13 Best Batman Comic Book Storylines That Makes Him A Legend

The reason why Batman is arguably the most popular and successful superhero ever created, is the extrordinary combination of universalness and versatility the legend has. 

Batman, over the years has been adapted in all kinds of versions, tonalities, timelines, themes and worlds, and it still seems we barely scratched the surface. 

It is this folklore and mythology-level of intricacies and detailing that makes him and his world so dynamic that you find something new everytime you create it. 

No doubt, Batman has come a long way since it was first created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, further passed down to the further ends of  Mikel Janin. 

So many great writers has spinned their interpretation and journey to this caped crusader, taking his story to all new directions, possiblities and even to different worlds. 

There is just too much of Batman storylines to expore outhere in comics, screen has hardly done any justice so far but we can only expect to see more of it on big-screen or TV.

However, there are still quite adaptations and inspiration takesn from popular Batman storyline or arcs in the DC movies or series we have watched so far. 

But if you hungry for more, here are some best Batman Comic book storylines that makes Batman, who he is today. 

No Man’s Land 

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What’s genius about a character like Batman is how versatile and adaptable he is to all different kinds of stories, tonalities and world-buildings. 

You can create almost any world and throw a batman there either complimenting or contrasting the situations or norms of that world. 

Not just the variety but also the scale and intimation of the plot as it can be a small-scale story, a legend or high-concept story. 

Something similar has been done with this ‘No Man’s Land’ comic book storyline of Batman comics. 

It accounts for the time in Gotham when the city is going through a fallout due to the devastation by the earthquake. 

The story is so much focussed on only the aspect of the post-earthquake effect in Gotham city, the societies, the villains and people, it doesn’t even go beyond that but still becomes an entertaining storyline of Batman that is yet to be adapted to the screen.

Batman R.I.P. 

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The different ways the batman storylines can go to explore the vulnerabilities of the character Batman is astonishing, and ‘Batman R.I.P’ is a breathing proof of that. 

It deals with the question of why Batman has to dress as a bat to fight crimes, why he has to not let people into his life and crusade and why he can never reveal his alter ego to people. 

Or even why he even needs an alter ego, in the first place, this storyline takes you to the exploration of all these questions surrounding the lore of Batman. 

This storyline takes you through the psyche of what it’s like to be Batman and what he goes through as a person. 

The Courts Of Owls 

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It is yet to see ‘The Court of Owls’ storyline in a live-action adaptation of Batman, or on the big screen. 

And it certainly deserves to be part of the Batman storyline on-screen if you look at what goes in the comics. 

The Court of Owls are actually one of very few threats that finally seem like an equal match to the intellect and resilience of Batman himself. 

Because otherwise, we see Batman end up outsmarting his villains who are physically more powerful, even sometime alients and cosmic beings, and as for the rest of others, his punches are enough most of the times. 

But the Court of Owls storyline in comics is where Batman fights with this powerful discrete and faceless secret society that has been operating within Gotham for decdaes without even him having no idea about them. 

So, they are certainly good at hiding in shadows, or better in plain sight, maybe even better than Batman. 

The Dark Knight Returns 

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Batman origin stories have always been fascinating to explore, seeing what really drives these caped crusaders, the tragidies that built his will, pain he endured and training he has to go through to become this fear impersonate. 

And there different versions of the same origin or atleast how his journey entails, sometimes him as a brutal fighter, sometime as a detective, or even a dark knight. 

So, most of the stories are indeed about how his crime-fighting crusade starts and follows but there are very few, and one the best story about his departure from his glory days. 

What it will be like to see the end of Batman?, to only fathom how possible high reign and terror ends from the hearts of criminals in Gotham. 

Well, ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ was the story around those endings of Gotham. But it is also about him coming back afer a long years of absence in Gotham. 

What’s like to see an older Bruce Wayne, but more brutal and edgy, created by Frank Miller. Well, it is, hands-down,  certainly one of the best Batman storylines ever. 

Fortunately, we did see a big-screen adaptation of this storyline or atleast the inspiration taken from this in movies like The Dark Knight Rises and also in DCEU movie Batman V Superman : Dawn of justice. 

