Here's an excerpt:
What element fundamentally distinguishes a Batman story from any other comic?
It's got a billionaire with daddy issues who dresses up in a cape and mask with pointy ears. Or is that too generic a criterion?
As has been said many times, if you can swap in Superman or Spider-Man for the Batman and the story still works, it's probably not a good Batman story - it should only be able to work with the Batman as the main character. Which is true... except that, really, the same goes for a good Iron Man story or a good Green Lantern story. But for me, one of the interesting characteristics of many of the very best Batman stories is that he's actually an important supporting character, and not the main character. Jim Gordon is at least as important to "Year One" as the Batman is, and certainly the Joker is the star of The Killing Joke. And the same goes for so many of my favorite issues of Batman or Detective Comics or The Batman Adventures, and that certainly very much goes for [the TV show] Batman: The Animated Series. A large element, of course, is that you've got the whole Illusion of Change versus actual change issue to deal with; you can't really change the essential Batman character, which can make telling a Batman story an inherently tricky proposition, and telling dozens, hundreds of them that much more so. But turning him into a supporting character, or even the story's antagonist, frees the storytellers up enormously, and often with fantastic results.Although I'd long loved approaching the Batman in this way, it's only relatively recently that I realized just how many of all-time favorite comics operate this way: not only many of the best Batman but also Sandman and, perhaps most of all, Alan Moore Swamp Thing stories such as "Windfall," "Ghost Dance" and "Bogeymen," use their nominative lead characters in supporting roles, with revelatory, exhilarating results.
I haven't actually read this issue since last century—the overwhelming majority of my comics are in storage several thousand miles away—but I absolutely loved working it, and my recollection is that the Batman appears in about 20% of the story (written by the great Chuck Dixon). (Mainly, though, I'm posting it because it's one of my very favoritest Batman images ever, courtesy penciller Graham Nolan and inker Kevin Nowlan.)