Here’s a little something left over from the “…I’m Batman” series.
If you’ve been checking in, and aren’t as totally obsessed by pop-culture as I am, then you may be forgiven for thinking that a regular comic, a couple of TV shows, games, and epically profitable films are the only places you can enjoy the exploits of the Dark Knight.
…well, ok, that’s about right.
But there are a few hidden gems amongst the seemingly limitless supply of stories that kind of got lost over time. Here’s some alternative Bat-snacks between your major motion meals.
(Note: These have all been chosen because, unlike so much else in comic books, you can enjoy these completely as a stand alone treat. The only prior knowledge you need for any of them is that, obviously…he’s Batman!)
Batman versus Predator
This is a real thing.
Originally released in 1991 as a three-issue prestige-format mini-series, Batman versus Predator was one of the earlier collaborations between DC and Dark Horse Comics, and is to date one of the few that’s any good. In fact if this had taken place instead of Predator 2, the world may be a much better place now.
It’s not hard to surmise what’s going on: A Predator (alien hunter for those who don’t know any pop-culture and therefore don’t care anyway) comes to Gotham City and starts killing violent people for sport. Batman needs to stop it. The game’s afoot.
Written by Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke) with art by Andy and Adam Kubert, this mini-series (available in a collected edition) stands heads and shoulders above other crossovers precisely because of the talent involved. It’s not overly complicated, it has moments of tension and real drama, it looks great and it takes about 20 mins to read.
The series was followed by two sequels – Batman versus Predator II: Bloodmatch and Batman versus Predator III: Blood Ties – but both are just dull retreads that involve more characters from the Batman mythos.
A two-issue Batman/Aliens crossover was released in 1998, but I was done with it the moment this happened
Batman: Gotham Knight
Created as a tie-in to the Nolan films, this rather superb, direct-to-dvd animated movie perfectly encapsulates everything I was talking about in the “…I’m Batman” posts.
Consisting of six short films, with art duties shared by four studios and writing by six of the best Bat-scribes, Gotham Knight links the stories by exploring people’s differing perceptions of who or what the Batman is, including the Dark Knight himself. Featuring appearances by some of the second-tier DC villains, the shorts never get bogged down by having to introduce them. My favourite short is easily the first, “Have I Got A Story For You”, but that’s not to say the other five don’t come close.
The Further Adventures of Batman
Compiled to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Batman in 1989, this anthology consists of 14 short stories by 14 writers.
This book has no ties to Batman’s continuing stories, and every writer builds their little slice of Bat-land out of whatever elements clearly appeal to them. In short, none of the stories connect to each other, and some would outright contradict each other.
What’s fun and memorable about these stories is that they explore aspects of Batman that rarely get looked at in other media, and the fact that the authors have no investment in the character actually works as a strength.
A very fondly-remembered tale is Mike Resnick’s Neutral Ground, detailing a night of business in the shop of Kittleheimer – the man who outfits both Gotham’s heroes and criminals with the themed uniforms and tools they desire.
I was never as convinced by the story Northwestward. Written by the late legend Isaac Asimov, this tale of Bruce Wayne at a police charity function revels in the conceit that the character in this story inspired the writer Bob Kane to create the fictional Bruce Wayne/Batman. So, in short, when Asimov was invited to write a Batman story, he chose to write a…guy-with-the-same-name-as-Batman story.
And last, but by no rational methods the least:
Yarasa Adam (“Bedmen”)
It’s the Turkish Batman.
I need add nothing.