Following up my previous Superman recommended comics list, here’s a list of what Batman comics I recommend. This includes ones about Catwoman, the Joker, and so forth. Again, I’ll try to stick with comics that’re in trade paperbacks/graphic novels.
Batman in the Forties. Varied collection of Golden Age Batman stories, including the first appearances of Batman, Joker, and Dick Grayson, and the origin of the giant penny in the Batcave.
Silver Age and Bronze Age
Batman in the Fifties. Features the first Silver Age/Earth-1 Two-Face story, along with the first appearances of Ace the Bat-Hound, Batwoman, and Bat-Mite.
Batman in the Seventies. The first appearance of the Huntress (Helena Wayne), Ra’s al Ghul, and the classic story “There is No Hope in Crime Alley.”
Batman in the Eighties. Features the story “To Kill a Legend,” from “Detective Comics” #500 in 1981.
Showcase Presents. Black-and-white paperback collections of large chunks of classic Silver and Bronze Age stories. Includes the following series: Batman; Batman and the Outsiders; Batgirl; World’s Finest; The Brave and the Bold: Batman Team-Ups.
Batman: Strange Apparitions. Reprints the classic “The Laughing Fish” Joker story, plus features Bruce’s late 1970s romantic interest Silver St. Cloud. Might not be as easy to find, as it’s out of print.
Tales of the Batman: Len Wein. Includes various classic Bronze Age stories, particularly the 1980 miniseries “The Untold Legend of the Batman,” the definitive pre-Crisis Bronze Age retelling of Batman’s origin.
Batman By Neal Adams Omnibus. Pricey but thorough omnibus edition collecting Neal Adams’ Bronze Age stories.
The Dark Knight Returns. Frank Miller’s 1986 miniseries is only on here due to how influential it was on the medium (contributing to the rise of “grim and gritty” toned comics) and later versions of Batman, rather than out of any personal enthusiasm. The treatment of Superman also doesn’t exactly excite this Superman fan.
The Batman Adventures. Trade paperback collections of the comic series spun off from the 1990s cartoon “Batman: The Animated Series.”
Batman: Harley and Ivy. A miniseries about the escapades of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, done within the style/continuity of “Batman: The Animated Series.”
Mad Love. Another “Batman: The Animated Series” based story, this one’s origin of Harley Quinn and her “relationship” with the Joker. Of course, this story and others show why Harley finally left Joker and struck out on her own, often semi-permanently paired up with Poison Ivy.
Batman ’66. The digital comic based on the classic 1960s “Batman” TV show. There’s also spin-off miniseries where this version of Batman meets “The Man From UNCLE,” “The Green Hornet,” and “Steed and Mrs. Peel” (of the 1960s British TV series “The Avengers”).
Batman: Li’l Gotham. A light-hearted, non-DCU-set series of all-ages stories featuring various members of the Batman family.
Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, vol. 1. Collects various stories across the decades, including “Robin Dies At Dawn,” “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge,” and “The Batman Nobody Knows.”
Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, vol. 2. Includes the Golden Age/Earth-2 Batman’s origin retold and expanded upon in a reprint of 1986’s “Secret Origins” #6.
The Joker: The Greatest Stories Ever Told. A collection of Joker stories from across the years. While I’m not wild about the modern version of the Clown Prince of Crime (these days, Joker’s just a one-note killing machine), it does include various classic stories. Among those: his first appearance in 1940’s “Batman” #1; 1951’s “Batman” #66 (the now-odd-sounding Joker’s “boner” crimes story); 1952’s “Detective Comics” #180 (“The Joker’s Millions”), and 1978’s “Detective Comics” #475-476 (the “Laughing Fish” story).
Batgirl: The Greatest Stories Ever Told. Includes Barbara Gordon’s debut in 1967’s “Detective Comics” #359, and the story where she decides to run for Congress (1972’s “Detective Comics” #423).
Superman/Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told.
Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years.
Robin, the Boy Wonder: A Celebration of 75 Years.
Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold. A comic was produced based on the TV show of the same name.
To summarize a few points:
- If you just want one Batman trade paperback (or one of Catwoman, Robin, etc.), I suggest either the “Greatest Stories Ever Told” volumes or the “Celebration of 75 Years” volumes.
- I’m not the biggest fan of Frank Miller (who nowadays is openly anti-Muslim), most modern Batman comics, or “The Killing Joke” (and its problematic treatment of Barbara), if you’re wondering why I’ve largely left them off. My favorite modern Batman’s the animated series versions and various non-DCU-set stories. A comic by Kate Leth summed my feelings up well. However, if you have any non-Miller/”Killing Joke” Batman-related series to suggest (such as “Birds of Prey,” the various non-Barbara Batgirls’ runs, etc.), feel free to list them in the comments.
- If looking for stories with a specific character (Damian Wayne, Tim Drake, etc.), you might try searching either the Grand Comics Database or the DC Comics Wikia wiki.