Batman is probably the most beloved character in the DC Universe and the inspiration for amazing movies such as The Dark Knight Trilogy and The Batman (2022).
In the name of his murdered parents, Bruce Wayne wages eternal war on the criminals of Gotham City. He is vengeance. He is the night. He is Batman.
One of the most iconic fictional characters in the world, Batman has dedicated his life to an endless crusade, a war on all criminals in the name of his murdered parents, who were taken from him when he was just a child. Since that tragic night, he has trained his body and mind to near physical perfection to be a self-made Super Hero. He’s developed an arsenal of technology that would put most armies to shame. And he’s assembled teams of his fellow DC Super Heroes, like the Justice League, the Outsiders and Batman, Incorporated.
One of the most iconic fictional characters in the world, Batman has dedicated his life to an endless crusade, a war on all criminals…
A playboy billionaire by day, Bruce Wayne’s double life affords him the comfort of a life without financial worry, a loyal butler-turned-guardian and the perfect base of operations in the ancient network of caves beneath his family’s sprawling estate. By night, however, he sheds all pretense, dons his iconic scalloped cape and pointed cowl and takes to the shadowy streets, skies and rooftops of Gotham City.
In this guide, we have compiled the list of absolutely essential graphic novels for crime fiction fans who want to get started with Batman.
Our hand-picked titles feature many legendary authors and artists such as Frank Miller, Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, Klaus Janson, and Scott Snyder.
Must-read Batman graphic novels for crime fiction fans include:
- Batman: Year One
- Batman: The Long Halloween
- Batman: Dark Victory
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
- Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
- Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race
- Batman: The Killing Joke
- Batman: Hush
- Batman: The Black Mirror
- Batman (2011-2016): The Court of Owls
- Batman: Gordon of Gotham
Batman: Year One
Frank Miller (Author), David Mazzucchelli (Author)
In 1986, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli produced this groundbreaking reinterpretation of the origin of Batman—who he is, and how he came to be. Sometimes careless and naive, this Dark Knight is far from the flawless vigilante he is today.
In his first year on the job, Batman feels his way around a Gotham City far darker than the one he left. His solemn vow to extinguish the town’s criminal element is only half the battle; along with Lieutenant James Gordon, the Dark Knight must also fight a police force more corrupt than the scum in the streets.
Batman: Year One stands next to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns on the mantle of greatest Batman graphic novels of all time. Timeless in its appeal, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s masterpiece would stand apart from the crowded comics field even today.
This edition includes the complete graphic novel, a new introduction by writer Frank Miller and a new illustrated afterword by artist David Mazzucchelli. Completing this collection are over 40 pages of never-before-seen developmental material such as character and layout sketches, sample script pages, sketches, and more that pro-vide a glimpse into the making of this contemporary classic. This volume collects Batman #404-407.
Jeph Loeb (Author), Tim Sale (Illustrator)
Christmas. St. Patrick’s Day. Easter. As the calendar’s days stack up, so do the bodies littered in the streets of Gotham City. A murderer is loose, killing only on holidays. The only man that can stop this fiend? The Dark Knight. In a mystery taking place during Batman’s early days of crime fighting, Batman: The Long Halloween is one of the greatest Dark Knight stories ever told.
Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month.
A mystery that has the reader continually guessing the identity of the killer, this story also ties into the events that transform Harvey Dent into Batman’s deadly enemy, Two-Face.The magnificent creative team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale reach their apex in Batman: The Long Halloween. This edition includes original 13-issue series as well as four additional story pages cut from the original series, which are presented fully colored and restored to their place in the story. Also featured are sketches and an introduction by the director and writer of The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan and David Goyer.
Batman: Dark Victory
Jeph Loeb (Author), Tim Sale (Illustrator)
In this sequel to the legendary Batman: The Long Halloween, another mystery killer has sprouted in Gotham City, but it’s not the town we all quite knew.
Once a place controlled by organized crime, Gotham City suddenly finds itself being run by lawless freaks, such as Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and the Joker. It is still early in Batman’s crimefighting career, but the Dark Knight is on the verge of completing his transformation into the city’s greatest defender. However, nothing he has experienced thus far—not even a new sidekick named Robin—will prepare him for the Hangman.
