Finally we reach the end of our holiday gift guide, and what better way to cap it off than with what’s most important: comics! More specifically, graphic novels. We all love filling out our shelves and having those nice, physical collections of our favorite stories to share with friends and family. I’ll be going over five of the best Batman graphic novels that came out this year which you can buy for a loved one (or for yourself). There will also be a bonus at the end for those of you who want to spend a little extra this holiday season.
Batman: One Dark Knight
Superstar artist Jock (Batman: The Black Mirror) pulls double duty as both writer and artist for Batman: One Dark Knight. When the GCPD has to transport a dangerous prisoner with EMP powers from Arkham to Blackgate, something goes wrong and all the power goes out in the city. Batman must keep everyone safe as Gotham’s gangs converge to take them out. This is a story that definitely focuses on action more than dialog, which allows Jock’s art to shine. If you’re a fan of movies like Escape from New York and The Warriors, then this is the comic for you. It’s a gritty spectacle that doesn’t require any context to jump right in.
You can purchase Batman: One Dark Knight HC from InStockTrades for $17.39.
Batman: Black & White
The latest collection in this award-winnings series, Batman: Black & White is an anthology of short stories from different creative teams, sans color. Part of what makes the stories so impressive is the exceptional amount of freedom the writers and artists were given. There’s no continuity or even art style requirements to worry about. These diverse and talented teams were simply told to make up whatever Batman story they wanted that could fit onto about 8 pages, with impressive results. Not every story is going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are so many that plenty of them are sure to be home runs no matter your tastes. My personal favorite is the Riddler choose-your-own-adventure-story “The Riddle”.
This is, confusingly, alternately titled “Batman: Black & White” and “Batman: Black and White” depending on where you look, and there are also four other collections with the same name(s) that have been published over the past 25 years. Those other collections are usually labelled with a volume number, but not this one. That being said, it’s not the worst thing in the world if you end up accidentally grabbing one of the previous volumes; they’re all spectacular (more on that at the end).
You can purchase Batman: Black & White TPB from InStockTrades for $14.49.
Batman: The Imposter
Batman: The Imposter is a grounded detective story centered around someone impersonating Batman to kill criminals. It’s written by Mattson Tomlin, an (uncredited) writer for The Batman and (credited) writer for its upcoming sequel, and you can feel the similarities in both tone and presentation. The story isolates Batman from everyone he normally relies on, which helps create a gripping sense of desperation throughout. The story makes a few changes to Batman’s past in order to cut him off from those around him, but that’s to be expected from an out-of-continuity Black Label series. The world that Tomlin creates and the cast he uses to populate it are incredibly engaging. There’s a wonderful triangle game of cat and mouse as the GCPD tries to track down Batman while Batman tries to track down the imposter who’s framing him. Stories which take place early in Batman’s career are often the ones that portray Bruce at his most human, and this is no exception. It’s a great gift for any Batman reader who’s a fan of the Reeves film or dark noir.
You can purchase Batman: The Imposter HC from InStockTrades for $17.39.
Arkham City: The Order of the World
Don’t let the name fool you, this comic has nothing to do with the 2011 video game. Instead, it follows Dr. Jacosta Joy as she tries to track down the escaped Arkham inmates who have fled into Gotham after the Asylum’s destruction (Don’t worry, even though it follows in the wake of the events of Joker War, you don’t need to know anything about that to follow the story). After finding the former inmates one by one, she, as well as the reader, slowly discovers just how mad the city itself really is. It’s a psychological thriller with gorgeous and bizarre artwork by Dani which makes the whole experience feel as mad as the characters inside.
Fun fact about me, I actually wrote a review for this series as part of my application to join the Batman News team. The reason I chose it was because its complex writing and strong sense of thematic meaning made it so fun to discuss. Very often comics are simply what they appear to be on the surface, but not this one. There are so many layers to unpack in every scene as the reader gets to explore the twisted psyches of the characters and what they mean to the overall narrative. It was also this series that helped me discover writer Dan Watters, who has been killing it over on Sword of Azrael.
You can purchase Arkham City: The Order of the World TPB from InStockTrades for $9.85.
Catwoman: Lonely City
Finally we come to arguably the best Gotham-related book which came out this year, Catwoman: Lonely City. I’ve already written four reviews gushing about how great this series is, so it’s tough think of what else I can say. This book, both written and drawn by Cliff Chiang (Paper Girls), takes place in a hypothetical future Gotham City where Batman is dead and Selina has just been let out of prison as she tries to rebuild her life. The story is filled with multi-faceted characters whose struggles are immediately and deeply resonant. It’s able to play with the expectations and tropes of Batman comics in general, and use them as a contrast in order to highlight the human conflict which the characters face. It’s heartfelt, funny, and meaningful all at the same time.
If there’s one comic you buy this year, I hope it’s this one. However, you will have to wait a bit because the hardcover doesn’t come out until December 20th. Make sure you pre-order if you plan on putting it under the tree.
Sometimes a trade paperback or even hardcover isn’t enough. Sometimes you need an impressive, 500+ page collection of your favorite series to proudly display on your shelf. Well if that’s the case, and you’ve got the cash, then that’s when you decide to buy an omnibus. These sorts of compilations typically only come out for exceptionally critically acclaimed series that have been around for a while, so most of the stories here are from a while back. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not worth getting. These are this year’s incredible collections of some of the best stories in Batman’s history.
Be sure to check out our previous 2022 Batman Gift Guide posts!
- Day 01: Hot Wheels RC The Batman Batmobile
- Day 02: THE BATMAN Candle from House of Sillage
- Day 03: BATMAN RETURNS Children’s Book, THE BATMAN & JOKER Script Books
- Day 04: Mondo BATMAN: The Animated Series Figures
- Day 05: Secretlab Dark Knight Desk and Chair
- Day 06: Gotham Knights
- Day 07: Vengeance Fragrance – Limited Edition
- Day 08: McFarlane Toys and Fisher Price action figures
- Day 09: The Latest Batman Blu-rays
- Day 10: THE BATMAN Bow Lipstick Case Set
- Day 11: eBay Finds
- Day 12: Running Press Metal Die-Cast Bat-Signal
- Day 13: Factory Entertainment