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CSBG Archive

Top Five Characters Introduced in Batman or Detective Comics in Last Two Decades

Top Five Month (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) continues with a look at Batman and Detective Comics. We know that both titles have featured a host of cool characters introduced in the first two decades of the existence of Batman, but what about more recently? Who are the top characters of the past two decades to make their debut in the pages of either Detective Comics or Batman?

Find out here!

Enjoy!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

David Cain

He is a useful new villain, and those are hard to come by (especially those who aren’t just, like, the NEW Mad Hatter!, or whatever)

Sasha Bordeaux

I REALLY liked what Greg Rucka did with her as he built her up as Batman’s bodyguard then trainee, but I am less of a fan of her Checkmate years.

Crispus Allen

That goes double for Allen, who was a GREAT GREAT character in Detective Comics and Gotham Central and is now a bit out of place as the Spectre.

5. Cameron Chase

Our own Greg Burgas makes a good point to note that Cameron Chase should belong on this list, as unlike other Bat-related characters who did NOT debut in Batman or Detective Comics (like Bane or Batwoman), she’s a non-Bat-related character who DID!

4. Stephanie Brown

This was a close call. I thought the idea of a vigilante who specifically messes with her father’s crimes was a cool idea and she became a great supporting cast member in Robin’s title. I like her as Batgirl, but I liked her better as Spoiler, particularly because her being Batgirl means that…

3. Cassandra Cain

can no longer be Batgirl. Cassandra Cain was a unique creation. Although, over the years, a lot of what MADE her unique were sort of glossed over. Still, she’s a cool character. I hope they do right by her in the future

2. Damian Wayne

It’s amazing, even Tim Drake fans seem to like Damian now!! What an addition to the cast!

1. Renee Montoya

This may be cheating a bit since while she DEBUTED in the comics, she was CREATED by the animated series, but whatever, we met her first in the comics, so I’m sticking with that as “introduced.”

And wow, what a character! For years she was a strong supporting cast member under mostly Chuck Dixon’s pen and then Greg Rucka came aboard and has done a ton of great work with her. One of the best new DC characters of the last 20 years.

Okay, that’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

46 Comments

Hush is worth an honorable mention. I’m not sure any other new villains are.

I was about to say the new Batwoman but I guess 52 counts as her introduction.

I imagine Brian wanted to use GOOD characters, or at least characters who started out good. Hence, the absence of Hush, who has never been any good.

I only know 1 and 2; and 5 vaguely. Guess I’m more out of the loop with Batman than I thought.

She’d be under the same thing that gets Renee Montoya in, but what about Harley Quinn? Or does she not count because she first appeared in a one shot?

Don’t anybody take that bait from Greg Burgas.

Damian Wayne is an awesome character. And I say that as someone who hates Robin.

I was going to ask about Mackenzie Bock, but then I thought to check the Wikipedia to make sure he hadn’t raped and murdered anyone, or been raped and murdered by anyone in the time since I last read a regular BatBook.. Colour me pleasantly surprised to find he hasn’t, though miffed that he didn’t make the cut.

What bait? Hush is a terrible character.

Great list, and until now I had no idea Batman had a bodyguard that looked like Sharon Carter with a domino mask. I must look into this…

Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen were both tons more interesting before they became superpeople, IMO.

…I miss Gotham Central.

Where did Stephanie Brown first appear? I thought she was mostly a Robin character.

I guess I could, you know, look it up, huh?

Ok, Detective 647. I think I have that…

And I’ve been reading stuff from Infinite Crisis time period, and I’m confused about when Crispus Allen gets shot and killed. Is it the same Jim Corrigan that was the Spectre who shot him?

surprised batwoman did not make the list. and Rene loved her in gotham central but better as the question. Cassandra dc really messed up up a cool character by switching her from good to bad. Damian still a nasty little kid but interesting as robin. not to mention thanks to grant the one story dc has for so long tried to wipe away from the batman cannon. is now cannon with Damian’s arrival. also can not believe Hush did not make the list.

I’d throw in Mr Zsasz but he debuted in Shadow of the Bat.

There are some good characters in there, but I can’t help but feel that DC has mismanaged most of them (Spoiler, Montoya, Batgirl, Crispus Allen…) It’s like they don’t know what to do with a character once it becomes popular.

The current Batwoman wasn’t introduced in Batman or Detectoive Comics. She debuted in 52, I think.

Am I the only one who thought “Half a Life” was a lame storyline? It was like it was trying to spread a single issue’s worth of character development (read: Zot! #33) out into five issues, then Rucka realized he needed some kind of conflict and introduced a bizarre plot with Two-Face that was just….pointless. I much preferred the single-issue stories by Rucka that were included in the original trade paperback.

