Happy Batman Day! Here's a list of the 50 greatest Batman stories ever told!
This list is focused on Batman himself, no matter who is behind the cowl. You will see some stories where Batman is not the main character, so that story may dip down in these particular rankings. This was done casually and for fun, so enjoy! Hopefully, I can inspire a few of you to purchase some of these masterpieces. :)
1. The Killing Joke –Alan Moore’s classic Batman story. Joker takes things to the next level, forever changing the life of one member of the Bat-family. Does Batman give in and get his retribution in the final panels? The discussion rages on!
2. Batman: The Long Halloween –From the team of Loeb/Sale, this classic takes place early in Batman’s career. I love the mystery and detective elements that Loeb writes for Batman. Makes you try to solve the mystery along with Batman. If Loeb can turn the Calendar Man into a great character, just think what he can do with Batman.
3. Hush -Combine Loeb’s great writing with Jim Lee’s beautiful artwork and Hush became an instant classic. Featuring a similar formula to Long Halloween, Hush is another great mystery story with Batman facing a gauntlet of his rogues’ gallery before he must deal with his newest foe.
4. Death of the Family –Scott Snyder follows up his amazing Court of Owls arc with another instant classic. Joker is at his best in this arc, terrorizing the Bat-family. Does he know their secrets? Read and find out!
5. Knightfall, Knightquest, KnightsEnd –Bane breaks the Bat. Bane’s plan to defeat Batman is one of the wisest plans in comics, and it is a total success. But there was one thing Bane didn’t plan on, Jean-Paul Valley taking over the mantle of the Bat.
6. Court of Owls/Night of Owls –Scott Snyder kicked the New 52 Batman series off with a bang. Batman thought he knew everything about Gotham city, he was drastically mistaken. Now Batman must fight an unknown enemy who knows his city better than he does.
7. Batman: Year One –The classic origins tale of Batman by Frank Miller. This trumps his other Batman Classic, The Dark Knight Returns for me.
8. Batman R.I.P. –Dr. Hurt pushes Batman to his mental limits. Nothing is the same after Batman R.I.P.
9. Under the Hood –Jason Todd’s emotional return to life after the Joker killed him in Death in the Family.
10. JLA: Tower of Babel –Why is Batman with prep time one of the most formidable heroes? This story tells you better than any other.
11. The Black Mirror –Scott Snyder introduces us to the real James Gordon Jr. This is the best story featuring Dick Grayson as Batman
12. A Death in the Family –Jason Todd meets his ultimate demise at the hands of the Joker. This event is Bruce’s greatest failure and haunts him for the rest of his life. Story can be a bit dated for some (not me), but it’s a classic.
13. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth –Reading this, you feel like you’re taking a trip in the Joker’s mind, and it’s a scary ride. The artwork is iconic. The inmates take over the Asylum and they demand that Batman come and join them.
14. Batman: Dark Victory –Loeb and Sale are at it again. This story picks up where The Last Halloween left off. It’s a very worthy sequel. The mysterious killer, Hangman, is on the loose and killing cops. Batman has to solve the mystery before more people die. We also see the origins of Dick Grayson.
15. Kingdom Come –Another classic. If this wasn’t a Batman-centric list, this story would be near the top. This story shows more of what I picture an old Bruce Wayne to be like (as opposed to The Dark Knight Returns.) The old generation vs. the new wave of superheroes, both sides with different views and ethics; whose side do you choose?
16. Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance –Flash changes the DC timeline, now Bruce is the one that dies in the alley and his parents survive. How will this affect them? Results will not disappoint. The story that rebooted the DC Universe into the New 52.
17. The Dark Knight Returns –The Frank Miller classic. One of the most influential comics of all time, next to Alan Moore’s Watchmen. This helped bring Batman back to his darker roots (along with Denny O’Neil) and helped show people that comics aren’t for just kids. A bit overrated nowadays, but it’s still filled with iconic moments. There’s no denying its impact on comics.
18. No Man's Land –Tests Batman in a whole new way. Gotham was hit with a devastating earthquake (in Cataclysm) and the government abandons the city. Anarchy reigns over Gotham, as the city is divided among many different gangs, super-villains, the police, and the Bat-family. Each of the different factions is waging war, trying to take over the city one block at a time.
19. Heart of Hush –Written by Paul Dini, this underrated story sees Hush return to get revenge on Batman. A must story for any Batman/Catwoman fans.
20. Batman: The Man Who Laughs –Named after the movie that inspired the Joker, this often overlooked story tells the tale of the first meeting between Batman and the Joker.
