Very few artists are as strongly identified with a particular time in a character's history as Norm Breyfogle is with the Batman of the late '80s and early '90s. In a lot of ways, it was a look that defined the era, full of heavy shadows, high drama, and even a little bit of comedy.
Last week, DC released a hardcover collection of Breyfogle's earliest work on Batman with Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle, and to mark the occasion, I went through it for the very difficult task of picking out five of my favorite images from over 500 pages of comics, highlighting some of his best work.
It's worth remembering that, while it's never the wrong time to celebrate Breyfogle's work, this particular edition was put into production partially because he suffered a stroke that left his left side paralyzed and unfortunately resulted in $200,000 in medical bills. Supporting this edition could go a long way towards helping him out monetarily, with the added benefit that you get to read some absolutely beautiful stories.
I can't even pretend that most of my love for Batman artists isn't based entirely on how well they draw punches, and Breyfogle certainly rules in that department, as evidenced by a strong right hand shattering Ratcatcher's goggles but good.
Breyfogle's run on Detective Comics was marked by some truly fantastic covers that still feel like iconic takes on the character today, and this one is one of the best. The combination of the horror elements and heavy shadows and superheroic physicality of the cover are fantastic. And who doesn't love Batman just hanging out in an alley during a thunderstorm?
Detective #592 might be best known for being a comic where Abraham Lincoln is trying to stab someone to death on the cover, but for me, it's this small sequence, written by Alan Grant and John Wagner, that's really memorable. Breyfogle was great at showing Batman's humanity, and this is exactly the sort of scene where that comes through.
Once again, we see that brooding in a thunderstorm is pretty much Batman's default setting, and fortunately Breyfogle was great at drawing it.
Finally, another amazing and iconic cover, this time a moody shot of Batman visiting London to check out Big Ben — not to be confused with Gotham's own Big Benjamin in the Thomas Wayne Memorial Tower.