I’d switch the characters around:
5 – stays the same.
4 —–> 2.
3 – stays the same.
2 —–> 4.
1 – stays the same.

Both Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya worked better before they became “legacy heroes”.

Damian Wayne is such a perfect foil for Dic Gtayson that I am glad that it appears they are sticking around after Bruce returns.

No Bane?

I forgot this earlier, but the best character introduced in Batman/Detective in the past two decades is, of course, Cameron Chase.

Ooh, I think Burgas has a point there about Cameron Chase.

And Bane first appeared in some one shot, not Batman or Detective. Vengeance of Bane, maybe? Just like how I went, well, Azrael? No, the Sword of A. mini.

It is interesting that there are no outright villains, other than David Cain, on this list.

Did the new Knight (of Knight and Squire) first appear in the JLA Classified mini? I know he’s an updated version of an old character, but…

@Greg Burgas Completely agree on Cameron Chase. Still miss her series, and like her in whatever she appears in.

I love Cameron Chase.

And personally, I kind of prefer Steph as Batgirl to Cass. Cass was a GREAT character, but Steph just feels RIGHT.

In my personal opinion, anyway.

Why “the last two decades” instead of “since COIE”? Good as a couple of these are, others don’t hold a candle to, say, The Ventriloquist (Wesker) and Scarface, or Mr Zsasz, or Cornelius Stirk. Or Tim Drake.

Well, Bill K, maybe that’s why Brian didn’t say since COIE. Although it’s interesting if those characters debuted in that 5 year period between COIE and when Brian is talking about. That’s a decent line up.

Every time that someone on one of these top 5 lists debates the parameters you set for the list, Brian, I think of that scene in the movie the Jerk, where Steve Martin’s character (Navin R Johnson) is working at a carnival as a weight guesser, and the couple asks what they could win. I used to know the exact dialogue (involving “between the tiki dolls and to the right of the bicentennial shot glasses, but under the erasers”), but it boils down to the line “basically, this 2 inch space, right here”.

It’s free entertainment, and if we come up with a good idea in the comments, Brian will edit it in.

I asked more out of curiosity than outrage; COIE seems a more organic milestone than 20 years ago. 10 years ago, approximately lining up with NML and the end of Denny O’Neil’s editorial tenure, would also have seemed less arbitrary a boundary point – though we might struggle to find five good characters ;)

Forgot Zsasz debuted in Shadow; to replace him, from the gap period: KGBeast. Honourable mention for the Falcone family and Detective Flass :)

ORCA the Killer Whale woman!

But seriously, I was going to suggest Prof. Pyg, but then I remembered he first appeared in Batman and Robin

Sasha Bordeaux: Introduced as normal human bodyguard, but later turned into cyborg superhero by Greg Rucka.

Crispus Allen: Introduced as normal human cop, but later turned into supernatural superhero by Greg Rucka.

Renee Montoya: Introduced as normal human cop, but later turned into costumed superhero by Greg Rucka.

For a writer who started out with crime/suspense stories featuring normal human protagonists, Rucka can’t seem to help eventually turning his pet DCU human characters into larger-than-life superheroes.

I wish somebody would do something with Fat Man and Little Boy.

Too new to really register, I guess, but I’m pretty fond of Professor Pyg.

@ Loren:

Turning supporting characters into super-powered characters is a trope that goes back to SUPERAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN (at least). It is just a matter of how its done.

What strikes me as a mistake is putting those characters into legacy roles. It is disrespectful of the original characters. The Spectre was co-created by Jerry Siegel. The Question was created by Steve Ditko. Ditko, in particular, had a very specific political point that he was trying to make with Vic Sage.

Moreover, it is not good for the long-term health of the character assuming the role. It is just a matter of time before some fan-favorite creator decides to do The Question: Rebirth, which would make Renee cross-over fodder. Good supporting characters tend to get a better treatment than legacy heroes.

I sure wasn’t wild about turning two great Gotham Central characters into knockoff heroes either, but not so much because of respect as because I felt like it watered down both the cops and the hero roles they inherited.

I for one think it’s excellent news that Binky Briggs will be the next Spectre.

I’m kind of disappointed that Hush didn’t appear, because while he was just a Villain Sue in his debut, his story arc in Dini’s Detective Comics was a great argument for his continued existence.

Good list, I can’t really find any fault with it.

I agree with the above statements that this list needs more Cameron Chase.

Travis: I’m pretty sure the new Squire debuted in a panel in JLA at the end of the Ultra-Marines arc.

