that sums up what Batman is all about is the key point of the story. Superman comes to Gotham City to bring Batman in for his violent, vigilante methods. Batman has taken the precaution by informing Superman that he’s protected by a weak force field that will trigger a bomb if it’s breached by Superman and kill someone in Gotham City. In the end, Batman reveals that the bomb was on his own costume the entire time. Rather than risk an innocent life, Batman bet his own life on Superman’s innate goodness. You won’t see that in a Christopher Nolan movie.

3) Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn

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Grant Morrison gets the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. He also knows Dick Grayson’s relationship to Batman, and that when it became apparent again that someone else needed to fill the role of Batman, it couldn’t go to someone that wanted it. Dick Grayson did something more than take over the mantle, he became Batman in the way that Batman should be, a threat to criminals, but a friend to innocents. Alfred told him to play the role of Batman, and he took the essence of it and made the role his. The entire series defines Dick Grayson as Batman, but the first storyline, shows that Batman is first and foremost a hero.

2) JLA: New World Order

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Grant Morrison again totally gets what Batman is. In this storyline, a new super-team comes to Earth and steals the brand-new JLA’s thunder, eventually revealing themselves as villains, and taking out the JLA. Batman, ever distrustful, knows something is wrong and deduces their true identity, White Martians, and proceeds to take out nearly all of them on his own. The key moment is when they’re trying to find him and discover a note that he left for them, “I know who you are.” A little well-placed fire and he takes out more White Martians than anyone else in the JLA.

1) The Killing Joke – Alan Moore & Brian Bolland

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This is the one that shows up on almost every list of the best Batman stories. It defined the Joker, but also defined Batman. Batman is the flip side of the Joker not because he is like him, but because he is completely unlike him. The Joker cripples Barbara Gordon, tortures Commissioner Gordon, and tries to kill Batman for the hundredth time, and in the end, Batman offers to rehabilitate the Joker instead of beating him to a bloody pulp and locking in a dark cell again. That’s Batman.