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75 Greatest Batman Stories: #3-1

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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 #3-1!


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.

3. “The Career of Batman Jones” (Batman #108)

Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris delivered this classic about a young boy named after Batman who decides to become a crimefigher in his own right…




Batman figures that if he humors him, he’ll eventually grow out of it, and sure enough, that’s exactly what happens…


Come on, Scott Snyder, where is Batman Jones in Batman Eternal!?

Oh, and yes, on to the actual countdown…

3. “The Killing Joke” (Batman: The Killing Joke)

The Killing Joke is a remarkable one-off story by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland that works as basically a Joker origin story (“basically” because it has never been officially determined that this version of the Joker’s origin story is the TRUE origin of the Joker), showing events that turned a decent enough guy down on his luck into the madman known as the Joker. The Joker loos at his own circumstances and develops a theory – he became the Joker because, in effect, he had one really bad day. Therefore, could he break a good man by giving THAT man just “one bad day,” as well? The man that the Joker chooses to test his theory on is Commissioner Gordon, which leads to one of the most famous sequences in DC Comics history…




We then see how the Joker becomes the Joker in the past while we intercut with the modern day Joker torturing Gordon. Batman rescues Gordon but we see that the Joker did not win – he did not break Gordon…


However, can Batman bring himself to just bring the Joker in one more time after what the Joker did today? When the two men share a joke, is it really the final joke that they’ll ever share?

Bolland took a long time to draw this series (well worth the wait) so this project would be difficult to be any more hyped than it was when it finally came out (Alan Moore doing a Batman graphic novel with Brian Bolland?!?!) and yet it still managed to exceed the hype.

Go to the next page for #2…

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You damn near had me there, Cronin.

What, no love for the Zebra Batman?!?


I voted for “Year One.” I’ve literally lost track of how many times I’ve read it. Really, it’s an awesome story with stunning artwork & coloring.

I almost voted for “The Killing Joke.” It was on my list until right before I submitted my votes. At the last second I changed my mind and chose a much less known story, because I knew “The Killing Joke” would be getting a ton of votes in any case.

So, anyway, what did I vote for? Here were my picks for my Top Ten Batman Stories:

1. “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne” Brave and the Bold #197
2. “The Messiah of the Crimson Sun” Batman Annual #8
3. “The Origin of Batman” Batman #47
4. “Identity Crisis” Batman #455-457
5. The first Ra’s Al Ghul saga by O’Neil, Adams, Brown, Giordano & Co in various issues
6. “Prey” Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #11-15
7. “Year One” Batman #404-407
8. “Strange Apparitions” Detective Comics #469-476
9. “Dark Knight Dark City” Batman #452-454
10. “A Bullet For Bullock” Detective Comics #651

I knew that a couple of these probably would not make it into the 75 Greatest, but I really do enjoy them. And, as I’ve mentioned before, it was a pleasant surprise to see both “Prey” and “Dark Knight Dark City” do quite well. It’s too bad that “Identity Crisis” by Alan Grant & Norm Breyfogle didn’t get into the 75 Greatest, but at least their work was represented by “The Last Arkham.”

So I ended up seven for ten. Mind you, if I had to vote all over again, I would probably pick a few different things, move the positions of others around. I guess I have another quarter century to think it over for when CBR askes us to pick the 100 Greatest Batman Stories in 2039 :)

I had Killing Joke as #1, DKR as #2, and Year One as #4 or #5.

Year One above the Dark Knight Returns? Sorry I love Year One and just about anything Frank Miller does, but The Dark Knight Returns is a better, more complete story. Did It win by much? (I was away during the voting, so don’t blame me)

Thanks for continuously putting out these lists Brian. Now I have a lot of good material to dig through and read. :)

Great list, Ben! Here’s my choices, along with where they actually placed in the countdown:

1. “To Kill a Legend” Detective Comics #500 – Alan Brennert & Dick Girodano (#16)
2. Strange Apparitions by Englehart & Rogers (#5)
3. Mad Love by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm (#15)
4. The original Ra’s Al Ghul Saga by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams (#9)
5. The original Man-Bat Saga by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams (Didn’t place)
6. The original Joker story from Batman #1 – Bill Finger, Bob Kane & Jerry Robinson (#28)
7. “My Beginning… And My Probable End” – Detective Comics # 574 – by Mike W. Barr & Alan Davis (Didn’t place)
8. “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne!” – B&B #197 – Brennert, Joe Staton & George Freeman (#44)
9. “Two of a Kind” – Batman Black & White #1 – Dini & Timm (Didn’t place)
10. The Untold Legend of the Batman mini-series by Len Wein, John Byrne & Jim Aparo (Didn’t place)

So I got 6 for 10. I intentionally didn’t vote for Killing Joke, Year One, or Dark Knight, largely because I didn’t think any of them would need my help (and they obviously didn’t). And like Ben, I’d probably rearrange some choices and include others. Thankfully, there’s a lot of great Batman stuff to choose from!

