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New To Batman?
Posted by: Jett
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So you are new to Batman and want to know where to start? Or perhaps you are a longtime Bat-Fan looking for something you may have missed.

In this section -- which will be updated and added upon regularly -- "Jett" and BOF'ers will direct Bat-fans towards what to read, watch, wear, or play when it comes to The Dark Knight.

Got a Bat-suggestion and why it's a Batman "Must-Have," "Must Read," or "Must Watch?" EMAIL BATMAN ON FILM!

He known by many names: The Batman, The Dark Knight, The Caped Crusader, and The Dark Night Detective among others.

The Batman first appeared in comic books in 1939 -- The story was “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” and the book was DETECTIVE COMICS #27. Here is how he’s described:

“The BAT-MAN,” a mysterious and adventurous figure fighting for righteousness and apprehending the wrong doer, in his lone battle against the evil forces of society…
His identity REMAINS UNKNOWN.”

In his nearly 70 year existence, The Batman has changed several times. He’s gone from being a lone, dark vigilante to a colorful crime fighter, and back to his roots as today’s “Dark Knight.”

His supporting cast is almost was well known as The Batman himself: Robin, The Joker, Catwoman, the Batmobile, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, and Gotham City.

He has appeared in comic books, newspaper strips, 40s movie serials, radio, TV, cartoons, blockbuster films, and video games.

He is an American icon and undoubtedly one of the greatest fictional heroes ever created. -- Bill Ramey, BOF Founder/Editor in Chief, October 2006

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following Bat-suggestions do not indicate preference.

MASK OF THE PHANTASM

From WHV: "Gotham City mistakes The Caped Crusader for a killer."

Jett's Take: In my opinion, this was the best Batman film -- animated or live-action -- until BATMAN BEGINS rolled into theaters in 2005. A great Batman movie!

BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

From WHV: "The greatest villain of all comes out of the past to threaten Batman, Bruce Wayne and all of Gotham City in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the first feature-length Batman Beyond movie.

The sleeker, deadlier and seemingly immortal Clown Prince of Crime is back with his own unique brand of havoc and mayhem. While trying to uncover the Joker's secrets, the new Batman, Terry McGinnis, discovers the greatest mystery in the life of the original Caped Crusader: What happened the night he fought the Joker for the last time. When Bruce Wayne is almost killed in one of the Joker's latest attacks, Batman vows to avenge his mentor and put the Joker to rest forever. Get ready for heart-stomping action, awesome adventure and amazing revelations in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker."

Jett's Take: This is one of the best animated Batman films to date -- and it may be one of the best period.

THE BATMAN CHRONICLES, Vol. 2

From DC Comics: "Continuing the complete and chronological reprinting of every Batman comics story ever published! CHRONICLES VOL. 2 - collecting Batman stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #39-45, BATMAN #2-3, and NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR COMICS #2 - features the Dark Knight facing a host of villains including the Joker, Catwoman, Clayface and many more!"

Jett's Take: If you are a Batman fan, you have to collect these BATMAN CHRONICLES.

BATMAN: A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

From DC Comics: "Batman readers were allowed to vote on the outcome of the story and they decided that Robin should die! As the second person to assume the role of Batman's sidekick, Jason Todd had a completely different personality than the original Robin. Rash and prone to ignore Batman's instructions, Jason was always quick to act without regard to consequences. In this fatal instance, Robin ignores his mentor's warnings when he attempts to take on The Joker by himself and pays the ultimate price. Driven by anger with Superman by his side, Batman seeks his vengeance as he looks to end The Joker's threat forever."

Jett's Take: One of the most famous events in Batman history -- the death of Robin II, Jason Todd. Why is it so famous? Because DC employed a stunt that allowed readers to vote whether or not Todd should live -- and they voted to whack him!

The death of Robin II was also one of the major contributors to the rise of “A-Hole Batman” -- The Batman’s sociopath and unlikable personality of the late 80s until the mid 2000s.

BATMAN: UNDER THE HOOD, Vol. 1

From DC Comics: "Shocking revelations and age-old foes make this new collection — featuring BATMAN #635-641 — a must-have! Batman is confronted with a hidden face from the past — it's the return of the Red Hood! With Black Mask controlling the Gotham underworld, what role will Red Hood have when all is said and done?"

