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Vote for Batman’s 75 Greatest Stories!

In honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Batman, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Batman, culminating with the “official” 75th anniversary of Batman at the end of July. The first month was the 75 Greatest Batman Covers. The second month was the 75 Greatest Batman Friends and Foes. Last month was the 75 Greatest Batman Writers and Artists. This month is the 75 Greatest Batman Stories!

Batman has starred in a bunch of a great stories, from one-shot issues to multi-issue stories to, well, sagas. So here you will be casting your vote for who you feel are the greatest Batman stories!

You folks all vote in the comments section here up until 11:59 Pacific time, July 6th. I’ll tabulate all the votes and I’ll begin a countdown of the top 75 beginning July 7th (or thereabouts – it’ll all end on July 23rd).

Okay, here are the guidelines!

1. Vote in the comments section below, making sure to include that classic word “ACBC” somewhere in your comment so your vote will be marked invisible.

2. Vote for your TEN favorite Batman stories (from comic books only).

3. Rank your ten stories from #1 (what you think is the greatest story) to #10 (what you think is the 10th greatest). I’d prefer it if you actually numbered your entry, #1-10. It’s easier for me to count. On that note, please also avoid listing them like this “1) 2) 3) 4),” because 8 with a ) after it transforms into a smiley face in the comments section (this one 8) ). Just plain ol’ “1. 2. 3.” works best. Really, just use this template:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

ACBC

4. Your top choice will be given 10 points, your second choice 9, etc.

5. Only stories where Batman is a lead or a co-lead character count. In other words, no JLA stories, no Catwoman stories, no Robin stories, no Azrael stories, no Nightwing stories, no Birds of Prey stories and no Gotham Central stories (except, of course, for when those titles directly cross over with Batman, like Cataclysm, Contagion, etc.). Batman and the Outsiders can count. Batman/Superman can count. World’s Finest can count. Brave and the Bold obviously counts.

6. Now for the most annoying part of the rules. What is the definition of a particular story? First off, runs are not stories. To wit, you can’t pick, say, Doug Moench and Kelly Jones’ run and call it a story. It is not. It contains a number of different stories.

Author intent is a big factor in whether I’ll count a bunch of non-consecutive issues as a “saga,” like the first Ra’s Al Ghul storyline. It was clearly intended as one story by Denny O’Neil, even though it was non-consecutive in two different titles (with different artists).

No Man’s Land is one big story.

Knightfall, Knightquest and Knightsend, though, are three distinct stories.

Gerry Conway’s run can be split into basically two distinct “sagas.” The Rupert Thorne saga and then the Killer Croc saga.

Black Mirror is one storyline (trade paperback collections are generally a good guideline as to what is considered a story, although obviously not always).

7. Mini-series count as one story. Like Batman vs. Predator. Unless, of course, the mini-series is an anthology, like Batman: Black and White. In the case of anthologies, each story inside the anthology is considered an independent story.

8. Make sure to include ACBC in your ballot.

9. If you have questions and or requests for clarification, feel free to ask them in the comments section below. I’ll make various decisions as necessary.

Remember, please include the following word: ACBC – on your ballot. It will make it so your ballot appears invisible to other readers, so only I can read it (and count your vote secretly).

Most importantly, have fun!

Now vote! :)

81 Comments

Ten stories are too few. There are so many excellent Batman stories.

Superman and Batman: World’s Funnest. This one is a bit hard to define. The actual stars/protagonists are Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite, BUT both Superman and Batman appear throughout like 75% of the story. It’s basically about the two imps travelling throughout the DC multiverse and encountering the various versions of Superman and Batman (including showing up in the pages of The Dark Knight Returns [drawn by Miller] and Kingdom Come [painted by Alex Ross] or on a storyboard for the animated series [sketched by Bruce Timm himself]). It’s utterly AMAZING, but I don’t know if it counts as a “Batman story” or not. Clarification would be appreciated.

And just to be 100% clear, am I correct in assuming that intercompany crossovers count as Batman stories so long as “Batman” is somewhere in the title?

