Comic Book Reviews 02-25-15

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

Pick of the Week:

suiciders 1 POTW 02.25.15

Suiciders #1 – A
This is Fight Club meets Robocop meets Mad Max. Even with all those components thrown in, it’s impossible to encapsulate Lee Bermejo’s new book with a bunch of pop culture references. Suiciders is inherently new and exciting, with the tinge of familiarity you need to keep reading. After “The Big One” left LA a survivalist nightmare, it was reborn as New Angeles, kept alive by the entertainment brought by the gladiator pit. The gladiators are all cybernetic ally-enhanced, and the arena is booby-trapped to high hell. The premiere issue gave us but a glimpse of the bigger picture, focusing on the heart of the reality tv brutality, and leaving just enough to whet my appetite for more.If you need to know anything about Lee Bermejo, it’s that when he puts out content (Joker, Luthor: Man of Steel, Batman: Noel), you shut up and listen. Well, I’m silent and at attention, now. – Sherif

Other Reviews: 

Bongo Comics: 

Futurama #74 – B-
The newest issue of Futurama gives us a clever idea of what would happen if Professor Farnsworth’s “What If” Machine blew up and its “Magic” spread across New New York. I will say the cover done by Jason Ho, Mike Rote, and Serben Cristescu is a bit of a tease in that it shows Fry split across multiple universes spanning from Homer’s arm, to Buzz Lightyear’s foot. Neither of these appear in the book, but that does not mean other clever and cool references do not and that is one thing this series is great at doing. Ian Boothby wrote this issue and it harkens back to the wonderful “What If” Machine episodes that many believe to be some of the top episodes, plus this issue has a large role for Scruffy, and we can all agree the world needs more Scruffy the Janitor. James Lloyd, Andrew Pepoy and Robert Stanley have the roles of Pencils, Inks and Colors for this issue and they all bring some of the most screen curate art to this series which obviously makes for a better read, especially when one, like myself, already reads everything in their mind in Futurama voices. – Jacob

BOOM! Studios: 

Evil Empire #11 – B
This Utopian Protocol idea seems pretty intriguing.  I’m still not quite on board with how this could be used to actually make the Earth into “the Death Star with skinny jeans” though.  Any insight into this would be welcome.  Evil Empire has been a pleasant surprise for me.  One thing you should know is that Max Bemis is actually my favorite person in this world.  I’ve been a Say Anything fan for ten years now and have followed all of his projects.  Polarity was interesting but a little bit of a let down for me.  Finally though, I have found a great Boom! Series that has kept me interested.  It has taken some good turns and it seems about ready to take one final corner before the end of the series.  The last few issues have been laying the groundwork for the finale and this last one really did a good job at drawing me back in.  What exactly does the Utopian Protocol entail?  So telling a girl you are into guys is a great pick-up line?  How big is the resistance currently since they decided to just skip over a year?  So many questions and we are nearing the end!  It’s been an unpredictable series to say the least. – Jake

DC/Vertigo Comics: 

Batman #39 – A-
All bets are off. Nobody is safe. I’m actually freaking out right now. This is not a superhero comic book, it’s a horror book that just happens to have a superhero in it. Although, the way this issue played out, I’m not so sure Batman is super-anything at the moment. The penultimate issue of Endgame has Batman basically begging for help from all the people he’s kicked the crap out of in the New52. This feels so far out of my comfort zone for Batman, because he’s been able to put away the Joker for decades now without help – he must be really desperate to reach out to enemies now. I love the callback to the Red Hood and other trophies throughout the issue, and the grotesqueness of it all. I will not be sad when this arc is over though; it’s given me the heeby jeebies. – Sherif

