The ULTIMATE BATMAN READING AND VIEWING GUIDE

The only list you’ll need…

The central feature of BATMAN WEEK, our celebration of Detective Comics #1000 and Batman’s 80th anniversary, has been THE TOP 13 BATMAN COUNTDOWN.

I asked 16 comics professionals and experts to rank the greatest Batman stories ever, in any medium, and then weighted their ballots: 13 points for the top choice, 12 for the next and so on.

We counted down the TOP 13 daily and you can find the completed list by clicking here.

(The full list of contributors, including legendary Batman artist Neal Adams and former DC chief Paul Levitz, is below.)

But the voters had so much more to say. Their ballots included an especially wide variety of choices and what we ended up with, beyond the TOP 13, was a wonderfully eclectic selection of Batman stories from across eight decades. In the end, I realized we had much more than a countdown on our hands. Really, we’d inadvertently produced THE ULTIMATE BATMAN READING AND VIEWING GUIDE.

Below, you’ll find the rest of the Batman stories – from comics, animation, live-action TV and film, and elsewhere – that demand your attention. Included are comments where the voters gave their perspectives. (I only asked the panelists for comments on their top choices but a number of them were so enthusiastic, they chimed in on each selection.)

A few notes before we get started:

— Full disclosure: There are a few stories listed below that initially slipped through the cracks but I added them because I didn’t think a list like this would be complete without them. I also removed one choice because it didn’t really fit the bill. (I’m not saying what they are because I’m not going to damn them with an asterisk. It’s just that sometimes ballots can be idiosyncratic.)

— Another peek behind the curtain: The final TOP 13 included five Batman stories from TV and movies. What if it were all comics? Here are the five that just missed the cut, in order of points earned: Detective Comics #27; Batman #321; The Untold Legend of the Batman; The Brave and the Bold #197; Batman: War on Crime.

— Lastly, if your favorite story, or a story you really like, isn’t on this list, don’t lose your mind. Rather, the more the merrier. Feel free to add them in the comments below. That way anyone reading this will get an even wider range of stories to read or watch. After all, that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

So let’s get to it with THE ULTIMATE BATMAN READING AND VIEWING GUIDE. And don’t forget to refer to the TOP 13 by clicking here:

COMICS

Batman

Bob Kane. Jerry Robinson backgrounds.

Batman #1 (The Legend of the Batman — Who He Is and How He Came to Be! By Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff. Repurposed from Detective Comics #33 but improved upon with new header art.)

Batman #16 (Here Comes Alfred! By Don C. Cameron, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos)

Batman #47 (The Origin of the Batman! By Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Charles Paris)

— Chris Franklin: “Batman co-creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane revisit and flesh out the Caped Crusader’s beginnings, while bringing its events full circle. Batman actually catches up to his parents’ killer and poetic justice is rendered, not by his own hand, but by the many hands of the underworld he has sworn to destroy.”

Batman #73 (The Joker’s Utility Belt! By David Vern, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris)

— James Tucker: “A solid example of Batman at his most iconic mid-century, ’50s Bat-Dad persona. Dick Sprang’s Joker is second to none.”

Batman #113 (Batman – The Superman of Planet X! By Ed Herron, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris)

— James Tucker: “Dick Sprang drawing a Batman with super powers. ‘Nuff said.”

Sheldon Moldoff

Batman #180 (Death Knocks Three Times! By Robert Kanigher, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella)

Batman #194 (The Blockbuster Goes Bat-Mad! By Gardner Fox, either Chic Stone or Sheldon Moldoff, and Joe Giella)

Batman #237 (Night of the Reaper! By Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, with ideas from Harlan Ellison and Bernie Wrightson)

Batman #255 (Moon of the Wolf, by Len Wein, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano)

Main image by Neal Adams. Vignettes by Nick Cardy.

