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CSBG Archive

75 Greatest Batman Writers and Artists: Writers #10-6

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7. Jeph Loeb

Jeph Loeb’s contributions to the Bat Universe began small, with just a one-shot for Halloween with artist Tim Sale. Then they did another one. Then another one. And then the pair decided to turn their annual Halloween one-shots into a sweeping epic maxi-series known as The Long Halloween, examining the world of Batman after Year One, as Frank Miller had left the case of the crime bosses of Gotham quite unsettled. The Long Halloween led to a sequel, Dark Victory, and a spin-off of sorts starring Catwoman.

Loeb then made his way to the main Batman title where he and Jim Lee got together for one of the most popular storylines of all-time, the epic known as Hush. Loeb knows how to tell big stories, and few stories are quite as big as Hush. The story brought into play pretty much every major Batman villain and every major Batman ally, plus a few minor ones! All to tell the mystery of someone who knows Batman’s secret identity and is trying to destroy him.

Few parts of Hush spotlight Loeb’s willingness to go BIG more so than first having Batman and Catwoman finally get together Post-Crisis and then have Superman show up under the control of Poison Ivy…

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See what I mean? Loeb knows so well how to use the BIG moment. And he is a favorite writer for so many artists because he knows how to get the best out of their artwork. He’s an artist’s writer, for sure. It is little surprise that the top artists in the field have all lined up to work with him on various projects.

He followed up Hush by launching and then having an extended run on a Batman/Superman team-up series that pitted the heroes against President Lex Luthor and then introduced a brand-new Supergirl (who Batman doesn’t trust) and then saw the Legion of Super-Villains alter the past so that Batman and Superman are villains. He worked with star artists Ed McGuinness, Michael Turner and Carlos Pachecho on this run.

Between Hush, Superman/Batman and The Long Halloween, Jeph Loeb is responsible for three of the most popular Batman story collections of all-time.

6. Paul Dini

Paul Dini became known to Batman fans as a writer and producer on the famed Batman: The Animated Series. After drawing wide acclaim for that series, he turned to the world of Batman comic books. He had a short stint on the Animated Series tie-in comic and he and Bruce Timm (also from the cartoon show) combined for a number of special projects, most famously the award-winning Mad Love, spotlighting their creation, Harley Quinn.

Dini eventually took over as the regular writer on Detective Comics roughly a decade ago. He told mostly one-off or two-issue-long stories and he showed off his vast creativity with an assortment of clever plotlines. He also introduced Zatanna to Batman’s supporting cast, redeemed the Riddler and also invented a brand-new Ventriloquist. His most famous story from this era was most likely a Christmas tale (with artist Don Kramer) where the Joker kidnaps Robin and forces him to go on a joyride with him as the Joker runs people down with Robin unable to do anything about it, until…

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Such a classic.

After a continued series of short stories, Dini produced perhaps his finest arc on Detective when he attempted to redefine the character of Hush as a major threat (after writers between Loeb and Dini had let the character falter a bit) once again. The Heart of Hush is chilling as well as compelling.

After that, Dini launched a brand-new Batman series, Streets of Gotham, starring Dick Grayson (who had taken over as the new Batman) as well as a series, Gotham Sirens, starring Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. When Bruce Wayne returned, Streets of Gotham ended and Dini’s time as a regular Batman writer came to a close.

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40 Comments

Hmmm… Can’t remember which of these I voted for. Definitely not Loeb, but definitely Dini.

I think Alan Grant was also on my list. Can’t remember whether I had dixon on there.

Just as well Brian’s asked us not to say mean things about any of the creators or there work. I suspect there might be a hint of dissatisfaction at certain inclusions.

Chuck Dixon was my #9 vote so I’m happy to see him. Alan Grant is classic and I’m kicking myself for forgetting him.

Frank Milla Batman Gorilla

June 19, 2014 at 5:29 am

Dini’s Animated Series tie-ins are the great Batman comics of all time.

And Loeb’s Dark Victory and When in Rome are both pretty solid as well.

Moench’s Batman work is a favourite of mine. I think he should be a little higher. His run with Kelley Jones is nearly perfect! (the Joker arc being the exception – who would of though!).

Grant is another favourite. He had some steller issues. It was hard to get his whole run, as they had his chopping and changing between Batman and Tec. Dixon was also at his best in the Bat universe. His first year on Robin was great (asell as the 3 minis). And his Nightwing was some of my favourite work with the character.

Loeb and Dini, while both had some solid work, I feel are too high on the list.