Gotham Academy #5 – A-
I just love this book. It’s really written for middle schoolers and high schoolers, but I find myself enthralled with all the story lines. After finding Killer Croc hiding in the walls of the school last month, this time Olive and Maps get their team together to find him again. Throw in a dance, a love triangle, and some banter, and you have an amazing issue of Gotham Academy. I cannot rave enough about the art. It feel a little Disney, a little Anime, and a little Thomas Kinkade. If you pay attention closely to the detail, you will see the school is full of creepy little things; in one panel I noticed a pair of gold eyes peering at me from an old wooden chest. I almost jumped! – Adrian

Deathstroke #5 – B+
Here is a list of what I expect from a Deathstroke book written and drawn by Tony Daniels: lots of blood and action, superbly-drawn panels with an action shot or two thrown in the mix, and a somewhat progressive story. There is at least two out of three present in this issue of Deathstroke, and that’s enough to make me happy. The issue begins with a hardcore fight scene between Slade and Batman, complete with a play-by-play breakdown of Batman’s fighting techniques. It’s something I’ve so seldom seen in a book, so it was interesting to see a fight from the point of a nearly-equally matched fighter against Batman – with Batman as the antagonist. There are a few pages of actual storyline here, but it goes by so quickly, I’m not sure it was even worth mentioning. Give me more fights with Batman. – Sherif

IDW Publishing:

TMNT #43 – A
In part three of the Attack on Technodrome story arc, we see Krang and Shredder’s gang duking it out with the Mutanimals while Splinter takes on Hun and Karai, and Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo take on the Technodrome and what waits inside. With every split up, alliances being forged and broken, things don’t really seem to be going well for anyone, especially by the time this issue ends and we are left with another cliffhanger. Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, and Tom Waltz wrote this issue and together they brought about a great story this month that had you rooting for people one second hating them the next all the while still hoping they succeed in their plans. It is a very twist-filled story so far for this arc, and likely will only become more so with the next issue in March. Cory Smith takes on the art with Ronda Pattison on colors and this teams brings some of the best, and my personal favorite art for the series in awhile as it keeps with Mateus Santolouco’s style which has been the main focus of this series, but it also improves upon somethings as well, making for a great addition to anyone’s TMNT library. – Jacob

TMNT Mutanimals #1 – A-
A new TMNT series packed full of nostalgia and new material to make any new or old TMNT fan go crazy. Based off of the Archie Comics universe version of the Turtles and the original Mighty Mutanimal toy line – which only Mondo Gecko and Slash were members from this new group – this series take off into a direction many fans of the original team will notice. The story for this first issue by Paul Allor sets up this series for a journey I am sure many old fans are a bit scared about with the introduction of the villain, Null. The art for this issue is definitely not as realistic and detailed as the main series, but Andy Kuhn does a great job with a more simplistic take on these characters, which fit for what seems to be a rather cheesy group of characters. Cheesiness aside, (believe me if this series goes any way the Archie comics series did, any cheesiness will disappear quicker than a hobbit putting on the one ring) this series is bound to be a great one as the Mutanimals are a big favorite among those who read the Archie Comics run of TMNT and these characters will bring a whole different aspect to the story of the Turtles that no fan could not enjoy. – Jacob

Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues #2 – B-
I do really like Galaxy Quest, but I am disappointed that this new installment is turning out to be essentially the same storyline from the movie. The only real difference is this time the crew isn’t helping the Thermians, but just another race of alien. The loveable Guy, played by Sam Rockwell in the film, will not being joining the fight this time around though. He is instead staying on Earth to help a bunch of shapeshifting aliens, who are posing as the other cast members. Instead the fish out of water character will be Brandon, Justin Long’s character from the film. I’ll keep reading for my own enjoyment but I do hope the comic separates itself from the movie. – Jake

Image Comics:

ODY-C #3 – A-
I find that, usually, the third issue is when a series starts to lose steam. It seems to be the moment sheer novelty wears off and the more plodding structure of story takes the ‘fore. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but sometimes it kills the momentum and the interest. Not so with Ody-C #3. I realize summary panels in the front of books have kind of gone out of fashion, but holy crap if this book doesn’t need it, especially when, by the third issue, the world continues to feel as mysterious as it did in issue #1. And that’s not bad here. Given what this book is (a gendered re-tooling of the most famous epic on the planet), it’d be a tragedy to feel bored. Ody-C continues to rank to blow minds. And #3 has the cyclops in it, and it’s a relief that Odyssia can’t punch her to death. – Montgomery

Graveyard Shift #3 – B+
Last month, we left off with Hope eating some dude when she was definitely not supposed to. I like that we were able to jump right back in without anytime wasted. The guy kind of deserved to be eaten. Ok, maybe not, but I can see what the writer was trying to do here. My favorite part of the scene is how the colors go from very bright to sepia-toned as Hope tells us where she has been and why. The rest of the story is Hope and Liam working together to figure out who the big daddy vampire is. It was cool to see them clearly struggling with her new way of life, but at the same time working together very well to solve the case. The cliffhanger was a little underwhelming, but the art throughout the book was fantastic. – Adrian

Zombies VS Robots #2 – B
I’m really interested in where this comic is going. I’m always a sucker for zombies and mixing science fiction elements definitely intrigues me. Parts of this feel very Firefly-esque to me, but there’s still enough originality that makes it an entirely different story. Picture Firefly if the team decided to go back to “Earth-That-Was” mixed in with The Walking Dead and sentient robots.There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on here and I look forward to the next issue. – Charlotte

Rasputin #5 – C
I’m still really loving this book. I look forward to each issue that comes out. The creative team behind Rasputin is really giving us something new about the man behind the myth. He’s mystical healing powers are becoming more pronounced and present as the series moves along. The color red continues to play an important part and thread through the story. This time we are with Rasputin on the battlefield of World War I where we see him healing wounded soldiers. There are also hints of a secret conspiracy merging throughout the story. I continue to really love the bookend aspect of the story. Between his future and his past. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it adds more intrigue to the story. – Jené

Roche Limit #5 – C
It’s only the 5h issue and somehow it feels like a hell of a lot more. Zombie-like soulless bodies are over running the station, lots of fighting, and lots of death. Meanwhile, Alex is trying to locate Bekkah’s soul after getting her vessel back on the ship. While the overall concept of this story is really interesting, this book was over dripping with clichés. Nothing we haven’t read or seen before in a hero/villain come to fight moment. Its ending was also a little too fast, and I wasn’t all that satisfied with the climax. Now that this particular arc has come to a sort of conclusion, I’m curious as to what’s going to happen in the next chapter. – Jené

Marvel/Icon Comics:

Spider-Man 2099 #9 – A
Well hot damn! Miguel leaves his universe for a few weeks and the whole world goes to complete Hell. It was like a scene out of Mad Max mixed with The Matrix. Future Spidey returns home after his stint with the Inheritors to find that Nuevo York, the glorious, technological haven of a city has been reduced to little more than barren wastelands, dilapidated & tumbling skyscrapers, and a few wandering post-apocalyptic Hill-Billy’s. It’s a lot like Fallout… plus Spider-Man. Things proceed to get crazier when the Hulk… err excuse me… “The Maestro” (…what?…) shows up. Turns out he’s a complete diabolical maniac. He pops two dude’s heads as if he were playing with bubble wrap and makes a 300’s Immortals-esque shine of human bodies! I love how fully out of control things are in this new arc. I’m anxious to see how señor Spider fixes this gargantuan mess. – Taylor

Deadpool #42 – B+
In this second issue of Deadpool’s battle with Omega Red as well as the first issue we start getting reminded that Deadpool dies in a mere three issues, and we get a pretty good story in this issue that really dives head first into Deadpool’s emotions, while kicking ass, of course. I really liked the story telling in this issue as it gives us a good reminder why this would be the worst time for Deadpool to die with everything he has, while also making sure to remind us he also is a disgusting scumbag a lot of the time and kind of deserves death. Salva Espin and Val Staples bring us my favorite type of Deadpool with the art and color in this issue as it is still realistic but Deadpool, his eyes, and his reactions are like a Looney Tunes character amongst the real world. Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan have absolutely knocked it out of the park with this modern Deadpool series and these issues leading up to the end have not just been great but made Deadpool a very sympathetic character which even Wade Wilson himself would laugh at me for saying. – Jacob