Batman #272-275 (The Underworld Olympics ’76! By David Vern, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Ernie Chan, Frank McLaughlin and Tex Blaisdell)

Batman #291-294 (Where Were You on the Night Batman Was Killed? By David Vern, John Calnan and Tex Blaisdell)

Batman #312-317 (The heart of Len Wein’s run, with art by Irv Novick, Frank McLaughlin, Walt Simonson and Dick Giordano)

Batman #321 (Dreadful Birthday, Dear Joker…! By Len Wein, Walt Simonson and Dick Giordano)

— John Morrow: “Len Wein script, and Walter Simonson inked by Dick Giordano, with the Joker as the villain. Sheer perfection.”

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Batman #332-335 (The Lazarus Affair, by Marv Wolfman, Irv Novick, Frank McLaughlin, et al)

Batman #366 (The Joker is Wild! By Doug Moench, Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala)

— John Morrow: “The Doug Moench/Don Newton story inside is certainly good, but I’m picking this one because it has one of the best covers ever drawn. It’s by Walter Simonson, and I didn’t even have to look inside before deciding to buy it off the newsstand.”

Walt Simonson

Batman #400 (Resurrection Night! By Doug Moench, John Byrne, Steve Lightle, Bruce D. Patterson, George Perez, Paris Cullins, Larry Mahlstedt, Bill Sienkiewicz, Art Adams, Terry Austin, Tom Sutton, Ricardo Villagran, Steve Leialoha, Joe Kubert, Ken Steacy, Rick Leonardi, Karl Kesel and Brian Bolland)

Batman: A Death in the Family (Batman #426-429, by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo)

Batman: Hush (Batman #608-619, by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and Scott Williams)

Batman and Son (Batman #655-658, by Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang)

— James Tucker: “Brought Damian into the Batman family and is one of the most interesting additions to Batman’s mythos in quite a while.”

Batman RIP (Primarily Batman #676-681, by Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea)

— James Tucker: “Bats— crazy Batman story”

Batman: The Court of Owls (Batman #1-11, by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion)

— Dr. Christina Blanch: “It took me about a page to decide it was going to be glorious and I wasn’t wrong.”

Detective Comics

Bob Kane

Detective Comics #27 (The Case of the Chemical Syndicate, by Bill Finger and Bob Kane)

— Mark Reinhart: “The very first Batman story of all time — and amazingly, almost all of the elements that would make Batman such a great character for 80 years are already firmly in place in it.”

Detective Comics #31-32 (Batman vs. the Vampire, by Gardner Fox, Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff)

Detective Comics #83 (Accidentally on Purpose! By Don C. Cameron, Jack Burnley and George Roussos)

Detective Comics #165 (The Strange Costumes of Batman! By Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris)

— Tom Peyer, who picked this #1: “Batman hides in the trunk of a gangster’s car. The gangster figures it out and sprays the trunk with bullets, putting Batman out of commission with life-threatening wounds. This story opened my young eyes to Batman’s vulnerability, and therefore his bravery. It’s easy to fight crime when bullets bounce off you. Oh, and let’s not forget that this story has strange costumes!”

Win Mortimer

Detective Comics #168 (The Man Behind the Red Hood! By Bill Finger, Lew Sayre Schwartz and George Roussos)

— Michael Eury: “The clever ‘origin’ of the Joker that still left much of his past undefined… and inspired many creators in more recent years.”

Detective Comics #241 (The Rainbow Batman, by Edmond Hamilton, Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye)

Detective Comics #267 (Batman Meets Bat-Mite, by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris)

Detective Comics #327 (The Mystery of the Menacing Mask! By John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella)

Detective Comics #359 (The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl! By Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene)

Carmine Infantino pencils, Murphy Anderson inks

Detective Comics #395 (The Secret of the Waiting Graves, by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano)

Detective Comics #400 (Challenge of the Man-Bat, by Frank Robbins, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano)

Detective Comics #404 (Ghost of the Killer Skies! By Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano)

Detective Comics #442 (Death Flies the Haunted Sky, by Archie Goodwin and Alex Toth)

— John Morrow: “Alex Toth shows us how to do Batman in a totally unique way, but one that totally works. There’s not a line on the page that didn’t need to be there to effectively tell this story. A virtuoso performance by a comics master.”

Detective Comics #443 (Gotterdammerung, starring Manhunter and Batman, by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson)

— John Morrow: “After several short back-up stories of Manhunter, I was so excited that he’d get a full-length story with Batman (because the Archie Goodwin/Walter Simonson shorts were remarkable). The story in #443 didn’t disappoint. I’m still flabbergasted that those two men were able to reel me in with so relatively few pages of story leading up to it. And though the climax of #443 really shook me, it was the perfect way to send Paul Kirk out. I probably shouldn’t rate a story where Batman is the secondary character so highly on this list, but man, this is a great issue, and one I treasure.”

Detective Comics #450 (The Cape & Cowl Deathtrap, by Elliot S! Maggin and Walt Simonson. Plus, the Batman: The Animated Series adaptation.)

Detective Comics #457 (There is No Hope in Crime Alley! By Denny O’Neil, Dick Giordano and Terry Austin)

— Michael Eury: “A beautifully written and illustrated, poignant psychological examination of Bruce Wayne’s processing of the most traumatic event of his life.”

Detective Comics #500 (To Kill a Legend, by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano)

— Chris Franklin, who picked this #1: “Batman is offered a chance to save his parents on a parallel world. In the days before Batman’s origin was the touchstone for every story, this tight, quiet tale got to the heart of the character, with a poignant ending that proved a Batman need not be motivated by vengeance alone.”

Detective Comics #526 (All My Enemies Against Me! By Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala)

Detective Comics #569-574 (The run by Mike W. Barr, Alan Davis and Paul Neary)

Detective Comics #583 (Fever, by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle and Kim DeMulder)

Detective Comics #590 (An American Batman in London, by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle)

Detective Comics Annual #1 (The Monkey Trap, by Denny O’Neil, Klaus Janson and Tony DeZuniga. AKA Fables: Part One)

The Brave and the Bold

Carmine Infantino pencils, Joe Giella inks, with an assist from Murphy Anderson.

The Brave and the Bold #67 (The Death of the Flash, starring Batman and the Flash. By Bob Haney, Carmine Infantino and Charles Paris)

— John Morrow: “The cover sucked me in when I first saw it. My mom got this for me while I was sick in bed with the flu, so there’s a sentimental attachment. But I remember the Speed Boys and how they nearly killed the Flash. So maybe I like it more for the Flash than Batman, but still a fun issue.”

The Brave and Bold #79 (The Track of the Hook, starring Batman and Deadman. By Bob Haney and Neal Adams)

— Michael Eury: “It started here: Neal Adams’ subtle ‘darkening’ of the Dark Knight. Adams aside, this is one of writer Bob Haney’s best (and most canonical) Batman team-ups, and he moves forward guest-star Deadman’s search for his killer. It’s also a rare example of a loss for Batman, a crime he doesn’t solve.”

— John Morrow: “Neal Adams really pulled out all the stops on #79 and #86 and I’d have to call them a tie. As a collector, it was such a nice surprise to get a couple of “extra” Adams Deadman appearances, after picking up all the Strange Adventures issues that featured him.”

The Brave and the Bold #85 (The Senator’s Been Shot! Starring Batman and Green Arrow. By Bob Haney and Neal Adams)

— John Morrow: “Neal Adams had an impressive run on B&B by this point, and this one is a keeper if for no other reason than he designs Green Arrow’s new costume in it. There were others in this run that are memorable (the Creeper team-up, for instance), but there’s nothing better than prime Adams Batman.”

Neal Adams

The Brave and the Bold #86 (You Can’t Hide From a Deadman! Starring Batman and Deadman. By Bob Haney and Neal Adams)

The Brave and the Bold #87 (The Widow-Maker! Starring Batman and Wonder Woman. By Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano)

— John Morrow: “Mike Sekowsky is one of the most underrated artists in comics history. And when he was paired with Dick Giordano inking him, the work was stunning.”

The Brave and the Bold #93 (Red Water Crimson Death, starring Batman and the House of Mystery. By Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams)

The Brave and the Bold #102 (The Commune of Defiance, starring Batman and the Teen Titans. By Bob Haney, Jim Aparo, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano)

— John Morrow: “In one issue, you get renditions of Batman by Jim Aparo, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. Bob Haney’s stories were always fun (though sometimes weird), but just a great issue all around.”

The Brave and the Bold #111 (Death Has the Last Laugh, starring Batman and the Joker. By Bob Haney and Jim Aparo)

— Michael Eury: “Bob Haney and Jim Aparo’s The Brave and the Bold was, in the early-to-mid-1970s, DC’s top-selling Batman book, according to Carmine Infantino. This is an example of why — a clever ‘team-up’ between hero and villain, with Aparo in his glorious prime.”

Jim Aparo

The Brave and the Bold #182 (Interlude on Earth-Two, starring Batman and the Robin of Earth-Two. By Alan Brennert and Jim Aparo)

— Chris Franklin: “Unabashedly my favorite single comic of all time finds Batman mysteriously transported to Earth-Two, a world where his doppelganger has been dead for some time. He must deal with a grown and resentful Robin, a mournful and romantically dejected Batwoman, and a dying but deadly Hugo Strange. Batman has never looked his own mortality so squarely in the eye, and Earth-Two has never held such personal story potential.”

The Brave and the Bold #184 (The Batman’s Last Christmas! Starring Batman and the Huntress. By Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo)

The Brave and the Bold #197 (The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne! By Alan Brennert, Joe Staton and George Freeman)

— Scott Tipton, who picked this #1: “This single-issue tale proved the one thing every hero’s journey needs and that you’d never expect Batman to have: a happy ending. Set in late-’50s Earth-Two, Alan Brennert and Joe Staton’s The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne! tells the tale of a middle-aged Bruce Wayne beginning to look for new meaning in his life, when an assault by the Scarecrow removes all of his loved ones from his reach, forcing him to turn to the arms of an enemy for comfort: the ex-Catwoman Selina Kyle. It’s tragic and romantic at the same time, and it leaves you with the thought that, at least for a while, Bruce and Selina were happy.”

— Michael Eury: “Alan Brennert’s few Batman tales have been lauded for their impact, and this one tops my list of his Bat-works, with its heartfelt, yet heartbreaking love story between the Earth-Two Batman and Catwoman.”

Jim Aparo

Crossover Arcs

Batman: Knightfall. Written and illustrated by a large team, including Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Jim Aparo, Graham Nolan and Kelley Jones.

Batman: No Man’s Land. Conceived by Jordan B. Gorfinkel. Written and illustrated by a large team of creators, including Greg Rucka, Bob Gale and Alex Maleev.

Miniseries

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

The Untold Legend of the Batman, by Len Wein, Jim Aparo and John Byrne

— Dr. Charles Coletta, who picked this #1: “This 1980 miniseries remains my favorite Batman story. In the early 1980s, I was a beginning comics collector and stumbled upon a battered copy of Issue #1. In three tightly constructed issues, it engagingly encapsulates 40 years of Bat-History and serves as the perfect entry point for new readers. The art by Jim Aparo and John Byrne is magnificent. Looking back, this story is even more powerful for me today as it presents the Caped Crusader as I like him best: a more human crime fighter who is not the overly grim, brooding, morose and nearly unbalanced ‘hero’ he became later in that decade. It’s nice to read a Batman who, although mostly serious, can still smile once in a while.”

Batman: The Cult, by Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson

— Dr. Christina Blanch: “First off, I am a BIG Wrightson fan. He simply amazes me. I like this story because you can see Batman’s mind unravelling and witness his failings. He is vulnerable and we usually don’t see that part of him.”

Batman: The Long Halloween, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

Matt Wagner

Batman and the Monster Men, by Matt Wagner

— Dr. Christina Blanch: “This story has been said to be where Batman stops being a vigilante and becomes a hero. I really enjoy seeing an optimistic Batman every once in a while and this is it for me. Also, I must have a thing for stories with Hugo Strange in them.”

Batman: Gotham County Line, by Steve Niles and Scott Hampton

— Dr. Christina Blanch: “I love horror stories. And Batman. So when this story turns from serial killer to reanimated corpses, I was all in! Batman confronting the supernatural? Love it! Also has special appearances — Deadman, the Phantom Stranger, and the corpses of Batman’s mom and pop! Win, win, win… well, for us. Poor Batman.”

Batman: Odyssey, by Neal Adams

— Neal Adams, who picked this #1: “This is my favorite story because it was an odyssey and maybe an odyssey of all the pieces that got left lying in the driveway as the Batman gang went on the road. All the questions left behind, explored and answered in one graphic novel.”

Other Series and Specials

Jim Aparo

Batman & the Outsiders #1 (Wars Ended… Wars Begun, by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo)

Legends of the Dark Knight #16-20 (Venom, by Denny O’Neil, Russell Braun, Trevor Von Eeden and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez)

— Dr. Christina Blanch: “I used it for a class once and it was amazing to see so many people fall in love with the story at the same time.”

Legends of the Dark Knight #32-34 (Blades, by James Robinson and Tim Sale)

Batman: Black & White #4 (Heroes, by Archie Goodwin and Gary Gianni)

Batman Confidential #26-28 (A New Dawn, featuring Batman, the Riddler and King Tut. By Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Kevin Nowlan. Collected as Batman: King Tut’s Tomb)

Batman Incorporated Vol. 2, by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, et al

Chris Burnham

Batman ’66 #30 (Main Title, by Lee Allred, Michael Allred and Laura Allred)

Batman Special #1 (…The Player on the Other Side! By Mike W. Barr, Michael Golden and Mike DeCarlo)

— Chris Franklin: “Batman faces his opposite number in a gritty tale that proves Barr was ahead of the curve in his often seedier-than-usual Gotham City. A sequel to Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano’s excellent There is No Hope in Crime Alley! in many ways.

Gotham by Gaslight, by Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell)

Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean

The Batman Adventures: Mad Love, by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm 

— James Tucker: “This gave us a poignant, though messed up, look at Harley’s origins.”

— Michael Eury: “One of the all-time best Batman tales. Period.”

Alex Ross

Batman: War on Crime, by Paul Dini and Alex Ross

— Mark Reinhart, who picked this #1: “Writer Paul Dini and artist Alex Ross examine Batman’s motivation for fighting crime, as well as the tremendous physical and mental toll that the fight has taken on him over the years. This is my favorite Batman work ever created, and I am mystified that more people do not share my high opinion of it. It is a thoughtful, touching story, it has just about the most realistic, amazing art ever created for a comic work, and it has a thorough yet incredibly compact view of all the aspects of Batman’s world.”

Batman: The Man Who Laughs, by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke

— Dr. Christina Blanch: “The Joker is horrible but sometimes people forget how intelligent and witty he is. It’s chilling, really.”

Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #99-100 (Is Lois Lane Guilty? and Lois Lane’s Last Mile! By Robert Kanigher, Irv Novick, Mike Esposito)

— Tom Peyer: “I put the Lois Lane story in because it’s the absolute worst. So bad it’s great!”

Swamp Thing #7 (Night of the Bat, by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson)

— Michael Eury: “OK, it’s a Swamp Thing story, but prior to its publication rarely had Batman been handled so eerily. Bernie Wrightson’s Batman is fantastic and Len Wein’s adeptness with both Batman’s and Swampy’s worlds make this one infinitely re-readable.”

