Some of my favorite Batmans.
Alright, I’m stuck somewhere with my laptop, so let’s talk about these for a minute. Left to right, top to bottom, here’s what we’re looking at:
1. Detective Comics #27, 1939. This makes the cut for being Batman’s first appearance, but of course, Bob Kane traces the poses from better artists and takes sole credit for the creation of the character, leaving genius collaborator Bill Finger out.
2. Late golden age Win Mortimer cover. One of my faves. This image is used to represent my favorite era of comics covers, which often featured Batman, Robin, and frequently, Superman, goofing off in costume. Canon for Dick Grayson’s upbringing in my mind.
3. Adam West Batman. I think this is the first Batman I saw. During naptime at daycare, we’d watch movies. My other favorite to watch was The Last Unicorn. YEAH. They showed us that at DAYCARE. Anyway, this Batman was great. I went through a phase when I was getting into comics where I stopped liking fun Batman, but obviously, I’ve since been cured of that nonsense. I adore the props and costumes from this version of Batman, obviously, because they’re excellent.
4. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adam’s character-redefining Dark Knight Detective era.
5. Can’t go wrong with José Luis García-López’s Batman.
6. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller with Klaus Janson. My grandmother bought this book for me at a used book store in Tucker, Georgia when I was twelve, and I carried it in my backpack everywhere I went. Did you guys know Jason Todd’s Robin case comes from this and that it predates the character’s actual death?
7. Batman: The Killing Joke, by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. I didn’t read this until college, but man, it’s a big deal. Character-redefining Joker origin and the catalyst for Batgirl’s rebirth as Oracle.
8. Batman: Year One, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. Another one I didn’t read until I got to SCAD, but man, this book is incredible. Not without its problems (what is up with Selina Kyle?), but full of incredible scenes and excellent visual storytelling.
9. Batman, by Tim Burton, starring Michael Keaton. This is the movie that made me the Batfan I am today.
10. Norm Breyfogle Batman. This is used to represent the early 90s era of Batman comics which is when I started reading. Tim Drake was early in his Robin Career. Chuck Dixon wrote a lot of the Batbooks. It was a great time to get into Gotham.
11. Batman: The Animated Series (and their theatrical release, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) is, as everyone already knows, the best Batman stuff ever and probably the most powerful influence on my idea of who Batman is.
12. Jean Paul Valley Batman, drawn here by Graham Nolan, I think. Yeah, most people remember this era unfavorably, I think, but as gimmicky as it was for older fans, this kind of epic storyline, with Bane unleashing hell on Batman, Bruce handing the mantle down to an untested, but capable new ally, Dick and Tim feeling super weird about it all, JPV’s turn to the dark side, and the return of the true Batman? Dude it was insanely epic.
13. Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s pitch-perfect JLA revival featured a MASSIVELY capable Batman who could more than hold his own alongside the world’s other greatest superheroes.
14. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s Batman: The Animated Series continuity continued under different names, but this era, with the little Robin, gray-and-black Batman, officially Bat-sanctioned Batgirl, and MY WORD, IT’S NIGHTWING, was my favorite. Everything just looks and feels right. Guys, watch “Over the Edge,” by Paul Dini. It’s one of the best Bat-Family stories ever told.
15. Batman: Black and White, an anthology series featuring some of the best artists and writers in the medium telling Batman stories was one of my favorite things ever. I wish this was a monthly. This excellent Batman depiction is by Mike Mignola.
16. Batman Beyond sounds like a terrible idea until you watch the pilot, and then it’s un-flipping-believably perfect. Bruce’s retirement finally makes sense as an idea, Terry’s origin is awesome, and the pair work brilliantly as a team. (Only thing I’ll say here in the negative is that the later reimagining of Terry’s genetic origin in JLU? That was BS and goes against the entire message of Batman.)
17. Alex Ross’s Batman. It’s damn near perfect.
18. Gotham Central, by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and others. This was the best Batman title on stands when it was coming out, even though (or because?) Batman rarely made an appearance. It was Homicide: Life on the Street meets Batman. In other words, the perfect idea for a Batman TV show. This is the best cover from the series, by the always excellent Cliff Chiang.
19. J.H. Williams III’s Batman from his and Grant Morrison’s The Black Glove story arc. Good grief, that was some good comics. Williams employed a different art style for each Batman-inspired hero in the story. I have no idea how that’s even a thing someone can do.
20. The Dark Knight, by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale. One of the best crime movies of all time, and it happens to feature the Batman. Super credit to the brilliant, nearly air-tight script by the director and Jonathan Nolan. Bonus points for the introduction of an extra dimension to the Joker/Batman dichotomy: cheap/priceless equipment. Genius.
21. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Dick Grayson as Batman delivered on the promise of Robin, for real, for the first time. Great, great comics that reclaimed a once tarnished brand: Batman and Robin.
22. Batman: Arkham City. Best Batman game of all time. Arkham Asylum was dope, too, but this one blew the doors off by letting Batman out into the city. The storyline’s full-on insanity brought to us by one of the best Bat-writers, Paul Dini, with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and the Joker, roles they have OWNED in ways no other actors have.
23. Batman: Brave and the Bold by James Tucker and others, with Diedrich Bader as Batman. This all-inclusive, team-ups every episode, super fun Batman is my son’s first Batman, and one of my own favorites. Of COURSE the Batmobile turns into a giant mecha. Of COURSE Batman’s utility belt has a collapsible sword. He’s Batman. And wherever evil lurks, in all its myriad forms, he’ll be with the hammers of justice, to fight for decency and defend the innocent.
24. My own Batman #47 cover homage. I’ve talked about this a lot already.
25. Bob Kieffer, my favorite Batman cosplayer by a mile. He’s my friend, Batman.
26. Mike Maihack’s Batman with a Balloon.
27. Lego Batman 2. This is the best thing featuring DC Comics properties that came out this year. Think about how many things that means this beats. I’m serious.
28. Joel Carroll’s depiction of Batsman. Better than mine. Love it to bits.
I really love all Batmans at least a little bit. I’m already kicking myself for leaving out some other faves. Ah well. This tiles nicely for my desktop wallpaper. :)