25. Batman of Zurr-En-Arrh
Okay, I’ll admit that one of the main reasons I picked this one is the ridiculous outfit. But, I also love this version for being an example of a writer taking decades-old continuity and incorporating it logically into current storylines. In the 1950s, the Batman of Zurr-En-Arrh was an extraterrestrial Batman who looked exactly like Bruce Wayne, but wore the brightly colored outfit you see here. In his famed “Batman RIP: run, writer Grant Morrison called back to those goofy Silver Age tales and reimagined the Batman of Zurr-En-Arrh as a backup personality of Batman that would activate once Batman’s mind determined it was not in control of itself any more. It’s a little silly, but that’s comics for ya!
24. Emo Goth Rock Batman (Rockumentary)
Easily having the briefest amount of pages devoted to it (a mere 8 pages in an 80 page Elseworlds annual), this version of Batman is perhaps the most absurd. It features a Bruce Wayne who looks like the lead singer of Metalocalypse and works for the villainous Lex Luthor. Rock on, Batman, Rock on!
23. Police Detective Batman (Thrillkiller, Thrillkiller ’62)
Answering the question of “What if Batman was working for the police, instead of alongside them?,” “Thrillkiller” featured a Bruce Wayne who rose up through the ranks of the Gotham City Police Department and only became Batman after attaining the title of Commissioner. Commissioner Batman does have a nice ring to it. Try saying it out loud, it really rolls off the tongue.
22. Steampunk Batman (Gotham By Gaslight)
“Gotham by Gaslight” was a moody, exquisitely drawn Elseworlds title penciled by the great Mike Mignola (“Hellboy”). While the story doesn’t quite hold up, the visuals more than carry any narrative shortcomings and inject some lovely steampunk concepts (sky pirates!) into the Batman mythos. Currently, “Gates of Gotham” is exploring similar territory and is a must read for fans of Bruce Wayne and steampunk as it features possibly the most steampunk villain I’ve ever seen in a comic.
21. Batmouse (Just’a Lotta Animals)
Batmouse hails from Earth C- and is a member of Just’a Lotta Animals (JLA – Get it?). He fights an adorable Jokerpig and was one of the very few alternate universe Batmen to survive the multiverse-shattering “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” That’s gotta earn him some respect and recognition.
20. Hacker Batman (Batman: Digital Justice)
“Digital Justice” was a noble, but ultimately failed experiment to take Batman and the comic medium in a new and exciting direction by having the entire comic pre-rendered digitally. Unfortunately, at the time the comic was printed, graphics technology hadn’t quite reached the level it has now, where the artist can use a Wacom tablet and Manga Studio EX and produce results that can be difficult to differentiate from the traditional pencils and ink. On the upside, we did get a left field identity for this new Batman (great-grandson of Commissioner Gordon) and the use of Joker as a computer virus.
19. Tomas de Medici (Black Masterpiece)
For those of you who need a quick brush up on history, Lorenzo de’Medici was the real life patron of Leonardo Da Vinci. It actually kind of fits with the Batman mythos if you think about it. Lorenzo de’Medici (Batman) uses a clever front (Da Vinci/Bruce Wayne) to hide his identity and subtly develop all the tools needed for his fight on crime.
18. Nazi Batman (JlAxis)
Imagine if Batman had planned Hitler’s Normandy defense. The Allies would have been royally f**ked. There’s an Anne Frank joke in there somewhere, but I’m already treading the line of decency here.
17. Elliot Ness (Scar of the Bat)
“Scar of the Bat” featured a fascinating idea of using Elliot Ness, scourge of the bootlegging industry, as the Batman of his era. For one, it’s always amusing to see Batman wildly spraying a tommy gun. More importantly, it drew interesting historical parallels between the two men and how their methods may not have been so dissimilar after all.
16. BPRD Batman (The Doom That Came To Gotham)
You’d be forgiven if you mistook this book for a Batman/BPRD crossover. Both comics were created by Mike Mignola (“Hellboy”) and both have their protagonists facing off against eerily similar frog-like creatures. Plus, the idea of Abe Sapien joining up with Batman makes my inner fanboy squee with excitement.
15. Sir William (Tangent Comics: Batman)
Sir William was an Arthurian Knight tricked into betraying his King by the wicked Morgane Le Fay. To punish his treachery, Arthur cursed Sir William so that he could never leave his home at Castle Bat. However, to combat his unending solitude, William learned to project his consciousness into inanimate objects via the astral plane and atone for his sins by defending London from evildoers. It’s just damn unfortunate that the garb he chose is a pink suit of armor.
14. Vampire Batman (Red Rain, Bloodstorm, Crimson Mist)
Vampire Batman is one of the most popular Elseworlds versions of the character having received not one, but three Elseworlds tales. While the quality of the stories went downhill faster than the quality of the “Sonic” games, it did raise and answer the question of what Batman would do if he were forcibly turned into the sort of villain he worked so hard to stop. The answer, at least temporarily (see earlier note about quality of stories), was for him to allow others to impale him on a wooden pole.
