The 10 Best Batman Graphic Novels [2011 Geek Gift Guide]

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” That’s what everyone will be asking this Holiday season, and by “toys” they’ll mean “Batman Graphic Novels,” once you take a look at our list of the ten best books for the Dark Knight fan in your life. Kind of makes you wonder why they said “toys” in the first place, doesn’t it? Weird.

10. Batman: Hush

This is the big, loud, action movie version of Batman, written by Jeph Loeb, and drawn by Jim Lee. The premise is that someone is trying to take out Bruce Wayne, and with him, most of his Rogues Gallery. Interestingly? While doing a little research for this list, we found that most modern Batman readers started with this story. It’s not the most complicated thing you’ll ever read, but it is fun.

9. Batman: Gotham After Midnight

Another book slightly light on the story, by high on the horror, the insane looking Gotham After Midnight, courtesy of writer Steve Niles, and author Kelley Jones pits Batman against one of his most monstrous enemies. Niles script is a taut mystery, but the star here is Jones over-the-top action pieces.

8. Batman: Arkham Asylum

Also on our list of the actually most terrifying comic books, ever, Grant Morrison takes Batman into the pit of madness, as he enters a breakout at Arkham, and may be slowly losing his mind. For anyone looking for something that doesn’t look like your run of the mill superhero story? This is it.

7. Batman: The Killing Joke

The classic Alan Moore story reinvented The Joker, amping him up in danger for a new generation just like several of the other selections down below did for Bats himself. Full of controversial story points, this “origin” for the Joker is essential reading for any fans of the best villain in comics.

6. Batman: Year 100

A riff on the future of Bruce Wayne, the star here in indie superstar Paul Pope taking on Batman in all his wrecked glory. It’s a brutal book, with some truly visionary art, and may appeal to the more indie minded potential super-fan.

5. Batman: Detective

If you liked Batman: The Animated Series (and we know you did), then you’ll want to pick up this collection featuring B:TAS creator Paul Dini’s take on Detective Comics. Each issue is a near perfect done-in-one story, and a great entry way into the comic book world of the Dark Knight.

4. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

This, along with our first choice, are the books that redefined Batman for a new generation. The definitive “future shock Batman” story, Frank Miller pulls no punches, and fills the book to the brim with classic scenes and dialogue.

3. Batman: The Black Mirror

New Batman writer has quickly become one of the best Batman writers – ever. He started with this brilliant collection, working with artists Jock and Francesco Francavilla to create a moody noir that encompasses all of Gotham, and introduces one of the best new villains in recent memory.

2. Batman: The Long Halloween

Our personal favorite Batman book, by the classic team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Long Halloween presents a mystery over the course of a year (okay, thirteen months), with each issue corresponding to a holiday… As the Holiday Killer stalks Gotham, and Batman gets embroiled in a twisty tale of crime and vengeance. The book also chronicles the rise of super-crime, and contrasts it with the downfall of “common” criminals. One of the best long-form Batman stories ever told.

1. Batman: Year One

I mean, what else could be number one? Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli created THE seminal book about Batman in the modern era, providing a fascinating, revamped look at a man driven to the ends of the Earth to fight for the memory of his slain parents. Not only that, but as opposed to the bombastic Dark Knight Returns, Year One is a meditative, careful character study that deconstructs – and then reconstructs – the man who would become Batman. Oh, and don’t worry: there’s also a lot of butt-kicking.

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