Batman’s 80th anniversary came and went pretty fast, but The Dark Knight definitely left his mark in media and our wallets. There were plenty of animated movies and newly-remastered tv series to get us through the year, but his largest impact came in his original format: print.
I tried my best to at least give everything new a shot, and overall what I read was mostly positive. Sure, there were a few clinkers (that many others enjoyed), but I was mostly pleased with what I read this year. The following were some of my favorites of 2019.
PETER TOMASI’S DETECTIVE COMICS
Let’s start this off where it all began, and that’s DETECTIVE COMICS. Peter J. Tomasi has been doing most of the title this year, and it’s been revamped with some flair that Batman fans have been digging. He’s brought in some of the famous rogues for some short-run stories, but also played the long-haul, most recently a story concerning Mr. Freeze and his wife Nora. Tomasi has brought the long-running title back to glory in 2019 and into 2020.
DETECTIVE COMICS #1000
A headline issue all on its own, The Dark Knight surpassed the major milestone back in March and celebrated with a 96-page issue and many covers. Some stories were better than others, but overall it was a great piece that celebrated Batman’s history and character.
TOM KING’S BATMAN
The story that kicked off in Rebirth finally came to its conclusion in December. Tom King played the long haul, which worked for some but not all. Personally, I thought his 85-issue run had moments of brilliance, while others had me frustratingly disappointed. Overall though, I really enjoyed it and King has put his stamp on the character, with a 12-issue series coming in 2020.
The third crossover series between two pop culture icons was about as fun as comic books can get. Writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie Williams’ passion for the heroes was clear on every panel of every page. It played as a great sequel to what came before, but could also stand on its own as a multiverse mystery where nothing is as it seems. Famous characters and villains from both sides showed up, mixing and matching between worlds that had me giddy after every issue.
It took two long years (which felt longer) for this series to wrap up, but it finally did by the close of 2019. While the main focus was of WATCHMEN characters and Superman, Batman was still pretty important to the story and intermingling between different heroes and villains. DOOMSDAY CLOCK was an ambitious effort to explain The New 52-Rebirth changes, but it worked and was a gorgeous book to look at.
BATMAN: CURSE OF THE WHITE KNIGHT
Sean Murphy set the bar for original storytelling with his phenomenal BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT. A sequel was inevitable, but many of us were a little apprehensive. Shows how much we know. Only 5 issues in (of 8), and this followup is just as dramatic, shocking, and ambitious as the original. Murphy has paved the way for original, contained storytelling at DC and I can’t wait to see how this book wraps up in 2020.
While technically not a Batman book, The Dark Knight does show up in each issue of this Black Label series, which also happens to be my favorite book of the year. Much like Batman himself, Harley Quinn can fit into many different genres and takes, to fit all ages. Here, a mature approach is taken to peel back the layers of Harleen Quinzel, and how she became the villain we’ve all come to love. It’s dark, funny, emotional and writer/artist Stjepan Sejic has a unique style that is second to none. If you passed on its initial release, buy the trade. It’s a must-own for comic fans.
BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS
Not much under this category, but there was an outstanding release in February with BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS. The novel was a perfect expansion of the source material that can work as a sequel and on its own. It’s quite brilliant. If you need any more convincing, check out my review.
BATMAN: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF THE DARK KNIGHT IN COMICS, FILM, AND BEYOND
This was a monster of a book, but for good reason. Author Andrew Farago had the daunting task of summarizing the hero’s 80-year legacy, touching on everything from comics, to television, to movies, and more. That’s a lot of material, and yet somehow he was able to include it all here. And for fun, he also recreated memorable inserts, you know, for the full experience. Can’t express this enough: THIS IS A MUST FOR BATMAN FANS. Also give episode 158 of the BOF podcast a listen, where I interviewed Andrew Farago himself
BATMAN: 100 GREATEST MOMENTS
I narrowly missed out on this book but thankfully Jett showed off what was clearly his favorite Christmas present (Assuming here, I don’t really know). I haven’t finished this book yet, but it’s a great highlight reel of the hero’s best moments in comics. There’s a lot of great text, but also reprints of famous pages in print. – Ryan Lower