The Selected Batman Re-Read, Part Four — Elseworlds, Crossovers and the Real World
Elseworlds and crossovers are usually fun for me, simply because the very idea of these sorts of stories is inherently playful. The wonderful thing about a character like our dear Dark Knight is that, because he’s been around for so long and has seen so many changes in his own universe, he’s all the more rife with possibilities when you take him out of his usual settings — and sometimes even place him into our world.
There’re a few entries to cover here and, since they’re all so very different in tone and content, consider each section its own mini-post.
I mean, technically, it’s just the one, spread across four parts, but anyway…
Batman’s crossovers with Judge Dredd don’t hold up very well. They’re utterly bonkers and, while that’s great when you initially crack them open, they get pretty old pretty fast. The art in all four parts are still phenomenal though, with legendary creators like Simon Bisley, Cam Kennedy and Glenn Fabry gracing the pages.
Mike Mignola and Brian Augustyn’s Gotham by Gaslight (apparently the first ever official Elseworlds title) sees a Victorian-era Bruce Wayne’s life gets intertwined with that of Jack the Ripper’s. It’s a nice, straightforward mystery, with an air of the gothic thanks to Mignola’s art (and P. Craig Russel on inks). I wasn’t a big fan on my first read, but it’s actually a lot more enjoyable the second time around.
Paul Pope’s Batman: Year 100 finds the perfect balance of being a tribute to Batman’s history, while also being its own dystopian crime caper. The story itself is compelling in its simplicity, but Pope’s dynamic art really elevates it.
Len Wein and Guy Davis’ Batman: Nevermore is probably my favourite Elseworlds story though. It’s a low-hanging fruit, I’ll be the first to admit — teaming Batman up with Edgar Allan Poe, and tying their adventures into Poe’s own works — but it’s executed wonderfully. The pairing of Wein and Davis is inspired, with Wein channeling his inner Poe and Davis capturing the intended atmosphere perfectly.
The Real World
Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso’s Dark Night: A True Batman Story isn’t even a Batman story per se. It’s an autobiographical account of a dark time in Dini’s life and it is absolutely excellent, infused with unflinchingly raw honesty and laced with the kind of wit that played a part in making Batman: The Animated Series such a great show.
(Originally published on 16 March 2019.)