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.
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.
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.
NO. MORE. OF. THAT. BULLSHIT. EVER!
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