The World’s Other Greatest Detective

Truly, a legendary hero...
Truly, a legendary hero…
As you have probably heard Batman is back on the big screen, and despite the tragic incident in Aurora, Colorado, the movie has received solid reviews and feedback. People like their Batman.  But why?

The thing about Batman is that he is simply a detective. He’s a private citizen who has seen tragedy and has decided to step up and change things. He operates alongside the law, not outside of it. He’s the Scarlet Pimpernel, Sherlock Holmes, any of our favorite sleuths really. Sure sometimes things get a little weird, his villains may get a little sci-fi, but really people like the Joker, the Riddler, Catwoman, and the Penguin are all folks who are first and foremost criminals. And no matter what kind of crime fan you are, there is a Batman for you.

For the cozy fans, there is always the Adam West series of the 1960s. This Batman was campy and fun. The violence was there and the threats were menacing at times, but it was always done with tongue placed firmly in cheek. Besides who can really forget Frank Gorshin’s Riddler or Cesar Romero’s Joker? No, they weren’t a Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger, but they were awesome in their own way. Also worth noting is the incredibly fun cartoon that just recently ended its run, Batman: The Brave and the Bold. It was a wonderful homage to Adam West’s Batman and even had a musical episode featuring Neal Patrick Harris as the villainous Music Meister.

For the historical fans, there is Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. This was originally an Elseworlds title from DC Comics, so if you can find the issues out there on eBay or in a comic book store I recommend picking those up. Or you can wait for the trade paperback release early next year. The story follows a Victorian-era Bruce Wayne as he goes up against the infamous Jack the Ripper. The art is pretty amazing and the story is solid. I encourage you to check it out.

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan MooreFor noir/thriller fans, there are two amazing books out now that are worth picking up whether you read comics or not. The first is The Killing Joke by Alan Moore. This is a graphic novel that pretty much focuses on the Joker trying to prove the only thing that separates him from Commissioner Gordon is just one really bad day. So he kidnaps the commissioner and forces him to watch as The Joker tortures and eventually cripples his daughter Barbara. Commissioner Gordon, of course, proves that nothing is more solid than the commissioner of the Gotham PD. This is a VERY good story and worth reading if only to understand what the Joker is to comics and how a great villain makes heroes seem that much more heroic.

The second book is Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.  Originally published as a miniseries in the 1980s, Miller’s Batman, who retired after the death of his second Robin, decides to pick up the cowel again at the ripe age of 55. Miller takes the Dark Knight down some very dark alleys, even one that involves a showdown with Superman. The book is worth reading if only to understand what was going on in comics during the ’80s. It’s right up there with The Watchmen  in terms of media defining action.

This list is by no means all-encompassing. It simply highlights a few notable works featuring Batman throughout his career. He hasn’t always been dark, nor has he always been light and fun. These one-shots and interpretations are readily available to readers who don’t want to delve too deeply into the mire of the comic book world. Can you think of any books I may have left out?


The Dark Knight Rises Novelization by Greg CoxTo enter for a chance to win one of five copies of Greg Cox’s The Dark Knight Rises: The Official Novelization, make sure you’re a registered member of the site, and then simply leave a comment below.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at  beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) July 28, 2012. Sweepstakes ends at 12:59 p.m. ET on August 5, 2012 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

Christopher Morgan works for and He lives in New York City, and prefers Grayson to Todd any day of the week.

Read all posts by Christopher Morgan for Criminal Element.


  1. Andrew Kuligowski

    I believe I’ve only read 3 Batman graphic novels, and were most impressed with them. I see that 2 of the 3, Moore’s and Miller’s, are listed in your article as excellent examples of “the breed”. (The 3rd was Miller’s sequel to his original work. ) Based on your recommedation (and our apparent similar tastes in this matter), I’ll have to find and read the one where he searches for Jack the Ripper!

  2. Rebecca Brothers

    How about this one: Batman: Nine Lives, another Elseworld title, complete with Dick Grayson as a private eye.

  3. Christopher Morgan

    That sounds kind of amazing RileyC. I’ll be on the look out for it. Another couple that are out as graphic novels are Knightfall, which is the first apperance of Bane and his ” Breaking of the Bat” as well as The Long Halloween, which is more of a traditional mystery type adventure for Bats. I wanted to throw in Arkham Asylum but that one is more fun for the art, story gets a little weird at times.

    Was the other Miller book Batman: Year One Andrew?

  4. Louis Richards

    I may be showing my age, but Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was the beginning of the end for my reading Batman comics.
    Sure, it was necessarily dark and gritty, but the mainline books also moved that way, and I lost interest.
    I also haven’t seen a Batman movie since ‘Batman and Robin‘, but I have enjoyed the various animated series.

  5. Christopher Morgan

    @lumer5000 Oh for sure, The Dark Night Returns isn’t for everyone, Miller’s work in general isn’t for everyone. One can only stomach him for so long. But that’s the great thing about Batman, he can exist on multiple levels, be they dark and gritty or light and fun. I personally prefer the Tim Burton era movies myself, but I understand the appeal of Nolan’s.

    Also, Batman The Animated Series was and will always be my true, cannon Batman. Just like Mark Hammil will always be the best Joker in my book. I did love Batman the Brave and the Bold for how much fun they had. At least they showed kids that Batman isn’t all grit and shadow. He’s been known to sport some color from time to time. I really like the one that opened with Batman helping Space Ghost. Did my heart good.

  6. Nancy

    Watched Dark Knight being filmed in Pittsburgh! Looking forward to starting this series

  7. Steven Wilber

    count me in

  8. Karen Gordon

    haven’t seen film yet

  9. Susanne Troop

    Looking forward to seeing the movie!

  10. Joanne Mielczarski

    I’m anxiuos to read this novelization. It should be a fitting partner for the film. Dark Knight will live on in print!

  11. Mary Boldin

    Would love to win this for my son. He is a huge Batman fan/comic geek.

  12. Steve4t5

    Dark Knight Rises is definitely the best so far!

  13. Steve Brewer

    Dark Knight Rises is definitely the best so far!

  14. Beth Talmage

    My brother would be really happy to get this for his birthday–a chance for me to be the cool big sis. 🙂 I can’t suggest any other titles, but appreciate your suggestions.

  15. zan rosin

    I have always enjoyed your writing over the years. I definitely enjoy the batman books.

  16. Irene Menge

    I remember watching Batman on tv with Adam West. Wow! Is it really that long ago?

  17. Allison Moyer

    My son would love this!

  18. Michele Amos

    Can’t wait to see the new one!

  19. Cindi Hoppes

    I am a fan of the Batman television series…
    Many thanks, Cindi

  20. Joan Boose

    I grew up with the comic book Batman. Please may I have a copy to take me back and forward.

  21. Ila Turner

    I am not sure if you’re asking which Batman graphic novel or movie is our favorite. Honestly I have not read a Batman graphic novel, only comic books in the early 60’s and I don’t have a clue of any of the names. I ordered from Amazon the book you recommended by Alan Moore after seeing the last movie on the recommendation of a person who was at the show as well.

    Would you be kind enough to recommend a list of graphic novels or other material, in order that my grandson (he is 11, content not an issue) and I can read to get to know Batman from beginning to end to beginning again? I did search for this but have been unable to locate 2 that agree. It would be very appreciated. If I were lucky enough to be chosen as the winner I would read the book with him – and we would continue to pursue this shared love of Batman and reading together.

    Thank you.

    Ila in Maine

  22. Johannah

    Thanks for the chance to win this!

  23. Johannah Brookwell

    Well, I see that didn’t take.. I logged in and still it made me red… let’s try again. I was sure it was going to turn… once is saw I was logged in.. ok try #2.
    Yippee it sees me.

  24. Diane Pollock

    Would love to win!

  25. Christopher Morgan


    Heh, not asking about any specific media, just an appreciation of Batman in general. Some folks love Batman as he is on tv and movies and some folks like his comics. I believe one of the higher ups at DC Comics has said that Batman is one of the few characters that thrives on re-invention. I honestly think that The Killing Joke was part of the inspiration behind The Joker in The Dark Knight. In fact I feel like that was said at some point.

    As to your second question, the only thing I can suggest is to look around on Amazon by just searching for “Batman Graphic Novels” and look around to see what catches your fancy. Comics can get very confusing and convuluted, in fact DC just relaunched all of its major lines, so I typically encourage people to try to find characters and stories that appeal to them when starting off. Batman has attracted some awesome writers and artists that are all past and current legends in comics, it all depends on what you are looking for from the story. Frank Miller also wrote a pretty amazing origin for Batman in Batman: Year One and Grant Morrison of Kick-Ass fame did a really neat book about Batman and Robin. I can only encourage you to explore and see what’s out there. You can’t really ever go wrong with Batman.

