Batman 75: The Essential Batman Stories

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

My celebration of the Caped Crusader’s 75th Birthday continues with a look back at the most crucial stories in Batman history.

Batman The Dark Knight Returns DC Comics

One of the greatest “Batman” stories of all-time is Frank Miller & Klaus Janson’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.” (Photo property of DC Comics)

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (February to June 1986)

Imagine a world where chaos rules and some of our greatest champions have disappeared into the shadows. Frank Miller and Klaus Janson created a nightmarish world where Batman (Bruce Wayne) comes out of retirement and faces old nemeses (Two-Face and Joker), an anti-vigilante Gotham City Police Department and the Man of Steel.

Batman: Year One (February to May 1987)

The massive Crisis on Infinite Earths wiped away several decades worth of Batman continuity! Creators Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli rebuilt the Dark Knight by going back to the early days in his career. Readers learned how Bruce became Batman, the beginnings of his partnership with Jim Gordon and Catwoman’s origins.

The Killing Joke (March 1988)

For decades, the Joker has always been a thorn in Batman’s side. However, he got the Dark Knight’s attention when the Clown Prince of Crime scarred two important members of Batman’s family! Alan Moore and Brian Bolland produced the story where the Joker shot Barbara Gordon at point-blank (which left her crippled) and drove her father, Commissioner Gordon, insane! Fans also got a look at the elusive evil clown’s origin story!

 

Death of Jason Todd Batman 75

Fans successfully voted for the death of Jason Todd. Jason’s death impacted Batman for years to come. (Artwork property of DC Comics)

Batman: A Death in the Family (December 1988 to January 1989)

Everyone hated Jason Todd! The second Robin was an abysmal addition to the Batman family! When hatred for the fictional character reached its fever pitch, legendary comic book creators Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo developed a story that was very fan-interactive. Using a special phone number, an onslaught of fans called in and demanded that the Joker kill Robin! Jason’s death changed Batman completely, as he did not take any new partners.

Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying (October 1989 to December 1989)

Batman could not handle Jason Todd’s death! Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Jim Aparo showed to fans that his methods became brutal and many of his closest allies failed to shake him. It was Tim Drake, who deduced that Bruce Wayne was Batman and Dick Grayson was the original Robin that begged to be Batman’s sidekick. Unfortunately, it came at the wrong time as Two-Face returned to Gotham! Tim proved himself worthy of being Robin when he helped the Caped Crusader stop Two-Face!

Knightfall (April 1993 to August 1994)

Bane broke the bat! An all-star group of creators that ranged from Chuck Dion, Alan Grant and Doug Moench to Jim Aparo, Norm Breyfogle and Graham Nolan penned Batman’s ultimate fall from grace and triumph tale. As Batman recovered, he wrongfully tasked Azrael to replace him and the anti-hero threw the rulebook at the window! With the help of his several closest allies, he was able to take back the cowl.

Batman by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale (1996; December 1996 to December 1997; December 1999 to December 2000)

One of the greatest Batman creative teams of all-time is Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale! The duo created a bulk of some of the most memorable stories for the Millennial Generation. Batman: Haunted Knight, Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory dug deeper into the Batman mythos and showcased why Gotham were terrified of both the costumed characters and the mob.

 

Batman No Man's Land

“No Man’s Land” showcased Gotham’s destruction and rebirth. (Artwork property of DC Comics)

No Man’s Land (March to November 1999)

Near the end of the 1990s, a deadly 7.6 magnitude earthquake decimated Gotham City! The U.S. Government abandoned Gotham to its misfortunes and all of Batman’s dangerous adversaries divided Gotham into their own territories. This massive story showcased the deterioration of the Caped Crusader’s relationships with the Huntress and James Gordon, Cassandra Cain became the second Batgirl and the death of longtime character: Sarah Essen Gordon.

Batman: Hush (December 2002 to September 2003)

Two years after Dark Victory concluded, Jeph Loeb took over the first volume of Batman. Teamed up with superstar artist (and future DC Comics Co-Publisher) Jim Lee, Loeb created an epic 12-issue story that introduced the villainous Hush (Dr. Tommy Elliot). Batman’s former friend used a variety of enemies (Joker, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and Ra’s Al Ghul) and allies (a hypnotized Superman and a rejuvenated Jason Todd) against him. In addition, readers saw Riddler and Catwoman learn their old nemesis’ true identity for the first time in almost 75 years.

The Black Glove & Batman: R.I.P. (August 2007 to December 2008)

The biggest chapter in Grant Morrison’s overarching Batman storyline was the “fall” of the Caped Crusader. Morrison along with a trio of elite artists (Andy Kubert, J.H. Williams III and Tony S. Daniel) created the ultimate group of villains: the Black Glove. Their goals were simple take over the world and annihilate the Caped Crusader! Among the villains that stole the show were a psychotic Joker, the treacherous Jezebel Jet and the calculating and monstrous Dr. Simon Hurt, who claimed to be Bruce’s long deceased father: Dr. Thomas Wayne.

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (April 2009)

Straight after the events of both Batman: R.I.P. and Final Crisis, legendary author Neil Gaiman collaborated with Andy Kubert to pen the “last” tale of the Caped Crusader. This story brought together many aspects to the Dark Knight’s career ranging from the Golden Age and Silver Age to the animated and modern era. Gaiman’s powerful script along Kubert’s astonishing artwork gave fans chills!

 

Death of the Family Joker's return

The Joker’s return sent Batman’s world into a chaotic frenzy! (Artwork property of DC Comics)

Death of the Family (October 2012 to February 2013)

Three years ago, DC Comics relaunched its entire comic line and rebranded it: The New 52. One of the best stories to come out of this bold and controversial era is Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Death of the Family.” This storyline centered on the Clown Prince of Crime’s return to the Batman books after almost a year of absence. While Snyder and Capullo centered the main plot in Batman, fan favorite creators such as Gail Simone, Peter J. Tomasi, Ed Benes and Patrick Gleason brilliantly showcased what the Joker’s return meant to Batman’s supporting cast.

What are your favorite Batman stories?

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar