Welcome. This is an ongoing attempt to review every Batman story published in (or critical to) his core titles since Batman #300. The earliest reviews were originally just informal posts in the "What have you read lately?" thread which I later reposted here. As the reviews continue, they become a lot more detailed. Also, I don't start including relevant stories from outside of the "Batman" title until page 4. Feel free to post your own thoughts/questions in response to any and all entries in this thread.
Shortcuts to key articles, lists, and arguments contained in this thread:
All You Need to Know about Jason Todd (Pre-Death) Part 1
All You Need to Know about Jason Todd (Pre-Death) Part 2
The Post-Crisis Batman timeline/continuity (as of Detective Comics #614 )
Characters' Ages and Continuity Errors: A Working Theory
My argument for what actually counts in continuity between Batman #392 and #426 (after the plot synopsis in a review of Batman #432)
Complete list of Batman's Post-Crisis mentors/trainers (as of Secret Origins tpb )
The competing Post-Crisis characterizations of Batman prior to Jim Starlin's run and Jason Todd's death.
The major differences between Bronze and Modern age comic storytelling
Does Batman Need a Robin?
The Post-Movie Batman Industry
Why Bruce Wayne Can't Be Socially Conscious (an opinion)
The highlights of the run, thus far:
Batman #307 -- Dark Messenger of Mercy. In many ways, the beginnings of Batman continuity as a lot of key supporting cast members like Lucius Fox, Gregorian Falstaff, and Shamrock and his homeless friends are introduced and major story lines are begun (including Selina Kyle reforming). A great story in its own right, as well.
Batman #309 -- The Blockbuster Christmas story. Very moving.
Batman #316 -- The return of Crazy Quilt. Just a really solid Batman/Robin team-up.
Batman #321 -- The Joker's birthday party. Exceptionally well written, especially in the subtle relationship depicted between Batman and Joker.
Batman #323-324-- Wein's legendary Catwoman/Catman storyline. Absolutely amazing.
Untold Legend of the Batman #1-3 -- Absolutely the best Batman origin story ever told. Synthesizes all the given information about Batman's origin over the previous forty years and incorporates it into a meaningful narrative that is dark, moving, inspiring, and ridiculously informative, all while ending in the creation of a Batman who can be goody-goody and yet be taken seriously at the same time. Parts 2 and 3 provide more useful back story on Batman (again putting together all the pieces from 40 years worth of continuity), but the solution to the mystery of who is messing with Batman is both predictable and a bit ridiculous.
Batman #332-335-- The Lazarus Affair. A beloved classic.
Batman #347-- The Shadow of the Batman. A powerful one-shot story that shows Batman's impact upon two young men considering getting into a life of crime.
Batman #349-350, Detective #517, Batman #351: The Monk/vampires storyline. Awesome Colan art and a decent Conway script providing intense action, tone, and visuals, as Bruce and Dick become vampires. Pretty unforgettable.
Detective #520, Batman #354: The Haunting of Boss Thorne. Powerful, powerful art and writing as Thorne's criminal empire begins to collapse on top of him. One of the best Batman stories I've ever read.
Batman #357-359 and Detective #524-526: Conway's classic Killer Croc storyline which introduces both Croc and Jason Todd. Though the storyline comes and goes, the plotting is strong, and the events are significant.
Detective #532: Great insights into Joker's motivations and his relationship with Batman.
Batman #368: Jason Todd officially becomes Robin, gets savagely beaten by Crazy Quilt. POWERFUL.
Batman #372: An unexpectedly powerful/risky story about racism and boxing. Highly moving.
Detective #542-547 and Batman #376-381: The Jason Todd custody battle/Nocturna's return/the fall of Mayor Hill. Very uneven, and a lot of the secondary characters and plot lines are obnoxious, but there are many truly great moments. Certainly, this was the heart of everything Moench was trying to do in his run.
