I'll just come out and say it: I'm a Batman fanboy.
I've been a huge sucker for the Dark Knight, not originally because of the comics, but because of Batman: The Animated Series and the Batman movies that I saw while growing up. When Batman became a big interest to me, I started following the storylines from the comics more and more.
But it wasn't until after the Batman R.I.P. and Battle for the Cowl story arcs that I became a comic die-hard. I went from buying occasional comic books and graphic novels to purchasing a line-up of 5-6 comics a week, and they were all related to Gotham City's heroes (and villains) in one way or another.
The number of Batman titles that came out during this time, many of which began August 2009, was quite high. Aside from the original Batman comic (which continued on past the Batman R.I.P. events with Dick Grayson as Batman), there were four new titles that premiered alongside the shift in big stories. Those titles were Batman and Robin, Gotham City Sirens, Red Robin, and Streets of Gotham.
Two more premiered later that year (Batgirl featuring Stephanic Brown as the new Batgirl, and Azrael), and following the return of Bruce Wayne, two more premiered in early 2011 (Batwoman, and Batman Incorporated, which told the stories of the global network of Batmen that Bruce Wayne publicly managed after his return).
Talking about each and every comic that was released during this time could fill a small book. Gotham is filled with a rich collection of quirky and unique characters, and the two years where Bruce Wayne was MIA gave way for development of a variety of characters within Gotham, as everyone adjusted to a life without the original Batman. Despite loving many of the stories that came out of these Batman comics, there are three in particular that stood out to me as favorites. Today, I wanted to highlight those comics. If you're looking for some sweet reads this Summer, I recommend checking these ones out!
Most of the Batman comics at that time had a level of darknesss associated with them, unsurprisingly given the brooding nature of the Batman. Even Gotham Sirens, which featured the quirky and funny Harley Quinn, had its dark streaks. But one comic broke this mold during the two years between the disappearance of Bruce Wayne and the New 52, and it was the Stephanie Brown edition of Batgirl.
Batgirl had loads of humorous dialogue thanks to the internal monologues from the protagonist Stephanie Brown, formerly known as Spoiler. She had a personality that could fit a typical blonde college girl, but a streak of humor and a sharp wit that helped bring her day-life and alter-ego together in onr very entertaining comic. I considered the dialogue in this book to be some of the best from DC Comics at the time, and I'd love to see this style of humor and writing continue on, should Stephanie Brown ever be revisited as one of Gotham's more recognizable characters.
The dynamic duo returned with an interesting personality shift in Batmand and Robin. While Dick Grayson, who took on the role as Batman, was a light-hearted and acrobatic caped crusader, the newest Robin took on the brooding and darkness typically associated with the mantle of the bat. This is unsurprising, given that the newest Robin is none other than Bruce Wayne's son, Damien Wayne, who was raised by his mother Talia Al Ghul for most of his life as a trained assassin.
The intense personality brawls created a very interesting tie between the two characters. While Dick struggled to take on the responsibility and the image of Batman, Damien struggled with suppressing his violent tendancies as a killer. The story of the two characters stretched even beyond the scope of this comic.
As the for comic itself, Batman and Robin had some amazing stories, and it played a pivotal role in the uncovering of Bruce Wayne's fate. The storyline, which shifts to the dynamic duo intending to uncover the exact return of Bruce Wayne, unfolds in a climactic showdown between Batman and Dr. Hurt, one of the major villains during Grant Morrison's run as a writer for the last few year's Batman comics.
Despite the intense story development found in Batman and Robin, it could not hold a candle to my favorite title in recent years (not even counting just Batman comics). Red Robin was easily one of my favorite reads for its entire run, and depicts Tim Drake as he takes on a role new and grows into his own.
Red Robin highlights Tim's desire to find out what really happened to Bruce Wayne when he disappeared. His search involves an action-packed confrontation with Ra's Al Ghul, in which Tim actually bests the Demon's Head in a battle of wits in the conclusion to the story. Red Robin then goes on to apprehending wanted criminals, bringing the world's most wanted to justice. Red Robin also presented some very deep character devlopment for Tim, who struggled with a variety of internal crises during his time solo (and made all the stronger with internal monologue).
While I sing praises for these three comics in particular, the entire run of Batman comics from August 2009 until the New 52 has been a thrilling ride. I look forward to seeing where Gotham's most recognizable end up in their new stories!