Darth Vader #2 – B+
(A-) It’s still very intriguing to me watching Darth Vader being the black sheep of the Empire. Kieron Gillen weaves an interesting tale of one of the most famous villains in history. Watching Vader try to track down a man that he assuredly at least thinks is his son does add some unusual insight into Vader’s mind. And you just know that Tagge is not going to see a happy end. I did also like the throwback to the prequel trilogy with the appearance of droideka’s. It was actually nice seeing a small connection between the two storylines. – Scott

(B) There’s nothing too profound or out of the ordinary in the Darth Vader issue this week. However, take time to realize that “ordinary” in the context of Darth Vader comes with lots of death, destruction and force choking – which means that this issue is still awesome. I’m finding that very minor details are making big differences for me. My favorite detail in this edition was the heavily modified droidekas!! I want one really, really badly… Key characters (other than Vader) and the plot are beginning to develop. This is crucial for this kind of story – one where you already know all the headliner’s tricks. Don’t sleep on Darth Vader… It might upset him… – Taylor

Spider-Gwen #1 – B
She. Is. Awesome. She’s awesome! A cute Spider-themed character that can graffiti, jokes in the midst of battle (to be expected) and drops Breaking Bad puns is an instant winner in my book. I like how this series is structuring itself. While every other version of Spider-Man is currently working on weaving itself out of the Spider-Verse event this one – right off the bat – takes on a life of its own. The primary conflict is pretty muddled, but that’s okay at this point in the game. Right now we should be focused on Gwen and how cool she is and what internal struggles she’s dealing with. I’m already in love with this title and look forward to experiencing what I’m sure will be a long career. – Taylor

Amazing Spider-Man #15 – B
Epilogue time! The bad guys are beat, the heroes need a nap, and some new adventures begin. The final, “final,” piece of the Spider-Verse event takes place in this issue of ASM. It was actually way more action and content packed than I was expecting – which is good! Even after winning a war Doc Ock can’t help but be a dick. Spider-Man does a fine job of putting him back in his place. Other characters look like they’ll be getting dirty again before too long. There were also some pretty interesting surprises. I won’t give away details but I will drop names of interest – Karn and Kaine (!!). I wonder what Peter Parker of 616 will get himself into next. I’m willing to bet it will be worth my (and your) time. – Taylor

S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 – B-
This comic was so-so. It had some funny parts and Spider-Man added to its appeal, but honestly, it was very hard to follow and there wasn’t much payoff at the end. The only thing that I really enjoyed was Spider-Man’s snark. This felt like a bit of a filler issue for me, something the writers really shouldn’t be doing this early in. The only thing that seemed to be moving the plot forward was at the very end and only briefly introduced as a cliffhanger. So overall? Not my favorite comic, but it wasn’t so bad that I’m not looking forward to the next issue. – Charlotte

Thor Annual #1 – C
If I could I would actually give each of the three stories in this issue a different grade as each is very different in writing and art. Not saying the grade would really change from a C rating though, as there was a mixed bag, and ultimately all three didn’t really add too much to anything going on in Thor or any stories going on now. The first story deals with an old Thor who is now the All-Father of Asgard with Jason Aaron as the writer and Timothy Truman as the artist and deals with what Thor will do in his last days. The second story is about the new female Thor and an adventure she has to earn the trust of the Warriors Three and this one is written by Noelle Stevenson and the art is done by Marguerite Sauvage and this one has a very classic Hanna Barbera style of animation to it. Then the third and final story is about Thor before he ever held Mjolnir, dealing mostly with how much Thor can drink getting him into a drinking contest he may not get out of. This one was a surprise as the mixed martial artist and wrestler CM Punk wrote it and this story ends up being the silliest of them all and would hope so with someone like CM Punk at the helm. Ultimately, this is a Thor issue for Thor fans and does not offer a ton for anyone outside that fan-base, but ultimately it is a fun little collection of meaningless Thor stories that even a small Thor fan will enjoy.

Spider-Man & X-Men #3 – D
I was really excited for this series after the first two issues.  However, this issue seemed way to confusing and had a lot of randomness thrown in which I felt was unnecessary.  Sure, the action was pretty cool and the premise was actually a fun one.  It just seemed to come out of nowhere and did not really have anything to do with the previous issues.  I would skip on this one as it does not seem to have anything to do with the series thus far and other than potential for a reoccurring baddie I doubt it will have much impact on the rest of the series. – Jake

 


Funniest Panel:

Amazing Spider-Man #15
Amazing Spider-Man #15

Panel with the Most Awesomeness:

Deathstroke #5
Deathstroke #5

 

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to all the publishers for putting out great books.

Batman Day – Best Graphic Novels

DC Comics has dubbed today Batman Day. The Dark Knight has been fighting crime and serving justice for his 75th year since the 1939 debut of Detective Comics #27. Batman has been a big part of our lives, and was responsible for making me in the comic book fanatics we are today, whether it be through comic books and toys or television and movies. To show our appreciation for the man, the myth and the legend, we have compiled a plethora of Bat-themed lists. We hope that we can inspire you to read more about Batman and his legacy, or even give us some feedback if you agree or disagree with the lists. Sound off below! Or click on the picture below to take you to all of our Batman Day articles.

batman day logo

 

 

Top 20 Batman Graphic Novels

The legacy of Batman isn’t dependent on the video games, movies or toys. Batman’s mythos is based on his greatest comic book tales. Whether canon or not, each story we chose here added to the collective representation of who we have built the Batman to be. Whether or not they are the “best” is not what we aim to debate, but these are the stories that define the Batman to us.

 

20.) Batman and Robin: Reborn

After Batman was “killed” by Darkseid in Final Crisis, I was almost ready to throw in the towel for reading comics. How could DC get away with killing off Bruce Wayne? By putting Dick Grayson in the cowl, that’s how. Grant Morrison’s idea to make the former Nightwing into Batman helped fill the part of the void left by Bruce’s departure. It was like reading a completely new book, as the dynamic between Dick and Damian Wayne was a far cry from the father and son one that Robin shared with Bruce. There was also a noticeable amount of humor that just hadn’t existed between Batman and Robin, the two taking on a big brother-little brother relationship. Dick tried to assume the fatherly rol, but it was often shoved back in his face by the prodigal Damian, often too smart for his own good.

 

19.) Batman: Zero Year

The mega-arc from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo just ended today, and it has already secured a place among my favorite books of all time. The time period prior to Frank Miller’s Year One is one of great mystery, so for us to get a complete detail of his rise to becoming the Batman. Bruce’s journey is full of tidbits that had never made it into other comics; thanks to the fact there was no canon material to prove Snyder right or wrong, he could really do what he wanted with the story. A show-down with the Red Hood Gang and the introduction of the Riddler, as well as a different take on the origin of James Gordon were just some of the twists that made the arc feel familiar, yet brand new. Greg Capullo’s art is on point. His model of the first Batsuit is incredible, complete with purple gloves and all. This book is a love letter to Batman, and you don’t need any previous knowledge to enjoy and understand it.

 

18.) Death in the Family

When Jason Todd learns that his biological mom is still out there somewhere, the stubborn Robin runs away from home to track her down. His hunt leads him to the Middle East. He does end up meeting his mom, but hits a patch of bad luck when she ends up being on the Joker’s payroll. Yikes. Long story short, the Joker beats Robin senseless with a crowbar before leaving him and his mother in a warehouse with a bomb. There’s no happy ending here, as Jason Todd blows up just before Batman can save the day. This wasn’t all bad news for fans though, as DC had actually released a survey asking people whether or not Robin should be murdered. His death was a particularly brutal one, like something you’d see on Goodfellas, and considering Jason was just a kid, a lot of people felt it was too much. The largest impact Jason’s death had was on Batman’s psyche, haunting him for years. He considered Jason’s death the worst failure he’s ever had.

