The reading order for Batman comics changes depending on how readers want to approach the comic book history of The Dark Knight. Some start with his very first appearance back in 1939's Detective Comics #27 while others start with the more recent and well-known Batman tales, like The Dark Knight Returns.
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As a new version of the Dark Knight heads to HBO Max with Matt Reeves' The Batman, new fans will be looking to the comics to explore the character and his extended family, though searching through over 80 years of continuity can definitely be daunting without a handy chronological road map to help move through Batman's comic history.
Updated on April 21st, 2022, by Shawn S. Lealos: With The Batman bringing the Caped Crusader back to the big screen, and now on HBO Max, many fans might want to look into the comic books on which the character is based. There have been several iterations of Batman on the big and small screen over the years, and there have been just as many versions in the pages of the comics, although it has mostly stuck with the Dark Knight since the late 80s.
With Batman being around for over 80 years, it might seem a little dense for people to get consumed with his best stories. However, if someone wants to catch up with Batman, as he is in the comics today, the reading order is laid out, with a trip from his first days as Batman to his days fighting as part of his established Bat-Family of heroes.
Batman: Year One
While Batman's mythology had been developed for many years prior to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One four-issue storyline from 1987, it has become the definitive origin story for Bruce Wayne's evolution into the Dark Knight.
Year One also details future police commissioner James Gordon's first year in Gotham as well as other Gotham City characters like the Falcones and Catwoman. Year One also partially inspired Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, making it a must-read for fans of the previous film franchise.
Batman: Year Two
Batman: Year Two appears to have some influence on the time and setting of the upcoming The Batman movie, and it's already had a major influence on the entire mythos of Batman. This 1987 story continued to retell the origin of Batman after the history revising events of Crisis On Infinite Earths.
The story pitted him against The Reaper, forcing Batman into a position of potentially having to use guns, which he swore never to do. The Reaper provided some visual influence on The Phantasm from the animated movie The Mask Of The Phantasm.
The Long Halloween
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale teamed up for a few connected series that explored the early days of Batman's mission in Gotham City while also exploring his allies and enemies in 1996's The Long Halloween and 1999's Dark Victory.
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The Long Halloween featured important moments in the development of Batman's rogue's gallery as he investigated the mysterious Holiday Killer, while Dark Victory serves as a direct sequel and highlights the new partnership between Batman and Dick Grayson/Robin.
Batman: Dark Victory was the sequel to The Long Halloween. While the first Batman comic book story arc dealt with how his rogues' gallery developed after he started his war on crime, this sequel dealt with him taking Dick Grayson under his wing and turning him into the new Robin.
This was around the third or fourth year of Batman's battle to protect Gotham City and he had to solve a series of murders while also stopping a mob war between Two-Face and what was left of the Falcone crime family. For fans who want to follow the career or Robin, there is a Robin: Year One series that follows Dark Victory.
The War Of Jokes And Riddles
Another story that deals with Batman's second year as a crime fighter is The War Of Jokes And Riddles from 2017. This story, from writer Tom King, author of The Vision, one of the comics that inspired WandaVision, pits the Joker and Riddler against each other.
It seems like it could have some connection to the plot of the upcoming movie, though it doesn't seem at the moment the Joker is involved. The eight-part story is told in flashbacks as Batman waits for Catwoman's answer to his proposal for marriage.
Son of the Demon
One of Batman's greatest enemies is Ra's al Ghul AKA the Demon's Head, the centuries-old leader of the League of Assassins whose relationship with Batman is unlike any of his other villains, as Ra's originally chose Batman to be his successor.
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While the origins of Ra's al Ghul weren't revealed until 1999's Birth of the Demon by Denny O'Neil and Norm Breyfogle, it was 1987's Son of the Demon by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham that explored his complicated relationship with Talia al Ghul that would go on to have a major impact on Batman's mythology
Released in 1989 by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth took Batman, and fans, inside the iconic hospital and showcased many of the inmates who had taken over the institution.
This Batman story was a perfect example of how all Batman's villains were mirror versions of the hero himself and showed how they possibly only exist because he is there as well. For fans of the videogames, this is the comic book that also influenced that franchise.
The Killing Joke
When it comes to Batman, it isn't just about the one hero fighting crime in Gotham City. He has an entire supporting cast, and it is important to see how they all fit together in the puzzle. In Batman: Year One, the story mostly followed Jim Gordon arriving in Gotham and dealing with the new Batman fighting crime.
In The Killing Joke, Gordon is pushed to the limit when Joker shoots and paralyzes his daughter, Barbara, who is also Batgirl. This entire act of violence was just to try to drive Gordon over the edge, and it was all he could do to not kill Joker, and a lot of that was thanks to his reliance on Batman as a confidant.
Death In The Family
Batman's extended family includes a number of costumed allies that play a large role in his storylines over the years, and there are a couple of essential storylines that not only affected the Bat-Family but also had a lasting impact on Batman.
1988's Death In The Family and The Killing Joke showcased the tragic loss of Robin and Batgirl, respectively, at the hands of Batman's greatest enemy. Batman would stay in a dark place until 1989's A Lonely Place of Dying introduced Tim Drake as the new Robin, launching a new era for the dynamic duo.
A big reason new fans might come to Batman is Harley Quinn, the star of her own movies and animated series. Mad Love is absolutely the place those fans should check out in their reading order. This 1993 comic book by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini brings one of the most popular Batman: The Animated Series characters into the comics for the first time.
Though it takes place in the world of B: TAS, it's her first step into the greater Batman mythos. She's never looked back since, becoming one of the most popular comic book characters in recent years.
Gotham By Gaslight
The Batman isn't the only version of The Dark Knight coming up in the movies. Thanks to the multiverse, Michael Keaton is returning as Bruce Wayne in the Flashpoint movie. The comics have been leaning on the concept of Elseworlds for a long time, making Gotham By Gaslight an attractive place to start for curious readers.
This 1989 graphic novel by writer Brian Augustyn and artist Mike Mignola helped pioneer the concept by showing a steampunk-style Batman in a 19th-century Gotham City. The comic has been adapted into an animated movie as well.
A Lonely Place Of Dying
A Lonely Place Of Dying is a 1989 crossover between the Batman titles and The New Teen Titans that introduced the third version of Robin, Tim Drake. This follows the grisly death of the second Robin, Jason Todd, at the hands of the Joker in A Death In The Family.
Batman hadn't recovered from the violent loss of Jason Todd, becoming more careless, which merits the concern of Nightwing, the first Robin. During a battle with Two-Face, Tim Drake deduces Batman's true identity and appoints himself the new Robin.
While No Man's Land was a story that was groundbreaking, sending Batman and his allies into a lawless Gotham City - shut off from the rest of the world - it was the prequel that set the table for the story. This was Cataclysm, and it is hard to get into No Man's Land without reading what came before.
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Batman: Cataclysm ran for 18 issues and crossed over through all the Batman comics at the start of 1998. The plot saw a massive earthquake destroy much of Gotham City, which would send the entire city into darkness. While No Man's Land saw a battle to reclaim the city, this story was about saving as many lives as possible.
Knightfall - No Man's Land
Batman would experience one of his greatest losses when he first encountered Bane during the Knightfall storyline from the 90s, which first broke the Batman before introducing a new character to don the mantle of the bat.
After Bruce Wayne was able to recover and take back both his city and his cowl, he nearly lost his allies to plague in 1996's Contagion and Legacy before 1998's Cataclysm destroyed Gotham. No Man's Land followed Batman and his allies as they fought alongside the GCPD to save and rebuild Gotham City from the villains who had taken control.
Hush - Under The Red Hood
Batman's past would come back to haunt him a number of times in storylines like 2002's Batman: Hush or 2005's Under The Red Hood, both of which were adapted into feature-length direct-to-video animated movies.
