The highly respected Bat-writer selects some great Bat-tales…
UPDATED 5/30/23: This piece first ran when Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert was published in 2016. It’s Brennert’s birthday today (he turns 69), so it only seemed fitting to re-present it! Enjoy. — Dan
I recently wrote about how Alan Brennert’s Batman stories have an almost cult-like following. Tales like “To Kill a Legend” and “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne!” have stood the test of time, despite Brennert’s fairly small comics output. (Click here to check out the piece. You might dig it.)
DC has just released Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert, a hardcover that collects his excellent stories. It came out in comics shops last week and is now available at general online retailers. I highly recommend it.
Anyway, while people are showing a well-deserved appreciation of his work right now, I decided to turn the tables and ask Alan what his favorite Batman stories are — and I’m really pleased that he agreed.
So, here we go.
As always, your comments are welcome below or in whichever social-media thread you found this.
By ALAN BRENNERT
I don’t presume to say that these are truly the 13 best stories in Batman’s history, but they are 13 personal favorites of mine. They’re listed chronologically, but the first story does coincidentally happen to be my #1 favorite Batman tale.
1. “The Origin of the Batman,” Batman #47 (1948), by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Charles Paris.
Rarely does a retelling of an origin add to the power of the original, as this one did.
2. “The First Batman,” Detective Comics #235 (1956), by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff, Stan Kaye.
I believe this may be the first DC “legacy” story. I’m sure Mark Waid will correct me if I’m wrong!
3. “Robin Dies at Dawn,” Batman #156 (1963), by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff, Charles Paris.
I cried when I read this when I was 9 years old.
4. “Daughter of the Demon,” Batman #232 (1971), by Dennis O’Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano.
O’Neil and Adams create an unforgettable, and enduring, villain for Batman, and a worthy lover for him as well.
5. “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge,” Batman #251 (1973), by Dennis O’Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano.
The story that returned the Joker to his homicidal roots.
6. “There Is No Hope in Crime Alley,” Detective #457 (1976), by Dennis O’Neil, Dick Giordano.
Actually there is hope; you just have to know where to look.
7. “The Laughing Fish,” Detective Comics #475 (1978), by Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, Terry Austin.
The highlight of a superb run by Englehart, Rogers and Austin.
8. The Untold Legend of the Batman #1-3 (1980), by Len Wein, John Byrne, Jim Aparo.
Len Wein cleverly uses “The First Batman” as a plot and emotional catalyst for retelling Batman’s origin as of 1980.
9. “Batman: Year One,” Batman #404-407 (1987), by Frank Miller, David Mazzuchelli
Dark, gritty, but always humane in its portrait of a young Batman in this post-Crisis reboot of the character’s beginnings.
10. Batman: Son of the Demon (1987), by Mike W. Barr, Jerry Bingham.
This seminal (pun intended) graphic novel introduced the child who would become Damian Wayne.
11. Batman: The Killing Joke (1988), by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland.
What can I say about this that the whole world already hasn’t? Violent, unsettling, brilliant.
12. “Going Sane,” Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #65-68 (1994), by J.M. DeMatteis, Joe Staton, Steve Mitchell.
A kind of sequel to The Killing Joke that offers brief hope for the soul of the Joker, inevitably crushed under the weight of madness.
13. TIE (So Sue Me)
“Made of Wood,” Detective Comics #784-786 (2003), by Ed Brubaker, Patrick Zircher, Aaron Sowd.
One of the things I loved about the post-Crisis DC Universe was the fact that Alan Scott was the protector of Gotham decades before Batman. I told the first story of their meeting in my Batman: Black and White story “Guardian,” and Brubaker, Zircher and Sowd affectingly deepen their relationship in this story arc.
“Batman R.I.P.,” Batman #676-683 (2008-09), by Grant Morrison, Tony S. Daniel.
Morrison had created new arch-villains the Black Glove and Doctor Hurt while resurrecting/reimagining a host of characters and concepts from Golden and Silver Age Batman continuity, even including Bat-Mite! I loved this arc.
Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert is out now and has a list price of $29.99. To read more about it, click here.
— The Brief Brilliance of ALAN BRENNERT’s BATMAN. Click here.
— The 80th Anniversary TOP 13 BATMAN COUNTDOWN. Click here.