Bernie Wrightson

JLA #43-46 (Tower of Babel, by Mark Waid, Howard Porter, Drew Geraci, Steve Scott and Mark Propst)

DC Special Series #27: Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk, by Len Wein, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano

— John Morrow: “It was a terrible mismatch to pair these two characters together. But with Garcia-Lopez handling the art, who cares?”

Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1 (Pway For Me, by Tom King, Lee Weeks and Lovern Kindzierski

— Dr. Christina Blanch: “I could not believe how much I loved this story. I read it and instantly knew it would win awards. I wasn’t wrong. Find this and read it. Trust me.”

ANIMATION

The Adventures of Batman and Robin

Simon the Pieman. Written by Denis Marks.

Batman: The Animated Series/The New Batman Adventures

On Leather Wings. By Mitch Bryan. Directed by Kevin Altieri.

Two-Face. By Randy Rogel and Alan Burnett. Directed by Kevin Altieri

Joker’s Favor. By Paul Dini. Directed by Boyd Kirkland.

Robin’s Reckoning. By Randy Rogel. Directed by Dick Sebast.

— Chris Franklin: “The brilliant storytelling, excellent animation and even greater than usual acting make this a standout. The ending is perhaps the best example of why the Bruce Wayne/Dick Grayson relationship has stood the test of time.”

Almost Got ‘Im. By Paul Dini. Directed by Eric Radomski.

Over the Edge. By Paul Dini. Directed by Yuichiro Yano.

— James Tucker: “A real suspense ride where Batman is the pursued for a change.”

Legends of the Dark Knight. By Robert Goodman and Bruce Timm. Directed by Dan Riba.

— Chris Franklin: “Based in part on Frank Robbins and Dick Giordano’s The Batman Nobody Knows, this story follows three kids who have different ideas of what Batman is really like. The creators wonderfully homage the Batman of the Golden Age stories by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang, and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight series. The kids find the series’ real Batman is somewhere in between, but few tales have encapsulated what makes the character so great — and resilient — through the decades.”

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. By Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko and Michael Reaves. Directed by Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm.

— Chris Franklin: “Still the best cinematic outing of the Caped Crusader. A great cast, a noirish mystery, and one of the character’s best (and most tragic) romances make for the ultimate Batman film.”

Batman Beyond

Shriek. By Stan Berkowitz. Directed by Curt Geda.

Return of the Joker. By Paul Dini. Directed by Curt Geda.

— Dr. Christina Blanch: “Mark Hamill. Mark Hamill. Mark Hamill. Doesn’t matter what I write — that’s all you need to know.”

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Chill of the Night! Starring Batman, the Spectre, Phantom Stranger, Thomas Wayne, Martha Wayne and Joe Chill. By Paul Dini. Directed by Michael Chang.

— James Tucker: “The most noir-ish and Batman-centric episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I’m biased.”

The Color of Revenge! Starring Batman, Robin and Crazy Quilt. By Todd Casey. Directed by Michael Chang.

Evil Under the Sea! Starring Batman and Aquaman. By Joseph Kuhr. Directed by Michael Chang.

Justice League Unlimited

This Little Piggy. Written by Paul Dini. Directed by Dan Riba.

Super Friends — The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians

The Fear. Story Editor: Alan Burnett.

The Lego Batman Movie. Written by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington/ Directed by Chris McKay.

— Dr. Christina Blanch: “So how fun was this? It pokes fun at the oddities of Batman but showcases everything that is awesome.”

Batman: Strange Days promo short. Directed by Bruce Timm

— James Tucker: “Bruce Timm at his most Bruce Timm-iest.”

LIVE-ACTION TV AND FILM

Batman ’66

Batman (Theatrical Release). Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. Directed by Leslie H. Martinson.

The Joker is Wild/Batman is Riled. By Robert Dozier. Directed by Don Weis.

