Batman is certainly one of the most iconic comic book characters out there. Whether it’s the comic books, the movies, the featured or animated series, or even the video games – Batman has always attracted a lot of fans and a lot of attention.
After a list of Batman’s best detective stories, essential Batman stories each fan has to own, and a list of Batman’s best Elseworlds stories, here is a list of the best Batman comic books each fan absolutely must read at one point in their lives!
Best Batman Comics
This list will contain different types of comics (ongoing series’, miniseries, maxi series, one-shots, etc.) and they are going to be ranked from the 30th to the 1st, i.e., the best in our humble opinion. We’re going to bring you some details on each story, as well as information about its publication and authorship. These are the stories:
30. Batman: In Darkest Knight
Writer(s): Mark W. Barr
Artist(s): Jerry Bingham
Publication Date: 1994
The story begins after Bruce Wayne’s horrible first attempt at fighting crime, as described in Year One. Suddenly a ghostly image from a bust appears in front of him, telling him that he has been chosen. The character heals his wounds and leads him to a crashed missile on his property. Inside, the dying Green Lantern, Abin Sur, gives Bruce his ring of power.
His first mission is to catch the Red Hood thieves in a chemical plant. With a combination of his powers and abilities, Bruce manages to overpower the three and hand them over to Officer James Gordon, preventing the creation of The Joker. Shortly thereafter, the Guardians of the Universe give Bruce his first official mission: to stop the wandering, power-hungry Sinestro.
Bruce manages to subjugate Sinestro, leaving the people he once dominated discouraged. When one of them, Katma Tui, says Bruce is her hero, he gives her Sinestro’s Ring of Power before returning to Oa. Sinestro swears revenge.
Later, while Gordon is at work, Sinestro shows up, wearing a Yellow Power Ring. He steals the information Gordon’s been working on and kills him. Sinestro finds Joe Chill, the murderer of Batman’s parents and uses his Ring of Power to absorb his mind. Bruce manages to hunt down the criminal, which leads Sinestro to find allies on Earth.
Days later, Bruce meets two people empowered and changed by Sinestro: Attorney Dent was scarred on the face and driven mad from transformation, and burglar Selina Kyle has become a Star Sapphire. Although Bruce defeats Dent and Kyle, they flee to Sinestro. During his absence, Sinestro wreaked havoc on other planets in the area, leading the Guardians to question Bruce’s role as a Lantern.
He refuses to give up his ring, however, prompting the Guardians to contact three other worthy Earthlings – Clark Kent, Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons, and Barry Allen – to become additional Green Lanterns. Some time later, Bruce is patrolling the city when four Lanterns, including Katma Tui, attack him and try to hold him back.
Using his distraction, Sinestro directs his troops to attack Bruce’s Cave, injuring Alfred Pennyworth. Bruce is overwhelmed but senses that Alfred is in danger and wins his ring back as it responds to his will. When he rushes home, he finds Alfred dead and Sinestro has escaped.
The Three Lanterns beg him to stay and teach them, but Bruce refuses and begs them to protect the earth while he tracks down Sinestro.
29. All-Star Batman
Writer(s): Scott Snyder
Artist(s): John Romita, Jr., Jock, Sean Murphy, Paul Pope, Tula Lotay, Afua Richardson, Francesco Francavilla, et al.
Publication Date: August, 2016–October, 2017
A compilation series written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by various authors that chronicles some unknown Batman adventures where he faced off against different villains in very strange, alternative stories.
28. Batman: The Last Knight on Earth
Writer(s): Scott Snyder
Artist(s): Greg Capullo
Published: July 2019 – February 2020
Twenty years into the future, Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham Asylum. Young. Healthy. And – he was never Batman.
To unravel the mystery of his past, the Dark Knight sets out on a long journey through this unknown world and meets futuristic versions of old friends and foes, including a horrific traveling companion – the Joker’s Head.
Somehow, still alive, Joker’s decapitated head becomes Batman’s chilling guide through the landscape of the devastated DC Universe. But to decipher the cause of this terrible future, he must hunt down the unspeakable power that has destroyed the world he has known.
This could be the last Batman story ever told.
27. All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder
Writer(s): Frank Miller
Artist(s): Jim Lee
Publication Date: 2005–2008
Bruce Wayne invites journalist Vicki Vale to spend an evening at the circus with him. A family of trapeze artists called Flying Graysons perform here; the Graysons are a husband and wife who perform with their son Dick. At the end of the performance, while receiving the applause of the audience, the Graysons are killed by two gunshots.
While the son is astonished as well as the audience, Bruce disappears to chase the attacker. Her partner Vicki is worried about young Dick and when she tries to get close to him, a policeman abruptly hits her. Later, he is hastily put into a car and taken away. Vicki doesn’t trust Gotham City’s law enforcement and she follows them along with Bruce’s butler Alfred.
Meanwhile, Batman stops the killer, a low-level hitman. He can’t tell him much about the ones who hired. His butler and Vicki follow the car with Dick to a secluded spot, famous for summary executions. Batman’s prompt arrival thwarts another possible murder.
Batman puts Dick inside the Batmobile and takes him away to safety. The two are chased by several police cars but Batman manages to escape them. He sends one off the road and runs over two more causing them to explode.
Dick is terrified, also because it seems that the vigilante who saved him does not care about the life of those policemen. The boy realizes that Batman is struggling to alter his voice by trying to take on a tough role. His tone reminds him of Clint Eastwood’s. He is later taken in by Batman and becomes his sidekick.
26. The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child
Writer(s): Frank Miller
Artist(s): Rafael Grampá
Publication Date: December 2019 – February 2020
It has been three years since the events of Dark Knight III: The Master Race and the world is a very different place than it used to be.
Lara spent her time learning to be more human and Carrie Kelley has adjusted to her new role as Batwoman.
But a terrible evil in the form of Darkseid arrives in Gotham City, and Lara and Carrie must team up to stop this growing threat – and they have a secret weapon: Young Jonathan Kent, “the Golden Child”, with a power unlike anything the world has ever seen and is about to be unleashed.
25. Batman: Cataclysm
Writer(s): Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, Doug Moench, Dennis O’Neil, Devin K. Grayson, Kelley Puckett, Klaus Janson, Chris Renaud, Rick Burchett
Artist(s): Jim Aparo, Henry Flint, Mark Buckingham, Scott McDaniel, Klaus Janson, Graham Nolan, Jim Balent, Staz Johnson, Eduardo Barreto, Alex Maleev, Marcos Martin, Rick Burchett, Chris Renaud, Dave Taylor, Jason Johnson
Publication: January – March 1998
Seismologist Dr. Jolene Relazzo believes the Gotham area will be hit by a major earthquake as her machines start recording tremors near the city. Oracle (Barbara Gordon) loses connection with the Batcave at 7:03 am. While giving her report, a 7.6 earthquake hits Gotham City. Batman is swept away by the rising waters of the underground river, and Alfred falls into the cave when Wayne Manor collapses.
Shortly after the earthquake, it appears that the buildings owned by Wayne are the only ones left standing with little structural damage. Bruce Wayne had ensured that all of his buildings were safe when earthquakes whose force is less than 8.5 strike. However, having been unable to protect his own home from earthquakes without exposing Batman’s secret, Wayne Mansion and the Batcave are destroyed.
At 8:52 p.m., the first aftershock struck. Dick Grayson (Nightwing) learns about the earthquake on television at his workplace. He leaps up, grabs a boat, and heads for his old home.
Azrael and Nomoz arrive in Gotham by helicopter to deliver Bane to the GCPD. After the earthquake, Bane escapes. Azrael chases him and captures him after he has killed two people in a bank. Helena Bertinelli is in the metro when the earthquake hits. She quickly changes into a Huntress and begins to bring the survivors to safety. Batman resurfaces in Gotham Harbor and is horrified when he sees the city he loves ablaze.
Catwoman was stealing a pair of night vision binoculars for an upcoming job when the store was destroyed by the earthquake. After seeing a young girl die in her arms, she begins to bring the survivors to safety. She later tracks down Poison Ivy and prevents him from spreading a super fertilizer in Gotham City’s water supply. Robin (Tim Drake) was out of town during the earthquake. On his return, his flight was diverted to Blüdhaven.
He sees the city of Gotham in flames from the plane9. He steals a motorbike and heads for his house. The earthquake and the ensuing tidal wave hit Blackgate Penitentiary hard. The island and many cells are flooded, and the prisoners escape.
A land bridge is formed connecting the island to the city. Batman, having just resurfaced in Gotham Harbor, realizes what is going on and heads for the prison. He calmed the riot of prisoners, although many were killed and several more escaped over the land bridge.
Aftershocks destroy the natural bridge as helicopters from S.W.A.T. arrive. Batman joins the mainland and begins helping victims.
24. Batman: Battle for the Cowl
Writer(s): Tony S. Daniel
Artist(s): Tony S. Daniel
Publication Date: March – May 2009
The story begins with Tim Drake (Robin) chasing three armed robbers through an abandoned hospital. Someone else intervenes, who helps Drake and leaves a note with the words “I am Batman.”
After the disappearance of Batman and the outbreak of unrest in the city, Nightwing realizes that he will not be able to maintain order in Gotham alone. Despite this, he does not want Batman’s fame and does not succumb to pressure from Robin, who is convinced that “one of them” should become the new Batman.
Before Dick Grayson realizes that he needs Batman and stops the fake Batman, Tim Drake puts on his Batman costume and sets out to stop everything. During the battle, it is revealed that Jason Todd was the fake Batman.
Tim is captured. Dick finds Todd thanks to a tip from the Oracle (Barbara Gordon). A battle unfolds, as a result of which Dick Grayson “wins”. The story ends with a depiction of Dick Grayson as Batman.
23. The Dark Knight III: The Master Race
Writer(s): Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello
Artist(s): Frank Miller, Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson
Published: November 2015 – June 2017
Three years have passed since Lex Luthor’s death. No one has seen Bruce Wayne since. An unknown person breaks the window and takes Batman’s suit from the Bat-Cave.
The story of a criminal is heard, who claims that when he ran away from the cops and was almost killed, the police were attacked by Batman. In the jungle, Wonder Woman and the Minotaur meet in a deadly battle.
Wonder Woman defeats the giant bull and returns with her son to the new city of the Amazons. Superman is mysteriously covered in ice in his own Fortress of Solitude. His daughter Lara is with him.
Commissioner Ellen Yindel is sitting by an abandoned floodlight when she is told that Batman has been found. In a frantic chase, Batman is surrounded and beaten to death by beastly cops.
Commissioner Yindel removes the mask from him and, seeing that it is actually a woman, asks where Bruce Wayne is. To which he receives an answer from Carrie Kelly: “Bruce Wayne is dead.” The comic book further examines the consequences of this statement.
22. Batman: Damned
Writer(s): Brian Azzarello
Artist(s): Lee Bermejo
Publication Date: September 2018 – June 2019
During a fight, seemingly the one from the end of Joker (see below), Batman and the Joker fall from the Gotham Gate Bridge. The Joker appears to die while Batman is knocked out and wakes up in an ambulance.
Batman runs away, only to collapse in a street. John Constantine saves Batman and takes him to a hotel room. There, Batman fears that he has killed the Joker and Constantine offers to form an alliance with him. Batman returns to the bridge to investigate, where a homeless man claims he saw the devil kill the Joker. The man disappears before Batman can question him further.
Batman’s haunted by the Enchantress, who implies that he was involved in the Joker’s death. Batman goes to his Cave and hallucinates that his costume is attacking him. As Batman observes the activity on Gotham’s streets, Deadman appears and warns him of the dark forces that are about to confront him.
Batman and Constantine meet up in a church where a statue of Jesus has been desecrated with the Joker’s smile. Batman begins to doubt that the Joker is really dead, as Constantine encourages him to seek information from Etrigan. Batman finds Etrigan and pushes his way through the crowd to approach him.
Suddenly, an explosion destroys the building and the Bat-Signal, also desecrated by the Joker’s smile, lights up the sky. Etrigan saves Batman but tells Constantine that he only did it to make Batman suffer more. It turns out the bombing was organized by Harley Quinn.
Batman confronts Harley, who hits him with a baseball bat, injects him with a drug that paralyzes him, and tries to rape him. However, Batman manages to gain the upper hand. Batman later wakes up trapped in an underground coffin but is saved by the Swamp Thing. Constantine arrives and talks to Swamp Thing before the Enchantress reappears and Batman defeats her.
Constantine takes Batman to meet Zatanna and she uses a spell to send him into a vision of the night when Bruce’s parents were murdered by Joe Chill, where it appears young Bruce has also been shot in that alley.
He apparently sold his soul to the Enchantress to become Batman. The Enchantress tries to seal her deal with Bruce, but Constantine shoots and kills the Enchantress with Chill’s gun.
Constantine explains that the dead Bruce represents Batman’s past, which he begs Batman to let go of.
Batman and Constantine go their separate ways when Batman enters the morgue where the homeless man from the beginning of the story, an incarnation of the Spectre, reveals the truth: Batman was fatally stabbed by the Joker and deliberately allowed the Joker to fall to his death for fear of what would happen to Gotham if he wasn’t there to stop him.
Batman, realizing he has been dead the entire time, switches places with the corpse in the morgue and dissolves. A living Joker then emerges from the river under the bridge, while Constantine suggests it’s the start of a new chapter.
21. Batman: Noël
Writer(s): Lee Bermejo
Artist(s): Lee Bermejo
Publication Date: November 2, 2011
Young Bob takes on a job for the city’s biggest criminal, Joker. He did all this for his sick son, Tim. All he had to do was give someone a bag and then bring the money he got for it to the Clown. He hands over the bag brings the money, but his plans are foiled by Batman.
Batman is not interested in Bob, his son, or the money; he just wants to know where the Joker’s hiding. Bob can’t answer his question, stating that he has never met him before, as they just communicated by letter. Batman lets him go but decides to use him.
Batman was just watching Bob through the tracker he had put in his scarf before releasing him when he recalled the past. He first remembers the time he spent with his former sidekick, Robin. This happy period in Batman’s life didn’t last long, as the psychopath Joker blew up the teenage Robin. But then, his relatively calm thoughts were disturbed by a vision in which the dead Robin told him that three ghosts would visit him that night and try to make him understand why he had to change.
