iFanboy Video Podcast

iFanboy #79 – The Top 5 Batman Stories (That Aren’t The Dark Knight Returns, Year One, or Arkham Asylum)

Show Notes

It is an iFanboy given that the three best Batman stories are The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, and Arkham Asylum (the guys have talked about them enough, those three win just from airtime alone!).

But what are the Top 5 Batman Stories that aren’t those three? With almost seven decades of stories to choose from, picking the five best was no easy task, my friends! What did they end up with?

An international story of high adventure with present day implications, a disturbing look at a killer clown, the tragic (or was it?) death of a soldier, a hero reborn, and a nigh-miraculous years long crossover event! Want to know what they are? Find out inside!


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Doing the podcast is fun and all, but let's be honest, listening to the 2 of us talk to each other can get repetitive, so we look to you, the iFanboy listeners to participate in the podcast! "How can I get in on the fun?" you may ask yourself, well here's how:

  • E-Mail us at contact@ifanboy.com with any questions, comments or anything that may be on your mind.

Please don't forget to leave your name and where you're writing from and each week, we'll pick the best e-mails to include on the podcast!


  1. Captain (a.k.a. Conor), I totally agree with your top five and have read all of them.  The Killing Joke is one of the best graphic novels ever.  I also remembered the disturbing image of the Joker beating the #$%^ out of Robin, but had forgotten he was Iran’s representative.  That was a strange story arc.  And when one thinks about it, who better then to represent Iran than the Joker?!

    However, the Bane story needs to be included on this list because this was one of the moments when Batman was destroyed (his spine was snapped over Bane’s knee).  I remembered everyone in school, and what seemed like the nation, talking about the death of Batman.  Bane as a character is super cool.  Bane’s pre-plan to win was even better.  He broke out all of the inmates from Arkham Asylum, so we were treated to all of our favorites running around Gotham, and then Batman had to round them up leaving him too tired for his battle with Bane.  It was brilliant! 

    The fact that Bane was so poorly mishandled in "Batman and Robin" is a crime.  The fact that he wore a spandex costume under a fedora and trenchcoat as Poison Ivy’s limo driver was an even bigger one, but it was so $%^& hilarious.  I rewind it time after time. 

    The out-takes of creepy Conor at the end of the show made me laugh.

    My Joker shirt was only of his head holding a Joker card.  I wore it like that kid who wore Favre’s jersey from ten or so years straight.

  2. Colonel!

  3. Are you with me on Bane?!  Thoughts?

  4. Damn yous guys for making me pull out my credit card ONCE AGAIN! Lol just kidding guys for the most part save me money by letting me know whats crap and whats worth buying. Great episode guys keep it up.

  5. @scott Batman Venom, sounds like It’s up your alley, Scott. Batman + Bane VenomAddiction. That’s some good comic booking.

  6. @DaveCarr Thanks.

  7. Connor rubbing his thighs right at the end "It’s good stuff, right? Oh yeah.."  made me laugh for about 5 minutes straight.

  8. Josh bringing Brian Robbins form Head of the Class back from obscurity….priceless.

  9. Pretty good choices that I haven’t read yet.  I need to find a comic shop around my new hovel so that I can start reviewing again.  Getting comics 3 weeks late is a little counter productive.  As some people may remember I bought the Killing Joke and read it for the first time a few months back and really enjoyed it, far more then I thought I would.

    Son of the Demon on the other hand… I liked the art.  I agree with everyone on that.

  10. You mentioned it in passing but how many volumes would I be buying if I get into "No Man’s Land"?

  11. @JumpingJupiter – No Man’s Land is in five volumes (not counting the Cataclysm prelude).  Sadly, only Volume 1 is in print.

  12. "Sadly, only Volume 1 is in print."

    Well that sucks for me doesn’t it?

  13. Or a fun back issue hunt lasting years!

  14. I suppose so. I might even try that.

  15. I’ve seen at least 3 or 4 volumes of No Man’s Land on shelves in either Borders or the LCS in the past six months, though.  "Out of print" doesn’t mean you can’t find something, as graphic novels tend to stay on the shelves until they’re sold (particularly in comics stores, which usually buy their inventory outright.)

