He is vengeance. He is the night. He is Batman, and he has a whole lot of amazing covers. The Dark Knight is celebrating his 75th anniversary and we want to celebrate by reflecting on just some of the awesome covers he's had with his various titles throughout the years. Obviously, we won't have everyone's favorite below, so if yours isn't here, go ahead and post it in the comments and tell the world why you think it's phenomenal. Now, let's treat our eyes to some excellent covers.
It may not be his first appearance (we'll get to that later), but BATMAN #1 seems like a fitting place to start this trip, yes? Released way back in 1940, Bob Kane created this iconic cover and the Dynamic Duo's pose is something that will always hold a spot in any fan's memory. They look so happy and carefree don't they? If only they knew about the dark road that's ahead of them...
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS #1
The massively popular limited series THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS produced a few timeless covers, but it's Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's debut cover that's truly unforgettable. "Unforgettable" really is the best way to describe it and Batman's current creative team even had a great nod to this moment in their latest story arc, Zero Year. It's simple yet brilliant and powerful. It's easily one of the best Batman covers we'll ever witness.
BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM (15TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
Joker has the potential to be one of Batman's most horrifying villains and Arkham Asylum can be a twisted and frightening place. Dave McKean does a beyond incredible job making sure both of those points are abundantly clear to the reader and he hits us with this seriously impactful and haunting cover. This cover is the stuff nightmares are made of. Go on, see how long you can gaze into the Clown Prince of Crime's eyes.
Ladies and gentlemen, you're looking at the very first appearance of the Demon's Head, Ra's al Ghul! Neal Adams gives the now popular foe one heck of a first impression. Adam's is able to hook our interest with several enticing features. From Robin being shot (gasp!) to the vibrant villain looking over the duo with a heavily shaded and oh-so evil expression, it does a proper job making us want to see what this issue has in store for us.
If you're going to kick off a big Grant Morrison story, you need an equally big cover to capture a person's attention. And when it comes to tempting our eyes, not many can compete with the great Alex Ross. R.I.P. is loaded with praiseworthy visuals and memorable bits, but when many of us reflect on the storyline, this remarkable cover is one of the first things that comes to mind.
BATMAN AND ROBIN #8
The opening story in the New 52's BATMAN AND ROBIN, Born to Kill, focused on the dynamic between Bruce and his son, Damian. It featured a cool new villain which tested the bond between the two Waynes and turned into a gripping, action-packed and emotional tale. The above cover, by Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray, is overflowing with heart and does a terrific job showing just how far Wayne will go to protect and look after his son. It's a moving piece of art, especially when taking Damian's current status into account.
The Demon's Head makes a second appearance on our list and it's once again by the great Neal Adams! Covers often show the protagonist in danger, but having them clearly defeated and in such a striking setting? It's just another example of why so many praise Adam's work and it does a ridiculously effective job hooking our intrigue.
BATMAN: GOTHAM ADVENTURES #1
Oh, nostalgia! DC has such a wonderful animated track record (even if some shows ended too early), and the above cover by Ty Templeton brings back so many fond memories. The "put every head in there possible" tactic sometimes makes a piece look cluttered, but with this, you can't help but stare at each one and think about the DCUA. Good times!
A third Neal Adams cover! We're so good to you, aren't we? But this time, it isn't Ra's al Ghul gracing the front... it's Joker! Many know this as a must read comic about the Clown Prince of Crime and the cover celebrates Dennis O'Neil's story about the infamous villain in such a fantastic and thrilling way. Don't you just love the diabolical look on Mister J's face?
Batman's not just an absurdly skilled hand-to-hand combatant, he's also a brilliant tactician. If there's a fiend in the DC universe, odds are the Dark Knight has come up with a way to bring them down and knows how target their weaknesses. Seeing as he lives in a universe with mind control, possession, alliance shifts, and so much more, he doesn't limit his planning to just his enemies -- he also knows how to bring down his friends. That's the focal point in Mark Waid's story, Tower of Babel, and Howard Porter really drives home the point that Batman may not have any powers, but his sharp mind and resources means he can manipulate and the pull the strings of even the world's most powerful heroes.
BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN #10
Jeph Loeb's THE LONG HALLOWEEN is a crime mystery and takes place during several holidays. Artist Tim Sale took advantage of one holiday -- Independence Day -- to give the story arc a lovely contrast right on the cover. The atmosphere is foreboding and dark -- something perfectly transparent with the character work -- but the exciting and vivid display going on behind them is an interesting contrast that really pays off.
