Q: You are a big Batman fan. So what do you think which Batman comics / stories / graphic novels every Batman fan should have read?
A: I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t read many Batman comic books in the last 20 years. Back in the 90’s the Batman stories became really dumb IMO, with lame main villains like “The Ventriloquist” and story lines like when Bruce started taking steroids to get stronger and dealt with ‘roid rage. Then came the Bane story line with replacement Batmen and weird time travel stuff. My interest waned badly and other than the occasional issue or story I stopped being a regular reader. I have tried to pick it up occasionally but every time I do I am confronted with things like Batman having an illegitimate son who is a psychopath, or how the Joker has peeled off his face and stapled it back on, and other equally nonsensical plot elements.
Personally the best incarnation of the character I’ve ever seen was the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm stories in the “Batman: The Animated Series” cartoons. Great stories and adventures without needing to rewrite the mythos or the character. Batman is already a fantastic character, he doesn’t need to be reinvented. He’s a vigilante that uses his immense wealth and obsessive drive from the murder of his parents to fight crime and injustice in a city rife with it. What more do you need to build great stories around???
Anyway, some of the comic book stories I recommend would be the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams original Ra’s al Ghul saga, Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”, Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s “Batman: Year One”, Dini and Timm’s “Mad Love”, Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s “Hush” story arc and the Dini/Alex Ross “War on Crime” book.
Thanks to Dominik Zeillinger for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!
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