Recommendations for first time Batman comics

I’m interested in picking up some Batman comics/graphic novels. I’m more keen on storylines that follow his origin and early days and retain some sort of continuity as they progress. A friend recommended starting with Year One and then going with The Long Halloween and onward from there.

I’m no expert, so can anyone recommend where I should start and where I should go from there?

I would say “The Killing Joke” and “A Death in the Family” are worth reading…

And you certainly dont want to miss “The Dark Knight Returns”, even though every time I read it, it gets more dated…

edit to say -

But the two you mentioned are definitely good ones to start with. It really depends on what “role” you like for Batman. Do you like the detective, the crazy guy in a costume, or the superhero? If you asked my wife, she would say the best Batman ever was the one in the old Justice League International series, but most of the fans of the grim and gritty Batman of the past 10 years would completely disagree.

I think your friend is on the right track, although you might find that Batman, like most superheroes, has so much history, with false starts, do-overs, and epic stories that hinge on bits of continuity ephemera, you might get frustrated easily. Superhero stories work best when you’re always backtracking, and it seems like you’re exploring a tremendous cavern filled with endless possibilities, rather than going at it methodically and quickly realizing you’re walking down the same three halls of the funhouse, just with the locations of the rubber spiders and scary faces adjusted slightly.

That said: yeah, start with Year One, which is great.

But before the Long Halloween, try and get a hold of Batman: The Man Who Laughs, which is a one-shot by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke about the first meeting of Batman and The Joker. It’s pretty decent and will fit in with the chono approach you’re trying.

Then, I guess, The Long Halloween, which never did much for me but I know a lot of people like. Then, the sequel, Batman: Dark Victory.

Matt Wagner has done a couple of mini-series set in Batman’s early days, based on early Bob Kane Batman stories. Batman and the Monster Men, and Batman and the Mad Monk. Those would probably work well. That should get you started.

Then there’s the middle period, which is even more all-over-the-map in terms of what’s collected and what you might like. But let’s say you should at least read (if not buy) Batman: A Death in the Family, which will has events that get mentioned a lot in later Batman stories; Batman: Hush for more fan-service by Jeph Loeb (again); and then maybe Batman/Grendel by Matt Wagner (again); Batman: Blind Justice by Sam Hamm (who co-wrote the Tim Burton Batman screenplay and does a really weird Batman story here); and a couple others which I can’t really decide on yet. (Let’s say Batman: Two Face & The Riddler, since it has a really good Riddler story by Neil Gaiman, and Batman: Arkhan Asylum: Living Hell by Dan Slott although that might be out of print.)

Then watch all of the Batman series by Warner Brothers, and the movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm which is a loose adaptation of Batman: Year Two (and works much better, I think.)

Then, finish it up with Batman: Killing Joke by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland, and Batman: Dark Knight Returns by Miller.

That’ll probably work as a nice chrono overview, but at some point you’ll just find creators you like or a run that sounds interesting to you and you’ll steer away from this map, and you’ll be just fine.

Thanks for the suggestions! Fortunately, Batman: The Man Who Laughs HC is coming in to my comic shop tomorrow.

Can I get all of Year One in graphic novel form and if so, is it all in one book or a series?

Yeah, Year One is by Frank Miller and Dave Mazzucchelli and you can get it as a trade paperback.

Everything I mentioned in my post (with the exception of the animated stuff, obviously) is all available as trade paperbacks, unless they’re out of print and I didn’t know.

Sadly, that hardcover for the Man Who Laughs is a little steep for what you get. I liked it as a 6.99 softcover, not sure if it’s worth 13.99. Make sure you check it out a bit before taking the plunge.

Dark knight returns was fantastic, imo. Loved reading it, loved more that it was required reading for a class.

Dark Knight Returns is about the end of the Batman character, so it makes a particularly bad place to start.

Batman is the kind of character that writers apparently love to write. In addition to the books mentioned here, some of my fave takes on the character have been courtesy of Grant Morrison: Arkham Asylum makes a nice companion piece to Moore’s The Killing Joke in that they both are more concerned with the psychology of Batman than with the heroics, and his take on the character in his fabulous JLA run might be my favourite version period.

Whoever mentioned the Keith Giffen / J.M. DeMatteis Justice League International stories was right on the money, too. Especially the classic fight scene between him and Guy Gardner. Priceless.


“One punch. One punch!”


DKR isn’t necessarily the end. I mean, there is a sequel to it, so how can it be the end?

I agree on the fact its heading towards his end, but thats really the only true batman comic I read, and I had fun. Just saying, its a good one to pick up, even if its just an eventuality.

Well, if Miller had the balls to SPOILERS FOR A TWENTY YEAR OLD COMIC COMING let Superman kill him OK YOU MAY CONTINUE, it would have been the end. More to the point, though, Dark Knight Returns sort of assumes you know at least something about the DC universe, which makes it a bad place to start. It’s the same reason I wouldn’t give Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come to somebody new to DC.

Agreed fully. He should HOLY SHIT DON"T LOOK HEREdiedOKAY ON YOUR WAY NOW as it would’ve made the experience much more fulfilling.

My favorite batman comic is Gotham Central. It’s all the crazy fucked up shit that goes on in Gotham from the point of view of the Gotham PD.

Batman: City of Crime is quite good. Although I don’t know how or if it fits into the continuity. Very noir with an excellent villain.

Here’s one place to start. They have a lot of good smaller selections and all the big ones.

Most of the best Batman stories have very little to do with continuity.

Gotham Central was fantastic, and the “Soft Targets” trade that collects the Joker arc is particularly ace.

EDIT: Minor mistake, the trade is called “Unresolved Targets” because it collects the “Soft Targets” and “Unresolved” arcs.

Yeah, Gotham Central is also great–left off the list more for space considerations than anything and not sure at what level a Batman newb can appreciate (prolly pretty early on) but it’s really strong stuff.

I’d start with that dickbutt cartoon.

Read Hush.

Think about the fact that people seem to think it’s a really good Batman story.

Give up on comics forever.

But… but… it had Jim Lee! And a lot of villains!