 

17.) Mad Love

Vroom! Vroom! Harley Quinn tries so hard just to impress her man in this story, but she just can’t win. After putting on a special outfit and enticing the Joker, he shrugs her off, brooding over his failed attempts at catching and killing the Bat. So Harley does what any loving woman would; she captures Batman all on her own. As she brags to Batman about how proud Joker will be, Batman tells her that he only cares about himself, but Harley shrugs it off (Note: If Batman is telling you your relationship is toxic, you know something is wrong) Excited to share the news with Mistah Jay, he becomes infuriated, telling Harley that he had to be the one to do it or it didn’t matter. That’s when things stop being funny. Joker continues to beat Harley, pushing her out of the window and into the trash. Coming from an abusive home as a child, this was really the final straw for Harley, as she renounces the Joker… for a little while anyway. Relationship woes aside, I gained  lot of respect for Harley after Mad Love.

 

16.) Under the Hood

Jason Todd, like most superheroes, couldn’t stay dead for long. However, the way that he came back was very unique from the rest of the comic book world. Taking on the moniker of the Red Hood, named after a gang Joker ran with when he turned into the white-skinned psycho he is today, Todd returns in a big way, sweeping the crime world by taking it over, and annihilating anybody who opposes. Bitter from what he considered Batman letting him die, Jason turned to more extreme measures in dealing with the bad guys. It takes Batman a while, but he finally figures out that the Red Hood is somehow Jason Todd. Cutting into his action, Black Mask joins with other super-villains to put a hit out on Red Hood. The Joker ends up captive in a room with Red Hood, who savagely beats Joker and prepares to kill him. In the end, Batman is forced to make the choice of stopping Jason from killing Joker, driving a wedge further between them.

 

15.) No Man’s Land

Gotham has suffered an earthquake of catastrophic proportions, resulting in a city-wide blackout. Civilization as we know it has ceased to exist, and random gangs have began vying for territory all over the city. Meanwhile, Batman is nowhere to be found as Bruce Wayne in in DC, fighting for national aid to Gotham. What makes the story great is that all the minor characters who never get the spotlight deserve play a major part in the resurrection of Gotham. The story feels very real and everybody acts how you would imagine they would in that kind of situation. Citizens’ fears are felt just as much as the police’s bravery. James Gordon is just the bit of hero that Batman was, proving that you don’t need to be Batman to make a difference. This huge event spanned nearly 15 series and six months, making it one of Batman’s largest-scale stories of all time.

 

14.) All-Star Batman and Robin

For some reason, this Batman is really pissed off. All-Star Batman and Robin isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read. Not only does Batman get laid, say “Goddamn” a lot and defeats the Green Lantern by literally using the color yellow. The books chronicles the recruitment of Dick Grayson as Robin and Batman’s introduction to the Justice League, as well as a few other minor events. The Batman in this book is a raging asshole; he puts his hands on Alfred, constantly belittles Robin and shows little value in the life of criminals – notably by hurling a Molotov cocktail at a group of them as them erupt in flames. The real take-away are the beautiful full-page spreads by Jim Lee, who manages to calm down the rage-aholic writing of Frank Miller.

 

13.) Dark Victory

The sequel to Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long HalloweenDark Victory continues along the lines of a mystery story that just happens to have Batman characters in it. We get an introduction to Robin, and a brand new villain with a new shtick, The Hangman. Many of the corrupt politicians from Year One are found hanged to death by this mystery murderer. We also get to see the complications of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, but Batman feels perpetually alone, refusing help from Catwoman and Gordon on numerous occasions.

 

12.) Knightfall

Bane gets overlooked a lot of the time for being a hulking beast, but he’s one of the smartest villains in Gotham. In Knightfall, he strategically breaks out all the villains from Arkham, wearing Batman out as he tried to contain the situation. Bane deduced Batman’s secret identity, meeting him in the Batcave for a super-sized beat-down, ending in Bane shattering Batman’s spine and his confidence. It was an eye-opener for fans that realized defeating the Batman was, in fact, possible. Batman began a rigorous training regiment with Lady Shiva to get his mojo back, and charged Jean Paul Valley (Azrael) to take over as Batman in his stead. JPV let the role go to his head, and before we knew it, he had modified the Batsuit to become a nightmarish Azrael suit. The first volume of the arc was the best, but there were still enough interesting events in the rest of it to warrant reading.

 

11.) Battle for the Cowl

Bruce Wayne is gone, and Dick Grayson must take up the mantle of the Bat, but is reluctant. Sensing that Batman is gone, an impostor show up to take the gig over. That impostor ends up being a sociopathic Jason Todd. In an attempt to stop Jason Todd, both Damian and Tim Drake are shot and severely wounded. At this point, Dick realized that only he can inherit the mantle of the Bat. The story isn’t that long, but the repercussions of it echo all the way into Bruce’s return.

 

10.) Joker

Batman’s number one villain gets his own mini-series in this story by 100 Bullets‘ Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo. The story is told through the eyes of a common criminal looking to join the ranks of Joker’s gang. This perspective, unlike the first-person perspective of the supplementary Luthor book, enhances the perspective that nobody really knows what the Joker is thinking. Reading the book, you get lost in the madness, but sober right up as you realize just how frightening Joker is. In a confrontation with Harvey Dent, Joker glues shards of broken glass to his fists in preparation for the fight. This is right after blackmailing him and right before raping Dent’s wife. Joker also commits other unspeakable acts such as: skinning a man alive, shooting over a dozen people (not all in anger) and stabbing one of his own men in the eye with a glass bottle. This book is a clear example of digging beneath the surface and realizing you probably shouldn’t have.

 

9.) The Black Mirror

Before Scott Snyder was awarded Batman in the New52, he wrote The Black Mirror, a creepy story about the dark reflection in Gotham that stares back at our protagonists. Commissioner Gordon, Gotham’s hero on the police force, beloved by the people, is hiding something, or rather someone, when it turns out that his estranged son is a complete deviant. Dick Grayson, meanwhile, who was still Batman at the time, infiltrates an auction held by The Dealer, where items used by villains were used – the item for bid was the crowbar The Joker used on Jason Todd before murdering him. It’s all pretty gruesome stuff, and would set the tone for the dark material in the New52 relaunch.

 

8.) The Killing Joke

Alan Moore’s stand-alone story is commonly thought of as the greatest Joker story ever told. There are plot points in this book that would remain canon and have repercussions that lasted decades. We get a good glimpse into the Joker’s twisted psyche, as he visits the home of Barbara Gordon and shoots her point blank, paralyzing her. The Joker then kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, takes him to an abandoned amusement park (I think Gothan has one too many of those) and shows Gordon pictures of his daughter, all to prove that even the most upstanding citizen can lose their mind after one bad day. The ending to The Killing Joke is very artistic, and many believe resulted in the death of the Joker.

 

7.) Flashpoint Batman: Knight of Vengeance

Flash might have been the headliner here, but the alternate timeline that Batman was set on was as clever as it was tragic. When Flash altered reality by way of the Speed Force, Batman’s origin changed with it. Instead of Martha and Thomas Wayne taking the bullet, it had been Bruce. Engrossed in guilt, Thomas dealt with the situation by becoming Batman. This Batman was much more lethal with his methods, and operated a casino in town where he oversaw all the crime in town. Meanwhile, Martha developed another coping mechanism – laughter. My mind was blown. The Waynes, who were once the Jay-Z and Beyonce power couple of Gotham City, were now bitter enemies. The story ends in tragedy (as most Batman stories do), and all I could do is thank the stars that Flash was able to set the timeline straight again.

