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Batman Reading Order — The Beginner’s Guide On Where To Start

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Batman is DC’s most popular comic book superhero and one of the most famous superheroes in the world.
[Source: DC Fandom]

Did you know that the first Batman comic book was published in 1939?

Stories about Batman have been captivating audiences of all ages for over 80 years. 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.

We created this Batman reading order guide to introduce you to some of the most compelling stories about this selfless superhero! If you’re interested in reading Batman comics, we’ll share exactly where you should start.

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Batman Reading Order — Where Should You Start?

The starting point for the Batman reading order should be the work of the legendary artist Neal Adams. He created Batman comics during the Silver Age of comic books in the 1960s, and he is responsible for creating Batman’s dark and serious look we know today!

Once we introduce you to Adams’ work, we’ll dig into the Post-Crisis era comics, which were published in the aftermath of the Crisis on Infinite Earths event. This fictional event took place in 1985 — all of DC’s parallel universes were destroyed, and a single universe was created. The Post-Crisis era lasted from 1985 until 2011, and the comics published during this period are a beautiful continuation of Adams’ work.

In 2011, DC decided to relaunch all comics, including the stories with Batman. The reboot marked the start of the New 52 comics era, and the works from this period should come next on your Batman reading order.

Then, we’ll discuss some of the more recent Batman comics, published after the 2016 DC Rebirth reboot.

Last but not least, we’ll cover the Dark Multiverse era, which introduced an evil version of Batman to the world — The Man Who Laughs!

Now, let’s dive in and explore our Batman reading order, shall we?

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1. Batman Silver Age Comics

Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol.1

Published: 2003

Written by: Bob Haney, John Broome, Cary Bates, Frank Robbins, Robert Kanigher

Art: Neal Adams

Neal Adams’ Batman illustrated volume one is a great place to start reading Batman comics.
[Source: DC Fandom]

Batman’s character was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane and debuted in a comic book published in 1939.

Now, you could read the first-ever story to get to know Batman, but you might find it hard to relate to, given the language and illustrations of more than 80 years ago.

That’s why we suggest you start with Neil Adams’ work. He is one of the most influential artists to have worked on Batman comics. After all, Adams’ photorealistic illustrations have helped establish Batman as the Dark Knight!

Volume one gathers works from 1967 through 1969. You can read the stories chronologically and observe Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the Dark Knight!

2. Batman Post-Crisis Comics

Batman: Year One

Published: 1987

Written by: Frank Miller

Art: David Mazzuchelli

Batman: Year One is among the best origin stories in recent history.
[Source: DC Fandom]

Batman: Year One tells the story about Batman’s origin. This comic book series could be the first on your Batman reading order list, but we suggest making it second, so you don’t miss out on Adams’ stunning work from the late 1960s.

In Batman: Year One, you learn what happened to Bruce Wayne’s, a.k.a., Batman’s parents and how that event shaped the fearless superhero we’re all familiar with.

Unlike the previous origin stories, Batman: Year One depicts psychological aspects of Batman’s personality. He is portrayed as an introvert who obsesses about justice and strikes fear into villains. After all, Batman did survive a traumatic event as a child, and that tragedy left lifelong consequences on him.

Batman: Year One also provides a beautiful portrayal of friendship between Bruce and James Gordon — Gotham City Police Department Commissioner.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Comic Series

Published: 1986

Written by: Frank Miller

Art: Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a gripping story that depicts Batman and Gotham City in the future.
[Source: DC Fandom]

Once you get to know how Batman came to be and meet some characters loyal to him, such as his butler Alfred Pennyworth, it’ll be easier for you to explore and understand other Batman stories.

Even though Miller wrote The Dark Knight Returns series before Batman: Year One, we recommend you read the origins reboot first. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to follow the story of the Dark Knight and fully comprehend the events described in it.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a standalone, four-part comic book series that depicts a dystopian Gotham. The story is set in 1986, and it introduces you to a retired Batman. Bruce is a 55-year-old-man who stopped fighting crime ten years before the events described in these comics.

Upon seeing the news that a gang named the Mutants is terrorizing citizens and vandalizing the city, Bruce decides to pick up the mantle again and go back to being the fearsome Batman.

The Dark Knight Return Story is a fan favorite. It cemented Batman as one the most popular comic book characters globally and helped readers understand why Bruce wants to be Batman. The Dark Knight Returns also inspired Christopher Nolan to create the highly successful The Dark Knight Rises movie.

By the way, now seems like a good time to mention we recently compiled the list of some of the greatest Batman movies ever made if you’re interested!

Batman: The Long Halloween

Published: 1996 – 1997

Written by: Jeph Loeb

Art: Tim Sale

Batman: The Long Halloween explores the early days of Bruce Wayne as Batman.
[Source: DC Fandom]

You can read Batman: The Long Halloween as a standalone work or as a continuation of the Batman: Year One story.

In The Long Halloween, Jeph Loeb explores the early days of Bruce Wayne as Batman. The noir-ish story and the artwork are riveting, and that’s why so many people love this comic book series.

As Batman goes on a mission to catch a serial killer who commits murder on holidays, he comes across many infamous villains, such as the Joker — Batman’s archenemy, Poison Ivy and the Riddler, to name a few. In the series, you can see the transition of Harvey Dent, once Batman’s ally, into his enemy named Two-Face.