13. Freaky Monster Thing Batman (Batman: The Wild)
“Batman: the Wild” was just a plain freaky and weird miniseries. The reason for this Batman’s stunning good looks came about as a result of being born to two sorcerors in an origin eerily similar to that of Harry Potter with “Dark Joker” playing the role of Voldemort. The story was decent, being crafted by veteran Batman writer Doug Moench and all, but man that’s a freaky looking Batman.
12. Adam West (Batman TV series)
I had to include him. West’s Batman may have been the height of goofy camp (watch this hilarious video of Bruce Wayne talking to Batman), but it will always hold a special place in my heart for the general good times I’ve had watching reruns of it on TVLand. It may not be the most popular adaptation, but to not like it is to have no soul.
11. Dark Claw (Amalgam Comics)
Possibly the most XTREME version of Batman ever published, Dark Claw came about as a result of fusing Wolverine and Batman into one character. Yes, it was the 90s. Yes, it was a tremendous amount of fanservice. Yes, the comics were pretty much crap. But yes, it’s still an awesome idea.
10. Ninja Batman (Narrow Path)
It’s BATMAN as a NINJA. What more needs to be said?
9. Wizard Batman (Terra Occulta, Sorceror Kings)
There have many attempts at a wizard Batman, but none have quite captured the essence of Batman as well as “Sorceror Kings;” a recent four-part comic that took place in the pages of Superman/Batman. There, Batman is friends with a freaky vampire lady, has a gigantic black dragon named Batwing and regularly does battle against magically-amped evil versions of his former Justice League counterparts. The only real drawback was its somewhat lackluster resolution.
8. Demon Batman (Batman & Demon)
This miniseries saw Batman become joined with the famed demon Etrigan. I haven’t actually read it myself, but from what I can gather online, it involves Batman inadvertently sucking the life out of several of his big name villains. Perhaps a bit on the nose with its storytelling, but I’d love to track this one down and see if it can live up to my already unrealistic expectations of it.
7. Aged Tyrant Batman (Kingdom Come)
“Kingdom Come” Batman is one of the best parts of that renowned miniseries. He builds a personal army of robotic Batmen (see above pic) to enforce a near tyrannical rule of law over his hometown of Gotham City and is even willing to temporarily join Lex Luthor if it serves as a means to an end. “Kingdom Come” is a fascinating character study of what the Batman could become in the future should his more paranoid side win out.
6. Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns)
Long before I was a comic enthusiast, I was a Batman fan. Why? This guy and his eminently cool portrayal of Batman in “Batman” and “Batman Returns.” It was just such a shame that we didn’t get another film in the series until Nolan brought his fresh vision to the screen. What’s that? Something about nipples and Arnold Schwarzenegger spouting ice puns? Pure myth if you ask me.
5. Green Lantern Batman (Batman: In Darkest Knight)
Another concept I don’t think was mined for half the potential it had is the Green Lantern Batman of “Batman: In Darkest Knight.” The story itself skillfully combined the separate mythos of Green Lantern and Batman into an interesting tale. However, I think the story failed to show the impact of Batman, comics’ foremost tactical genius, being given a power ring that is one of the strongest weapons in the known DC Universe. That’s a force to be reckoned with if I ever saw one.
4. Owlman (Crisis on Two Earths, JLA: Earth 2)
Owlman is the Batman of Earth-2, a parallel Earth run by the Crime Syndicate. Just imagine if Batman went full-on villain and you have Owlman. It’s a scary, scary thought that wasn’t fully explored outside of “Crisis on Two Earths” and “Nemesis.” Here’s hoping for more of the wicked bent from Owlman in the future!
3. Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS, New Batman Adventures, Mask of the Phantasm, Justice League, Arkham Asylum, & much more)
I don’t care what anybody else says. Kevin Conroy is THE voice of Batman for me. His vocal chocolate is forever ingrained in my memory as the auditory representative of the Caped Crusader. No offense to Dietrich Bader or any other Bat voice actors, but you’re never going to eclipse Mr. Conroy.
2. Insane Batman (Dark Knight Returns)
“The Dark Knight Returns” rightly earns its spot at number two for introducing the world to a much older, darker version of the character and it remains one of the best selling comics in history. The Batman of “Dark Knight Returns” is a broken, tragic figure that just doesn’t know when it’s quitting time. Also, he beats Superman to near death. That’s always a plus in my book.
However, coming in at number one (perhaps controversially) is….
1. Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond)
“Batman Beyond” is the finest Batman cartoon ever made. It infused the character with new energy, took him to a brand new setting and gave the character a fresh demeanor by inserting a headstrong youth into the suit. It was daring and featured some slick animation. If you’ve somehow passed over this somewhat hidden gem, do yourself a favor and check it and its excellent “Return of the Joker” movie out on Netflix.
… And there you go, the top 25 alternate versions of Batman! I’m sure some of you have some differing opinions and I’m sure I offended some of you more hardcore Batfans, but I’d love to hear what your favorite version of Batman is! Agree with my list, disagree vehemently? Let me know in the comments!