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Author Topic: Which Batman era is your favorite?  (Read 30058 times)
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2006, 05:54:34 PM »

I have to agree with Nightwing, the 1970s were a really great high-point of Bat-History. Not just because of the art, though Jim Aparo and Marshall Rogers deserve all the props they can get.

Frank Robbins was at the top of his game, and hell, even Dennis O'Neil was much more hit than miss; ol' Denny could write one ripping detective yarn, and it should be noted that even though Batman took on many a crook mano-a-mano in his tales, not once did Batsy take a crook out the same way: I'm reminded of one O'Neil Two-Face pirate ship issue where Batman leapt under a speeding car and grasped a man by the leg!

This was a decade of crime/detective stories, which reached a crescendo under Englehart. Other decades had a detective Batman, however, because of the loosening of the comics code that came in this decade (hell, one look at the Claremont UNCANNY X-MEN and there's the White Queen in lingerie) they could go into detail: for instance, Dr. Phosphorus's water supply plan would not have been possible pre-code weakening, where "details of a crime were prohibited."

There was also Len Wein's awesome Bat-stories. Len Wein is the great unsung hero of the 1970s: whether it was his ripping post-Roy Thomas run on MIGHTY THOR or his Chemo Superman stories, his reintroduction of the X-Men after a half-decade of hiatus, or his Batman stories which featured a Batman that was a swashbuckler with more of a "crimefighter" in him.

This was also the decade of the absolutely bizarre Jim Aparo BRAVE AND THE BOLD team-ups where Batman teamed up with whatever insane thing the writers wanted him to: the Viking Prince, Sgt. Rock, Kamandi...

And then we have the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers DETECTIVE.

Steve Englehart's work on Batman was supposed to have been his retirement from comics, and oh, what a retirement gift it would have made! (Though I am happy Stainless was able to stick around to give us his incredible FANTASTIC FOUR run and COYOTE).

The thing that I like best about the Englehart DETECTIVE issues, besides the incredibly moody and atmospheric art by Marshall Rogers, is that it was all completely unpredictable. Who could have seen coming Hugo Strange's unmasking of the Batman - or worse, REPLACING the Batman himself? Or Boss Thorne "cheating" at the Bat-Auction to get ahold of the Batman's identity by meeting Hugo Strange after and roughing him up, or (even more unpredictably) the fact that Hugo Strange would NEVER reveal Batman's identity because of his deep and profound respect for his rival?

The reason that Batman's detective abilities were so astonishing was because Steve thought it all through, every detail. In the Hugo Strange issue, for instance, Batman only wanted to change into his Bat-outfit when he noticed there were no cameras in the room where he stayed. Often as a reader one tends to come up with better plans than the character does and suggest possible courses of actions; here, we had a Batman that was the opposite: smarter than the reader. And his mystery story with the Malay Penguin was one that was well thought out, and downright unpredictable - it wasn't an exercise in going from Point A to Point B.

Steve also was really, really good at using history, and this should go without saying for a guy that brought in Hugo Strange for the first time since Gardner Fox, but it wasn't just about bad guys he dusted off; it was about little things, like how some members of the Tobacconists Club were nervous about discrediting Batman because Ra's tried a similar plan and failed, and the giant chess set, and the fact that he and Deadshot had a fight in a museum of giant props.

The Tobacconists Club were a very worthy pulpish enemy; collection of ruthless and powerful men. Amazing how ruthless and crooked Boss Thorne was characterized as being when he beat up Batman's other enemies to get Batman's secret ID.

My favorite detail was how well Englehart defined the relationships in Batman's life. People have been wondering what the relationship between Robin and Batman is for a while. Is it mentor/student? Is it father/son?

The answer Englehart gave was much more simple and more satisfactory, I think: they're friends, especially now that Robin was older.

Everyone's characterization was complex. Silver, for instance, was not your usual hero girlfriend; she was formidably intelligent; you can see her playing chess with Batman (and winning).
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« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2006, 11:25:16 PM »

1970's Batman was the best for me, best writing, best art, he was dark but without being a jerk, he was a true hero, it was just perfect.

I also have a soft spot for the atomic 1950's Batman comics, with Bathound, Batwoman, and Zebra Batman Smiley

I really don't care for the 40's batman, the artwork is just too terrible and the stories are kind of boring, cool concepts however, but that's about it.

The 1960's comics, were crap, sorry. I loved the TV show however, go figure!

oh, and those 1980's Frank Miller Batman comics are a guilty pressure for me, DKR works great as an elseworlds tale, but they should have just left it as that, instead of trying to make the real Batman act that way. Frank Miller like Neal Adams may have lost it, it's true, but they were pretty hot stuff during their peaks. But not anymore... did you guys see that All-Star Neal Adams cover? yuck.. or for that matter Frank Miller's All-Star Batman, bigger yuck...
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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2006, 11:54:02 PM »

Its funny, I really like 1960s Batman in his World Finest's appearances, the team seemed well-balanced...
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« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2006, 01:30:37 AM »

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
Its funny, I really like 1960s Batman in his World Finest's appearances, the team seemed well-balanced...


yes, because he acted more like his 50's sci-fi self there, besides that is more of a Superman book  Tongue
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« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2006, 01:43:47 AM »

I always liked the "Game of Secret Identities" where (after a memory wipe) Batman and Robin easily figure out Superman's identity, but when the table is turned, Superman goes obsessive and even ignores near-disasters he needs to attend to to try to figure out Batman's identity...

And Batman gets the final word, after he "lets" Superman succeed, he tells Robin something like, "Superman may be the world's mightiest man, but we are the world's greatest detectives"...
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2006, 02:22:09 AM »

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned some of the eighties Batman stuff yet.

There was Alan Brennert''s BRAVE AND THE BOLD stuff, like BRAVE AND THE BOLD #182 (1982) that featured a team-up between Earth-1 Batman and Earth-2 Robin and Batwoman. Easily it was one of the most powerful moments in Batman's history when Batwoman confesses that she always loved the Earth-2 Batman. But then, one day, his whole demeanor and way of treating her had changed. And then she knew, without ever actually being told, that Batman in his secret identity must have gotten married.

Some of the best Jason Todd stories came about in the early to mid eighties too, including that Teen Titans story arc in Zandia and the Alan Moore Superman Annual. Jason Todd ought to have been continued to be characterized the way he was in these stories, as a surprisingly resourceful and plucky kid who is often underrated, but to whom there was much more than meets the eye. If he had been played this way, I doubt that whole ugly debacle with the call-in-death would have happened at all, and Jason Todd would be Robin to this day.

I never liked Miller's DKR until I realized that this story wasn't supposed to be about Batman, it was supposed to be about a future unstable Batman. When read in that light, the story became more enjoyable and you can concentrate on things like Miller's punchy, gutsy prose. Not since Roy Thomas has a guy put more meat in caption boxes!

As a guilty pleasure, I loved the four-part story arc with KGBeast. I mean, it had so many cute stuff. He replaced his hand with a "handgun" (tee hee) and Batman came to the rescue of Ronald Reagan (!)
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« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2006, 03:23:31 AM »

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
Its funny, I really like 1960s Batman in his World Finest's appearances, the team seemed well-balanced...


The majority of those classics were written by the great Ed Hamilton!
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« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2006, 03:55:34 AM »

As was the story I liked! Cool  And the funny thing was that it wasn't classic "science fiction", it was a realization that each had a strength the other couldn't duplicate...
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