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75 Greatest Batman Stories: #75-66

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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 on July 23rd. We’ve done Batman covers, Batman characters, Batman creastors and now, finally, Batman stories!

You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 75 Greatest Batman Stories!

Enjoy!

NOTE: Don’t be a jerk about creators in the comments section. If you are not a fan of a particular creator, that’s fine, but be respectful about it. No insulting creators or otherwise being a jerk about creators. I’ll be deleting any comments like that and, depending on how jerky the comment was, banning commenters.

75. The Rupert Thorne Saga (Batman #339-346, 348-356 and Detective Comics #507-512, 514-522)

This storyline was Gerry Conway’s first epic tale during his run writing both Batman and Detective Comics in the early 1980s. It was a continuation of the Rupert Thorne/Hugo Strange haunting from Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers’ stint on Detective. It was a sprawling tale that worked in a number of plots, from Thorne manipulating Gotham City’s elections to Vicki Vale returning (after being gone for about a gazillion years) to try to learn Batman’s secret identity to Robin returning to be Batman’s partner once again (and the two not exactly getting along) to Batman dealing with vampires to Batman being OUTLAWED in Gotham City, a whole lot of stuff happened on top of finally seeing the resolution to Thorne’s haunting by Strange. Guest stars were used wonderfully, as well, in this epic, as Conway embraced the whole DC Universe, using the Human Target, Jason Bard AND Dr. Thirteen well.

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The whole thing was beautifully handled by a variety of artists, most notably Gene Colan, Don Newton (who drew the featured pages here with inks by Alfredo Alcala) and Irv Novick.

74. “The Lazarus Affair” (Batman #332-335)

The Lazarus Affair was a rollicking action-packed international adventure that worked sort of like a big budget James Bond-like blockbuster, only starring Batman. It was drawn by Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin and written by Marv Wolfman, who spun it out of his back-up stories during Len Wein’s Batman run.

Wolfman used Talia, Catwoman, Robin and King Faraday as supporting players in this tale that zigged and zagged all across the globe, ultimately leading to one of the top Ra’s Al Ghul/Batman battles.

Along the way, we got scenes like the following…

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Bad guys on skis with lasers!! Awesome!

73. “The Batman Nobody Knows” (Batman #250)

This charming Frank Robbins/Dick Giordano joint was the first story in a now familiar type of tale – the “Everyone sees Batman for what they want to think of him”…

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Very fun stuff.

Read on to the next page for #72-69

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60 Comments

The Lazarus Affair was written by Marv Wolfman, not Len Wein, Brian.

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Batman_Vol_1_332

Oh duh, thanks, John, silly brain gremlin there.

No problem. I had to double check it myself to make sure that I wasn’t mistaken! :)

Surprised Zero Year made it up that high considering it’s not done. Hoping Death of the Family and Court of Owls go top 50. We know the top 2 everything else should be fun. Thanks for the list always discovering new stories with these.

“The Batman Nobody Knows” and the Rude/Gibbons World’s Finest mini are my faves out of this batch.

Okay, I have to admit the presence of “Zero Year” astounds me. People are voting for a story that hasn’t finished yet?

I haven’t read Zero Year, so for all I know it could be the greatest storyline in comic book history, but I object to placing it when it hasn’t even finished. I’d be fine if you could vote for the first two individual parts (although maybe it doesn’t read well like that or something) but I think that a story that hasn’t finished, even if it’s just about to wrap up, shouldn’t be eligible.

Wow, Zero Year sounds terrible. And like every other story Snyder has written in this current run of Batman. Sheesh.

“Zero Year”? What?

Travis Pelkie

July 11, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Well, if people like Zero Year THAT much that they think it was one of their 10 favorite/best Batman stories EVER, why not vote for it?

I personally dunno why, but hey, whatevs.

Nothing of mine yet, but these lists are always fun to see because I need to spend MORE on comics….

Nice to see some tales like the Rupert Thorne Saga and The Lazarus Affair. That’s the bonus of doing a top 75, that period between the peak 70s O’Neil/Adams and Engelhart/Rogers/Austin stories and Frank Miller’s seminal work in the 80s doesn’t get totally forgotten.

