Fans of the Dark Knight Detective are able to rejoice in their fandom today, as the comic book world celebrates the 77th anniversary of the debut of one of the most popular characters not just in comics, but in pop culture as well.
Movies, cartoons, TV shows and video games have all featured the Caped Crusader, with no real indication that his popularity is going to waver. One of those TV shows, of course, is the Fox prequel series Gotham, focusing on a young Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon’s rise to Gotham City Police Commissioner.
Apparently they’re filming Gotham down in the Financial District this week, so it’s not just Batman DAY here, it’s BATMAN WEEK! Gotham returns for it’s third season on Monday, and because Netflix and Warner Brothers are cruel, Gotham Season 2 lands on Netflix the same day.
So, you know you’ll be binge-watching Gotham this week (or, at least, I will), but what will you READ for Batman Day? Some mid-afternoon recommendations of some Batman books you’ve probably already read, but are some of my favorites.
RISE OF THE BATMEN!
The first DC Comics Rebirth story arc in Detective Comics is a legitimately great story focused on Batman’s legacy and featuring a good amount of his extended family. The seven-part story runs from Detective Comics issues 934-940, and the last issue was just released this past Wednesday and holds some huge implications for the larger DC Universe post-Rebirth. I can’t recommend this soon-to-be-classic story enough for Batman fans. Plus, you’re going to want to see where the next big event in the DC Universe started, this is one of the early shots.
LOEB/SALE’S BATMAN TRILOGY
Inspired by the scene in Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One where Batman invades a meeting of Gotham’s crime families, and catapulted by the popularity of three Halloween-themed stories, writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale crafted two year-long miniseries about the Dark Knight’s dealings with the Falcone crime family, and basically made Carmine Falcone one of the most well-known figures in the Bat-mythos.
Start with Batman: Haunted Knight, which reprints three Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween specials by the creative team. Then, jump into the epic storytelling of Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory, which span the early parts of Batman’s career and detail the fall of District Attorney Harvey Dent and the rise of Two Face.
There’s some criticism that the Long Halloween story is convoluted, with several ways to interpret the ending, but I don’t think it distracts all that much from what’s a pretty great Batman story. And Tim Sale’s art is magnificent all the way through. Reading the stories in the Absolute oversized format is an absolute joy.
JLA: TOWER OF BABEL
You ever notice how Batman is a bit of a jerk? That’s really the whole point of Mark Waid’s first JLA arc, following up on the acclaimed run from Grant Morrison, where Grant popularized the concept of Bat-God – Batman can defeat ANYONE with some prep time. In Tower of Babel, Ra’s al Ghul uses the contingency plans Batman formed to take down his partners in the League, sowing the seeds of distrust in the JLA.
Tower of Babel is really the first part of Waid’s journey with the League, which culminated Batman agreeing to reveal his alter ego of Bruce Wayne to his teammates in JLA 50. The whole run, really, is worth a read.
Now, dust off those Dark Knight Blu-Rays and grab a book and spend Batman Day the right way!