But seriously, all you people who voted for Dark Knight Strikes Again need help. :D

Thanks for going to all the effort to do this, Brian!

Daniel Emílio

July 23, 2014 at 11:21 am

I voted for Year One in #1,DKR is the more complete characterization of Batman but all the myth was built on Year One plus the art of David Mazzuchelli.

While I love all three I would have put DKR in the number one slot. I must’ve read it a million times.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot…

Happy Batman Day!!! :)

I have very mixed feelings about The Killing Joke. It’s a good story but Alan Moore’s obsession with rape knocks it down a few pegs. Also, I find the original coloring to be far superior to Deluxe Edition version, which is cleaner but loses all of the personality (and the signature yellow oval).

Happy Batman Day!

My list was:

1. “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge!” (Batman Vol 1 251)
2. Knightfall
3. KnightsEnd
4. Knightquest
5. Tales of the Demon (O’Neil’s original Ra’s Al Ghul storyline)
6. Batman: Year One (Batman Vol 1 404-407)
7. Long Halloween
8. The Killing Joke
9. Dark Victory
10. Strange Apparitions

All of which were mentioned on the 75 stories list, though they’re all pretty popular, so it’s not that huge a shock.

Zero Year would be in my top five if it weren’t so decompressed.

Happy Birthday, Batman!

For me, DKR was my number 1 vote. It’s simply the greatest.

Year One was only slightly less wonderful.

And then there’s Killing Joke. I was chomping at the bit for this to come out, as it was at the height of my love for Batman and my love for Alan Moore. So for me, the hype was a bit too much, ’cause I came away disappointed.

It was beautiful to look at, inside and out. And it started off very cool, and I really loved the Joker origin’s retelling, but I guess the ending just left me a bit cold. It’s possible I was starting to get used to Alan Moore’s writing gimmicks by this time, as well, ’cause they started seeming more blatant as I found myself wandering out of the story.

(biggest Moore gimmick to me is the “write dialogue that overlaps from one scene into the image of another scene for kooky double entendre…”).

Still an exceptional story, but nowhere near the Miller works here.

My list:!!
(think this was more or less the order…)

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Batman: Year One
Batman Special #1
Batman #400
Batman #291-294 “Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed?”
Batman and Robin #4-6 “Revenge of the Red Hood”
Detective Comics #526/Killer Croc storyline
Batman R.I.P.
Batman and Robin #10-12 “Batman vs. Robin”
Batman and Captain America

Thanks for another great poll, Brian!

I feel somewhat justified in my #1 choice now. Could have been a Miller hat trick!

1 Batman/Spawn – The Miller/McFarlane joint
2 Planetary/Batman
3 Son of the Demon
4 Blades (LODK 32)
5 Sword of Azrael
6 Venom
7 Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
8 The Wild
9 Batman: Reborn
10 Under the Hood

Love seeing the range of opinions. To me,“To Kill a Legend” from Detective Comics #500 by Alan Brennert & Dick Giordano should have been #1 rather than #16. It really gets to what Batman is at his core, with one of the best endings ever. Alan Brennert is a helluva writer.

Hey Brian, where did the current Batman story “Zero Year” finish in all of this? I don’t recall seeing it and after all the talk about whether it should even count since it wasn’t a finished story (it is now and it was very good), it would be nice to know where it did place.

1 and 2 are unarguably masterpieces. 3… has nice art.

Can’t we get a absolute Year One. Please, DC:

This was a fun list; got some new stories to hunt down for my collection now! Waiting with baited breath now for the Greatest Bat-Family Stories Ever Told list!

1. Strange Apparations, but honestly #1 would be The Laughing Fish
2. To Kill A Legend
3. Tales of the Demon
4. The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne
5. Batman and Robin Reborn
6. Year One
7. Dark Knight Returns
8. Player on the Other Side (Batman vs. the Wrath, Batman Special #1)
9. The Long Halloween
10. The original Joker story from 1940

DKR and Y1 were 2 and 3 are my list, respectively. I almost considered not voting for them cuz they were predestined to be on top of the list, but I love these stories so much that it felt wrong not to include them. One thing I love about both is how Bruce Wayne slowly disappears over the course of the story. Throughout TDKR, Batman steadily recedes as a character from the story:

Book 1: Bruce Wayne/Batman appears in 505 panels (out of a possible 742)
Book 2: 428 panels
Book 3: 416 panels
Book 4: 337 panels

Furthermore, his opponent, and the nature of his struggle, transforms. Book One saw Batman battle Two-Face; Book Two, the Mutant leader; Book Three, the Joker. But here in Book Four, his challenge is to marshal the Sons of Batman into a vigilante force that impose order when society has broken down. As his power and legend grows, he becomes less something knowable, less a person we could actually talk to, and more something—mythological.

