With the year and decade, coming to a close it’s time for all the “Best of the decade” lists to come flowing. I’m not different and certainly have my fair share of ideas, but for this article, I wanted to do something that’s not exactly a traditional “Best of” list. Rather than select specific comic issues or stories and put them in a ranked list, I decided to approach this in broader strokes.
I’m going to be looking at some of the biggest Batman moments in comics from the last decade. I won’t be ranking them in any particular order, partly because I’m indecisive and partly because the selection I’m going to highlight is vastly different in content. I’m also using the term “moments” loosely. Some “moments” will be full story arcs, while others may be singular issues or actual moments taking place on a page or two. Also, full disclaimer: I haven’t read anywhere close to all of the Batman comics that came out this decade. There are going to be a ton of moments that aren’t on this list that could be argued should be, and there are some that you might not think deserve a slot. With all that prefacing out of the way, let’s hop into the list.
Enter: The Court of Owls
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s critically acclaimed and fan-favorite run on Batman during the New 52 initiative at DC started with a bang. The duo came out swinging, introducing a brand-new group of villains to Batman’s Rogues Gallery while seamlessly integrating them into the mythology of the Caped Crusader and Gotham itself. Starting in September of 2011 and ending in July of 2012 the 11 issue story had elements of horror, blockbuster action, enthralling detective work, and a stellar mystery from start to finish. The book almost instantly became a hit and the Court of Owls has now become one of the top villains in Batman’s Rogues Gallery. The sinister group operating behind Gotham’s granite and lime foundations have already had a live-action adaptation via FOX’s Gotham and fans are clamoring for a video-game and big-budget film appearance of the feathered fiends.
In the climactic arc of Geoff Johns epic run on New 52 Justice League, Darkseid War saw the heroes witness a battle of cosmic proportions between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor. During the epic story, various members of the Justice League go through dramatic changes and are given the powers of God-like beings. Batman took it upon himself to set on the Mobius Chair, which contains all the knowledge in the Multiverse. In doing so Batman effectively became the God of knowledge. With art by Jason Fabok and colorist Brad Anderson, the BatGod design is one of my favorites in general, but the narrative implications brought on by Batman’s time on the chair are set to be explored soon. In one of the earlier issues in the tale, Batman asks the chair the true identity of the Joker, when the chair responds (it responds in Batman’s head, readers aren’t aware of what it says) Batman is shocked and says “That’s impossible.”. It is later revealed in Justice League #50 that instead of giving a name for the Joker, the chair told Batman there are three of them. Batman: Three Jokers is an upcoming series written by Geoff Johns with art by Jason Fabok and colors by Brad Anderson. The series will explore what exactly the chair meant and from all the teases and information we have the story is set to be a character and history-defining chapter in the legacy of the Dark Knight.
Death and Return of Damian Wayne
Legendary writer Grant Morrison was nearing the end of his epic Batman run when the New 52 started, but rather than cut off his story in leu of the reboot, DC allowed his tale to continue effectively uninterrupted through the New 52 launch with Batman Inc. being the final title in Morrison’s run. Simultaneously, Batman & Robin from writer/artist duo Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason had become another hit in the early New 52 days. The series was hinged on the incredibly realized father/son dynamic that Tomasi penned flawlessly and Gleason rendered beautifully. It was a huge moment, then, when in the pages of Batman Inc. #8 Damian is tragically killed. The moment sent shockwaves through the Batman world and produced one of the greatest single issues of comics I’ve ever read in Batman and Robin #18. The issue is “silent” with no dialogue or narration boxes and shows a grieving Batman on his nightly patrols. The issue is full of impactful imagery and tugs on all the heartstrings it can.
Following Damian’s death, the Batman and Robin title was now missing the latter half of its namesake. This led to rotating guest appearances and an eventual return story for the fallen Robin with “The Hunt for Robin” and finally culminating in the Robin Rises: Alpha and Robin Rises: Omega issues. The resurrection of Robin may have been expected, but the epic adventure leading up to it, the exploration of what the loss did to Bruce, and the incredibly emotional return of Bruce’s son make the story one to remember.
