With comics being published mostly on a monthly schedule the crossover is a way to tell a larger story more quickly and to increase sales across a line of books. They can be masterpieces like DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths or they can be universally derided like Marvel’s Clone Saga. Due to the flexibility of the character, Batman has probably had more events than anyone else.
Here are our top five Batman events.
5. War Games
Wars Games ran across all the Batman books from October 2003 until January 2004. The story revolved around Stephanie Brown, who had recently been fired as Robin, using one of Batman’s
contingency plans for a possible outbreak of uncontrollable gang violence to united all the gangs under one lead. That leader would be Matches Malone.
What Stephanie, now returned to her Spoiler identity, doesn’t realise is that Malone is an alias of Bruce Wayne. As Bruce is not involved events spiral out of control.
The story is best known for it’s violent and controversial ending that set a darker tone for the Bat books of the era. It also elevated Black Mask to become one of the top Bat villains.
R.I.P. was the defining story of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. The story took place in the main Batman book from May to November 2008 but the event spread to the whole line.
It revolved around Batman investigating the Black Glove criminal organisation while they are trying to destroy everything that he stands for.
Morrison used this story to completely dissect the Batman character in an attempt to make every era of the character fit into one continuity. He achieved what he wanted to and the title continued with Dick Grayson taking up the mantle of the Bat.
3. Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive
The Murderer/Fugitive event is one of the biggest ones DC have attempted and ran from March to September 2002. The story kicked of in Batman: The 10 Cent Adventure which was, as the title suggests, only 10 cent for a full length comic book.
This was a good marketing tactic from DC to pull people into the story which saw Bruce Wayne’s long term girlfriend murdered and him framed for the crime. The Bat family investigate but all the evidence points to Bruce and he ends up behind bars. Bruce escapes and decides to operate as Batman fulltime until his name is cleared.
After a decade of the Bat family being built up. this is the event that split them apart.
This is the Bat event that has the most awareness amongst the general public with the breaking of Batman making international news at the time. It is also the one that has come closest to a film adaptation with the main elements being used in The Dark Knight Rises.
The story ran from 1993 to 1994 and consisted of three parts – Knightfall, Knightquest and Knightsend. The aim of the story was to prove that in the 90s, where vigilantes who used lethal force where on the rise in comic books, Batman was still relevant.
The writers achieved this by introducing the violent and unpredictable Jean Paul Valley/Azrael who took over as Batman when Bane broke Bruce Wayne’s back. By the end of the event fans where demanding Bruce’s return.
1. No Man’s Land
No Man’s Land is probably one the most ambitious comic book events ever created. It was a year long event, running the whole of 1999, that was published weekly through all of the Batman family titles and the story more or less ran in real time.
What made it different was that there was no overall villain that Batman could punch in the face. The story, set up in the previous event (Cataclysm) which saw an earthquake hit Gotham, involves Batman taking on a natural disaster and then the national government as Gotham is shut of from the rest of America and declared a No Man’s Land.
The events in the story had an impact on Batman storytelling for years to come. It saw the introduction of Cassandra Cain, who would become the new Batgirl, one of the most popular new Batman characters of the last 50 years and the murder of Jim Gordon’s wife by the Joker.
Elements of the event have been used in the TV series Gotham, The Dark Knight Rises and also the Arkham City computer game.
What are your favourites? Comment below.