Batman has been written and drawn by a number of excellent artists. That said, Chuck Dixon is one of my favorites because he really emphasized characterization.

FYI – CBR, you need to include an edit button :)

Re: Dixon ‘…. another really good one showing Batman stuck in his Bruce Wayne persona for a whole issue while still trying to save the day without giving away his identity.’

What issue is this? I love a good Bruce story.

Detective Comics #711.

Thanks Brian! :)

scarletspeed7

June 19, 2014 at 6:13 am

Wow… Three of my choices right here! Alan Grant, Chuck Dixon, and Paul Dini. I actually had these three guys in 2nd, 5th, and 4th respectively. I don’t think very many writers out there will ever influence me so much on how the Dark Knight should be written as these guys did.

Well, four out of five ain’t bad :)

I like how the 90s Batman Triumvirate ended up all next to each other in the top 10. Moench was my favorite of the bunch, for “Prey” and for his run with Kelley Jones. Great stuff.

I voted for Dini, although I can’t lie and say his great work on the Batman Animated Series wasn’t a part of the reason. Nonetheless, he would get my vote for “Mad Love” alone, I absolutely adore that comic.

3/5 for me. While dixon’s run went on way too long (on all his Bat-titles) it can’t be argued that he is ultimately an extremely important Batman writer. When he was on form, he was on fire! Alan Grant is one of my go-to Bat-scribes. I love his early work, especially wtih Breyfogle. He also wrote Misfits, the best Killer Moth story ever!

Dini’s animated work alone should qualify him for his spot. He’s one of the main reasons DC animation owned Marvel for the better part of two decades.

I suppose we’ll never know, but I wonder a little why he jumped ship after everything he had done for them (my sense is that there was something beyond “something new to do”; the last episode of Batman: The Brave and The Bold, which he wrote, was a very heavy handed critique of corporate practices regarding superheroes, including slamming the replacement cartoon before it even made it to screen…”Mitefall” is the title if anyone is interested).

I’ll say this for Hush … the art is amazing.

Also, Julia Remarque Pennyworth was Alfred’s daughter, not his niece.

Great list, I voted for Loeb and Moench.

Love Paul Dini for giving us the TV show, but I read that Robin/Joker story after reading it hyped on the internet, and could not have been more disappointed. Maybe ’cause I’m a dad now, but watching Joker drive around mowing families down while they’re Christmas shopping? Not fun.

The worst part? Joker gets away at the end, and Batman congratulates Robin on the great job he did surviving. Dozens of victims unavenged, but the what the heck, that’s the Joker we know and love, apparently.

As has been noted many times now, the mass murder bit has been done so much by now that it really does make Joker’s continued presence in the Bat-books more frustrating and depressing than something to anticipate with any excitement.

Paul Dini’s been a great force in the Bat-verse, but that particular excerpt shown..? Not a fan.

I was very torn on Chuck Dixon because I loved his actual crafting of stories, but I hated his characterization of Batman. I never like depictions of Batman where he’s as big an aloof dick to his friends and allies as he is to criminals, and Dixon was big on that. For example his depiction of Batman in Nightwing Year One is almost that of an emotional abuser. He did write great stories though, and was talented, despite how much I disliked his idea of how Batman’s personality should be.

I’m feeling like a fool for forgetting Loeb and Dini! Glad to see Grant and Dixon so high in the list (Alan was #1 in mine).

Good times.

How funny that Moench, Grant and Dixon were grouped together. Add Denny O’Neill and My Batman has its writers. Jones and Nolan for the art.

All of these guys were on my list, glad to see them in the top 10.

BTW it was Gotham City Sirens, not Gotham Girls.

The the late 80s and into the 90s really was a great time to be a Batman fan with Dixon, Moench and Grant writing the books. Plus I’m sure some of the artists from that time are going to be showing up in the top 5 artists. I can’t think of any other family of comics that had such a large group of high quality creators like that all at the same time. Good stuff.

The Rogues Gallery panel at the top of this post — with Maxie Zeus and Crazy Quilt at the top right, and the Joker lunging at Batman’s neck — I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember where it’s from. Was it a ‘Tec cover?

@Gumption: Its from the Last Arkham, by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle. Its the first story of the Shadow of the Bat ongoing O’Neil gave them after unceremoniously kicking them off of Batman and Detective Comics before the royalty inducing anniversary issues.

Adam Weissman

June 19, 2014 at 9:36 am

Dark Victory was decent. Hush was nothing special.

Paul Dini should be so high up on the list just for turning Hush into a character.

