When a character's been through as many shifts, changes and incarnations as Batman, there's always going to be an era that sticks out as their best. Longtime readers of the Dark Knight may point to Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams' revered stint on the character during the 1970s, or maybe even the Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers comics that followed.
More recent fans, meanwhile, may even cite Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's run as the hero's most definitive, with the pair having presided over a decade's long association with the character after the advent of the New 52 (which sort of rebooted DC's entire continuity).
There are other... slightly less conventional periods that fans may latch onto however. There's a great deal of love out there for Ed Brubaker's Caped Crusader, despite his work on Gotham Central overshadowing it somewhat, while others may even cite the Legends of the Dark Knight - a series that brought together dozens of legendary creators to tell their own Batman stories - as the one that imparted the definitive visage of Bob Kane and Bill Finger's creation.
I'm not here to talk about the most definitive or necessarily iconic Batman runs however. Yes it's Bruce Wayne's big eightieth anniversary, and while efforts to discern the character's most traditionally beloved periods are worthwhile, with Batman, it's often the case that the unexpected leads to his best storylines. That was the case with Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, and - though it's still not finished - Tom King's ongoing stint on the character. For my money's worth though, the moment Grant Morrison collided with Batman conjured the Caped Crusader's greatest ever era.
Morrison's time with Batman was brief, but it coincided with a period of resurgence for the character. Brilliantly introspective and encompassing in its approach, Morrison kickstarted a veritable Bat-themed renaissance during his time on the main comic, introducing new characters, concepts and ideas even while readers railed against said introductions - Damian Wayne, the now beloved son of Bruce Wayne, one such example.
It's likely still that Morrison's Batman retains a somewhat divisive reputation amongst readers, but that's irrelevant. Pre-Final Crisis it was superb, but after Bruce's death in that very story DC's entire line of Bat-titles took on a whole new energy, with the Batman Reborn banner encapsulating the diverging paths the publisher's Bat books embraced.
Sadly, as with most tremendous periods of change in the superhero genre, the little ideas and innovations Reborn imprinted on Batman and his world weren't to last. They were extinguished - quite abruptly - in 2011, but that doesn't take away from just how impressive the era was, or stop us from reflecting on its greatness.