The best books that helped me rekindle my love of Batman

Michael Burgan Author Of What Is the Story of Batman?
By Michael Burgan

Who am I?

One of my favorite childhood pictures, circa 1967, shows me in the Batman costume I got for Christmas. And one of my sharpest memories from that time was seeing the Batmobile at a local auto show. Yes, I was a Batman fanatic, thanks to both the TV show and the comics. That passion faded somewhat as I grew older—I can’t rattle off the names of all the villains or discourse on the styles of the different artists and writers who have told his story. But having the chance to write What Is the Story of Batman taught me a lot—and helped me feel like a kid again. 

I wrote...

What Is the Story of Batman?

By Michael Burgan,

Book cover of What Is the Story of Batman?

What is my book about?

Bruce Wayne, a wealthy American philanthropist and business owner, and Batman, his crime-fighting alter ego, have been entertaining audiences since 1939. The character was so popular after appearing in Detective Comics that DC Comics decided to give Batman a comic book of his own. In doing so, they created one of the company's most successful franchises.

Here’s the history of Batman—from his tragic origin story and his infamous arch enemies—to his iconic depictions in television and movies throughout the years. This book, tailored to young readers, explores why this superhero with no superpowers is so beloved around the world.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Essential Batman Encyclopedia

Why this book?

Essential is right—any fan of the Caped Crusader needs this book! Greenberger is a former DC Comics editor, and his extensive research helped me rediscover characters I had forgotten about and learn about ones I had never encountered before. Along with being packed with great info, the book is filled with illustrations, including 32 full-page color covers.

The Essential Batman Encyclopedia

By Robert Greenberger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Essential Batman Encyclopedia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ultimate guide to the man behind the mask . . . and the mythology behind the man.

“Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible. . . . I shall become a bat!” So declared millionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne, orphaned as a boy by a murderous thug and driven as a man to battle the scourge of crime by becoming Batman. Batman swooped into popular culture in 1939–and for nearly seventy years has thrilled audiences in countless comics, live-action…

Book cover of Batman Unmasked: Analysing a Cultural Icon

Why this book?

While I wanted to know the history of Batman and all the facts and figures, I needed to know Batman’s larger cultural impact, and Brooker’s book helps provide it. He explores the different incarnations of Batman, from the comic-book page to the big screen. Brooker looks at the 1950s hysteria against comic books that targeted Batman, among others; the “camp” Batman of the 1960s TV show; and the Batman of films, from the 1989 Tim Burton version through the 1990s. Now all Brooker needs to do is update the book to include Christopher Nolan’s take on The Dark Knight! 

Batman Unmasked: Analysing a Cultural Icon

By William Brooker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Batman Unmasked as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An academic monograph that traces the various ways in which Batman has been interpreted over the years - by wartime film producers, gay teenagers, pop artists, Internet fan communities, and so on. Written from both an academic and a fan's perspective, is examines how a character can be a brand and a myth at the same time. The book draws on substantial research from the DC Comics archives, as well as interviews with DC editors and writers. Also included is a comprehensive Batman iconography, listing examples of how Batman has been used as a reference in other TV shows, movies,…

Batman & Me: An Autobiography

By Bob Kane, Tom Andrae,

Book cover of Batman & Me: An Autobiography

Why this book?

OK, I have to say this upfront: a lot of comic-book aficionados don’t care much for Bob Kane, Batman’s co-creator. He took too much of the credit for coming up with the Caped Crusader, at the expense of writer Bill Finger. And there are details in the autobiography that seem to stretch the truth. But I wanted to get Kane’s perspective on Batman and his development over the years. As a bonus, the book has complete color reproductions of several early Batman adventures. 

Batman & Me: An Autobiography

By Bob Kane, Tom Andrae,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Batman & Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bob Kane's insights into Batman by Tom Andrae.

Book cover of Batman: The Complete History

Why this book?

Like the Greenberger book, this official history of Batman from DC Comics is essential for any fan. Unlike Kane’s book, this account gives much more credit to Bill Finger as Batman’s creator and highlights many of the writers and illustrators who followed, shaping the Caped Crusader's image over the years. The color reproductions and photos—including ones of collectibles and movie stills—alone are worth the price of this great book. 

Batman: The Complete History

By Les Daniels,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Batman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Comprehensive overview of the Dark Kights dark past - now in pb. Now in paperback, Batman: The Complete History offers a comprehensive overview of the Dark Knight's dark past. Best-selling author Les Daniels covers the gamut - from Batman's creation and runaway success, to the 1954 accusations of Batman and Robin's homosexuality, to the campy antics of the Adam West TV show, and the emergence of Frank Miller's very disturbed and very dark Knight. Illustrated with archival comic book art and rare Batman paraphernalia and designed by Batman's biggest fan, Chip Kidd, this history aims to please the core…

Book cover of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Why this book?

Time to put aside the history and cultural analysis. How could I understand the modern Batman phenomenon without delving into Miller’s classic reimagining of Batman? By his own account, Miller wanted to take Batman and the whole superhero genre out of the realm of kid stuff. Boy, did he ever! This Batman has been called dark and gritty, though Miller supposedly didn’t care for that description. But there’s no question Miller’s work influenced the movies that followed. The book includes the four issues that were originally published separately. 

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

By Frank Miller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Batman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's the thirtieth anniversary of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, and now DC Comics presents this classic title in a newly redesigned edition! Ten years after an aging Batman retired, Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now, when his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenaged Robin, Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city. And after facing off against his two greatest enemies, the Joker and Two-Face, for the final time, Batman finds himself in…

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