Ben Affleck's upcoming tenure playing the Dark Knight will leave an impression and impact on the character we have yet to see, but for this op-ed, I'm focusing on the comic books and film animated incarnations that have left the biggest impression on me. In short, these are what I consider "My Batman."
Batman – 1970s comics: This is a pretty broad time frame, but it overall defines “my Batman.” This covers when Batman is known as “the Darknight Detective” who uses his vast intellect to piece together clues. He also spreads fear and terror in members of the criminal underworld who call him “the Batman,” as he puts a whoopin’ on anybody who crosses him. The 1970s epitomizes what I’ve coined “the compassionate Batman” as the Caped Crusader never loses empathy for victims and the downtrodden in his never-ending crusade for justice.
Batman by actor Christian Bale and director/writer Christopher Nolan: Bale’s Batman (the best yet we've seen onscreen — so far) says he has no limitations and throughout Nolan’s brilliant, hard-hiting trilogy, the Dark Knight pushes himself to — and beyond — the expectations of himself and others. This never-give-up Batman doesn’t care about his reputation with the public, public officials and psychos alike in his obsession to keep his beloved Gotham City safe. Bale’s controversial Batman growl aside, this is the closest Hollywood has come to comicdom’s Batman and to date is the best live-action version of the character this lifelong Batfan has seen.
|This is the splash page for BATMAN No. 362|
by artist Don Newton
Batman by voice actor Kevin Conroy: His distinct take on the animated Batman’s voice is so influential, it has become the standard by which other voice-actors (and Hollywood actors like Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and Bale) are graded and judged. Conroy’s hefty baritone gives the Dark Knight just the right mix of menace and huskiness — and he even pitches Bruce Wayne’s voice slightly higher. There’s a reason I’ve called him Kevin Conroy “The Batman Voice” for many years.
Batman by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale: This one-two punch of a creative team has created their own library of must-read Batman stories: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, DARK VICTORY and various Halloween-related LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT specials. Moody, entertaining, mysterious, humorous, readable — in a word: perfect.
|Batman meets with Lt. Jim Gordon and assistant D.A. Harvey Dent on the rooftop of the |
Gotham City Police Department in this moody piece by artist Tim Sale from THE LONG HALLOWEEN series.
|The late Jim Aparo drew and inked this cover|
of BATMAN NO. 294.
Batman by artist Norm Breyfogle: His Batman is a fluid, muscular badass — and downright scary. Breyfogle's Batman — much like Adams' and Newton's — is one big dude and like Adams in the late 1960s and 1970s, Breyfogle is a master of choreographing a visually intriguing fight sequence. Similar to Newton and Aparo, Breyfogle’s take on Batman never has gotten the accolades it deserves. Breyfogle puts the “dark” in the 1990s Dark Knight, a menacing creature of the night. (For the exclusive, multi-part CCC interview I did in 2009 with Breyfogle on many, many topics, click here.)
|Norm Breyfogle's cover for|
DETECTIVE COMICS No. 619
is nothing short of iconic.
Some links to some Englehart-related posts that might interest you: Check out this tribute I wrote for the awesome and all-encompassing Batman-on-film website in April 2007, soon after Rogers' unexpected death. In the last several years, I've befriended Englehart via email — and got a chance to chat with him at a Cleveland comic book convention; he talked about working with Rogers during a Q&A session. During the fall of 2008, Englehart agreed to do a lengthy email interview with me; here he looks back on his Batman stories and the 2005 DARK DETECTIVE limited series in which he worked again with Rogers and Austin for a sequel to their ground-breaking 'TEC run.
Batman in YEAR ONE by writer Frank Miller: Despite this being the quintessential Jim Gordon story, YEAR ONE delivers the most believable Batman ever. He strikes fear into the very being of the Gotham mob scene, takes down an entire GCPD tactical squad (while injured!) and saves a cat’s life — all while still trying to get the kinks out of being a masked vigilante. (When the animated “Year One” movie came out in the fall of 2011, I did a four-part comparison/analysis review, which compares the trade paperback/limited series to the animated film by co-directors Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu. But sadly, the original home of CCC and its links has gone kaput, through nothing I did. *Siiiighs...*)
|Kevin Conroy (middle) has voiced Batman in many animated projects and video games.|
Is it any wonder I've called him "The Batman Voice" for many years?
Up next? The First Family, a bruiser I often call the Big Green Guy and the Armored Avenger!