The Killing Joke 

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Joker, the clown prince of Gotham is such a twisted character that no one or exact origin story can justify his madness. And they stick to that explanation or in fact embraced the idea of having a mystery around the canonical origin of this Batman nemesis. 

‘The Killing Joke’ Batman storyline is the closest DC offered to the origin story of Joker in the canon universe. 

It features another one of the grand escapes of Joker from Arkham Asylum only to target Comissioner Gordan to prove to him that Batman is just ‘one bad day’ away from becoming insane, just like a day that made him Joker. 

This Batman storyline became quite dark and edgy due to hint of Joker sexually assaulting Barbara Gordan before cripping her.  

Joker attacked Barbara Gordan in the most gruesome way possible, this also considered as a textbook example of what is called ‘fridging’ in narratives. 


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Another Batman tale with a formmidable mastermind villain and full of twists and turns where the initially caped crusader has to fight against a bunch of known villains, only to reveal a much deeper conspiracy. 

This is another very rare story among the Batman epics where Batman has to put really to a gruesome test of his abilities. 

This storyline also records the return of Jason Todd, the Robin known to be presumed dead since the events of 1988’s released ‘A Death in the Family’ where Joker beats Robin to death with a crowbar. 

But more importantly, this storyline introduces a esential character named Thomas Elliot, a person from Bruce Wayne’s past who is hell bent on destroying Batman and Bruce Wayne both.

Hush was a villain that is very capable of outsmarting and outbeating Batman in both combat and strategy.

Because just like Batman himself, even with his monstrous stature and fighting abilities, he was very cold, calcultative and always behind the scenes conspiring and operating the game for Batman to play for the most part of the story. 

JLA : Tower Of Babel 

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We know that Batman is generally paranoid to some extent and he doesn’t trust easily which also gives him a certain level of power against any time of manipulation and deceit. 

But there have been times in Batman stories where they just become too paranoid, awful and even unreasonable. 

You can always see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which captures this faded aged version of Batman who’s seen too much, and now might just lose it, however it was’t consistent in the film, credit to the creator’s fault for sure. 

But more accurately and on a bit more lighthearted side, you can always read Mark Waid’s “Tower of Babel” storyline of Batman. 

It is a storyline where Ra’s al Ghul somehow finds the contingency plan for taking down the Justice League members if they ever went rogue. 

This certainly makes JLA angry as they make them distrust Batman, even after they took down Ra’sal Ghul, JLA put a vote where Batman should be the member of JLA or not, and well, he had to go. 

A Death In The Family 

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One of the most popular Batman storylines ever has to be ‘A Death In The Family’ which was quite a big deal back in the 80s when this came out featuring one of the most gruesome deaths in comic book history. 

It was also groundbreaking because it was on the readers to decide the fate of Robin aka Jason Todd because DC told them to decide the narrative by calling on number 900. 

Even though Jason was second Robin, and wasn’t as popular or connected to fans as the beloved Dick Grayson was before becoming Nightwing, the vote still came to be quite close. 

The storyline goes like Joker capturing Jason Todd aka Robin by luring him in on the promise to share the whereabouts of missing mother. 

Joker, then tortures him and hits him relentlesly with crowbar until the boy almost gives up his life. And then he blew him up before Batman could save him. 

This Batman comic was so dark, at least for that time that it got a lot of attention from the media at that time, and other people who even weren’t much into comics. 

Son Of The Demon 

Image Soure: CBR

This is one is from a graphic novel titled ‘Batman: Son of the Demon’ created by Mike W. Barr and Jery Bingham in 1987. 

What is really intresting about this Batman storyline, that it was never accepted as part of overall Batman story continuity or the Batman canon. 

But after 19 years of release of this graphic novel, Grant Morrison added this storyline to the original Batman arc in 2006 by introducing Batman’s son Damien Wayne. 

So, basically what happens in this graphic novel storyline, Batman falls in love with Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Talia al Ghul. She becomes pregnant with Batman’s child. 

