When DC relaunched their entire universe in August of 2011, there was no doubt that their characters were going to have some updated origins. And, it was recently announced that current Batman writer and artist Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo will be the men giving Bats an origin update with an 11-issue story entitled Batman: Zero Year.
Here’s what Snyder told the Associated Press:
“It’s not ‘let’s redo the origin.’ It’s time for a new story showing how Batman became who he is in the New 52. We tried to preserve as much of Batman’s history as we could and keep what we could of this history intact. It’s ‘The Zero Year,’ the one that no one has told the story of before. We see how Bruce became the Batman, built the cave, faced off with his first super villain … It’s time for a new story showing how Batman became who he is in The New 52. It builds up the mythology.”
Well. That’s refreshing. It’s been a long time since Batman/Bruce Wayne had an overhaul. However, we’ll have to wait until June for the finished product. So, until Zero Year hits bookshelves, here are Batman’s 11 greatest story arcs.
11. Batman: Hush (2002-2003)
Many fans may not include Hush on this list, which was written by Jeph Loeb and involved a mysterious villain named Hush who was hell bent on taking out Bruce Wayne and his allies, but it’s a fun and enjoyable read. There are some great action-packed moments, and Jim Lee’s artwork was incredible.
10. Batman: No Man’s Land (1999)
Throughout 1999, No Man’s Land dominated the Batman universe by encompassing some 80 regular monthly issues. Some of the elements from this story — which takes place after an earthquake hits Gotham, leading the U.S. government to destroy all the bridges in and out of the city and declaring it a “no man’s land” — were used in The Dark Knight Rises and the video game Batman Arkham City.
9. Batman: Year 100 (2006)
Indie favorite Paul Pope pulled double duty on this unique and brutal storyline by writing and illustrating this 4-issue series. Year 100 takes place in the near police state of Gotham City of 2039, where federal agents are targeting “Batman,” although it’s unclear if this Batman is Bruce Wayne or someone else taking over the mantle.
8. Batman: Court of the Owls (2012)
This story by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capulio has already been dubbed a modern classic. In this story, Batman must battle an ancient and mysterious organization known as the “Court of Owls.” The story arc is full of edge-of-your-seat thrills and has one of the greatest endings in Batman’s publication history.
7. Batman: The Long Halloween (1996-1997)
This classic 13-issue series was written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale and is a murder mystery about Bats going after a killer named Holiday, who murders people on holidays, one each month. However, it’s probably most memorable for being the essential origin of Two-Face. It’s no surprise that The Dark Knight borrowed some plot lines from this arc.
6. Gotham By Gaslight (1989)
Written by Brian Augustyn, with art by Mike Mignola, this storyline is another classic Batman detective tale. But what really makes this story stand out is that it takes place in the 1880s and features the “Batman” taking on Jack The Ripper when he relocates to Gotham City.
5. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth (1989)
Perhaps one of the most unique superhero stories of all time. Written by Grant Morrison and featuring the terrifying artwork of Dave McKean, Arkham Asylum features Batman losing his marbles while locked up in Arkham with his most famous villains.
4. Batman: The Black Mirror (2011)
Writer Scott Snyder proved that he was worthy of writing future Batman story-lines with The Black Mirror. In this arc, Batman must use his detective skills to catch a brutal murderer. Along with the moody artwork by Jock and Francesco Francavilla, we were also introduced to one of the best new villains in modern history.
3. Batman: The Killing Joke (1988)
Alan Moore & Brian Bolland are responsible for my personal favorite Batman storyline, The Killing Joke. This demented, controversial and classic tale is one of the most definitive Joker stories ever. And, after The Joker paralyzes Barbara Gordon, there’s an epic showdown in an amusement park between The Clown Prince of Crime and Batman. It doesn’t get any better than that.
2. Batman: Year One (1987)
Written by Frank Miller and featuring amazing artwork by David Mazzuccheli with Richmond Lewis, Year One is a must-have for any comic fan. This gritty storyline has now become the essential Batman origin that takes a deeper look into Bruce Wayne becoming the “Batman”. Which is exactly why this story was a huge influence on Nolan’s Batman Begins.
1. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986)
This here is a no-brainer. It’s Frank Miller’s masterpiece. It redefined Batman for an entire generation of fans. And, it became more than just a Batman story. It’s one of the greatest and most influential comics ever. It changed the industry. And without The Dark Knight Returns, I doubt Batman would be as successful in other media forms as he is today.
Images via Wikimedia Commons unless noted otherwise