Also, “Yes, Tyrone, There is a Santa Claus”. Yea or nay? I know Batman’s role is significantly less than Superman’s, but still…

And to go with the above, short stories in general I’m assuming count, but just to be sure?

Hi Brian – does Batman Incorporated count as one story?

thx

Superman and Batman: World’s Funnest. This one is a bit hard to define. The actual stars/protagonists are Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite, BUT both Superman and Batman appear throughout like 75% of the story. It’s basically about the two imps travelling throughout the DC multiverse and encountering the various versions of Superman and Batman (including showing up in the pages of The Dark Knight Returns [drawn by Miller] and Kingdom Come [painted by Alex Ross] or on a storyboard for the animated series [sketched by Bruce Timm himself]). It’s utterly AMAZING, but I don’t know if it counts as a “Batman story” or not. Clarification would be appreciated.

In general, if it has Batman in the title, it counts.

And just to be 100% clear, am I correct in assuming that intercompany crossovers count as Batman stories so long as “Batman” is somewhere in the title?

Yeah, again, whether his name is in the title is usually going to be the deciding factor.

Also, “Yes, Tyrone, There is a Santa Claus”. Yea or nay? I know Batman’s role is significantly less than Superman’s, but still…

I’ll count it.

And to go with the above, short stories in general I’m assuming count, but just to be sure?

Yes, short stories count.

Hi Brian – does Batman Incorporated count as one story?

I’d count everything from Leviathan Strikes on as one story (although obviously Batman Inc. #6 could definitely be seen as part of that story, but just for the sake of ease, let’s say Leviathan Strikes on as essentially one storyline called Batman Incorporated: Leviathan – which, oddly enough, I believe was the working title for the second volume).

This might be a stupid question, but does the story have to be from the comics? Could I vote for the Batman The Animated Series episode Heart of Ice for instance?

This might be a stupid question, but does the story have to be from the comics? Could I vote for the Batman The Animated Series episode Heart of Ice for instance?

Not a stupid question at all. But no, just comic book stories. I edited the rules to reflect as much (I should have said it right from the get go, so thanks for the head’s up!).

Okay fair enough :)

Obviously Batman Chronicles #4 (the Hitman story) would be eligible, but would Batman’s appearance in Hitman be disqualified? Same question goes for Batman’s appearances in Swamp Thing (v1 by Wein/Wrightson, v2 by Moore, and one of the Annuals by Veitch [IIRC]).

Also, I worded the question above about short stories slightly incorrectly. I had meant to also ask if there were any circumstances where short story anthologies (either minis or single issues) would count as a single story for the purposes of the list. The one that jumps out at me most as a possible exception is Batman Adventures Holiday Special. If you’ve read the issue (and if you haven’t do yourself a favor and rectify that ASAP because it’s incredible) then you’ll recall that the individual short stories are basically all telling a series of events that happened to Batman over the course of one roughly Christmas Eve through New Year’s Eve period. The final short (Batman and Commissioner Gordon having coffee in a diner after midnight right after the ball dropped in Gotham Square [or whatever it’s called]) even picks up IMMEDIATELY after the one directly preceding it (Batman vs. Joker at a downtown New Year’s Eve celebration) and makes reference to it (Joker, New Year’s, etc).

So is Batman Adventures Holiday Special a single “story” for the purposes of this poll/list, and if so are there any other short story anthologies that would be counted this way or is it just this one exception unless someone can provide a similar example?

Strange Apperiations is all one story right? At least until the conclusion with the Joker and Silver St Cloud

How about the Elseworlds Dracula Trilogy (Red Rain, Bloodstorm, Crimson Mist)? One story or 3? Or both?

This is going to be so hard, remembering all the great Batman stories told over the years. I wish there was somewhere that mentioned a bunch of the best and the notable artists and writers who worked on them ;)

Thanks in advance for answering my question.

This is going to be such a great list. I’m excited to see it.