Glad Batman vs Predator made the list. Didn’t vote it, but its a surprisingly well-crafted story, considering it could have just been a lazy cash-in(see: the sequels, or Superman vs Aliens…better yet, don’t see).Also, Alfred blows the Predator away with a blunderbuss, people!

World’s Finest, on the other hand, not bad script wise, but its clearly Steve Rude who’s doing the heavy lifting here.

Zero Year is just as boring as the rest of Snyder’s tales: slow decompressed storytelling, characters talking like Wikipedia entries, overuse of “narration boxes that indirect commentate/juxtaposed against the current panel” Alan Moore 80s trick like its going out of style, flat-out stupid plot turns, and with some really great art so you hope you don’t notice how dumb this all is.

“Deathmask” is a great one-shot story, as is “Night of the Reaper”.

I haven’t read much early to mid 80s Batman; the inclusions of the Thorne saga and “The Lazarus Affair” are a reminder I need to rectify this mistake.

“Batman vs Predator” is fantastic!

Zero Year is just as boring as the rest of Snyder’s tales: slow decompressed storytelling, characters talking like Wikipedia entries, overuse of “narration boxes that indirect commentate/juxtaposed against the current panel” Alan Moore 80s trick like its going out of style, flat-out stupid plot turns, and with some really great art so you hope you don’t notice how dumb this all is.

So it’s the epitome of a New 52 comic.

tom fitzpatrick

July 11, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I’ve read War on Crime & World’s Finest. Both were well written and drawn.

Haven’t got to Zero Year yet, but Capullo’s art is always impressive, whether it’s Spawn or Batman.

Without a doubt the first Batman vs Predator is one of d my favorite all time Batman stories

How is this the first I’m hearing of that Dini/Ross story? Good god, I need to track that down ASAP.

I haven’t read any of the rest aside from World’s Finest and Zero Year, but I suspect that will be the case for the vast majority of the stories outside of the top 10-15 or so on this list. The stories I don’t know about are the ones I’m most looking forward to seeing on here.

I only recently read World’s Finest. The artwork really was fantastic in that series. The story itself was fine, though I thought it started awfully slow. I didn’t really get into it until the second issue, but from then on I was pretty well sucked in. I likely would have given up on it completely after the first issue if not for the artwork and the word of mouth I’d heard about the story.

I put in a vote for the Dark City arc of Zero Year based almost entirely on the strength of the bookend issues of that arc, but I was also fine with my vote counting as vote for Zero Year in general. The visual aspect of Zero Year has consistently been the best part of the story for me. I was a little iffy on Capullo’s art at the start of the relaunch, but his art has consistently been stellar throughout Zero Year. I can’t overlook FCO Plascencia’s coloring either. His psychedelic palette has been that single, final touch that’s tied everything together, and it’s only improved as Zero Year has progressed.

#24 was an absolutely fantastic issue, and was the first issue since #5 that I couldn’t read fast enough. Everything seemed to come together in that issue: it felt like Snyder had a lot of fun putting this issue together, Capullo was at the top of his game, and Plascenia’s colors simultaneously paid homage to the first days of Batman while improving upon the palette he’d established in Secret City.

The last issue of Dark City was a great one too. Seeing Batman come up short in the face of high stakes is something we don’t tend to see very often, and again had some fantastic artwork. The issues in between weren’t bad. The Doctor Death parts didn’t do a whole lot for me, but I really enjoyed everything else from the issues in between. I don’t know how Zero Year will ultimately settle for me. We’ll see how Snyder and Capullo close out Savage City, but for me Dark City will probably fare better than the rest of Zero Year and #24 will wind up being one of my all-time favorite single issues of Batman.

How about a top 50 of storylines featuring B-D list characters. I think the community would love to get a list of good stories not named Superman or Batman.

Addendum to my above comment: I have read Earth One. It was definitely a different take on Batman’s origin, but it’s more memorable for me due to what Johns did with Alfred rather than Bruce. Disapproving, hard ass Alfred was strange, to say the least, and seeing him play such an active, driving force type of role was such a departure from the snarky caretaker he usually is. Alfred certainly wasn’t the only character Earth One turned on its head (Harvey Bullock, thin and famous?!), but Alfred left the strongest impression because the dynamic between he and Bruce was so jarring compared to what I’m used to seeing.