Hush introduced a brand new villain who manipulated some of Batman's biggest enemies into taking down the Dark Knight in an extremely personal attack that explored Bruce Wayne's past while the return of the villainous Red Hood (a former costumed identity of The Joker) completely shook up Batman's world and re-examined one of his most tragic moments.
Batman And Son - Batman, Inc.
When Grant Morrison took over the core Batman titles, he took inspiration from classic stories to help bring them into modern continuity while further developing Batman and his family with the introduction of his son Damian Wayne in 2006's Batman And Son.
2008's Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis led to huge changes and a brand new Batman and Robin following 2009's Battle For The Cowl. 2010's Batman Incorporated further evolved Batman's organization before the entire DC Universe was rewritten by the Flashpoint event.
New 52 Era
While Batman and his related characters weren't given a full reboot like the rest of the DC Universe, the New 52 did serve as a good jumping-on point for new readers while still embracing most of Batman's established history.
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Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo introduced readers to the mysterious Court of Owls before an epic showdown with the Joker in Endgame. Batman's early days were also given a modern overhaul in Zero Year while the Super Heavy storyline introduced yet another brand new armored Batman.
Tom King took over Batman following the 2016 DC Rebirth event that provided a soft reboot to the DC Universe, which led to Batman teaming up with Barry Allen/The Flash to investigate during The Button storyline.
Batman and Catwoman's romantic relationship that was first made official in Hush would be further developed over the course of his run. His rivalry with Bane would also be taken to new levels with City of Bane which would lead to one of the biggest tragedies in Bruce Wayne's life that the Bat-Family is still recovering from in current issues.
In 2017, DC introduced one of the most dangerous and exciting Batman villains in history with The Batman Who Laughs. This happened in Dark Nights: Metal. The six-issue miniseries that started it all saw Batman discover a dark multiverse that exists under the core of the main DC Universe.
This is where The Batman Who Laughs came from, which was that world's Bruce Wayne, driven mad by Joker's laughing gas. If fans ever wanted to see what an evil Batman looked like, it happened here and since he was Bruce Wayne, he was also someone that the Caped Crusader couldn't beat without going to his worst enemy - his world's Joker.
The Dark Knight Returns
While Frank Miller's iconic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns was released in 1986 and helped usher in a new darker era of the Batman, it does take place in the future as retired Bruce Wayne is forced to return to his role as a costumed crimefighter.
The Dark Knight Returns features a few of Batman's most popular villains alongside a dangerous new army to fit the time period. Batman gained a new Robin in young Carrie Kelley as he renewed his mission to protect Gotham City in a storyline that was adapted to a two-part animated direct-to-video release.
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The usual, long-standing recommendation to get a start on Batman's story is to read the seminal 1987 storyline “Year One”, which ran in “Batman” #404 v1 to “Batman” #407 v1 and is always available as one collection.What order should you read the Batman comics in? ›
- Batman: Year One.
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
- Gotham Central.
- Batman: The Long Halloween + Dark Victory.
- Batman (New 52) by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
- Batman: The Black Mirror.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum.
The usual, long-standing recommendation to get a start on Batman's story is to read the seminal 1987 storyline “Year One”, which ran in “Batman” #404 v1 to “Batman” #407 v1 and is always available as one collection.Do I need to read all the Batman comics? ›
And while reading every Batman comic book out there wouldn't be technically impossible, it would certainly require serious commitment and a lot of time. However, you don't need to read every Batman comic to understand this masked superhero fully and experience some of his greatest adventures.Is Batman Begins accurate to the comics? ›
Batman Begins maintains much of Batman's origins from Year One and other Dark Knight books. However, there are some notable changes. When we first meet Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), he is lost. He is not on a crusade to avenge his parents, to learn everything he can so he can become a dark angel of justice.Which DC comic should I read first? ›
There is no one correct way to get started with DC Comics, and unfortunately unlike TV series, there is no definitive “episode 1.” Comic books are spread across multiple series titles (ex: Action Comics, Detective Comics, World's Finest, etc), and offer traditionally non-linear narrative paths as a result.How long does it take to read Batman Year 1? ›
The average reader will spend 2 hours and 8 minutes reading this book at 250 WPM (words per minute).What is the best Batman comic to start with? ›
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.