The basic plot of the story is how Batman joins forces with Ra’al Ghul, his big-time nemesis to find the man responsible for killing Talia’s mother. 

The story ends with a moment where Talia lies that the baby was miscarriged from where Grant Morrison took over to connect the story, entering Damien Wayne. 

Then, there is whole another story where Damien meets with Batman after the supposed death of Ra’s al Ghul who trained him, knowing that the caped crusader is his father. 

Year One 

Image Source: 13th Dimension 

When you talk about the official origin story of Batman, you are basically talking about Frank Miller’s storyline named ‘Year One’, at least until a few years back. 

It is indeed the classic Batman origin story that you still know and love, which gives him the identity and tonality of the classic ‘Batman’ as we know. 

The storyline follows Bruce Wayne, who lost his parents in an alley introducing him to the dark and unjust world around him, his first attempts as vigilante, fighting his fears, eventually becoming it and transformation into caped crusader, Batman. 

Frank Miller takes up a lot from the Batman #1 adding a lot of his own interpretation, more grit and groundness to the character, first getting reintroduced in The Dark Knight Returns

Miller also added or improved the sub-plots regarding other essential characters in the Batman universe. 

One of his great tricks was making Jim Gordan, a force of good and honesty in this corrupt city, trying to save the city on their own terms, and that goes for both Batman and Jim Gordon but in their own capacities. 

However, because Gordan plays by-the-book, he eventually realizes that Gotham needs much more, someone like Batman to go right through the system. 


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This is the Batman comic storyline where ‘Bane Broke the Bat’, and before it became a norm to kill Bruce Wayne every now and then in comics, ‘Knightfall’ was quite a big deal back then. 

It was the storyline when Bruce was forced to retire from his crime fighting days as he lost big time. He had to pass his mantle to Jean Paul Alley aka Azrael. 

This comic storyline was an epic fight between Bane, and Batman where Bane broke the bat, literally and emotionally, and eventually also broke his back with his one knee. 

Then, Batman goes into this quest of rediscovering himself after this gruesome defeat but still was able to come through, proving the might of this dark knight. 

He had to eventually come back, primiarly because this new Batman went on the rampage of brutalizing criminals all over in Gotham. 

Bruce Wayne wasn’t healed properly but he had to push through the pain and try to get his mantle back. 

The ‘Bane broke the Bat’ storyline is something you have already seen in Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, and it was also inspired by other storylines such as ‘No Man’s Land’ and ‘The Dark Knight Returns’

The Long Halloween 

Image Source: CBR

The Long Halloween is a reinvention of the Batman classic theme trope of crime themed holidays with earlier goofed-up villains changed to much more serious and grounded true crimes. 

The credit goes to Jeph Loeb for bringing this version of those stories in a much darker and realistic light. 

You will find “The Long Halloween” quite chilling, dark and noir exploring the detective side of Batman. 

There is a lot mystery and whosdunnit element in these Batman comic storyline where this killer arrives in Gotham on a murder-spree and Batman to uncover it. 

The Long Halloween proves to be more signficant to the Batman canon storyline because it captures the most detailed transformation of Harvey Dent from a heroic District Attorney, a white knight to a psychotic villain Two-face. 

In fact, this storyline has been a huge inspiration for the Christopher Nolan directorial The Dark Knight trilogy as well as much more recent Matthew Reeves’s ‘The Batman’. 

The Man Behind The Red Hood 

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‘The Man Behind The Red Hood’ comes across this big surprise in the middle of the story when Batman discovers this open case for criminology students in Gotham University. 

And starting there, it becoems a quest to find out the identity of this infamous burglar Red hood who has been missing after he jumped into a vat of chemicals to escape. 

If it sounds like the origin story of the Joker, it is indeed. Basically it turns out that it was the Joker who wore the Red hood that day as his first attempt of crime who was indeed the origina one. 

But the thing is Red Hood may have the alias for Joker starting his career as a criminal wasn’t the first one to wear it, and he is indeed the copy of an original Red Hood, and now the face behind him is the Joker himself. 

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