The Best of Batman

arkham origins

In two days my wife will hate me and all my other priorities will take a back seat, In two days I get to be Batman again. I love watching Batman on screen or seeing him in the medium he was born in but there is nothing quite like fighting the Joker, Bane, Scarecrow, or Clayface (plus many more) in a video game. Well you can play Batman and fight numerous bad guys in a lot of games but the Arkham series has always been the best Batman geared VG. Not only does the Arkham games let you play the Dark Knight but it also engulfs you in the atmosphere of Gotham and all those who inhabit it. Arkam Asylum was the first game in the series as it let you explore Gotham’s most notorious madhouse. It was dark and gloomy and exploring those lonely halls was a chilling experience. Not only that but the story was strong and the game play was top notch. Then came the inevitable sequel, which blew up the original games setting into a small slice of Gotham itself. That game is the best VG I have ever played and one of the best story telling experiences of my young life (but Cody will get into that later). Now two years later, Batman is back in a prequel to the first two games, Arkham Origins. This new game is sure to be an entertaining return to Gotham and hopefully another great example of strong storytelling for the world’s most famous hero. So before we get back to grappling our way around Gotham, here is a list of the best Batman stories of any medium. I felt that it would be wrong to just have my voice heard in this list so I recruited another Batman fanatic (he knows more than I do about the Cape Crusader), Cody Shipman, to help list out 74 years worth of great Batman tales.

The list was made by both of us listing out our top ten favorite Batman tales. We combined our lists to make the list you are about to read.

First here are some Honorable Mentions from both of us:

Rector’s Honorable Mentions:

Batman: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth

Batman: Black Mask

Batman: The Cult

Batman Returns

  

Shipman’s Honorable Mentions:   

Batman: Earth One

Batman and Son

Justice League: Doom

Under the Red Hood

 

10. Batman: The T.V. Show (TV)

by Cody Shipman

batman 66

Adam West was my first Batman, and will probably be my favorite forever. The stories were cheesy, and the acting laughable, but famous actors giving life to these characters was fantastic. Batman was nearly given the ax by DC before this show. This campy little show helped Bats regain popularity and continue being printed. And where else will you get to see Batman delay taking off after a criminal to give Robin a lecture about seatbelt safety?

9. Batman (Film)

by Brian Rector

batman 1989

Tim Burton was the first man to bring the Frank Miller Batman to screen. Yea, Batman is still it’s own unique tale but it is heavily influenced by Frank Miller’s newer and meaner crime fighter. This translated into Batman hitting the masses and becoming one of the most popular superheroes around. In hindsight, Burton’s Batman is a little off on what we expect from a Dark Knight movie (thanks to Nolan’s excellent trilogy) but it is still a refreshing and (kinda) loyal take on the Bat. Who would of known Michael Keaton would still be considered one of the best men to ever dawn the cape and cowl.

8. Justice League Unlimited: Epilogue (TV)

by Cody Shipman

eupolgie

Here you get to see a connection between Terry West (Batman Beyond) and Bruce Wayne. Terry discovers that he is a clone of Bruce. He finds Amada Waller to get answers as to how someone could make a clone of such a despicable man. She explains that Batman was helping with the Royal Flush gang, and was asked to kill Ace before she destroyed the city with her mental powers. Batman takes the weapon, but does not use it. He sits and talks with Ace as she dies, keeping her calm enough to not blow up the city. Waller knew then that the city would always need a Batman, so she looked for people that could help birth one. She even planned to kill off Terry’s parents to help put him on the path, but fate took care of that on its own.

7. Batman: The Long Halloween (Comic)

by Brian Rector

the long halloween

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s semi sequel to Year One is a thrilling and wholly satisfying tale about Batman’s younger years. It’s main story deals with Batman, Gordan, and Harvey Dent looking to end the Falcone family’s hold on crime. The Long Halloween does three things just about right which is exploring Batman/Bruce dealing with his fight on crime, Harvey Dent’s fall from grace, and the transition between the mob and the freaks. The Long Halloween is a beautifully drawn book and a thrilling story of three men trying to do what they can to right what’s wrong.

6. Batman: The Killing Joke (Comic)

by Cody Shipman

the killing joke

This story you get to see just how dark the Joker’s humor really is. Making book puns as Barbara lies there on the floor with a bullet through her spine, you really see how little he cares for anyone. One bad day can push anyone into being a crazy. That was his entire point in shooting Barbara in front of Gordon, then torturing him by forcing him to see the photos of her naked and bleeding. This book is also great for giving you an origin of how the Joker came to be. A failed comedian pushed into a crummy situation, falls into a vat of chemicals while being chased by Batman. This horrible life, mixed with the chemicals made him who, or what, he is. Depending on how you interpret the end of this particular story, it is either another really great Joker story, or the last great Joker story. Batman catches Joker in the end and offers these words, ” We could work together. I could rehabilitate you……..We don’t have to kill each other.” The Joker responds by telling him it is too late for that, and lets loose a joke. In my opinion, many would disagree, this lets Batman know he will have to put a stop to it, which is why as Batman grabs him on the last page, the laughing stops….for good.