Batman #383: A surprisingly lighthearted stand-alone story in which Batman fights to take a nap. Some love the comedy, some hate the comedy.
Batman #386-387, and Detective Comics #553: The Black Mask storyline, featuring his first appearance and origin, as well as some grotesque, action-intensive story-telling.
Batman #389-391 and Detective Comics #556-557: The final Nocturna storyline. Powerful art, action, and tone, as the Red Skies from Crisis on Infinite Earths pervade a sense of the world ending in each character's soul, bringing hidden fear and desires to the surface throughout this intense storyline.
The Dark Knight Returns: A non-continuity vision of a rougher, tougher anti-hero Batman in a Reagan-inspired future. This storyline had a lot of influence upon what post-Crisis Batman became and also introduced many Batman fans to Frank Miller for the first time.
Batman #400 -- The final(?) pre-reboot Batman story in which he takes on most of his rogues gallery at one time. Pretty good story, and we get our first glimpses of an angrier, grittier Batman in official continuity. In many ways, I feel this story was the prototype for what Batman became after the reboot.
Detective #569 -- Barr and Davis begin their brief run together on Detective, mixing rich and intelligent humor with great action and just a touch of darkness. Joker's depiction in this issue is arguably his best ever. Catwoman is pretty fun too.
Batman #404-407 -- "Year One," Frank Miller's unique spin on the Batman origin story that aligns with DKR and sets the factual basis (if not necessarily the thematic nor character basis) of the Post-Crisis Batman and his universe.
Detective #574 -- introduction of the post-Crisis Leslie Thompkins. Also a companion to Year One, largely chronicling Bruce's boyhood (post-murder) and college years.
Batman Annual #11 -- "Mortal Clay," by Alan Moore, is absolutely one of the greatest rogues gallery stories ever written, in this case starring Clay Face III.
Batman #408-411 -- The post-Crisis retirement of Dick Grayson as Robin and the introduction of post-Crisis Jason Todd as Robin #2. Though the story is very weak, #410 actually does a really good job of explaining why a street punk (like the post-Crisis Jason) makes a far more logical Robin than an innocent kid (like the pre-Crisis Jason) would. All of the vital information in this storyline is covered again (and arguably better) in Batman #416.
Batman: Son of the Demon -- A non-continuity graphic novel that depicts what is arguably the definitive Ras Al Ghul/ Talia story. Very exciting and emotionally rich, even while a bit illogical and out of character for Batman. Though the events of this issue inspired Grant Morrison to create Damian Wayne, the baby at the end of this story cannot be him.
Batman #415: Our first glimpse of Starlin's "edgy" Jason Todd, though the characterization only continues through the next issue and largely isn't seen again until Batman #424.
Batman #416: Fleshes out much of the post-crisis origin of the Robins (Dick Grayson and Jason Todd). Also the genesis of the infamous post-crisis conflict between Bruce and Dick (told in flashback, but significantly altering the events of Batman #408), and possibly the template for the Dick Grayson/Damian Wayne relationship later depicted by Grant Morrison.
Detective Comics #583-584: First appearance of Scarface and the Ventriloquist, as well as the beginning of the first Grant/Breyfogle run.
Batman #417-420: Ten Nights of the Beast, an intriguing four part story in which Batman and the CIA and FBI must track down and stop The KGBeast, a KGB super assassin. Surprisingly and intelligently immersed in (then) contemporary Cold War politics. First appearance of the KGBeast.
Detective Comics #585-586: First appearance of The Ratcatcher, as well as another all-around exceptional story by Wagner, Grant, and Breyfogle.
Batman: The Killing Joke -- Redefines the post-Crisis Joker as significantly more perverse and sadistic than before, and features the crippling of Barbara Gordon (ending Batgirl's career and paving the way for Oracle). Not my favorite Moore story, but it is important to continuity.
Batman #424 -- The shock ending issue that really establishes what most people consider to be the definitive Post Crisis Jason Todd characterization for the first time.
(continued in next post...)