So! Comfort Food Comics Batman! This one was probably the most fun Ive had making these essential character volumes. I knew from the start I wanted to make it a companion volume to The Complete Frank Miller Batman, a 1989 leatherbound volume that contains Year One, Dark Knight Returns and Wanted: Santa Claus Dead or Alive. For me, it was about making it if I got stranded on a desert island or whatnot these two books would be all the Batman I’d need. Again, for this one I went with the amazingly talented Dima Ivanov for the cover. Batman overlooking Gotham City eating a comfort food packed lunch from Alfred.
In the above picture you can see the absolute favorite Batman books curated by me on my favorite shelf. My Comfort Food bind and the Complete Frank Miller. But also my custom bound Batman by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, Batman by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers, and my custom bound hardcover of Batman vs. Predator. Gotham Central and Batman by Grant Morrison omnibuses also must be there. I used the Year One colors for my fonts on this Comfort Food bind. For the spine we have the famous Neal Adams Batman on the beach from Batman 251, for me THE iconic Batman illustration. And for the back cover I used a cropped version of the Batman Chronicles #10 by Phil Winslade. This one of Gotham City is one of my absolute favorite illustrations of Batman and his city ever made.
So I wanted this one to be extra special so with some major discussion with Michel Fiffe and the Copra Press Club on Facebook, and looking over picks from Chris Sims, and Benito Cereno , I spent awhile whittling down what my comfort food faves of Batman were. So, on to the contents!
Batman—The Superman of Planet-X!”. It was written by France Herron and drawn by Dick Sprang . This one I discovered like a lot of people during Morrison’s run. I love the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh so much. Its a wonderful silver age Bats story thats fun and silly and comes back in a major way. Im not a big fan of most of Batmans Silver Age stuff. I like it fine but it all kind of runs together for me except for standouts like these.
Batman #156 – Robin Dies at Dawn. Just the best early Batman story. Everything about it is so well done. A real standout from that period. A classic. A comfort food comic for sure.
Batman #214 by Frank Robbins and Irv Novick. Batman’s Marriage Trap. – Now this is a full personal comfort food one for me. I cant imagine most people would put this on their best ofs. If you randomly pick up an issue of that 60s/70s Batman era, you are most likely to pick up an issue done by Frank Robbins or Irv Novick. But I feel like these creators arent talked about a lot. I loved Frank Robbins zany tales of Batman back when he was allowed to be in Gotham during the day. Irv Novick’s art is just pure comics goodness to me too. This issue sums up that era for me when a gang of thieves get everyone worked up over single men that wont marry with Batman as their main target. Its a great little issue that also features Batgirl from that era helping to take care of business. Really love it.
Batman 244 – The Demon Lives Again. An absolute classic by O’Neil and Adams. Their run is legendary and had to be included in here somehow. This issue is my favorite of each creator. Skiing through the mountains with Molly post to shirtless sword fights in the desert. Its just the best issue.
Detective Comics #471 and 472 from The Shadow of the Batman #2 – Steve Englehart and Marshall Roger’s run on Detective is just a masterclass on near perfect comics. Most people would throw in The Laughing Fish, but for me their best work is these two issues of Batman vs Hugo Strange. Its such a a great pair of issues and two of my favorite comic panels ever are in these issues. The one of Silver St. Cloud and the one of Batman ambushed by Strange’s Monster Men, pictured below.
The Brave and the Bold 124 – Batman and Sgt. Rock. Youd be crazy not to include a Bob Haney Jim Aparo Brave and the Bold issue in a best of Batbind. They did some bonkers, amazingly fun stories in their own little Haneyverse here and none are more insane or spectacular then this meta issue where the creators are pulled into the plot. Just such a fun issue. An alltime best.
Batman #353: This is just a simple really great comic. No gimmicks, no events. Normal Joker being a silly criminal without ripping his face off, etc. Just a quiet, high quality done in one drawn by the master Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. Written by Gerry Conway, its a wonderful early 80s issue of Batman that has everything youd want in it. Its comic meatloaf!
