Reviews Archive

The Best 100 Batman Stories

Hi, and welcome to Retro-Sanctuary. This time around we're highlighting the best of Batman, possibly the coolest character to come from the comic book medium ever! and one who has always consistently managed to change and evolve with the times.


Challenge of the Man-Bat  
Challenge of the Man-Bat
  -Detective Comics #400, 402, 407
Starting out the list we have a classic from 1970, the story that introduced us to the Man-Bat. Challenge of the Man-Bat was an early three issue epic from a time when these longer arcs were a rarity in US comics. The plot has scientist Kirk Langstrom taking a serum that transforms him into a monstrous bat, he starts out retaining his faculties and even helps Batman once or twice, but as time goes on he becomes more and more feral, and its up to Batman to save him from himself. A fun, kooky story from a time when Batman comics were still in transition between being camp and returning to their pulp roots.
Street Demonz  
Batman Street Demonz
  -Detective Comics #614
Batman runs into a criminal gang of mere children who are stealing to make ends meet. After the Caped Crusader breaks up a rival gang the kids become the target of their ire and Batman needs to gain their trust to help them. Writer Alan Grant's run was defined by its more socially conscious Batman, Grant determined that a man as wealthy as Bruce Wayne should be just as tough on the causes of crime as on the crime itself, this resulted in a run with some great, life-affirming moments, of which Street Demonz is a great example.
Small War of the Super Rifles  
Small War of the Super Rifles
  -The Brave and the Bold #124
This is a very "meta" little story from the 1970s that actually has the antagonists of the story break into the real world and go after its writers! the creative team need to get their comic finished and write a triumphant Batman before the villains get to them and make them write the ending that they want. An odd, memorable story that tries to break the mold.
Hot House  
Batman Hot House
  -Legends of the Dark Knight #42-43
Legends of the Dark Knight was a fantastic Batman comic (likely the most consistent of them all) launched at the end of the 80s that was focused on telling the stories of Batman's early adventures. This arc covers Poison Ivy and Batman's second, more deadly run in. After being released from the hospital following her previous apprehension at the hands of Batman for a minor offense, a seemingly cured Pamela Isley is set up with a science grant. Its not long before a man close to her throws himself off a balcony, and Bruce starts to develop feelings for Miss Isley...
Anarky in Gotham  
Anarky in Gotham
  -Detective Comics #608-609
The story that gave us Anarky, Alan Grant's twist on the character of V from Alan Moore's famous graphic novel V For Vendetta. Anarky is a far-left political activist who takes it upon himself to right what he perceives as the wrongs of society (the exploitation of the poor by the rich, organised crime etc etc). Its a quirky story that lightly dips its toes into politics and sets Bruce up against one of his more memorable morally grey antagonists.
Moon of the Wolf  
Batman Moon of the Wolf
  -Batman #255
A memorable pulp classic from Len Wein and the ever excellent Neal Adams, one of the premier artists of the time. Moon of the Wolf has one of Bruce's friends falling prey to an unscrupulous scientist who infects him with Lycanthropy and then tries to coerce him into committing crimes in the hope of being given a cure. The artwork alone cements this as a classic, the issue has atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife! Its full of dynamic angles and piles of style. Apart from the art though we still have a great story, very moody, and fatalistic. The issue was later adapted into an episode of Batman the Animated Series.
Batman Loyalties
  -Legends of the Dark Knight #159-161
Another issue of Legends of the Dark Knight, this one covering how Barbara Gordon, the future Bat-Girl ended up being adopted by her uncle commissioner Gordon. The story opens with a young Barbara overhearing her friend's father being threatened by gangsters. We find out that she subsequently became involved in a court case, and both families had to be put into a witness protection scheme. Now one of the other witnesses has turned up dead, and the perpetrator's are looking for Babs too. Barbara Gordon is one of the most interesting supporting characters in the Batman mythos and she was long overdue a detailed origin, the writers here handle the duty admirably.
The Doom that Came to Gotham  
Doom That Came to Gotham
  -The Doom that Came to Gotham #1-3
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola does what he does best here in this H. P Lovecraft inspired elseworlds story (a story set in a different dimension or timeline) set in the 1920s. An explorer discovers an ancient evil in the frozen wastes of Antarctica, after waking the ancient monster it takes control of his mind and makes him travel to Gotham to do its bidding. A creepy and underrated outing for the Batman that's filled with piles of suspense and intrigue.
The Many Deaths of the Batman  
Many Deaths of the Batman
  -Batman #433-435
Opening with the seeming death of Batman we're presented with a whirlwind of emotional reactions from those around him to this tragic event, only to find, at the end of the first chapter yet another "Batman" dead at the hands of our mysterious antagonist. "The Many Deaths of the Batman" follows a killer systematically tracking down and murdering all of Bruce's original mentors one after the other, leaving each wearing a Batman costume. Only Bruce knows the links between the victim's and only Bruce can stop the killer. A unique story from writer John Byrne.
The Doomsday Book  
Batman Doomsday Book
  -Detective Comics #572
For this fiftieth anniversary issue readers were treated to a momentous meeting of two of the most famous detectives in fiction, Batman and Sherlock Holmes. The plot has Batman, Robin, The Elongated Man, and private investigator Slam Bradley traveling to London after stumbling onto a plot to kill the queen. A well drawn piece of comic history from a creative team that were known for trying to bring the fun back into Batman comics.
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