I'd like to start 2012 off with one of the strangest Batman comics I've ever read entitled 'The Bizarre Batman-Genie' from 1963. As well as this I've also been reading 'The Black Casebook' (2009) which contains reprints of 'classic' Batman stories that inspired Grant Morrison's 'Batman R.I.P.' and also features an introduction by the man himself. Here Morrison talks about how when he came to writing a new Batman story he found that many of the ideas he was coming up with had already been done at some point over the past 70 years of Batman's existence. So what Morrison decided to do was to treat this 70 years worth of publication as actual events that occurred to Bruce Wayne over a period of roughly 15 years and approach it from the angle of what kind of psychological effects this might have on a man. Morrison says that this approach, "required me to deal with and recuperate some of the more problematic areas of that long history, in particular the despised "sci-fi Batman" era of the 1950s when the Dark Knight Detective was thrust awkwardly into stories involving other dimensions, time machines, space travel and colourful alien worlds." 'The Bizarre Batman-Genie' isn't included in 'The Black Casebook', but for me is one of the strangest Batman stories I've ever seen.
The plot features a group of criminals who have stolen an ancient lamp and magic powder from somewhere in Europe and have taken it back to the US. There plan involves them throwing the powder over Batman which turns him in to a genie for one hour in which they use him to commit their devious crimes. It's certainly not one of my favourite stories but was worth a read for the novelty value. But it is only from reading Grant Morrison's thoughts on Bruce Wayne's life that give this story, along with many other ridiculous tales, the context in which to understand them. Morrison states that "Batman keeps a 'Black Casebook,' his own version of the X-Files, where all the bizarre, supernatural or logic-defying encounters of his career can be recorded." I like this idea a lot, this idea for me elevates potentially throw-away child's fantasy story ideas into something slightly more believable; something unexplainable and modern.