Jett's Take: What on the surface, the return of the dead Jason Todd seems gimmicky. Surprisingly, UNDER THE HOOD isn’t. Jason Todd has returned to the Batman universe and this is the story of how that happened.

BATMAN: FACE THE FACE

From DC Comics: "It's 'One Year Later' and who is the mysterious vigilante who's been murdering Gotham's highest-profile villains? Find out in this new collection featuring the 8-part 'Face the Face' saga from #817-820 and BATMAN #651-654! Batman must uncover the murderer's identity — even as he finds himself in the unlikely role of protecting some of his oldest foes!"

Jett's Take: Great story! This was The Batman's first appearance after INFINITE CRISIS and introduced the “new and improved” Dark Knight.

BATMAN (1966)

DVD Synopsis: "The archvillains of The United Underworld - The Catwoman, The Joker, The Riddler and The Penguin - combine forces to dispose of Batman and Robin as they launch their fantastic plot to control the entire world. From his submarine, Penguin and his cohorts hijack a yacht containing a superdehydrator, which can extract all moisture from humans and reduce them to particles of dust. The evildoers turn the 9 Security Council members in the United World Building into 9 vials of multicolored crystals! Batman and Robin track the villains in their Batboat and use Batcharge missles to force the sub to surface."

Jett's Take: Whether you love this take on Batman or not, you can’t argue BATMAN '66 -- in particular the TV show that inspired the movie -- is not important to Batman’s history.

In fact, if it had not have been for the TV series, there may not be Batman today. Hell, DC was considering canceling the Batman comic books just prior to the show’s huge success!

On a personal note, I credit this film and the TV show for making me a Batman fan.

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: BATMAN, VOL. 1

From DC Comics: "The spotlight's on Batman in this volume featuring Detective Comics #327-342 and Batman #164-174! The Dynamic Duo take on some of their most enduring Rogues Gallery members, including Penguin, the Riddler, and the Outsider in these classic Silver Age stories from the era of famed editor Julius Schwartz!"

Robert's Take: The stories that both inspired the Adam West tv show and signaled a change from nearly a decade of space aliens, goofy science fiction stories, Bat-Mite, Bat-Hound, and Bat-Woman to something more modern and serious. And, perhaps most significantly, the moment that Batman broke away from strictly being done by the Bob Kane studio and opened the doors to Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Bob Brown, Irv Novick, and Neal Adams. Not to mention it's one of the few volumes of stories where you can actually read about Dick Grayson as Robin.

A product of its time and not for those seeking a purely dark and serious Batman, but historically important and a great value. -- Robert Reineke

BATMAN: STRANGE APPARITIONS

From DC Comics: "BATMAN: STRANGE APPARITIONS collects the late '70s stories that were monumental in elevating Batman from super hero to cultural icon. Considered the definitive Batman tales, this book transforms the Caped Crusader into a three-dimensional character who is as much adventurer as detective. Featuring bold and rich portrayals of the Joker, Clayface, Hugo Strange and the Penguin, this book also includes Bruce Wayne's love affair with Silver St. Cloud and her astonishing discovery of his alter ego. These stories and character interpretations are the foundation upon which Batman's current mythos was built."

Jett's Take: The Englehart/Rogers run in DETECTIVE in the late 70s is considered one of the greatest periods in Batman's comic book history.

BATMAN: THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD

From DC Comics: "A collection of some of the Dark Knight's finest adventures! This volume contains stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #33 (1939), BATMAN #5 (1941), BATMAN #62 (1950), and more!"

Jett's Take: Great book that offers a look at The Batman in all of his incarnations. Includes one of the greatest Batman/Joker stories ever told: "The Joker's 5 Way Revenge."

DETECTIVE COMICS

Description: "DETECTIVE COMICS is a comic book published by DC Comics since 1937. With more than 800 issues now published, it is the longest continuously-published comic book in the United States. It's was assured by issue #27 (May 1939), which featured the first appearance of Batman (as 'The Bat-Man'). He would eventually become the star of the title, which is often written as 'DETECTIVE COMICS: Featuring Batman' on the cover." -- WIKIPEDIA.ORG

Jett's Take: If I could only read one Batman comic book, this one would be it.

