10 Essential Batman Stories For New Readers

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8. The Killing Joke

The dearly departed Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Batman’s greatest villain was one of the most talked about parts of the Dark Knight movie, and that portrayal wouldn’t have been possible without The Killing Joke. The Clown Prince of Crime is almost as well known as his eternal enemy, his ghostly visage as easily recognisable as the cowl, his bright purple suit as iconic as the Bat symbol. This is the story that cemented The Joker as a truly insane and dangerous threat, whilst also establishing his and Batman’s ongoing relationship and delving into his backstory for the first time. Beginning with Batman acknowledging the pair’s past, the story goes on to see the Joker throwing himself into one last big scheme: to drive Commissioner Jim Gordon insane, and prove to the world that all it takes is “one bad day” to drive a good man mad, with flashbacks to his pre-villain life implying that’s what happened to him. With breathtakingly detailed art by Brian Bolland and lyrical writing by comics legend Alan Moore, The Killing Joke is the definitive Joker story and, so, one of the definitive Batman stories.

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