We come to the end of the Best of Comic Book Battles. Arguably, I saved the best for last. The Dark Knight himself, Batman. I’ve read countless Batman comics and I can tell you that there are a lot of great battles among them. The problem is narrowing it down to five. I don’t want to miss anything but surely I’ll look back at this list and say ” damn! How could I forget that one!” Nevertheless here is my final entry of Best Comic Book Battles.
5. Batman vs Bane part 1 & 2 ( Knightfall and Detective Comics # 701) By Doug Moench, Jim Aparo, Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan & Scott Hanna
Okay, so I’m cheating a bit. Technically these are two different fights from two different story lines BUT they fit so well with each other! Most people know who Bane is thanks to the Dark Knight Rises film. The film actually borrowed heavily from both of these stories. Knightfall is the classic where Bane ‘ breaks” the bat, leaving him paralyzed. it’s not much of a fair fight really. Bane pretty much takes advantage of Batman after he’s been battling all the escape convicts from Arkham. By the time Bane shows up, Batman’s on his last legs. Injured and exhausted. Bane just pumps the Venom and beats the hell out of him. I think Batman gets one punch in. This is such an important fight because Batman had never been beaten bad enough that he was broken and humiliated. It also ended a story with the villain, essentially winning. Plus it gave us this classic image…
Detective Comics #701 takes place during the Legacy story line where Bane teams up with Ra’s Al Ghul to unleash a plague all over the world. The story was okay, but it did give us the much anticipated rematch of Bane vs Batman. This time Batman was 100% and Bane was Venom free. The result was a much more balanced fight. I’d even say that Batman dominated most of it. There was a lot of hype for it from my perspective. I think fans really questioned ” could Batman actually beat a guy who seemed his superior in every way?” the answer was satisfying and awesome as hell.
4. Batman vs S.WA.T. teamn ( Batman: Year One) By Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli
A fantastic fight scene from a fantastic story. Miller and Mazzucchelli create a masterpiece in action with this one. As the title would suggest, this is Batman’s rookie year and he’s not used to having his back against the wall. He’s injured and cornered by a corrupt police S.WA.T. team that wants him dead. The way Batman takes out each member one by one goes from desperate to methodical. He even finds time to save a cat. Another thing I love about this fight is that you get to see how much Batman relies on the shadows and uses it to his advantage. If you’ve played the Arkham games, you know just what I mean. You might say he adopts the dark. ( wink.) This is another fight scene that was adapted in animated and even, loosely in live action films. It just goes to show the strength and enduring appeal of this battle.
3. Batman vs Manny ” The Fish” Cardona ( Batman:Prey – Part 2 of 5 – By Doug Moench & Paul Gulacy)
Definitely a childhood favorite of mine. I remember reading this issue over and over again. The artwork and the dynamic nature of the fight really caught my eye. Still does. I would say that compared to some of the other stories on this list, “Prey” is less known. It did get some exposure when it was theorized that it might be adapted as the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It’s also known for being one of the best Dr. Hugo Strange stories as well. Again we see Batman in the early years of his crime fighting career. He goes one on one with a crime lord known as The Fish. It proves to be a more even contest than Batman expects. That’s what makes it even funner for me. Seeing Batman make some mistakes and have to fight his best adds a thrill to any fight. Paul Gulacy has a unique style that may turn off some but I love it for this particular story arc. I urge you to check this story out and enjoy an awesome fight scene. It should be fairly inexpensive if you decide to hunt for it.
2. Batman Vs Joker ( Endgame – By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo & Miki
As the cover would suggest, a battle that has lasted ages. You knew that the greatest rivalry of all time would have to make the list. I think a quote from ” The Dark Knight” really nails it.
“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” – Joker
Endgame “seems” to give both combatants the end that only they deserve. It’s eerily similair to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns but it’s meant to be. It’s shockingly brutal and impossible to take your eyes off of. Like any realtionship it’s hard to keep things exciting and fresh between the two after so many years. I can say that , Snyder and Co. succeed in doing so. A lot of fans were divisive in regards to Snyder’s last venture into the mind of the Joker ( Death Of The Family) but this time I think he nails it. The last issue/ chapter is worth it alone thanks to this glorious fight. Courtsey of Greg Capullo & Miki’s art, check out this page…
1. Batman vs The Mutant Gang Leader – Both fights – ( The Dark Knight Returns) By Frank Miller, Klaus Janson & Lynn Varley
This time it’s less cheating because both fights happen in the same story… a flimsy excuse perhaps, but I digress. Both these fights get mentioned a lot and while I’d love to be more original, the thing is too damn good. This particular comic WAS the first time you see Batman get his ass, more or less, handed to him. This time against the leader of the Mutant gang. He’s essentially an earlier version of Bane, full of brute strength and in the prime of his life. Batman? Not so much. In his fifties and just out of retirement. It’s a well known story and it too, inspired the Nolan movies. In fact, the entire story was adapted in an epic animated movie. It does a fantastic job of bringing this epic fight to life. One thing that is missing from the animated version is Batman’s inner monologue. You get to read the way he assesses each blow as he tries to outwit his opponent. Eventually you start to read the fear and desperation as he realizes he’s losing.
The rematch is a bit of a different story. This round Batman tries to use strategy rather than matching his opponents savagery. Batman manages to lure the Mutant leader to a mud pit and even the playing field. The result is one of the coolest, most quotable lines in the whole story.
“[Fighting the Mutant Leader] You don’t get it, son. This isn’t a mudhole… It’s an operating table. And I’m the surgeon.” – Batman
Amazing. Frank Miller has always been a masterful visual storyteller, and here we get Frank in his prime, with a big assist to Mr. Klaus Janson on inks.
There you have it. My picks for Batman’s greatest battles. Who knows? maybe in a few months I’ll tackle a new set of characters to showcase.