Batman turned 75 years old in May and DC Comics have been busy turning the entirety of 2014 into a celebration of the Caped Crusader and his corner of the DC Universe. This will see the release of a new animated movie, a weekly comic book (Batman: Eternal) to add to the ongoing series’ currently being published and also a great deal of commemorative merchandise. When the character first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939, few could have guessed the unprecedented success that was to come in the ensuing years. While Batman, and comics in general, have experienced periodic booms of prosperity and also difficult times over those 75 years, Batman has been on top of the industry for incredibly sustained periods, experiencing many more highs than lows. What is it about the Dark Knight that has such enduring appeal? Why is it that DC can routinely publish more than 10 Batman related titles every single month (in fact, after November there will be 14), as well as featuring him in guest appearances in any number of other DC comics, and yet people have never become sick of the character? There are a wide variety of reasons and factors that contribute to Batman’s popularity, and in this article we are going to examine the extended Batman universe, a factor which we believe is integral in sustaining the Bat’s appeal. Whenever you have a strong and compelling protagonist like Batman and you place him into the incredibly diverse and interesting world that he operates in, magic happens. Batman’s universe is continually being added to and refined, as different writers and artists contribute their ideas to the rich tapestry that is Gotham City. These are the 10 factors that give Batman the best extended universe in comics.
10. Arkham Asylum
Arkham Asylum For The Criminally Insane is an enduring and special building in the history of Batman comics. First introduced by legendary writer Denny O’Neill in Batman #258 (October 1974) as ‘Arkham Hospital’, it wasn’t until 1979 that DC seemed to settle on the more menacing moniker, Arkham Asylum. Wolverine and Swamp Thing creator Len Wein gradually increased the importance of the old Asylum to Batman stories throughout the 1980’s, and he was the first to provide a history of the facility, in ‘Who’s Who’ #1 in 1985. Flash forward to the modern day, and it has become strange to read a Batman story that doesn’t at least make mention of Arkham, so ubiquitous has it become. Pretty much every one of Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery that could be defined as ‘mentally ill’ (or crazy) has been incarcerated there at one point or another. Many stories simply have Arkham function as a prison for the likes of The Joker and Poison Ivy, rather than choosing to focus on the Asylum as somewhere working towards rehabilitation. However, when stories do address this aspect, it adds an extra layer of intrigue. Probably the best example of this psychological exploration is Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth, but Dan Slott and Ryan Sook’s Arkham Asylum: Living Hell is superb as well, taking a multi-layered look at Arkham and telling the story from several different points of view, including staff members and inmates. Arkham Asylum is an extremely important element of the Batman universe which can always be relied upon to bring a feeling of horror and Gothic suspense to any story. This fictional institution is so fundamental that an entire video game series has been based within it’s walls, and it routinely appears in every incarnation of Batman across every media platform.