TALES OF THE BATMAN: STEVE ENGLEHART Book Review

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Writer Steve Englehart was celebrated by DC comics this year when they released TALES OF THE BATMAN: STEVE ENGLEHART, a collection of the writer’s invaluable work on the Dark Knight. While his name is seemingly always mentioned when talking about the character’s legacy, there may be a surprising element that some fans don’t know.

Englehart was with DC for only a year, and initially wrote just 8 issues.

In 1977, the writer was hired by the company to take on Justice League, and he negotiated throwing in Batman as well. 1 year, 7 issues (which turned into 8). He wrote his first two scripts, and they were passed on to artist Walt Simonson for DETECTIVE COMICS #469 and #470.

For reasons Englehart didn’t know, DC decided to shake things up and switched artists, passing his scripts along to Marshall Rogers. For the next 6 issues, history was made, in what was retroactively named STRANGE APPARITIONS.

In just a year, here are a few things this run did:

  • Introduce Rupert Thorne
  • Create Silver St. Cloud
  • Modernize Deadshot
  • Bring the classic Joker tale “The Laughing Fish”

Much like the LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT: MARSHALL ROGERS hardcover released a few years ago, the STRANGE APPARITIONS run is collected again, alongside Englehart’s other Batman material. Included in this 450+ page book, you can find:

  • DETECTIVE COMICS #439
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #469-476
  • BATMAN #311
  • LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #109-111
  • THE BATMAN CHRONICLES #119
  • LEGENDS OF THE DC UNIVERSE #26 -27

In addition to this variety of stories, the book wraps up with the 2006 6-issues miniseries, and STRANGE APPARITIONS sequel, DARK DETECTIVE (featuring the iconic Joker cover “VOTE FOR ME…OR I’LL KILL YOU”). There were initial plans for a DARK DETECTIVE II (Englehart wrote the scripts), but Rogers unfortunately passed away and they scrapped plans to finish.

All of this is a brief way to implore you to track down and get this book. Steve Englehart’s work on the Dark Knight holds a special place in the character’s legacy, introducing new characters, crime, corrupt politics, and a classic rogue’s story. Now you can have all of it in one wonderful hardcover book.

You won’t need The Joker’s help to put a smile on your face. – Ryan Lower


 

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Representing the Midwest, Ryan has been a BOF fan since 2003, and started contributing to the site in 2017. He is the host of “The Batman Book Club” podcast. Ryan has written reviews for comics, animated movies and TV series. He has also appeared on BOF podcasts and Social Hours for Batman discussions, reviews, and interviews. Thanks to BOF, he was able to meet and have a one-on-one discussion with his favorite artist, Lee Bermejo. Follow him on Twitter @lower_ryan.