Batman may be the most well known caped crusader, but I’m on a caped crusade of my own. My cape? I am shrouded in the internet. My crusade? To give Gotham City exactly what it deserves. And what Gotham deserves are good comics. Maybe if the city had a little more reading material, then criminals would stop robbing banks for money and start robbing public libraries for knowledge–and a good story.

And boy howdy, Batman, Gotham sure does have a lot of those. Gotham City has its share of animated films deserving of praise as well as voice actors deserving of acclaim for portraying the Dark Knight himself. But tonight we’ll be going to back to the basics, where it all began: comics. Which Batman comics truly deserve to sit in the hallowed halls of Batman History? And is Gotham City even worthy enough of reading them?

10. Gotham by Gaslight

(DC Comics)

Written by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola, Gotham by Gaslight certainly deserves its praises sung. But does Gotham deserve to listen? This tale might go over a modern Gothamite’s head, but any self-respecting Gotham City resident living in the 1800s certainly deserves to hear it. Gotham by Gaslight is an Elseworlds tale, in which Batman keeps watch over a Victorian Age Gotham City and hunts down the serial killer Jack the Ripper. I think Gotham deserves to know that Batman protected it over 200 years ago, with all sorts of cool steampunk-style weapons and gadgets!

9. Batman: A Death in the Family

(DC Comics)

Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo pen perhaps the most depressing entry on this entire list. A Death in the Family tells the story of Joker’s plan to murder the second Robin, Jason Todd, in order to test Batman’s resolve. The worst part is … the Joker succeeds. He murders the young Jason with a crowbar to see if he can goad Batman into breaking his “no killing” rule. Batman doesn’t want to break it, but the Joker really has him reconsidering his moral position. Gotham deserves this one, but just barely. The sad city doesn’t exactly need any more sad news.

8. The Black Mirror

(DC Comics)

Writers Scott Snyder and Francesco Francavilla tell the tale of an alternate universe Gotham where Dick Grayson–the first Robin–has taken up the Batman cowl in Bruce Wayne’s absence. The Black Mirror is, well, a Black Mirror-style reimagining of the Gotham City status quo. Grayson has to investigate a series of grisly murders which have a horrifying connection the Bat Family. Gotham deserves a shake-up every once in a while; a breath of fresh air for its fog-choked citizens.

7. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth

(DC Comics)

Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth features Batman doing what he does best: beating the Bat-snot out of the rogues gallery. In this story, Batman is called in to the infamous Arkham Asylum to quell a deadly riot, forcing him to face many of his old foes in sequence. As he makes his way through the depths of the madhouse, Batman is thrust deeper into battle with his personal demons. Gotham could certainly use a little self-reflection to get its Bat-act together.

6. The Court of Owls

(DC Comics)

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s The Court of Owls tells of a terrifying political conspiracy that serves as the true cause for all of Gotham’s troubles. You thought it was just because of all those desperate and crazy criminals, huh? Well, what about the cabal of Gotham City elites who allow the conditions that breed those criminals to exist? Hmm? The Court of Owls has been pulling the strings behind Gotham City for centuries, and the Batman struggles to end their reign of terror once and for all. Gotham deserves to know.

5. Batman: Hush

(DC Comics)

Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s Batman: Hush is a true detective tale. A mysterious villain known as Hush has orchestrated a grand scheme to destroy Batman’s life, and intends to use the hero’s friends and foes alike in order to destroy him once and for all. The most terrifying thing is that Hush not only targets Batman, but Bruce Wayne as well. Gotham deserves this story as much as its champion deserves his secret identity to remain secret, which is to say a lot.

4. Batman: The Long Halloween

(DC Comics)

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween is a rare story set in Batman’s early days. The young Bat has to track down a mysterious serial killer named Holiday, who murders people once a month–during holidays. So Christmas, Halloween … Earth Day? What else is there in April? The Long Halloween also serves as an origin story for one of Batman’s most duplicitous villains: Two Face. Harvey Dent–can we trust him? No. Does Gotham deserve to know? Yes, it does.

3. The Killing Joke

(DC Comics)

Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke is essentially an experiment conducted by the maddest of all scientists. The Joker has a theory that any person can be driven insane after “one bad day,” and he decides to test this theory on Commissioner Gordon. And by “bad day,” I mean the kind of day where a psychopath kidnaps your daughter and then straps you into some seriously screwed-up amusement park rides. The best part of the comic, however, is the joke at the end, when Batman and the Joker share a laugh for the first time in history. Gotham deserves a laugh, too.

2. Batman: Year One

(DC Comics)

Written by all-star Batman writers Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, Year One explores Batman’s first year on the job. The young Bat is still wet behind the years, and still working out the kinks in his caped crusader schtick. The comic also serves as the origin story of Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s relationship. It’s essentially one big work-husband meet cute. Everyone deserves an adorable little meet cute! Even Gotham! Someone should really introduce it to Metropolis. I think they’d be good together.

1. The Dark Knight Returns

(DC Comics)

The ultimate Batman story, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s The Dark Knight Returns serves as a finale to Batman’s tenure as the man underneath the cowl. As a result, it’s Batman’s most harrowing challenge to date. An aging Batman forces himself to retire after he desperately resorts to using a gun to protect himself against some younger, stronger criminals. However, when a new criminal gang called The Mutants takes over Gotham’s streets, a nearly 60-year-old Batman has to come out of retirement and give Gotham City the very last ounce of his strength. Because Gotham needs it. Because she deserves it. She’s worth it. Get over it.

(featured image: DC Comics)

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 I’m on a caped crusade of my own. My cape? I am shrouded in the internet. My crusade? To tell Gotham City exactly what it deserves.  Read More