When I was five years old, I remember watching the sixties Batman show. Starring Adam West and Burt Ward, with lots of KAPOW and BANG! It was my first glimpse of the Batman and I have to say, even though it’s incredibly cheesy – I was hooked. The colourful villains, the silly dialogue. My childhood mind lapped it up like sugar. As I grew older, I began to read more – including comics. With Batman being one of my first buys. So after I shared with you all, my favourite Wolverine stories – I decided that it was the turn of the Batman.
Written by Joseph Loeb and illustrated by Jim Lee
Hush has got be one of the best Batman stories. Simply put the first time I read this brilliant story arc… I was hooked. Even now I will quite happily sit down to reread this story of deceit and mystery. It shows us a young Bruce Wayne and his best friend growing up. It adds a little intrigue, showing us more of Bruce as a child. His temperament whilst growing up, his values and gives us a glimpse of his life with his parents. With a good dollop of classic villains making their presence felt and Batman’s relationship with Catwoman explored even further – plus a villain mastermind that leaves questions unanswered. This has become a classic detective story featuring our favourite vigilante.
Written by Jim Starlin, illustrated by Jim Aparo
Next up a tale of tragedy, as The Joker crosses the line and throws a rather unexpected curve ball in A Death in the Family . Highlighting just why I believe The Joker is one of the best villains to ever grace a comic book, this arc takes Bat’s and Joker’s relationship right to the edge. The fate of the second Robin, Jason Todd is also finally decided! This story is one of Bats most defining, to me, showing us just how twisted the Joker can be.
Written by Scott Snyder, Adam Glass, Kyle Higgins, John Layman, Scott Lobdell, Ann Nocenti, Gail Simone, Peter Tomasi, James Tynion IV. Illustrated by Greg Capullo, Eddy Barrows, Ed Benes, Brett Booth, Fernando Dagnino, Jason Fabok, Patrick Gleason, Jock, Timothy Green, Rafa Sandoval
A Death in the Family was a defining moment in Batman’s and Joker’s history. If I’m honest I never thought I would see it ever get even more twisted and grim. Until this year when I read Death of the Family , the first story arc in the New 52 to fully feature our deranged clown! Questions abound as the full ramifications of the twisted clown’s newest scheme hit home. Showing us an insight into how his mental mind works, bringing a new terror and twist to my favourite foe. Not only that though it showed us just how important the Batman’s family of heroes, Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl to name a few are to him. To what lengths he would go to spare them, and in his thinking keep them safe. It also raised a few questions just as to how healthy Batman’s relationship with The Joker truly is. Miss this event at your peril!
Written by Frank Miller, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli
For my final choice, before handing over to Emily – I’m going to go back to the beginning. Batman: Year One focuses on Bruce Wayne’s first year as the caped crusader. Giving us an insight into how he and James Gordon became friends, through the same ideals and beliefs regarding justice. The story’s narrative is one of the strongest I’ve had the pleasure of reading: really capturing Gordon’s and Batman’s friendship. Portraying them with real humanity and grit this has got to be on everyone’s must own list.
Okay, my turn. I just want to say that Paul and I had been working on this list way before a certain announcement came along this week in regards to a certain film casting choice – which we’ll be talking about in episode 54 of the Nerds Assemble podcast. Anyway, Batman is one of the first comic book characters that I began reading around, having never really been someone who’s collected comics my reading around his exploits has been almost completely through TPBs and graphic novels. Here are my favourite Batman stories.
Written by Jeph Loeb, illustrated by Tim Sale
I’ve always found the lives of the crime families in Gotham an intriguing set-up. Due to the nature of all the supervillains that start operating in the city after Batman’s first year in operations, most Batman comics fail to touch upon these more everyday criminals. The Long Halloween , while providing a superb who-done-it storyline, does offer us a proper glimpse into Gotham’s old underworld vanguard. Not that I’m dissing the supervillain presence, which is colourful because so many of them are suspects in the arc’s main plot. Also, the art style that Tim Sale employs in this arc is really simple, yet full of immense depth.
Written by Kevin Smith, illustrated by Walt Flanagan and Sandra Hope
Batman’s human and Cacophony does a great job of reminding fans of this – that things can be just as grey for Batman as the rest of us. Perhaps more surprising is the role that The Joker plays in this story arc, where he’s effectively used as someone else’s pawn. In the final pages of the issue, Bats and Joker have what is probably one of their very few, maybe only, heart to hearts where the pair try to get their heads around why they do what they do to each other.
Written by Andrew Kreisberg, illustrated by Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens and I.L.L.
Showcasing the full impact that Gotham’s main linchpin of menace can bring down upon Batman and the GCPD, Dead to Rights is no simple Batman vs. The Joker storyline. This time the story is equally focused on the clown’s impact upon those working within GCPD and just how sometimes it’s just too much and there’s little Batman can do to help.
So there you have seven must read Batman stories. There’s loads more and to be fair. Do you agree? What other stories would you have in your top seven? Comment below.