Over the past 80 years, Batman has easily survived the test of time, going well beyond the pages of a comic book to become one of the biggest pop culture icons. Part of what makes the character so appealing is the fact that he doesn’t have any actual superpowers, yet still manages to overcome every obstacle thrown his way.
Batman reminds audiences that no matter how bad or dark things may get at times, there is always a way to push through and rise above them. In the comics especially, there have been several key moments in Batman’s history that remind readers of both the good and the bad. To help celebrate 80 years of The Dark Knight, here is our list of the 10 most iconic Batman panels from DC.
9 Batman: Year One
Frank Miller’s popular take on Batman’s origin remains the basis for the character to this day. Miller’s (then) updated take on Bruce Wayne’s early days as Batman excellently captures the dark and gritty nature of the character that many grew to love.
At this particular moment in Batman: Year One, fans get to witness the exact moment where Bruce Wayne “dies” and Batman is born. After losing one of his first fights, Bruce contemplates bleeding out and giving up everything he had worked so hard for. However, at the last moment, a bat crashes through the window, inspiring Bruce on ways to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. He then decides to ring for Alfred’s assistance after deciding, “I shall become a bat.”
8 Batman: I Am Bane
Author Tom King is the current author on the Batman title and has done a lot to offer a completely different look at the character. Though his run is rapidly coming to a close, King has still made quite the distinguishing mark during his time with the character. During the 3rd arc of his run, Batman faces off against Bane once again.
After it seems like Batman has truly been beaten, he starts to get up once again, explaining to Bane how he has done the same dance every night since donning the cape and cowl. He then notes that for all the villains he has faced over the years who have tried to kill him, that, “I’m still here.” In a truly epic Batman fashion, he notes to Bane how he will always persevere despite how hopeless things may seem for him. Though this moment, in particular, is rather recent, it has quickly become one of the most iconic Batman scenes in memory.
7 Batman And Son
Damian Wayne is the newest and current Robin, and also the only one to be directly related to Bruce Wayne. After hooking up with Talia Al’ Ghul several years back, she suddenly introduces Bruce to his son, whom he had no idea even existed. At this exact moment, Bruce’s entire life changed.
Adding a deadly son with a spoiled attitude made for a whole different experience in every Batman book, breathing a whole new life into the character. While some readers weren’t huge fans of Damian at first, many eventually came around to him. Despite the complicated relationship between the two, Damian and Bruce have both grown a lot as characters after meeting each other, making Damian’s introduction one of the most iconic and important moments in Batman’s history.
6 Batman: Under the Red Hood
Ever since the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, occurred, Batman has continually haunted by it. For years, Batman carried the weight of what he considered to be his greatest mistake. However, in the Batman: Under The Red Hood story, it was revealed that Jason Todd was once again among the land of the living.
At this very moment, the mysterious new villain, Red Hood, unmasks himself to Batman, revealing that he is, in fact, the Robin who died. Like with the introduction of Damian, this moment would forever change Batman’s future. While he has since been on rocky terms as far as his relationship with Jason, the two have a mutual understanding and respect for each other.
5 Batman: Hush
Catwoman has almost always been a major player in the Dark Knight’s life. As one of the more complex costumed characters of Gotham, Catwoman has toed the line between hero and villain for years now. During the Batman: Hush storyline, however, she and Batman actually began a romantic relationship.
Though it didn’t last for too long, the characters still grew incredibly close to each other during this time. Furthermore, the events of this story, as well as many others, are key examples of why the two almost got married in the first place. Despite the flaws in their relationship, the Bat and the Cat complement each other incredibly well, something that was evidenced within the panels of Batman: Hush.
4 Batman: The Killing Joke
Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke is considered by many to be the greatest Joker stories ever told. Furthermore, this is as close to an origin for the villain as readers have ever gotten, giving it an extra layer of importance. However, this isn’t just a possible origin story for the greatest comic book villain of all time, but also the moment that paralyzed Barbara Gordon all the way up until the New 52.
Towards the end of the book, as depicted in the image, Batman stretches out his arms toward the Joker as the two finally share a laugh together. Part of what makes this image so iconic is that many believed it to symbolize Batman actually killing the Joker. After the story was turned into canon, those rumors were, of course, debunked, but many fans still debate as to the intended ending of the original story.
3 Batman: Knightfall
Batman: Knightfall was a story that spread across all Batman related books. After Bane, a new villain at the time, manages to break Batman’s back, Jean Paul Valley assumes the role of the Dark Knight. However, Jean’s more ruthless tactics take a turn for the worse, forcing Bruce Wayne to get better.
Though the series is largely considered to be one of the best Batman epics ever told, no image is more iconic from it than the actual moment where Bane breaks Batman’s back. Like many others on this list, this single image represents a whole new chapter in the Dark Knight’s history. Because of this and the repercussions that followed, it is easy to understand how this image can be so iconic.
2 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
According to some, The Dark Knight Returns is the all-time best Batman story ever told. Penned by Frank Miller once again, it makes sense that the story would have some iconic imagery throughout. However, despite all of the key moments that take place within the comic, the debut of the new Batman and Robin is easily the most recognizable.
At this point in the story, Carrie Kelly has officially been inducted by Batman, and the new dynamic duo is once again ready to take on crime in Gotham City. Seeing the two in action in the context of the story gives readers a sense that hope has finally returned. Furthermore, this image marks a shift in the narrative that focuses on Batman’s actions now that he is officially back. Though there are many other iconic images from this story alone, this one is easily the most iconic.
1 Detective Comics #27
Though not an image from a panel, no other image of Batman is arguably more recognizable than the cover of Detective Comics #27. Serving as the original debut of the character, this cover alone has been seen, adapted, and redrawn a countless amount of times. Though Batman’s look at the time left a lot to be desired, this is still the single most important image in Batman’s history, as it is the first image anyone ever saw of him.
Thankfully, he has come a long way in terms of character development and art styles, Detective Comics #27 still remains the most important book in the dark Knight’s history, also making it the single most iconic image of Batman over the years.