Batman is arguably the most popular character in the DC Universe, and if you’re new to comics, you may very well want to start with the Caped Crusader.
As it is with practically all comics, overwhelming is a good word to describe the feeling one gets when deciding to start – and where. Here’s a bit of help, if you want to go read up on Batman: five must read Batman stories.
1. Detective Comics #27
Where is the best place to start? The beginning, of course.
Detective Comics #27 was released in 1939, and it was where Batman/Bruce Wayne made his first appearance. Some distinguishing elements of Batman’s character revealed in his first appearance remain today: billionaire playboy, the Batcave, his costume (although it has changed over the years, of course), and the utility belt. Oh, and Gordon, who has something to say about Bruce Wayne the billionaire.
Bruce Wayne is a nice young chap – but he certainly must lead a boring life… seems disinterested in everything. – Commissioner Gordon
Here’s an awesome thing: the comic is free at ComiXology, so get it now!
2. Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween takes the reader to the early days of Batman’s fight against crime. It revolves around the mystery of Holiday, a killer who pounces only during – you got it – holidays. Batman teams up with Gordon and Harvey Dent to catch the killer.
This storyline also leads up to the turning of Harvey Dent into the villain Two-Face.
Batman: The Long Halloween is available on Amazon in Kindle, Library Binding, and Paperback.
3. Batman: Dark Victory
Batman: Dark Victory is a limited series edition with 14 parts. Written by Jeph Loeb and by Tim Sale, this is a sequel to Batman: The Long Halloween, so it’s a must read Batman story as well.
The main players are Two-Face, who is entangled with a mob war for Gotham’s underworld, and the Hangman, a serial killer. Of course, Batman has to deal with these villains.
Another reason to read this comic is that this is the point where Dick Grayson (aka the first Robin) comes into the picture.
Get Batman: Dark Victory.
4. The Killing Joke
I’m not exactly sure what happened. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice! – The Joker
Common consensus is that this is the story that truly established The Joker’s insanity, together with his love-hate (if you can call it that) relationship with Batman.
The Joker’s main goal here is to prove that all it takes is one bad day to turn a good man mad; and he does what he can to push Jim Gordon to that madness. Just as interesting are the references to The Joker’s past, when he was not the villain we know.
Get the The Killing Joke.
5. The Court of Owls
With DC’s the New 52 reboot, you might as well get into this version of Batman, and one good entry point is The Court of Owls.
After a series of brutal murders rocks Gotham City, Batman begins to realize that perhaps these crimes go far deeper than appearances suggest. As the Caped Crusader begins to unravel this deadly mystery, he discovers a conspiracy going back to his youth and beyond to the origins of the city he’s sworn to protect. Could the Court of Owls, once thought to be nothing more than an urban legend, be behind the crime and corruption? Or is Bruce Wayne losing his grip on sanity and falling prey to the pressures of his war on crime?
Get the NYT #1 best-selling graphic novel The Court of Owls.