Best Batman Graphic Novels - Essential reading

Greatest Batman comics
The Dark Knight. One of the best known heroes ever created. Batman is so loved by comic readers and movie goers that his pointy eared mask is probably better known than the face of Shakespeare. Any new work of fiction featuring Batman has a hell of a lot to live up to, and I fear any list about his best graphic novels is no different. I'm not sure I want to write this.

But I'm a professional and I’ve got a pretty thick skin so I'll just get down to it. Here are some of the greatest Batman books ever printed.

The greatest ever Dark Knight comics


The sometimes overlooked work of J M Dematteis and Brian Ashmore, Absolution follows Batman’s search for justice when a Children of Maya attack leaves Wayne Enterprises reeling. Our hero spends ten years hunting down the culprits, only to discover when he finds them that things aren't as black and white as they first seemed. This story is batman in pure detective mode, and that's how I like him.

The artwork in Absolution is what makes it stand out from the other Dark Knight comics out there, but I think in terms of appreciation it has suffered from the marmite effect where people either love it for its originality or hate it. I think it's great.

The Dark Knight Returns

A Frank Miller penned tale, this book is responsible for making batman what he is today. Miller turned him from a laughable, behind-the-times caped crusader to the dark vigilante that we love. After seeing the outings Bruce Wayne has had both on film and in his books over the last decade, it's hard to believe he was once a laughable figure.

The story in the Dark Knight Returns is about the decade long absence of batman and how it has left Gotham to decay at the hands of criminals, followed by Batman’s triumphant return. If, when you start reading this, you get a sense of deja vu, that's because the entire blueprint for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises is taken from Miller's work. This is essential Dark Knight reading.

Year One

Yet another Frank Miller graphic novel, Year One concerns itself with going back to basics and finding how Gotham's hero began. Like The Dark Knight Returns, this comic is also the source material for one of the best Batman films, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins.

What makes this book so great is the parallel story Miller writes for James Gordon, a lieutenant who finds rises through the police force and finds himself to be one of the only honest cops in Gotham. Charting his fight to rid the Gotham police department of corruption, this is as much Gordon’s story as it is Bruce Wayne's.

The Long Halloween

Jeph Loeb stepped up to bat for The Long Halloween and he manages to create one of the top dark knight comics ever. If you've ever switched on your TV you will be familiar with the work of Loeb, he has written or produced everything from Smallville to Teen Wolf.

Working under a plot line involving untraceable murders, this graphic novel is Batman-noir-detective writing at its finest. The murder mystery that Batman is forced to solve makes great reading, but The Long Halloween achieves greatness by it's handling of the fraternity between Batman, Two Face and James Gordon. The relationship between Wayne, Gordon and Harvey dent makes it unmissable reading.

The Killing Joke

Perhaps the most famous and critically acclaimed of batman graphic novels, the Killing Joke is comic legend Alan Moore’s twist on the series. Moore crafts an excellent story line around Batman’s struggles with the Joker.

As you'd expect from a writer like Moore, this book is violent, twisted and sometimes just plain wrong. It manages to turn the Joker from someone you love the hate to someone you just plain hate. Every batman fan should read this once in their life.

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