If You Want to Start Reading Batman

If you want to start reading Batman, the best thing to do is to start with the key storylines as oppose to reading everything because that's just not something you can accomplish unless you really look for old copies of everything. Luckily, there are soft copies available online to read or download. I can give you the essentials of Batman and will try to make it as chronological as I can. The truth for the matter is that 'chronological' is not always possible when it comes to these key stories. But here are the stories that matter the most, continuity-wise. Take note that New 52 is the continuity DC is operating right now since 2012. It means that 52 titles including several Bat-titles have been renewed and were re-started back to issue #1. The timeline as of the moment is that all of the DC heroes have only been around for SIX YEARS. It can get...confusing sometimes. But it's overall fun. On June 2015, DC released twenty-four new titles again while also revamping the continuity so all of the present titles endedon their fortieth issue by May. The big DC event story Divergence also happened and now these new 24 titles have been brought on. 

For 2016, yet another revamp has happened and...well, let's not talk about that and focus on what's classic, new and hot for Batman in comics, shall we? Let me start with the old continuity and the classics first:

1. Year One by Frank Miller - this is the origin story that defines Batman.

2. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller- where Batman returns from retirement but finds out that the times have changed around him and he needs to adjust. I put it in second place because it's written by the same writer, Miller, of Year One and you can put these stories together and appreciate them equally for their tonality and message. TDKR also started the dark and gritty Batman in the eighties which was what the character should be but then the sixties turned him campy after the Adam West show. This is going back to his roots as a caped crusader in the shadows.

3. Knightfall by various writers - there are three volumes to this story arc. I personally only finished two of them so far. I dread picking up the third one. This is the story of how Bane broke the Bat and how an unfit person took over Batman and that Bruce Wayne needs to recover fast and put a stop to this new Batman and his extreme ways.

4. Batman: A Death in the Family by Jim Starlin / Batman: Under the Hood by Judd Winick - the death of the second Robin Jason Todd. Personally, you really don't need to read the original one by Starlin since Winnick's re-imagining contains flashbacks of what happened when Jason Todd was murdered. This was a great story that shows the complex relationship between Batman and the considered 'black sheep' Robin.

5. Batman R.I.P by Grant Morrison - Like I said, I'm giving you key issues but later on I will give you ones that I personally enjoyed and are considered some of the best Bat-stories. For this one...you need a little background. DC has what you call "Crisis" storylines and in their Final Crisis arc, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were all presumed dead. This comic book covers Batman's demise.

6. Battle for the Cowl by Tony Daniel - with Bruce Wayne dead, the Robins hold a competition of who wins and becomes the new Batman.

7. Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader by Neil Gaiman - a funeral for Batman where all known characters deliver their last speech concerning their first meetings and encounters with the Dark Knight.

8. Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison - 9 issues of Bruce Wayne coming back from the dead and forming a franchise company that recruits heroes across the globe to represent his ideology as Batman. Cool stuff.

9. Hush by Jeph Loeb - Not really a fan but still an important story about a villain named Hush. Has almost all the Bat-villains, and this is also an exploration of Batman-Catwoman romance and relationship.

10. The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb - Harvey Dent's origin story of becoming Two Face. The development of Batman, Gordon and Dent's relationship in the early days.

11. Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn by Grant Morrison - takes place with the new Batman and Damian Wayne as the new Robin.

12. The Black Mirror by Scott Snyder - A PERSONAL FAVORITE where the new Batman and James Gordon deal with respective demons. 11 issues in a collected trade paperback :)

13. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth by Grant Morrison - stories including Arkham's most notorious residents

As for other recommendations:

Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns
Batman: A 75 Years of Celebration
* The Killing Joke by Alan Moore (Joker-centric extravaganza)
Blind Justice by Sam Hamm
* Gothic by Grant Morrison
* Batman and Son by Grant Morrison
* EGO by Darwyn Cooke - Bruce Wayne's examination of his alter ego
* Birth of the Demon by Denis O'Neil - Ra's Al Ghul origin story
* Son of the Demon by Mike W. Barr (alternative universe story)
* Prey by Doug Moench
* Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb
* The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker - another Joker-centered story
* Absolution by J.M DeMatteis
* Gates of Gotham by Scott Snyder
* Strange Apparitions by Len Wein
* Batman '66 by Jeff Parker

