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Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told
Words by Sal Amendola, Vin Amendola, Mike W. Barr, Steve Englehart, Bill Finger, Devin Grayson, Mark Millar, Denny O'Neil, Frank Robbins - Art by Neal Adams, Sal Amendola, Vin Amendola, Alan Davis, Dick Giordano, Bob Kane, Frank Miller, Steve Mitchell, Sheldon Moldoff, Paul Neary, Charles Paris, Roger Robinson, Marshall Rogers, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Dick Sprang, Steve Yeowell - Published by DC Comics (US), Titan Books (UK) - First published 2005 - Originally published as Detective Comics 33, 439, 572, 574; Batman 5, 62, 156, 250, 251; DC Special Series 15, 21; Legends of the Dark Knight 79; Batman: Gotham Knights 32
The Greatest Stories Ever Told is something of a grand claim when it comes to a character like Batman, who's probably featured in more stories than most other comic book characters can claim, and more than his fair share of good ones. In a volume of this size the obvious greats (like The Dark Knight Returns) aren't featured for reasons of space, so a title like Batman: The Greatest Short Stories Ever Told (Probably) might have been more honest if less catchy.
What we do have is a terrific span of Batman stories from 1939's Origin to 2002's 24/7. The choices were made by a committee of DC staffers, which actually gives this collection more power than if it were any individual's choices. But there's still a theme running throughout - they all examine the man behind the mask rather than simply providing a foil for his basic character to bounce off.
The artwork varies as much as you might expect, from the simple, bold colours of the late 1930s through to the richer and more subtle style of Batman's latter years. It's the writing that's the real star of this show though and it's clearly been more of a factor in the choice of stories than the artwork.
This leaves us with a solid collection of stories that are bound to thrill Bat-fans old and new. The list of talent on display makes it obvious how Batman's popularity has been sustained through the years: by throwing some of comics' biggest and best names into the mix and standing back to watch the results. This collection undoubtedly showcases a few of Batman's best stories but the greatest stories ever? Well, it's endlessly debatable but it's probably not far off.
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