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75 Greatest Batman Covers of All-Time: #10-6

In honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Batman, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Batman. Future installments will deal with Batman creators, villains and stories, but this month will be about Batman covers.

You all voted, now here are the results! We’ll be doing ten covers a day until the top twenty-five, when it becomes five a day. Here is a master list of all the covers that have been revealed so far.

Enjoy!

10. Detective Comics #457

Art by Dick Giordano (1975)

9. Batman #9

Art by Fred Ray and Jerry Robinson (1941)

8. Batman #1

Art by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson (1940)

7. Batman: The Killing Joke

Art by Brian Bolland (1988)

6. Batman #244

Art by Neal Adams (1972)

25 Comments

I was expecting The Killing Joke to be in the top 2 or 3 at the absolute lowest.

Comparing to the DC Top 75 Iconic comics list, it looks like the Killing Joke dropped a few spots (it was 4th overall and the highest rated Batman cover.) I suspect that’s due to the change in the presentation, although it could be the move from “Iconic” to “Greatest”.

The fact we’re in the top ten and I’m STILL seeing covers I’d never seen before is why I’m finding this such a fun and interesting list. That Detective 457 is great!

One of Neil Adams’ best covers. Only slightly ruined by the recent Comic Book Legends Revealed.

I’m not mad on The Killing Joke’s cover. For me the interiors and a lot of Vollands other covers are much better.

I think three of my covers have made the list so far, none of them in this group. Detective Comics 31 is the only one from my list that I think still has a chance. I also think Mr Cronin might have rigged the election because there is no other reason why Batman 134 would not make the list…

There is a very nice representation of Batman from all eras on this list. I find that impressive and surprising.

Another tremendous deception by Neal on that cover…

Did you ever notice the sword DOESN’T go into Bats’ body? It’s between his arm and his chest.. in the sand I guess… (but I always wondered about the pants — because I keep track of Batman’s.. laundry; yeah, laundry).

@kdu2814: Batman 134 is no Detective 275.

@BeccaDannysWife: Ha! Yeah, Batman goes around wearing two pair of pants. Damn. I hope he takes a shower every time he is at home.

@kdu2814– I totally agree about Batman 134. Its excellence is unparalleled. If it doesn’t make the top 5, I demand a recount!!

figured both the cover to the killing joke would be in the top ten though had it in the top five or maybe number three. plus also the classic one of Rhas holding batmans costum which neil adams revealed had to paint another pair of udies on batman for dc did not want batman totaly nude in the dessert

Becca, the latest CBLR features a bit about the extra pants. And yeah, Ra’s totally screwed that one up: “should I actually stab him, or just plant a weapon right by my foe that he might be able to use against me? Ah…he’s merely a man, not a demon from hell, after all.”

“Surely a man who wears two pairs of pants must die easily!”

I always liked Killing Joke’s cover until I realized (or saw it pointed out online) when in the story the cover scene is taking place. Then I got a bit queasy.

However, it’s still an iconic cover and one of 2 Bat covers I remember distinctly from when I started going comics crazy. It must have been the summer of ’89, I think, and Bat-mania was all over, and there was a dealer in the arts building at the NY State Fair, and I got a couple comics (Superman related, however. They probably weren’t as overpriced….), and ever since I’ve been a comics nut.

I sure hope that other cover made the list. It’d be…shocking…if it didn’t.

Surprised The Killing Joke cover isn’t higher. A classic cover though disturbing for the reasons given above.

While obviously Joker-centric covers have done well on the countdown in general, I think when it came to the top of the top, people went for covers that featured Batman on them (or at least Bruce Wayne).

Yeah, I totally forgot to vote, but while I thought of Killing Joke, I had the impression the point was more to feature Batman in the covers. Yeah, it’s a Batman comic, but it’s not really a Batman cover, per se.

At least that was my thinking, and probably other people’s as well.

But heck, I thought of, like, 2 or 3 covers, forgot about the whole thing, and then Brian started posting the list, and I went, oh, yeah, damn, forgot about that.

Agreed with Brian and Travis. The Killing Joke is definitely one of the greatest Joker covers ever, but probably not one of the greatest Batman covers ever, since Batman doesn’t even appear on it.

@Thok
Detective 275 is great, but Batman 134 is objectively better.

The Detective cover has Batman imperiled because he is over powered and a potential menace to others. Batman, however, is still empowered and has a large degree of control over his situation.

