Batman has countless incredible movies, tv shows, and video games under his utility belt. However, all of those were inspired by decades worth of comic books. And the keyword in that sentence is “decades”. As a casual fan of the Caped Crusader, it might be a little daunting to try to leap into the deep pool of Batman comics.
The quick and easy answer would be to find a comic book with an exciting cover that catches your attention and just start reading. That’s how many people (including myself) got into comic books.
But if you’re looking for specific recommendations on what to read, this is the list for you. The stories on this list are some of the most well-known Batman comic books; they make great jumping points for beginners. So, here are the 5 best Batman comics for new readers.
Taking place many years into the future, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns follows an older, more brutal Bruce Wayne. The former superhero was living the retired life, but he springs back into action because Gotham is terrible, as usual. In his comeback, he faces former villains, and he also meets the villains of today.
Written by Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Returns remains a classic story that has influenced plenty of Batman media, including Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. So, if you liked that movie, you should give this story a chance. Even if you didn’t like the movie, but liked some aspects of it, The Dark Knight Returns is still a good choice for a first-time reader.
There are sequels to this story, but they weren’t as critically acclaimed as this one. The Dark Knight Returns works as a standalone story, so you don’t have to read them, but they are there if you’re curious.
Written by Grant Morrison and featuring a very unique art style by Dave McKean, Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of those stories that just stays in your mind well after you have finished reading it. The striking visuals combined with the terrifying atmosphere and the great dialogue make this a must-read for any Batman fan.
After the patients overrun Arkham Asylum, they want the man who put them there to join them. Batman, ever the hero, agrees since there are innocent people still stuck in there. This leads the Caped Crusader to venture through the asylum, where he will encounter the Joker, Two-Face, and many of his other adversaries.
Fans of the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game will spot a few elements that the game took inspiration from. And if you haven’t played that game or read this story, do yourself a favor and do both.
From the title of this story, you can guess who the main villain is. Yep, the Prince Clown of Crime is back and he’s doing more than telling jokes. He has his eyes set on one man, Commissioner Jim Gordon. The Joker wants to completely and utterly break him, so he makes his life a living hell. It’s up to Batman to stop it.
The Killing Joke is also interesting because it’s as much about the Joker as it is about Gordon or Batman. In the story, we see a (potential) origin story for the clown, and we get a peek at what his life was like before becoming the Joker. We also get a more serious side of the villain when he and Batman talk, which carves another dimension into the complex character.
The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore and featuring the art of Brian Bolland, was a story that changed Batman forever. Events happened in this story that changed the trajectory of a few of the characters for decades to come. The Killing Joke is a story that every comic book fan should read, especially new readers, because it’s one of the best Batman comics.
The Killing Joke had a Joker origin story in it, but Batman: Year One shows how it all began for the Caped Crusader. This shows what it was like during the first year that Bruce Wayne was Batman. We see the allies that he met, the villains that he fought, and the mistakes that he made. During his first year as a vigilante, he tries to take down mobster Carmine Falcone, a task that is relatively hard for the rookie hero.
But it isn’t the first year of just the Batman, it’s also the first year that Lieutantan James Gordon is in Gotham. He’s on his own quest, the police force is crooked and he has to catch the masked vigilante running around town.
Frank Miller is responsible for another classic Batman story, and this time it features the amazing art of David Mazzucchelli. If you’re looking for a Batman story that was similar to 2022’s The Batman film, look no further.
Batman: The Long Halloween, written by Jeph Loeb and featuring the art of the late great Tim Sale, also tells the story of a young Batman. Although he has more experience under his belt, he still has much to learn; not only about himself but about Gotham’s villains as well. There’s a serial killer on the loose, and Batman has to stop him before more bodies hit the floor
Batman can’t be blamed for having a tough time finding the culprit; Gotham has an overabundance of villains, many of who make an appearance in the story. But Batman isn’t solving this mystery alone, District Attorney Harvey Dent and Captain James Gordon are on the case as well. What happens next will change them forever.
Batman: The Long Halloween is exactly what a lot of Batman fans want, the detective to be embroidered in a near-impossible mystery. This story delivers on just that. After reading The Long Halloween, it’s also a good idea to check out its sequel, Batman: Dark Victory. The Caped Crusader has plenty of stories for beginners, but the Long Halloween might be the perfect choice because it’s one of the best Batman comics.
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