With the murders reminiscent of the Holiday killing spree just a year ago, Batman will have to call on every one of his detective’s instincts to solve a mystery that goes even deeper—and more dangerous—than any he’s faced before.
From the juggernaut creative team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sales comes Batman: Dark Victory, one of the finest stories in the Dark Knight’s fabled lore. Collects issues #0-13.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Frank Miller (Author)
Writer/artist Frank Miller completely reinvents the legend of Batman in this saga of a near-future Gotham City gone to rot, 10 years after the Dark Knight’s retirement. Forced to take action, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of fury, taking on a whole new generation of criminals and matching their level of violence. He is soon joined by a new Robin—a girl named Carrie Kelley, who proves to be just as invaluable as her predecessors.
Can Batman and Robin deal with the threat posed by their deadliest enemies, after years of incarceration have turned them into perfect psychopaths? And more important, can anyone survive the coming fallout from an undeclared war between the superpowers—or the clash of what were once the world’s greatest heroes?
Hailed as a comics masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns is Frank Miller’s (300 and Sin City) reinvention of Gotham’s legendary protector. It remains one of the most influential stories ever told in comics, with its echoes felt in all media forms of DC’s storytelling. Collects issues #1-4.
Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Frank Miller (Author, Artist), Lynn Varley (Illustrator, Artist)
In this sequel to Frank Miller’s seminal graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, it’s three years later and the DC Universe is at peace. At least on the surface. And Batman must return once again to save the world from themselves.
Still, the world looks fine: a perfectly choreographed, pretty little world where everything that’s ugly, or even potentially disturbing, is all nicely wrapped up with neat little ribbons and swept under the carpet. Only Batman knows better. He’s watched it fester to near-breaking point, and it’s time for the only free man left who can effect any real change to bring it all down around their ears once and for all.
The Dark Knight returns once again with a vitality unseen since the first years of his war on crime. Together with his army of Bat-soldiers, including Carrie Kelley—formerly Robin, and now the new Catgirl—the Dark Knight wages a new war on a diseased world that’s become completely lost.
Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again features appearances by such DC icons as Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, the Atom, the Question and more. But are they still the World’s Greatest Heroes or part of the conspiracy?
Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race
Frank Miller (Author), Brian Azzarello (Author), Andy Kubert (Illustrator), Klaus Janson (Illustrator)
In 1986, Frank Miller introduced his iconic take on Batman and changed the face of comics forever. Now, three decades after Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Miller himself has returned with a third chapter to his groundbreaking saga.
It’s been three years since the Batman defeated Lex Luthor and saved the world from tyranny. Three years since anyone has seen Gotham City’s guardian alive. Wonder Woman, Queen of the Amazons… Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern… Superman, the Man of Steel… all of the Dark Knight’s allies have retreated from the front lines of the war against injustice.
But now a new war is beginning. An army of unimaginable power led by Superman’s own daughter is preparing to claim Earth as their new world. The only force that can stop this master race—Batman—is dead.
Long live the new Batman…
Collecting the full nine-issue miniseries and its mini-comic tie-in issues, Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race features incredible artwork from comics icon Andy Kubert (Flashpoint), as well as Klaus Janson (The Dark Knight Returns), John Romita Jr. (All-Star Batman), Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets) and Frank Miller himself.
Batman: The Killing Joke
Alan Moore (Author), Brian Bolland (Illustrator)
Critically acclaimed author Alan Moore redefined graphic novel story-telling with Watchmen and V for Vendetta. In Batman: The Killing Joke, he takes on the origin of comics’ greatest super-villain, The Joker, and changes Batman’s world forever.
ONE BAD DAY. According to the grinning engine of madness and mayhem known as the Joker, that’s all that separates the sane from the psychotic. Freed once again from the confines of Arkham Asylum, he’s out to prove his deranged point. And he’s going to use Gotham City’s top cop, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant and beautiful daughter Barbara to do it.
