Years ago I started posting about comics I bought in the back issue bins here. It didn't last long. I sold most of my comics and focused on series I am currently reading and collecting the entirety of Amazing Spider-man. However, I will pick up some random issues if I find a good deal. Recently my LCS had a 5 for $1 sale on back issues. I picked up Batman Legends of the Dark Knight 1-26. This thread will chronicle my thoughts on that series. I'll probably take a break between arcs. My thoughts on issues 1-5 will be in the next post.

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Jimmm Kelly said:

And in the end it didn't prove to be the third leg of the Batman franchise--as it was cancelled long before it reached the kind of high numbers that BATMAN and DETECTIVE attained.

LOTDK did run for 214 issues, which is around 18 years.  Brave and the Bold originally only ran for 200 issues and Shadow of the Bat only lasted 94 issues.  Further, when LOTDK was eventually cancelled, it was immediately replaced with Batman Confidential, which was pulling stories from the same wheel house for another 54 issues.  Now the title's been brought back for out of continuity digital first tales.  Seems like a title that had some legs to me.

While they might have said that LotDK was just legends and not anchored in continuity, I wrote into the book asking why every story was attached somehow to the Year One version of Batman. If it was just legends--then creators ought to have had the right to tell any story they wanted to tell. I found it hard to credit that every single writer and artist only wanted to tell stories about the Year One Batman. Surely the editor was mandating that the stories had to be in that continuity. And many changes to Batman's past effected by LotDK did stick--so they weren't really just legends.

While the title did concentrate itself mostly in the first couple of years of Batman's career, there were lots of exceptions. There were Knight Quest stories when Batman's back was broken, the No Man's Land crossover took over the title for a year, both War Games and Destroyer crossed over with the main titles, Robin made appearances in issue 100 and the Grimm storyline around 150, plus there was an arc about a future robot Batman, the Blink storylines, Going Sane...  Still, the majority of the stories were set early in Batman's career.  Personally, I think there probably was lots of demand to tell early day Batman stories because the prevalent Batman of that day was mired in bat family and eventually the "bat god" interpretation.

Oddly enough, one of the few letters I've written to a comic was to protest the No Man's Land crossover co-opting the book for a year.  Different strokes for different folks...

When the book started to cross over with the rest of the other Batman titles and you had to follow the same story throughout all of them that was much worse than the orginal set up. By the time No-Man's Land started, I had already given up on all the DCU Batman books.

What I wanted--if I wasn't clear about it in my previous post--was a book that was free to tell its own stories and not locked into the rest of the titles. Where writers and artists could invent anything they wanted.

Or if it was going to be in continuity with the rest of the Bat books--I wanted them to be up front about that--and I also wanted it to be unlocked from just telling stories about the first two years. It seems like the book was only free to tell stories about the Year One Batman or the current ongoing Batman--but all that time in between was not open for exploration.

In the old continuity, Batman had many of his greatest adventures and met many of his major foes, after he partnered with Robin. The roll back of all the villains to a pre-Robin existence, made it seem like Bruce had all his good adventures either before Dick came into his life or after Dick left. So the Boy Wonder was just one big party-pooper.

The original idea for LotDK was a good one--I just wish it had been able to go in any direction that a creative team wanted to explore. But as it went along, I felt like it became co-opted by the interests of group editor O'Neil. I think if Goodwin had really had a free hand--the title would have been more independent.

I realize that a lot of the stuff I didn't like about Batman wasn't really the fault of LotDK, but it came out at a time when I was becoming less and less engaged with the mainstream Batman world--so it has that negative association for me now.

I know it's a different book, but The Batman Chronicles was a similarly ambitious series.

Well, Jason whet my appetite so I decided to pull out my issues and read along.    

 

Some things I found interesting:

 

- Instead of the familiar pearl drop imagery that’s become so linked with the death of Bruce’s parents, O’Neil shows the parents shattering in the flashback.  Imagery that’s carried through the covers of the arc.

 

- When he’s just coming around, Bruce sees, “A human face under the Bat’s.  A mask beneath a mask.”  This not only plants the idea that all of his identities will be types of masks but that they’re all important.  Definitely a different way to approach the character than we commonly see today.

 

- The pieces pulled from Year One are done with a different focus, giving extra importance to the scientific, (the treatise on the criminal mind), and the mystical, (the memory of the bat mask).  This served the story well while not contradicting anything.

 

- One wonders if Bruce’s need for a scientific explanation is the reason he was willing to violate the promise he made.  Regardless, it was a pretty crappy thing to do... still, probably better than funding new nerve gasses and assassination techniques. :)

 

- Leslie Thompkins became a pretty important part of the Post-Crisis mythos despite not appearing in Year One.  While O’Neil created her Pre-Crisis, her use in Year Two probably kept her important.  Then again, O’Neil’s eventual editorship of LOTDK might have had something to do with it.

 

- We have 9 panels of Bruce first putting on the costume, the ninth of course being the grimace, can’t be Batman without the grimace.

