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Added by Abhi

on 26 Feb 2009 02:03

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Batman in Graphic Novels

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The Year One Trilogy

Frank Miller's Year One and the sequels by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. We encounter Gordon, Catwoman and Robin.
People who added this item 34  Average listal rating (20 ratings) 8.5  IMDB Rating
1. Batman Year One Deluxe SC - David Mazzucchelli,Frank Miller_II
Frank Miller's seminal masterpiece that redefined Batman for this generation. Gritty and grim, it traces the origins of Batman, told largely from the viewpoint of Gordon, who is still a lowly cop right now. The story and overall feel of the book was hugely influential on the movie 'Batman Begins'.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 93  Average listal rating (53 ratings) 8.5  IMDB Rating
2. Batman: The Long Halloween - Tim Sale,Jeph Loeb
Uses the characters from Year One and creates a twelve part murder / detective mystery that is also an explicit sequel. It's not the most engrossing or innovative detective story but it *is* set in the Batman universe, which makes it worthwhile for any fan. Even if the story isn't the greatest, the art is excellent and the characters are well crafted.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 22  Average listal rating (13 ratings) 7.9  IMDB Rating
3. Batman Dark Victory TP - Tim Sale,Jeph Loeb
An explicit sequel to 'A Long Halloween', it picks up some time after the events in that book. We have a new series of murders in Gotham on holidays, all of them cops this time. The evidence points to Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two Face once again and Batman has a new riddle on his hands.
Abhi's rating:


The Bad Guys Are-a-coming

Somewhere along the way, Batman encounters some really freaky villains.
People who added this item 6  Average listal rating (4 ratings) 7.3  IMDB Rating
4. Batman: Tales of the Demon - DC Comics
The only Pre-Year One book that I own. It's not a single story but a collection of individual stories that feature Ras Al Ghul and his daughter Talia. Sometimes the Batman is on the same side as them and sometimes they are on opposing sides. It's an interesting collection just for that reason, as it highlights the complicated relationship Batman has with this family.

(Later, much later, Grant Morrison took this relationship to another level in his run on Batman leading up to Batman:R.I.P. (see below))

The storytelling style is pretty campy, about par for the 1970s and Batman isn't the dark, brooding presence that he is in the Post-Year One era. He's like a DC version of James Bond almost, with his gadgets and adventures. Despite these shortcomings, the book is an enjoyable read because of the reasons mentioned earlier. A Batman fan will enjoy this collection.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 11  Average listal rating (6 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
5. Batman: Son of the Demon - Mike W Barr,Jerry Bingham
Almost an explicit sequel to 'Tales of the Demon', this rather dated story has Batman and Ras Al Ghul teaming up to defeat a common foe. In-between all of this, Batman and Talia Al Ghul consummate their relationship, resulting in Talia becoming pregnant with their child. She deceives him into thinking that she miscarried the child and we see that their son is born at the end of the book, without his knowledge.

There's several references to the USSR and USA, and the cold war, which makes this feel rather dated. The story is pretty thin, playing like some mid 80s mediocre action thriller, and lacking much depth. The only interesting aspects are Batman's reactions as a father to be. The birth of his son is also interesting because it ties into the Batman:RIP storyline, over 2 decades later. For fans only.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 29  Average listal rating (15 ratings) 9.4  IMDB Rating
6. Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition - Brian Bolland,Alan Moore_III
A classic one-shot by legendary author Alan Moore. It's pretty obvious that this is where the writers of "The Dark Knight" took inspiration for The Joker's character. The Joker tries to drive Gordon insane by putting him through psychological torture, while we follow the Joker's own descent into insanity through flashbacks. Just fantastic, like much of Alan Moore's other work.
Abhi's rating:


The Knightfall Era

Roughly starts with the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd and ends with the third book in Knightfall. One of the best periods in Batman history, in my opinion.
People who added this item 38  Average listal rating (19 ratings) 7.1  IMDB Rating
7. Batman: Death in the Family - Mike De Carlo,Jim Aparo,Jim Starlin
Jason Todd, the second Robin in the current Batman continuity is led into a trap while trying to find his birth mother and then murdered. The storyline is shocking but I still don't think it belongs among the best Batman stories ever written, despite the huge amount of acclaim it has received over the years. Maybe I read it too late. The aspects of international politics in the story also give it a somewhat dated feel. This was unfortunately an integral aspect of many Batman stories of the 1980s.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 13  Average listal rating (5 ratings) 8.6  IMDB Rating
8. Batman: Blind Justice - Sam Hamm
Bruce Wayne has been framed by a secretive international cartel because he was attempting to stop illegal mind-control experiments being carried out within Wayne-Tech. This gets Wayne and thus Batman into a world of trouble that will take all his resources - and some helpful friends to get out of.

One of the few stories that delves into the dark psyche of Batman/Bruce Wayne and does it brilliantly too. Initially published as a three part story on Detective Comics, this covers some of the ground that led up to Knightfall. Batman's mental demons have been catching up with him since the events of 'Death in the Family' and this story delves into that often ignored aspect of Batman's mythos. This would make a worthy movie, it's so good.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 17  Average listal rating (9 ratings) 7.8  IMDB Rating
9. Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying - George Perez,M. Wolfman
This book introduces the newest (and last) Robin - Tim Drake. Batman is still troubled by the death of Jason Todd (in 'A Death in the Family') and his behaviour is getting increasingly reckless. Tim Drake has figured out the identity of Batman and Nightwing (the first Robin, Dick Grayson) and goes and tracks down Nightwing in an attempt to help Batman. Meanwhile, Two-Face is back and trying to lure Batman to his death.

This is a mediocre book, and it's only significance is the introduction of a new Robin. It foreshadows the events of Knightfall, yet again, by highlighting the mental breakdown of Batman.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 23  Average listal rating (9 ratings) 8.8  IMDB Rating
10. Batman: Knightfall Part One: Broken Bat - DC Comics
Knightfall is one of the most ambitious Batman stories ever attempted. This book collects the first and arguably the best part of this story - the breaking of the Batman by Bane (the symbolism of the name is pretty obvious). The story begins with Bane engineering the breakout of all the insane criminals that are housed in Arkham Asylum. All of Batman's nemeses - The Joker, Scarecrow, Killer Croc and others - are let loose on the streets of Gotham all at once. This is Bane's clever and twisted strategy to break the Batman.

Full review here.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 8  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating
11. Batman Knightfall TP Part 02 Who Rules The N... - Alan Grant,Chuck Dixon,Doug Moench
Azrael takes over as Batman's replacement after the events of Broken Bat while Bruce Wayne looks for a cure. It's a decent book, but more disjointed than Broken Bat.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 11  Average listal rating (3 ratings) 7.3  IMDB Rating
12. Batman: Knightfall Part Three: KnightsEnd - Jo Duffy,Alan Grant,Doug Moench,Chuck Dixon
Bruce Wayne comes back as Batman after a confrontation with Azrael, his replacement. This trade paperback does not cover the entire story of Bruce Wayne's rehabilitation. Also, it feels more like a collection of individual comic book issues than a cohesive story like the first two parts.


Somewhere in the Middle

Technically, most of these are in the No Mans Land/New Gotham Era, but I don't much care for most of the stories around this time.
People who added this item 16  Average listal rating (9 ratings) 8.4  IMDB Rating
13. JLA (Book 7): Tower of Babel - Mark Waid
One of the few non-Batman DC books that I own. While it's a JLA book technically (and I'm not a fan), this is an interesting Batman story in it's own right. Someone is taking down every JLA member one by one, using secret files that Batman kept on each member. Batman realised that these were some of the most powerful beings on Earth, and if somehow they fell under the control of not so friendly forces, there could be hell to pay. Batman doesn't trust anyone. Shocking? Not really.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 13  Average listal rating (8 ratings) 8.4  IMDB Rating
14. Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty (Batman ... - Ed Brubaker,Greg Rucka
This short lived (30 issues) Batman comic was excellent, start to finish. Set in the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD), it follows the cops as they solve cases and tackle crime in the city. Of course, Batman makes a regular appearance but the focus is definitely not on him, it's on the cops.

