The 15 Best Batman Stories of All Time
Superman may have become the icon and symbol for all superheroes of all time, but there isn't any hero out there today who is more beloved than Batman. Much of that is due to the fact that he isn't just another fictional character intended for the sole purpose of entertainment - he inspires people. Yet it can't be denied that part of this inspirational character's popularity is also due to his place in the universe of storytelling.
Batman isn't just a carefully crafted character, but the stories that he's been written in are often equally as inspiring and intriguing as well. Those who pride themselves in being comic connoisseurs know that while many other mainstream characters may only be so lucky to have a few comic arcs that are really worth the read, Batman has several. So I've taken the time to come up with what I believe to be the top 15 Batman stories of all time, which was a bit of a challenge as there are just so many that could deserve a spot at the top. Check it out, and see if your favorite made the list:
The Man Who Laughs
The Man Who Laughs is a modernized retelling of the events in Batman #1 of 1940, when Batman first faced off against the Joker. While it's a bit short, it's definitely worth the read and a must have for any fan of the Clown Prince of Crime.
Earth One: Vol. 1
Batman: Earth One is written by the legendary Geoff Johns and is described as being the definitive Batman for the new generation. In essence, Earth One: Vol. 1 is a retelling of the origins of Batman and his first attempts at fighting crime in Gotham. Alfred is a war veteran, and it's clear that it's this version of the character that the Alfred in Fox's Gotham is modeled after. The Penguin is the corrupt mayor of the city, and Batman knows he has to take him down while investigating a series of murders that take place. Though Batman: Earth One vol. 1 takes place in a parallel universe, it has the potential to be the beginning of an epic saga that could go on for years.
13 Death of the Family
Wearing a dead skin mask of his former face, the Joker's back and he's trying to recreate some of his most famous "jokes" of all times with a new twist in "Death of the Family." A tale that concerns the seemingly endless dance that the Joker and Batman are destined to do, Death of the Family is a superbly written tale of the twisted love that the Joker has for Batman. Though it does not take place immediately before Batman: Endgame, it is very much a prequel to the historic events that take place within it.
Death of the Family
Earth One Vol. 2
Earth One vol. 2 keeps with the same tone of vol. 1, but happens to be one of those rare books that outdoes its predecessor. Dealing with the Riddler, Killer Croc, and a gender-bended Two Face, the Earth One universe is greatly expanded in this new inclusion to the saga. Earth One vol. 2 earned immediate praise from critics, with even Chris Terrio, screenwriter for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, giving it a rave review.
Detective Comics: Gothtopia, written by John Layman and illustrated by Jason Fabok, is a whole lot of fun. Scarecrow has poisoned Gotham with a new toxin that makes people see the world in the best possible light (instead of in the most terrifying light, as is Scarecrow's usual) in order to conduct an even more horrifying experiment on its citizens. Batman sees Gotham as a utopia and Catwoman is both his new Robin and his lover...until Poison Ivy helps Batman see what's really going on. Gothtopia has a very Batman: The Animated Series feel to it with a bit of a mature spin and has a few fun easter eggs for lovers of Batman lore. It's a story that any Bat-Fan should love to get their hands on.
It may be the most recent Batman story to come to completion (it hasn't even been released in graphic novel format as of yet), but Endgame is most definitely worthy of making the top 10 Batman stories of all time. Endgame is the story of what happens when the Joker stops trying to "play" with Batman, and when he starts wanting to truly bring him to his end. Featuring his biggest joke yet, the story reaches it's culmination with both Batman and the Joker lying dead next to each other. Though it received criticism from many fans for killing off the most beloved superhero of all time, it really is a great read and portrays a truly fitting end for both the Caped Crusader and the Clown Prince of Crime.
The Black Mirror
The Black Mirror actually concerns Dick Grayson's time as Batman after Bruce Wayne has been presumed dead (though by this time in chronology, Bruce is revealed to be alive and on a mission establishing Batman, Inc.). It mainly deals with the return of James Gordon, Jr., but it also has a lot of neat interactions between the new Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Oracle. Original and ingenious, the Black Mirror is a refreshing take on the Caped Crusader while all the while staying in step with the tone and core components of what makes Batman, Batman.
Under the Red Hood
Under the Red Hood has become famous for simultaneously creating one of the most beloved Batman characters of all time (or would resurrecting be more appropriate?) and pulling off one of the biggest plot twists in DC Comics history with making the Red Hood former Robin, Jason Todd. This arc has become so popular that the new Batman video game, Arkham Knight, is in essence a very, very loose adaption of the book. There's a lot more than just a major plot twist to the story, though, so don't write it off simply because the outcome of the book is so well known.
Hush brings to life an entirely new Batman villain that has a personal history with Bruce Wayne. Using a number of Batman's enemies, Hush attempts to bring down the man that he perceives to be responsible for ruining his life. The book features a number of beloved villains and is famous for having one of the biggest fights between Batman and Superman. It has murder, mystery, and some of the most romantic moments between Batman and Catwoman in DC Comics history. Featuring some pretty amazing artwork from the legendary Jim Lee, Hush is a must read for all Batman fans.
Zero Year, an arc that spans two volumes, is the reimagining of Batman's first year fighting crime in Gotham. It depicts his decision to don the cape and cowl, his conflict with the Red Hood Gang, and an even greater struggle when the Riddler, Edward Nygma, decides to take over the city of Gotham. In the new continuity, this is the definitive origin story of Gotham's Dark Knight, and for that reason deserves a prominent spot on the top 15 list.
Batman: Year One has become a true Batman classic. It is THE origin story of the Dark Knight and features perhaps one of the grittiest depictions of Gotham City to ever grace the pages of a comic book. Detailing the beginnings of Batman, Jim Gordon, and Catwoman's careers, Frank Miller's Year One needs to find a spot on your bookshelf.
The Court of Owls
The Court of Owls, also a story that spans two volumes ("The Court of Owls" and "The City of Owls"), was the story that proved that Scott Snyder was the perfect author to write Batman at the start of the new continuity. An arc that deals with a secret society of wealthy Gothamites, Court of Owls is dark and gripping. With plenty of twists and turns, there's not much else you could want out of the first New 52 Batman story.
The Dark Knight Returns
The Dark Knight Returns is no doubt one of the most influential Batman stories of all time. Bolstering the biggest fight between Superman and Batman in comics history, this book seems to be the main inspiration for the upcoming film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Though it takes place in an alternate universe, this tale of an older, wiser Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement to fight the good fight remains unparalleled by almost any other work. Almost.....
The Killing Joke
Perhaps the most famous Batman story of all time, Alan Moore's the killing Joke shows the utter depravity of Batman's greatest foe like never before. Depicting one of the possible backstories of the Joker, it's a story of how the Clown Prince of Crime attempts to prove that one bad day can turn even the greatest of men insane. It's truly a Batman story that you simply can't miss.
The Long Halloween
The Long Halloween tops off the list, and definitely for good reason. It's not your typical "villain tries to overtake Gotham" or "rogue wants revenge on Batman" story. It's a mystery, and a decent one at that. It documents the attempts of Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and District Attorney Harvey Dent's to catch a serial killer and bring down the biggest crime family in Gotham. Serving as the main inspiration for the Dark Knight (a film that is often regarded to be the greatest superhero film of all time) and as an inspiration for various components of The Dark Knight Rises, the Long Halloween also features a long list of rogues that stop in to make an appearance throughout the book (yet somehow it manages to never feel overcrowded). For these reasons, the Long Halloween is arguably the greatest Batman story to ever be told.