I really wanted to include stories by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, but all of their long-form stories were cross-overs with other titles–by lesser writers :(

does the death of Batman from Adventure Comics count?

@ArchieLeach —

You mean where they kill off the Golden Age Batman of Earth Two?

scarletspeed7

June 25, 2014 at 8:25 am

Do the Dick Grayson-as-Batman stories count for this list, or is this list solely for Bruce?

Hey Brian. First I just wanted to say thanks for taking on the task of compiling these Batman lists. It’s been fun to participate in the voting and informative to see the results.

I was hoping you might change your mind and count Knightfall as one saga rather than individual stories. Many people consider it one epic storyline with a definite beginning, middle and end. DC’s recent TPB collections seem to confirm this because they are labeled Knightfall Vol 1, 2 and 3 (similar to their No Man’s Land TPB’s which are Vol 1,2,3,4 and you are counting as one story). It’s hard for me to imagine reading Knightfall without beginning at Sword of Azrael & Vengeance of Bane and then just ending it with Batman’s back broken.

Thanks again and looking forward to hearing your thoughts

Pretty tough to define as opinions change on what the best are and I would be surprised to see some of mine get near the top twenty if they make it at all. I have to give When the Earth Dies! another high mark as it was such a great sequel to 10 nights (better in my opinion) and I really think the NKVDemon could have been one of the great villains for Batman as he was his equal plus he had a cool uniform unlike the Blue Oyster Bar getup that the Beast wore (did renegade assassins dress like that in Russia?).

Strange Apperiations is all one story right? At least until the conclusion with the Joker and Silver St Cloud

Yes, but it always feels weird saying so because Englehart didn’t finish it. But yes, I’ll count Strange Apparitions as one story.

How about the Elseworlds Dracula Trilogy (Red Rain, Bloodstorm, Crimson Mist)? One story or 3? Or both?

Three stories.

Do the Dick Grayson-as-Batman stories count for this list, or is this list solely for Bruce?

Dick’s tenure as Batman counts, yes.

I was hoping you might change your mind and count Knightfall as one saga rather than individual stories. Many people consider it one epic storyline with a definite beginning, middle and end. DC’s recent TPB collections seem to confirm this because they are labeled Knightfall Vol 1, 2 and 3 (similar to their No Man’s Land TPB’s which are Vol 1,2,3,4 and you are counting as one story). It’s hard for me to imagine reading Knightfall without beginning at Sword of Azrael & Vengeance of Bane and then just ending it with Batman’s back broken.

The trade paperbacks originally went with Knightfall as a distinct story. They changed it in more recent years because it is easier to sell the whole thing as one over-arching storyline. It really wasn’t, though. Knightfall doesn’t end with Bruce’s back breaking – it ends with Azrael taking over as Batman and defeating Bane. That’s a real conclusion. Just like the Death of Superman was a real conclusion, so I didn’t count it along with the Reign of the Supermen on last year’s Greatest Superman Stories poll.

I consider “Strange Apparitions” to be made up by Detective Comics #469-476, the issues written by Steve Englehart, and to not include the Clayface two parter in #478 and #479 written by Len Wein, even though they were also in the trade paperback. So when I cast a vote for “Strange Apparitions,” in my mind that means #469-476 only.

Anyway, now I know what I’ll be doing during my lunch break today… figuring out the other nine entries to put on my list! :)

does the death of Batman from Adventure Comics count?

That’s really more of a JSA story, isn’t it? Bruce is dead before the story is even half over.

I consider “Strange Apparitions” to be made up by Detective Comics #469-476, the issues written by Steve Englehart, and to not include the Clayface two parter in #478 and #479 written by Len Wein, even though they were also in the trade paperback. So when I cast a vote for “Strange Apparitions,” in my mind that means #469-476 only.

In essence, I think everyone who votes for Strange Apparitions is thinking that same way, so I don’t think it’s a major issue. I beieve we all basically understand that when someone votes for Strange Apparitions they’re really saying “I’m voting for Englehart/Rogers/Austin’s run.”

