Recommend me a Batman graphic novel compilation

At the risk of creating too many “Recommend mes,” in a short period of time, I am interested in trying a Batman graphic novel compilation (if that’s what they’re called). I read the occassional comic book as as a kid (mostly those of friends), and enjoyed them, but never got into them enough to follow any multipart storylines from beginning to end, etc.

I understand that there are several storylines in the Batman world that have been consolidated and are sold as single softcovers of all of the comics in that storyline put together in one place.

I’m looking for suggestions as to the “best” one to start with. I’d really like whatever is considered the best story/art combination, and am not as worried about getting “the one that started it all” or anything like that.

I understand that’s not a lot of direction, but I don’t really know enough to be more specific. It’s basically what it says, a recommend me the best Batman storyline that is available in one place for someone who hasn’t read these things before and wants to see the best out there to offer.

Uh, did you not see this?

To be less snarky, if you have to read only one, I guess Batman: Year One would be my pick. Though, Batman Begins lifted a lot from it. There’s also The Dark Knight Returns. People also like recommending Hush, but I’m one of the few detractors of that particular storyline.

I’d also put forward The Long Halloween and, of course, Dark Knight Returns (although that is debatable in this day and age).

This and The Killing Joke. You’re all set.

Don’t get Hush, it’s a fucking mess.

Oh cool, someone else who doesn’t like Hush.

The Long Halloween is really good too. It chronicles the transition of Batman fighting mob thugs into facing off against his crazy rogue’s gallery, and feels much more natural than Hush’s “let’s have Jim Lee draw every major villain because previous to this he mostly did X-Men” story. I would skip Long Halloween’s sequel, Dark Victory, though.

And yea, The Killing Joke is also a good complement to Batman: Year One.

I’m blind!

Sorry about that, I actually didn’t see it. A bit braindead today I guess.

You say that like it’s a bad thing. The Jim Lee art is one of the main reasons I liked Hush so much. He draws a mean Catwoman! But, to each his own.

Long Halloween, Killing Joke, Dark Knight Returns…there’s so many good Batman stories. And even the bad ones are worth reading once.

The art wasn’t the reason Hush was a fucking mess, but whatever.

Oh yeah, I also remember liking Knightfall as well as No Man’s Land, though No Man’s Land is also something of a mess.

By the way, to show this wasn’t a complete waste of a thread, I picked up Year One via Kindle. Thanks again for the advice (and sorry again for duplicating things).

Well, I finished Year One. I am a bit nonplussed. I almost feel like I missed some comics in the middle that help further explain what is going on. It also seemed to have a very underdeveloped (and premature) end.

I wonder if there were any crossovers. . . (not sure, honestly, but I don’t think so)

This has become my biggest gripe with large “event” stories in both major publishing houses. So many threads are laid across so many individual titles (Jesus, how many Batman books do we have now? 4?)–and that’s only worse in “whole-universe” superevents–that it really seems like compilation graphic novels inevitably either miss issues entirely or just mis-order the ones they’ve got. When you consider that a lot of this stuff is also picking up on threads laid down by authors previously (Geoff Johns’ fingers have been all over the DC universe for years now, and inevitably, whenever he writes a new big crossover, it’s recalling plot points set forth in his earlier runs in Green Lantern or Flash; the same can be said of Morrison’s Final Crisis plot picking up meta-elements from as early as Seven Soldiers). Those earlier issues–often predating the ongoing story by months or years–are also almost never included in collected editions.

Which leaves you with either a mad-scramble for single-issues based on arcane forum-posted reading orders, a browse through Wikipedia, or if you’re a heartless thieving bastard, PirateBay scan-collections (often assembled by the same obsessive-compulsive fans–split into factions–who drew up the aforementioned reading orders, then released in competition with one another, with the contention being over who got the “whole” thing in the “right” order).

Sorry, that’s a long and incredibly specific rant filled with more parentheticals than my poor old English teachers would know what to do with, but it’s something that’s been bugging me for years. I just want the “whole” story.

If memory serves (and it almost certainly does not), I think your complaint in Y1 has almost nothing to do with this and everything to do with the writing of the series.

Two crossovers I liked were both Batman and Punisher books (at least two that I read) and Batman versus Predator. These were damned silly, of course, but enjoyable nonetheless.