  26. Becky Weyrauch

    I’ve been a huge Batman fan for as long as I can remember. I love the ones you listed and there is 3 more that I usually recommend to people because I love them. The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb, JLA’s Tower of Babel by Mark Waid and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison. But really just about all the Batman comics/graphic novels are good.

  27. Brian

    BATMAN: YEAR ONE is tremendous. One of the finest stories ever told. See both Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon’s introduction to fighting crime in Gotham City simultaneously. And, at first, it puts them at odds against each other. Very compelling character moments throughout.

    BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN and BATMAN: HUSH are fun mystery stories with all the big-ticket villains showing up throughout. The endings to both may be a bit confusing, but they remain a fun ride, nonetheless.

    It’s an investment in a several volumes but BATMAN: NO MAN’S LAND conceives of a storyline set in a Gotham City ravaged by a massive earthquake and the U.S. government has closed it off from inhabitance. And, of course, there are many who either stayed behind inside the guarded perimeter or had nowhere else to go. Others — gangs, supervillains — see opportunity to roam free and prey on those poor souls. In this case, Batman IS the only law and order in this story about maintaining civilization among a seemingly lawless society. It’s like Batman meets “Escape from New York.” This is easily the most ambitious Bat-story every done.

    BATMAN: RED RAIN is another “Elseworlds” where the Dark Knight must do battle with a modern-day Dracula. The story plays it as straight horror and does a solid job with it.

    BATMAN & SON reveals Bruce Wayne had a son with Talia al Ghul. At 10 years old, the appropriately named Damien Wayne has been trained from birth as the ultimate weapon, and now he wants to see if his old man is really as tough as he’s been told he is. All I can say is: Watch your back, Robin…this kid means business!

    There’s plenty more entertaining Bat-stories out there, but these came to mind first. If you check any out, enjoy them!

  28. Connie Saunders

    The Batman televison show was considered campy but I loved it. Would love to win this!

  29. Gene Hill

    I have been a “Batman” fan from the very beginning, having read the 1st “Batman” comic when it came out. Would love to add this to my collection.



  31. joey edwards

    i have always liked batman

  32. Robin Weatherington

    Wow! great contest

  33. Rich Lawrence

    BATMAN: NO MAN’S LAND is my favorite.

  34. shawn manning

    After Dark Knight Rises, I don’t see the need to do another Batman film. It told the story it needed to tell and did it with flying colors.

  35. Megan Mariner

    Love Batman! I especially love the Dark Knight series where Batman’s weaknesses as well as his strengths are portrayed. The human element makes him a true hero that we can all identify with.

  36. Deborah Dumm


  37. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    I need the Dark Knight!

  38. Phillip Thomas Duck

    My daughter just purchased The Killing Joke from our local comic book store (props to The Secret Stash) and tells me it is fantastic!

  39. Phillip Duck

    Oops. Wasn’t logged in. Once more with feeling for a chance to win…daughter loves The Killing Joke.

  40. Jared Flury

    My favorite Batman story to date would have to be Batman: Hush. It is the most impressive of all the batman stories ever told because of the background story on all characters and how dark the whole thing is. I was impressed with how many twists and turns it took throughout the whole thing and was shocked! Movie wise- The Dark Knight. They couldn’t have done any better on a film.

  41. storm391

    Thanks for the chance to win this!

  42. debbi shaw

    thanks for the chance to win

  43. Taylor Duncan


  44. Anthony Schultz

    I thought that the “Killing Joke” was phenomanl–dark, but phenomenal. I’ve read quite a few others, but that one definitely stands out. I am curious about “Batman Earth One” though.

    As far as film goes: it is a toss-up between Keaton and Bale for me.

  45. John E. Bailor

    I really enjoyed Alan Moore’s Batman in The Killing Joke. And his car was pretty sharp too. That Christopher Nolan guy would be my second choice.

  46. L L

    Nice post.

  47. Debbie Miller

    would love to win this one

  48. Reginald Sandifer

    The Killing Joke is my all-time favorite.

  49. Patricia Barraclough

    It may seem a bit strange, but I liked the Batman TV show. Definitely over tne top and high camp, but a funny way to end the day. I have enjoyed a few of the movies that have come since, but some of them are so dark and depressing it is hard to enjoy them.

  50. Don Maker

    I liked the psychology as well as the story line of “Batman Begins”, as opposed to it being just another exciting action thriller.