Now Batman must race to stop his archnemesis before his reign of terror claims two of the Dark Knight’s closest friends. Can he finally put an end to the cycle of bloodlust and lunacy that links these two iconic foes before it leads to its fatal conclusion? And as the horrifying origin of the Clown Prince of Crime is finally revealed, will the thin line that separates Batman’s nobility and the Joker’s insanity snap once and for all?
Legendary writer Alan Moore redefined the superhero with Watchmen and V For Vendetta. In Batman: The Killing Joke, he takes on the origin of comics’ greatest super-villain, the Joker–and changes Batman’s world forever.
Stunningly illustrated, Batman: The Killing Joke The Deluxe Edition has been lushly recolored by artist Brian Bolland, presenting his original vision of this modern classic.
Jeph Loeb (Author), Jim Lee (Illustrator)
Gotham City’s worst criminals–Joker, Riddler, Ra’s al Ghul, Clayface and others–have emerged to throw Batman’s life into utter chaos. However, these villains are part of a much more elaborate, sinister scheme to destroy the Dark Knight once and for all, one headed by a mastermind much closer to Bruce Wayne than any foe before…
Gotham City is infected by a crime epidemic and all of Batman’s enemies have emerged to throw his life into utter chaos. But little do they know, they’re all pawns of the villainous Hush in an elaborate game of revenge against Bruce Wayne. Pushed past his breaking point, Batman will need to use more than the world’s greatest detective skills to uncover the true identity of this mysterious mastermind before it’s too late.
This truly unforgettable story by three of comics’ top talents–writer Jeph Loeb (Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory) and artists Jim Lee (Justice League, Suicide Squad) and Scott Williams (All-Star Batman & Robin, Superman)–presents the Caped Crusader’s most personal case yet!
Collects Batman #608-619, a Hush interlude from Wizard #0, and a bonus section with over 40 pages of behind-the-scenes content.
Batman: The Black Mirror
Scott Snyder (Author), Jock (Illustrator), Francesco Francavilla (Illustrator)
For years, Batman and Commissioner Gordon have stared into the unyielding black abyss that is Gotham City. Time after time, they’ve saved their beloved city from itself, not allowing it to be swallowed by a pit of violence and corruption. But even after a crime-fighting lifetime of confronting what they thought was the worst humanity had to offer, an even darker and more dangerous evil pushes Batman and Gordon to their limits.
As the conflict comes closer to its resolution, they find that the truth behind this murderous crime spree isn’t just careening toward their doorstep—it has in fact emerged from it. Can two of Gotham’s proudest protectors bring justice to this malevolent threat in Commissioner Gordon’s most personal battle to date?
Eisner Award-winning writer Scott Snyder launches into comics superstardom with his #1 New York Times best-selling debut work on the Dark Knight. This volume collects Detective Comics #871-881.
Batman (2011-2016): The Court of Owls
Scott Snyder (Author), Greg Capullo (Illustrator, Artist)
After a series of brutal murders rocks Gotham City, Batman begins to realize that perhaps these crimes go far deeper than appearances suggest. As the Caped Crusader begins to unravel this deadly mystery, he discovers a conspiracy going back to his youth and beyond to the origins of the city he’s sworn to protect.
Batman has heard tales of Gotham City’s Court of Owls: that the members of this powerful cabal are the true rulers of Gotham. The Dark Knight dismissed the stories as rumors and old wives’ tales. Gotham was his city. Until now.
A brutal assassin is sinking his razor-sharp talons into the city’s best and brightest, as well as its most dangerous and deadly. If the dark legends are true, his masters are more powerful predators than the Batman could ever imagine.
This now-classic graphic novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is not just fantastic jumping-on point for any new reader, but one of the great Batman stories ever told. With every year that passes, this masterpiece becomes more entrenched into this medium’s pantheon of the greatest stories ever told. Collects issues #1-7 of Batman.
Note: We have added Batman: Zero Year to this trilogy as it provides a great perspective to this storyline.
Batman: Gordon of Gotham
by Dennis O’Neil (Author), Klaus Janson (Illustrator, Artist)
Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon stars in this new collection of crime stories from the 1990s that stars the colorful, determined cops of Batman’s home town.
For Mystery Tribune’s coverage of notable crime, mystery and thriller comic and graphic novel releases, please visit here.