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In ‘Batman’ (2002) #608, Batman faces the beastly villain Killer Croc. AP Photo/DC Comics.
IN Reading Guides, Lists, Reviews
00s BATMAN GRAPHIC NOVELS RANKED BEST TO WORST
*This list is not exhaustive. For more information, refer to the Batman Reading Order and Timeline from The Gotham Archives.
Best: 5 to 4.5 stars.
Good: 4 to 3 stars.
Bad: 2.5 to 2 stars.
Worst: 1.5 to 0 stars.
BEST: “BATMAN: HUSH.” (2002).
Collects ‘Batman’ #608-619.
“Batman: Hush” is a Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee storyline. The storyline is certainly one of the most celebrated Batman stories of the 2000s. What makes the story stand-out is the mystery surrounding Lamont’s Ransom and Bruce Wayne’s relationship with childhood friend Thomas Elliott.
“Batman: Hush” includes art by Jim Lee which has stood the test of time and a plot by writer Jeph Loeb. The first half of the storyline is action-packed and is concerned with recovering Lamont’s Ransom. The second half seems to be less unified story-wise and features a major Batman rogue every issue. The second half is concerned with finding out the mysterious mastermind behind the recent attacks on Batman and Gotham City. It is Batman’s attempt at tying up loose ends and uncovering the mysterious masked villain who has been observing him on the rooftops.
There are lots of dialogue, descriptions and splash action pages. There is seriousness typical of Batman’s stories though after Poison Ivy is captured, the story kicks into high gear as the different attacks on Batman and the Bat-Family involve the villains exploiting Batman’s weaknesses. The storyline is masterful though the intrigue can at times be obvious. Batman and the Bat-family shine. One disappointment is the fact that the Batman-Catwoman relationship is not resolved at the end, but ends abruptly.
This storyline is probably the best Batman story of the 2000s because of the superstar talent involved and the amount of characters appearing in the plot. However, the resolution of the plot may seem anti-climactic and the Hush villain is not given enough emotional resonance in the final battle with Batman. Also, Batman’s rogues only serve to plant clues to the mystery but do not serve any characterizations.
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BEST: “BATMAN: THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.” (2005).
Collects ‘Batman: The Man Who Laughs’ #1 One-shot.
“Batman: The Man Who Laughs” (2005) is Ed Brubaker’s and Doug Mahnke’s one-shot set within the “Batman: Year One” continuity. It sets up a turning-point in Batman’s crime-fighting career as he encounters the chaotic menace of Joker for the first time.
“Batman: The Man Who Laughs” is one of the very few origin stories on Joker. What makes Ed Brubaker’s story stand out is the focus on Joker’s crime spree in Gotham City instead of focusing primarily on his origin story. Joker works best here as the one that moves the story forward and whose genius mind always seems two steps ahead of Batman’s. Indeed, the definition of a criminal mastermind.
Batman definitely grows from his experience with the Clown Prince of Crime. A serious and disciplined mind, Batman’s training excels with the murderers, rapists and muggers. However, he is ill-prepared for psychotic killers of Joker’s ilk. What is Joker’s motive and what is his modus operandi? To see Gotham City burn and to have every Gothamite die laughing!
This is certainly a worthy addition to your Batman collection, with a blend of suspense, action, intrigue and gore. The comic is not for the faint of heart and is destined for a more mature audience.
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BEST: “BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN (2006).
Collects ‘Batman and The Monster Men’ #1-6.
“Batman and the Monster Men” (2006) is Matt Wagner’s six-issue mini-series as part of his Dark Moon Rising series. Another mini-series created by Wagner is “Batman and The Mad Monk.” The purpose of the series was to tell the story of Batman transitioning from fighting organized crime to fighting supervillains.