 

6.) Batman: Year One

Frank Miller’s Batman wasn’t always insane. The quintessential origin story, Year One took us through Bruce Wayne’s first attempt at fighting crime. In short, he kind of sucked at it. Gotham was a city where the rich got fat at the poor’s expense. While Batman was making his introduction on the streets, James Gordon had transferred from Chicago to be met by a very corrupt police force. Bruce and Gordon’s stories paralleled each other very well, adding to the feeling they would work well together. This is as good as any place to start in the Batman mythology if you don’t know where to start reading.

 

5.) JLA: Tower of Babel

Batman has a contingency plan for everything – even his friends. When Justice Leaguers start dropping like flies, with methods specifically designed to eliminate them, everybody is completely lost as to the mastermind who came up with these designed traps. Everybody, that is, except for Batman, who had kept a file detailing the Justice League’s weaknesses in case they got out of control. Ra’s al Ghul, who had a habit of being able to sneak into the Batcave whenever he wanted, sneaked in and stole the files, intending to use them to immobilize the heroes while he did his global domination thing. As Batman is the only one left to defend the world, he must undo the damage that his files wrought on the League. Tower of Babel was great commentary on whether or not that much control over a situation is a good thing, especially when the information wasn’t secure.

 

4.) The Dark Knight Returns

A retired Bruce Wayne has watched his city fall apart without a Dark Knight to protect it. It would seem, though, that the world is not ready for his reemergence, as Superman, who has pretty much become the President’s bitch, must make an example of this vigilante. That’s really the least of Batman’s worries, as he takes on Two-Face, a revitalized Joker, and a gang of punks called the Mutants. The story is chock-full of socio-political commentary that has stayed relevant throughout the decades.

 

3.) Batman: The Long Halloween

The Long Halloween was the first comic book I’ve ever read, and I was instantly hooked right in. Armed with Jeph Loeb, one of the greatest comic book storytellers in recent history, and the unique art style of Tim Sale, this book was enthralling. Part mystery, part action, Batman had to solve murders around town that were committed on holidays. He even enlisted the help of Calendar Man. The story takes place early in the Batman timeline, chronicling the transformation of Harvey Dent into Two-Face and before Jim Gordon was Commissioner. The story included a plethora of villains, and when the headlining Holiday is finally found out, it’s a big Aha! moment you just don’t get in comic books anymore.

 

2.) The Court of Owls

Scott Snyder kicked The New52 off with a bang, as a brand new series with a brand new villain emerged. The Court of Owls are an underground society of Gotham’s oldest and wealthiest families. They control everything going on in the city, and have decided that Bruce Wayne and the Batman have got to go. With an army of trained, slightly-undead soldiers called Talons at their disposal, they are an instant force to be reckoned. The owl-like masks, as well as the detailed Talon design added to the Courts intrigue, and the way Capullo arranged the panels when Batman tangles with the Owls in their maze echoes the insanity Batman feels. While the reboot allowed for tinkering to the mythology, Court of Owls actually added a lot of interesting gadgets and tidbits to it. At a whopping twelve issues, this book won’t fail to hold your interest.

 

1.) Hush

Call us biased, but Hush is the best Batman graphic novel of all time. In no other book are you introduced to so many beautifully drawn villains. Jim Lee’s art in Hush will go down in history as legendary, with a mixture of regular pencils and even taking a stab at water colors. Hush also marks the return of Jason Todd from the dead and introduces Thomas Elliott, Bruce’s childhood friend. Like other great mysteries by Jeph Loeb (The Long HalloweenDark Victory), you don’t find out who the villain is until the end of the book. In Hush Batman finally lets Catwoman into his heart, giving her a big smooch and revealing his identity to her. This has since been undone in The New52, but it has remained canon in my heart. Hush is the book that made me officially fall in love with comic books, and it’s one any Bat-fan will enjoy.