The Batman games(Arkham Asylum and Arkham City) have been on my Steam backlog for a while now(I know). I recently made the commitment to playing and finishing both of them. I’ve been playing AA and I have found the lore explored in the game intriguing.
I have never really been a comic book or graphic novel reader or a huge Batman fan. My knowledge of Batman would be limited to the Keaton movies, the Adam West series and general pop culture.
Can any comic book people give me some suggestions on where to start if I wanted to read more about Batman?
I would love to read some more in depth explorations of his back story and the back stories of the villains. There seem to be hundreds of different stories/series of comics and it was a bit overwhelming when I tried to figure it out myself so any help is appreciated.
Edit: 1 more question…what’s the best app/reader to read comics on on my iPad?
I use ComicRack for e-comics myself, with the main program on Windows and the mobile reader on my Android tablet. They’ve got an iPad version as well, which I haven’t used myself but I assume it’s comparable to the Android version.
I’d recommend picking up Batman: Year One and Hush. Pretty sure you can get collected editions of both. Year One is an origin story, a bit on the older side but still my favorite. And Hush is just an outstanding storyline, touching pretty much everything Batman along the way.
In the last couple of years, DC has revamped their whole universe and a lot of things have changed. Such as Batman Incorporated, and previously minor characters like Batwing becoming much more prominent. You probably won’t see a lot of those recent changes in the games, though.
Hush was going to be my recommendation as well, although it might just have the same effect as the games: it’s going to make you want more in depth explorations. It’s sort of a whirlwind tour of the DC Batman lineup from 2003. While a lot of those characters have changed in the comic books since then—many drastically, it still holds up as a sort of collection of the modern archetypes of the characters, much like the Arkham games themselves. I’d start there, and then maybe start investigating the specific characters you like and go for there with questions like “okay, what’s the deal with all these Robins?” or “so what are the defining Joker stories?”
At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re ready to go all-out, Grant Morrison recently had a pretty masterful run on Batman and some of his related titles spanning many years, some interruptions, and DC-universe wide upheavals. It was heavily steeped in characters and ideas stretching back to the crazier gold and silver age Batman stuff, but did a great job of tying them into a sprawling epic in a modern way. It’s incredibly intimidating, but ultimately worth it. I think I have a decent handle on the modern era of Batman and some of his history (and was up to date on other DC comics at the time) and there was still a bunch of stuff flying over my head, but I just went with it and it paid off. If you get into this and really want to commit to it, I can try to dig up a good reading order list of his run and the few other essential books that tie in.
And as for reading on your iPad, if you want to buy digital comics, you’ll want a Comixology account and their app. Think of it as the iTunes store for comics, in all the good ways and all the bad—they’re all DRM’d. You can log into your Comixology account and read your comics on your computer or almost any other devices, but you can’t get your purchases out of that infrastructure.
If you should somehow acquire your digital comics through other, non-DRM means, and want load them onto your iPad, I don’t know what’s best, but I personally use Comic Zeal, and it’s good enough for me.
It might be worth starting at one of the major recent upheavals and going forward from there. 52, New 52, a Crisis, etc. You could at least get rolling along with one of DC’s intended clearing-outs to “simplify” things (as you’ll quickly learn, that never really works well, haha).
Long Halloween is probably worth a read as an individual story.
Also, we’ve gone through this before here and here, which I don’t point out to shame you, but those threads might help. I think there have been other threads just like this, those are just the first two I could dig up.
One other recent recommendation, the first 12 issues of the most current run of Batman (which started over with the rest of the DC universe about two years ago in the “New 52” reboot) are a pretty solid story, collected as The Court of Owls and The City of Owls.
It doesn’t depend on much established continuity to get into, and it’s a good story, with good art. It retcons some things into Batman’s past that might not really stick in the years to come, so it might not turn out to be an “important” story, but that doesn’t hurt it as a recommendation.