Bat-Timeline – “Batman in 1989”


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JANUARY: In Part 3 of “A Death in the Family” (BATMAN #428), Robin II, Jason Todd, is found dead by The Batman due to a beating by The Joker and subsequent explosion. In the previous issue, #427, readers were given two 900 numbers to call and vote: one for Jason to live, the other for him to die. The fans voted in favor of the latter (by a slim margin) and thus, Jason Todd was dead (for now).


JANUARY: The first full-length trailer for the live-action BATMAN film was released in theaters and shown on TV on ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT. People started buying movie tickets just to see the trailer for BATMAN.


FEBRUARY: Catwoman was given her first stand-alone title with the four-issue run of CATWOMAN. The miniseries told the story of Catwoman’s past and picked up where BATMAN: YEAR ONE had left off two years prior.


FEBRUARY: The Huntress was reimaged as Helena Bertinelli and introduced into post-CRISES DCU continuity with the ongoing series, THE HUNTRESS.


ALSO READ: “BOF Is 20!” by Bill “Jett” Ramey

MAY: The 3 part story arc “Blind Justice” (by Sam Hamm, one of screenwriters on BATMAN) concludes inBATMAN #600 – which also marked the 50th anniversary of Batman. The character of Henri Ducard – one of Bruce Wayne’s early mentors/trainers debuted during the story in issue #599. Ducard (who was really Ra’s Al Ghul) would be portrayed by Liam Neeson in the 2005 film, BATMAN BEGINS.


JUNE: Tim Burton’s BATMAN – starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson as Batman and The Joker, respectively – hit theaters on June 23, 1989 and would go on to be the #1 movie of the year.

BATMAN finished its theater run with a worldwide box office total of $411,348,924. Anton Furst would win an Oscar for the film’s art direction.


AUGUST: DC followed up “Year One and Year Two” with a new story arc beginning in BATMAN #436 titled “Batman: Year Three.” Dick Grayson’s origin as Robin was detailed and a youngster named Tim Drake – who would go on to become the next Robin – made a brief appearance.


OCTOBER: A 5 part story titled “A Loney Place of Dying” begins in BATMAN #440. This story would introduce Robin III, Tim Drake to the Batman mythos.


OCTOBER: The graphic novel ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON A SERIOUS EARTH by writer Grant Morrison and artist Dave McKean is released. It is considered one of the greatest Batman graphic novels in comic book history.


NOVEMBER: Billed with the following tagline, “The First New SOLO Batman Book Since 1940,” BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT debuts. The first storyline, “Shaman,” was a tale from Batman’s past and directly tied into BATMAN: YEAR ONE. “Shaman” was written by Dennis O’Neil.


NOVEMBER: The villain Anarchy makes his debut in DETECTIVE COMICS #608.


DECEMBER: The very first of DC’s “Elseworld” tales — BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT – is released. Set in 1889 Gotham City, Batman takes on a real life supervillain – Jack the Ripper – who has migrated from England to the U.S.

1989.  In terms of my Batman fandom, this is the year that I embraced it both personally and publicly.

No more hiding the fact that I loved Batman and comic books. No more going to that mall bookstore and reading comics off the rack. No more acting like I was “too cool” to like – no, LOVE – a fictional comic book character.


And 27 years later, here I am (nod to BvS intended) and there hasn’t been any of that sort of BS since!

Why? Well, there’s one reason and one reason only: BATMAN ’89.

If you weren’t around – or old enough to take it in (as I was in ’66 for the first round of “Batmania”) – to experience the absolute culture “happening” which was B89, I don’t know if you can fully understand it. Yes, it was big in 2008 over when THE DARK KNIGHT was released, but it’s still ranks a close #2 in my book.

A great time it was in 1989 to be a Batman fan!

As far as the comics featured in this installment of this installment of this BOF series, I bought ‘em all (sans the Catwoman and Huntress titles) – in a comic book store mind you – and still have them today in my collection.

And I’m proud of that. Thank you B89. – Bill “Jett” Ramey

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A life-long Batman fan, Bill "Jett" Ramey is the founder of BATMAN ON FILM. His passions include Dallas Cowboys football (fan since birth/season ticket holder since 2000), Elvis Presley, Rock music, cold beer, dive bars, the city of Austin, his summer house in Minnesota, the University of Texas Longhorns and...THE BATMAN (fan for 50+ years)! He resides in the great state of Texas with his lovely wife ("Announcer Rachel"), his youngest son, and 1.5 Boston Terriers.