Year One is similar, as by the time we get to issue #4, Bruce Wayne’s internal monologue has completely vanished and you only see Batman through the eyes of the other characters’ stories, such as Catwoman and Gordon. He becomes an ideal, a legend by the end of both of these tales, despite being so formally different and happening on the opposite ends of Batman’s career. I love the fact that Batman has a Alpha and Omega story as well-crafted, ambitious, and accessible as Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, and written by the same authorial voice as well.

My own top ten:

1. Mad Love
2. The Dark Knight Returns
3. Year One
4. Batman Leviathan
5. Strange Apparitions
6. Club of Heroes
7. Batman and Robin Must Die
8. To Kill a Legend
9. Eye of the Beholder
10. The Player on the Other Side

So 9/10, only the great Two-Face story “Eye of the Beholder” left on the outside lookin’ in.

Thanks for these polls, Brian! That Batman is a pretty cool character. Probably not gonna live long enough to see the next 75 years, but he’s been doing pretty good so far!

First – well played with the fake number 3.

I’m surprised that Long Halloween came in ahead of Arkham Asylum. As much as I admire that story, it is extremely derivative from Year One.

Still this was an extremely fun exercise. Thank you Brian!

Thanks so much, Brian, it’s been a Bat-blast!

Following Ben, herewith my votes (and finishing spots; good idea, John Trumbull)

1 Denny O’Neil’s There is No Hope in Crime Alley (placed #24)
2 Knightsend (placed #42)
3 Alan Brennert’s To Kill a Legend (B&B) (placed #16)
4 Alan Grant’s Trash (‘Tec #613) (did not place)
5 Peter Milligan’s Identity Crisis (‘Tec #633) (did not place)
6 Mike Mignola’s Sanctum (LOTDK #54) (did not place)
7 Gotham by Gaslight (placed #38)
8 Ty Templeton’s Just Another Night (Batman Adventures #33) (did not place)
9 Alan Brennert’s Autobiography of the Batman (B&B) (placed #44)
10 The Spook’s first storyline – Tec #434, #435, Batman #252 (did not place)

I wept tears of blood that I didn’t have room for Batman #594, Ecstacy, nor the first Cornelius Stirk or Ventriloquist stories.

I’ve read upwards of 60 of the 75. I’d love to see even a bare-bones listing of some of the runners-up

Happy Batman Day! :D

None of the top three deserve to be placed anywhere like that high.

Dang, I had five large riding on Batman Jones in the number one slot. For a second I thought … now I’ll have to sell that kidney.

There is so much I like about Killing Joke. And a lot I hate about it.

I haven’t read the Miller stuff since it came out. Guess it’s time.

My first Batman comic was “The Riddle of the Man Who Walked Backwards”. I wore the cover off it. If I remember right, I got another issue of Detective Comics where Robin is back and they face The Riddler. Around the same time, I got that big hardcover, Batman From the ’30’s to the ’70’s. A lot of good stuff in there.

Until “Year One”, my favorite Batman story was always The Untold Legend of The Batman, followed closely by the four issues in Batman with The Joker, Riddler, Catwoman and Luthor on who murdered Batman. I’ve never been interested in issue numbers or “collectibility”. Just good stories. Anything pencilled by Aparo was awesome.

Happy Batman Day!

Killing Joke is a pretty bad story. The Joker as a failed comedian origin was just stupid. Barbara was used as a plot device. The ending with both of them laughing was dumb. Etc.

Even Alan Moore said it was not a good work.

This was a great list.

My ten were
1. Batman and Robin (It was counted as Batman and Robin Die!)
2. Batman: Year one
3. The Original Tale of the Demon
4. The Black Mirror
5. Dark Victory
6. Batman: R.I.P.
7. The Joker’s Five Way Revenge
8. Batman Year 100
9. Batman: Zero Year
10. Batman/Superman Annual 1 (Joe Kelly)

The only one that didn’t make the list was number 10, so not too shabby!

I didn’t vote for DKR or the Killing Joke, though that’s a bias on my part since while I enjoy them, they’re a bit too nihilistic for my tastes

I don’t remember what all I voted for, but I know a couple didn’t make the list:

“Two Timer” from The Batman and Robin Adventures #1 and #2. Joker pulls an Iago on Two Face. Tragic.

“The Garden of Earthly Delights” from Swamp Thing #53. Swamp Thing declares war on Gotham. Awesome.