I don’t know why it’s shocking that Zero Year is on the list. Not every Batman fan has read every major story of his. My beginnings with Batman started with Batman TAS and then on with the movies. It wasn’t till just a few years ago that I started to actually read Batman comics and know very little about any storylines prior to the 1980′s. That’s the great thing about Batman, once you get the basics down….you don’t need to know about a story that came out in the 1950′s to enjoy the stories of now.

Travis Pelkie

July 11, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Nicole, you’re getting rational logic in our grumpy old fanboy whining ;)

I think it’s odd that Zero Year is in the middle of the story still and made it on (particularly because Snyder tends to muff endings, so it could still crap out — although if you’re going to vote Snyder, you’re probably not thinking that way), and given how many great Batman stories there have been in the last few years (I could have filled a top 10 with Morrison’s run alone, and almost did :) ), it seems odd that enough people voted ZY in their top 10, but more power to them.

But definitely, the great thing is that Batman is so flexible that he has great stories in every era and there’s always a new batch of awesome coming.

As a Batman reading fan , for close to 50 years , I am liking Zero Year , very much. Still I would not vote for any story that is not completed. But I have no problem with other people voting for it. No doubt , Scott Snyder’s Batman is going to be the definitive Batman for a large % of fans. So he deserves all of the props he is receiving.

scarletspeed7

July 11, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Thank god that Zero Year is on this list. All these poorly written stories from the 70s with stilted dialogue and corny plots. Thank goodness there’s something for someone in my generation.

Sorry, someone had to balance out these old people.

P.S.

A real nice mix , so far , this is going to be a fun way to go back through my long boxes. Truthfully , all 10 of these stories are worth a read or a re-read. Not a loser in the grouping.

I did not vote for any of these. That said, I definitely agree that “The Batman Nobody Knows” and “Deathmask” are both really great, and certainly earned their place in the Top 75. Appropriately enough, both of them were included in the 1988 collection The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, which is where I first read them. I’m curious to find out how many of the other stories from that trade paperback make this list.

I’ve never read “The Lazarus Affair” probably because as far as I know it has never been reprinted. Time to hit the back issue bins!

Are people REALLY complaining that Zero Year made the list? It’s the second best Batman origin of all time.
Some are saying “WE’RE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF ZERO YEAR!!!” or “IT SOUNDS TERRIBLE! SNYDER IS A HACK BLAH BLAH!!!” Um – there’s ONE issue left. And it has been fantastic. Different, yes, but fantastic. I certainly would place it on my top 10 list.

By the way Brian, has their ever been a time before when a story that hadn’t wrapped up managed to place on a greatest stories poll?

@T.

I’m pretty sure “really great art” hasn’t been used to describe many New 52 comics.

Man, I just GOTTA find someone to rap with about FLOATS!

…Can high-as-a-kite Alan Weiss be brought back into continuity and be given a 12-issue maxi-series, please? :)

Pretty much every one of these entries is surprising to me for various reasons. Zero Year because it’s not even done yet, Batman Nobody Knows because I would have guessed it would be much, much higher, and all the rest that they made the list at all. I don’t mean that last bit as a slight, I like all the stories on this list that I’ve read, and I think that’s all of them except Earth One. Just most of these stories aren’t the more well known stories. It’s surprising, but nice, to see them make the list.

By all means, let’s have some balance for a list that probably won’t have more than one or two stories from the first three decades of Batman’s existence. We don’t want the readers who started reading Batman after the Nolan films came out to feel like Batman existed before Frank Miller.

I guess I should accept that Snyder’s Batman is the definitive for a lot of readers.

It wouldn’t shock me to see Death of the Family in the top 20, which remains one of the worst things I have ever read, right up there with Chuck Palahnuick’s Haunted. Again, lots of (supposedly literate) people like it, so it would be considered THE canonical Joker story in the coming years.

By the way Brian, has their ever been a time before when a story that hadn’t wrapped up managed to place on a greatest stories poll?

