Batman is one of the most famous superheroes in the world. After more than 80 years of history, it is what we need when we need it: an unstoppable dark avenger, a tireless but noble protector. a smiling crimefighter with onomatopoetic fists.
For over eight decades, writers have refined his story to a point of pure iron, his emblems have become iconic simplicity, and the need to catch up grows with each passing issue. Catching up is an impossible task. But that's good news: I love Batman and I love teaching people about Batman. That's how I put together Polygon's list of the best Batman comics of all time .
In addition to recommending the most famous, most read or praised Batman stories, I'd like to help you understand what a good Batman story is. That's why I've based my selection on two criteria: either stories that have significantly influenced our modern notion of Batman, or stories that have best contributed to distilling those many influences into something that inspires.
Long-time comic readers will find that I still have a handful of classics with me, but hopefully at the bottom of this list, I'll have taught you a lot about Batman. Especially how you love him.
Batman: Year One (1987))
By Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
I commend Frank Miller with reservations. Apart from the more subtextual race, gender, and sex-based stereotypes in his work, Miller's early work is undoubtedly the product of a young talent that dominates and revolutionizes the form of comics. Batman: Year One Miller wrote and drew David Mazzucchelli is a great opus.
DC Comics invited Miller to tell Batman's story of origin about the introduction of the first line-wide reboot of the comics' oldest uninterrupted continuity. The offer was based on the strength of the expectation-destroying dark vision that was The Dark Knight Returns but instead of calling the same tone, Miller turned in a script more powerful, deeper, more moving and timeless.
He declined to draw the first year (19459006) as he had TDKR and instead asked to be paired with David Mazzucchelli, who was also an up-and-coming talent ( although he is now more abstract and well-known Romanist work such as Asterios Polyp ) . Mazzucchelli populated Year One with as different character designs as the work of a sketch artist in the courtroom and just as human. His Batman is solid, but not overly muscular. The costume is minimalist black and gray. The sickly palette of colorist Richmond Lewis smears a dirty Gotham City over his eyes. Add the signature of the matchless Todd Klein, and the twin story of Bruce Wayne and police lieutenant James Gordon almost feels like it's spoken to your ears.
Beyond Carrying Out Batman: Year One built a foundation – both in characterization and in visual interpretation – for Bruce Wayne, James Gordon, and Selina Kyle, which lasted over 30 years. In the last five Batman films, you might feel like you're dying to see Bruce Way's parents alone, but when cartoonists and filmmakers address this crucial moment in Batman's genesis, they often mirror Mazzucchelli's beautifully staged Batman Batman: Year One Visuals that repeat or even quote Miller's dialogue.
It is unknown how the Batman was built from 2019 without Batman: Year One .
Here you go: Amazon | DC Comics | Comixology | Your Local Comic Store
If you like it you literally read everything else on this list. Or read The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke . Congratulations, you've read every Batman comic you need to understand Zack Snyder's recording.
The Long Halloween (1996)
By Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
The Long Halloween is the all-around best Batman graphic novel ever written , (And the biggest impact on Batman Begins and The Dark Knight .) The intricately woven 13-part story is really three in one: the story of a new generation of extravagant costumed Criminals deposed Gotham's ruling mafia families; the story of how District Attorney Harvey Dent from Gotham became a murderous two-face; and the mystery of the true identity of "Holiday" – a serial killer who falls victim to another member of the criminal class of Gotham once a month.
It's rare that Batman writers can resist the nostalgia of Batman's legendary Rogues Gallery, which almost always telegraphs their thematic crimes, so you know who's behind them before they're ever caught. It's rare that Batman stories are actually "being done", let alone a fascinating, captivating story that focuses on a brand new villain like Holiday. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale bring out the best in each other's creative habits. Loeb's keen sense of when to call a Double Page Splash combined with the kinetic shapes of Sale and the impeccable composition of the panel. Loeb has a path with repeated choruses that turns the rhythm of each edition into almost poetic beats, and the character designs of Sale are similar to those of Batman: The Animated Series – I'm eternally frustrated that we are me have not seen an animated Long Halloween customization.
If you're really interested in Capital C Continuity, The Long Halloween directly attacks Batman: Year One and contains many of the same characters, although you do so does not have to read one in front of the other.
Here you go: Amazon | DC Comics | Comixology | Your Local Comic Store
If you like it read the sequel, Dark Victory and its middle, Catwoman: When In Rome also from Loeb and Sale.
Robin: Year One (2001)
By Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Javier Pulido, and Marcos Martin
If you've never seen Robin really liked because he always looked like a hokey counterpart to Batman's grumpy single picture, she must read Robin: Year One .
The moment we decided that superheroes should mix some realism with their imagination (somewhere in the 1960s), a narrative dissonance entered into the idea of Robin. If Batman is a real guy fighting real criminals, why should he have a childmate? Lonliness? Weakness? Madness ? Even if he chose it, why would anyone allow him to do it?
Many authors have addressed this issue, but none did it as well as Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon (who is perhaps the best Robin writer ever). Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin hit the sweet spot in the cartoon in this book. The silhouettes and costumes have more to do with the comics of the Golden Age than modern, but are still expressive in a way that gives you a lump in your throat. Her Robin: Year One is a story about Dick Grayson, who learned that he has limits and is capable of more than one would have expected. At the same time, it's a story of Bruce Wayne, who first learned to become a partner and then a parent.
(And if you want to read Robin: Year One you can also read Dark Victory ), which also includes the story of Dick Grayson, but read The long Halloween first, or you'll be spoiled, and at this point you might as well read Batman: Year One – and now I've seduced you to read four amazing Batman books, MOO HOO HA HA.)