— John S. Drew, who picked this #1: “It may not surprise many that I chose a Batman’ 66 episode as my Number 1. It might also annoy others who do not think Batman ’66 is real Batman. It may even annoy some fans that I think this is a better story than Hi Diddle Riddle, which made the TOP 13. (All props to Frank Gorshin for helping to establish the tone of the series, but his performance elevated the show, not the debut story.) For me, as a kid watching Batman, this was the story that cemented my love for the character. It had the comedic flair of the series, yes, but it also allowed Batman to be Batman. The first two episodes never truly established him as a great detective, but this one does. In particular, check out the end scene as the Joker is about to have the Dynamic Duo beheaded and Batman reveals that he and Robin are not unconscious. As they fight, Batman explains that he knew the Joker was trying to knock them out when he noticed that a rigged champagne bottle did not have a discolored cork, a feature of a vintage magnum. It clicked with me. I got him.

“From that point on, it didn’t matter if Batman was dark and brooding, life of the party, animated or simply a birthday card, as long as he displayed a view of the world that most of us miss — the simple details that we take for granted. And that’s why he’s my favorite hero.”

The Penguin Goes Straight/Not Yet, He Ain’t. By Lorenzo Semple Jr. and John Cardwell. Directed by Leslie H. Martinson.

The Curse of Tut/The Pharoah’s in a Rut. By Robert C. Dennis and Earl Barret. Directed by Charles R. Rondeau.

Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under! By Charles Hoffman. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.

— James Tucker: “It’s not the best episode of Batman ’66, but it is so off the rails that it cannot be denied.”

Batman 1943 Serial

Chapter 2 (The Bat’s Cave. By Victor McLeod, Leslie Swabacker and Harry L. Fraser. Directed by Lambert Hillyer. )

Batman Returns. By Daniel Waters and Sam Hamm. Directed by Tim Burton.

Batman Begins. By Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Directed by Christopher Nolan.

— Michael Eury: “While Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman might have been the first ‘serious’ superhero movie, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, despite its liberties with the legend, brings Batman to life unlike any other live-action version. Christian Bale’s cavalier Bruce Wayne persona is excellent!”

MISCELLANEOUS

Prose

Northwestward, by Isaac Asimov (From The Further Adventures of Batman)

Video Games

Arkham Asylum. Written by Paul Dini. Directed by Sefton Hill.

— Mark Reinhart: “Playing through these games created a completely immersive experience for serious Batman fans that was unprecedented in the history of the character.”

Arkham City. Written by Paul Dini, Paul Crocker and Sefton Hill. Directed by Sefton Hill.

THE PANELISTS

CREATORS

Neal Adams. Artist, writer and Batman pioneer.

Paul Levitz. Former DC Comics publisher, editor of DC’s new hardcover retrospective Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman and former monthly Batman editor.

Ron Marz. Comics writer for virtually every company under the sun, including DC.

James Tucker. Warner Bros. animator, producer of Batman: The Brave and the Bold and supervising producer of the two Batman ’66 animated films.

Tom Peyer. Editor-in-chief of AHOY Comics, satirist, former editor at DC and Batman ’66 comics writer.

Fred Van Lente. Comics writer, co-creator of The Comic Book History of Comics.

EXPERTS AND HISTORIANS

Dr. Christina Blanch. Educator, retailer and comics writer.

Dr. Charles Coletta. Educator and co-chair of April’s international Batman in Popular Culture Conference at Bowling Green State University.

John S. Drew. Host of The Batcave Podcast.

Anthony Durso. 13th Dimension contributor and owner of The Toyroom and Retropolis Tees.

Michael Eury. Editor-in-chief of Back Issue magazine and the co-writer of The Batcave Companion, both published by TwoMorrows.

Chris Franklin. Historian and co-host of Batman Knightcast.

Dan Greenfield. Editor and publisher, 13th Dimension.

John Morrow. Publisher, TwoMorrows Publishing.

Mark Reinhart. Writer of The Batman Filmography, published by McFarland.