I’ve always been kind of torn by The Killing Joke. Love the story and art. Hate the stupid song. Really torn by the ending. Does Batman finish The Joker? And if he does, isn’t he making Jim Gordon’s really bad day even worse?

Always enjoy reading these lists to see what comes up, even if the ones I vote for don’t necessarily make it.

It’s just neat to see what everyone else is enjoying or still enjoys.

My votes, in no particular order, were for these:

Strange Apparitions (The Englehart/Rogers Hugo Strange/Joker arc)

Detective Comics #705-707 (The Riddler-Cluemaster feud by Dixon and Nolan– not the actual title)

Batman #30 (the original Batman 30) – “While the City Sleeps” (Golden Age tale where Batman and Robin, on night patrol, have encounters with people who work the night shift, a washer-woman, the milkman, a nighttime radio DJ, etc)

Batman #179 – “The Riddle-less Robberies of The Riddler” (The first time, I believe, that Edward Nigma’s riddling is a pyschological compulsion tha the just can’t seem to shake, even when he tries his hardest)
Secret Origins #6 (1986) – “The Golden Age Batman”

Batman #25 (first series – 1944) – “Are Two Villains Better Than One?” (first time two villains teamed together to take on the Bat, and The Joker and Penguin, naturally end up unable to stand each other. I think it was Jerry Robinson, can’t remember, who drew it, but the art was beautiful)

Batman #400 (first series – 1986) – “Resurrection Night” (really glad to see this one make the list!)

Batman ’66 #7 (second story) – “The Joker’s Layoff Riot” (while new, this short back-up in Batman ’66 really was the perfect example of how well Tom Peyer gets the Adam West show and this series. Many issues may feel like old-school Batman stories, but Peyer’s scripts read like lost episodes of the show. I can hear Romero and West’s voice as I read this one. It was great)

Batman and The Monster Men by Matt Wagner

Batman #159 – “The Great Clayface-Joker Feud”

I’m not a big fan of The Killing Joke but I am a big fan of TKJ’s fans. They can somehow accept and respect the views of its critics without questioning their motives or attacking a straw man version of the critical arguments.

I am surprised that Year One finshed before DKR. Very Glad though. Most of my choices made the list pretty high though. Now to go out and get the free Comic.

LOVED this entire list! Must be something in my geekness that makes me gravitate to any Top Whatever list.

Mine was as follows:

1. Year One (#1!)
2. The Demon Lives (#9)
3. Son of the Demon (#26)
4. The Killing Joke (#3)
5. Strange Apparitions (#5)
6. Prey (#36)
7. Venom (#29)
8. Hush (#8)
9. Knightfall (#10)
10. Blades (#47)

I didn’t vote for DKR just because, while I acknowledge its brilliance as a work of art, it was a little too bombastic for me to enjoy all that much. I’ve always been in the Y1 camp.

I really agonized about #10 as I was torn between Blades and Gotham by Gaslight, but I wanted to support Legends of the Dark Knight as much as possible- so many great, consistent stories through the first 50 issues of that book. If I could have included a few more I would have gone with Batman and Son and RIP, as well, but I knew Morrison wouldn’t need any help from me (didn’t care for anything else in his run, though).

This list is great. I can’t wait to read all the stuff on this list that I haven’t read. Several of my votes didn’t even make it on the list but I am not that surprised.

I voted for two very Nightwing and Bruce focused stories. The first is Batman # 416 and Batman: Year 3. Batman #416 is just a great story about how Bruce and Dick dealt with the end of their partnership and Jason becoming Robin. It truly is one of my favorite comics of all time. It is a great lead into Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying. I could not recommend it more. Same goes for Year 3.

Brian, single-handedly moving Batman Jones into the public consciousness….

And with a dark sense of humor….

it’s quite twisted.

Yes, you could definitely say that about the Joker’s endgame.

And wow, 5 points. And there are at least three lists on here that didn’t even have DKR on it. (That did have Yr1 on it…there are others without either, so equal end result). To think if I (or someone) had just left Year 1 off their list, it could have flip-flopped the final result. Pretty amazing with all those points to add up.

I’m almost offended that Batman: Hush isn’t even listed in any of the comments.
But it’s not that serious. Hush is top 5 for me.
K Bye


Had I gotten around to submitting a list, that Batman Jones story would have easily been my number one.

I’ll have to go with “Scars” by Gerry Conway and Jim Aparo, from Batman Family 17 (1975) …

Not only because it’s the first Batman story I ever read (when I was 8, Dutch edition). It’s about a rich student who had an accident and lost his good looks, gets unhinged and starts kidnapping ‘beautiful people’ to turn them into freaks like himself. Batman finds him at the fairground where he runs a freak show, catches him and unmasks him – to find that the only disfigurement he has is a tiny scar under his eye. “But the biggest scars… are in his mind!”

