This feature contains spoilers.
There are not any stories that could survive the removal of the Doctor and the TARDIS without large changes apart from Planet of the Ood (a curious episode, where the real hero dies in a giant brain and the Ood sing a pleasant warning to the Doctor). So, part of the stipulation here is that stories can be tweaked to remove the TARDIS, and reworked so they can involve Batman without too many narrative hijinks.
Still, if you’re chiefly written by Grant Morrison, I suppose your main character being in a different temporal-spatial location to the bulk of the story is but a minor hindrance. If you can summarise Superman’s origin story in four panels you can probably come up with some convenient means of time/space travel.
Thus, with the criteria very firmly in place, let us begin the quest.
The Deadly Assassin
In which the Doctor fights the Master’s henchman in a virtual reality Matrix combining both a surreal nightmarish quality and bouts of extreme PG-rated violence. It’s not totally different to Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum novel in that respect, and if you’re going to replace Peter Pratt’s leering, bug-eyed skeletal Master with anyone then the Joker fits the bill quite nicely.
The Master in The Tautological Assassin is at his most embittered, inspired by hate and nothing else. What ensues is an onslaught of chaos and monstrosities that push the Doctor to the limits of his physical and mental abilities. It may be atypical for Doctor Who but it feels like the combination of psychosis, darkness and action that you’d expect from a post-Watchmen DC title. On top of that, writer Robert Holmes ripped off The Manchuarian Candidate, invented the Matrix, turned the Master into a revenge-driven nihilist before Heath Ledger made it cool, and also predicted 24-hour rolling news in the character of Runcible.
And he smoked a pipe. Can everyone salute Robert Holmes now please?
Batman versus Cybermen. If that sentence doesn’t make your brain stem tingle, your fist clench as you utter ‘Excellent’ and a single tear weep from both of your eyes then you have no business here. Good day.
Furthermore, it’s on Earth and features UNIT. Swap the Brigadier for Commissioner Gordon and change location to the States (Knight and Squire have got the UK covered), and this one could go ahead basically unchanged. For Jamie and Zoe, read Robin and Oracle. For Tobias Vaughn and Packer, read Tobias Vaughn and Packer. They are sacrosanct. Plus I really want Tobias Vaughn and Packer to take the mickey out of Batman’s voice. Not sure Christian Bale could pull off Patrick Troughton’s ‘Oh, my bum is getting really very singed indeed’ acting though.
Batman. Versus. Cybermen.
The Ambassadors of Death
To be honest, you could probably put Batman into any story from series seven without many changes, as the TARDIS is already sidelined in three of them. This one feels nearer to being a contemporary thriller than the other three stories (though Batman versus Autons does hold a certain appeal, I feel we’ve covered that sort of thing above in terms of Who Monsters vs The Dark Knight), and involves a certain amount of sleuthing for the world’s greatest Detective to set his mind to. Then, instead of allowing the conspirators to keep their dignity, he could beat them up a bit. Or put them in an easily escapable prison so he could fight them again later. Either way, Classic Batman. Plus, as the aliens are from Mars, you could involve Martian Manhunter.
(I could have said Inferno for this one, but the Doctor references Batman in that one and if the meta-joke in Remembrance of the Daleks is anything to go by then fan reactions might be surprisingly irate).
The Trial of a Time Lord
Okay, a certain amount of tweaking needed (certainly the A Christmas Carol past/present/future framework would make even less sense here), but imagine if Batman was caught and put on trial by his future self, thus ensuring the chain of events that led to that future self’s creation. Or something. Either way, there’s scope for the same level of revelations to ensue if Batman were to be put on trial, his usual way of solving crime put under the spotlight and twisted in a ruthlessly orchestrated cover-up. Essentially, wouldn’t it be nice if someone made a version of Trial of a Time Lord that was as good as it could have been, whose behind-the-scenes story didn’t straddle farce and tragedy quite so brutally?
That said, something similar to this idea occurs in an episode called Trial in Batman: The Animated Series, leading to precisely zero claims that all Paul Dini ever does is rehash Eric Saward’s old ideas.
Nightmare on Eden
This one is the Drugs Are Bad episode of Doctor Who, and features some underlying bleakness at odds with its tone and cuddly monsters. Batman went a bit darker, with its Venom miniseries (presaging the arrival of Bane) lacking brightly lit sets, fabulously dressed Customs and Excise officers, and anything nearly as huggable as a Mandrel. Despite this, Nightmare on Eden has some really cool sci-fi concepts, and could relocate to Gotham quite easily.
It’s not like comics aren’t full of misguided scientific experiments, drug dealers, and police fulfilling the function of Red Shirts.
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