Batman receives a call from James Gordon. He told him that Catwoman was planning another robbery. The robbery takes place and Catwoman is just about to leave the crime scene when she sees Batman. As it turns out, Selina doesn’t know anything about Joker, so Batman prepares to leave the field when Catwoman tries to kill him.
Batman thus began to chase his old adversary, who also evokes old memories in him. Memories of an earlier Batman. But this Batman is different. This Batman was a broken, tired man who couldn’t even chase Catwoman for a long time, and after a while, he fell off the roof.
Superman appears and helps Batman, who is apparently struggling with pain. He helps Batman get to his car, but before that, he shows him how others celebrate Christmas. Afterward, Batman leaves with Superman, who puts him down in his car. Superman leaves and Batman tries to get in his car, but then a huge explosion happens and Batman faints.
The blast was caused by Joker. Batman is then tormented by visions of a future in which everyone who helped the vigilante is condemned. Batman then wakes up from his fainting and digs himself out of the grave.
Joker, meanwhile, goes to Bob’s place and tries to kill him and his son. But then, Batman arrives and apprehends the Clown Prince of Crime and takes him back to the mental hospital. The next day, Bruce Wayne begins a new life, the first step of which is to give Bob a Christmas tree.
20. Batman Eternal
Writer(s): Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley, Kyle Higgins
Artist(s): Jason Fabok, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, Andy Clarke, Trevor McCarthy, Emanuel Simeoni, Guillem March, Riccardo Burchiellim, Ian Bertram, Mikel Janin, Guillermo Ortego, Jorge Lucas, R. M. Guéra, Javier Garronm Meghan Hetrick, Simon Coleby, Fernando Pasarin, Matt Ryan, Fernando Blanco, Andrea Mutti, Ramon Perez, Juan José Ryp, Joe Quinones, David Lafuente, Aco, Javi Fernandez, Alessandro Vitti, Juan Ferreyra, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Paulo Siqueira
Publication: April 2014 – April 2015
In the near future, the entire city of Gotham City is on fire and Bruce Wayne is strapped to the Bat-signal. Nearby the superhero, a stranger reminds him of the beginning of the story, when Commissioner James Gordon accidentally killed 123 people in the city’s subway and he was immediately arrested by his colleagues Jack Forbes and Jason Bard.
The story examines the events that led to this chaotic scene, where Batman and his whole family had to fight a plethora of villains and a sinister plot to destroy the very foundations of modern Gotham, revealing that the real mastermind was the sinister Lincoln March.
19. Batman: Zero Year
Writer(s): Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
Artist(s): Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque
Publication: June 2013 – July 2014
The story begins with Gotham City being destroyed by a flood, and Batman who had been declared dead. The first arc of the event, entitled “Secret City”, has its events five months before the flood, and begins with the return of Bruce Wayne to Gotham City, after a long time away and for being declared dead.
He wears a disguise and fights against Red Hood One, and discovers that he has a lot to learn if he wants to fight the new generation of costumed criminals that plague Gotham.
The second arc was titled “Dark City”, and it was about Bruce’s first months as Batman. It starts with Bruce, as Batman, preventing another Red Hood assault, and then begins to study Red Hood One’s real plan.
Bruce reveals to the media that the Red Hood gang is composing within ACE Chemicals a radioactive meat-eating poison that they plan to blow up at various locations in Gotham, so the gang tries to kill him. Bruce goes to ACE Chemicals as Batman, and begins to fight the gang.
The third and final arc was titled “Savage City”, and it was about Bruce’s efforts to save his city from the control of the Riddler. It starts with Bruce Wayne waking up at Duke’s residence. The young boy whose life he had saved informs him that the Riddler has taken control of Gotham.
Alfred asks Bruce to return to Wayne Mansion through the escape tunnel over the house in Crime Alley, the site of his parent’s murder and his former headquarters, as it is one of the only ways to get out of Gotham now.
18. Batman: Under the Red Hood
Writer(s): Judd Winick
Artist(s): Doug Mahnke, Eric Battle, Shane Davis
Titles: Batman #635-641, 645-650, Batman Annual #25
Publication: November 2004 – February 2006
A flashback to Batman’s early years (after Dick Grayson’s retirement as Robin) shows a young Jason Todd attempting to steal the wheels of the Batmobile. Following this, he becomes the new Robin. From there, the story features the gangster Black Mask.
Red Hood appears and destroys the top floor of Black Mask’s fortress with a long-range explosive. After this, Black Mask teams up with other supervillains to fight Red Hood.
Once this act is complete, the Black Mask and Red Hood engage in combat, which ends when Batman arrives just in time to see Red Hood stabbed through the heart with his own knife. When Black Mask removes Red Hood’s helmet, he sees that he is not Jason Todd, to which Batman rebels hard enough to be detected by Black Mask.
Jason has kidnapped the Joker and given him a savage beating, only to be thwarted by the villain’s maniacal laughter. When Jason tells the Joker that he sees through the latter’s insane act, the Joker for once falls into a grim silence.
Jason reveals the place where he has hidden the Joker. Jason throws a gun at Batman and takes one for himself. With the Joker as a human shield, Jason aims his gun at the Joker’s head and tells Batman that he must kill Jason, or let Jason kill the Joker on a count of three.
At the last half-second, Batman drops the gun and throws a Batarang at Jason’s shoulder. The Joker then activates the explosives wired throughout the entire building. The scene cuts to Jason’s miraculous resurrection.
Writer(s): Brian Azzarello
Artist(s): Lee Bermejo
Publication Date: October 17, 2008
Johnny Frost, a Gotham City resident, volunteers to pick up the Joker, who has managed to be declared mentally healthy. The latter immediately takes him under his wing and takes him as a driver.
Frost then takes the Joker to Killer Croc’s lair, and together they go to a strip club. With the help of Harley Quinn, the Joker peels of the owner’s skin and makes him appear on the stage; he asks if anyone wants to help him reclaim the territory, that his former associates have sold.
The next morning, the Joker robs a bank and kidnaps the Penguin with Killer Croc. Subsequently, the Joker engages in a series of murders, perpetrated by himself, to punish the criminals who stole his territory and his money.
Soon after Frost is captured by Harvey Dent, the current leader of the criminal underworld, who warns him that the Joker will kill him, after which Frost participates in a meeting between Joker and the Riddler. As they leave, the Joker’s team is attacked by off-duty police hired by Dent, and Frost saves the Joker from being killed.
Joker then engages in a turf war against Dent, asking him to meet. During this meeting, Joker announces to him that he knows Dent has two wives (one per personality) and threatens him to reveal this information. After helping Frost get his ex-wife, Shelly, back from Dent’s hands, the Joker rapes her to punish him for not revealing his meeting with Dent.
Later, Harvey asks Batman to stop the Joker. In a final attempt to escape, Joker and Frost flee to Gotham Bridge, where Batman awaits them. The Joker, taking Frost hostage, argues with Batman, and provoked by him, shoots Frost in the neck. As they fight, Frost crawls to the edge of the bridge and drops into the void.
16. Batman: Death of the Family
Writer(s): Scott Snyder, Adam Glass, Kyle Higgins, John Layman, Scott Lobdell, Ann Nocenti, Gail Simone, Peter Tomasi, James Tynion IV
Artist(s): Greg Capullo, Eddy Barrows, Ed Benes, Brett Booth, Fernando Dagnino, Jason Fabok, Patrick Gleason, Jock, Timothy Green, Rafa Sandoval
Publication: October 2012 – February 2013
After having attacked the police department, assassinated 19 officers, and assaulted James Gordon, the Joker makes his return to Gotham City after being missing for a year and infuses a message via television in which he comments that he has several targets, including the mayor of Gotham whom he threatens to assassinate that same night.
Batman and several city officials watch to prevent the man from being murdered, however, all the officers present there die from a toxic gas that had been prepared by the villain weeks ago. Batman analyzes the gas and realizes that it was made in the ACE Chemicals factory, the same place where the Joker fell and transformed into what he is now.
He encounters a person dressed as the Red Hood, one of Joker’s aliases, and is struck by an oversized mallet that pushes him into an empty chemical vat; the Hood revealed to be Harley Quinn, warns Batman that Joker is not the same. However, he does not follow Harley’s instructions.
When the hero returns home, he realizes that his butler Alfred was kidnapped and in one of the rooms he finds a recording and an elastic band with the name of Police Commissioner Gordon. Batman decides to pay him a visit – knowing that he is the next victim – arriving shortly before he begins to bleed unstoppably, so Batman uses a coagulant in order to save his life.
Batman is paralyzed in the Joker’s lair by a poison that he injected. Batman recovers enough to escape, however, he is ambushed by the Joker, who attempts to defeat him but is still in poor condition and allows him to escape. Bruce gets help from some of his allies, who take him to the Batcave, where he discovered a joker playing card in the Batcave
He dismisses the idea that Joker has found the cave, but the family fears that Joker knows their identities and blame Batman for concealing such a possibility.
Batman continues with his investigation and interrogates an Arkham Asylum guard, who confesses to him that the Joker was in the Asylum, but upon reaching the place he realizes that the Joker had previously taken control of the facility with the help of several patients. Batman gains access to the Asylum through the underground conduits, but the Joker sends Clayface, Mr. Freeze and Two-Face to ambush him.
Later, Batman manages to defeat them and finally faces the Joker, who doubts he can defeat him again and shows him some recordings of Catwoman, Robin, Batgirl, Red Hood, Red Robin and Nightwing, all of who are being held captive; he also forces him to sit in an electric chair if he wants to save them.
After torturing him in the electric chair, the Joker takes him to his friends who are sitting around a table with bags on their heads, which he removes revealing that he has removed their faces and later sets the place on fire.
Batman frees himself from the chair, breaks a sector of the cave where the waterfalls, putting out the fire, and rescues his allies; after making sure they are safe and sound, he attacks the Joker.
He reveals that he left them a trap and infects them with a toxin that makes them face each other, in order for Batman to let him go so he could save them. But the opposite happens, Batman angrily hits the Joker and tries to end his madness by making him remember his previous life including his real name.
The scared Joker refuses to listen and throws himself into the void of a waterfall. Batman heals his allies; they all take some time off (except Alfred), trying to calm down and reflect on what they went through.
15. Batman: Night of the Owls
Writer(s): Scott Snyder, Tony S. Daniel, Kyle Higgins, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV, Judd Winick, et al.
Artist(s): Greg Capullo, Tony S. Daniel, Jason Fabok, Rafael Albuquerque, et al.
Publication Date: April – May 2012
The Court of Owls, angered by Cobb’s defeat at the hands of Batman, awakens all of their other Talons to take back Gotham City. The Court’s goal is to prove that they are the rulers of Gotham City and not Batman.
The Talons attack the Batcave first, but the injured Bruce still manages to defeat several of them due to his outdated fighting style. Alfred discovers the forty targets of the Court and sends a radio message to the Batman family for help.
Tim Drake and Jason Todd receive one and decide to protect Mr. Freeze. Bruce wears an armored Batman suit so he can fight all the Talons, while one of the Talons revives William Cobb. The Birds of Prey are one of the first to fight a Talon who is merciless and cruel in his methods. Nightwing receives the message and goes to save Mayor Sebastian Hady.
When Selina and Spark arrive to steal from the Penguin, they see that the Penguin’s car is leaving, but are unaware that the Penguin himself is still alive and is being brutally beaten by Ephraim Newman, a Talon.
Bruce, meanwhile, continues to fight the Talons invading the Batcave and eventually manages to stop them and heads to save Jeremiah Arkham who is fighting the Talons through Roman Sionis, a.k.a. Black Mask.
After giving Arkham to Nightwing, Batman goes to save Lincoln March. Bruce fights Alton Carver, the Talon sent to kill March, but he can’t stop Carver from killing March, a mayoral candidate who wanted to make Gotham City a better place. March gives Batman a package that will improve Gotham City and Bruce sets out to burn down the lair of the Court of Owls.
Damian heads to the outskirts of Gotham City and beheads a Talon that was seeking to kill an army general and Batwing proceeds to maim a Talon that wanted to assassinate Lucius Fox.
Batgirl proceeds to meet a Talon named Mary. Batgirl takes out a piece of paper from Mary. Balloon bombs dropped by the Court of Owls also begin to explode in random locations. Batgirl then shoves Mary into a balloon bomb, killing her.
The battle against the Owls begins to go the way of the Gotham citizens. Alton then wakes up, finally believing himself free from fear and everything that has bound him. Mr. Freeze, however, escapes and attempts to kill Bruce Wayne, but once again ends up being arrested, twice in one day.
Selina and Spark initially think that they have killed the Talon, but later realize that the Talon is, in a way, immortal.
Efrain takes Selina’s whip and begins to mercilessly beat Spark and then strangle Selina’s lover with Selina without understanding. Selina decides to bargain with the Talon, offering her a complete set of daggers.
Ephraim begins to listen but the Penguin shoots him in the head. Selina and Spark eventually decide not to steal the daggers that Penguin originally had in his possession and head to deposit the body of the claw, which they leave behind in the Bat-signal, with the Night of the Owls coming to an end.
14. A Death in the Family
Writer(s): Jim Starlin
Artist(s): Jim Aparo
Publication Date: September – November 1988
Batman relieves Jason Todd of his duties as Robin, after which the latter storms off and goes on the search for his biological mother. Meanwhile, the Joker escapes Arkham once again and gets hold of a nuclear weapon he plans on selling in the Middle East.
Batman and Jason reunited in the Middle East and work together until Jason finds his mother, Sheila Haywood, who – blackmailed by the Joker – hands over her son to the Clown Prince of Crime. Joker tortured Jason with a crowbar and ultimately blows up the warehouse he and his mother were held captive in, killing both of them before Batman can arrive.
Batman must confront both the Joker and his own feeling of guilt for not saving Jason.
13. Batman: The Man Who Laughs
Writer(s): Ed Brubker
Artist(s): Doug Mahnke
Publication Date: 2005
In Gotham City, the police, led by Captain James Gordon, are investigating a shed full of corpses, all characterized by a strange pale complexion and an abnormal muscle contraction of the face, which forms almost a grin.
Batman suspects a strange weapon and that these victims could be some kind of guinea pigs; he speculates that this could be the beginning of a series of similar crimes.
During a television news report on the latest renovations of Arkham Asylum, a character dressed in purple, smiling, with white skin, green hair and scarlet lips, after killing cameraman and reporter with a chemical weapon, threatens to kill a wealthy chemical industrialist, Henry Claridge, who will die at midnight that evening.
In addition, in an Arkham cell, the insane criminal leaves the inscription: “One by One, they’ll hear my call. Then this wicked town, will follow my fall.” Claridge, guarded in his mansion by both the police and Batman, dies anyway at the stroke of midnight, poisoned by a slow-release gas that changes his skin color and leaves a strange grin on his face.
That same evening, the Joker, nicknamed so by the mass media, frees some psychotic inmates on the streets of the city, wreaking havoc that the Dark Knight tries to neutralize. The next victim, announced and then killed, is another chemical industrialist, Jay W. Wilde, and Batman suspects a link between the murders.
Investigating the same old chemical plant where Red Hood once fell into the sewage (actually the Joker before he became what he is now), Batman suspects that he and the new criminal are the same people.
When the Joker threatens Bruce Wayne himself, who gets infected but is saved thanks to an antidote, Batman understands the meaning of his stanzas: as the criminal has “fallen”, so must the whole city follow him. Batman thus travels to the Gotham Reservoir, where he prevents the Joker from poisoning drinking water and delivering the criminal to Arkham Asylum.
12. Batman: Earth One
Writer(s): Geoff Johns
Artist(s): Gary Frank
Publication Date: 2012 (vol. 1), 2015 (vol. 2), 2021 (vol. 3)
Bruce Wayne is an eight-year-old son of Gotham City millionaire and mayoral candidate Dr. Thomas Wayne, and Martha Arkham-Wayne. After receiving death threats, Thomas calls his friend Alfred Pennyworth to head up security at Wayne Manor.
Refusing Alfred’s recommendations, the Wayne couple take their son to the movies and are killed in a dark alley. Bruce remains under Alfred’s guard. When he grows up, Bruce suspects that the mayor, Oswald Cobblepot, was the mastermind behind the crime.
Using the fighting and acrobatic techniques he learned from Alfred, he wears a bat disguise and crashes his enemy’s party looking for incriminating evidence. As a result, he clashes with the city’s corrupt police and reluctant detective James Gordon, who does not investigate the mayor’s crimes for fear of threats against his daughter, librarian Barbara Gordon.
In the first volume of the story, the young Batman manages to unmask Cobblepot and his plot to eliminate Thomas Wayne. Cobblepot has been running the town like a criminal organization and has ordered the elimination of dozens of political opponents.
Batman manages to crack the case but before Cobblepot could be brought to justice, he was shot by Alfred and later replaced by Jessica Dent, Harvey Dent’s sister.
In volume two, a new serial killer, calling himself the Riddler, appears in Gotham and targets people sought after by Jessica and Harvey Dent. With an unlikely ally in Killer Croc, Batman manages to subdue the Riddler, all in the wake of the fact that Bruce Wayne himself was suspected of being the serial killer.
In the end, though, Sal Maroni, a former associate of Cobblepot’s, stabs Harvey Dent and attacks him with acid. With half his face burned, Harvey is embraced by Jessica, whom the acid also affects, burning half of her face as well.
Bruce visits Jessica – the two of them have admitted their mutual love to each other, with Jessica also confirming she knew he was Batman – in hospital but she has changed, now becoming much darker. Volume three explores the consequences of these events in a mystery that also includes the appearance of a new burglar, called Catwoman.
11. Batman: Endgame
Writer(s): Scott Snyder
Artist(s): Greg Capullo
Publication Date: October 2014 – April 2015
After a terrifying chemical attack by the Scarecrow, Batman recovers in his new base of operations, a safehouse seized from the Court of Owls. Suddenly, Batman is attacked by Wonder Woman, who is determined to kill him.
Batman orders his butler Alfred to implement the “Fenrir” plan, a powerful robotic armor developed by Batman to fight with the entire Justice League.
He manages to overpower Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Aquaman but is later attacked by Superman and thrown into the Gotham Royal Theater. When Batman asks who rigged the League to kill him, Superman’s mouth opens in a big grin as he and the hushed members of the League start laughing.
Batman fights the unscrupulous Superman and eventually subdues him with kryptonite-based chewing gum. It turns out that the league is infected with a stronger strain of Joker toxin that is customized for each individual.
Batman visits the Joker’s old cell in Arkham’s abandoned Asylum, where he meets Eric Border, an employee at Arkham’s New Mansion. Border states that he has only tried to help the city and Batman since arriving, but now he sees that Batman cannot be helped.
Batman is locked in Joker’s cell while Border removes his makeup to reveal himself as the Joker after using muscle relaxants and medication to mask his appearance. The Joker admits that he finds Batman boring after their last meeting and now intends to end their relationship permanently.
Batman is incapacitated by paralyzing gas when the Joker announces that he will remain defenseless if his plan really begins. Batman eventually recovers from his paralysis to discover that the Joker in Gotham released an incurable pathogen into the air that is transmitted through laughter.
This makes the victim look like the wild card and transforms feelings of love into violent hatred that creates mass chaos. Batman goes to Gotham Presbyterian Hospital to look for the first recorded infection but finds an infected Joe Chill, the man who murdered his parents and a replica of the night Batman’s parents died, and reveals that the Joker knows his identity.
Batman can save Duke Thomas from Chill and the infected mob, but not his parents. Meanwhile, James Gordon does research at the hospital and finds footage that looks like the Joker decades before the Joker first met Batman.
The Joker attacks Gordon, who then switches off the Joker. When Gordon calls Batman to forward the news, the Joker stands up and incapacitates Gordon. While Batman yells for Gordon, the Joker picks up the phone and replies, “Hello, Bruce.”
Batman finds Gordon dying with an axe in his chest. Gordon is infected and suddenly attacks Batman, but is overwhelmed by Alfred’s daughter Julia. With the help of Nightwing, Batman concludes that the Joker is using a serum that can cure him of fatal damage and that the virus contains the full reverse side of the serum.
They also find out that Paul Dekker, a mad genius in regenerative technologies, was brought back into frontier custody a year earlier. Batman confronts Dekker, who reveals that he could only develop the healing serum and virus using a rare natural component in the Joker’s spine; Dekker thinks the Joker is immortal.
He injects himself with a serum the Joker gave him and believes it will make him immortal, but it kills him. Julia informs Batman that research has revealed images of the Joker dating back centuries of Gotham history, and that if a cure for the virus is not found, those infected will die within 24 hours.
Desperate, Batman asks the Court of Owls for help. The court refuses to help Batman, but he confronts their assassin Talon Uriah Boone, who has survived since Gotham’s inception, about the Joker’s alleged immortality. In the meantime, the Joker uses his regeneration skills to survive the long swim in the Batcave and its defenses.
Alfred tries to take down the villain, but the Joker cuts off his hand before running away with Batman’s crime fighting trophies. Joker then leads a parade around town, leading tanks that carry the trophies through the infected citizens.
Batman brings together his family and some of his greatest enemies to unite against the Joker and save the city they all share. Given their combined efforts, The Joker is preparing for its “best twist of all”.