If that was a ‘run of the mill’ story of that era, then truly it was a great era!

Thank you David Mazzucchelli

Also, why did you have to use that horrible recoloring of The Killing Joke?

i had either the dark knight returns as number one or number two with the killing joke which not only tries to give an origin to the joker. but shows how truely twisted and a pycho sociopath he truely is plus the ending being open ended on how batman took care of the joker . year one insteresting to see it beat out btdkr

I have very mixed feelings about The Killing Joke. It’s a good story but Alan Moore’s obsession with rape knocks it down a few pegs.

There is no rape in The Killing Joke – so Moore isn’t the obsessed one here.

For me it’s a decent story with a good origin and incredible art.

TDKR and Year One are my two favourite stories of all time so I’m happy to see them at the top even if I’d have ordered them the other way round.

1 – The Dark Knight Returns (2)
2 – Year One (1)
3 – The Hungry Grass (Detective #629)
4 – The Bomb (Detective #638)
5 – All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder
6 – The Dark Knight Strikes Again (52)
7 – Dark Night Dark City (40)
8 – Batman vs Predator (67)
9 – The Joker’s Five Way Revenge (20)
10 – Batman and Son (25)

I’m still shocked that All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder didn’t make the list.

So Brian, what’s your reasoning for choosing to use the recolored pages of the Killing Joke? is it just because you like it better? (for the record, I have no opinion on which version is better. I hope the question doesn’t come off as jerky).

That was the one I had handy. No value judgment.

Hey, I love me some Batman Jones.

TDKR was the very first Batman story I’d ever read, which I suspect is also true for an awful lot of people since it was published. It wasn’t my first Batman story ever: I’m almost positive Burton’s first film gets that distinction. This probably won’t be a popular opinion, but I think TDKR is a bad place to start reading Batman. I enjoyed TDKR when I read it, but I didn’t trip over my own feet falling in love with it. I decided to charge forward anyway, and read a bunch of other Batman stuff (basically everything in the top 10-15 of this list). I then reread it, and it was during that reread that I “got it.” We all know the influence TDKR had on the character and the industry as a whole, but I think it’s still a one of a kind story. To this day, no other Batman story reads and feels like TDKR does; but that’s a distinction that is going to be completely lost on someone whose very first introduction to Batman comics is TDKR. It’s a story that has a far greater impact with some context of who the character is, which is why I think it’s a bad place to start for new readers.

Year One, however, is THE place to start reading Batman. Obviously. I mean, it is an origin…no, scratch that, it’s THE Batman origin story, and it also happens to be one of the very best stories about the character. I don’t think there’s anything I can say about Year One that hasn’t been said elsewhere and in great detail. A person could write a novel-length book explaining what is going on in this story and its importance to establishing the Batman mythos as we’ve come to know it, and this isn’t the place for that. I’ll simply say that if you don’t like or can’t get into Year One, Batman likely isn’t for you. It’s the perfect jumping on point. You don’t need to know anything about Batman to read it, and you don’t need any sense of history or context to get the full effect of reading it.

Joker is like Wolverine in the sense that the mystery of his origin is part of the appeal to me. It’s another facet to the idea of Joker being Batman’s opposite: Batman’s origin is vital to his story, whereas Joker’s origin always seemed irrelevant. I’ve always taken TKJ as a possible origin for Joker instead of the actual origin. Who knows how much, if any, of it is rooted in truth as opposed to Joker just screwing with the reader? I quite like TKJ, but I doubt I like it as much as some other people do. I’d never hesitate to recommend it, in any case.

Bullio I’m right there with you on thinking TDKR is not a good first Batman story. I think one of the most effective things about it how it contrast against so much other Batman styles and characterizations, and if that’s your first taste of the character you don’t get a real sense of the difference. Plus, as a newer reader, you might not appreciate all the kinetic, radical inventive storytelling Miller/Jenson/Varley put into the book, like its more sophisticated usage of color compared to all the other monthlies on worse printing pages, or its playing around with the 4×4 grid style, and all sorts of tricks. I feel a similar way about Watchmen, another classic that stills works as a clear coherent traditional superhero story, but is only enriched by your knowledge of the medium.

Travis Pelkie

July 23, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Is it just me, or has Year One really risen in the estimation of comics readers? I’d certainly heard of it and read about it over the years, but I don’t think I’d seen it quite on the toppermost of the pantheon as it has become here (the other 2 have been up here basically since their debuts). So anyone know why Year One has risen up quite so high, particularly in the last…hmm, 10 years, maybe? I’m curious more than anything, I certainly can see why it’s up here, but I think that it being up so high is a relatively new thing. Maybe I’m wrong there.