In an interview with CBR.com, Wagner revealed his inspirations were two Golden Age stories about the Caped Crusader. Wagner sees the Batman stories as re-inventing classic tales from Batman’s rich history. And it fits. For fans of the Golden Age Batman stories and “Batman Year One”, the mini-series has kept many of the classic elements: Batman’s cape and cowl remain the same following the “Year One” storyline – though he upgrades the Batmobile -, the lettering and inking are maintained throughout the different series, and the emphasis on storytelling as opposed to social commentary and action is maintained. The transition from vigilante to superhero is not immediately evident, but the beginning is there.
Some words about the storyline. In the “Year One” continuity, “Batman and the Monster Men” takes place after Year One but before the Man Who Laughs. Batman definitely seems to be learning on the job and the inclusion of Hugo Strange seems a marked difference from the usual Arkham Asylum rogues. In fact, Batman faces superpowered foes in the vein of mutated cannibalistic monsters twice. The story is tight and progresses at a satisfying pace. The art fits the storyline and the darkness that envelopes the panels forebodes the monstrosities of Hugo Strange’s experiments. There is horror and blood, characteristic of Batman’s crime cases. What Wagner shows is that Batmn is first and foremost a detective, whose dedication to solving crime cases jeopardizes hi personal and his love life.
Wagner succeeds in crafting a tale with classic elements that is sure to satisfy Batman fans. Definitely pick this comic if you want to see the evolution of Batman after “Batman: Year One”.
INTERESTED IN THIS STORY? CLICK ON “BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN” BELOW TO PURCHASE THE COMIC ON AMAZON.
Comicbook Database is a great site if you are a comic book fan! The Battles of the Week a great way to learn about the different power levels of the heroes, and a fun way to fancast some of the most wanted battles across comics.
Brian Tudor, ‘The Infamous Podcast’
CHECK OUT THE STORY: IN “HUSH,” BATMAN HAS TO FREE SUPERMAN FROM POISON IVY’S MIND CONTROL AND RECOVER LAMONT’S RANSOM.
GOOD: “BRUCE WAYNE: FUGITIVE” (2002).
“Bruce Wayne: Fugitive” (2002) is a storyline by Ed Brubaker, Chuck Dixon, Greg Rucka, Devin Grayson, Kelly Puckett, Rick Burchett, Rick Leonardi, Steve Lieber, Trevor McCarthy, Scott McDaniel, Roger Robinson, Damion Scott and Pete Woods.
The storyline centered on Batman facing a personal threat and losing touch with his humanity. After Bruce Wayne and his bodyguard Sasha Bordeaux were framed for the murder of Vesper Fairchild at Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne evades captivity, cuts ties with the Bat-Family and investigates the case as Batman full-time. Concurrently, the Bat-Family carries its own investigation.
This storyline works as an exploration of Batman as a character. What makes this comic good is the fact Batman is presented with a challenge he has hardly faced and with the question of whether Bruce Wayne is the facade and Batman the real persona. Batman does regain touch with his humanity and manages to solve the case, however, at great personal cost to his love life.
What deprives the story of its impact is the lack of consistency in pacing and art since there are different writers and artists involved. The work suffers from uneven pacing and problems with visual story-telling in some issues.
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GOOD: “BATMAN: RULES OF ENGAGEMENT” (2007).
Collects ‘Batman Confidential’ #1-6.
“Batman: Rules Of Engagement” (2007) is a six-issue mini-series by Andy Diggle and Whilce Pottacio. The mini-series is set a year into Batman’s crime-fighting career and reveals a war of weaponry between Lexcorp and WayneTech.
The series may not have received good reviews. One review commented on the art, the plot, and on Bat-god. One element of the story that is missing, is the lack of good and a repetitive visual storytelling in the final battle. Pottacio’s lines are dark, daring and violent. Though he does not excel at conveying emotions and telling a story, he is good at ensembles and splash pages.
The series explains the transition to Batman using more hi-tech weaponry, his rivalry with Lexcorp and the formation of the Wayne Foundation. If you want to see a well-executed weaponry battle between Batman and Lex Luthor, this comic should entertain you. It may provide clues to who is the better strategist and prep-planner between two of the smartest men in the DC Universe.