- Batman: The Killing Joke.
- Batman: Year One.
- Batman: The Long Halloween.
The initials for the DC Comic books were from taken from the Detective Comic series. With that series came the rise of Batman. There was another line of comic books, known as Action Comics, which featured a new super hero named Superman.Which Batman is truest to the comics? ›
1) Christian Bale
Christian Bale is one of the most popular and comic-book accurate versions of the superhero. Of course, it was the brilliant vision of Christopher Nolan that brought the character to life, but it's also true that Bale did a marvelous job as Batman.
The average reader will spend 6 hours and 24 minutes reading this book at 250 WPM (words per minute).Is it okay to skip Batman Begins? ›
No, you don't need to see Batman Begins. BB is just the story of how Batman became the vigilant and why he has accepted to be the shadow of the hero and not the face. Dark Knight is a fresh beginning to Batman character where his values are challenged.Who is the real villain in Batman Begins? ›
Type of Villain
Ra's to Bruce. Ra's al Ghul, also known as Henri Ducard is the main antagonist of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, serving as the main antagonist of Batman Begins and the posthumous overarching antagonist of The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.
There is no denying that The Dark Knight is nothing short of a masterpiece, and will forever be known as such. Batman Begins may not be the better movie as a whole from a cinematic standpoint, but it may be the better Batman movie. Everything that makes the character who he is gets shown here and built upon.Is the kid in Batman Begins Robin? ›
To wonder whether that child will be Robin in the sequel is to miss what the child is in The Batman. To put it simply, the mayor's son is not Robin. He is Bruce Wayne. He serves as a way of externalizing Bruce's central trauma.Is it possible to read all DC Comics? ›
You can continue to read your DC Digital Comics library and purchase digital comics and collections on the DC Comics app and www.comixology.com. To do this, just download the DC Comics app and sign in using the account that you were using at ReadDC.com. Then you can read all of your books!What age group is DC Comics aimed at? ›
The DC Comics Rating System
E – EVERYONE – Appropriate for readers of all ages. May contain cartoon violence and/or some comic mischief. T – TEEN – Appropriate for readers age 12 and older. May contain mild violence, language and/or suggestive themes.
In February 1935, DC Comics' precursor, National Allied Publications, published New Fun #1—the company's first comic book and the first ever comic book consisting of completely original material.How old is Batman in Year 1? ›
Frank Miller's Batman: Year One is the Alpha of his Dark Knight story arc–as the title suggests, we see a young, 25 year old Bruce Wayne here return from his travels to face Gotham, and to become the Dark Knight.What age is Batman Begins for? ›
Aged eight to thirteeninfo
The violence and violent visual images in Batman Begins are presented in a very realistic manner and setting, and are still capable of scaring or disturbing children aged eight to fifteen.
Parents need to know that Batman Begins features hard and fast violence, martial arts and shootings conveyed through dark, abrupt, sometimes scary imagery. Less cartoonish than the Spider-Man and X-Men movies, these scenes are loud and rough.What is real name of Joker? ›
In the latest issue of Flashpoint Beyond #5, the Joker's real name has been revealed: Jack Oswald White. This is something that fans of DC and the character have greatly appreciated, and that is that the identity of the Joker is something that many have always tried to find out.What is Batman number 1 worth? ›
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While some comics you might get more out of reading from the very start, most comics you can jump in anywhere. Nowadays there's all kind of aides which can bring you up to speed with what's happening – whether it be what happened in a previous story or even what's happening in a current storyline.What grade is very good comics? ›
VERY GOOD 5.0 to 3.5
The inside paper quality can be low and small pieces of the pages may be missing. Books with brittle pages cannot grade higher than 3.5 and generally are even lower in grade.
