Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Matt Signal Advent Calendar 2014 Day 3: Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #1

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #1, November 1989

So, around the time I started collecting comics, a new Batman title debuted, billed as "The First New 'Solo' Batman Book Since 1940." Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight thus became the first comic I collected starting with issue one. The first five were out, but I tracked them down one at a time.

Legends was a more mature title, probably one a nine year old shouldn't have been reading. It wasn't Vertigo mature, but it was dark, violent, and psychological; similar to the kid of work happening at the time on The Question and Green Arrow. "Shaman," the first arc on the series, fit around Frank Miller's legendary Batman: Year One, showing some of the time Bruce spent away from Gotham before returning, and then taking place right after the events of Year One, although the continuity didn't quite match up. I think I actually learned about continuity from reading the letters pages and seeing discussions of exactly how these things worked, and how some or all of the Legends stories wouldn't take place in continuity.

These issues also introduced me to Denny O'Neil, who wrote this five part story. Denny was the guiding force of the Bat titles throughout the 90s as editor, and in the 70s wrote some of the most important Batman stories ever. I didn't know any of that at the time, but I knew I was reading something different and special. The first twenty issues of this series also introduced me to such legends of comics and Batman as Grant Morrison, Klaus Janson, Doug Moench, and Paul Gulacy, with Denny coming back to write issues 16-20, a story called "Venom" that introduced the drug that would one day power Bane, and absolutely floored me by having Batman get addicted to the drug.

I also distinctly remember that Legends #1 was one of the first big variant cover books, as each issue had a wrap around the actual cover above, that came in a variety of colors. Mine was neon yellow.

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