Batman has had some amazing stories over the past 80 years. Some not only shaped the story of the Dark Knight, but the comic landscape as a whole. While there are so many excellent stories to read (in truth too many for us to chronicle here) these are some of our favorite Batman stories!
Batman must take on a year long case as mobsters are killed on each major holiday. Mixing a great mystery with some super hero shenanigans, The Long Halloween is one of Batman’s greatest adventures. Batman must make allies with Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent, and Catwoman in an attempt to keep the Gotham underworld from exploding with violence. This is the story that served as inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
Batman and Catwoman rekindle their relationship while besieged on all sides by rogue after rogue, driving our heroes to their breaking point. And what does the mysterious man, Hush, have to do with it? This beautiful masterpiece is a feast for the eyes as Lee shows why he is a master of the medium. This story brings Batman into contact with all of his greatest allies and most vile villains in this truly epic tale.
Court of Owls shows that you can still invent new, interesting foes for Batman even after 80 years. Starting Scott Snyder’s epic run on Batman this is the most defining part of the New 52 with the honor of having the new lines first crossover. Turns out everything Batman knew about Gotham City was wrong, as the secret society that has controlled Gotham since it’s founding decide The Dark Knight must go. It’s going to take everything Batman has to keep a modicum of control not just over Gotham, but his own sanity.
Considered one the greatest Joker story of all time, The Killing Joke redefines Batman’s relationship with the Clown Prince of Crime for the modern era. Joker is out to prove that one bad day can cause anyone to loose their mind as much as he has, so he sets out to give Jim Gordon the worst day imaginable. This story is what has forever linked Batman and Joker as two sides of the same coin, twisted reflections of one another.
It’s no secret that we love the old school Adam West Batman show. Unfortunately we didn’t get any more episodes after 1969. Fortunately Jeff Parker filled that campy hole in our hearts in 2013. Bringing back all the classic rogues from the television series, and reimagined newer villains, this comic series captured everything that is wonderful by this four color take on the caped crusaders. They also brought in tons of crossovers with the likes of Green Hornet, Archie, Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, and more this is one of the most consistently fun comics DC has put out in years.
The unlikely crossover the world always needed finally happened! The Turtles and Splinter chase Shredder and the foot clan through a multiversal gate and wind up in Gotham CIty. Unfortunately there’s already an animal themed urban ninja in town. It’s a race against time as Batman and the TMNT must stop Shredder from taking over the League of Assassin’s and taking over Gotham. With wonderful art from Freddie Williams II, this fantastic series has the turtles mixing it up with all of the greatest Gotham rogues along with chowing down on pizza in the Bat-Cave. But the best part of the story can be summed up in four words: Criminal Mutant Arkham Inmates.
This gritty reimagining of the first year of Batman’s career has set the standard for years to come. While Batman is learning the ropes and dismantling the mob, a young detective Jim Gordon must come to terms with the terrifying new status quo having a vigilante brings. Will these two justice seekers on opposite sides of the law ever come to terms long enough to keep the general citizenry safe?
One of the most critically acclaimed Batman stories and an inspiration for the Arkham video games, Arkham Asylum truly stands up to the test of time. The eerie watercolor art gives life to an asylum literally taken over by the inmates, giving insight into the life of Batman’s impressive rogue’s gallery within its walls. With the Joker in complete control of Arkham Asylum, Batman must try and contain the chaos as every inmate vies for escape or revenge.
With the simply titled Joker, Brian Azarello and Lee Bermejo take a look at what the more grounded universe of The Dark Knight film might look like on a bigger scale. While not connected to the movie other than early art potentially inspiring the Joker’s design, it takes the same gritty and crime-focused look at Gotham. The story is told from the point of view of a thug working with the Joker and Killer Croc as they go through a plan to take down Harvey Dent. It’s a cool look at the world of Gotham outside normal continuity and with the focus shifted away from Batman, leaving a disturbing but fascinating story.
This is the story that started DC Comics’ Elsewords tales. An Elseworlds story re-imagines DC characters in strange new ways. In Gotham by Gaslight Gotham City is modeled after Victorian England complete with cobblestone streets and gas powered street lights. Unlike England though, a caped crusader patrols the night! See Batman and his world in a decidedly low-tech fashion brought to you by Hellboy’s Mike Mignola!
We know there are quite few other fantastic tales of the Dark Knight we haven’t listed here. Let us know what stories we missed down in comments below!