BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE
This is the graphic novel that Heath Ledger locked himself in his apartment with for over a month, and studied to perfect his role as the Joker. This dark story penned by the always amazing Alan Moore (Watchmen, V For Vendetta) is by far one of the darkest Batman stories ever told. It reveals pieces of the Joker's origin, and watches him terrorize and torture Jim Gordon and his daughter, Barbara. You must read this!
BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN
A year long murder mystery with each death being themed around a holiday. This compelling graphic novel explores each of Batman's rogues gallery. The moody, atmospheric art of Tim Sale combined Jeph Loeb's sharp characterization of the Dark Knight make this another essential.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
THE must-read Batman story for the last century. Above all else, Dark Knight Returns is the epitome of a good Bat-tale. What happens when Batman's 50 years old, and hasn't been seen in years? The world is now in shambles, Superman is a puppet of a now corrupt America, the Joker has reformed, and street gangs run the streets of Gotham? This is what the Dark Knight returns to, and you can bet it's an amazing tale. Possibly the most hardcore Batman story ever told. Want to see Superman get his ass handed to him by Bats? This is where it happens! Written and illustrated by Frank Miller (Sin City, 300, and director of the upcoming Spirit film)
BATMAN: YEAR ONE
Another classic Batman tale by Frank Miller. This is the book that strongly influenced the precursor to The Dark Knight, Batman Begins. Exploring Batman's first year as Batman, you also see the early days of many other characters. Gordon's start as the only good cop in a city full of dirty ones. Selina Kyle's pre-Catwoman days, where she's a hybrid of a hooker and Robin Hood, and so much more. Definitely a must read!
BATMAN ILLUSTRATED BY NEAL ADAMS
In the '60s, it was a dark time for the Dark Knight. While we all look fondly on the days of King Tut, and Egghead, the campy effects of the Adam West show took their toll on the comic books. Along came Neal Adams. Adams helped redefine Batman, and his impact on the character is still seen today. The focus was switched from the quirky, and camp the comic had been experiencing back to it's original, darker and more mystery oriented tone. If you want to see just how Batman got back to being cool again, then this is the place to look. Neal Adams's gorgeous art has been digitally recolored, and retouched, and it looks fantastic in these reprints. CHECK 'EM OUT!
BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM
Probably the most horrifying Batman story told to date, Arkham Asylum was Grant Morrison's (Final Crisis, Batman: RIP) exploration of the psychology of Batman, his rogues gallery, and the Arkham family itself. Witness as Batman is psychologically broken down in this chilling story. Highly recommended!
Paul Dini (one of the main creative minds behind Batman: The Animated Series) does for Batman in the 21st century, what Neal Adams did back in the '70s. By bringing the character back to more of a World's Greatest Detective feel, and less of a maniac, Dini delivers some classic Batman storytelling with a modern twist. The revamps of some classic Rogues are amazing as well. The Riddler, now reformed, is more like a celebrity detective you'd find on some A&E reality show than a villain. He solves crimes for dough, and gets in Batman's way at the same time. The Ventriloquist and Scarface are drastically different, with a new woman controlling the dummy, and showing an unhealthy affection for it.
BATMAN: EGO AND OTHER TALES
Darwyn Cooke (DC NEW FRONTIER) delivers some AMAZING one shot Batman stories in this beautiful hardcover. Cooke's artwork pops really well. You even get his classic Catwoman story, Selina's Big Score!
BATMAN AND SON
Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert bring us one of the best Batman stories of 2007. Bringing a long-forgotten story called Son of the Demon into play, they explore the son of Batman and Ras Al Ghul's daughter, Talia. Damien, now 13, and having learned all he can from the League of Assassins, wishes to continue his training as the Detective's heir by training with his pops. Of course, in his skewed perception of things, he must execute Robin to do this. A great story which spins out several plot threads that are now being explored in BATMAN: R.I.P
TALES OF THE BATMAN by TIM SALE
Tim Sale, the man behind Long Halloween, Haunted Knight, and Dark Victory, delivers a fantastic series of Batman shorts in this nice hardcover collection. For those of you not familiar with Sale, he is the artist who did the bulk of the artwork and concept art for the TV Show Heroes. His best comic book work has to be his Batman stuff, and you can find out why by snagging up this nice collection of his work.