The Dark Knight in Print: Batman

List of essential works for those interested in the Dark Knight.

Begun with the massive speculation over the Joker’s appearance and continued by an astounding viral marketing campaign, Oscar consideration for Heath Ledger and record breaking ticket sales, this year certainly has been the year of The Dark Knight, ushering a level of anticipation not seen since Tim Burton released the original Batman in 1989.

Like its predecessor Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan continues his grand vision of grounding the world renowned character in a ‘gritty realism’ that, as it did with Batman Begins, will attract a new audience to the Gotham Knight’s long history of published works. Provided here is a list of some of the more popular trade paperbacks surrounding the Caped Crusader, including those who inspired this exciting new franchise.

Batman: Year One

Story by Frank Miller
Illustrated by David Mazzucchelli
Colored by Richmond Lewis

The quintessential Batman story, written by Miller in 1986 details the rise of Gotham’s original crime fighting team: James Gordon and Batman. In Year One, Miller strays from previous Gothic interpretations of Gotham City and returns it to its New York City based roots. Rife with corruption, these men seek to clean up “a city that likes being dirty.” Though Batman Begins strays from this story to stand on its own, Gary Oldman’s performance of James Gordon is literally Mazzucchelli’s artwork leaping off the page. Also look for a interesting interpretation of Catwoman.

The Long Halloween

Story by Jeph Loeb
Illustrated by Tim Sale
Colored by Gregory Wright

This grand narrative by Jeph Loeb serves as a thrilling murder mystery as well as an unforgettable reinterpretation of the rise of Two Face. When consulted on which stories serve as the inspiration for the new image of Batman, David S. Goyer responded with The Long Halloween, much to the acclaim of fans everywhere. Look here for parallels of Harvey Dent’s rise and fall in The Dark Knight.

Dark Victory

Story by Jeph Loeb
Illustrated by Tim Sale

The follow up to The Long Halloween, this story details the end of the established crime families of Gotham City as well as the rise of a young Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson. When cops and politicians, all who have a strange connection to Harvey Dent, begin to be killed, Gotham is thrown into another serial killer’s grasp. Having lost a great ally in Harvey Dent, who can Batman afford to trust?

The Dark Knight Returns

Story by Frank Miller
Illustrated by Klaus Jason and Lynn Varley

First written in 1986 and published as four different issues, this trade paperback brings together the story widely attributed with returning Batman to his roots in realism and the inspiration for the Batman movie franchise. Ten years after the last sighting of Batman, a retired Bruce Wayne watches as Gotham City lowers itself to the brink of lawlessness. Unable to fight his inner demons any longer, Bruce dons the cape and cowl once again-but is this new generation prepared to accept Batman’s methods? This critically acclaimed work is a breathtaking conclusion to the legend as well as a chilling social commentary of the 1980s.

Hush Vol. 1 & 2

Story by Jeph Loeb
Illustrated by Jim Lee

What happens when you take two of the greatest talents in the comic book industry and give them full control of the Batman monthly flagship comic? Damn good storytelling. Set at the height of Batman’s career, someone is teaching his enemies new tactics and methods which threatens to tear down everything Batman and Bruce Wayne has ever known. A griping story set to Jim Lee’s amazing artwork, Hush proved to be every bit worth the hype, if only for the controversy raised.

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