Ends of the Earth, on the top Spidey stories, perhaps? The issue is that most greatest stories lists are just ten stories long, so it’d be difficult for a current story to finish in the top ten overall. Top seventy-five is a whole other subject. Plenty of current runs made both of the top 100 runs lists, by the way.

Was Gary Frank really drawing Batman as Tom Cruise in that Earth One story?

@scarletspeed7 –

Really? Do you seriously believe for even a second that complaints about the New 52 have anything to do with “old people”? Doesn’t DC actually have the older audience compared to most other comics companies currently (and by their own admission at that)?

AverageJoeEveryman

July 11, 2014 at 11:31 pm

Batman vs Predator brings some real nostalgia with it as my families washer had broken down so we had to go to the laundromat and my mom would take me to the pharmacy across the street and I think I got the whole series before we got a new one. Only other movie character crossover I like as much is Aliens and Stormwatch. It was incredible and played in continuity with deaths and being referenced later on.

Great choices. Yes, even Zero Year.

Batman in a tight T shirt and on a motorbike? Sex-ay!

Great choices. Yes, including Zero Year.

Batman in a tight T shirt and on a motorbike? Sex-ay!

Hoping to see some LODK stories rank. Venom, Gothic, Prey, and Blades are some of my favorites.

This list already pumps me up! Excellent! Respect Geoff Johns’ take though.

So glad to see World’s FInest here. One of my favorite post-Crisis stories, with great use of both supporting casts and of the iconography of the two heroes, the two villains, and the two cities.

Ummmm, no Frank Miller?

No DKR? No Year 1, really??????????? Someone dropped the ball here?

War on Crime and World’s Finest are my favorite Batman stories. I’d place them a little higher on a countdown list, but I’m curious to see what shows up next. Great countdown!

World’s Finest does some beautiful bits with symmetrical storytelling, too. My favorite subtle bit is the mirrored pages of each character’s arrival in the other’s home city: Bruce Wayne, getting off the train in Metropolis,. is drawn on a human scale in a vast shining train station with a medium-distance shot. Clark Kent is placed in the foreground, making him literally “bigger” than the mere mortals of Gotham.

— “The Lazarus Affair” is actualy kind of interesting, since Wolfman tries to tie up or develop twists for almost every bit of the Ra’s al Ghul setup and characters that Denny O’Neil had developed. It’d probably make a good “Abandoned an’ Forsaked” for all the elements that were quietly ignored or contradicted pretty much the very next time those characters appeared. Its take on Talia and the reasons for her divided loyalties is pretty cool, for example, but was ignored as of her very next appearance, as its take on just how and why Ra’s decided to seek out Batman in the first place.

— I actually haven’t read Zero Year yet since I tend to wait for these sorts of elaborate, foundation-shaking, multi-chapter storylines to wrap up before I take them on. Both “Sins of the Father” in James Robinson’s Starman and Alan Moore’s “American Gothic” in Swamp Thing, for example, have always worked better for me as collected stories than as serials; and the bad shakeups tend to reveal their faults more readily in longform as well because many of them coast on monthly thrills without cohering as larger stories. Snyder’s big issue for me has always been sticking the landing, so I can’t help but feel the end of this one will determine a lot of my view of it. That said, the glimpse here suggests a really high-quality run, so I’m rather optimistic about “Zero Year” managing to repeat the success of Snyder’s superb James Gordon, Junior arc.

I voted for a couple of Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told myself – man, how great was that collection? That and the Burton movie made me a Bat fan for life. Oddly enough, the UK title reprinted The Lazarus Affair around that time as well.

Agreed with whoever said they’d like to see some LOTDK stories – that wad one awesome comic in the early nineties.

Zero Year is evidence that Scott Snyder is one of the great Batman storytellers of this generation of comic writers, one of the best Batman writers in decades. Decompressed and exposition heavy as it can be at times, it’s massively compelling at every turn. But I will at least agree with the criticism that as it is not a completely told story as of yet, it is strange to see it was placed on enough top 10 lists to compete here. But it’s a testament to the quality of the work that it places already, and hopefully with time it will climb ever higher.