Obviously Batman Chronicles #4 (the Hitman story) would be eligible, but would Batman’s appearance in Hitman be disqualified? Same question goes for Batman’s appearances in Swamp Thing (v1 by Wein/Wrightson, v2 by Moore, and one of the Annuals by Veitch [IIRC]).

I’m going to say so, yes. Covers were one thing, but stories are a whole other thing.

Also, I worded the question above about short stories slightly incorrectly. I had meant to also ask if there were any circumstances where short story anthologies (either minis or single issues) would count as a single story for the purposes of the list. The one that jumps out at me most as a possible exception is Batman Adventures Holiday Special. If you’ve read the issue (and if you haven’t do yourself a favor and rectify that ASAP because it’s incredible) then you’ll recall that the individual short stories are basically all telling a series of events that happened to Batman over the course of one roughly Christmas Eve through New Year’s Eve period. The final short (Batman and Commissioner Gordon having coffee in a diner after midnight right after the ball dropped in Gotham Square [or whatever it’s called]) even picks up IMMEDIATELY after the one directly preceding it (Batman vs. Joker at a downtown New Year’s Eve celebration) and makes reference to it (Joker, New Year’s, etc).

Short stories within anthologies get individual votes. I think I’ve even had that very Holiday Special split up before, on the Greatest Joker Stories list, I think.

I’m curious if the Swamp Thing vs. Batman story from Swamp Thing #53 might count. True, Batman ends up seeming more of a foil for Swamp Thing for the most part, but his presence is still strongly felt throughout the story and the character’s essence remains very true, not to mention cool (his parting words to Swmapy are awesome).

It’s not in the Grant Morrison “Batman-always wins” category, but it is in the Alan Moore “awesome comic” category.

Would the comics sold with the old Power Records be considered off limits? They could be read on their own, but seeing as how they’re intended to be read while listening to the record that came with it, I could see that counting more as “outside media”. I’ve just always had an odd fondness for “Robin Meets The Man-Bat!”.

Not seeing the link to vote

Okay, I just voted. That was incredibly difficult. I kept changing my mind. And I’m sure that five minutes from now I’ll remember another few great stories that I should have considered.

Anyway, Brian Cronin, thank you for running this poll. I look forward to seeing the results.

So “The Search” is lumped in with “The Crusade” as Knightsquest, then?

I’m putting together my list right now, but question. You said JLA stories don’t count, but can you make an exception for Tower of Babel?

Batman was a central character to that arc and in fact, the cover to the TPB is Batman standing over the limp bodies of the rest of the JLA members.

joe the poor speller

June 25, 2014 at 10:39 am

Does the Rupert Thorne storyline by Gerry Conway count as one story?

The Death of Earth 2 Batman is still a big part about his legacy even though he dies half way through. It’s as much a Batman story as Funeral for a Friend is a Superman story or

@dhole —

Swamp Thing has been addressed already. Read the comments section.

Just voted and realize that Jim Starlin wrote quite a few Batman stories that I really love.

Just voted. A lot to choose from, but I picked personal favorites.

I think that the obvious stories will be there and pretty high, but what will be interesting to see is what happens when we get past that to see what the tastes are.

Would the comics sold with the old Power Records be considered off limits? They could be read on their own, but seeing as how they’re intended to be read while listening to the record that came with it, I could see that counting more as “outside media”. I’ve just always had an odd fondness for “Robin Meets The Man-Bat!”.

You can vote for the Power Records comics.

Not seeing the link to vote

This IS the place to vote. You vote in the comments. Just follow the directions above.

So “The Search” is lumped in with “The Crusade” as Knightsquest, then?

Correct.

I’m putting together my list right now, but question. You said JLA stories don’t count, but can you make an exception for Tower of Babel?

Batman was a central character to that arc and in fact, the cover to the TPB is Batman standing over the limp bodies of the rest of the JLA members.

No Tower of Babel. Batman’s a central character to a number of JLA arcs. They’re still JLA arcs.

Does the Rupert Thorne storyline by Gerry Conway count as one story?