I still have to go back and look at the whole list, but thanks to Brian for doing this. And yay for Batman Jones!

Travis: I’d attribute the Nolan films (especially Batman Begins) for the rise in interest in Year One and subsequently the higher ratings if that indeed happened. I’m not sure myself. That typed, I always thought it was a great story; that it appears in the one slot doesn’t really surprise me.

My own ten, all on the list (in no order):
The Player on the Other Side
Year One
To Kill A Legend
Dark Knight, Dark City
The Batman Nobody Knows
“First Tale of the Demon”
There is No Hope in Crime Alley
Holy Terror
Batman Vs. Predator

There was stuff I left off because it didn’t feel like a Batman story (Mad Love, Killing Joke, and Going Sane stick out here). I like all three, and I have no issue that they placed, but personally they don’t really strike me as Batman centric (ML and GS especially).

Suggestion box: Top 75 Villain (any) stories.

Perhaps at the time of its release it was not as groundbreaking as the dark night returns but Year one has always been up there in critical and popular recognition.

It bums me out however to know that what was voted the greatest Batman story of all time has been retconned away by the new 52

Just out of curiosity, Brain, how many folks voted altogether? I’m wondering how big of a sample you were working with.

For my money, Grant Morrison’s run was the best Batman of the past 25 years. I voted for R.I.P and Batman and Robin Must Die, but I could have voted for any other one of his stories, I enjoyed the whole run. That said, we got the top 3 absolutely right!

This might be the first time I see a voted best of list where Year One tops Returns!

I’m always baffled at how much love Killing Joke gets, it’s an alright story but so overrated. Must be the Bolland art.

Anyway, here’s my list:
1. Year One
2. Gotham By Gaslight
3. Arkham Asylum
4. Batman-Judge Dredd: Judgment On Gotham
5. Red Rain
6. The Dark Knight Strikes Again
7. Batman 535: Ogre And The Ape
8. Legends Of The Dark Knight 38: Legend of the Dark Mite
9. Batman-Punisher: Deadly Knights
10. Legends Of The Dark Knight 54: Sanctum

I’ve really never read much “regular continuity” Batman (or even DC as a whole) except for the Moench/Jones/Beatty mid-90s run. I had a few more of their stories as contenders actually that ended up getting cut, along with Mad Love which while awesome is just really more about Harley than Batman.

And no, John Trumbull, I don’t need help for voting for Dark Knight Strikes Again, I’m feeling just fine with my choices and opinions.

As everyone is dropping their list my picks in no order.

Year 1
Black Mirror
Mad Love
Batman and Robin Reborn
The Long Halloween
death of the Family

Arkham Asylum is a bit to out there for my tastes.. The Killing Joke is great and on any given day could replace a few on my list. I just figured it was safe. Didn’t want to vote for Year One and DKR for the same reason. But I couldn’t help myself. Those two stories are THE Batman stories for me. Found some books to read while following this list.

I’m not a big DC or Batman fan and I own three Batman trades….

…. the top three here.

DKR depends so much on “look what happened to Batman” I can’t imagine reading it if I didn’t know the starting place.
But while I hate to point out flaws in a work, am I the only one to notice Miller never even mentioned the fate of Batman Jones?

Hoosier X: I’m not a big fan of The Killing Joke but I am a big fan of TKJ’s fans. They can somehow accept and respect the views of its critics without questioning their motives or attacking a straw man version of the critical arguments.

I am a big fan of The Killing Joke. A major aspect of that is probably down to the timing of when I read it. It was in 1989, I was 13 years old, and I was first getting into DC Comics on a regular basis. The Killing Joke was probably the first Joker story I ever read, and it just blew me away. All these years later, I still think it is one of the best depictions of the character, and of his relationship with Batman.

That said, yes, over the years I have read a number of criticisms of The Killing Joke from other people, and I’ll definitely acknowledge that they raise valid points and arguments. I can certainly understand why some readers do not like it.

Aside from turning a character that had been around for twenty years into a plot point I think a lot of people’s issues with The Killing Joke come from the way the material was treated after the fact. Moore never intended that to be a canonical definitive version of the Joker’s origin story. Hell even the Joker basically says near the end he might just be messing with him.

3. “The Career of Batman Jones” (Batman #108)

I VOTED FOR THAT! I refuse to acknowledge that this isn’t the real #3!

Now getting into the other picks:

Killing Joke: NEVER should have been made cannon. HUGE mistake on DC’s part. Otherwise the greatest “serious” Joker story of all time and the one that still defines him more than any other.

The Dark Knight Returns: For better or worse, THE definitive modern Batman story. I personally prefer this over Watchmen, though that seems to be an increasingly unpopular opinion as time goes on.