  51. Charlee Griffith

    I cut my teeth on Adam West’s Batman and those villains were the best. Eartha Kitt made one hell of a Catwoman. Of the movies, I like the recent Dark Night trilogy the best. I haven’t read comics in years, but after reading some Frank Miller, I’ll definitely go for the graphic novels mentioned.

  52. Aaron Robbins

    I had never considered a book/novel of batman. I’d like to read that.

  53. Denise Bacher

    As long as I can remember I have enjoyed comics and especially Batman. Grew up with the show ( though I see it as campy now, when I was a kid it was fabulous) and always thought it was wonderful that is man, who had no super powers either than his $$ would try to stop evil in his city and his world.

    Looking forward to seeing Dark Night Rises when I get paid!

  54. Mamie Eng

    Haven’t seen the movie yet – but it’s on my short list!

  55. Laura McLendon

    I have never seen any of the Batman movies. I have read the comics a bit when I was a youngster. I have recently recorded “A Dark Knight” but haven’t seen it yet as the Tour de France and Summer Olympics are taking all my free time to watch!! Hope this still counts!! 🙂

  56. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  57. Jenavie

    This movie looks awesome. I am a firm believer that books are better than the movies themselves. So with that being said I would love to win this book. I love reading and would probably read this to my son since he is the ultimate superhero fan!

  58. Susan

    I’ve never read a graphic novel of batman. I’ve read comics so I’m sure I’d like this!

  59. M F

    Never read a Batman novelization before, but I liked the old Dark Knight Returns graphic novel, and of course the Arkham Asylum graphic novel.

  60. paul sproul

    Tim Burton’s Batman was my favorite. Just the right blend of mencace & mischief.

  61. Donald Hornbaker

    want to win

  62. Micheal Shea

    I am currently reading Batman: Battle for the Cowl

  63. Jessica Kaufman

    My husband is a big fan. He’d love to read this.
    Thanks for the chance.

  64. g. penrod

    look like a fun read


    I love playing the Lego Batman video games!

  66. Christopher Morgan

    So many great suggestions! I haven’t read War for the Cowl yet MichealShea, is it worth the investment?

    @LuckyLady I LOVE LEGO BATMAN, I haven’t played the newest one yet though.

    @LMcLendon Of course it counts!

    @sproulzy, I’m right there with you. I like Heath Ledger’s joker for being a conveincing serial criminal, but I think Nicholson really married the idea of having someone that calls himself the “Clown-Prince of Crime” and a sadistic serial killer. I mean who else would gas an entire resturant full of people just to go on a date?


    BATMAN is my HERO.
    I collect his comic books & enjoy all the BATMAN MOVIES.
    Hope I WIN.

  68. vicki wurgler

    my son would love this

  69. Daniel Morrell

    big fan and would love this thanks!

  70. G K

    Batman has always been my favorite superhero. Thanks for the contest!

  71. Robin Trexel

    Batman is my favorite superhero, thanks for the great giveaway

  72. Michelle Walters

    Thanks for the great giveaway, this is the first Batman graphic novel I have heard of.

  73. Ed Nemmers

    We love the Batman!

  74. Jeanne conner

    I watched Batman on T.V. growing up and loved it.. These kids now days thinks it is so stupid..(the tv episodes that is)

  75. daniel thornton

    Batman is my favorite superhero

  76. Brenda Elsner

    Love Batman!!

  77. William Widdoes

    [b][color=#4b0082]Between reading the stories and seeing the movies of The Dark Knight, it really stretches the imagination of the true character.[/color][/b][color=#4b0082][/color]

  78. Sally

    My favorite is The Dark Knight Returns.

  79. Heather Cowley

    This would make a great Christmas present to the kinder.

  80. Tim Moss

    I haven’t actually read it but [b]KNIGHTFALL[/b] sounds like a good one & has the real interpretation of Bane in it. Batman was also a key figure in a mini-series called [b]IDENTITY CRISIS[/b].

  81. Daniel Vice

    This would be great summer fun

  82. Donna Kozar

    My son would love it.

  83. Amy Happell

    I would love to win this!

  84. C

    I need to win this one!

  85. Susan Smoaks

    i love batman!

  86. Christine Sarkauskas

    I love batman and here is hoping I am choosen as the winner!

  87. Christine Sarkauskas

    I love batman and here is hoping I am choosen as the winner!

  88. Shirley Zolenski

    Awesome contest! Thanks


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