    Also, there’s a novelization written by Greg Rucka, if you’re mostly interested in the story (though I’ve read the novel but not all the comics, so I can’t attest to how well it follows).

  16. Great mentions in this episode.

    Just a sidenote. Greg Rucka wrote the Batman No Man’s Land novel. While we miss out on a lot of the great art, and some of the smaller storylines, overall it works as much stronger story. It’s much more to the point. I never read prose novels based on comics, but this one really worked,

    Also to add some more books to the list, I’d suggest Batman Black and White volumes 1-3. They each collect black and white short stories from some of the industry’s greats. Brian Bolland, Neil Gaiman, Matt Wagner, and Jim Lee are just some of the many talents behind these.

  17. I’ll be picking up the the Killing Joke HC. After researching this more, I love the new coloring. Every page is like a Bolland cover. I’m suprised that no mention was made about Batman’s yellow oval being removed in the updated HC. I also really want to see that B&W short done in color. I never knew about that. That pretty much made it a must buy.

    Speaking of Black & White, these have some of my favorite Batman stories ever. There are 3 volumes and I was lucky enough to get the first two in the oversized format. New printings are now in standard size. Volume 1 is the best, but the next two are still very good. The talent you find in these books may shock you. I’m still dreaming that DC Direct will release a Cooke, a Corben and a Dave Gibbons B&W Batman statue based on their versions.

    I want to mention Matt Wagner’s Batman: Dark Moon Rising series. There are two volumes that immediately follow Frank Miller’s Year One that are worth checking out. The first is Batman and the Monster Men and the next is Batman and the Mad Monk. Gritty, "Year One and a Half" setting. It flows perfectly from Year One.

    Great show guys.

  18. I was going to buy the Killing Joke Hardcover until I saw the new coloring. I think the original colors better served the story because they had a sickly, unnerving quality that matched the disturbing tone of the story. Scenes were washed in strange orange, red and yellow washes that felt so otherworldy and bizzare.

  19. I read Rucka’s Novel and it was exellent. Hence the reason I want to get into the grovels.

  20. @DoctorColossus – It’s interesting about the coloring.  According to the Afterward by Brian Bolland, he was supposed to have colored KILLING JOKE but there wasn’t enough time so they brought in someone else and he went totally against the color plan that Bolland laid out and he very much hated the colors so for the reprint he told DC he had to be able to recolor it all like he would have originally.  He also says he redrew bits here and there and even added someone in to a panel that wasn’t there before, but I haven’t found that new person yet. 

  21. Ah, I found it!  He added the Penguin to the background of the Joker "flashback" where he meets the gang in the bar.  Also, he softened Barbara’s rather harsh cheekbones (which I always hated) and made her look younger.

  22. 1) I love the setting and situations in No Man’s Land, but I did always think the premise was a little unrealistic. I felt the federal government would never turn it’s back on a major metropolitan area and hundreds of thousands of people in a time of crisis. And then a few years later Katrina happened. I remember the feeling of unreality and the horrible sense that life had imitated art. It was spooky and surprising.

    2) Batman: Year Two in Detective Comics was a good story, if out of continuity now. Mainly it was good for the art: Davis, Neary, and a very young MacFarlane. But also the Reaper was pretty scary. Shades of the later Azrael Batman , I think.

  23. Nice show guys! One of my more favorite Batman books of late was Batman: Face the Face by James Robinson.  It’s more of Robinson at the top of his game, and it’s a great Two Face story with excellent art.

  24. My five probably would have been:

    Long Halloween (I am very surprised that this wasn’t in the five)

    The Killing Joke

    Broken City

    Mad Love

    Gotham by Gaslight

  25. First of all great list, but i gotta say, somethings always bugged me about Killing Joke.

    I, own the book, and i love the story, but am i the only one who finds batman’s reaction at the end out of character?

