The Annotated Batman
Annotation:Batman spends a lot of time using grappling hooks to swing from building to building. But what happens when someone cuts his line? After suffering a near fatal skull fracture, Batman begins to suspect that someone has set out to systematically destroy his life. They’ve also organized all his villains against him. What’s worse, they seem to be committing crimes out of character, crimes he can’t predict. For example, Poison Ivy even manages to turn Superman against him with a custom made kryptonite lipstick. As Batman struggles to uncover the culprit behind all his recent misfortunes, he is drawn into an unlikely romance with Selina Kyle aka Catwoman.
Annotation:Frank Miller’s definitive and engaging tale of Bruce Wayne struggling to reclaim his role as Batman in an uncertain future. What has the world become? Two-Face has been cured, Superman has become a corporate puppet, and the Joker is about to be declared as sane. Gotham is now under the control of the fanged Mutants, a visor wearing gang that rules the city through fear and intimidation. After saving the young Carrie Kelly, Bruce fully embraces the mantle as Batman. When Superman is sent to stop his return, only one will walk away. Originally published in 1986, this is arguably considered to be one of the greatest Batman stories ever told.
Annotation:Batman’s mission is one to protect the innocence of Gotham City by striking fear into the hearts of villains and ultimately stopping crime in it’s tracks. But what happens when the city he loves is devastated by a natural disaster? After a cataclysmic earthquake - 7.6 on the Richter scale - the fictional U.S. government of the DC Comics universe abandons the metropolis and forbids anyone from entering or exiting. Batman and his allies opt to stay and restore order to the chaotic streets. With Oracle helping to coordinate their efforts, the heroes are often overwhelmed by villains, such as The Penguin, who have taken over entire sections of the city.
Annotation:Batman is pretty awesome... but did he start out that way? And we all know Batman’s most important ally is Jim Gordon, destined to become Police Commissioner of the Gotham Police Department. How did Gordon rise through the corrupt ranks of cops on the take? This is the story of both men, as well as a radical reinterpretation of Selina Kyle’s origin as a prostitute and dominatrix before becoming Catwoman. This story of Batman’s origin has become so popular it helped to inspire the theatrical releases of the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and the live-action Batman Begins before finally getting properly adapted in Batman: Year One.
Annotation:One could argue that nothing in the life of Batman never really changes. As a comic book character, he battles villains, sends them to jail, then starts the process all over again. When Dick Grayson retired as Robin and became the hero Nightwing, Batman even got himself a new Robin named Jason Todd. But Jason was never really like Dick. He was angrier, more reckless. After having a fight with Batman, Jason storms away and resolves to find his birth mother. After an initially successful reunion, it’s learned that she actually works for the Joker. Batman races to save Jason from his fate, but arrives too late. Jason dies in Batman’s arms; his greatest failure.
Annotation:Jeph Loeb spins a tangled web of Batman’s early crimefighting years aided by Tim Sale’s eerily horrific art. There’s a new killer in Gotham and his (or her) name is Holiday. As their name might imply, they prefer to kill on holidays once a month. Batman works with district attorney Harvey Dent, the man destined to become the half-scarred Two-Face, to uncover the killer while fending off some of the more colorful character in his rogue’s gallery. Sale’s art is surreal, often depicted things in a distorted way such as the Joker’s impossibly wide yellow smile. Followed by a sequel in Batman: Dark Victory and a concurrent story in Catwoman: When In Rome.
Annotation:Author Alan Moore, known most famously for penning Watchmen, focuses not on Batman but instead his chief antagonist for this tale: the Joker. Out of Arkham Asylum once again, the Clown Prince of Crime decides to make an example of Commissioner Gordon to prove whatever insane point he’s trying to make. Along the way, he savagely shoots Jim’s daughter Barbara in her doorway at home, crippling her. The Joker escalates the situation for Batman when he kidnaps Gordon, tortures him, and recounts a suspiciously contradictory tale of his own origin. Barbara was left in a wheelchair as a result of this story and ultimately became the hero Oracle.
Annotation:Filmmaker Kevin Smith tackles his own Batman story, creating an intricate tale of assassinations and red herrings involving the Caped Crusader, Deadshot, the Joker, and a mysterious villain named Onomatopoeia. The story opens with Deadshot attempting to kill the Joker in Arkahm. He is stopped and apparently killed by Onomatopoeia, who frees the Joker and gives him money to create chaos. Onomatopoeia’s real target is Batman, who he hopes the Joker's antics will draw out. As all the characters converge on one another for a final confrontation, Deadshot is reavealed to have survived, and Batman must decide whether to save the Joker or not.
Annotation:Prolific writer Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) writes an esoteric account of the “last” Batman story. Suffering from some kind of near-death experience, Batman finds himself attending a funeral... only to realize it’s his own. Guided by an avatar of his deceased mother Martha Wayne, Bruce listens to bizarre Batman eulogies by his butler Alfred, villains such as the Joker and the Mad Hatter, and even one from Superman. As he struggles to make sense of his death, he beings to ask questions about how he spent his life and what exactly it means to be Batman. This story is based on the classic Superman tale Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
Annotation:Taking place in the year 2039 (100 years after the character of Batman was first introduced), Gotham has become essentially a police state and Batman has become something of an urban legend. According to writer and penciler of 100% fame Paul Pope, "I wanted to present a new take on Batman, who is without a doubt a mythic figure in our pop-psyche. My Batman is not only totally science fiction, he's also a very physical superhero: he bleeds, he sweats, he eats. He's someone born into an over-arching police state; someone with the body of David Beckham, the brain of Tesla, and the wealth of Howard Hughes... pretending to be Nosferatu."