Batman has been crusading on the streets and rooftops of Gotham City via the funny pages of DC Comics for more than 70 years. In that time he has seen everything from cataclysmic earthquakes to clown princes of crime to the other side of the universe. So, if you want to impress your boyfriend with some nerd knowledge, here are 8 essential Batman stories for best getting to know The Dark Knight.
8. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman: The Animated Series holds a special place in every Batman fans heart. This animated feature happened to be the first, and best, of several made from the shows legendary run. In it we see Bruce Wayne’s rise to Batman and many of the techniques and experiences he used to perfect his crusade.
7. The Dark Knight Returns – by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
This 1986 comic gets a lot of the credit, and deservedly so, for reestablishing Batman in the dark and brooding manner that has made him great for so many years. This tale jumps forward, to the end of the Batman’s career, as we see a fifty-something year old Bruce Wayne return to the mantle after years of retirement spent watching Gotham spiral into chaos. The best moment is when Batman squares off against the visceral mutant leader in a mud pit and rasps, “You don’t get it boy, this isn’t a mud hole, it’s an operating table. And Im the surgeon.” I just got goose bumps all over again.
6. Almost Got ‘Em
Here’s another selection from Batman: The Animated Series, this time in the form of a single episode. Here we sit in on a poker game played by the Joker, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and the Penguin as they all reminisce about the time they almost got Batman. Best part: the twist. Don’t worry, I’m not one to ruin that kind of thing.
5. The Man Who Laughs – by Ed Brubaker, Doug Mahnke, and Patrick Zircher
In this comic retelling of the original story that introduced the Joker, Ed Brubaker and co. bring it. Rarely does a writer nail the Joker’s personality and dialogue so perfectly. Best moment: anytime the Joker speaks.
4. Batman Begins/ the Dark Knight
Would you separate Empire and Jedi? Probably not. So then, why separate the best set of Batman movies ever made? Anyway, in these Christopher Nolan directed Batman epics we see Batman from his absolute inception as it’s seldom seen otherwise. Bruce’s rise to The Dark Knight is chronicled from the murder of his parents, to his training, all the way up to his first brush with Gordon and the Joker. These movies are easily the most true to the Batman mythos, with many of the moments coming directly from the comics. Best moment: the entire combined 300 minutes.
3. The Long Halloween- by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Jeph Loeb is, bar none, the best Batman writer of all time. When he writes The Dark Knight’s inner monologue, it is absolutely pitch perfect. Loeb mixes the perfect batch of cold calculation, cynicism, and sentimentality, with the occasional drop of humor exactly the way it should be. Batman is a detective, so the perfect Batman story is most rooted in mystery and intrigue. In The Long Halloween, we see Batman in his early days following the Holiday Killer on a year long murder spree. Best moment: super villain team-up.
2. Dark Victory- by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
In this sequel to The Long Halloween, we start shortly after the events of The Long Halloween where Batman is nurturing his relationship with the Gotham Police Department, meanwhile, still trying to take a bite out of organized crime. We also see Dick Grayson’s rise to becoming Robin, and the tragic childhood loss of his parents, mirroring Bruce’s experience. Best moments: anytime Bruce reflects on his childhood.
1. Hush- by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Did I mention Jeph Loeb was good? This Batman story absolutely has it ALL. Mystery, action, intrigue, love, every villain you can imagine, Jim Lee’s insanely amazing artwork, ghosts from the past, Superman, revelations, new villains, and the twist! It is impossible to say enough good things about this book. In Hush, a new unnamed threat that knows Batman’s true identity is striking out against Bruce Wayne. I don’t even want to say anything more for risk of ruining even one of many great moments. My advice: don’t make Hush the first Batman story you ever read.
While this post may seem a bit odd, remember there are women who enjoy Batman? Are you one of those girls?
Top Photo Credit: Archangeli