    I mean the joker just shot Batgirl in the spine, took naked photos of her, and tortured Gordon for hours. Am I really supposed to believe that batman’s going to be laughing when joker tells a joke after all that?

    Am i the only one who doesnt buy that?

  26. @selftitled-I agree that the moment seems a bit out of character, but I think that’s the point. To the Joker, the world is senseless. Batman fights for it to make sense, but for that brief momentat the end, they both get the joke of it all. I loved that moment.

  27. I like Conor’s explanation for the laughing.  Also, just in my experience, laughter is a weird thing and it tends to strike at the most inopportune or seemingly inappropriate moments — I think Moore is playing with that idea, and it has to do with his whole concept of who the Joker is.

    @patio  — I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of that, re: New Orleans.  In retrospect, NML seems disturbingly prescient. 

  28. I’ve never like A Death in the Family. I picked up the 2nd and 3rd part at a 7-11 when they were first published, didn’t care for them. Later, a copy of the trade appeared in my house (I didn’t buy it, one day it was just there. A mystery worthy of The Detective? Well, probably not.) Even with the whole story I didn’t like it.

    I reread it occasionally to see if my thoughts on it have changed, but they never do. It’s just not for me. Son of the Demon and Killing Joke are both good, however.

    Technical question, re: ADITF: How can Superman suck up all of the Joker’s laughing gas without creating a vaccuum effect in the UN chambers? Sure, Clark saves the diplomats from the Joker gas but wouldn’t they die anyway from vaccuum-induced embolisims? Just wondering. Or for that matter, isn’t he fast enough to have zipped over to the podium the moment Joker revealed his nefarious scheme, and stop it? 

  29. My take on it was that the whole story, Batman is trying to convince the Joker to stop their war and wants to understand why the Joker does what he does.  Through the joke, the Joker explains his reasoning behind his actions.  Batman is the first inmate that insanely thinks the other person can be saved while Joker is the second one who’s equally insane for thinking it could work but whose general mistrust and contempt keeps him from recieving the help that won’t work, anyway.  Thus, Batman now understands Joker’s stance and laughs hysterically  just as Joker would.

  30. He’s laughing because he’s as insane as The Joker is and The Joker’s joke revealed that.

  31. @conor-

    ive been listening to you guys for a while, and you very rarely give long halloween any love.  Whats the deal man? 

  32. @Rob Absten– The Joker becomes an Ambassador for Iran in the UN… I think you can chuck realism out of the window right there.

  33. @kevsname72 – We’ve talked about it before, but listen to the next audio show and all will be revealed.

  34. I definately have to agree with you on these choices as a good representation of Batman stories. I’ve never been too big of a batman in the pick up every issue sense, but I definately show him some love in Trades. One of my favorite stories was actually Batman: The Sword of Azrael. I liked how they created this "killing angel" Azrael to contrast Batman "the demon type" character who is against killing. Given the time frame when the anti heroes ruled and how at the end batman could convince this programed killer there was a better way really makes this stand out to me. Its a shame this character ,though generally written by the same guy that created him, couldn’t get much a decent story after this. And every 10 or so issues he appreared in he seemed required to have a kind of mental breakdown.

  35. I love the re-coloring on the new The Killing Joke.  Plus being hardback, I can leave it on the coffee table and geek out on how amazing that book is when people ask about it.   

  36. You guys left out the trade of the Contagion storyline which came right before the Cataclysm storyline, which gave Gotham a one two punch leading into No Man’s Land.  That whole era made Gotham bleak and the story so amazing.

  37. @BizDaddy – Correct.  We chose to start with the earthquake.

  38. For a semi Batman fan I was surprised that I own / have read most of these titles.

    However, the one I would add to the list is Batman: The Cult, which I don’t know if it is traded but I own the 4 issue prestige format series and I love taking it out every couple of years and rereading it.

  39. okay, okay–time to re-read the cataclysm and no man’s land books…paging through them I forgot how good it was..I read them far, far too long ago, I had no idea Alex Maleev drew these!!