The entire series was collected into five volumes, this is Vol. 1.

People who added this item 9  Average listal rating (5 ratings) 8.2  IMDB Rating
15. Gotham Central: Half a Life - Volume 2 - Greg Rucka
Vol. 2 of Gotham Central.

People who added this item 6  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
16. Gotham Central Vol. 3: Unresolved Targets (B... - Michael Lark,Stefano Gaudiano,Ed Brubaker,Greg Rucka
Vol. 3 of Gotham Central.

People who added this item 13  Average listal rating (9 ratings) 8.7  IMDB Rating
17. Gotham Central Vol. 4: The Quick and the Dea... - Michael Lark,Greg Rucka
Vol. 4 of Gotham Central.

People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8.5  IMDB Rating
18. Gotham Central TP Vol 05 Dead Robin - Ed Brubaker,Greg Rucka
Vol. 5 of Gotham Central.

People who added this item 24  Average listal rating (17 ratings) 8.5  IMDB Rating
19. Batman Hush Complete TP - Jeph Loeb


The RIP Era

The road to RIP and the apparent death of Batman, and the aftermath.
People who added this item 11  Average listal rating (7 ratings) 7.7  IMDB Rating
20. Batman and Son - Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert
The start of Grant Morrison's run on Batman and can be considered the first book of the Batman:RIP storyline. We encounter a boy, Damian, who claims to be Batman's son by Talia, Ras Al Ghul's daughter. Conflict arises between Batman's adopted son, Robin and Damian as to which of them is the rightful heir to the Batman - his partner or his son?
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 11  Average listal rating (5 ratings) 7.8  IMDB Rating
21. Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul - Paul Dini,Grant Morrison
Batman gets involved with the conflicts in his new "family" i.e. Ras Al Ghul, Talia and Damian. This is the weakest of the four books in the Batman:RIP storyline. It covers ground between the three that is already very well covered. Still, the writing is good and this book is book-ended by some great stories.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 8  Average listal rating (6 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
22. Batman: The Black Glove - Grant Morrison, J.H. Williams III, Tony S. Daniel
The penultimate book in the Batman:RIP storyline by Grant Morrison. This gets a slightly low rating because of the first one-third, which is a meaningless story. The rest of the book is a fascinating insight into the mind of the Batman. Any story that explores the twisted mind of Batman is always interesting to me and this one is no exception. Grant Morrison flirts with the idea of completely destroying the foundations of Batman's origins and motivations, but steps back just at the precipice.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 20  Average listal rating (11 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
23. Batman: R.I.P. - Grant Morrison, Tony S. Daniel
Grant Morrison concludes the Batman:RIP storyline with this fourth TPB of his run on Batman. The ending was bittersweet, a teeny bit disappointing as well as satisfying at the same time. A part of me was wishing that Grant Morrison would go through and completely destroy the Batman origin mythology, but honestly, that will never happen in a mainstream publication like DC. I'm glad I didn't read these issues individually, they would have made little sense and raised my frustration levels.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 10  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 5.5  IMDB Rating
24. Batman: Battle For The Cowl - Fabian Nicieza, Tony S. Daniel
Batman is dead, long live the Batman. After Bruce Wayne's apparent demise, who will take on the role of Batman?


Post-Retirement

Only one book has ever explored this idea.
People who added this item 208  Average listal rating (121 ratings) 8.6  IMDB Rating
25. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Frank Miller_II, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley
A classic one-shot by Frank Miller, and his third entry in this list. He sure knows how to write a good Batman story. An aging and retired Bruce Wayne returns as Batman to tackle new threats to Gotham City. This is the only book that shows Batman at any kind of advanced age.
Abhi's rating:


Elseworlds

Alternate universes, alternate locations, alternate timelines. Most of these retell the origins of Batman and are therefore set early in the timeline.
People who added this item 13  Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating
26. Batman: Thrillkiller - Howard V. Chaykin
A Batman Elseworlds story set in the 1960s. The book takes a number of familiar characters from the Batman universe and gives them an interesting twist. Gotham is in the grip of a corrupt Mayor and police department and a drug epidemic is coursing through it. The only people who protect the innocent are Batgirl and Robin, as Detective Bruce Wayne, the only honest detective on the force watches from the sidelines - for now anyway. The story re-writes the origin of Batman completely as well as the origins of a number of other characters. The writing is good and the art is impressive, but overall, this book falls short of greatness.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 7  Average listal rating (3 ratings) 6.3  IMDB Rating
27. All Star Batman and Robin - Jim Lee_II,Frank Miller_II
A series by Frank Miller that stands outside of the regular continuity. It traces the story of Robin's introduction into the Batman universe. After the first couple of chapters, it becomes clear that Miller is attempting something complete different from a traditional Batman story. The story is filled with dark comedy and portrays a Batman who is a caricature of himself - darkly violent, almost unhinged and without any perceptible sense of morality. One of his dialogues sums it up quite nicely - "I am the goddamn Batman".
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 17  Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7.8  IMDB Rating
28. Batman: Gotham by Gaslight - P.Craig Russell,Michael Mignola,Brian Augustyn
The very first Batman Elseworlds story to be published. At the time, the concept of Elseworlds did not even exist. Set in the 1890s, Batman/Bruce Wayne has been given his familiar origin with the murder of his parents. Bruce returns from Europe after studying with Freud and others, only to find that Jack the Ripper has invaded his city. Soon enough, Bruce becomes a suspect and must find the true identity of the Ripper to save his skin.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
29. Batman Nevermore # 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. (The Co... - Len Wein
An Elseworlds series that isn't part of the Batman canon. It's a detective story set during the lifetime of the author Edgar Allan Poe and written with him as the narrator. It's got a strong gothic feel to it and the artwork is just brilliant.

The series was never actually published as a trade paperback and is only available as five parts.
Abhi's rating:

People who added this item 7  Average listal rating (4 ratings) 6.8  IMDB Rating
30. Batman: Holy Terror - Alan Brennert
An Elseworlds one-shot that is isn't part of the regular Batman universe. It's set in a corrupt theocratic state that was born as a result of Oliver Cromwell's crusade. In this version of history, Cromwell did not die, instead he left behind a theocratic state. Gordon is now an inquisitor and Bruce Wayne is a priest. The story is excellent and the characters feel true to both their new settings and to the Batman mythos as well.
Abhi's rating:


 

I have been fascinated with Batman's character and have read a substantial number of graphic novels and trade paperbacks over the years. This isn't a comprehensive list of all Batman titles, just the ones I've read.

The books have been arranged in chronological order of continuity, more or less, and not in order of publication. The Elseworlds have their own section since they tend to be early in the Batman timeline and often re-tell his origins or early development.

Almost all the books from this list - The 25 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels will eventually be on this list, and then some.

This list will probably remain a work in progress till there are no more Batman books to be read :)

Added to

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Comments

Posted: 5 years, 6 months ago at Feb 28 19:16
Some other lists featuring graphic novels & trade paperbacks.

Terminator Graphic Novels
Aliens Graphic Novels
Predator Graphic Novels
Aliens & Predator Crossovers
Posted: 5 years, 5 months ago at Mar 12 22:57
I feel the same way about All-Star that I do about R.I.P. The story/story-telling is crazy, but the art and the fun ride makes up for it. Frank Miller and Grant Morrisson are both taking crazy pills right now, but I still love them.
Posted: 4 years, 5 months ago at Mar 27 11:52
This is a cool list, but I'd love to see Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth in it as well. :)
Posted: 4 years, 5 months ago at Mar 27 16:47
That's not a bad suggestion... I'll have to read it again, it's been a while, before I slot it in.
Posted: 2 years, 3 months ago at May 18 1:20
no Final Crisis??!? no JLA: Earth 2??
Posted: 2 years, 3 months ago at May 25 9:08
I thought Final Crisis was garbage: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1366596

Generally, not a fan of anything JLA or any character but Batman.
Avatar
Posted: 1 year, 7 months ago at Jan 18 4:46
Joker by Brian Azarello as The Man who Laughs by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke are two intereting one-shot comics (entirely about the Joker).
Ego by Darwyn Cooke also explores the Batman/Bruce Wayne situation very nicely

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