Year One: Should be called “Commissioner Gordon: Year One”. That’s not a complaint. Though I will say that this story is showing its age in recent years. And Miller’s version of Catwoman is AWFUL, which I think most people agree is the one major negative point of the story.

All in all I think like four or so of my picks showed up.

Do people assume that this is the definitive origin? I’d always lumped it in as a Well Maybe … As Batman later told Harley, the Joker has a lot of material.

Overall very nice list! I’ve read 39 out of the 75, so just barely over half. Several others have been on my list to read for a while (I’ve been searching for affordable copies of B&B 197, Batman 400, and those Goodwin Detective stories for years), and I found a few stories through here that I didn’t know about, such as the Gibbons/Rude World’s Finest series, Holy Terror, and Ego, all of which I’m excited to hunt down.

All ten of my votes showed up, which were Year One, Killing Joke, Blades, Ten Nights of the Beast, Mad Love, Long Halloween, Prey, Going Sane, Arkham Asylum, and Strange Apparitions. 5 of my 10 picks ranked in the top 6, and another was in the top 15. I’m a bit disappointed by how low Blades was, but I assume a lot of people haven’t read it. It’s wonderful. I guess I should be happy it showed up.

A few omissions I’m surprised about: The first run of Batman Incorporated, the Batman/Grendel crossovers (particularly the first one), Detective 574 (the Barr/Davis Robin almost dying story), the Batman/Manhunter team-up from Detective 443 by Goodwin and Simonson, the original Man-Bat stories by Neal Adams, and more from the Grant/Breyfogle run. I haven’t read much of that run, and I expected a lot of it to be here since it’s so well loved. But Last Arkham is the only entry. I wonder if there was too much vote-splitting between the stories since they’re all so short and none particularly more notable than the others. But the first appearance of Tim Drake in costume from Batman 455-457 seemed like a safe bet to show up.

One story I didn’t really expect to see here, but which I’m disappointed didn’t make it anyway is Mask, from LOTDK 39 & 40, written and drawn by Byron Talbot. It was the last story I cut from my own list, but what an amazing and original idea. More people should try to track that down.

I’m also happy Year One beat out DKR, even if just barely. I like DKR, but I’ve always found it be a bit overrated and weak in parts. Year One, on the other hand, still feels like a perfect masterpiece.

An interesting note on the top 6: All of them are by some of the greatest artists to ever work on Batman (Mazzuchelli, Miller, Bolland, Sale, Rogers, McKean), but I think it’s fascinating to point out that four of those six guys really weren’t very well known prior to their top 6 entry. McKean was doing some of his first mainstream work, Sale and Rogers had been around a bit but weren’t very popular, and Mazzuchelli had only done Daredevil (which was acclaimed, but I don’t think he was that widely known yet). Together, this shows an interesting pattern of writers and editors using major Batman stories as a sort of launching pad for amazing artists that hadn’t quite found their audience yet.

A few requests:

I think only five LOTDK stories appeared, and that series was so consistently good that I think it deserves its own list. Brian, next time you do a Greatest Stories Ever Told month, how about a top 10 or 15 of just LOTDK?

Now that we’ve finished this list, I think the Bat-verse deserves the same auxiliary list that the X-verse got last summer. How about another vote for the 75 greatest Bat-family stories? Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, Birds of Prey, Joker, Azrael, Gordon/GCPD, Batgirl, Batwoman, Huntress, Batwing, and maybe even Teen Titans and JLA… there’s so much more out there to celebrate! Maybe we could wait on this one ’til next summer, which would be the 75th anniversary of Robin, and by extension, the Bat-family of allies.

Lastly: Brian, I know you don’t like to show favoritism or feel like you’re dissing anything by omission, and I think that’s perfectly understandable and respectful. However, you appear to have read everything, and you obviously have great taste and know more about this stuff than 99.9% of the voters. So I’m wondering if any time we do major countdowns like this, if once they’re over, you could chime in with a column that just spotlights 5-10 things that didn’t make the list but people still ought to seek out. While you might not have necessarily been surprised by how the list shook out, I suspect there are some Batman stories that you’re a bit disappointed didn’t get enough support to appear, so why not tell us what they are? What do you think deserved to be here but isn’t? I always love finding out about forgotten and under appreciated gems, and I’m sure you know of plenty.

Perfect top 3. If only Arkham Asylum was #4…oh well.

Brian, can you tell us how close the voting was for the top 3?

Also is there any hope for another poll? I’d love to see a top 75 Batman non-comic related projects list. So we can vote for things like the movies, episodes of the animated series, video games, action figures, etc.

I’d also be interested in a list for the non batman characters similar to what the X-Men had last year.