  40. Conor – My local Borders has Volumes 1 and 3-5 of No Man’s Land…i’m guessing it would be a good idea to pick them up!

  41. @Tork– that’s a great explaination of that scene.  I’ve never thought of it in those terms but it makes it resonate a lot more for me now.

  42. @ifanboys and base– what about Batman:Hush? 

  43. @Kimbo – Not a big fan of Hush.  The only DC Absolute Edition I have zero interest in obtaining.

  44. @coner– I hear ya, this and Long Halloween seem to rest more on the artists than the stories for me.

  45. @Neb – Thank you, dude! I love Face The Face, but haven’t heard it talked about much so figured I was in the minority… looks like I still am, though 🙂

    @Kimbo – I think Hush, Long Halloween and Dark Victory are all good, solid Batbooks. I wouldn’t have put them in this list either, and of the three I’d say Long Halloween is my favourite, but I still really like (maybe not love) all of them.

  46. I like ‘Face the Face,’ and I remember Conor (and maybe Josh too?) talking about it favorably on the podcast when the issues were coming out.  So you’re not alone, it just maybe doesn’t quite rise to the level of a classic?

  47. "Face the Face" was really good.

  48. The best batman stories you’ve never read….


    1) Batman: The Cult – 4 issue limited series, Bernie Wrightson artwork, Jim Starlin writing…Batman gets brainwashed by Deacon Blackfire and all hell breaks loose.  So good!!

    2) Batman: Legend of the Dark Knight: Other Realms by Bo and Scott Hampton – Bruce Wayne slips into a coma and has to fight his way back to conciousness, good and touching twists. I dont’ want to give away the ending.

    3) Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight: Going Sane…they just reprinted this.. Joe Staton art, J.M. DeMatteis on script….An amazing Joker story where he basically gets amnesia, doesnt’ realize he’s a homicidal maniac and attempts to make a life for himself.  It really makes you feel for the Joker.

    I also want to give a shoutout to that one-shot from about 10 years back where Batman takes on the cause of Land-mine issues. Great story and art, and an ending that resonates with me still. 


    Please check all of these out…Oh, and one more thing…Whatever happened to Baby Jim? Jim Gordon had a baby boy in Batman: Year One, we found out that he abused him in Night Cries….other than appearing as Batman in Digital Justice…what ever happened to Jim Gordon’s kid?



  49. I can’t believe no one has mentioned the Eisner award-winning Batman: Year 100 by Paul Pope. This is insanely good and should be Absolutized (with Pope’s other Batman work added) in the future. I rank this in my top 10 without a doubt.

  50. Oh yeah @finbarbat, The CULT!!!  And the world drags me down!!!!

    The Cult was Great, and I also loved Year 100, but Paul Pope is such an aquired taste, really not for everyone, you know?

  51. In case you were interested in NO MAN’S LAND, I just saw on Amazon that all five volumes are back in print (or, at least they are all now available new from Amazon).  If you are like me and were waiting for them to become available again, now’s your chance!

  52. I talked with my LCS guy and he said they were available through him…

    Lucky me.

  53. No Mans Land looks very interesting…. Umm do u guys think it will ever get Absoluted??? hehehe yeah silly question right… A better question would be  which series do u guys think WILL get absoluted next??? not what SHOULD what WILL.. and don’t say Ronin cause that would be cheating. Oh and thanks Ron for yer Starman Omnibus rec. Just ordered it today….along w $436 worth of other HCs… I thinkI have a problem lol.

  54. The Long Halloween, Knightfall. But No Mans Land looks awesome!

  55. the best version of no man’s land was Rucka’s novel.  a nice streamlined version of the story, totally worth picking up, and it got me back into batman


  56. The NO MAN’S LAND novel was fun, but it didn’t have near the depth of the comics.

  57. i fucking hate batman love stories.

    except for the batman begins and dark knight movies. its so awesome how he gets dumped at the end of the first movie, and she gets killed off in the second. awesome.

  58. I’d totally forgotten about the "Outakes" on this one. Brilliant. Thanks for unearthing the show. s30!

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