By Alex Batts — I consider myself a die-hard Batman fan. Lucky for me there are a ton (to put it mildly) of Batman stories out there to read. Unlucky for me, however, it’s a bit difficult to find one easy-to-digest checklist of Batman comics to read. Which made me wonder, how great would it be to have one comprehensive and organized reading guide for the Caped Crusader? What if I could find the magical list I was looking for? Well, folks, I stopped wondering and went out and made the thing myself.
Short story time – I recently started running a Batman fan account on Twitter, which has sprouted even more research into the world of Batman than I already do on a regular basis. With this came the idea of making my own complete and comprehensive reading guide for The Dark Knight. I knew I would have to plan this out, and in doing so I arrived at four sections for my new guide: New Readers and Classics, Chronological Release Until the 1980s, Canonical Chronological Timeline, and Personal Favorites/Must Reads.
With the first section, I wanted to cross off some questions I get asked a lot. I narrowed it down to eight series that are new reader-friendly plus some classic Batman tales. Everyone wants a great jumping on point, and five of these eight are actually the first Batman comics I personally read (guess which ones, I dare you).
The second section is where the real work began. I pulled up and cross-referenced multiple existing Batman reading lists and established a solid order of release for Batman through the 1980s. All the books listed here are in order of release, except for the Batman '66 Omnibus. Luckily for us, most of Batman's tales up until the '80s are encompassed in rather large volumes that are relatively easy to find. The order here is also logical and fairly easy to follow.
The third section includes most of the heavy lifting for this reading guide. Things get interesting here because we reach the start of "modern" Batman. Because of this, I ordered this section in a way that makes sense if you wanted to read every Batman comic as if it were one long story about the life of Bruce Wayne. Though I prioritized the canon storytelling timeline here, these are still mostly in order of release, with some exceptions that deal with flashbacks and what have you. This part was the most difficult by far, but also the most rewarding. I again had to cross-reference multiple lists, but the result is a thorough list of tales that encompass Batman's entire modern publication history while telling his story in a logical in-universe order. I also added a segment for Batman stories that take place in possible futures and within the Elseworlds line of stories.
The fourth section was a breeze after the marathon that was compiling the second and third sections. For this one, I wanted to throw in some of my own personal favorites plus books I consider must-reads (at some point) for all Batman fans. I tried to vary this as much as possible from the classics section, but a couple made it onto both lists. I also wanted to include some that I think aren't talked about as much in regards to all-time great Batman stories.
And that’s it! A complete and comprehensive Batman reading guide (can you tell I like mentioning that it's comprehensive?). Anyway, I'm positive that not every Batman tale is on this list. I'm sure there are a handful—probably more—that I haven't even heard of, that didn't appear on the other lists I used as reference, or just aren't collected in an easy to find/access manner. That said, I think this is the most complete Batman reading guide I've ever seen, and I'm damn proud of it. And one last shout out to my great friend, Sean Hussey, for creating the images that my list actually appear on. He's a graphic design guru, who you can follow on Twitter here, and this project was really elevated to the next level with his help.
Alex Batts is 21 and from Texas. A lifelong comic book enthusiast and movie lover, if he’s not talking about comics, he’s probably not talking. You can find him on Twitter by following @LetsTalkBatman