Still have Bats on the brain. Blame the kiddo. I've seen that Adam West movie about two and a half times this week, and since tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and I'm home with him all day, I expect the number to go up still. But it's made me think about comics, and that's never a bad thing.
Anyway, this book on the left here? It's pretty groovy, and the title doesn't really lie. The contents of this book really are some of the best Batman stories ever published. But they aren't all necessarily my favorites, you know? So if I were to put together my own Bestest Batman Yarns Ever Put Down On Paper collection, this is what it would most likely contain (in no order other than that in which I think of them):
- "The Joker's Utility Belt" (Batman #73) - probably my favorite Joker story, and one of the better episodes of the TV show.
- "The First Batman" (Detective #235?) - The idea of Thomas Wayne's Halloween costume inspired the Batsuit is cheesy, but fun.
- "The Origin of the Superman/Batman Team" (???) - There were a couple different versions of this, but I like the one on the cruise ship the best. Too dumb to not be enjoyable.
- Pretty much the entirety of the Batman: Strange Apparitions trade paperback, which reprints the Englehart/Rogers/Austin run in Detective Comics #s 469-479. Seems like a lot, but these are basically the perfect Batman stories, so much so that they should be the main text for BAT 101 - Intro to Batman Studies.
- "Death Haunts the Skies" (Detective Comics #442) - The Alex Toth art alone makes this a must.
- "Interlude on Earth 2" (Brave and the Bold. Vol. 1 #182) - Batman ends up on Earth 2, confusing the hell out of the older Robin and Batwoman there (since Earth 2 Bats is dead at that point).
- "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne" (Brave and the Bold Vol. 1 #197) - The Earth 2 Batman and Catwoman get hitched. I like a happy ending.
- "The Doomsday Book" (Detective Comics #572) - The 50th anniversary of Detective Comics, in which Batman, the Elongated Man, and Slam Bradley solve a case with the last second intervention of the greatest detective of all.
- "Batman: Year One" (Batman #s 404-407) - I don't like everything Miller did in this (making Catwoman start off as a hooker, for instance), but on the whole, Damn Fine Comics going on here.
- "Batman: Gotham by Gaslight" - The prototype for the billion or so Elseworlds stories that would later follow, starring an "alternate" Victorian-era Batman. The moody Mignola artwork is what really sells this one.
- "Batman/Grendel: Devil's Riddle/Devil's Masque" - Batman and the original Grendel, Hunter Rose, are an intriguing match-up. Kinda makes me wish Grendel could've been a recurring Batman rogue (or Batman a recurring Grendel adversary, I suppose).
- "Batman & Dracula: Red Rain" - One of the better Bats Elseworlds story, and though the first part of a trilogy, it stands alone quite well. Kelley Jones's artwork always looked too weird on the regular Bat books, but it works very well here.
- "Batman & Captain America" - Both an Elseworlds and an intercompany crossover, but despite those two yokes thrown on top of it, the story is a blast. John Byrne clearly had fun here, and the Joker's reaction to the Red Skull is priceless.
- A Riddler story I don't remember the name for (Detective #s 705-707) - Riddler tries to get Cluemaster blowed up real good for stealing his shtick. Not great comics, but entertaining.
- "Batman Adventures: Mad Love" - Probably my most favorite Batman story ever, as well as the story that bumped Harley Quinn up from sidekick to star villain in her own right.
- "Where is the Justice League?" (JLA Classified #s 1-3) - So much to enjoy here - man-eating gorillas, JLA robots, Batman's sci-fi closet, and a star turn for Beryl Hutchinson, the Squire, who became a favorite character based on this story alone. Brilliance from Grant Morrison and Ed McGuinness.
Anything you think I left out that deserves inclusion (and no, I didn't forget Dark Knight Returns or Killing Joke, so don't bother bringing them up), or anything I should check out that I might not have? Suggestions always welcome.