@Dancj- While it’s very debatable there’s a rape in The Killing Joke (I didn’t think so), there’s no debate that there’s at least a sexual assault in it. Didn’t stop me from voting it #2, but it happened.

@Bullio- I would think DKR is a HORRIBLE first Batman comic to read. Because “old Batman” isn’t really “young Batman”…they’re almost different guys. And so much of the appreciation of it is knowing Batman.

And the “origin” thing doesn’t bother me, because even in the story he say he remembers it a lot of different ways (which they picked up on for the Dark Knight movie)

@Travis- I agree. I don’t think there was ever a lot of hate for Year 1, but it wasn’t universally regarded as the best ever. I remember complaints that it was more a Gordon story than BATMAN, Year 1, and a lot of anger about what he did to Catwoman in it. I think part of it is the appreciation for the art just grows over time.

@IamFear- I don’t know that you need help for your decision, but I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that someone could include DKSA and not have DKR on the list. Interesting choice.

The “origin thing” was supposed to go under the Killing Joke comments. Sigh.

Great list. While i don’t agree with the order of everything that’s on here, it’s still a list of the exceptional greatness of Batman. I’m proud to say that I have 60 out of 75 of these stories.

So many great stories to choose from and I love the debate and passion that the subject of the greatest Batman stories ever brings out in the comments section.

I agree mostly with the choices and have a few personal faves that didn’t make it here but all in all a fun journey to number #1.

Now for the Greatest Robin Stories of all time…..

Interesting to compare this list (which I assume had many more voters), to the original Batman list which was the first of these “Greatest Stories Ever Told” votes.

Top 6 is the same, only with 4 and 5 switched.

Out of the lower 4, only the Ra’s story stayed. Knightfall, RIP, and Hush didn’t make the list last time.

Of the former top stories that fell out of the top 10, No Man’s Land fell to 13, Mad Love to 15, and finally To Kill A Legend to 16. Black Mirror, A Death In The Family and Court Of Owls are the other three new additions to the top of the list.

I’m glad Batman Year One beat out DKR. It’s always going to come down to those two.

So, three of the stories I voted for didn’t even make the list:
Batman #423 “You Shoulda Seen Him…”
“The Eye of the Beholder” (Batman Annual #14, 1990)
The Diplomat’s Son (Batman #424-425)

Brian, can you tell us how close the voting was for the top 3?

The tiers were basically the following:

Year One

Killing Joke
Long Halloween

Strange Apparitions
Arkham Asylum (Strange Apparitions and Arkham Asylum were practically tied)

Court of Owls

Death in the Family
No Man’s Land
Black Mirror

Mad Love

And then everything below it was basically jammed together, with close point totals all the way up.

Anybody surprised that Year One was #1? Anybody? Anybody?

Nope. Didn’t think so.


And Miller’s version of Catwoman is AWFUL, which I think most people agree is the one major negative point of the story.

I know some people (not me) have an issue with it. I think “most” is a bit of a stretch.

Frank Miller’s depiction of women is a bit of a hurdle, especially in recent years. I thought Black Canary got it worst in All Star Batman and Robin.

4 of my picks didn’t make it
10 Cataclyms – Batman caught in an earthquake (I would have ranked it higher but the wrongness of the Quake-Master threatening to “burn” the city irritated me)

8 Contagion – a virus in Gotham

4 Masks – an incedible 2-parter (LODK 39 & 40) from Bryan Talbot
Bruce Wayne is locked up and treated for his delusion about being Batman

3 Dark Rider – (Batman 393, 394) great work from Moench and Gulacy
starts off as a Bond-esque international adventure reaching a climaxin Gotham

I absolutely 100% agree with the top 3. All fantastic stories. I had a similar issue with the implied rape in “Killing Joke” the first time I read it (I am also super-sensitive to that being used in stories), but the more times I read it the more I don’t think it happens. Aside from it never being definitively said, my reasons are psychological…

That particular act is borne from two things: lust and power. I don’t think the Joker has a lustful bone in his body. Look at how often Harley tries to use sex to control him and he just ignores her or directly tells her off. As far as the major reason (most psychologists have said definitely that power is the major factor, some even say it’s the ONLY factor), I definitely think power matters to him, but not the way it matters to anyone else. I don’t think the power gotten from having your way with someone would mean anything to him. The power in this situation is the power of breaking Gordon’s mind in half. Therefore, the most likely sequence of events: after Gordon is taken away, the Joker took Barbara’s clothes off and took pictures of her in pain. The only reason for removing her clothes was that he knew Gordon would consider it a further violation, and the sexuality probably never even crossed his mind.

Doesn’t matter how many times I see them, but pages from TDKR will always look as mind-blowing to me today as they did when I first read it as a kid waaay too many years ago. But really, it’s mostly because of Lynn Varley’s colors.

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