BATMAN: THE COMPLETE HISTORY by Les Daniels

Official Description: "Uncover the Caped Crusader's mysterious real-world origin and his evolution into a hugely successful TV and movie franchise in Batman: The Complete History...with enough archival comic book art, photographs, and in-depth history to satisfy the most demanding fan."

Jett's Take: A great book! The most complete history of The Dark Knight I have found. The only downside is that it sometimes fails to criticize the Batman's blemishes, ala 1997's BATMAN AND ROBIN objectively.

BATMAN: THE ULIMATE GUIDE by Scott Beatty

Official Description: "A broad history of Batman's friends, foes, and high-tech hardware and hideouts, this oversized, illustration-filled DK guide just can't be beat. This guide pulls apart and pokes at the many gadgets and backdrops found in the Dark Knight's world. Exploded diagrams reveal the innards of the new and old Batcaves, and stat-packed tags and captions spell out everything from how the Bat-Signal works to where Catwoman stashes her bullwhip."

Jett's Take: Coming Soon!

Suggested By: BOF contributor Cary Ashby.

BATMAN CHRONICLES, Vol. 1

From DC COMICS: "BATMAN CHRONICLES VOL. 1 reprints Batman stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #27-37 and BATMAN #1, featuring the earliest adventures of the Dark Knight by Batman creator Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Gardner Fox, Jerry Robinson and Sheldon Moldoff. Future volumes in this series reprint stories from DETECTIVE COMICS, BATMAN, WORLD'S FINEST and other titles throughout the character's history, all presented chronologically based on publication date!"

Jett's Take: These stories -- including the very first story of "The Bat-Man" -- are the darkest the character was written until 1970. If you are a Batman fan, this is a must-read!

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, Vols. 1-4

Description: A 4 set DVD collection of the fan and critical acclaimed BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES of the 1990s.

Jett's Take: Perhaps the best adaptation of The Batman among all the animated and live-action endeavors.

Suggested By: Cary Ashby, BOF contributor.

BATMAN: YEAR ONE

From DC COMICS: "A young Bruce Wayne has spent his adolescence and early adulthood, traveling the world so he could hone his body and mind into the perfect fighting and investigative machine. But now as he returns to Gotham City, he must find a way to focus his passion and bring justice to his city. Retracing Batman's first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed vigilante, we watch as he chooses a guise of a giant bat, creates an early bond with a young Lieutenant James Gordon, inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a corrupt political system that infests Gotham."

Jett's Take: One of the greatest Bat-books every written. YEAR ONE, by Frank Miller (writer) and David Mazzuccelli (art), is the starting point for any Batman reading. It also is considered the true origin of the modern age Batman.

THE LONG HALLOWEEN

From DC COMICS: "Taking place during Batman's early days of crime fighting, this collection tells the story of a mysterious killer who murders his prey only on holidays. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month. A mystery that has the reader continually guessing the identity of the killer, this story also ties into the events that transform Harvey Dent into Batman's deadly enemy, Two-Face."

Jett's Take: A fan-fave that is considered the definitive origin of Batman villain Two Face. THE LONG HALLOWEEN's best part is the depiction of the crime fighting team of Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent, and The Batman.

BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN

From DC COMICS: "Matt Wagner takes The Dark Knight through his sophomore season. The Batman has spent his first year fighting organized crime — but nothing thus far in his early career as the Caped Crusader has prepared him for the new menace facing Gotham: super-powered villains!"

Jett's Take: Set during The Batman's second year, or as Matt Wagner told BOF, "...inside the spaces of the last several panels of YEAR ONE, BATMM tells the story of The Dark Knight's first encounter with "super villains." Wagner crafts a wonderful story that despite having elements of the fantastical, seems believable. It is also the tale of The Batman's first encounter with Dr. Hugo Strange -- the man behind "The Monster Men."

DARK VICTORY

From DC COMICS: "Written as the sequel to the critically acclaimed BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, this trade paperback continues to the tell the story of an early time in Batman's life when James Gordon, Harvey Dent, and the vigilante himself were all just beginning their roles as Gotham's protectors. Once a town controlled by organized crime, Gotham City suddenly finds itself infested with colorful and maniacal villains such as Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and the Joker. Witnessing his city's dark evolution, Batman, joined by his youthful sidekick Robin, matures into a true hero capable of facing these new and extraordinary threats."