21. Batman: Birth of the Demon –Origin story of Ra’s al Ghul by Denny O’Neil. Must for Ra’s fans.
22. Batman: Venom –Bruce fails to save a little girl. What lengths will he go to so that it will never happen again? Get a deeper look into Bruce’s psyche as he fights off his addiction to “venom.”
23. Batman: Prey –Hugo Strange might be Batman’s most underutilized villains. Prey is Strange’s best story. You see his brilliance turn into an obsession and his obsession leads him to madness… or in other words, it makes him “bat-shit crazy!”
24. Batman: Son of the Demon –Ra’s and Batman are after the same man and form an alliance. Talia and Bruce rekindle their relationship.
25. Batman: Legacy – Ra’s and Bane team-up in an attempt to unleash a virus throughout the globe. Can Batman stop them in time to save Robin? It’s a rarer story, so it is often forgotten about.
26. Bruce Wayne: Murderer? / Fugitive –A new test for Bruce and those around him. Did Bruce break his #1 Rule? Bruce is no longer in control, and this is one of the few times he doesn’t have a plan. This puts Bruce’s relationship with his Bat-family to the test.
27. Battle for the Cowl –Bruce Wayne is dead. Gotham NEEDS a Batman. Who is most worthy? Dick? Tim? Jason? Damian? The Robins battle it out for the right to be the next Batman.
28. Batman & Son –Damian Wayne is introduced to Bruce and the Bat-family. Bruce has to learn how to be a father, while dealing with Talia’s craziness, not to mention her vicious creatures.
29. A Lonely Place of Dying –Why does Batman need a Robin? This story offers the best answer.
30. Joker – The Joker is let out of Arkham and isn’t happy with how things are running since he’s been away. A gritty insight into the Joker’s mind. A must for Joker fans. (More about the Joker, so drops on the list.)
31. Batman Reborn, Batman vs Robin, Batman and Robin Must Die! – The chemistry between Dick and Damian is something special. Their run together as the new Batman and Robin is great.
32. Batman and Robin Vol. 1-4 –Expands on the Bruce and Damian relationship, till his death. Concludes with the most beautifully, depressing comic I’ve ever read, Requiem for Damian. (Grab a box of tissues.)
33. The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul –Ra’s al Ghul returns from the grave. With Damian joining the Bat-family, everyone has to learn to get along. This story touches on fatherhood and children, which makes for a special read.
34. Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? –What will happen when Batman dies? See how Batman’s allies and arch-nemeses cope. Read to find out!
35. Batman: Return Of Bruce Wayne –Strange and very unique tale of Batman. Bruce travels through different time periods, trying to return to the present.
36. Batman: Cataclysm –Even Batman can’t save Gotham from an earthquake. This story tests Batman and Bruce in whole new ways. Does Gotham need Batman or Billionaire Bruce Wayne more?
37. Batman: Tales of the Demon –Stories that add to the depth of the relationships between Bruce, Ra’s, and Talia.
38. Final Crisis –I love the Crisis stories of DC, and Final Crisis is the most complex. Beginners to reading DC Universe stories should not start here. This one makes the list solely for spoiler the iconic images of Batman taking out a god.
39. Injustice: Gods Among Us (Year One) –Expands the story on the fantastic video game.
40. Batman Adventures: Mad Love, Batman: Harley Quinn –Origins of Harley Quinn, both written by Dini. The former was made into the more well-known Batman: The Animated Series episode. The other introduces Harley into DC canon. More of a Harley story, so they drop in the list.
41. Batman: Gates of Gotham –Shows us more about the history of Gotham.
42. Batman Incorporated: Demon Star / Gotham’s Most Wanted –Morrison’s run with Bruce and Damian. You see a brat turn into a lovable kid. (Even though, I dislike the portrayal of Talia in this story.)
43. Bane of the Demon –Bane returns to his birthplace, Santa Prisca prison, to find information on his father. He runs into an unexpected surprise…
44. Dark Knight vs White Knight –People are dressing up as angels and committing suicide, but why? The Dick & Damian Dynamic Duo must solve the mystery and put a stop to this “White Knight”.
45. Batman and the Monster Men –One of Batman’s earliest run-ins with Hugo Strange and his army of giant brutes.
46. Batman and the Mad Monk –Batman’s first run-in with a supernatural villain.
47. Batman: Anarky –A new costumed crusader arrives in Gotham, is he friend or foe?
48. Batman: Haunted Knight –Collection of 3 Halloween specials by the Loeb/Sale team.
49. Batman: Gothic –Morrison’s early Batman work. A good mystery story with a look into Bruce’s past.
50. Batman: In Darkest Knight –What would happen if Bruce, not Hal, became the Green Lantern?