Story continuing from print version of Issue 11…
By Colin Hickson
5. “Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk”: This happened. This REALLY happened. Scripted by veteran Batman and Hulk writer Len Wein, this one-shot crossover features The Joker seeking a gamma energy device to restore health to Hulk supporting character The Shaper or Worlds, a living Cosmic Cube who promises to grant the Joker power in exchange for his service. Besides the great art by Jośe Luis Garcia-Lopez, this story is also allows the Dark Knight and the World’s Strongest Monster to be at their best without overshadowing each other. Besides, where else can one find a story where Batman manages to defeat the Hulk?
4. “The Dark Knight Returns”: while Frank Miller has written his share of terrible Batman stories, back in the 1980s he produced two of the greatest ones; sort of a reminder of what he used to be before he was all “every woman alive is a whore” and repetitive dialogue (even Grant Morrison’s abysmal run gave us “Batman Incorporated”). The first was the Post-Crisis retelling of Batman’s early days, “Batman Year: One,” and the other was this four part miniseries. In an alternate timeline, Bruce Wayne has hung up his black and gray costume following the death of Jason Todd. In doing so, Gotham has become even worse than before. When a supposedly reformed Two-Face goes back to his criminal career, this reignites Bruce’s war on crime and Batman returns. But in a world where political correctness has run amok, and sanctimonious jerks are actually sympathizing with the likes of THE JOKER, can Batman still make a difference? A great story, insightful views, and fantastic art; there is no reason why this story should not be on this list.
3. “Court of Owls” : While the New 52 is slowly becoming more of an annoyance than a proper reboot, all fans can agree that Scott Snyder (“American Vampire,” “Severed,” “Swamp Thing”) and Greg Capullo’s (“Quasar,” “X-Force,” “Spawn,” “Haunt”) “Batman” is one of the best titles DC has produced. In this appropriately dark tale, readers learn of the Court of Owls, a secret society/crime organization that is the true power behind Gotham. But they are just a myth, right? Not with what Batman discovers when the Court orders the death of Bruce Wayne … Suspenseful, amazingly drawn, and really creepy with revelations regarding the Bat-Family, “Court of Owls” is a recommended read for any Bat fan. But remember:
“They watch you from your hearth,
They watch you in your bed.
Speak not a whispered word of them
Or they’ll send the Talon for your head.”
2. “The Killing Joke”: The Joker seems to take up a good chunk of this list, doesn’t he? While the Harlequin of Hate’s past is one of the biggest mysteries in the DCU, no other comic has explored it better than this graphic novel by Alan Moore (“Swamp Thing,” “Watchmen,” “Supreme,” “V for Vendetta,” “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”) and Brian Bolland (“Judge Dredd”). After escaping from Arkham Asylum, then shooting and paralyzing Barbra Gordon, The Joker then kidnaps Commissioner Gordon with the intent of driving him insane. As the story progresses, the readers see the origin of The Joker, as he went from an ex-chemist turned failed comedian to perhaps the most dangerous villain in the DCU. Dark, moody, and filled with a bit of nightmare fuel, this book is heralded as perhaps the best Joker story ever made and is one of the highlights of Alan Moore’s career.
1. “Heart of Ice” from “Batman: The Animated Series”: For most of his existence, Mr. Freeze was a rather one-dimensional villain, with no clear motive behind his criminal career. Paul Dini changed that with this amazing episode. When Goth Corp offices are being attacked and Batman investigates, he meets this literally chilling villain and learns that there’s more to this frigid fiend than meets the eye. With very touching moments, a sympathetic villain, and an ending to bring tears to anyone’s eyes, this story has earned its place at number one.
• “The Superman-Batman Team!” from Superman # 75
• “Hush” by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee
• “In the Chill of the Night!” from “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”
• “Batman: Earth One” by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
• “The Fear” from “Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians”
• The Knightfall Trilogy
• “Beware the Gray Ghost” from “Batman: The Animated Series”
• The Batman Vampire trilogy
• Under the Hood
• “Mayhem of the Music Meister!” from “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”