Batman Annual 8 by Mike W. Barr and Trevor von Eeden: Whoooo boy, look at that cover!! Now I know for a lot of people this issue is controversial because Batman basically kills Ra’s Al Ghul in it, but who cares!! This one really shines because of that amazing Trevor von Eeden art. Originally chosen as the illustrator for Year One, you dont hear much about him. But damn can the man draw. This issue is the height of Batman as James Bond, with wild Ra’s terrorism plots and crazy space battles. Its not an issue to miss for any reason. Its one of the most unique Batman issues ever. I love it.
Detective Comics #526: All My Enemies Against Me! by Gerry Conway and Don Newton. The Anniversary Issue! This one is a huge Pre Crisis bash that has nearly every Batman villain in it. So much good stuff in here, along with Pre Crisis oddities like Killer Croc as very much so Batman’s greatest threat yet here, red haired good boy Jason Todd and more. So much happens in this one as the Batfamily plus Catwoman and Talia run through all the villains after Joker gathers them all together to take out Batman and Croc. Its one of those anniversary issues that really shines. An extremely special issue that lives up to its celebration.
Once Upon A Time.. by Len Wein and Walt Simonson from Detective Comics #500: An amazing two page Batman romp adapting Snoopy from Peanut’s silly attempt at writing. Somehow this was the Wein and Simonson work I had to have in here. Its perfect.
Batman #400: LOOK AT THAT LIST OF CREATORS!!! A stunning collection of artists doing interior work here. This anniversary issue, along with Superman #400, are to me the best anniversary issues ever done. Ra’s Al Ghul breaks everyone out of Arkham Asylum and Gotham State Penitentiary in a scheme to get Batman to join his side. So you have this list of absolute legends of the industry drawing scenes of all the Batfamily and all the villains in the last Pre Crisis issue. God this one is just soooo good!
Batman: The Man Who Falls. A short little origin story by Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano. This was in the 1989 Secret Origins of the Superheroes tpb. Its a beautifully done, extremely effective tale of young Bruce and his path to becoming Batman. Heavily referenced and influenced for Christopher Nolan’s movies. I love this one and think its a great perfect length encapsulation of Batman and his motivations.
Detective Comics #571: Fear for $ale by Mike W. Barr and Alan Davis: Mike Barr and Alan Davis’ short run on Detective are some of the best Batbooks ever made. This one is pure comfort food goodness as it has some amazing and powerful art by comics juggernaut Alan Davis. Another near perfect issue.
Batman: Ten Nights of the Beast – Batman #417-420 by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo. Oh baby, these are such good comics!! Its the perfect Reagan era VHS 80’s action movie starring Batman. You’d think it would suck, but it ends up being so damn entertaining and grips you from beginning to end. Like a great 80s Schwarzenegger/Stalone/etc action blowout, this one is pure comfort food madness. Batman vs the KGBeast is so damn good!!! An extremely personal favorite. Recommend reading with Commando’s steel drum soundtrack in the background
Suicide Squad #10 by John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell. One of Batman’s greatest guest appearances. Ostrander is an unsung Bat-legend. He gets the character so much. Throughout the issue Batman is presented in an almost mythic way, a true creature of the night. The action and fights are done so well and Batman is put to great use until he runs up against The Wall. A great examination of the hero and how he contrasts to the criminals of The Squad along with how he works in contrast to real world politics, etc. A smart, extremely impactful issue.
Detective Comics #592-593 by Alan Grant & John Wagner and Norm Breyfogle. The Fear: Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle’s time on the Batbooks is one of the greatest eras ever. Full Batmania. Its hard to narrow down which issue I shouldve put in here but The Fear two parter won out. I feel like these issues contain some of the best art by Breyfolge as they show the kind friendly protector of Gotham City’s citizens as well as the monster in the shadows as well as the muscled Superhero. A dark, frenzied tale of Batman hunting down Cornelius Stirk, a serial killer who uses his psi-powers to make people scared so their organs under the effect of fear could be removed and consumed. Its Grant and Wagner bringing their sick, creative minds to DC and giving us some great Batman stories. This one is so emblematic of that run, Batman by himself handling business in his city with new creative ideas pumped into it.
