As you all I love Batman. He’s one of my absolute favorite superheroes, second only to Spider-Man to be exact. He’s the world’s greatest detective and hand-to-hand combatant. The Dark Knight has easily the best rogues gallery of any comic hero. But he also stands alone as the character with the best graphic novel collection, and it’s not close. I was going to make this a list of the top 5, but I came up with six and just couldn’t find it in myself to knock one of them off. Besides, it’s my blog and I can make my own rules. I’m such a rebel. *Insert eye roll* I listed the writer and artist for each novel as well. Without further ado, here…we…go:
5*. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (Grant Morrison/Dave McKean)
Beautifully painted artwork from Dave McKean sets this book apart from just about any other Batman story out there. It also delves deeper in the scarred psyche of the Caped Crusader than most. See Batman face his own madness to survive the night inside Arkham Asylum is a riveting read.
5*. Batman: Hush (Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee)
I don’t know if there’s a writer that grasps the modern version of Batman quite like Jeph Loeb. Add in art from my all-time favorite comic artist Jim Lee, and you have the perfect foundation for an amazing Batman novel. They do not disappoint. A masterful puzzle of a story that also served to introduce a fantastic new villain to the Batman mythos.
4. Batman: Year One (Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli)
If Loeb isn’t the best modern writer for The Dark Knight, than it would have to be Frank Miller. Tracing the first steps in the career of Bruce Wayne’s war on crime, Year One gives an incredible re-envisioning of his origin. Also includes some of the absolute greatest Batman quotes ever written. David Mazzucchelli’s pulp-inspired artwork helps set the tone for this throwback. Heavily influenced the film Batman Begins.
3. Batman: The Long Halloween (Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale)
As far as overall story arcs go, this might be my favorite among Batman’s many graphic novels. Winding and intricate, with incredible plot twists and misdirections. Much like Arkham Asylum and Hush, The Long Halloween includes several of Batman’s villains as major characters, which helps to make it an even better treat. Was, with The Killing Joke, the basis for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
2. Batman: The Killing Joke (Alan Moore/Brian Bolland)
The greatest story of Batman’s nemesis, The Joker. Never before has he appeared so prominently. Written by comic legend Alan Moore, the book is filled with all the violence, high drama, philosophical introspection, and twists that Moore is known for. Batgirl’s sexual assault and paralysis at the hands of The Joker is one the most iconic and controversial moments in comic history.
1. The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller/Klaus Janson)
The essential Batman graphic novel. This is the story that returned Batman to his darker, brooding nature. Seeing an aging Bruce Wayne return to defend his city from a new threat that the police are unable to stop, while taking on a new Robin to train is some of the most fun you’ll have reading a Batman comic. Violent, gritty, and as dark as The Caped Crusader gets. Go out of your way to read this one if you haven’t.