5. Batman: The Animated Series (TV)

by Cody Shipman

batman the animated series

This was able to display the darker nature of Batman, while still making it light enough for children. The dark color schemes and the drawing styles were great. The stories even appealed to parents that may be watching with their kids, or for their guilty pleasure. It gave great origin stories to characters like Mr. Freese (Heart of Ice) and it introduced the loveable Harley Quinn. I mean without TAS, we wouldn’t see the Joker being called Puddin’ all the time.

4. Batman: Year One (Comic)

by Brian Rector

batman year one

Frank Miller is probably the most important talent behind Batman expect for maybe Bob Kane (the creator of Batman). Before Miller took hold of Batman, he was kinda of stuck in the image of the silver age comics and the Adam West T.V. show. Year One and another great graphic novel (mentioned later on) helped give birth to the Batman we have known for the past 25+ years. Year One is a story of Batman’s first steps and it focuses on Batman and the second most important character in Batman’s history, Jim Gordon. It exposes two men desperate to become something more and their struggles during the beginning of their careers. It is a low-key story with very few villains but that is what makes it what it is. It is a bare bones look at what Batman is and what brought him to fighting crime. It is also shows the relationship between Batman and Gordon who find an alliance that will shape them for years to come. It is a dark and grim story that ends with a new hope for even the darkest city.

3. Arkham City (Video Game)

by Cody Shipman

arkham city

You get to control Batman! What else is cooler? This has one of the best story lines that I have ever played in a game. It makes the stories of a lot of movies these days seem like crap. You get to see a large variety of characters along with various plot twists and turns. And that ending with Batman carrying out the Joker is haunting as well as the credits roll with Joker singing a baby lullaby.

2. The Dark Knight Trilogy (Film)

by Brian Rector

dakr knog

I don’t know what I can say about Nolan’s Bat films that I haven’t said before. Both a totally new look for Batman while still being a great adaptation from the character’s source material, The Dark Knight trilogy is all you could ask for from a Batman movie let alone movies. Nolan sustained top-notch film making with a story about a dude in a Bat costume for three straight movies! I really don’t ever see another Batman film even touching these three excellent movies. So without repeating myself any further (just type in The Dark Knight Trilogy and you’ll see that’s all I write about) I ‘d just like to say thank you again for Nolan and crew for bringing me back to the hero from my childhood.

1. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Comic)

by Brian Rector

the dark knight returns

When you look back at Batman’s history there seems to be a major shift in the character around the mid 80s.  During the character’s first 40+ years, he was a light and family friendly character. Yes, some of the darker elements peeked through but for the most part Batman was your friendly neighborhood guy who dresses up in a bat costume. But something changed which transitioned in the Batman we see today, the dark and gritty crime fighter who has become the biggest superhero in the world. That change, or turning point, was Frank Miller’s masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns. TDKR is basically the last chapter for Bruce Wayne/Batman (although Miller would write an ill advised sequel but we’ll forget about that) as he comes out of retirement to face off against new enemies (Mutants), old adversaries (Joker, Two-Face), and an old ally (Superman). The graphic novel, which is told in four parts, dissects just who Batman is and the relationship that he has with various characters and the city of Gotham itself. It is an exciting story as well as an enriching one as it avoids the normal comic clichés and tells a straightforward story. No gimmicks or plot twists, just a good ol Batman tale that explores Batman and his place in the nuclear age.

TDKR is the best Batman story because it is Batman through and through. The story focuses on all that Batman is and Bruce Wayne’s endless fight against crime. Each challenge he faces reveals something to Bruce about himself that he has ignored for the past 30 years. TDKR is truly about enlightenment, being able see who you really are and where you fit in this mad world. TDKR also ushered in the Batman we know today which has resulted in 9 out of 10 selections on this list. Frank Miller made the definitive Dark Knight story of all time while also giving a new start or a new life to the character that has resulted in 25+ years of a new kind of beast, a new creature of the night.

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About Brian Rector

I am 22 years old and I go to school at Missouri State in Springfield, Missouri. I have always been an avid filmgoer and I have always wanted a place to share my views and opinions on modern film. This blog is to give reviews on new release, thoughts on other artforms such as music and books, and to discuss the happenings of the film industry. View all posts by Brian Rector

4 responses to “The Best of Batman

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