Otaku USA Magazine
For A Good Time In Gotham City

To celebrate the release of the straight to DVD animated film Batman: Gotham Knight as well as the live action theatrical film The Dark Knight, we thought it’d be a good idea to recommend other works featuring Bruce Wayne’s war against some of the villains shown in these releases.

Batman: The Killing Joke – Originally a one-shot from 1989, this one serves alternating stories about The Joker; one regarding his origins as a father-to-be, the other showing a horrific torture he inflicts on Commissioner Gordon that forever changes Batman’s world. The current release features the story written by Alan Moore (V For Vendetta) and drawn in frightening detail by Brian Bolland (Judge Dredd) who also presents a short story originally shown in•

Batman: Black & White — This is an anthology series of short stories done without color to give them a newspaper strip feel. Many various writing and art styles are utilized in these collections (of which there are three currently) showing gruesome horror, odd parodies and straight slices of life for the Caped Crusader, similar to what you might see in the Gotham Knight animated movie.

Batman: Child of Dreams – Continuing the trend of Batman stories without color, this is a manga by Kia Asamiya (Silent Moebius) about a drug spreading throughout Gotham that will turn its user into a facsimile of any one of Batman’s villains, right up until he or she dies horribly. At about the same time a young reporter comes from Japan to do a story on the Darknight Detective. The story plays out pretty well as Bruce follows the clues about who’s trying to gain so much knowledge on Batman’s life. Asamiya’s art is spectacular (especially his depiction of The Batmobile), but his penchant for supremely angled noses might be an issue for some readers.

Batman: The Long Halloween — Writer Jeph Loeb (Superman/Batman) and artist Tim Sale (those harrowing paintings on the TV show Heroes) gained much attention for this highly acclaimed murder mystery. Taking place early in Batman’s career, we are shown how he, Commissioner Gordon and a very driven D.A. named Harvey Dent vow to bring down crime boss Carmine “The Roman•bCrLf Falcone, who faces his own troubles from a rival crime family, an upswing of costumed criminals, and an assassin who kills crime bosses on various holidays, all of which leads to the emergence of Dent’s alternate personality Two-Face.

Batman: The Animated Series, Volume 1 — It has been 16 years since the broadcast debut of this particular cartoon, but the story and animation quality remain one of the higher points of the American cartoon industry. I picked this DVD box set to revisit because of a number of high quality episodes, some of which were animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha (Space Adventure Cobra, Nobody’s Boy Remi) churning out cinematic quality visuals in several episodes such as “Heart of Ice•bCrLf (Mr. Freeze), “On Leather Wings•bCrLf (Man-Bat) and “Feat of Clay•bCrLf (Clayface). We also get an incredible insight into the mind of Harvey Dent just prior to his downfall.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Uncut) — In the future, Bruce Wayne has passed the torch to young Terry McGuiness, who must deal with a seemingly young and healthy incarnation of The Joker. In the course of the story, we’re shown what happened in Bruce’s final encounter with the homicidal clown, during which The Joker commits his most evil act in the entire animated series. When this animated feature was produced, there was an internal dispute regarding its viciously violent nature, which led to there being two versions released to the public, as well as the cancellation of Batman Beyond. The shocking uncut version (which is noted on the front of the DVD box) is definitely the one to grab.