Hush may have been overhyped at the start, but he’s been underrated since. I know I was one of three people that liked the Gotham Knights stories with him in it (by Lieberman and Barrionuevo?), but Dini’s definitely done a great job cleaning him up too. It’s funny how he most often appears in one writer’s work when he’s being used (starting in Loeb’s storyline, moving to Gotham Knights, and now almost exclusively in Dini’s various Bat-titles).

The 90’s and early 00’s were formative years in my reading and appreciating comics and I read the Batman books more than anything. Seeing this list reminds me of being younger and how much I enjoyed Brubaker and Rucka. They were amazing and I miss their work on the core, monthly Batman books.

Sasha Bordeaux, Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya are all great characters because they’re human and complex… they seem knowable. I always found this to be Rucka’s strong point. I never felt the need for four-color, superpowered characters when I read the Batman books. The GCPD was more than enough to make a fascinating drama, as evinced by GOTHAM CENTRAL. What a great book.

John Tumbull said:

“Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen were both tons more interesting before they became superpeople, IMO.

…I miss Gotham Central.”

I heartily agree on both points. Loren seemed to be arguing that Rucka went and turned all of these characters into superheroes but (I could be wrong about this, please correct me if I’m totally off-base) I get the feeling those were just his scripts meeting an editorial mandate from DC. DC, and arguably much of the existing comic book fanbase, unfortunately, seems to think stories and characters can only “matter” if they’re part of that particular genre so every time you want to make a character bigger and more relevant, you have to alter them to meet that very specific aesthetic. Which is a shame because Rucka does his best work when he’s just writing about people…. people in intense situations, yes and sometimes wearing costumes but human people nonetheless.

‘What strikes me as a mistake is putting those characters into legacy roles. It is disrespectful of the original characters.’
Disrespectful how?

‘DC, and arguably much of the existing comic book fanbase, unfortunately, seems to think stories and characters can only “matter” if they’re part of that particular genre so every time you want to make a character bigger and more relevant, you have to alter them to meet that very specific aesthetic.’
And you’d be dead wrong – having a ordinary person become a superhero makes them more interesting than keeping them in the same role all the time.

I’ve never really found Stephanie Brown interesting, but plenty of people do so yeah, I can’t argue with this list (though I’d like Cassandra Cain to be higher)

I like Rene as the new Question. And, I generally like making supporting characters headliner characters. While I understand the sentiment of leaving cops as cops, I think that some of the comments are overblowing the phenomon. I mean, Gordon isn’t exactly putting on a domino mask and striking out on his own.

Although, now that I think about it, I would’t mind reading a one shot or annual story where Gordon does don a hat-coat-mask persona for a single case. I’m not sure how to go about it without forcing him to act out of character. But, I think that Rucka or Dixon could run with the concept without making it feel contrived.

Back to my point, though, I like Rene being the Question, and Allen being the Spectre. I admit that there were great stories told about them when they were “just cops” but I feel that I still know the characters in their new roles. Rene isn’t the Question using the name Rene. She’s Rene Montoya using the name Question.

Theno

For a writer who started out with crime/suspense stories featuring normal human protagonists, Rucka can’t seem to help eventually turning his pet DCU human characters into larger-than-life superheroes.

I wonder how much of this is Rucka playing the cards he’s dealt? Meaning, he likes writing crime/suspense stories, but in order to keep writing his pet characters he either realizes (or is told) he has to transition them into more mainstream/traditional/DC-esque superhero characters?

Maybe he figures the only way he’ll be allowed to keep working with Montoya or Allen (or, the only way he thinks he can keep them safe from crossover bloodshed) is to attach them to the legacies of established DC superheroes? So facing the choice of no Montoya or Montoya-as-the-Question, he chose the later?

I was going to say, “What? No Anarky? No Scarface?” but they both debuted in ‘Tec in the late 80s, so just outside the “two decades” timeframe.

I have to disagree with you on Damian Wayne, I think he should be number one, Montoya is cool, but not as crucial to the current bat mythos as Damian. Good picks!

So, Tim Drake misses the #1 character on this list by being introduced like 6 months too early? Wow, talk about a technicality…

It’s also BS that Green Lantern couldn’t be the #1 Comic Book Character just because of the difference of one measly word!

Hmmm … never liked Sasha or Chase, could not stomach the art that was occuring when both were created. Loved Crispus and was very sad to see him and Gotham Central go.

Brian what do you mean by “It’s also BS that Green Lantern couldn’t be the #1 Comic Book Character just because of the difference of one measly word!” ? Did I miss something?

Also how about “Top 5 worst characters introuduced in Batman or Detective in the last two decades. “

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