It is past time for a new Comics Corner, it is around the 77th anniversary celebration of Batman’s first appearance, and I have writer’s block. That means a listicle! A while back (February of 2015, to be exact) I offered you all my thoughts on the Top-Ten Most Underrated Batman Stories (click that link and go read it, hopefully again!).
Since I know there are many who are fans of Batman, but maybe aren’t too familiar with some of his comic book shenanigans, I thought I’d offer you ten more often overlooked and underrated Batman stories. These are in no particular order, but especially if you enjoyed the issues from the prior list, hopefully here are some new entries to add to your pull list.
Deathstroke the Terminator #6-9 by Marv Wolfman and Steve Erwin
Recently it has been announced that Deathstroke is going to be featured in the next Batman movie. And while probably in recent memory the battle between Batman and Deathstroke in the Arkham Origins video game probably comes first for most people, if you do a search on line, this story arc will pop up with great frequency. While I’m not sure if this storyline in the Deathstroke The Terminator comic is the first encounter between the two, it is one of the more popular and famous encounters, especially their fight sequence in issue 7. Erwin’s art is beautiful, but Wolfman’s explanation and thought process behind why Batman would lose in this particular fight is really brilliant.
Detective Comics #474 by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers
After the recent Suicide Squad movie, maybe you are one of the few who are actually interested in more Deadshot material, and not just someone jumping on the Harley Quinn bandwagon. If that is the case, this issue of Detective Comics is a must read for you. This is a great revenge tale, and although it does paint Deadshot as a bit of a two-dimensional character, it still has some great action.
JLA #65 by Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke
Batman and Plastic Man: the team up you never thought you wanted! What is really great in this issue is beyond the visual human Mahnke adds for Plastic Man, the dichotomy between the two heroes helps define and solidify their presence and necessity on the JLA. It is also great to see that even though Batman doesn’t personally like or want to be friends with Plastic Man, he still sees the value of his powers. This is a great chapter which is even further built upon later in the twenty or so issue Kelly wrote. Start with this issue, but don’t stop with this issue.
Batman #251 by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams
This is a classic issue and a classic cover. Many people of course have seen the cover, but how many have read the issue itself? While it may feel a bit dated now, this issue is one of the key issues bringing the Joker out of the campy Silver Age persona, and building him to become the Bronze Age terrorist that he would become. For both Batman and the Joker this really is a quintessential issue.
Detective Comics (2011) #23.3 by Peter J. Tomasi and Szymon Kudranski
DC received a healthy amount of flak for their theme months, especially the generally underwhelming villains’ month which occurred at the start of the Forever Evil story. There were in fact some extremely worthwhile issues doing this period, and one of my personal favorites was the Scarecrow issue. It is often dropped in storytelling that Scarecrow is an extremely intelligent and capable criminal psychologist, and it is fascinating how Tomasi uses that side of the character as he interacts with Mister Freeze, The Riddler, and Poison Ivy to justify himself over what he perceives are merely “insane” criminals. There is much action in this issue, but if you’re looking for an interesting spin on the insight of a supervillain, I think this is a great read.
Batwing #1-6 by Judd Winick and Ben Oliver
Spinning from the Batman Inc. idea from Grant Morrison, Batwing is the Batman of Africa. This series is a great twist on the Batman idea dealing with subjects like warlords and child soldiers. It is dark and violent, but also very well written and wonderfully drawn. This is worth you attention if you love Batman, but want something different from the norm.
Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday
Somewhere in stone it must be etched that I must mention Warren Ellis in every comic article I write. Planetary, if you haven’t read it (and shame on you if you haven’t) is a wonderful spin on superheroics. Out of that series came several different crossovers with The Authority and The JLA, both great, but this is a Batman list. I guess you could also go read the JLA crossover, and you should, but for Batman’s sake read this one first.
Superman/Batman #43 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Mike McKone
Coming on the heels of the controversial Identity Crisis story (which I really liked, and it has a strong Batman subplot too), this issue of the pre-New 52 Superman/Batman series written by the classic Guardians of the Galaxy team of Abnett and Lanning (sometimes credited as DnA by fans) continues to tell the story of just how evil Doctor Light is. This isn’t a particularly focused Batman story, but it is a great one-shot issue featuring a heavy dose of him for those of you not willing and ready to commit to extended runs and collections just yet.
Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three #1-6 by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo
The entire Injustice series is basically Batman Vs Superman, and even we fans of the series noticed potentially heavy hints at this being a future movie theme in the Batman V. Superman movie (see Batman’s perfectly timed dreams). But what is great about this particular year in this comic series is that Batman knows that one of Superman’s greatest weaknesses is magic. Because of that he enlists the help of John Constantine. I’m sure there are other team-ups between these two characters, but this one is extremely fun to read as it relies heavily on Batman’s skeptical cynicism against Constantine’s magical nihilism.
Terminal City #1-14 by Dean Motter and Michael Lark
This one is a stretch, but I love my stretches. This one has nothing to do with Batman on the surface. It was originally published by Vertigo, but reprints of it are by Dark Horse. It doesn’t take place in the DC Universe, and there are no references to that world at all. So why am I referencing it on this list? Because I loved Batman the Animated Series from the later 80s and early 90s. It really is one of the greatest cartoons of all time. And one of the things I love about that cartoon is the aesthetic of the world. It is a retro future, like the way the Fallout video games are or the way the cartoon Big O was. And Terminal City also has that great feel. It also feels like a comic that at any moment Batman or any other grounded in reality superhero could show and fit in. So if you’re like me and you love the world of Batman TAS, but want something slightly different after reading all these Batman stories, this is a must read for you.
So, there you have it!
Hopefully you’ve found something new to check out from this list. Actually, hopefully you’ve found multiple somethings new to check out from this list. If you do read something new, let us know what you think and whether or not you agree with my recommendation. And if you’ve read everything here already, hopefully this will encourage you to circle back and reread one of your favorites. Let me know what I missed and what underrated Batman comics you want me to check out!
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine