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The Best Batman Storylines of All Time

Updated June 12, 2019 9.1k votes 1.9k voters 105.4k views18 items

List RulesVote for your favorite Batman storylines and story arcs.

Batman is more than a comic book superhero. He transcends comics books and becomes part of the larger pop culture. The Caped Crusader has appeared in every popular medium from comics, TV, movies and video games. As such, this list of Batman's best storylines and greatest and most important stories to date runs the gamut. Whether or not you love the Dark Knight - he is everywhere. 

Given his 75 years of continuous publication by DC Comics, Batman has seen his ups and downs. He has been everything to everyone at one point or another, whether it be a goofy Saturday morning cartoon or a spooky anti-hero of the night. He is one of the most malleable characters in all of storytelling and has gotten to be a part of some of the best in modern entertainment.

What are the best Batman stories in all of comics and Batman's history? Cast your votes below!

If you like this list, you might also be interested in the best Batgirl storylines and the best Deathstroke storylines.

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  • “Ladies. Gentlemen. You have eaten well. You've eaten Gotham's wealth. Its spirit. Your feast is nearly over. From this moment on...none of you are safe.”
    -Batman, Batman: Year One

    Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One is just as much a James Gordon story as it is Batman's origin. The story looks back at the beginnings of Gordon and Batman's partnership as Gordon adjusts to the corrupt GCPD and Bruce finds his identity as the Batman. Mazzucchelli's retelling of the moment when Bruce, bleeding out in his father's office, first sees the bat that will inspire his new look is one of the most beautiful pieces of Batman art you will ever see and Miller is able to tone down the gravel in Batman's voice and show the lost and vulnerable man at the begining of his mission. 
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  • "I believe in Jim Gordon. I believe in Harvey Dent. I believe in Gotham City"
    - Batman, The Long Halloween

    Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's The Long Halloween read's like the Batman opera. Taking place during the early days of Batman's career, Gotham city is shifting from mob-controlled crimes to the ridiculous mayhem caused by the super powered villains of Batman's rogue gallery. The Long Halloween is the story of Gotham's trinity of heroes, Batman, Gordon and D.A. Harvey Dent, as the pressure of crime and consequence bring these men to their breaking points. Tim Sale's exaggerated figures and muted pallet add a grandious feeling to this epic Batman story. 
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  • "There are seven working defenses from this position. Three of them disarm with minimal contact. Three of them kill. The other --hurts"
    -Batman, The Dark Knight Returns

    Widely considered the greatest Batman story ever told, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson's The Dark Knight Returns cements Batman's status as Badass #1 in all of pop culture. Working from the ground work established by Neal Adam's and Dennis O'Neil in the 1970s, 1986's The Dark Knight Returns focus on an aged and retired Batman's return to the night to take out mutant gangs, the Joker and the Man of Steel himself. 

    Miller's version of Batman is more Clint Eastwood than Adam West. A hulking statue of muscle and scar tissue, this take on Batman is ruthless and completely devout to his war on crime. Many consider this mini series to be the ultimate Batman story because of its interpretation of Batman as the opposition to the establishment and his take-no-prisoner approach. 
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    The Killing Joke

    Still one of the most talked-about and dissected Batman stories of all time, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's The Killing Joke was an instant classic when it was released in 1988.

    Bolland's artwork here knows no peers and stands the test of time. Moore's (Watchmen,V for Vendetta) descent into the Joker's past would be enough for to make this prestige format comic a must-read but it's the horrifying story of maiming of Barbara Gordon, the sexual abuse and that haunting last page that makes this on of the most important Batman stories of all time. 
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