The Best Batman Writers in Comics
I am going to take a risk and suggest many visitors to this web site are fans of Batman. It is no secret that the writing staff here is and what is not to like? He has enough money to buy all of our merchandise, he has tons of cool gadgets, his enemies fear him, and he is just plain cool. But the Dark Knight did not start out that way, he became one of the most popular icons popular culture due to years of stories that engaged readers and fleshed out his character and endeared him to fans. Over the past 75 years there have been a collection of writers who have shaped the way we look at this hero and are responsible for some of the greatest Bat-Tales of all time. Here is a collection of the best writers to ever tackle Batman in the funny books and have told tales that have forever changed the way we look at the Caped Crusader.
Bill Finger: I am aware that if you ever read a Batman comic; bought a Batman action figure; seen a Batman movies; or did anything involved with the Dark Knight Detective over the past 75 years, then you have seen the phrase; “Batman created by Bob Kane“. But true comic historians scoff at this by-line, because if Kane had gotten his way in 1938, we would probably not have the Batman we know and love today. The character he originally pitched wore red tights, a domino mask, and a large glider device on his back. Upon having this concept rejected his cartoonist friend, Bill Finger was given permission to fix the idea. Finger was the man who created the Dark Knight we know, not only did he give Batman his trademark costume, he surmised that a vigilante like this character would operate at night and thus need to be ominous and mysterious. Kane was so impressed with Finger’s work on the character that he gave him a job writing the first Batman tales ever told. During his tenure he, along with young artist Jerry Robinson, gave us many of the trademark elements of the Bat-mythos; the Batcave, the Batmobile, Robin, and many of the popular members of the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery. Despite his work DC Comics could not legally recognize him as a co-creator. Tragically Finger died penniless and alone during the 1970’s after years of battling alcoholism.
Denny O’Neil: The years following Batman’s creation were not always kind to the hero, bland and silly stories combined with a camp classic TV show, reduced the once fearsome creature of the night to a joke in many people’s eyes. Enter the now legendary duo of Denny O’Neil and his artistic partner, Neil Adams. O’Neil sought to bring about the original creation of Finger and Kane but base him in a more contemporary setting. Many credit O’Neil for molding the definitive Batman for fans, not only did he return the character to his pulp roots and put him back into the shadows; he also explored the character as no other other before him. Over the course of his career he took the Caped Crusader out of his familiar stomping grounds of Gotham City thus making for many compelling stories where the hero was out of his comfort zone. Along with his contemporary Dick Giordano, he told the now classic Bat-tale, “The Man Who Falls” a fantastic examination of Bruce Wayne’s quest to fulfilling his destiny. But perhaps his greatest achievement was the introduction of the compelling foe Ras al Ghul into the character’s rogues gallery.
Steve Englehart: While O’Neil recieves much of the credit for Batman being taken seriously once again, Steve Englehart, also played a major role in the character’s transformation. With his run in Detective Comics he continued the work began by O’Neil and Adams by telling moody pulp tales yet he added a great sense of comic book fantasy to them, all of it was coated in a sleek sense of coolness.
Frank Miller: There are two books that are often heralded as the greatest tales ever told in the comic book medium, one was The Watchmen and the other was the tale that changed Batman and super heroes as a whole forever, The Dark Knight Returns. Writer and artist Frank Miller used the Dark Knight as a means to explore the culture and angst of Reagan’s America, all the while giving readers a complex character study. Many years afterwards he went back to the character and gave us, Batman Year One a realistic and powerful look at the beginnings of the Caped Crusader as well as his relationship with James Gordon. Despite giving us many terrible Bat-tales in the years that followed, these two stories are held in reverence as two of the greatest stories ever told in comics.
Ed Brubaker: Before he became the hottest talent in comics with his now revered run on Captain America, this hard boiled scribe tackled the Caped Crusader that went sadly unrecognized by many at the time. Despite being overlooked due to tie-in events and Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s Hush, Brubaker crafted a great run on a variety of Bat-titles during his time at DC Comics including; Detective Comics, Catwoman, and the critically acclaimed crime series, Gotham Central.
Grant Morrison: One of the most intriguing things about Batman as a character is how he has evolved and changed throughout the years. In a very divisive run, comics’ resident mad genius took it upon himself to blend as many interpretations of the character as possible into one. Over the course of his run he; gave Batman a new son, killed Batman, sent Batman through time, and killed his son. All packaged in a fun experimental series of books, which no doubt blew pop culture enthusiasts away.
Paul Dini: While Grant Morrison was experimenting with the Dark Knight in the regular Batman series, one of the men who immortalized the character on the small screen was blowing audiences away with his run on Detective Comics. The scribe proved that just because you were bringing a more traditional approach to the character did not mean you were telling subpar stories. Forgoing the long multi-issue arcs of just about everything else on the stands, Dini was able to tell enthralling stories in a single issue or two if the story called for it. Many fans even consider his take on the villain Hush, to be better than the classic story which introduced the character. This is addition to his many other projects involving the Caped Crusader has made Dini synonymous with Batman.
Scott Snyder: As a story telling medium comics are unique in the sense that every couple of decades they need to reboot and clean house. Recently DC did just that with the New 52 (although at this point it’s been 2 years, when will it cease being “New”?). This was an opportunity for the publisher to reintroduce their heroes to a new generation. The responsibility fell upon, Scott Snyder to pave the way for the Dark Knight in this new era. After a stellar run on Detective Comics, during Dick Grayson’s tenure under the cowl, being able to reintroduce the proper Batman was a task he took to with ease. Surprising audiences with conspiracy laden tales that
I know many of you have your own opinions on this list as well as your own lists as to who the greatest Batman creators of all time were, feel free to tell us in the Comments section.
Love that you included Denny O’Neill. I know it should be an obvious inclusion, but I have seen so many internet discussions about who saved Batman from being campy, and so many of them have ended with Frank Miller (who despite all his praise I find overrated as a Batman writer) getting the credit. Then there’s me in the back waving my arms going “Hello? Denny O’Neill? Amirite?” I just find Miller’s Batman to be too….uh….Miller-y (think of the difference between Eisner’s The Spirit and Miller’s The Spirit), while O’Neill’s version seems to inspire more of the modern takes including Snyder, Dini, Bruce Timm, and Christopher Nolan.
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Paul Dini is the alpha and omega when it comes to modern era Bat-writing. I’m looking forward to see what Jeff Parker does on Batman ’66. The 1st issue was okay. I thought Snyder was lights-out on Detective when he basically had carte blanche. His Batman run left me wanting more; each of the first two arcs had amazing build-ups followed by the blandest of endings. I just don’t think he knew where to go, or editorial got in his way, or both. I had to stop giving him my money.
I think Jeph Loeb deserves a place on the list. The Long Halloween and Dark Victory were both great, early Batman tales which built on the foundation Frank Millar had secured and then to return to it with Hush, introducing a long lasting, contemporary villain, pretty much secures him as one of the better Batman writers out there.
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Major props for including Paul Dini here as well as Ed Brubaker but I think more writers from the 80s not named Frank Miller would have been nice! In the last year I have taken it upon myself to read more Batman comics from the last 40 years that have not been as praised and discovered a lot of writers and comics that are fantastic! Writers that should have been mentioned here include Gerry Conway, Doug Moench (both his 80s and 90s runs), Alan Grant, Chuck Dixon and Greg Rucka!
love morrison’s entire run
he drags up stuff from all over batmans long ass history for modernisation and drama
he clearly knows the character very well.
snyder on the other hand is just terrible
the worst thing to happen to batman since some one said
how about a sidekick
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