The Long Halloween is a gripping mystery comic series that depicts Batman at his peak. It heavily inspired creatives worldwide, most notably the director Christopher Nolan, who incorporated parts of the Long Halloween into his majestic The Dark Knight movie.

Batman: Dark Victory

Published: 1999 – 2000

Written by: Jeph Loeb

Art: Tim Scale

Batman: Dark Victory is one of the most popular Batman comic book series. It’s a reboot of Robin’s origin story.
[Source: DC Fandom]

Following the success of Batman: The Long Halloween, Loeb began working on the Dark Victory — a 14-part comic book series that portrays Bruce’s life during his first several years as Batman.

In Batman: Dark Victory, Loeb’s writing is immersive, while Scale’s attractive noir art perfectly complements the plot. The murder-mystery series introduces you to a slew of villains, showcasing Batman’s detective work at its finest.

The Dark Victory series is also a reboot of Robin’s origin story. The series describes the transformation of detective Dick Grayson into Robin and how he became Batman’s trusted sidekick.

Batman: Hush

Published: 2002 – 2003

Written by: Jeph Loeb

Art: Jim Lee

Batman: Hush is one of the most popular modern Batman comic book series.
[Source: DC Fandom]

The final comic book series we’d like to recommend from the Post Crisis era is Batman: Hush series.

Jeph Loeb wrote the story, and the phenomenal Jim Lee illustrated it. Alongside Neal Adams, Lee is arguably one of the best artists to have worked on Batman comics. Lee is known for his great attention to detail — the intricacies of his art helped take Batman and other characters to a whole new level.

Reading the Batman: Hush series is a great way to meet all the major characters that are a part of Batman’s life in one way or another. Poison Ivy, The Joker, Harley Quinn and The Riddler are all there. Superman makes an appearance, too!

So, even if you don’t stick to the recommended Batman reading order and jump straight to reading the Hush series, it won’t be hard to understand who is who in Batman’s world.

Batman: Hush tells one of the most popular stories in modern Batman history. It introduces a mysterious villain named Hush who attempts to sabotage Batman in any way he can. The comic also explores the romantic relationship between Batman and Catwoman, which adds to the story’s appeal!

3. Batman The New 52 Comics

Batman: The Court Of Owls

Published: 2011

Written by: Scott Snyder

Art: Greg Capullo

Batman: The Court Of Owls is a part of the New 52 comic book series and a reboot from the early ‘00s that provides excellent introduction to Batman.
[Source: DC Fandom]

The New 52 Era started after the Flashpoint event in 2011 — Flash, another popular DC comic book character, traveled back in time to save his mother from death. The moment he cancelled such an important event, the trajectory of his life changed, affecting other DC characters as well.

The main writer for the New 52 series was Scott Snyder, while Greg Capullo created illustrations. The duo did a fantastic job at creating gripping mystery stories. We highly recommend you read each of the 52 comics published in the series if you have time!

If you don’t feel like reading every comic in the series, we recommend going with the first story Snyder and Capullo created together — Batman: The Court Of Owls. This comic tells the story of an enigmatic and violent society named City of Owls that has controlled Gotham for a long time. The society is not particularly fond of Batman’s actions and attempts to get rid of him in any way they can.

We bet you’ll enjoy reading about the mysterious events described in this comic book!

4. Batman Rebirth Comics

Batman: Rebirth #1

Published: 2016

Written by: Scott Snyder

Art: Mikel Janín

Batman: Rebirth is a part of the latest DC reboot, inviting readers to explore contemporary and ongoing story arcs.
[Source: DC Fandom]

In 2016, DC Comics went through another reboot and relaunched all its titles. Batman: Rebirth #1 is a one-shot story that marked the beginning of the ongoing Batman comic book series.

This comic is a great choice for new readers who wish to jump on the Batman wagon and read recently published stories. It is also an excellent opener to other large contemporary story arcs, including I Am Gotham, I Am Suicide, I Am Bane and others.

5. Batman Who Laughs Comics

Dark Days: The Casting

Published: 2017

Written by: Scott Snyder

Art: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair

Dark Days: The Casting introduces an evil version of Bruce Wayne to the world called Batman Who Laughs.
[Source: DC Fandom]

Closing our Batman reading order guide is a comic book that introduces you to the evil Batman Who Laughs!

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo created this imaginative character. The Batman Who Laughs first appeared in the Dark Days: The Casting comic book.

The Batman Who Laughs blends Bruce Wayne and Joker to create a dangerous character who lacks a moral compass. He isn’t opposed to killing the innocent to achieve his goals. Dark Days: The Casting includes fantastic writing and art, inviting you to meet Batman as you’ve never seen him before.

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It’s Time To Start Reading Batman Comics!

Batman is undoubtedly one of the greatest comic book superheroes ever created. The way he manages to rise above his tragedy and dedicate his entire adult life to protecting the innocent is nothing short of inspiring.

And while there isn’t one definitive Batman reading order you need to follow to get to know this fascinating character, if you’re a beginner, we recommend sticking to the order we shared in this post.

We listed one-shots and comic book series chronologically, so you can observe how Batman’s character evolves over time and enjoy the different ways artists portrayed him.


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