Comic books can be read by children (and adults) of all ages. You likely have kicked back with a superhero comic or a fun and entertaining manga in your own adult life! This is proof that starting children out with comics can lead to a lifelong passion. Most children begin reading when they are around 6 years old.Which is better DC or Marvel? ›
Though Marvel has some deeming qualities, such as their movies, DC is just overall better. While watching or reading DC, ever noticed there are more iconic villains? Marvel hardly has any good villains that last more than two movies. Plus, their back stories are dainty and not incredibly in-depth.Who is the oldest DC character created? ›
Since then, Richard Occult has continued to lend his supernatural talents to DC's heroes, making him—for now, at least—the oldest DC character to still be published today.Who was the first superhero in DC? ›
DC Comics introduced the first costumed superhero, Superman, in Action Comics #1 (June 1938). Superman's creators, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, had unsuccessfully tried to sell the series to newspaper syndicates as a daily strip.What is the most evil version of Batman? ›
1) The Dark Knight Metal Batman Who Laughs unleashes the ultimate evil. In the DC Comics event Dark Knight Metal, Batman Who Laughs orchestrated a sinister scheme to plunge the multiverse into darkness. As part of his plan, he created a collection of evil versions of the character unleashed to carry out his bidding.
The smartest version of Batman appears to be the DC One Milion version, with a recorded IQ of 1045. In terms of other DC and Marvel characters, Lex Luthor, Peter Parker, Tony Stark, and Reed Richards have higher IQs than Batman, with Bruce Banner falling short in this comparison.What is Batman most powerful version in comics? ›
- #1: Batman the God. It's hard to circumvent an outcome when your number one is a literal god…even if only temporarily.
- #2: Super Bat. ...
- #3: Red Death. ...
- #4: Hellbat. ...
- #5: White Lantern. ...
- #6: Dark Claw. ...
- #7: Sorcerer Batman. ...
- #8: Vampire Batman (a.k.a. “Bat-Man”) ...
We're talking three to five years. In terms of the physical skills to be able to defend himself against all these opponents all the time, I would benchmark that at 10 to 12 years. Probably the most reality-based representation of Batman and his training was in Batman Begins. Why such a long training time?What is the longest running Batman comic? ›
Now into the 900s, “Detective Comics” is still a staple of DC's lineup. With nearly 70 years under its belt, it's not only the longest Batman comic, but the second longest ongoing run under DC comics, just behind "Action Comics." Which is your favorite longest-running Bat book?How long did it take Batman to train? ›
By most accounts, it took Bruce Wayne twelve years to cross the globe, learning how to hit people, find people, and 1,001 other skills before he could become The Bat.What is the one rule of Batman? ›
That one rule is Batman's, the only one he rigidly adheres to: no killing. Seems easy enough to follow until you realize what kind of pressure it causes in his line of work and how much easier it was all be if he broke it just once.Why does Bane wear a mask? ›
Here's a quote straight from the mouth of director Christopher Nolan: Bane is someone ravaged by pain from a trauma suffered long ago, and the mask dispenses a type of anesthetic that keeps his pain just below the threshold so he can function.Is Batman Begins worth it? ›
This movie is probably the best of all the "Batman" movies to ever be released. Christopher Nolan reinvents this iconic character in the most humane way we have ever seen the character in before. It's also the greatest way we have ever seen.Who killed Bruce Wayne's parents? ›
Batman: Three Jokers #1 (August 2020). In Batman's origin story, Joe Chill is the mugger who murders young Bruce Wayne's parents, Dr. Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne. The murder traumatizes Bruce, inspiring his vow to avenge their deaths by fighting crime in Gotham City as the vigilante Batman.Who is the god villain in Batman? ›
While Darkseid is a deity and immortal, having lived for several hundred thousand years, he is not invincible and has been killed on several occasions. Darkseid is able to drain the life force of other godly beings to rejuvenate himself or return to his full power.