Batman fights the Joker, but he and his allies are overwhelmed by Joker’s deadly gas.
The Joker removes the Batman mask, revealing that Nightwing pretended to be Batman as a distraction while the real Batman searched the cave system below Gotham that the Joker would have toured after falling off the cliff at the end of “Death of the” Family Batman finds a cave full of Joker’s explosives and houses a pool of Dionesium, the healing fluid that gives Joker his regenerative abilities.
The Joker confronts Batman and detonates the explosives. When the cave begins to crumble, he and Batman fight and seriously injure each other.
Batman injects the Joker with an immune response blocker after realizing that he hasn’t actually lived as long as others claim, but uses Dionesium. When the Joker tries to stab a muted Batman, he is pushed into the path of a falling icicle that breaks his back. When he desperately tries to crawl to the pool to heal, Batman holds him back until the cave roof falls, destroying the pool.
Surrendering to their fate, Batman reveals that the Joker failed when Batman gave small doses of Dionesium to his allies to protect them from Joker’s venom while collecting a larger amount of Dionesium for Julia to heal across town.
The Joker and Batman are lying on the floor when the cave collapses above them. In doing so, Alfred refuses to put his hand back, claiming he has no more cure, while Dionesium, collected by Batman and given to Julia, enables the city to be cured of Joker’s plague.
Speaking of Batman’s last letter, Alfred claims that Batman’s story would always end in tragedy and that while Batman had the means to be immortal and escape death as the Joker offered, Batman was determined to be just that Time to live he had and “smile” emptiness.
The note bears only the word “Ha” and reflects Joker’s final message to him at the end of “Death of the Family”.
10. Gotham by Gaslight
Writer(s): Brian Augustyn
Artist(s): Mike Mignola
Publication Date: February 1989
It’s 1889 and Bruce Wayne is on a visit to Europe. His journey through Europe ends in Vienna, where he has gone to learn from Dr. Freud. On the return trip, Bruce meets Jacob Packer, an old friend of his family.
Shortly after arriving, Inspector Gordon informs Bruce about the criminal gangs currently operating in Gotham. Gordon also shows Bruce the case of a man who poisoned his wife and tried to commit suicide with the poison, which left him alive with a permanent smile. Bruce dons the Batman mantle to fight criminals on the street.
At the same time, a series of murders of women take place. It is soon discovered that Jack the Ripper has arrived in Gotham. After a search of Wayne Manor, a bloody knife is found under Bruce’s bed and Bruce is arrested. A trial is held and Bruce is sentenced to hang for his crimes. Bruce is imprisoned pending execution at Arkham Asylum.
Once in prison, Gordon passes him all the documentation on the crimes and Bruce works to figure out how to catch the Ripper. Just one day before the execution, Bruce finds out the identity of the Ripper by discovering that he had the skill of a surgeon and that the knife used belonged to the medical group that he collaborated with his father.
He finally escapes from prison with the help of Alfred and heads straight for the Ripper. Batman bursts in just as the Ripper is about to claim his next victim. Batman chases the Ripper through Gotham and the two end up in front of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s grave, where Jacob Packer is revealed to be the Ripper.
Packer had been driven mad by Martha Wayne’s rejection of his advances. Since then, he has been killing women who looked like Martha. Also, Packer reveals that he hired an assassin to kill the Waynes. At that moment Gordon appears with the police. Packer confesses that he is the Ripper and tries to kill Batman, but Gordon shoots Packer killing him at the last moment.
9. Batman: Hush
Writer(s): Jeph Loeb
Artist(s): Jim Lee
Publication Date: October 2002 – September 2003
Batman rescues a rich boy kidnapped by Bane but during the fight, Catwoman appears and steals the suitcase with the ransom money. When chasing her, his grapple is mysteriously broken and Batman suffers a tremendous fall and fractures his skull. Alfred Pennyworth who in turn receives instructions from the hero to contact an old childhood friend of his, Thomas Elliot, now a renowned neurosurgeon.
Recovered, Batman resumes investigations and finds that Catwoman was under the control of the Poison Ivy, who had fled to Metropolis. Batman and Catwoman go there and face Superman, also controlled by the cunning villain.
Later, back in Gotham City, Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, Leslie Thompkins and Dr. Elliot go to the opera when Harley Quinn appears. Upon chasing the villain, the doctor is apparently killed by the Joker.
During Dr. Elliot’s funeral, Batman tells Dick Grayson that a mysterious enemy is behind the recent actions of his former enemies. A man with bandages on his face appears at all crime scenes and is called “Hush”.
Later, Robin (Tim Drake), is captured by his predecessor, Jason Todd, who had been presumed dead since the “A Death in the Family” storyline. While fighting with Jason, Batman discovers that he is, in fact, his former enemy, Clayface, who had assumed the appearance of the late Jason Todd.
Batman discovers that his computer has been breached. Harold, his technician, admits that someone had treated his disfigured condition in exchange for planting that device, but he is shot and killed by Hush before he can name the mastermind.
Then, Batman discovers the identity of the mysterious man with the bandages – it is, in fact, Thomas Elliot – and during the fight, a “reborn” Harvey Dent appears and shoots Hush. However, with the Hush mystery solved, a new question arises to torment the Dark Knight – Jason Todd’s grave is empty and his enemies refused to reveal what had happened to the boy’s body.
8. No Man’s Land
Writer(s): Jordan B. Gorfinkel, Greg Rucka, Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Paul Dini, Bob Gale, Devin K. Grayson, Kelley Puckett, Larry Hama, Bronwyn Carlton
Artist(s): Greg Land, Andy Kuhn, Yvel Guichet, Alex Maleev, Dale Eaglesham, Frank Teran, Phil Winslade, Damion Scott, Dan Jurgens, Mike Deodato, Tom Morgan, Mat Broome, Sergio Cariello
Publication Dae: January – December 1999
Gotham City is suffering the aftermath of a 7.61 magnitude earthquake. In response, the US government declares Gotham “no man’s land”, destroys all bridges leading to the island, and sets up a military blockade to prevent people from entering or leaving.
The Gangs and various Batman Villains have struggled over the years to take over the city. Police Commissioner James Gordon and several members of his department, who nicknamed their troop the “Blue Boys”, remain behind to protect civilians.
Oracle and Huntress are also inside. Bruce Wayne left town to pressure the government to continue helping Gotham, but he fails. Gordon and his men await Batman’s return, but he’s been missing for months, leading police to believe he’s abandoned, Gotham.
A disappointed and bitter Gordon blames Batman and refuses to even pronounce his name. Huntress attempts to maintain order by wearing the Batgirl costume.
She soon discovers that the criminals are more afraid of her as the Batgirl than as the Huntress and succeeds in controlling her own territory. When Batman returns, he allows him to continue using the costume.
However, when she fails to contain Double-Face and his army of men and loses Batman’s territory, she abandons the costume. Batman and the police work separately to reclaim Gotham, piece by piece, fighting and subduing gang leaders and marking reclaimed territories with graffiti.
However, a schism breaks out between Gordon and SWAT Lieutenant William “Billy” Petit, whose militaristic and uncompromising methods (no prisoners) shock and indignant Gordon; the “Blue Boys” eventually split into two distinct factions, with Petit and his officers forming the “Strong Men”.
