20 of the weirdest Batman stories ever

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17. Pirate Batman fights a shark

It can be difficult to get long-established comics and comic companies to try something new. I don’t mean silly events that bring different dimensions together or which cram as many superheroes as possible onto a single page. I mean something really, truly different, something that gives artists and writers the space to try something interesting.

Whether or not Elseworlds, the DC alternate canon imprint, achieved this ideal is up for debate. The imprint has been around for quite some time, at least compared to other comics experiments, and has hosted quite a few creative people. The first Elseworlds issue was Gotham by Gaslight, published in 1989, in which we follow Bruce Wayne through Gilded Age Gotham, where he fights none other than Jack the Ripper. Though it wasn’t first published as an Elseworlds title, it was retroactively deemed as such.

Though these issues were oftentimes interesting on at least one level, they were also plenty weird. There’s the issue where Batman teams up with Houdini (Batman/Houdini: The Devil’s Workshop), the run where he becomes an actual vampire (Batman – Vampire) and one where he’s a vengeful priest (Batman: Holy Terror).


But, really, we’re here to talk about Batman: Leatherwing. This issue, published in Detective Comics Annual #7 in 1994, follows one Captain Leatherwing, a privateer employed by King James II of England. Leatherwing wears a costume because he wants to protect his family identity, though that didn’t seem to bother many other pirates.

Leatherwing is accompanied by his faithful manservant, Alfredo. He also crosses paths with the menacing “Laughing Man” and Capitana Felina, both villainous pirates.

If that sounds interesting, then you’ll probably also delight in the utter weirdness of Grant Morrison’s Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, which features not only another pirate Batman but a series of time-traveling Bat-personas. Definitely more on that later.