Batman isn’t quite the darkest comic book character, but he is the most popular comic book character who can be categorized as “dark,” so he has a monopoly on the whole market. The Caped Crusader is an incredible character with a huge array of iconographic villains and an internal conflict that runs deep.
There are countless stories about him and countless more stories to be told. But at a certain point, you might find yourself looking for something else – something new. So, just in case such a time comes, here are 10 Books To Read When You’re Fed Up With The Dark Knight.
10 Midnighter (2015-2016) Vol. 1: Out
Midnighter is one of the most violent, unpredictable, and chaotic comic book characters out there right now because he’s basically a living weapon. His body has been biologically enhanced and his brain has been wired with a supercomputer, so he is primed and ready for action.
Midnighter takes immense pleasure in beating bad guys senseless, so he’s right in his element when he’s sent into the criminal underworld to do just that. Throughout the storyline, he uses the mission as a form of therapy as he gets over his first real breakup, so there’s an emotional element to it, too.
9 Moon Knight Vol. 1: From The Dead
Moon Knight is one of a few characters who are rumored to be making their MCU debut in Avengers: Endgame. Only time will tell if that is true, but in the meantime, check out one of the character’s best-loved storylines from the comics.
For the uninitiated, Moon Knight is a Marvel superhero who, powered by the Ancient Egyptian moon god, fearlessly takes on the most dangerous criminals in the seediest corners of the society where most superheroes dare not go. This storyline sees the character face the Black Spectre, as well as legions of mob henchmen, in his quest to rescue a victim of kidnapping.
8 Haunt Vol. 1
Two icons in the world of horror comics – Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead and Todd McFarlane of Spawn – collaborated on Haunt, which tells the story of a Catholic priest whose body is merged with the ghost of his brother, a secret agent who’s been murdered.
The first part of the story, collected in this book, focuses on the brother trying to solve his own murder while inhabiting the priest’s body. Haunt is a weird, violent, eccentric, macabre horror tale – part ghost story, part murder mystery – that is brought brilliantly to life by two giants of the comic book trade.
7 The Shadow Vol. 1: Fire of Creation
When Bob Kane and Bill Finger were first coming up with the Batman character all those years ago, their plan was to model their new superhero character after the mystery solvers of pulp fiction, with the Shadow as their most obvious influence. This incarnation actually came much later, post-Batman, so a story about the character that inspired Batman was now being inspired by Batman.
The series was scripted by Garth Ennis with art by Aaron Campbell, and it brought one of the most classic characters ever created into the world of modern comics. It’s comic book vigilante meets pulp fiction.
6 Nighthawk: Hate Makes Hate
We all know the Harvey Dent quote from The Dark Knight that goes, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” That’s what Nighthawk is dealing with in the “Hate Makes Hate” storyline. He’s not sure if he can be the hero that Chicago deserves, or if he’s really a villain terrorizing the city’s streets.
The story is written by David F. Walker, who has written for everyone, including Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse. He’s written stories for Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Cyborg, Hawkeye – the list goes on. Point is, the guy gets comics and he gets the psychology of superheroes.
5 Grendel Omnibus Vol. 1: Hunter Rose
Grendel is not just a noir comic with gorgeous, dark visuals covering its pages – it is a study of violence and rage. With its very gory tone, the comic is not for the faint-hearted, but if you can stomach it, it’s a mesmerizing reading experience marked with slick artwork and a fantastic script by Matt Wagner.
Comics legend Alan Moore described it as “a brave and possibly even reckless experiment that has succeeded admirably,” and as the writer of Watchmen, his recommendation is as good as anyone’s when it comes to comic books.
4 Daredevil by Bendis and Maleev Ultimate Collection Vol. 1
Arguably, Daredevil is the Batman of the Marvel Comics universe. He handles street crime as opposed to larger threats, he lives in a city that is riddled with gangsters and muggers, and he’s a vigilante despite having no superpowers. This comic book series, written by the great Brian Michael Bendis, tells newcomers everything they need to know about the character.
Every one of his main enemies and allies is featured in the story, which takes him all the way through his crime-ridden home of Hell’s Kitchen. If Marvel did their own Batman story, then it would look something like this.
3 Nightwing (2016-) Vol. 1: Better Than Batman
A lot of comic book readers don’t really like Robin, because he is the useless sidekick of the Dark Knight, who generally works better alone anyway. However, the next incarnation of Robin, Nightwing, is infinitely cooler. He’s darker, he’s more violent, he’s a tortured soul – and he, too, works better alone.
Dick Grayson hung up the Robin tights and came back bigger and badder than ever when he returned to Gotham City as Nightwing to face his demons. This is one of the quintessential Gotham stories, and yet, it has nothing to do with Batman – instead, it’s his former sidekick’s story.
2 The Black Hood Vol. 1: The Bullet’s Kiss
If there’s one movie genre that has influenced the look and style of Batman comics more than any other, it’s the film noir. Dark, intriguing detective stories set on the crime-ridden streets of a corrupt city with characters no one can really trust. Catwoman is a classic example of a femme fatale, while one of Batman’s best-known nicknames is “the World’s Greatest Detective.” But it’s not necessarily a noir comic – it’s a noir-inspired comic.
The Black Hood, on the other hand, is unmistakably a noir comic. It’s a pulpy, hard-boiled crime story realized beautifully on the pages of a comic book.
1 Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters
Green Arrow was virtually unknown, at least to mainstream audiences, until the CW’s Arrow came along. But that show is just one interpretation of the character. There have been dozens of incarnations of the Emerald Archer in the comics over the years.
This miniseries, published in 1987, shows what happens when Oliver Queen tries to hang up his quiver for good and give up a life of fighting crime in favor of settling down to have a nice, normal, quiet life. Of course, giving up being a superhero isn’t as simple as it sounds, and danger follows Oliver wherever he goes.
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