Batman: The Long Halloween
One of the more influential Batman graphic novels, The Long Halloween is more or less a confined origin story for Harvey Dent’s transition into Two-Face. It’s essentially a sequel to Year One as we follow the earlier stories of Batman’s journey through corruption in Gotham City. The story focuses on a mysterious killer who takes out mobsters on holidays and it’s told through some gorgeously brooding art by Tim Sale. This is an iconic tale that’s not only a must-read for comic-book fans but a must read for fans of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight series, as it was a huge inspiration for his work.
Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty
Easily one of the best, and most overlooked, of the Batman line. The Caped Crusader and his team take a back seat and the focus shifts to the overworked members of GCPD’s Major Crimes Unit. Procedural work and office politics bounce off each other as the detectives struggle to remain relevant in the city of the bat, and have their own deadly encounters with the likes of the Joker. If you want your superhero comic to be down to Earth, look no further.
Vixen: Return of the Lion
It’s no secret that the majority of superheros are white males but Vixen has always appealed to me as just as strong, interesting, and powerful as any of them. She’s usually a background Justice League member but Vixen: Return of the Lion gives us a unique storyline revolving around Vixen (or Mari Jiwe McCabe) and her struggle with her past and her powers. It includes cameos from some of the most-loved heroes like Batman and takes place in her home in Africa. This is a great graphic novel because it showcases one of the most diverse, kick-ass, and under-appreciated characters in the DC Universe.
Animal Man: Vol. 1
Animal Man (Buddy Baker) is another DC superhero who I feel is criminally underrated. He is gifted with one of the most awesome powers ever put to page and a family that gets deeper treatment than most side characters. Grant Morrison’s foray into this character with Animal Man, Book 1: Animal Man is exceedingly clever and entertaining, giving us a three-dimensional man and his family dealing with the repercussions of his unique life. This graphic novel is truly a mastery of storytelling.
Justice League of America: Tower of Babel
It has been a long running joke that Batman’s only superpower is “prep time,” a hilariously overused deus ex machina that allows for Bats to get himself out of pretty much any given situation because he had already planned just in case. Writer Mark Waid decides to turn that power against him. Having made contingency plan against his JLA teammates just in case they go dark side, Ra’s al Ghul steals the plans to incapacitate the JLA while he uses some sci-fi device to ruin language, which the title is actually derived from. I always found it strange that title was based on Ra’s old-fashioned masterplan rather than the more shocking and interesting element, Batman’s perceived betrayal of the team.
5 more at the source
This is only the first of ten parts so if you guys like these, I'll keep posting them every week.