The Joker is a character portrayed by Heath Ledger and the main antagonist in Christopher Nolan's 2008 superhero film The Dark Knight.Which Batman is considered the best? ›
1. Michael Keaton (1989–1992; 2023) Unflinching, unfazed, unyielding, understated, unpretentious, and numerous other un- words, Michael Keaton's Batman really is the silent warrior at the gates.What is the main message from Batman Begins? ›
Batman Begins has a message of its own with, "It is not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you." Unlike The Dark Knight's message, this is one that speaks directly to the character of Batman. The movie is about Bruce Wayne's journey of finding his purpose and becoming the hero of Gotham.What is the gap between Batman Begins and Dark Knight? ›
The Dark Knight
Nolan's second Batman movie kicks off about six months after Batman Begins, as the Joker (Heath Ledger), teased in the final scene of the previous movie, is now a well-known criminal terrorizing Gotham.
Summary. Damian Wayne is the biological son of Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Talia al Ghul. His existence was hidden from his father up to when he was about ten years old, during which time he was trained by the League of Assassins in a variety of disciplines to make him an extremely efficient killer.Who is the oldest Robin in Batman? ›
Dick Grayson appeared as the first Robin in 1940; after his becoming of Nightwing, several different youths have appeared as Robin.When did Robin become a girl? ›
A love interest of Bruce Wayne's wore the Robin costume in 1941 to help the heroes on a case, but Carrie Kelley made a real splash as a female Robin in 1986. She was introduced in The Dark Knight Returns, which imagines a bleak future in which an older Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to protect Gotham City.Where to start Batman comic series? ›
For new readers, the best place to start is the origin story. When you're dealing with a character who's been around as long as Batman with multiple variations of his origin, it can be tricky to find the best version. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's recent New 52 run is a great starting point.What Batman comic should I read after Year One? ›
Chronologically, the story would contain Year One, All-Star Batman and Robin, The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again (along with some other stories as part of anthologies.)Should I start with Batman Begins? ›
This viewing order for the Christopher Nolan/Dark Knight trilogy is as follows: Batman Begins (2005) The Dark Knight (2008) The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Director Christopher Nolan has stated that Chicago inspired his portrayal of Gotham, and the majority of both Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) were filmed there. However, Christopher Nolan's Gotham City was deliberately set in New Jersey to honor Gotham's location in the comic books.What is the oldest Batman comic? ›
What was the first Batman comic? The character of Batman debuted in May 1939 in Detective Comics no. 27. The success of Batman's appearances in Detective Comics led to an eponymous spin-off title that debuted in the spring of 1940.Is Zero Year still canon? ›
In DC Rebirth, events from Batman: Year One were reinstated in the timeline. However, Zero Year remains canon, co-existing with Year One.What is the order of Batman Begins? ›
THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY was written and directed by Christopher Nolan and consists of BATMAN BEGINS (2005), THE DARK KNIGHT (2008), and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012).What does the New 52 mean in DC Comics? ›
The New 52 is a 2011 DC Comics event marking the relaunch of its entire line with the publication of 52 new comic series, all beginning at #1. The New 52 came out of the Flashpoint event.Who is 52 Batman? ›
Bruce Wayne, the Batman of Earth -52, is the Red Death, one of Barbatos' Dark Knights.Do you need to read anything before Batman Year One? ›
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
No, you don't need to start with Detective Comics #27 to understand the modern Batman. DC Comics published Year One in 1987, and it's the definitive origin story for Batman.
Robert Pattinson took inspiration from Batman: Shaman
"It's almost a dream state the whole time," Pattinson said, explaining his take on the comic. "I was like, 'Oh, that hasn't really been touched on.
The first Batman story, "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate", was published in Detective Comics #27 (cover dated May 1939).