Scott Tipton. 13th Dimension contributor, comics writer and retailer.

MORE

The Complete TOP 13 BATMAN COUNTDOWN. Click here.

The Complete BATMAN WEEK Index of Features and Tributes. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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6 Comments

  1. A few that are missing – all 3 are in my personal Top 13 list:

    “Robin Dies at Dawn” – Batman #156

    “Legends of the Dark Mite” – TV episode of Batman: The Brave & the Bold. Hilarious satire of Batman fandom

    The Joker Goes to School/ He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul – The best Batman 1966 TV episode. The Joker; Susie; the Bad Pennies; the slot machine/electric chair death trap; Burt Ward’s
    portrayal of Dick Grayson gone bad, “This is what easy living gets you. Stick to your books!”

    Still can’t believe that “The Long Halloween,” “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne,” “There’s No Hope in Crime Alley,” Mad Love” did not make the Top 13 but “The Killing Joke” did.

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  2. That’s a great list, and I’m happy to see all media was included! In the Animated Batman series final season: Over The Edge is one of my favorites. Thanks to all the panelist for an excellent March Madness ride!

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  3. This is a great list! Lots of my favorite Batman stories are on here.

    First, I’m glad to see the Len Wein run get some love. For years, I thought I was the only Bat-fan who appreciated it. I would 307-327. That would cover his great Mr. Freeze story, which was the first attempt to humanize Freeze. I’ll bet Dini read it before he wrote Heart of Ice. Also, you would get the two Gentleman Ghost stories, the Joker story, which you did mention separately, and Batman 323-324, which ties up the Bruce/Selina romance subplot and are two issues I adore.

    Other mentions:
    I would have liked to have seen more of Bill Fingers mystery/whodunit stories. A good one is Murder at Mystery Castle from Detective 246, which I first discovered in a digest. I’ve seen that one attributed to Leigh Brackett as well, but most attribute it to Finger. It is a good mystery, no mater who wrote it. Sorry, I don’t have a lot of 50s Batman, mostly just what has been reprinted, or I would have more to recommend

    Brave and the Bold 64 Batman vs Eclipso Bob Haney at his Haney-ist. Batman gets framed for a crime by the beautiful Queen Bee….Haney’s Batman always loved the ladies.

    Brave and the Bold 98. Jim Aparo’s first Batman art job, and did he hit the ground running! Fun, very Haney story as well.

    Brave and the Bold 104. Deadman possesses a criminal to gain information for Batman, and promptly falls in love with the criminal’s girlfriend. More awesome Zany Haney!

    Detective 385 – Die Small Die Big by Robert Kanigher. A huge Batman fan feels invisible and that his life has been a waste. After discovering he has an incurable disease, he decides to give his life to save Batman from an assassination plot.

    Detective 410 – A Vow from the Grave by O’Neil, Adams and Giordano

    Detective 424 – Double Cross Fire by Frank Robbins and Bob Brown. Robbins wrote some great mystery whodunits and I feel like this is his best one.

    Detective 444-448 Bat-murderer. Ok, the ending is a let down, but the previous chapters are great, especially the ones by Wein and Aparo. I really wish those two could have remained on the book as a team longer in the early 70s. Aparo was really at the top of his game, then.

    Detective 455 – Batman vs a Vampire courtesy of Maggin and Grell. Grell said Bernie Wrightson did thumbnails for the story, and would I love to see those.

    Detective 456 – Ok, Elliot Maggin ripped this one off from DOA, but it makes a great Batman story.

    Batman 227 – Demon of Gothos Mansion. The story usually gets overshadowed by the gorgeous cover, but there is a story under that cover….and it is a fun yarn with a ghost, a demon worshipping cult and quite possibly the most gorgeous art job that Irv Novick and Dick Giordano ever turned in.

    Batman 269 – The Daily Deaths of Terry Tremain… By FAR the best story from David V. Reed in the 70s.

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