I believe I actually specifically addressed that story in the rules, right? But if you missed it, then yes, it counts as one story.

I have a question… the Elseworlds “Speeding Bullets” counts as Batman story? It says “Superman” on the title but…

We had Speeding Bullets on the Greatest Superman Stories list, so I guess we should count it as just a Superman story.

Either way I left it out of the list… This was a hard list and I have not read all the batman stories I would like to, not to mention things I don’t know. But people don’t forget those also great stories (except those that are obviously going to be on the list):

Absolution
Going Sane
Joker GN
heart of hush
black glove
year 100

About half my votes were for stories that usually end up on a lot of other readers’ lists of the greatest Batman stories. The other half of my votes were for stories rather less often mentioned, but which are definitely among my own personal favorites. It will be interesting to see if any of those make it onto the list of 75 here at CBR.

Man, even collapsing certain runs & multi-part stories into one entry apiece, I could’ve easily expanded that list to a Top 20 or 25 on my own.

Brian, if you want any testimonials written on any of my choices, let me know. :)

Would stuff like Robin Year One/Batgirl Year One be eligible as Batman remains very much a central character (unlike, say Catwoman: When in Rome where he’s completely absent)?

Anonymous wrote: “Obviously Batman Chronicles #4 (the Hitman story) would be eligible, but would Batman’s appearance in Hitman be disqualified? Same question goes for Batman’s appearances in Swamp Thing (v1 by Wein/Wrightson, v2 by Moore, and one of the Annuals by Veitch [IIRC]).”

Brian replied: “I’m going to say so, yes. Covers were one thing, but stories are a whole other thing.”

Brian, you’re saying ‘yes, Batman’s appearance in Hitman would be disqualified? So, ergo, the Swamp Thing stories would be disqualified as well? And then you’re saying you’re lenient with covers but less so with stories?

Sorry if I’m being thick, it’s just the back-and-forth as quoted left me a bit unsure what to take away.

This is easily the most difficult of these lists I’ve voted for. I only managed to whittle it down to ten by omitting some really obvious choices that are bound to show up no matter what. I’m sure I’ll thinking of another dozen stories I should have considered a few minutes from now!

I voted. It breaks my heart that I didn’t have room for Captives of the Alien Zoo or The Clayface-Joker Feud, but that’s the way the bat bounces.

So no Swamp Thing #53, but…

Can we count Man of Steel #3 or Action Comics Annual #1?

They’re pretty much the first and second “World’s Finest”-type team-ups, post-crisis.

(sorry, I have lots of favourite stories with Batman in them, but haven’t don’t have that many actual Batman comics, hence all the questions…)

Would stuff like Robin Year One/Batgirl Year One be eligible as Batman remains very much a central character (unlike, say Catwoman: When in Rome where he’s completely absent)?

No.

Brian, you’re saying ‘yes, Batman’s appearance in Hitman would be disqualified? So, ergo, the Swamp Thing stories would be disqualified as well? And then you’re saying you’re lenient with covers but less so with stories?

Sorry if I’m being thick, it’s just the back-and-forth as quoted left me a bit unsure what to take away.

Yes, outside appearances are disqualified.

Don’t forget the classic LODK stories. There’s some gems in there.

Is Haunted Knight three separate stories? I assume it is, but just wanted to check in case you’re counting it together.

Mad Love counts?

Can I put The Black Glove and Batman RIP together as one story? I think that you need to read The Black Glove first to really get Batman RIP. Also, can I put The Return Of Bruce Wayne, Batman vs. Robin, and Batman and Robin Must Die together since those stories intertwine?

Alright, just put in my votes!

Although I have to say that while it’s ineligible on a technicality, the greatest Batman story ever is Marshal Law: Kingdom Of The Blind.

I have a feeling that year one and the dark Knight returns are going to be number one and number two no matter who votes and how. Therefore all we are really voting for is the remaining eight

Crap. i voted for the Batman meets Jerry Lewis story. Now I see that doesn’t count because it didn’t occur in Batman’s own books. Sorry

I have a feeling that year one and the dark Knight returns are going to be number one and number two no matter who votes and how. Therefore all we are really voting for is the remaining eight

And quite right too!