I rather enjoyed the Bondian “Lazarus Affair” storyline, and wish things like that and “Bat-Murderer” by Wein would be collected in some kind of Classic Ra’s al Ghul TPB series. Maybe throw in the story by Barr where Ra’s is the “Messiah of the Crimson Sun”.

Batman vs Predator was my #8 vote. Gibbons was on fire – and it had one of Alfred’s best ever moments.

Worlds Finest didn’t make my list but Steve Rude’s art is beautiful. If anyone very rich ever wants to give me a present, the page (possibly page 1) of issue 2 where Clark Kent is arriving in Gotham City is possibly my favourite comic page ever. Just beautiful.

I haven’t read any others, but if the Superman and Wonder Woman equivalents are anything to go be I really won’t like War on Crime.

“to go by”

Year One is the only one I have a negative reaction too (though there are several I haven’t read).

Brian,

Thanks for compiling these lists. Really enjoy the voting, your synopsis, and the comments. As a child of the ’70s I’m so glad stories like “The Lazarus Affair” made the list. It was a good run on Batman, and Wolfman applies the long story form he crafted with TOD and NTT. Lots of sub-plots mentioned, then dropped only to be picked up later. I also think it was the first big story arc with Lucius Fox and his son. And we learn that Bruce had a giant Bat-emblem tattooed on his chest. If this ever gets released in TPB, I’d urge anybody to read it.

And yes, that splash page of the Reaper and Robin is awesome!

Yeah

Enough peolple read and remembered the Batman Nobody Knows.

interesting to see zero year on this list already given how really the story is not yet that old. plus also glad to see death mask and the thorne saga start off the countdown for conway really was one of them to add a eerie touch to batman way back when.

So, The Batman Nobody Knows… is that inspiration for Batwing I see?

Ummmm, no Frank Miller?

No DKR? No Year 1, really??????????? Someone dropped the ball here?

Someone definitely did make a mistake, but I think you might be surprised to learn who it is. ;)

Night of the Reaper is a great 70′s Batman story. It is superb in both the story and art.

I was surprised to see the World’s Finest miniseries make the list. I enjoyed it when it first came out but had honestly completely forgotten about it since. The story was enjoyable but I echo the comments of others, it made the list more because of the artwork.

Someone definitely did make a mistake, but I think you might be surprised to learn who it is. ;)

hehehehehe!!

Ugh. I need to not read these lists. I ordered Batman vs Predator and World’s Finest after seeing them here. And it is just a matter of time before I pick up the collected Zero Year.

Why weren’t they “Bat-skis?” (TM) I would have voted for it if he had Bat-skis. And bad guys on skis with lasers? GI Jooooeeeeeeee!!!

I didn’t think about War on Crime. I should have. I probably wouldn’t have put it in my top ten, but it certainly deserved my consideration.

Hey, does this mean someone other than me voted for World’s Finest? To go with what Omar was saying, the way the story compares Batman and Superman (and teams up Luthor and Joker) is really excellent. Before this I’m sure it had been mentioned before, but it never really came across to me how many super heroes are orphans.

Batman vs. Predator is maybe the prefect crossover conception. I mean, Arnie may be tough, but if you really want to give a Predator a challenge, there’s only one man he can hunt. Or be hunted by.

I don’t really mind Zero Year up there having not finished. I do find that, what, the third time “Gotham has been cut off from the outside world” is considered one of the great stories. But who knows, the other two could make the top 75 too. At least anything that makes the Riddler look cool is ok in my book. (Though the art doesn’t do him any favors).

Jonathan Ehrich

July 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm

This might sound like I’m talking trash on some of the selections, but I really don’t intend it as such.

Brian, as a long-time mostly lurker I just wanted to say that I’m always impressed at your ability to say something positive and find an awesome moment from every single story / writer / artist / etc. Kudos, total kudos, I just love reading these lists.

The fact that people voted for a story that hasn’t even finished yet shows how ridiculous this process is. I am not impressed by Snyder’s work at all on Batman.

Alright guys, pack it up… stealthwise isn’t impressed. Man, I don’t even know why we try these things. It’s almost as if they’re put together and posted because the vast majority of readers enjoy them and find them useful, but that can’t be it…

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