Secret Origins vol. 2 #39 – The Secret Origin of Man-Bat by Jan Strnad and Kevin Nowlan: Kevin Nowlan does the pencils. inks, colors, and lettering in this one so you immediately know its an amazing hidden gem. One of those rare all Nowlan interior art issues and one of the only if not only Batman issue hes done all by himself. This one is just such a treat. A retelling of Man-Bat’s origin from Detective #400 with absolutely stunning art.
Batman #452-454 – Dark Knight, Dark City by Peter Milligan and Kieron Dwyer. Whats not to love about this dark, action packed tale. Beautiful Mike Mignola covers, amazing interior art by Dwyer, radical off the wall story of Gotham’s past, The Riddler and full detective Batman by Bat-Legend Peter Milligan. I have loved this one for years, even before the Barbatos stuff was used by Morrison and Snyder. Its just so good.
Batman Adventures #3 by Kelley Puckett and Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett: As DC Comics entered the 90s and the always incredible Batman: The Animated Series debuted, the cartoon tie-in comics soon became the best Bat titles being made at the time. Way too many people slept on them and still sleep on these great comics. I had to include them in this bind and none other than this issue which perfectly shows how terrifying and menacing the Joker is( in a kid’s comic!). This portrayal of him has in my mind never been done better since, and that goes to show how well made these comics were. Its always stuck with me. I love these all so much, especially this comfort food fave.
Batman: Vengeance of Bane by Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan – For me, Batman in the 90s is equal parts in my mind Batman:The Animated Series/its tie in comics and Bane/Knightfall. Bane and the Knightfall storyline take up so much of the Bat titles of the time and while I think it was a fun and effective story, no issue really jumped out at me to represent it in this bind. That was, until I remembered this one shot introduction to Bane prior to Knightfall before he even showed up in the books. This one to me is such a well crafted, fun book that really makes you care about Bane. I really wanted to include something for all these Dixon years, etc but this one here is the only one I deemed worthy. Its Dixon and Nolan’s best work and one I always remember in my head.
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #54 by Dan Raspler and Miike Mignola: This ones always been a nice hidden gem with beautiful art by Mike Mignola. One of the best illustrated Bat comics ever. A creepy dark tale that fits his art to a tee. Had to put it in.
Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual #3 by Alan Grant and Brian Apthorp: A full personal comfort food pick by me here. Brian Apthorp is a relatively unknown artist who did this, a Poison Ivy special oneshot and a few other Bat issues around this time. I LOVE his artwork. Its clean but unique, sexy, fun and expressive. This issue really shines. Its a humorous, fun well done retelling of Poison Ivy and Batman’s first meeting. This has always been a personal favorite for me.
Batman: Mr. Freeze by Paul Dini and Mark Buckingham: One of a bunch of Batman one shots DC put out around 1997 for the movie, this one is by far the best. Paul Dini, after retooling Mr. Freeze for the Animated Series to such great success, retools him here in the comics adopting the cartoon backstory. Its an incredibly well written and illustrated comic book. Real meat and potatoes type stuff.
Batman: Turning Points #5 by Greg Rucka, Paul Pope and Claude St. Aubin: Heres one few know about. I knew I had to include a Greg Rucka Bats story in here as I think he and the New Gotham era of stories are so so good, but I had a hard time nailing one down until I thought of this one. This is a tremendously great series about Batman and Jim Gordon’s relationship through the years. This final issue has art from comics legend Paul Pope(strangely one of the few times ever hes not inking himself), so its already worth it, but then you get Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen and it just puts all that era’s stuff into a really nice tale that makes you feel good.
