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75 Greatest Batman Stories: #20-16

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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! Here are #20-16!

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.

20. “Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” (Batman #251)

Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano bring the Joker into a new era with his story, which firmly re-established the Joker as a deadly villain.

Adams is just astonishing in this issue, right from the first page…

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but he has other epic pages, like when the Joker gets the drop on Batman…

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or this legendary shot of Batman in fast pursuit of the Joker…

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Perhaps not since his very introduction had a single story been more important to the success of the Joker as a comic book character.

19. “Batman and Robin Must Die!” (Batman and Robin #13-16)

The conclusion of Grant Morrion’s Batman and Robin run also works as a resolution to the stories introduced during his Batman run as well as the Return of Bruce Wayne. Professor Hurt, who looks just like Thomas Wayne, has returned to Gotham City to take over Thomas Wayne’s life. The Joker, though, has issues with Hurt and the Black Glove going back to Batman R.I.P, so this story involves the Joker working WITH Batman and Robin – in his own peculiar way, of course. Frazer Irving’s artwork on this series is electric. Ultimately, Doctor Hurt appears to have the upper hand…

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The final issue of the arc is a one-off issue with art by Irving, Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham (who we didn’t realize would end up playing such a key role in the rest of Morrison’s Batman run at the time).

18. “Dark Victory” (Batman: Dark Victory #1-14)

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Dark Victory is a sequel to their classic The Long Halloween. It gives a resolution to the character arcs introduced in both Batman Year One and Long Halloween, as another mysterious killer stalks Gotham City, this time hunting down Gotham City police officers. Plus, Two-Face wages war against the remnants of the Falcone crime family.

Perhaps most importantly, though, this series shows Loeb and Sale’s depiction of the slow transformation of Batman’s mission from one of just taking on criminals to one where he is fighting more and more outlandish villains. In addition, Loeb and Sale show the introduction of a key figure in the Batman mythos…Robin!

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After the darkness of the Long Halloween, Dark Victory allows for some light to shine through, and light in the midst of all the darkness is all the more powerful.

Go to the next page for #17-16!

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33 Comments

I was hoping Batman and Robin Must Die would show up, and here we are! For me, this is RIP done right, shred of its rambling Zur-En-Arrh/hobo Bruce sections but still just as bizarre and exciting due to the vastly superior artwork by Frazier Irving, Cameron Stewart, and Chris Burnham. This is also one of my favorite Joker stories, where he’s simultaneously frightening but hilarious, unpredictable but quite ingenious in his planning. You see why he’s Batman’s greatest foe and how guys like Dr. Hurt are only keep the seat warm.

Speaking of Dr. Hurt, I believe that’s suppose to be him in that “Robin Dies at Dawn” story there.

I also voted for “To Kill a Legend”, a classic Batman story by Brennert and Giordano. Brennert didn’t write much, but its quality over quantity as far as I’m concerned. There’s one other story he did that surely won’t be here, “Interlude on Earth-2″. A really heartfelt tale with some of Jim Aparo’s finest work.

As soon as I saw the disclaimer I knew a Jeph Loeb was story was going to show up. EVERY. TIME. ON. THESE. LISTS.

“Robin Dies Dawn” and “To Kill A Legend” were two more stories that were collected in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, bringing that count to nine.

I didn’t vote or any of these, but “To Kill A Legend” is great and I am not at all surprised to see it on this list.

Robin Dies at Dawn is easily the best of the SF Batman stories of the 1950s. And a good story for any age.
The Brennert story is just beautiful. I also love Robin’s reaction to the Phantom Stranger: “I take it you’re heavily into cryptic?”

I forgot “To Kill a Legend.” Great story.

“To Kill a Legend” was my #1 choice.

I’m assuming that “Robin Dies at Dawn!” placed as high as it did because of Grant Morrison’s influence. It never would have placed in the Top 20 five or ten years ago.

I’m assuming that “Robin Dies at Dawn!” placed as high as it did because of Grant Morrison’s influence. It never would have placed in the Top 20 five or ten years ago.

Probably because it hadn’t been released then. :^)

Neal Adams’ Joker kinda looks like Bob from Sesame Street.

To Kill a Legend had a vote from me. It raises fascinating ethical puzzles but it’s the powerfully stirring epilogue that catapults it into the very top tier of Batman stories.

Let’s make sure Grant Morrison gets credit for all the great stories, even the one he didn’t write.

interesting for expected both to kill a legend and dark victory to be higher if not making the top ten. espically to kill a legend given that it asks that would gotham be okay if batman could have saved his parents from joes guns and thus prevented batman from ever existing in the first place. even on another dc earth. plus the jokers five way revenge not only restored the joker to the mad pycho he truely is and works best as in the batman books but proves that even the joker has some honor by not killing batman in his weaken state. and so far seems grant morrision batman stuff is leading the count of batman stories. for dr. hurt really is a true baddie if the batman writters have the joker work with batman to stop him.

The Joker’s Five Way Revenge was my #9 vote. Great story with great art.

Dark Victory has great art too – but I didn’t vote on art alone.

Death of the Family, Blades, and Batman and Robin Reborn so far made it from my list. I’m not sure if it makes me sad or happy, but I’m fairly certain my last seven picks are a lock for the top 15. Although seeing where they land should be fun.

Great list so far! I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Interesting to see “Batman and Robin Must Die!” so highly regarded; I thought that the first Quitely-drawn arc of Batman & Robin would end up being the only representative of that segment of Morrison’s run. Both arcs are really excellent, so I can’t complain. I’m also pleasantly surprised to see “Robin Dies at Dawn” on the list; I read that when I was eight in a copy of The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told and it struck me as being delightfully weird. I never realized how crazy it was until it was referenced in Morrison’s Batman work.

