You already know about Batman Black & White, The Dark Knight Returns, Hush, The Long Halloween, and Year One, but even the confirmed Bat-fan might find something new in this list.
The Batman Adventures Vol 1 – The quality of the 1990s Batman animated show stunned everyone, but an equal surprise was the comics being just as good. The art matched the animated designs, and the plots flowed beautifully. They still read well. Kelley Puckett, Mike Parobeck and Ty Templeton.
Batman Incorporated – Starting with a light comedy, this switches tack, and then does it again as the assorted variations of Batman and allies are skimmed through with astounding finesse. Accessible and engaging. Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Scott Clark, Yanick Pacquette, and Cameron Stewart.
The Black Mirror – A twisting psychological drama with Dick Grayson filling in as Batman, focusing on the frankly terrifying son of Police Commissioner Gordon. Is he a deadly psychopathic liar or a reformed and misunderstood victim? Scott Snyder, Francesco Francavilla and Jock.
Death by Design – A story about architectural design leading back to the days of Bruce Wayne’s father Neither creator is among the most recognisable names, but their work is among the very best of Batman graphic novels. Chip Kidd and Dave Taylor.
Ego and Other Tails – It’s incedible to think the pitch for ‘Ego’ sat in an editor’s office for four years until someone finally saw the value of classic illustrative cartooning and a psychological investigation of Batman. Also includes the great caper story Selina’s Big Score. Darwyn Cooke.
Joker’s Asylum – Two equally good volumes in which the Joker acts as tour guide, offering insights into the other villains who plague Gotham, defining how Batman is created by his villains. There’s a lot of quality work, but we like the Two-Face story best, by David Hine and Andy Clarke.
Nine Lives – Classic gangster noir with the Batman of an alternate universe, actually using Batman very sparingly while investigator Dick Grayson carries the story. It’s a search for a valuable item last seen with the now dead Selina Kyle. Dean Motter and Michael Lark.
Strange Apparitions – Astounding piece from the 1970s that still resonates, incorporating stunning design, a then novel retro feel to Batman, a resurrection for Deadshot, and a unique glimpse at all Batman’s major foes of the time. Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and Walt Simonson.
Tales of the Batman: Archie Goodwin – Excellent Batman anthology in which the writer tailors his scripts to the strengths of the largely superb artists he works with. Includes the only Batman story by Alex Toth. Archie Goodwin, Scott Hampton, Marshall Rogers and Walt Simonson.
Year 100 – As intended, this combines the best elements of a Fritz Lang film with those of a Hong Kong action movie, taking a look at Batman in the future. Among all the interpretations of Batman over the years this remains a daring and individual work from a great stylist. Paul Pope.