The Dark Knight Reads: Fifteen Essential Batman Graphic Novels

The Bat-books that formed a hero
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Gotham Central
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10. ‘Gotham Central: Jokers and Madmen'

What if The Wire were set in Gotham City instead of Baltimore, with Batman in the Omar role? That's the best way to describe this moody cop/crime drama starring the men and women of the GCPD's Major Crimes Unit (i.e. the ones who go after supervillains), in which Batman only makes cameos as a dangerous vigilante whose crazed, costumed enemies are the bane of every cop in Gotham. Veteran co-writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka provide a no-nonsense platform for the "superhero realism" of artist Michael Lark, one of the best in the biz. Start with this volume for its memorably nihilistic take on the Joker.

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