Jett's Take: Right up there with the classic TLH. Tells the origin of Robin in manner that does not compromise The Batman's dark world.

BATMAN (1989)

Synopsis: The mysterious Batman (Michael Keaton) begins his war on crime in Gotham City and takes on his arch-enemy, The Joker (Jack Nicholson).

Jett's Take: To paraphrase the great Michael Uslan, BATMAN BEGINS is the best Batman film, but BATMAN is the most important one.

1989's Batman showed the world that Batman was not a pudgy, funny guy in tights. This film along with SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, are perhaps the two most important "superhero movies" of all time.

BATMAN T-SHIRT

Description: Black T-shirt with the classic Batman logo.

Jett's Take: If you are a Batman fan, you've got to own this shirt. The logo says it all! Plus it's rather "cool."

BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT

Description: The Adventures of the Victorian Age Batman.

Jett's Take: This was the first "ELSEWORLDS" tale from DC COMICS. Great story -- Jack The Ripper's loose in Gotham City and "The Bat-Man" is on his tail.

BATMAN BEGINS

Description: 2005's reboot of the Warner Bros. BATMAN film franchise by director Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as The Batman.

Jett's Take: By far, the best of the Warner Bros. live-action BATMAN films. It is the only live-action Bat-flick to detail the "origin" of The Dark Knight.

THE BATMAN FILMOGRAPHY by Mark S. Reinhart

Official Description: "[The Batman Filmography] follows Batman's motion picture adventures, from his first appearances on the screen in 1940’s film serials, through the camp craze surrounding the 1966 television series, up to the Warner Bros. series of summer blockbusters that began with 1989’s BATMAN starring Michael Keaton. Chapters on each of the seven feature-length Batman movies include extensive film and production credits, a production history, and a critical analysis of the movie relative to other Batman films and the original comic book character. Notes accompany each chapter, and an index and bibliography are included."

Jett's Take: A fantastic book for fans of the Bat-Movies. TBF offers a detailed critical analysis of all of The Batman's live-action, on screen adventures -- sans BATMAN BEGINS.

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS

From DC COMICS: "It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now as his city needs him most, The Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenage female Robin, The Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city. And after facing off against his two greatest enemies, The Joker and Two-Face for the final time, Batman finds himself in mortal combat with his former ally, Superman, in a battle that only one of them will survive. This collection is hailed as a comics masterpiece and was responsible for the launch of the Batman movies."

Jett's Take: What can I say, it's a comic book classic. Not exactly "My Batman" and not how I envision The Batman's future, but one of the greatest Batman stories of all time, no doubt. A must-read and must-have for all Batman fans.

THE KILLING JOKE

From DC COMICS: "For the first time the Joker's origin is revealed in this tale of insanity and human perseverance. Looking to prove that any man can be pushed past his breaking point and go mad, the Joker attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane. After shooting and permanently paralyzing his daughter Barbara (a.k.a. Batgirl), the Joker kidnaps the commissioner and attacks his mind in hopes of breaking the man. But refusing to give up, Gordon maintains his sanity with the help of Batman in an effort to best the madman."

Jett's Take: One of the best and most famous Batman stories ever written. If The Joker is your favorite Batman villain, this is something you have to have in your collection.

BATMAN IN THE SEVENTIES

From DC COMICS: "In the seventies, Batman began his transformation from the campy Caped Crusader of the sixties television show into the grim Dark Knight of the nineties' motion pictures. This action-packed book includes the greatest adventures of that era which helped to reshape this legendary icon. Featuring Batgirl, Robin, the Joker, Man-Bat, the Huntress, and Ra's al Ghul, BATMAN IN THE SEVENTIES is an outstanding opportunity to look back and enjoy the tales of the past that are now the foundation for the future."

Jett's Take: If you've been reading BOF for a while, you know that I'm a child of the 70s and it was the Bat-Comics of this decade on which I cut my teeth. This compilation of stories from the decade of polyester are some of the best of The Bat: “Daughter of the Demon,” “Vow From of the Grave,” “Night of the Reaper,” and others.

TO BE CONTINUED....



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