Batman is often regarded as one of the best superheroes of all time. Despite his lack of any actual superhuman abilities, Batman strives to deliver justice simply by being the best person he can possibly be. With an incredible amount of wealth and resources at his disposal, Batman has quickly and steadily soared at the height of pop culture for several years.
However, while the Dark Knight may have a plethora of great stories, not every single one has been a hit. In fact, some of them have been downright offensive. Looking specifically at crossover titles as well as standalone miniseries, here is our list of the 5 best, and 5 worst Batman events of all time.
10 The Dark Knight Strikes Again (Worst)
While Frank Miller may have hit a home run with The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Strikes Again wasn’t nearly as successful as its predecessor. The artwork is significantly worse, and the story especially just doesn’t capture the same feeling as the first one.
Likewise, in expanding on some characters' backstory within this world, certain mischaracterizations were made. Overall, the story is just a sloppy mess that was incredibly random and hard to follow. Thankfully, the third book in the series would fare much better, though still not be as good as the first.
9 Dark Nights: Metal (Best)
As one of the most recent DC events in general, Dark Nights: Metal managed to wow Batman fans all across the board. After being exposed to several rare metals throughout Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run during the New 52, Batman is finally manipulated into opening a portal to the Dark Multiverse. After several evil versions of Batman come through, it is up to Bruce and the rest of the Justice League to take them all down.
The story itself was so massive that the DC Universe is still dealing with the aftermath today. Furthermore, the series does a great job of showing just how powerful and threatening Batman can truly be. For a Batman story of truly epic proportions, Dark Nights: Metal is not to be missed.
8 Cacophony (Worst)
Kevin Smith is widely known as a lover of comic books. While the popular film director has had a lot of success with titles such as Daredevil and Green Arrow, his work with Batman is often considered to be some of the worst stuff ever printed for the character. Batman: Cacophony introduces Onomatopoeia, an all-new Batman villain who manipulates other villains to draw out the Dark Knight.
While Cacophony had some good ideas behind it, the execution was rather poor and it was often criticized for mischaracterizing Batman himself. In a market full of many great Batman books, this one just didn’t do enough to make it stand out. However, the story’s sequel series would certainly go down in history.
7 Knightfall (Best)
Shortly after Bane made his introduction, he enacted one of the most devastating plots against Batman ever. After exhausting Batman, Bane finally confronted the Dark Knight in the Batcave, where he then famously broke Batman’s back. This action had a massive effect on every Batman title at the time, removing Bruce Wayne from the mantle and establishing Jean Paul Valley as Gotham’s new protector.
Though things would eventually go south, forcing Bruce to make a miraculous recovery, Knightfall remains one of the definitive events in Batman’s history. Not only does it showcase how strong Bruce’s will is, but it also is a great story that never really loses its momentum, despite its massive size.
6 Widening Gyre (Worst)
While Kevin Smith’s Cacophony wasn’t very good, Batman: The Widening Gyre is far worse. In fact, some people consider it to be the worst Batman story ever told. In this sequel to his first story, The Widening Gyre reveals a controversial love interest for Batman, as well as a rather embarrassing fact from his early days.
The Widening Gyre was so controversial and hated by fans, that the series never even finished. After a point, the issues had been so delayed that they simply just stopped after a point. However, considering the quality of the content, it is probably for the best that the series didn’t continue.
5 The Long Halloween (Best)
As a standalone series, The Long Halloween is easily one of the best Batman stories set in his early days. Starting on Halloween, one person in Gotham is killed on a holiday for every month for a whole year. Author Jeph Loeb crafts an excellent noir mystery for Batman in this story, and also covers a lot of supporting characters.
Furthermore, Tim Sale’s unique art fits right in with the rest of the world, capturing the dark nature of Gotham while offering a great aesthetic. Likewise, the sequel story, Dark Victory, is almost as good as the original. In being approachable for new readers, as well as a fantastic Batman story, it is easy to see how The Long Halloween is one of the best Batman events out there.
4 All-Star Batman and Robin (Worst)
Like with The Widening Gyre, All-Star Batman and Robin proved to be rather controversial. However, controversy aside, the series is just not very good throughout. In what was supposed to be a modern retelling of Dick Grayson’s origin, the final product revealed a ruthless Batman who was practically more of a villain than a hero.
While Frank Miller had seen some great success with the Dark Knight in years prior, this interpretation did not bode well with fans. The attitudes and language towards a young Barbara Gordon also factored into an early cancellation for the series. Not even Jim Lee’s fantastic art was enough to redeem this story.
3 The Dark Knight Returns (Best)
To this day, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is considered by many to be the best Batman comic of all time. Focusing on an elder version of Batman, Bruce Wayne is forced to don the cape and cowl once again after Gotham descends to its lowest point. However, with Batman back in action, all sorts of other things begin to happen in Gotham, as well as the rest of the country.
The Dark Knight Returns is often considered to be one of the best analytical approaches to the character, breaking Batman down and showing why he does what he does. It was also one of the first darker and more modern stories starring the character, and many other interpretations have gone off of this one. Though it may have some less-desirable sequels, The Dark Knight Returns remains an essential Batman book for any fan of the character.
2 Batman: Odyssey (Worst)
Neal Adams is most known for his iconic art style and co-creating characters such as Ra's Al Ghul. Using his reputation as an artist, Adams eventually tried his hand at writing. The result became Batman: Odyssey, one of the worst standalone Batman events to date.
The thing about Batman: Odyssey is that it isn’t really supposed to be good. Essentially, Batman is taken on a journey that is very similar to that of Homer’s Odysseus. While the concept itself is intriguing, the only thing Batman: Odyssey has going for it is that it is “so bad, it’s good.” the story is a total mess, makes very little sense, and even features some of Adam’s less-inspired artwork. While it may be good for a laugh, very little else needs to be said about this story.
1 Under the Red Hood (Best)
In regards to all other Batman events, Under the Red Hood is arguably the biggest, most influential, and most important Batman story yet. After a new villain called the Red Hood shows up in Gotham, the city’s criminal underworld begins to disappear, permanently. However, as batman digs further into the new villain’s identity, he also pulls up some very painful memories from the past.
Not only does the story focus on material from one of the most pivotal moments in Batman’s past, but it would have drastic repercussions in the then-present as well. Since Under the Red Hood has concluded, the events of this story have continued to play a role in many Batman titles, making it easy to see how important the story is overall. Taking place in several titles and impacting the whole DC Universe make Under the Red Hood the biggest and best Batman event to date.