 

- On the back cover of the first issue, subscriptions are available to LOTDK on a 10 issue basis, or 2 arcs as it was initially configured.  I can’t think of any other examples of DC tailoring its subscriptions to a specific comic.

 

- Taking a page from Year One, lots of time passes between events.

 

- Gordon gives out information to Bruce Wayne, a civilian, really easily.

 

- Bruce uses Theodora as an excuse to leave the party and then promptly dumps her at her door.  Prior to this, it never made sense to me why Bruce Wayne’s floozies would keep quiet.  At the very least, you would think stories of him possibly swinging the other way would make the rounds.  But this moment really worked.  You can tell she’s not used to being dropped like a wet fish and is probably so mortified she’ll definitely keep it to herself.

 

- We learn why the criminal scum in Gotham don’t generally wear pony tails.  You don’t want to be dangled by your pony tail.  To add insult to injury, he gets out of jail and is strangled by his pony tail... Pony tails bad!

 

- I’m not really sure I need a batcave... think of the table Bruce, think of the table.

 

- Another moment you wouldn’t get in today’s comics, Batman isn’t just philosophical, he notices the cold.

 

- A nice couple of panels where it’s setup that the steel cable could be a problem, then Bats promptly comes up with a solution, using his cape to slide down.  (Although the attempted justification for the cape doesn’t really hold water.)

 

- I don’t think the twinkle you get in your eye at Christmas is supposed to be from throwing the Christmas tree through the window.  Ah well, Bats has to get his fun somewhere.

 

- In this arc, three people learn Bruce is Batman.  Two are promptly killed off to keep the number manageable.

 

- Seeing the setup for dealing with Chubala ahead of time is a nice twist and works pretty well.  The payoff’s in the theatrics and it beats the cliche of having to explain how things worked out after the fact.

 

Overall, I thought this was a solid story.  As John said, many of the deductions were almost coincidental, and the mystery aspects were setup shallowly and late, however, this story was more about Batman on a shamanistic journey.  Add in lots of nice character moments, and some mythos building as Post-Crisis continuity just gets rolling and this was a satisfying arc.  A nice way to start the series.

I have the first 113 issues of this series. I also have 132-141 because those were issues with Art by Marshall Rogers (5 issues) and Paul Gulacy (5 issues), two of my favorites.

I have all Annuals except for the Bloodlines Annual and I don't think I have to tell you why I skipped that one!

It did start off out-of-continuity but then became in-continuity down the line. Everyone liked the Venom storyline so much that it, also, became an in-continuity story. You might as well just view the whole thing as in-continuity!

It was a good series but I liked Shadow of the Bat much better.

Just spotted an image from the most recent issue of Batman: Zero Year -- it's the top of the second image pictured in this article --  and I can't help think that pink cityscape with the bat-cowl is a homage to the muilt-colored overcovers of issue one of the LDK series.

I also collected LotDK. I liked it. It was a Batman title I could get behind & enjoy.

...No , you DO have to tell me !!!:-) Why ???

Mark Stanislawski said:

I have the first 113 issues of this series. I also have 132-141 because those were issues with Art by Marshall Rogers (5 issues) and Paul Gulacy (5 issues), two of my favorites.

I have all Annuals except for the Bloodlines Annual and I don't think I have to tell you why I skipped that one!

It did start off out-of-continuity but then became in-continuity down the line. Everyone liked the Venom storyline so much that it, also, became an in-continuity story. You might as well just view the whole thing as in-continuity!

It was a good series but I liked Shadow of the Bat much better.

Probably because Bloodlines was a terrible event.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...No , you DO have to tell me !!!:-) Why ???

Mark Stanislawski said:

I have the first 113 issues of this series. I also have 132-141 because those were issues with Art by Marshall Rogers (5 issues) and Paul Gulacy (5 issues), two of my favorites.

I have all Annuals except for the Bloodlines Annual and I don't think I have to tell you why I skipped that one!

It did start off out-of-continuity but then became in-continuity down the line. Everyone liked the Venom storyline so much that it, also, became an in-continuity story. You might as well just view the whole thing as in-continuity!

It was a good series but I liked Shadow of the Bat much better.

What he said!

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Probably because Bloodlines was a terrible event.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...No , you DO have to tell me !!!:-) Why ???

Mark Stanislawski said:

I have the first 113 issues of this series. I also have 132-141 because those were issues with Art by Marshall Rogers (5 issues) and Paul Gulacy (5 issues), two of my favorites.

I have all Annuals except for the Bloodlines Annual and I don't think I have to tell you why I skipped that one!

It did start off out-of-continuity but then became in-continuity down the line. Everyone liked the Venom storyline so much that it, also, became an in-continuity story. You might as well just view the whole thing as in-continuity!

It was a good series but I liked Shadow of the Bat much better.

Indeed. The only problem with "I don't have to tell you why I skipped that one" is how much this bears repeating!

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Probably because Bloodlines was a terrible event.


At least it gave us Hitman, a series I enjoyed very much...

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