Comic Corner: So you want to read a Batman book… | Four Batman Recommendations for Beginners.

Previously- Captain America: The Winter Solder #4-7| Coming Soon- Captain America: The Winter Soldier #8-11

Hello. Hello. Hello and welcome to Comic Corner. It’s been a long while since I last did a more casual post like this one, but here we are. Are you looking to read a Batman book but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry. I know it can be very intimidating. You do have over 80 years worth of Batman content to choose from. I’m here to help, and help I will with a couple of recommendations of places to begin with our beloved Caped Crusader.

Disclaimers: It may surprise you to know that I haven’t read all 80 years worth of Batman stories. I’m not here to give you a run down of the past 80 years. Instead I’m here to give you a friendly nudge in the right direction if you want to start reading Batman but feel a little lost. I am, as always, up for any recommendations you might want to send my way.

I’ve linked the books using my Forbidden Planet affiliate link. If you choose to purchase though these links I will earn a small commission which would be very much appreciated. However, feel free to search for the books at your comic book store of choice, or your local library.

Let’s start at the very beginning…

I mean, not at the very very beginning. I suppose you could start with Detective Comics #1, but that seems a little excessive. Don’t get me wrong the Golden Age stuff is a lot of fun, but it doesn’t really reflect the state of comics today. No, but I am talking origin stories. Now, you absolutely don’t have to start with an origin story. We all know the basic story, right? But you might want to.

Batman: Year One

Writer: Frank Miller | Art: David Mazzuccelli

Year One is exactly what it sounds like, the first year of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. It’s pretty straightforward, and it is relatively short. Frank Millar is a legend in the comic book world, so you know you’re getting top notch content. There’s a lot of quality in this story. A lot of careful work. You can see how Bruce and Jim Gordon are paralleled. You could examine the use of colour. It’s the sort of book you could take home to meet the parents. Is it the most exciting story? No. At least, not in my humble opinion. However this was where I started with Batman, and I’ve done alright for myself.

Batman: Zero Year

Writer: Scott Snyder | Art: Greg Capullo

Year One is the sensible choice for an origin story. Zero Year could be seen as a bit of a wild card choice. Technically this is mid-way through a run, and I can tell you right off the bat (or Bat) that this won’t be as easy a read as Year One. But, I found it a lot more fun. I also really appreciated the way it incorporated Gotham City almost as a character itself. A good writer understands the importance of location in Batman, you could not have him anywhere else.

I want more…

Batman: Year One is a stand alone book. It’ll give you a good grounding but where are you going to go next. Well, maybe you want to jump into a run. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a run, it is essentially a series of comics. Often a run will be by the same creative team, particularly in terms of the writer, and you’ll have storylines carried over a couple of issues.

Batman: The Court of Owls

Writer: Scott Snyder| Art: Greg Capullo

This is the first of ten books, that collect a run. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a run, it is essentially a series of comics. Often a run will be by the same creative team, particularly in terms of the writer, and you’ll have storylines carried over a couple of issues. We’ll just focus on A Court of Owls for the time being, because reading one book does not mean you have to commit to a whole series. Comics definitely give you more freedom to jump around that traditional books. The book takes place a lot later in Bruce’s life, although we’re not at old-man-Bruce yet. I think this would be a good place to start because it’s a great introduction to the BatFamily. That’s right, there’s a whole family. Early on in the book we are treated to a panel which explains who Dick, Tim, Damian are, and their relationships to Bruce. They’re part of the story, but not main characters, which gives you a chance to get to grips with the whole concept, if it is unfamiliar to you. This was probably my first introduction to a Dick Grayson who is not longer Robin, and I’m not reading his series so it clearly worked. It was also my introduction to the Court of Owls, whom I now adore and am trilled whenever they appear. This has a much more interesting plot which revolves around Bruce doing some detective work, a key part of his idenity. And, if you enjoy if then you have another nine books to pick up. You’re welcome.

Batman: White Knight

Writer: Sean Murphy | Art: Sean Murphy

White Knight is part of DC Black Label. This means they can do whatever they want because it’s not part of cannon. Think of it like an alternate universe fanfic. White Knight had such a great reception that it now has it’s own universe, though this original series remains the strongest. You need an idea of Batman, and the Joker to get the most out of this. But, with all the media iterations you can get that from any of the brilliant films, or TV shows they appear in. What this series does it takes what you know, i.e. the the Joker is insane, and asks, but what if he wasn’t. What then? I adore this series and always recommend it. It’s not tied down by the constrains of a shared universe, or of future implications. The Joker plays a big part in this series, the biggest villain role in all of these recommendations, but I would argue that the book is 50/50. You might be familiar with the concept of Batman and the Joker as foils for one another, and that is demonstrated here… but with that slight twist. I love that the very first issue cuts right to the heart of Bruce, as well as the Joker, and shows you a different side to them. I also love that it’s a nice well written, well illustrated story that makes you rethink what you ‘know’ about Batman.

Some tips…

Okay, maybe you don’t fancy any of these books and want to strike out on your own. That’s fine. You do you. For the most part comics are always trying to welcome you in, and will always try to fill in what you need to know.

If you want to read Batman, stick to Batman: Try to avoid team up books, or cross over books because the sheer number of character can get confusing. Particularly when they’re characters you’re not familiar with .

Pick someone you want to read: I could sit here all day and tell you what you should read, but at the end of the day you need to pick something that you want to read. If you really like the Joker, then find a story with the Joker. Or if you want to read from a specific writer, then pick them up. Recommendations can only get you so far.

I hope that you’ve managed to glean something from this hodge-podge of advice. If not, then there’s one thing I’d like you to take away and it’s that there’s no right place to start. Sometimes you just ave to jump in with both feet and hope for the best. I hope you do, and I hope that you let me know what you decide, and what you think of it.

Don’t forget if there’s something you want to see on Comic Corner do let me know. I had a lot of fun doing something a little different this week, and I hope that you enjoyed reading it.

Coming Soon… Captain America: The Winter Solider #8-11

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