Batman 134 has both Batman and Robin transformed into very vulnerable flat people. What if they land on a cactus, or some ass with a pair of scissors comes along? Also, the Batman cover has a monster on it. Sure, some overly sensitive people might say ‘we finally get a Rainbow Creature and he is limp wrist-ed’ but those people read the image wrong. By keeping the arms bent rather than at his sides, the creatures pose is dynamic, yet the bent wrist demonstrates that it is so powerful it can dispatch the dynamic duo with out lifting a finger, subtly increasing the tension and horror.

@mrclam
Thank you. Perhaps if there is no recount by a non-partisan committee forth coming we can organize an impeachment of Mr Cronin!

@everyone
Am I right in thinking, villain wise, Joker has the most covers on this list, Ras al Ghul in second with 3 covers, followed by Blockbuster (2 covers)?

I mentioned on the main thread I think 4 of the remaining are easy to predict. But it also means surprisingly either Hunt the Dark Knight or War on Crime did not make the cut.

It’s nice to see one or two surprises here, like the memory people have for Golden Age covers or the well-deserved high placement of ‘Tec #457. It’s also interesting that some covers seem to come up because they’re attached to good stories

Out of curiosity, how many of the covers featured so far would people (subjectively) call “good covers on average or unmemorable stories?” Someone earlier mentioned Batman #205 as such an example, and I’d add Batman #8, Untold Legend of the Batman #3, ‘Tec #367 (which was a surprise to me, but definitely a great cover!), Batman #171, ‘Tec #359 (the Barbara Gordon Batgirl’s debut is a “key” collectors’ issue, but it’s a pretty mediocre story as these things go), Batman #217, ‘Tec #399 (two issues I’ve read but which have left no trace on my memory), ‘Tec #241 (though I think that was included int he original Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told volume), Batman #189 (the Scarecrow’s Silver Age debut, but not a story that’s aged very well), ‘Tec #366, LotDK #50 (I love ya, Denny O’Neill, but the Joker’s moronic-yet-handsome cousin playing his dupe does not a good story make), and Batman #241 (part of O’Neill’s classic run, but not a standout issue), Batman #184 (probably my personal prejudice; I’m not a big fan of the original Outsider stories, and this issue also has an Infantino cover with Moldoff-as-Kane art inside).

The rest, even the stories I don’t like, are at least memorable and beloved by segments of the fandom. But the above list, I think, would be harder to say have that same same love or critical cachet.

Also, The Killing Joke cover has halfway merged in my memory with the “Shake?” Joker pin-up that Bolland did for the oversized looseleaf 1990s version of Who’s Who in the DC Universe. Actually, that was the cover for the thirteenth (Villains) issue of that series, so I suppose I could’ve voted for it…if I’d remembered to vote….

I cannot get over how good the Batman covers were in the Golden Age.

“Good covers on average or unmemorable stories?” Depending on your mileage, that can apply to any of Jim Lee’s covers for “Hush” that have shown up!

I think “Hush” is a very unremarkable story, with Jeph Loeb basically cobbling together a year-long “Batman’s Greatest Hits” series of vignettes that are loosely strung together by a non-mystery (Who is Hush? Well, there’s Tommy Elliot, the previously unrevealed childhood friend of Bruce Wayne and, um, that’s about it for suspects!) involving a brand new bad guy who very soon after descended rapidly into utter mediocrity. The only significant, lasting development that grew out of the whole thing was having Catwoman learn that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Really, if anyone other than Jim Lee had penciled this storyline, no one would think it was anything special.

I’m one of the people who decided not to vote for The Killing Joke because it doesn’t feature Batman. I had to come up with a handful of restrictions like that to put together a list of only ten.
Batman #244 and Detective #457 were both on my list, in my top five, in fact. At this point, there’s only one more from my list I’m expecting to see that hasn’t already appeared.

involving a brand new bad guy who very soon after descended rapidly into utter mediocrity

Hush didn’t descend into mediocrity.

He was already there.

Add me to the “I thought Killing Joke would be higher” list.

And @kdu2814 what would the Vegas odds be on Blockbuster being the 2rd most represented rogue in this?

Really, if anyone other than Jim Lee had penciled this storyline, no one would think it was anything special.

I disagree, because if Jim Lee didn’t pencil this, it would have just been some other superstar artist and therefore it would still be wildly overrated. Jeph Loeb is smart enough to always work with an artist who is so popular that he can ride on his coattails.

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