I seriously question Commissioner Gordon’s detective skills if he can’t notice a grown man dressed as a bat standing under a pink umbrella in the rain right next to him.

And was Batman often acting like a dick? ‘Go ahead Commissioner – if it’ll make you feel better!’ I’d love an off-scene panel with Gordon thinking to himself, ‘Well… fuck you Batman. FUCK YOU!’

While I’m glad to see it on the list, I’m really disappointed “Joker’s Five Way Revenge!” didn’t make it higher in the list. I voted for it, all right: it’s my favorite Batman story of all time. It just does Batman and Joker so perfectly. Batman is sharp, but human, and makes mistakes, Joker is murderous, but has some strange sense of honor, there’s a lot of great scenes, like Batman’s encounter with the former Joker associate in a boxing ring, or the part with the shark tank, or how the story ends with Batman in stitches about how his archenemy slipped in some pollution. It was dark and moody but had its darkly humorous quirks, and of course, it was drawn beautifully by Neal Adams.

As soon as I saw the disclaimer I knew a Jeph Loeb was story was going to show up. EVERY. TIME. ON. THESE. LISTS.

The disclaimer has been in every entry.

@Scooby: I’m imagining that panel drawn by Neal Adams, smoke steaming out of his pipe, and its KILLIN’ me…

“Batman and Robin Must Die!” got the token Batman and Robin vote on my ballot. I read all of Morrison’s run that was available during the break between volumes 1 and 2 of Batman Incorporated. Due to the nature of my reading order, when I got to that last page in B&R #15 I completely freaked. That moment alone may have been why I voted for this story over all of the other B&R stories, but this arc deserves a lot of credit for satisfactorily capping the best chapter of Morrison’s entire run. That Morrison’s B&R was a consistently solid read from start to finish is no doubt why it gets as much praise as it does.

I think Dark Victory’s biggest problem is that it depends so much on The Long Halloween (which is a kind of ironic thing to say about a comic), and that dependence results in DV being overshadowed by the behemoth that is its predecessor. That said, I enjoyed DV when I read it but it didn’t grab me in quite the same way TLH did. It’s absolutely worth reading if you liked TLH though.

“Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” is one of the classic (i.e. pre-Year One) stories I’ve actually read, mainly because it’s one of the only ones that’s readily available. A lot of these classic stories that have shown up in this countdown aren’t available digitally (for some reason), but this one is. This was another story that just missed making my list. I imagine it’s an even better story in context of the time it was released, but it’s still a wonderful story that anyone with a cursory interest in Batman comics should read. There are moments when you think “modern Batman would never have let that happen”, but that’s part of the fun of the story. It’s a Bat”man” story as opposed to the sort of Bat”god” the character has evolved into over the last decade or so. And if anyone needs an example of why Adams is as so well regarded of a Batman artist as he is, just show them this issue. That splash of Batman is iconic for a reason, but that opening Joker splash is one of my favorite Joker panels and the art throughout the rest of the issue is handled proficiently.

The “Don’t be a jerk about creators in the comments section” really gets pushed to the limit any time a Morrison story is selected.

Probably because it hadn’t been released then. :^)

It’s a story from the 1950s.

Correction — “Robin Dies at Dawn!” came out in the June 1963 issue. I was assuming that it was a 1950s story because it was a part of Batman’s science fiction era.

But still, I was a lot closer than the commenter who thought that it hadn’t come out five years ago. :)

The “Don’t be a jerk about creators in the comments section” really gets pushed to the limit any time a Morrison story is selected.

Where?

I bet there’s a few stories on our list that show up in The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told as well. Pretty sure Five Way Revenge and his first appearance are in there.

Of the single issue stories that had been published before that and The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told came out, I wonder how many on our list were not in either? I remember some of the longer ones (such as Where Were You…, and Player on the Other Side) were mentioned in the “no room for…” article at the back

Batman and Robin Must Die > Batman R.I.P.

Dark Victory > Long Halloween

:(

I’m pretty shocked that the Jokers Five way revenge wasn’t in the top 5 or at least top ten.
I am starting to think the demographics of the readership here are skewing this poll a little too young/Morrisoncentric

Yeah, I would agree with that. Just guesstimating, I’d say that stories from the last 5 years are making up a good 20% of the list. That seems WAY too skewed towards the recent stuff, IMO.

But still, I was a lot closer than the commenter who thought that it hadn’t come out five years ago. :)

I actually mixed it up with Batman and Robin Must Die but I only realized after posting. My bad.

I think “Robin Dies At Dawn” stands on its own, even if Morrison’s run on Batman drew more attention to it. It did show up in the “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told” (pub. 1988), suggesting that even 26 years ago, people thought it belonged high on the list of best Batman stories.

Dark Victory was such a great story!

I think the “Father’s Day” issue of Dark Victory actually holds up really well, especially in the way that Sale handles Loeb’s treatment of Alfred’s different responses to the needs of two boys who’ve just lost their parents (the two sequences run in parallel on the page). Certainly one of my favorite Alfred stories ever.

I would think those of you who prefer the older stuff would be happy about the newer stories being in these early entries. If they take up the higher-digit slots, that probably means the top ten will be full of stuff from Denny O’Neil, Bill Finger, and the other greats of the past. For example, nearly all of Grant Morrison’s run has shown up already, and we haven’t hit the top 15 yet. That leaves plenty of room for your favorites in high positions.

(Obviously I’m coming to this late and the list is already finished, but I’m reading in order so I have no idea.)

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