I never liked Nocturna. Moench seemed to be trying for something poetic with all her paeans to the night, and for me it always feel flat.
I read Hush Vol. 2 recently though, and I was surprised how much I preferred it to Long Halloween. For one thing, it was much less ambitious, and as a straight multi-issue story with lots of villains, it worked well. And I liked the little bits like Dick and Bruce talking as if they were actually close (I haven’t seen that in years) or the Bruce/Selina scenes.
At the same time, I also think the Jerry Lewis As Hush thing we saw last week was spot on.

Fraser is right. That “Hush is Jerry Lewis” piece by Nick Perks was great :)

The Doug Moench/Kelley Jones/John Beatty run is one of the best run of any comic ever and definitely my favorite Batman run, and that includes the Vampire trilogy.
I’ll say it was losing a little bit of steam in the last few stories by the time it got cut off at No Man’s Land, so its ending was unfortunate but not necessarily a bad thing.
I’d rather it ended than turn to crap, like their more recent miniseries together in my opinion..

Hush was a fun story while it was going on, but not really a good one.
The best way to read it is the Hush Unwrapped HC for Jim Lee’s amazing pencil work.

I genuinely love the work of four out of five creators on this list and wish they were higher up. However, seeing as the final five would have to include Bill Finger, Denny O’Neil and Frank Miller, I guess I can’t complain too much.

Now that is something I liked….Robin able to best Joker. The way Joker is anymore in the comics, he’s like Btaman…almost too good to be stopped.

The series Dini did starring Harley, Ivy, and Catwoman was called Gotham Sirens.

I really love me some DIxon and Moench. They were 90s Batman. Together with O’Neil as editor they churned out my favorite long-running Batman storyline, Knightfall.

Most of my top 10 has already been featured. I feel none of my favorites, save O’Neil, will have made the top 5.

Well, we know Miller or You-Know-Who will be #1, given this crowd, but it’s to be expected. I just hope Finger at least is up there, too.

Obviously this is a list specifically focused on comic-book writing, but one of the reasons why Paul Dini is such a major part of Batman, to me, is that he’s the go-to Batman expert in pretty much every medium. Aside from the aforementioned cartoons and comics, he’s written video game scripts and been an advisor on all kinds of Batman-related works. When I see any kind of adaptation of anything in the Bat-universe (no matter the media) with Dini’s name on it, I know it will most likely be done right.

Great picks all.

I tended to dislike Batman comics in the 1990s, so there’s nobody from my list in this batch, though I respect Dini and recognize that Dixon did some good Batman stories.

Dixon and Moench are about where I had them on my list. Wasn’t sure Dixon would make it, so I’m pleasantly surprised. Grant is too low. I had him #2. I wonder where he’d place with his co-Wagner votes. Didn’t have Loeb, but like his Hush cohort Lee, I think some of the hate is overblown. Dini just shows a mastery of the character in any medium, and certainly had my vote. He’s done as much to define te character in te last 25 years as anybody, and has a substantial run in comics to go with his other work. He gets the character.

I don’t remember the end of The Brave and the Bold trashing Beware the Batman…I’m going to have to watch it again.

Good to see Alan Grant up there. His run with Breyfogle was great – The Ventriloquist being one of the only decent ‘new’ Bat-villains to rival the classic 40s bad guys.

He also managed not to make Batman a complete psycho and let him smile once in a while, which makes a change.

Good choices. Loeb is a mixed bag, though his TLHW was very entertaining, as was his other pre-Hush work. When Dini came onto Detective, I was so happy to see well done done-in-one’s – what he did with Riddler and Joker was great. He really gets the core of these characters.

Ahhh. The 90′s triumvirate. They all did great work, albeit in very different ways. It’s funny to think about the vastly different tones they brought to the character, with it all still feeling like Batman. We had action star Batman (Dixon), weird Gothic Batman (Moench), and psychological thriller Batman (Grant). That’s a bit too much of an oversimplification of the three writers – they all did so much more and did it well, especially with great smaller stories, the kind of which we don’t see today. Kudos to them.

Dixon, Moench and Grant give me my second 3 in a row (really odd, that)
Dini was also on my list (though not part of a 3 in a row)

Nikolai you put it right “great smaller stories, the kind of which we don’t see today. Kudos to them.” The 90′s Trumvirate : Grant/Moench/dixon , with Denny O’Neil as their founding father ;-) late 80′s early 90′s were for me the best times for Batman. I even miss ” From the Den” Bat signals..ehhh..those were the times …In retrospective I would say all the O’neill editorial era was fantastic for Batman.

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