“In essence, I think everyone who votes for Strange Apparitions is thinking that same way, so I don’t think it’s a major issue. I beieve we all basically understand that when someone votes for Strange Apparitions they’re really saying ‘I’m voting for Englehart/Rogers/Austin’s run.'”

Not to be THAT guy, Brian, but I wish folks would remember that Walt Simonson drew the first two chapters of what’s come to be known as “Strange Apparitions.” Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Marshall Rogers (“SA” will be in my Top 3), but Simonson’s not exactly someone you overlook and those first two chapters are pivotal to that run in a way that the Len Wein issues, IMHO, are not.

In this instance, he is. Walter Simonson is awesome. His two issues were very good. But people voting for Strange Apparations are overwhelmingly just using it as short-hand for “Englehart/Rogers/Austin’s run.” It’s not a statement of quality but just how people are voting.

I have a feeling that year one and the dark Knight returns are going to be number one and number two no matter who votes and how. Therefore all we are really voting for is the remaining eight

Your ten votes will help decide the other seventy-three! :) That’s a lot of stories!

Is Haunted Knight three separate stories? I assume it is, but just wanted to check in case you’re counting it together.

Yes, three stories.

Can I put The Black Glove and Batman RIP together as one story? I think that you need to read The Black Glove first to really get Batman RIP. Also, can I put The Return Of Bruce Wayne, Batman vs. Robin, and Batman and Robin Must Die together since those stories intertwine?

No, but don’t worry, I’ll work out your votes based on how other people have voted. Really, this just highlights the difference between “stories” and “runs.” Morrison’s Batman run would obviously do really, really well. His individual stories might just do well instead of really, really well.

Mad Love counts?

Mad Love counts.

How are we splitting up Batman Inc. v1 for the purposes of voting?

How are we splitting up Batman Inc. v1 for the purposes of voting?

#1-2
#3-5
#6
#7
#8

I consider “Strange Apparitions” to be made up by Detective Comics #469-476, the issues written by Steve Englehart, and to not include the Clayface two parter in #478 and #479 written by Len Wein, even though they were also in the trade paperback. So when I cast a vote for “Strange Apparitions,” in my mind that means #469-476 only.

But that Clayface story is the best bit!

I found my list was a lot more interesting when I left out Long Halloween, Knightfall and the two *really* obvious ones by that Miller guy…

I mean how would you even choose which one is best out of Batman / Spawn and ASBAR, anyway?

For the sake of ease, I’ll count Zero Year as one big storyline.

So we’re counting Zero Year? It would have made it in my top 10 but I can’t give it a definitive ranking without rereading the whole story all together. I’m glad Snyder’s story is getting votes though.

Easily the Batman/Judge Dredd corssover. and second is The Long Haloween and teh killing joke.

Lots of people flubbing the code thing in their lists. Must be a pain in the butt to have to hide this many posts.

Travis Pelkie

July 7, 2014 at 12:06 am

Oh, people flubbing the code is the best part of these voting lists. It’s particularly amusing to see what kind of stuff these people are voting for.

Oh, people flubbing the code is the best part of these voting lists. It’s particularly amusing to see what kind of stuff these people are voting for.

People have gotten a lot better with the code as the years have gone by. There were only a handful of mistakes this time out of hundreds and hundreds of votes cast.

How you piece together the identities of stories from the sometimes vague clues we post amazes me, Brian!

I was worried about missing the deadline, which snuck up on me, so I didn’t get complete issue details on all my selections. Should I recast my vote with more detail? I wasn’t worried about some of the well-known stories I voted for, but I wasn’t able to fully specify the sources of all the obscurer ones (though I tried to fill in at least the most obscure, if that makes sense)

Really looking forward to the results for this, hope to discover some treasures new to me!

Did my votes go through? I don’t see my post anymore, which I assume means they did.

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