7. Knightfall trilogy
Writer(s): Chuck Dixon, Jo Duffy, Alan Grant, Dennis O’Neil, Doug Moench
Artist(s): Jim Aparo, Jim Balent, Eduardo Barreto, Bret Blevins, Norm Breyfogle, Vincent Giarrano, Tom Grummett, Klaus Janson, Barry Kitson, Mike Manley, Graham Nolan, Sal Velluto, Mike Vosburg, Ron Wagner
Publication: April 1993 – August 1994
This large scale storyline consists of three major narratives and a series of prequel, sequel and tie-in stories that take place over a period of six months. In the first major narrative – “Knightfall” – a new supervillain appears in Gotham.
Bane, as he calls himself, is a “super-steroid” criminal mastermind who launches a tactical attack on Batman, draining him both physically and mentally until he finally defeats him in a fight, breaking his back and almost killing him. Batman is saved but is unable to wear the cowl due to his paralysis. In a surprise move, Batman names Jean-Paul Valley, also known as Azrael, as his successor.
Although a worthy replacement, Valley is a very different Batman, much more brutal, arrogant and paranoid, which causes problems and alienates him from his helpers.
Valley built a new, mechanical Bat-suit and ultimately challenged Bane, defeating him and leaving him broken mentally and physically, just like he did with Batman. Deciding not to kill him, Valley sends him to Blackgate and continues watching over Gotham.
“Knightquest” follows two narratives and is a direct sequel to “Knightfall”. The first narrative follows Valley’s controversial tenure as Batman and his fights against Gotham’s criminals and supervillains
This narrative includes the notorious scene where Valley lets the serial killer Abattoir and his victim to die. The second narrative follows Bruce Wayne and Alfred on a quest to find Jack Drake and Shondra Kinsolving.
Ultimately, “KnightsEnd” follows Valley’s breakdown and him becoming a brutal and unacceptable version of Batman. Bruce Wayne demands he step down, but Valley refuses, so Bruce starts to prepare for a confrontation.
The final battle is held between Valley and Wayne in the caverns surrounding the Batcave below Wayne Manor. Bruce outsmarts Valley and then manages to defeat him, ultimately letting him go because he himself appointed him as his successor, therefore – he is to blame for his wrongdoings.
6. Batman: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House on Serious Earth
Writer(s): Grant Morrison
Artist(s): Dave McKean
Publication Date: October 1989
Commissioner Gordon informs Batman of a riot in Arkham. Under the leadership of the Joker, the patients seize power in the hospital, but they are in no hurry to escape. In order to release the hostages, the inmates demanded Batman visited them in the Asylum.
After talking on the phone with his arch-enemy, the Joker lures Batman in Arkham: as soon as the Bat hints at a possibility of refusal, the villain begins to comment out loud how he knocks out 19-year-old Pearl, who works in the kitchen in the hospital, with a pencil.
As soon as the hero is within the walls of Arkham, all entrances and exits are closed.
The Joker, as promised, releases the hostages (Pearl has both eyes on the spot – it was just a joke since it was April Fools’ Day), except for the psychiatrists Cavendish and Adams, who remained voluntarily.
The Joker begins a sophisticated torture, forcing Batman to pass the word association test arranged by Dr. Adams. Then, the psychopath decides to play hide and seek, giving the hero a little time and letting the whole Arkham pack on him.
The real hunt for the Bat begins. Batman’s desperate attempts to gain control over the situation would seem banal if not for the adjacent pages of the book with disturbing metaphors and subconsciousness, strange and impressive visual images, and reflections on the line between sanity and insanity.
The authors give a short but vivid psychological portrait of each of the residents of the hospital.
Among them: Two-Face, in a difficult situation – the doctors took the fateful coin from him and gave him a fortune-telling tarot deck, so now the poor man is forced to choose not from two, but from 78 options, and cannot even decide whether to go to the toilet or not
Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, Clayface, Maxie Zeus, and Doctor Fate, dreaming of getting even with the offender and looking forward to the Joker toying with the Batman.
Finally, the Clown himself – the Prince of the Crime, whose obsession with getting the Dark Knight takes on a particularly ugly form here: the lines spoken by the maniac are painted in blood red, and his smile seems absolutely inhuman.
Wanting to prove that Batman is as insane as any patient in Arkham, a grinning demon leads him through all the circles of hospital hell. In the final, Two-Face is entrusted with the decision on Batman’s ultimate fate.
Tossing a coin, he says that Batman is free; only he and the reader know that in fact, the coin fell on the “evil” side. Observing the agreement, the Joker escorts the arch-enemy to the door, joking in the end that there is always a place for him here.
5. Dark Victory
Writer(s): Jeph Loeb
Artist(s): Tim Sale
Publication Date: November 1999 – December 2000
During the events of Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman captures and imprisons Alberto Falcone, the serial killer known as Holiday. Months later, a massive escape occurs at Arkham Asylum, orchestrated by Pino and Umberto Maroni, the sons of Sal Maroni. The breakout is staged so that in the confusion, the two can find and kill Two-Face as an offer of peace to Sofia Falcone Gigante.
In later events, Alberto is granted parole based on his actions during the riots. Soon after, several important characters connected to the GCPD are being killed on holidays; the corpses are accompanied by a note with the hangman game and the facts suggest that Harvey Dent is the murderer.
The new district attorney, Janice Porter, begins working on the case, while Alberto welcomes his enigmatic brother, Mario Falcone, who is returning from exile in Italy.
Alberto also welcomes his sister, Sofia, who barely survives her encounter with Catwoman in Batman: The Long Halloween, and is limited to being in a wheelchair due to her injuries. Sofia, however, continues to run the decaying Falcone empire.
As Hangman’s victims begin to appear more frequently, Two-Face initiates a war against Sofia Falcone to destroy her criminal empire once for all. Collateral damage from the war includes Dick Grayson’s parents, leaving him in the custody of Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego.
It is then that Two-Face enlists several supervillains to destroy the remains of the Gotham mafia; his associates include the Joker, the Scarecrow, the Penguin, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, the Mad Hatter, and Solomon Grundy. Mario Falcone, who has formed an alliance with Janice Porter, is soon faced with isolation from Porter who has a secret affair with Two-Face, who ultimately becomes her murderer.
However, at the same time, Two-Face saves James Gordon’s life when the Hangman tries to hang him on the Bat-Signal, thus affirming that he is not the murderer. The final event of the battle arrives on the following Halloween; Sofia reveals that she was never disabled and that she committed the Hangman murders, targeting all the policemen who had helped Harvey Dent’s career.
She later kills Alberto by drowning him and she breaks Gotham’s gas lines in order to set fire to Two-Face, who is hiding in the sewers. Saved by Batman, Two-Face returns to Sofia and shoots her in the head. Escaping from an underground cordoned-off area, Two-Face meets with the Joker, Poison Ivy, and Mr. Freez in the Batcave.
Batman’s secret would have been exposed had it not been for the timely intervention of Dick, who had trained in secret to become Robin. In his old circus uniform, he makes his debut as Robin and helps Batman defeat most of the villains. When the battle comes down to Batman and Two-Face, the latter claims that Gotham belongs to him.
