Perhaps this is grounds for the revocation of my nerd card, but I’ve never been a big Batman fan. I realize that this places me in the minority of comic book readers, but it’s a fact. Still, there are a select few Batman stories that I truly love. If you’re ever feeling down on the Dark Knight, consider giving one of these titles a try.
“Batman: Year One”
(originally published as “Batman” #404-#407)
Likely the most obvious choice on my list, Batman himself comes off very human in “Year One,” which I like because he is, in fact, a normal old human. I’ve always disliked the claim that Batman can beat any foe just because he’s a brilliant detective, because it’s easy to see that there’s no way Bats, no matter how many glowing green pebbles he possesses, could vanquish someone like Superman. Therein lies the charm of “Batman: Year One.” Bats has trouble shaking a squad of mortal SWAT guys, and I can actually buy his cunning wit and resourcefulness getting him out of that kind of situation.
“Batman: The Scottish Connection”
Some people love Frank Quitely’s art and some people hate it. I happen to love it, and this story matches Quitely’s nuanced art on a rather comedic level that makes me grin just thinking about it. Bruce Wayne wears a kilt! I’m sure that most would consider “Scottish Connection” a throwaway Bat-tale, but it’s one of my favorites because it’s a quick, light-hearted read with several great action beats accompanied by Quitely’s equally impressive illustration. Also, it features a truly interesting main villain.
Because my love affair with comics began with Dark Horse’s “Aliens vs. Predator” books, this could very well be the first Batman comic I ever read. In addition to possibly introducing me to the 22-page adventures of Bruce Wayne’s caped alter ego, “Batman/Aliens” also introduced me to the art of horror comic legend Bernie Wrightson. Since Bats is not up against an enemy whose actions he can understand, he is not only forced to be extra inventive in dealing with his foes, but he’s also depicted as a realistic human who fears for his own life, which is something that I don’t think we see enough of in the average issue of “Batman.”
(originally published as “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight” #192-#196)
I initially picked up this title up for the wonderfully detailed artwork of the late Seth Fisher. Story-wise, “Snow” reimagines the origin of villain Mr. Freeze, focusing mostly on a cast of well-developed supporting characters rather than Batman himself. Combine Fisher’s beautiful artwork, the story of a ragtag gang of amateur detectives enlisted by Batman to fight his personal war on crime, and a gun that shoots ice beams, and you’ve got a Batman comic that this non-fan truly enjoys.
“Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet”
This book is really more about Robin than Batman, but Bats plays an integral part, so I’ll let it slide. The basic premise is that Robin’s final test before graduating to official sidekick status is to avoid capture by Batman for one full night in Gotham City. Of course things don’t go as planned, but while Robin technically fails his test, he nabs some bad guys in the process, making for an acceptably happy ending. Yet again, I first gave this book a second glance for its wonderful artwork—in this case Lee Weeks’—but what really drew me in was the quaint coming-of-age story of Robin on his first true crime-fighting mission.