Batman Day: 5 iconic storylines that gave us the Dark Knight we know today
Since that fateful night in Gotham's Crime Alley when Thomas and Martha Wayne were gunned down, Bruce Wayne's endless crusade against crime has transformed him into a cultural phenomenon. On the 80th anniversary of his first-ever appearance, let's take a look at five iconic Batman storylines.
In over 80 years in print, Batman has faced many moments that have pushed him beyond his limits and forced him to reinvent himself. Since that fateful night in Gotham's Crime Alley when Thomas and Martha Wayne were gunned down, Bruce Wayne's endless crusade against crime has transformed him into a cultural phenomenon, an icon that's recognized the world over. As the years have gone by, Batman has evolved to take on his changing foes but one thing that has never changed is his relentless desire to do whatever it takes to fulfill his vow.
Today, on the 80th anniversary of the Dark Knight's first-ever appearance, let's take a look at five iconic storylines that redefined Gotham's Caped Crusader for years to come:
Batman: The Killing Joke (1988)
Easily one of the most acclaimed Batman stories to date, 'The Killing Joke' gave us an origin story for the Joker. Alan Moore's take on the character showed him as a fundamentally good person who was driven insane by just one bad day, a theme that has since been used multiple times in the Batman mythos. Combine that with Brian Bolland's brilliant artwork and you get one of the most disturbing and well-crafted Batman stories of all time, renowned equally for its wonderfully ambiguous ending and for the Joker's extremely graphic attack on the young Barbara Gordon, an assault that left her deeply traumatized and paralyzed her from the waist down.
Batman: A Death in the Family (1988)
Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo's four-issue tragedy is one of Batman's darkest storylines, one that left Bruce's surrogate family irreparably damaged. The story arc, which is most prominently remembered for featuring the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd, showed the Joker at his most twisted and the echoes of this milestone comic are felt to this day.
A not-so-fun fact about 'Death in the Family': DC comics actually opened up a telephone line and asked fans to call in with their votes on whether Jason should die or not. If that isn't twisted as hell, what is?
Batman: The Long Halloween (1996-1997)
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Batman Halloween specials were some of the best stories to feature the vigilante. In 'The Long Halloween', Batman goes up against the mysterious Holiday Killer and simultaneously tries to stop a war between Gotham's crime families. The storyline, which also told the origins of the classic Batman villain Two-Face / Harvey Dent, is notable for marking the transition of the Dark Knight's enemies from simple criminals to costumed supervillains and it has been rumored that it might be the source material for Matt Reeves' upcoming movie 'The Batman' starring Robert Pattinson.
Batman R.I.P. (2008)
Grant Morrison really put Bruce through the wringer during his time working on the 'Batman' comics. In 'Batman R.I.P.', a mysterious organization called the Black Glove drives Bruce to insanity, to the point where he dresses himself up in discarded rags and starts calling himself "The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh". By the end of the arc, Batman defeated his enemies but was seemingly killed in a helicopter explosion along with the head of the Black Glove.
The Wedding of Batman & Catwoman (2018)
Of all the stories on this list, this has to be the most controversial, which is only to be expected considering it was written by Tom King. Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle's wedding was built up over fifty issues, although in truth their love story has been nearly 70 years in the making. In the run-up to the wedding, King gave the fans plenty of great heartwarming moments between Batman and Catwoman, right up until the big day when Selina chose to leave Bruce at the altar.
The landmark issue, Batman #50, is structured around two love letters, one from Bruce to Selina and the other vice versa, and in the end, Catwoman's letter reveals that she feels she must break Bruce's heart so that Batman might live. Though the final panels of the issue revealed that the break-up was all part of a master plan spawned by the villain Bane, it's the truth behind the lie that makes this one of Batman's most tragic moments and the storyline one that will be talked about for years to come.
He may have his gadgets and his money but what makes Batman a legend is simply a vow, the same vow that he took the day his parents died: to give his life, his love, his everything, to avenge their deaths and rid Gotham City of crime. As Selina realized on her wedding day and we fans have suspected for quite some time, Batman's total dedication to that vow, for which he would sacrifice all the happiness in the world, is what makes him the greatest hero of all time.
Happy Batman Day!