My top would definitely Batman: The Killing Joke. I know that sounds pretty generic, but it really is one of the best Batman stories. The art and story itself it spectacular. It just a great Batman story and a good story on its own.
My go-to choice is “Night of the Stalker” (Detective Comics #439).
I think I have to go with The Long Halloween. Strange Apparitions and Venom are also very good stories. And I suppose I’m personally partial to Knightfall even though I acknowledge that parts of it aren’t very good at all.
“To Kill a Legend”
THE STORY: The Phantom
Stranger sends Batman and
Robin to a parallel world where
a young version of Bruce Wayne
hasn’t lost his parents yet. Robin
isn’t sure if they should
interfere. After all, doesn’t
this world need a Batman? But
Bruce Wayne isn’t about to sit
back and let his parents die
again…or is he?“To Kill A
Legend” celebrated Detective
Comics 500th issue with a story
that questioned what it means
to be a hero. Writer Alan
Brennert’s single-issue story is a
favorite of many Batfans, who
still ponder its implications to
this very day.
FOR FANS OF: If you enjoy tales
of alternate realities and/or
philosophical questions then
this story is for you. If this comic
feels like an episode of The
Twili Zone, don’t be too
surprised…Alan Brennert was a
frequent writer for the show in
its 1980s incarnation.
WHERE TO FIND IT Detective
Grant Morrison’s run
Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams run especially the Demon’s Quest.
I’m with McEddard. Morrison’s run is probably my favorite. That said, I adore dozens of other stories/runs that are very different from that one.
These are the favorite stories of Mike Uslan.Executive Producer of all Batman.videos since 1989.
- Night of the Stalker from Detective Comics #439, which I read over Thanksgiving 1973, I immediately pronounced to be the BEST Batman comic book story ever written, and since then, nothing has changed my mind.
I made Tim Burton read it when we were pitching him to direct the 1989 Batman, and you’ll see its influence in the opening sequence of the film. I bow before my comic book course guest lecturer Steve Engelhart, and Neal Adams and Sal Amendola, and Archie Goodwin, for this historic work- in which, by the way, there is NO dialogue. Batman says nothing. He doesn’t have to. The emotional impact is intense.
Night of the Reaper from Batman #237, which came out around September 1971, became a hot topic in my comic
book course about the impact comics could have on an audience and as hard evidence of their growing sophistication in theme and storytelling. This is a POWERFUL tale everyone should read, and it is courtesy of another of my comic book course guest lecturers, Denny O’Neil, and the magic that is Neal Adams.
Robin Dies at Dawn from 1963’s Batman #156, which I read when I was twelve, is a Bill Finger, Shelly Moldoff, Charlie Paris opus that moved me
to tears when I was a kid.
The Laughing Fish, a
multi-parter starting in Detective Comics # 475 in 1978, was one of my three most favorite Joker stories ever told, brought to us by the minds of Steve Engelhart and artist Marshall Rogers, who brought style to the Dark Knight
Batman #1 from Spring 1940 qualifies in its entirety, but particularly for the very first Joker story (but don’t ignore the
nearly as great first Catwoman tale), courtesy of Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and Bob Kane.
Daughter of the Demon from 1971’s Batman #232 kicked off the emergence of Ra’s al Ghul and his daughter, Talia, giving
us fans the greatest Batman villain created post-Batman TV show. From the typewriter and pencils and pens of Denny O’Neil (of course) and Neal Adams (who else?).
The First Batman from Detective Comics #235 in 1956 was one of the very earliest superhero comic books I
ever read (or maybe mostly looked at the pictures), which also happened to be the issue that expanded and redefined the
origin of Batman himself, making me feel as a new reader that I was getting on board the Batman saga on the ground floor, all thanks to Bill Finger, Shelly Moldoff, and Stan Kaye.
Batman: Year One took off in Batman #404 in 1987 from the talents of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli and was a huge influence on Batman Begins.
The Dark Knight Returns, in 1986, was a seminal graphic novel out of the fertile mind and artistry of Frank Miller, as he
deconstructed Batman for a brand-new generation.
Batman Annual #1 from 1961! Man oh man oh man!
Detective Comics #327 from 1964. Not one single story, but the whole look and feel of this entire comic book was just
revolutionary and shocking. Gone was the artwork of Shelly Moldoff’s Bob Kane, and arriving was next-generation artist
Carmine nfantino. John Broome was the new writer. Batman’s chest symbol suddenly had a yellow circle around it. The
Batmobile overnight became a sports car. The Bat-Signal was ditched in favor of the Bat-Phone. Aunt Harriet arrived to live with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Batman held a GUN on a bad guy! What
the-? And even the backup feature, “J’onn J’onzz, Manhunter from Mars,” was given the boot from the book by the super-stretchy sleuth, the Elongated Man.