Batman: Gotham Knights #32 by Devin Grayson and Roger Robinson: An extremely sweet and powerful story all about how Bruce Wayne helps the city of Gotham, no Batman needed. Its the comic you can give to the people who think theyre smart and also the first person to say “If Batman is so rich, why doesnt he use that to help people??” Its never preachy or stupid or anything either. Its a well written, fun story
Batman #676-683 -Batman R.I.P. by Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel: Right up there with Year One as one of my top favorite Batman stories of alltime. Im a huge fan of Morrison and few comics hit me as hard as his Batman run, especially this story. The use of Zur-En-Arrh and old silver age stories filtered through the modern age and giving us his backup personality, truly showing Batman always has a plan even when hes not himself are just brilliant. Everything in this comic is awesome, emotional, well written. Its one of the most intense and amazing Bat stories ever made and few compare. It is the gold standard for more modern Batman stories
Batman Incorporated #1 by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette: Batman Inc. is still one of the most exciting, brilliant and fun ideas DC ever had. The fact New 52 and time cut it off at the knees still upsets me to this day. But oh baby was this debut issue good. Batman and Catwoman in Japan vs Lord Death Man. Morrison bringing Lord Death Man back and giving us all the fun of the Japanese adventure including Catwoman in a tentacle deathtrap. Paquette’s art is so damn good here. Bruce and Selina both in skimpy workout clothes flirting?? Phew, what a comic!!
All Star Batman #1-5 by Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr.: Im a love him or hate him Scott Snyder fan. When he goes wild and writes super comic bookey I love it. When he tries to get all serious and moodey and wrap a message up into his story I think it falls flat. This one does get bogged down by all the Two Face secret history flashbacks with Bruce and all his secrets and shocking reveals and everyone has a hidden self blah blah blah nonsense etc. when Snyder tries to get deep. BUT, the rest of the story Snyder really lets loose and goes fucking wild. Batman out of Gotham on foot has to take Two Face cross country to a location but along the way we get a whole horde of villains and civilians trying to take him down for a bounty Two Face promises. KGBeast shows up! Killer Croc and King Shark vs Batman on the top of a train! Batman with a chainsaw! Riverboat brawls! This comic is like an awesome Batman movie, full of tongue in cheek humor throughout all the bombastic action. Its so exciting and fun, and its drawn by comics legend JR Jr. so its even more fun and thrilling.
Batman vol. 3 #36-37 by Tom King and Clay Mann – Too often stupid people want Superman and Batman to fight. Id be fine with all comic series just having our favorite heroes hang out and talk. Im a HUGE sucker for these type of stories and these two issues of Clark and Lois and Bruce and Selina hanging out just make me feel happy. Clay Mann draws the hell out of these issues. He always draws the sexiest men and women and doesnt disappoint here. Clay Mann’s Lois is one of the best. Its just so fun that its making me smile as I write this. The world needs more comics like this.
Batman/Elmer Fudd by Tom King and Lee Weeks – Wow! Who actually expected this silly WB properties crossover to turn out so so amazing. King really brings it here making a great noir Gotham tale and turning all the Looney Tunes into humans frequenting a Gotham dive bar. Lee Weeks, as always puts most artists to shame drawing a moody, awe inspiring tale. Its funny, its well written, its everything crossovers like this should be. An astonishing surprise of a gem.
The Batman Gallery – A covers and pinups reprint gallery. Perfect for the Simonson, Adams, Miller etc. pieces of art I feel needed to be in there.
From Detective Comics #598-600 – At the back of each of these issues are text and art pinups from many famous creators and personalities paying tribute to Batman. I included all of these.
I also included throughout the book old Batman House Ads, movie ads, and pinups or pictures of Bat stuff that I just love and deemed necessary to be in here. Ill throw all of those in the gallery below because theyre so fun. I especially love the Mudpack and Venom House ads with unique art. The Warner catalog for the Batman movie merchandise is so cool to me I had to include it. Thats beautiful and talented Heather Langenkamp aka Nancy from Nightmare on Elm St. in that radical Bat bike gear. Also some bum apparently wandered into the Bat merch photoshoot so I put a Bat logo over his face. More Phil Winslade Gotham City art. The Gotham City map I adore. Kevin Nowlan pinups. A Trevor von Eeden sketch piece of Gotham. A Neal Adams hostess ad. And a little Capullo and Cooke to round it out and put a cap on things.