DETECTIVE COMICS #30
When it comes to modern covers featuring Batman, bright shades of yellow and purple don't really come to mind unless it features Joker or Robin, right? Well, Francis Manapul most definitely made it work and did so in an amazingly beautiful and creative fashion.
BATMAN: BIRTH OF THE DEMON
Ra's al Ghul sure has appeared on a lot of cool covers, hasn't he? With this appearance, Norm Breyfogle captures an absolutely stunning moment. The villain emerges from the Lazarus Pit, full of energy and intensity, as Gotham's protector lurks above and looks impressively stern. Simply put, it's a magnificent cover.
BATMAN: STREETS OF GOTHAM #1
We've all scene Batman gazing at his city from a rooftop countless times before, but if it's in the right hands, even the most simplistic pose can be fantastic. That's exactly the case with Dustin Nguyen's cover for the first issue of BATMAN: STREETS OF GOTHAM. It's an incredibly simplistic pose, but thanks to the artist's talent and his ability to bring both the character and setting to life, it looks superb and more than deserves to be on this list.
David Mazzucchelli did a phenomenal job with the must read story, BATMAN: YEAR ONE, and with this first chapter's cover, he pulls us right into one of Bruce Wayne's most tragic moments. From the heavy shadowing on young Bruce to the emphasis on the blood spatter, Mazzucchelli's presents just the right moment to make us relive this horrible incident.
Jim Lee's work on Hush is one of the most exciting visual experiences around, and #618's cover leaves quite an impression. Having Lee's signature take on the Caped Crusader standing in the foreground is something we can all enjoy, but Lee makes sure the background is just as eye-catching as the titular character. From the disturbing skeleton of Jason Todd to Hush's piercing eyes, Lee crafted a cover that has a slight horror vibe and gives us a whole lot to appreciate.
Sure, Bane's body seems exaggerated to some, but Kelley Jones' cover really sells the point that Batman is forced to face a physical obstacle that seems impossible to overcome. This is without question one of the most iconic covers to appear in Batman's volume. It may not be the most flattering image around for Bruce, but it sure is memorable.
DETECTIVE COMICS #587
Do you think Batman's just a silly dude and you have no idea why the Caped Crusader strikes fear into goons? Well, Norm Breyfogle is here to give you a jaw-dropping reminder of why Batman has what it takes to send thugs running scared and screaming for their parents. It's an awesomely cinematic cover and you can almost hear the rain pelting the ground and the thunder echoing as Batman's cape flows in the wind.
Batman's primary title in the New 52 has provided us with a variety of spectacular covers that are exciting, inventive and engaging. There's a lot of great options to choose from, but we think Greg Capullo and FCO Plascencia's debut cover on the title did an outstanding job grabbing our interest. Capullo's take on the Dark Knight feels like a perfect fit and something as simplistic as the hero fighting for his life against a number of villains is sure to catch anyone's eye. This was definitely a great way to begin Batman's latest volume.
DETECTIVE COMICS #871
Okay, so this one isn't Bruce Wayne, but it is Batman and man, how could we not include this one?! The Black Mirror is an engrossing mystery with horror sprinkled in and Jock's cover is just oozing with an appropriate atmosphere. We could go on and on about it, but we'd rather just strongly recommend looking at it again. Go on and appreciate its greatness for a little while.
DETECTIVE COMICS #408
Back in 1971, Neal Adams struck fans with this absolutely heartbreaking sequence. Batman knows what it's like to lose his parents, and in this depressing sequence, he loses someone he's come to view as his son. Robin just doesn't die -- he slowly turns to dust and slips right through Batman's fingers. The hero's expression hits you like a ton of bricks, too.
DETECTIVE COMICS #27
No "Batman's Best Covers" list would be complete without the hero's very first appearance! Younglings may not be wowed by this one, but everyone else is likely able to appreciate the angle being used to witness the very first look at the immensely popular Justice Leaguer swooping into action.
BATMAN ETERNAL #1
Jason Fabok was put on this world to illustrate Batman. Don't believe us? How about you give the first cover for BATMAN ETERNAL #1 another look? When it comes to delivering a dark, gritty and immersive take on Batman, Fabok nails it and then some. To top it off, he was able to add the book's cast without making the cover feel cluttered.
DETECTIVE COMICS #880
Yes, Batman technically isn't on this one, but Jock's cover is too good to exclude and it's definitely one of the most clever DETECTIVE COMICS covers you'll ever set your eyes on. It's also one heck of a cover to end with, right?
What's your favorite Batman cover? Go on and share it with the world below! Be sure to keep checking the homepage throughout August for more Bruce Wayne articles.