Now let's go to the New 52

I've been going through the Bat-titles for New 52 since April of 2014 alongside the old continuity stories. Here are the titles (meaning 'comic book series') I can recommend the most. I'm more or less reading New 52 material and I finished these ones first:

1. BATMAN by Scott Snyder - currently has 50 issues and 8 collected volumes:
  • Volume 1 (issues 1-7) - The Court of Owls
  • Volume 2 (issue 8-12 + annual) - The City of Owls
TIE-INs, crossovers with other DC titles: The Night of the Owls (which are supplemental but not necessarily important to read unless for posterity's sake and you just have to know everything that happened. I read this for those reasons).
  • Volume 3 (issues 13-17) - Death of the Family
TIE-INs, crossovers with other DC titles: The Joker: Death of the Family (again, you can read this alongside Snyder's volume 3. There are some good ones included in this volume. My review covers the stories that will increase your enjoyment for the main arc).
  • Volume 4 (issues 21-24) - Zero Year: Secret City
  • Volume 5 (issues 25-27, 29-33) - Zero Year: Dark City
  • Volume 6 (select standalone issues) Graveyard Shift
  • Volume 7 (issues #31-40) - ENDGAME
  • Volume 8 (issues #41-45) - Superheavy 
  • Volume 9 (issues #46-50) - Bloom
  • Volume 10 (issues #51-52, Annual 4, Futures End, Rebirth) - Epilogue

As for issues that were not included in the volumes:
  • 18- Requiem (Er, Requiem issues are found across the Bat-titles. It covers a major character's death)
  • 19-20- a short story arc on Clayface.


2. BATMAN AND ROBIN by Peter J. Tomasi
  • Volume 1 (issues 1-8) - Born to Kill - a personal favorite!
  • Volume 2 (issues 9-14) - Pearl
  • Volume 3 (issues 15-17 + annual) - Death of the Family
  • Volume 4 (issues 18-23) - Requiem
  • Volume 5 (issues 24-28 + annual) - The Big Burn (A Two Face story arc)

 issues #33-37 with Robin Rises story arc plus Robin: ALPHA and OMEGA

THE SERIES HAS FINISHED WITH Superpowered Boy Wonder, #38-40. No more renewal. A new Damian Wayne-centered series by Patrick Gleason will pick up from this title instead called Robin: Son of Batman

3. DETECTIVE COMICS by Tony Daniel, John Layman, Francis Manapul/Brian Bucelatto, and Peter J. Tomasi

Personally, DON'T READ TONY S. DANIEL's run because that is universally acknowledged as rubbish by many fans. I think you can just read issues 1 and 2 because those were at least enjoyable. The rest until issue 12, don't bother. Here are the ones you can read:
  • John Layman's run (issues 13-29 + annual 2)
  • Francis Manapul (Icarus story issues #30-36; Anarky story issues #37-40; Last arc #41-45)
  • Anniversary issues include issue #19 (Detective Comics officially reached 900 issues) and issue #27 (for the 75th anniversary).
  • CURRENT RUN: Peter J. Tomasi (issues #46-50)


4. BATMAN ETERNAL (weekly series) by various writers

* First collected volume is composed of the first 20 issues; currently on issue #54

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Downloading soft copies can be done in torrent sites. Just type into the search engines with the title and publication year of the comic book you wish to indulge in. You also have to downlad an app that opens .cbr extention files such as GonVisor and ComicsRack. Also, check out my Yearend 2014 for the Batman comics I finished reading.
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  1. This is such a great blog. I don't understand why I don't really see any comments. Thanks for your tireless devotion to our favorite superhero!

    1. Oh my! Thank you very much! It's always nice to be appreciated by a fellow comics reader and Batman fan which I assume you are :) I made this blog to memorialize my reading experiences for Batman so I wasn't expecting any public affirmation anyway, but it's still nice to read about it. So thank you very much!