Get it here: Amazon | DC Comics | Comixo logy | Yo ur Local Comic Store
If you like it read Batgirl: Year One by the same creative team that will be easy because they will be collecting the same book in these days.
Batman: The Last Arkham (1992)
By Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle
Batman's Genesis, Two-Face Ascension, Robin's Billing – the list has been heavy on the World Wide Web List of Batman continuity. The Last Arkham Mr. Zsasz's first and best story, is different.
This book is just the kind of story you're unlikely to find in a superhero movie because it works on the basis of a serialized format: Batman does not save the city, it solves a case. None of his friends dies or changes costumes, and things return to the status quo in the end. this case .
The Point: Someone in Gotham commits murders that look exactly like the Slasher killer Mr. Zsasz, but … Mr. Zsasz is safely locked up in a recently renovated, state-of-the-art cell in Wisconsin, Arkham Asylum. What should Batman do? Act as if you had a police officer murdered with several witnesses, and have Commissioner Gordon commit you to explore the secrets of Arkham from within. Besides, he does not tell any of the bat family's what he's doing, so there's a subplot from Nightwing staging a perfectly meaningful yet unnecessary rescue.
Writer Alan Grant and artist Norm Breyfogle are underestimated criminally. Grant has a true talent for the dramatic narrative box monologue, while Batman of Breyfogle has a perfect fright for his enemies and tenderness for innocents. And that's without saying that you should never miss Brian Stelfreeze's cover art.
Last Arkham takes an already funny idea – Batman acts as a covert Arkham inmate – and executes it to perfection. In addition, Grant and Breyfogle put the whole thing on a completely new and frighteningly banal villain, a significant achievement.
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If you like it read Arkham Asylum: Living Hell another Arkham story with much less Batman and a great influence on Rocksteady's Batman : Arkham Asylum .
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Bruce Wayne: Murderer? and Bruce Wayne: Fugitive (2002)
by Greg Rucka, Kelley Puckett, Chuck Dixon, Devin Grayson, Ed Brubaker, Rick Burchett, Scott McDaniel, Damion Scott, Trevor McCarthy, Roger Robinson, Rick Leonardi, Pete Woods and Steve Lieber
We have come to the first and almost the only crossover sheet I have included in this list: Bruce Wayne: Murderer? and its immediate sequel, Bruce Wayne: Fugitive .
The early '00s were a golden time for the Bat family, with more than 10 years of continuity to provide depth of character, and a full-length series just for stories about them. Murderer? and Fugitives were designed to draw readers straight into the heart of Gotham's chaotic family dynamics and to bind them forever, starting with a single issue that cost only ten cents.
Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure left the reader with a cliffhanger bomb: Bruce Wayne was framed for murder and his only alibi is that he was Batman at the time. More topics deepen just deeper: the frame is so airtight that even Batman's allies start to think it's possible he did it. Then Batman, from his cell in Blackgate Prison, surrounded by the criminals he has put away, makes an unthinkable decision. If it has become a commitment to be Bruce Wayne, he just will not be Bruce Wayne anymore.
At a time when the Batman office was populated by some of the best writers and artists who ever worked on the character, Murderer? and Fugitive is a Voltron of the Rare Crossover Story talent, based entirely on character, not events, and far more accessible to the new reader than it appears from the outside.
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If you like it read Gotham Knights .
The Biggest Batman Stories Ever Made (1988)) and The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told 1988)
By many people
The marketplace for highlights of the history of Batman is unfortunately thin. When I'm in search of a collection of influential Batman stories from earlier times, nothing is dwarfed The Greatest Batman Stories Ever and The Greatest Joker Stories Ever The highlights of Batman put together comics from the 30s to the 80s, trigger a number of problems.
None of these collections were published digitally, and that's unfortunate, because they're a two-station business where you'll get to know the classics of Golden and Silver Age Batman like Robin Dies at Dawn The Five Walker's Revenge of the Joker The Laughing Fish and There is no hope in the Crime Avenue . Three of them alone have been adapted into some of Batman's best episodes: The Animated Series .
There are still used copies on Amazon, and in the worst case you can look up the table of contents and purchase the editions as part of Comixology. It will be worthwhile
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If you like it read the 1983 Batman and the Mavericks . The demise of the DC universe before the crisis is a fascinating moment in which the modern Batman and the one who wore a literal rainbow were technically still the same person. In Outsiders Batman leaves the Justice League on a shabby ground because they do not let him do what he wants, and put together his own super team of people you've probably never heard of (and Katana and Black Lightning)).
He literally pulls a Lego Batman and tells them he's not Bruce Wayne, he just lives in his basement and uses his money. When the Outsiders accidentally find out that he is Bruce Wayne, they decide to respect his boundaries and pretend that they do not know – they even act surprised when he finally tells them. It's a pleasure
What happened to the Caped Crusader? (2009)
By Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
Superman has Whatever happened to the man of tomorrow ?, Alan Moore's farewell to the Silver Age Superman before Crisis on Infinite Earths closed the book forever. Batman has Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader is a meditation on how superheroes never end.
On Paper Whatever Happened was related to the impact of Grant Morrison's Final Crisis in which the world thought Darkseid had killed Batman when he just put a universe He had Memetic Virus inside him and sent him on a time-lapse adventure from the beginning of humanity to the end of time to destroy the multiverse. In practice, this is a gentle contrast to this cosmic bombast with a dreamlike story in which Batman watches what appears to be his own funeral. Apart from every eulogy, each from a different member of his cast, is a completely different story of his death.
Which is true? Does any of this happen? Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert are not particularly interested in answering these questions and instead focus on Batman as an immortal myth.