The Dark Knight has been appearing in comic books since 1939 and over the course of time he’s featured in some truly incredible tales. Many of these stories have even provided the inspiration for movies – both animated and live-action.
If you are a fan of Batman movies then it is highly likely the films you adore are loosely based on comics. But what are those comics and if you want to read them, where do you start?
Well, in this post I am highlighting the eight best Batman comics which are perfect for Batman movie fans. All of the choices laid out below have provided the inspiration for movies, and all are great reads in their own right.
Year One is a back-to-basics Batman tale set at the very beginning of the Caped Crusader’s career. It is dark, gritty and perfect for those who love simple Batman tales that focus solely on the Dark Knight without his extended Bat-family.
Written by Frank Miller, with art by David Mazzucchelli, Year One looks at Batman’s early career as he establishes himself in Gotham City. The book provided the inspiration for 2005’s Batman Begins and is a great place to start for any fan of the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman films.
The Long Halloween
And now onto another comic set during the early days of Batman’s career – The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Told over 13 chapters, the book sees Batman, Harvey Dent and Jim Gordon work together on a case involving a mysterious killer who bumps people off according to the months of the year.
Parts of The Long Halloween heavily influenced the look and feel of 2008’s The Dark Knight, so if you are a fan of that particular Batman movie then this book is a must read. It’s also a must-read for every general Batman fan, as both the story-telling and artwork are superb.
And if you read The Long Halloween then you should also read the sequel, Dark Victory. The book focuses on Robin’s introduction into the Batman mythology and is a worthy companion piece.
No Man’s Land
As I’m highlighting comics that inspired Christopher Nolan Batman films, I am also recommending No Man’s Land, a tale that influenced parts of 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. This story – which was told across multiple Batman titles (and by multiple writers) – tells the story of what happens when Gotham is cut off from the rest of the world, following a destructive earthquake.
No Man’s Land features many iconic Batman villains and is so expansive that it was originally published across the course of a year. If you do want to check this story out – and you should – please be aware that it has to be collected in multiple volumes due to its scope and scale.
Rounding off the Nolan-influenced recommendations is Batman: Knightfall – one of the best Batman sagas of the 1990s and also inspiration for The Dark Knight Rises. This tale is truly epic and sees Bane devise a plan to defeat the Caped Crusader by wearing him down until he is tired and weak.
Knightfall is an iconic and very famous Batman story that had huge ramifications for the Caped Crusader’s comics for quite some time. If you are not familiar with the story, read it – you won’t be disappointed.
The Dark Knight Returns
Did you love Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)? If so, then you should check out Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns – the book that partially inspired the movie.
Set in the near future, when Bruce Wayne is in his twilight years, Batman has to return to the streets of Gotham, as an ageing vigilante to do what he does best – take down bad guys. The book is often cited as one of the best Batman stories of all time and once read, the influence it had on Dawn of Justice is clear for all to see.
The Killing Joke
And now for a story which is regarded as one of the best-loved Joker tales of all-time – The Killing Joke. This story has not only been turned into an animated movie – the 2016 film of the same name – but it is also provided partial inspiration for 1989’s Batman, 2012’s The Dark Knight and 2019’s Joker.
Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland, The Killing Joke doesn’t make for easy reading but it is a book that should be picked up by all Bat-fans.
The Court of Owls
Deep within Gotham City is a sinister organisation known as the Court of Owls. Hidden in the shadows, and composed of some of the wealthiest citizens of Gotham, this secret society has been controlling the city for centuries – and now it is time for Batman to expose them.
Created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, The Court of Owls features engaging storytelling and great artwork. It has also been partially adapted for film via the animated offering, Batman vs. Robin (2015).
And finally, if you like stories filled to the brim with Batman villains (and who doesn’t?) then Hush is the story for you. Written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Jim Lee, Hush sees Batman caught up in a plot involving many of his rogues’ gallery.
But who is pulling the strings and what is the ultimate goal?
Hush is a fantastic story, with beautiful artwork. It has also been turned into an animated film which differs significantly from the original tale, so make sure to check out the original story AND watch the movie.
To recap, the eight best Batman comics for Batman movie fans are:
- Year One
- The Long Halloween
- No Man’s Land
- The Dark Knight Returns
- The Killing Joke
- The Court of Owls
All of these titles are readily available in print and/or digital, so you should not have a problem tracking them down. And should you wish to delve further into Batman comics, then I highly recommend you try out the five Batman stories below.
- Batman: White Knight
- Batman: A Death in the Family
- Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- Batman: Child of Dreams
- Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
Thanks for taking the time to stop by I’ll Get Drive-Thru – feel free to take a look around the blog for more informative posts about the Batman movies. You can also check out the recommended reads below which you may find useful.