At the last moment, the Joker appears, shooting Two-Face, who falls off a cliff. Robin then helps immobilize the Joker. Meanwhile, Mario Falcone, a destroyed man, sets fire to his mansion, losing everything.
Catwoman then visits Carmine Falcone’s grave revealing that he is possibly her father. We also see that Two-Face not only survived but also has the body of Carmine Falcone frozen.
In the final pages, Batman offers Dick a chance to escape his crusade for revenge on the criminals who murdered his parents. Dick rejects the offer and Batman tells him that now the two will work together. He then states that he will continue with the oath made to his parents, but that he is not alone anymore.
4. Batman: Year One
Writer(s): Fran Miller
Artist(s): David Mazzucchelli
Publication Date: February – May 1987
Miller’s legendary story follows Batman’s first year as the Dark Knight of Gotham. It is a completely realistic story that follows his fight against Gotham’s criminal underworld long before the appearance of his Rogues Gallery, but also his first encounter with James Gordon and the development of their future alliance and friendship.
3. The Long Halloween
Writer(s): Jeph Loeb
Artist(s): Tim Sale
Publication Date: December 1996 – December 1997
As Batman, Captain James Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent work together to end the illegal activities of mobster Carmine “The Roman” Falcone, a mysterious murderer by the name of Holiday begins to kill on every major holiday; his victims are important people linked to the Falcone family.
At the crime scene, he always leaves a .22 caliber gun with a bottle nipple as a silencer, and a greeting card.
Batman and Gordon turn to a villain who has also used the holiday theme, Calendar Man, who is in prison. As the investigation progresses, the evidence begins to point against the prosecutor Harvey Dent himself. Gilda, his wife, reproaches him for his obsessive attitude towards work. However, Dent remains obsessed with campaigning against the Falcone clan.
Carmine Falcone is, on his part, concerned that his empire is no longer invincible and begins recruiting supervillains in order to stop Holiday. However, the murders continue and Falcone is devastated when his son Alberto is murdered on New Year’s Eve. Prosecutor Dent continues his offensive against the Falcone family.
He gets Carmine Falcone’s rival mobster Sal Maroni to agree to testify in exchange for certain benefits. Everything is going well, but on the day of the trial, Dent’s assistant, Vernon Field, is contacted in order to deliver a package to Maroni, which turns out to be acid that the mobster uses to disfigure Dent’s face.
The prosecutor is hospitalized, but the attack affects him psychologically and makes him develop a second personality; he flees the hospital and takes refuge in the sewers with Solomon Grundy.
Despite being in police custody, Maroni is murdered by the supposedly deceased Alberto Falcone, who introduces himself as Holiday. The murder spree was his way of “making time” to be with his father. Alberto is sentenced to the gas chamber but the sentence is commuted to imprisonment in Arkham Asylum. In the climax, Carmine Falcone is attacked by all the villains that appear throughout the story.
The group is now led by Harvey Dent, now known as Two-Face. Batman appears and manages to contain them all, except Catwoman and Two-Face. The latter murders Falcone in the manner of Holiday in front of the gangster’s daughter, Sofia Falcone Gigante. Sofia tries to defend her father but is stopped by Catwoman. Both fall out of the room through a window.
Two-Face, after taking his revenge, turns himself to the police. Before being locked up in Arkham, he comments on the existence of two Holiday killers.
2. The Killing Joke
Writer(s): Alan Moore
Artist(s): Brian Bolland
Publication Date: March 1988
Joker has escaped from Arkham Asylum and plans to drive Commissioner Gordon insane. All of this, he’s doing in order to prove that the perfect citizen can go insane after having a really bad day.
To prove his theory, the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon, crippling her. He then undresses her, takes pictures of her, and kidnaps Commissioner Gordon to take him to an abandoned amusement park.
With the help of his accomplices, the Joker takes Gordon on a merry-go-round and forces him to look at photos of his injured daughter. Batman arrives soon after, and after a short duel against the Joker, the Joker escapes inside another merry-go-round.
James Gordon is released and despite the hardships he has gone through, he has not gone mad. Batman chases the Joker and after a fight, he captures the Joker and offers to help him in order to cure his madness. The Joker refuses because according to him, it is too late for a cure.
Afterward, the Joker tells Batman a joke and, at the end of the joke, the Joker and Batman laugh together as the police arrive to apprehend the dangerous criminal.
Moore’s Joker, as told in the comic book, was initially an engineer who quit his job in a chemical factory to become a comedian. But he totally fails in this new job. Discouraged, he is hired by professional criminals who want to steal money from a factory of playing cards, accessible only through the chemical factory.
These criminals hire naïve people who have valuable information for their crimes and make them put on the Red Hood’s helmet in order to pass them off as the leader of their gang. On the day of the theft, the failed actor learns of the death of his pregnant wife.
Although he no longer wants to do the job, he is forced into it by the criminals. Once inside the chemical plant, the trio is quickly spotted by plant security, and the two criminals are shot and killed.
Thereafter, Batman appears to try to capture the Red Hood, but the comedian falls into an acid vat and ends up affected by the chemical; he still manages to make it out alive. When he sees his face colored and distorted by acid, he laughs, thus giving birth to the Joker.
1. The Dark Knight Returns
Writer(s): Frank Miller
Artist(s): Frank Miller, Klaus Janson
Publication Date: February – June 1986
The Dark Knight Returns tells a story that begins 10 years after the retirement of the masked vigilante Batman. The heroes of this world have been made illegal and Superman, the last one in action, is an American government agent and a super-weapon used in cases of international war or crisis.
The increase in crime in Gotham City, brought on by the gang called “Mutants” and combined with an unusual sense of justice from Bruce Wayne, makes the former vigilante return from the darkness of retirement and face the criminals of the city.
Batman is portrayed by Miller as a man traumatized and tormented by his past, who uses intelligence and strength to bring about justice in a much more brutal and violent way compared to his previous activities, with the limit, however, on the principle of never killing criminals. The vigilante’s rebirth sets the world in an uproar.
Batman arouses opposing opinions; while he is called an outlaw and is accused of violating human rights, he wins the support of countless admirers, who appreciate his struggle to restore order, peace, and justice.
A new and controversial Robin emerges a teenager named Carrie Kelley who adds more fuel to the media fire. The Joker, catatonic at Arkham Asylum, awakens as he watches the Dark Knight return, feeling motivated to return to active duty.
He sets off on a wave of limitless crime and insanity: he schedules a television interview but murders the entire audience with his laughing gas; goes on the run, seeks out, manipulates, and beats up Selina Kyle, the former Catwoman (who now runs an escort agency), to get at a high-ranking member and instigate a nuclear attack
He goes around town injuring and killing people until he manages to meet Batman to make him lose control and break his principles.
Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face, apparently freed of his psychopathy and physically cured through brilliant plastic surgery, resumes his criminal career when he sees Batman in action. The psychological link between Batman and his two main adversaries is brought to light by Miller.
That’s when the US Government puts the Man of Steel on the heels of the masked hero, leading to an epic fight between the two characters, with Batman using intelligence and wit to balance the confrontation with a superpowerful enemy with heat vision, extreme strength, and invulnerability.