Do you love the Batman movies?
Have you always liked the character of Batman but haven’t read much about him?
Are you just curious?
If you answered yes to any of these questions than this post is definitely for you! I’m going to talk about, you guessed it, my top 5 must-read Batman story arcs. These are mostly TPBs but I also have a couple Graphic Novels in there. Let’s just get started. These are in no particular order.
1. Batman: Year One by Frank Miller
Published in 1987, this is one of the essential “classic” pieces of Batman literature. It so very beautifully tells an amazing origin story of a dark and complex character. Yes, it is a story you’ve probably heard before but bare in mind that until this time, this infamous origin story was not commonly known/accepted. It’s gritty; it’s dark; it’s the Batman that I loved right off the bat. It was a truly ground breaking story arc that truly holds its own.
2. Batman: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House on a Serious Earth by Grant Morrison
This book was originally published in 1989, fast forward 15 years and little 13 year old me was at Barnes and Noble, where I found this beautiful and scary Batman comic. I needed it. I got it. I read it. And I fell in love. The writing is absolutely amazing, but the art, the art is what truly caught my eye. This wasn’t typical “comic book style art” the art of Dave McKean is something to truly marvel at, it was realistic but also so surreal at the same time. It brought on a distinctly gothic and creepy feel that will stay with you for years to come. The book has a different representation of each villain that I had never seen before. It introduced me to lesser known villains that will haunt my dreams for years.
3. Batman: Knightfall by Various
If you’re a fan of the last Christopher Nolan Batman film (The Dark Knight Rises), or if you’re a fan of Bane, this is the book for you! It provides background to the story we’ve all seen and adds a new emphasis on Bane’s story. Of course, it is different from the film but it is oh so very effective. The film is loosely based off of this story line from the 90’s. The Knightfall story arc is actually a 3 volume series, with each book ranging between 300-400 pages, so if you have some time, I suggest this story arc, because so so much more happens and it’s all fantastic!
4. Batman: Court of Owls Vol. 1 by Scott Snyder
A few years ago, DC Comics did something pretty incredible and daring. They decided to renumber 52 of their most popular (and sometimes most obscure) titles in a gigantic comic book event called The New 52! It was incredible, in the sense that it hadn’t been done before and it finally gave people who have had interest in comic books a chance to actually get into comic books. I was one of those people and this story arc was one of the ones that completely drew me in from the beginning. The writing is amazing. I had never read Snyder before, but after reading this, I wanted to read everything he’s ever written. This story arc was so easy to understand and follow, making it the most new reader friendly title I had ever read. It has enough background for new reads but does not dwell on the same old story told over and over again. It also revolves around a villain I had never heard of and boy was it unsettling. This book also introduces an old Gotham City with tied in beautifully with another New 52 title, All Star Western (which is also absolutely amazing and I recommend it to everyone, omg, you should read it).
5. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
We started with Frank Miller, we might as well finish with Frank Miller; last but not least, is Millers masterpiece of Batman literature, The Dark Knight Returns. Originally published in 1986, this book was earth shattering, because it was up until this point, that Batman had never been seen as a serious and dark character. It was only the campy Adam West type Batman (that’s still awesome but let’s face it, not as awesome as dark Bats) from the television show and comics. It is one of the most revolutionary pieces of work in comic book history. But besides all the history attached to this book, it really holds its own through the years. If all that isn’t enough to get you to read, then hopefully this will. If you’re trying to prepare yourself for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, you may find this comic book may come in handy a bit.