One Bullet Too Many from 1969’s Batman #217 by Frank Robbins and Irv Novick, in which Batman closes the Bat-Cave, ships Robin off to college, and
moves into the heart of Gotham City above the Wayne Foundation. The times they are a-changin’!
The Killing Joke graphic novel from 1988 by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland had the largest impact on the Joker’s portrayal in The Dark Knight movie.
There Is No Hope in Crime Alley from Detective Comics #457 in 1976 was another classic by the always reliable
Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano.
A Death in the Family, erupting in Batman #426 in 1988, was a story in which, once again, Robin dies at dawn. This time for real. At least I could’ve
sworn! But… sigh … it’s comic books…
Challenge of the Man-Bat, beginning in Detective Comics #400 in 1970 from Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, was a truly
chilling modern-day comic book version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The Man Behind the Red Hood from Detective Comics #168 in 1951 by Bill Finger, Lew Sayre Schwartz, and Charlie
Paris. Just when you thought you knew all about the Joker.
Both Batman #253 and #259 in 1973 and 74, when he meets the mysterious figure who most directly influenced his own creation, the Shadow, as written by Denny O’Neil and rendered by Neal Adams.
The Demon of Gothos Manor from Batman #227 in 1970, which made our hero less the Caped Crusader and more the Dark Knight, compliments of Denny O’Neil, Irv Novick, and Dick Giordano.
Secret of the Waiting Graves from Detective Comics #395 in 1970 marked the first Batman collaboration between the Dynamic Duo of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams.
A lot of comics come to mind, but the one that I think tops the list is Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader”. It’s definitely not a standard Batman story, but it does a great job of encapsulating the essence of the Dark Knight.
Of course the classics/essentials are definitely among my favorites (Dark Knight Returns, Year One, Court of Owls, and so many more), and if I gave it more thought I could probably find a dozen more Batman comics that are personal favorites, but Gaiman’s two-parter is a fantastic tribute to the character, and something I would highly recommend to anyone who has been a long-time Batman fan.
Here are a few more of my favorites that haven’t been mentioned yet:
- “Robin the Boy Wonder” (Detective Comics #38, Bill Finger)
- “The People vs. the Batman” (Batman #7, Bill Finger)
- “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl” (Detective Comics #359, Gardner Fox)
- “The Man Who Killed Mlle. Marie” (Detective Comics #501-502, Gerry Conway)
- “All My Enemies Against Me” (Detective Comics #526, Gerry Conway)
- “Resurrection Night” (Batman #400, Doug Moench)
- “My Beginning and My Probable End” (Detective Comics #574, Mike Barr)
- Batman: Son of the Demon (one-shot, Mike Barr)
- “Ten Nights of the Beast” (Batman #417, 418, 419, 420, Jim Starlin)
- “Blind Justice” (Detective Comics #598, 599, 600, Sam Hamm)
- “Superfriends, Part 2” (Batman #37, Tom King)
Man. That may be the toughest one yet. I’m gonna stick with my go to Black Mirror. I honestly love every choice on here & way more. I just love the tone of Black Mirror. When you get to the ending & it gets even better is the mark of a great read for me.
@TurokSonOfStone1950 Love this post! So many suggestions I plan on checking out as many as possible! Thank you!
I read this comic after seeing your recommendation, @TurokSonOfStone1950. Thank you for the brief synopsis and reference of where to find! As you mentioned, the issue contains a few other stories but I focused mainly on “To Kill a Legend”, which was a nice 21-pager. The art and coloration were a classic Batman style that I found peaceful and warm, with a very interesting plot line of what if. Great suggestion for Batman fans to check out! Thank you again!
This a no-brainer for me: Batman: Year One by Miller and Mazzucchelli
So for me I have a special love for any Batman story by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, namely The Long Halloween. The first time I read it I loved it so much that I knew even at the beginning I needed to savor every panel and line of dialogue (you can only read something for the first time one time). I’m also very partial to their short series Haunted Knight: Ghosts, Madness, and Fear
A more obscure story that I did enjoy - particular the art - is The Dark Prince Charming by Enrico Marini.
Special shout outs to Batman: Noel by Lee Bermejo and Batman: Earth One Volume 1 and 2 by Geoff Johns. Really enjoyed those and hoping Johns will have time to get Volume 3 done soon. I also can’t help but mention Batman: Year One which was the first series of Batman comics I ever read. It opened up this whole world of comics to me and for that it will always have a special place in my heart.
I’ve only been reading comics for about a year now, so I really want to add more to this list. Looking forward to checking out suggestions above.
Death of the Family is what got me collecting comics again. That Joker was one of the most twisted Villains I have ever come across and after it being so long since I had collected the side of the collector’s box gave me chills:
There are so many to choose from its so difficult to pick just one!! So I’ll choose two Court of Owls and Long Halloween always really stood out to me
Want to take a guess? “NML” should be a giveaway. The answer is … No Man’s Land!