Tom King began his run on Batman when Rebirth started after the DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot released. His epic run on the main title is coming to an end in a few days but there have been plenty of game-changing and flat-out amazing moments. Perhaps the most instantly iconic of all being Batman finally popping the question and asking Selina Kyle to marry him. Happening in issue #24, the series already had a few arcs under its belt but this moment radically changed the entire trajectory of the title. Selina/Catwoman had been a player in the book for a few arcs up until this point but after the proposal took a central and completely different role than she ever had before. King’s run has been an excellent example in brilliant long-form storytelling and at the heart of it has been the Batman/Catwoman relationship. The proposal offered the chance to explore their relationship, what they meant to each other, and what they would do for each other in ways that hadn’t been done before. And it’s not even over, while King’s work on the main Batman title is ending soon, the story of Batman/Catwoman will carry on and conclude in the upcoming Batman/Catwoman book set for release in 2020.
Dark Nights: Metal
While Scott Snyder left the Batman title at the start of Rebirth, his work on the Caped Crusader was far from over. Starting with Dark Days: The Forge & Dark Days: The Casting in June and July of 2017, the full Dark Nights: Metal event began in August of 2017 and saw Batman and the entire DC Universe facing a threat unlike any they’d seen before. Scott Snyder, artist Greg Capullo, inker Jonathon Glapion, and colorist FCO Plascencia brought to life the concept of the Dark Multiverse, a universe existing below the surface of the Multiverse we know in DC Comics, that is full of dark and twisted worlds spun from the worst nightmares in the DCU. The series was insane in the best way possible and saw Snyder seamlessly weaving together minor threads throughout his entire Batman run into one epic interwoven tapestry. The introduction of “Dark Knights” versions of Batman, alternate Earth Evil Batmen (and one Batwoman) was exciting to see. The series also had a huge impact on the DCU, setting up the “New Justice” initiative of Justice League books, which saw Scott Snyder taking the reigns of the main Justice League title beginning in 2018. The Dark Multiverse is even still being explored and expanded upon in current DC titles, with a “spiritual successor” or sequel of sorts to Metal also being heavily rumored.
Don’t Be Batman
Another huge moment from Tom King’s Batman came just a few issues before the proposal when we saw the return of Flashpoint Batman, Thomas Wayne. The Flash (Barry Allen) and Batman were investigating the appearance of the Watchmen button in the Batcave and ended up riding the time stream, with it spitting them out on the Flashpoint Earth. Here Bruce comes face to face with his father, in a moment I, and I’m sure many other comic fans, thought we’d never get to see. The moment was extremely bittersweet as the two have so much they want to tell the other but so little time. Rendered phenomenally by artist Jason Fabok and colorist Brad Anderson, we get to see the pair fight side by side, and exchange some of the most heartwarming and heartbreaking lines I can remember reading in a Batman comic. Bruce tells Thomas that he’s a grandfather, and before Bruce is forced to leave as the world around them is collapsing Thomas urges Bruce to hang up the cape and cowl. “Don’t be Batman. Don’t do it for me. Don’t do it for your mother. Be a father to your son in a way I never could be for you.” The moment still brings tears to my eyes and while Thomas would later become a MAJOR player in the rest, particularly later half, of King’s run, this singular line sums up his character motivation perfectly.
Detective Comics #1000
Batman celebrated his 80th anniversary this year, and in March he had another milestone to celebrate as well. The titular title for DC Comics, and the book that Batman himself first appeared in reached the landmark 1000th issue. The extravaganza surrounding the book was astounding (the number of variant covers alone threatened to break my bank account) and the issue itself certainly didn’t disappoint. The issue was an extra-sized celebration of 80 years of legacy of The Dark Knight. Containing stories from a multitude of top tier talents in the comic industry and some of the most influential Batman contributors in history, there was something for everyone within the 96-page giant. The issue also saw the introduction of the now-famous Batman villain the Arkham Knight into the main DC Comics continuity. Reaching the 1000th issue is a huge milestone and the fact that Batman has been there since the 27th issue (we’re now approaching Batman being in the title for 1000 issues himself) is a testament to his longevity, adaptability, and popularity.
With that, I’m going to wrap up this list of some of the biggest Batman moments in comics over the last decade. As I said at the beginning there are PLENTY of moments I didn’t mention, and it’s not out of wanting to ignore the amazing contributions the World’s Greatest Detective has seen over the last decade, it’d just be impossible to write out all of the worthwhile things that have happened. The last decade has been outstanding for Batman, with a good majority of my favorite Batman comics releasing in the span of the last ten years and there are almost endless things to celebrate about it. Looking back, I’m incredibly thankful for all the contributions so many passionate and talented creators have given to The Dark Knight and I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings.