To be a fan of Batman has never been better than it is right now. With multiple Dark Knights in upcoming movies and TV shows, as well as a superstar creative team taking over DC’s flagship Batman comic, we thought it was time to update our list of the best Batman comics ever made. We’ve now added 27 stories to this list, which is a lot because Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in 1939.
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Before we start, we need to meet a few rules. If you want to read Batman comics that give you a complete and standalone experience, this list is for you. It doesn’t focus on the number of issues or the length of a comic run. Not all of them must be in graphic novel form, but they must be able to be read together in a single book now. We’re also only going to focus on stories where Batman is the star of the show, too. Mad Love and Batgirl: Year One are two of the best Batman stories ever written, but you won’t find them on this list of the best.
With that out of the way, here are the 27 best and most important Batman comics of all time. These are the comics that any Bat-fan should have.
The 6 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels of All Time
1. Batman: Earth One
Creators: Geoff Johns & Gary Frank
If Batman: Year One were written today, it would be called Batman: Earth One. “Batman: Year One” As he chases a thief over the city’s rooftops, his grappling gun doesn’t work, and he falls to his death in the trash below. Also, instead of being best friends with Jim Gordon, he smacks him in the face.
The main thing that makes this story work is how Alfred Pennyworth’s character has changed. Alfred is no longer a kind butler. He is an ex-MI6 agent who beats Bruce to teach him a lesson. It’s a new twist on the classic dynamic that lets us see how Batman would work in a world with more real limitations.
As of right now, there have been two follow-up books to Earth One. We’re hoping that Johns and Frank have at least one more book in the works that will focus on a certain Clown Prince of Crime.
2. Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance
Creators: Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso
Flashpoint was a big moment in DC’s history. It set the stage for the rebooted New 52 universe and everything else that came after. But as it turns out, the best part of this huge crossover wasn’t about The Flash at all. It was about Batman.
After his son was killed in front of him, Thomas Wayne became Batman. The result is a vigilante who is even more brooding and angry than Bruce Wayne. Knight of Vengeance shows a darker, more dangerous Gotham City that fits Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s storytelling skills.
It doesn’t matter that this book is part of a bigger story, because it reads well on its own. It also has one of the most haunting endings you’ll find in a Batman comic, as well.
3. Batman Universe
Creators: Brian Michael Bendis & Nick Derington
Whenever Brian Michael Bendis switched to DC comics in 2019, it was a given that he’d write a Batman story. When Bendis first started making comics, his work was all about grittier crime stories. People who thought Bendis would go back to that kind of story were surprised by Batman Universe. It can be good to get a surprise from time to time.
There are so many Batman stories out there where the dark and violent are the main focus. It’s nice to have a comic that shows the Caped Crusader in a more positive light. In Universe, there is a lot of fun to be had, but it also has a lot in common with classic Silver Age comics. It’s a book that also has a lot to do with the dynamic art of Doom Patrol artist Nick Derington.
4. Batman: The Man Who Laughs
Creators: Ed Brubaker & Doug Mahnke
It looks like a madman is going after the rich and famous people in Gotham. The next person on his list is millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. This is Batman’s first meeting with the Joker, one of his most dangerous enemies. Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke talks about how the Clown Prince of Crime came to be. The Man Who Laughs talks about the first fight between the Joker and Batman.
He is one of the best comic book writers when it comes to writing about crime. A good Batman story should have a good tone and pace, but The Man Who Laughs doesn’t have that. There has never been a story that said the Joker had to practice like Bruce Wayne did to get better at his art. And that’s what makes the Joker so scary. As you might think, his psychosis isn’t as chaotic as you think it is. There’s a method and a goal to many of his actions.
5. Son of the Demon
A strange story called “Son of the Demon” is told in this book. It was thought to be untrue for a long time. Grant Morrison’s Batman run, especially his work on “Batman & Son,” made it official.
Bruce Wayne is forced to make an uneasy truce with his old enemy, Ra’s al Ghul, in order to defeat Qayin, a rogue killer and terrorist. As they spend more time together, Batman gets back together with Ra’s daughter, Talia. Because Bruce is becoming more protective, she tells him that she has miscarried and he doesn’t believe her when she says that.
When Batman’s son, Damian, was born, he didn’t become a big part of the comics until years later, giving “Son of the Demon” a big surprise. Jerry Bingham’s illustrations make “Son of the Demon” look like a fast-paced action movie. Mike W. Barr, who wrote the book, did a great job of planning and pacing it. Most of the time, al Ghul’s stories aren’t very good because they include things like his immortality-giving Lazarus Pit. This one is more real, making it one of the best League of Assassins stories.
6. A Death in the Family
Batman is worried that Robin, whose real name is Jason Todd, is becoming impatient and careless, so he takes him off the job. Robin, on the other hand, leaves Gotham to go on a quest of his own. The two crime fighters meet up in Bosnia to stop the Joker from getting enough uranium to make a dirty bomb there. A group of people kidnap and brutally beat Robin, and Batman wants to find him before it’s too late. He arrives at the warehouse where Robin is being held just as it blows up, so he doesn’t get hurt.
Afterwards, how did things go? Well, the readers decided whether Robin lived or died. They used their phones to vote, and they decided to kill him. A trick? Certainly. Is this one good? According to how much attention the story got, that’s for sure.
A powerful story doesn’t matter if it’s for show or not. The Joker has never been more frightening, and the beating he gives Robin is brutal, even for a comic book. Jason Todd was the second person to become Robin, after the first, Dick Grayson, went to join the Teen Titans. This is really shocking to see, even though Jason was never as popular as his predecessor. The voting audience is just as bad as the Joker when it comes to killing him.