Hello fellow bookworms 😀 ,
I’m tackling on the Batman universe of comics, but don’t be fooled. Comics aren’t only about the Dark Knight. There are zillions of comic series and beautiful graphic novels out there that are not just about superheroes. The medium itself gives writers an amazing new way to tell stories and hook readers. You’d be surprised by the power of images. They say images are worth a thousand words. Believe it. Every detail can make the difference in comics.
On a side note, there’s this idea that comic books are meant for a much, much, MUCH younger audience and that they don’t offer anything for people beyond the age of 18.
This is wrong. There are graphic novels with less than fifty pages that destroy novels, that eat them for breakfast, lunch and supper. If you do you research right, you will definitely find at least one comic that will blow your mind.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are
two…there are three ways to reads comics.
1.The first one would be single issues (on-going series or back issues, these are issues that were released before and are sometimes harder to find cause of their age). To get your hands on comic books as single issues, you’d have to get up and find a local comic book store. You can also put single issues off auctioneers (Ebay, Amazon, etc.) or “online” comic stores. Comics are usually cheap, but collecting them can become costly since some issues have value.
2.The second way, sort of like the first one, is reader comics online. There are multiple ways to do, but for DC Comics, you should definitely try Comixology. As for Marvel, you can buy comics on Marvel’s Digital Comics or even subscribe to Marvel Unlimited. Issues online are a lot cheaper and it’s a lot more accessible. People who don’t mind reading comics on their computers can definitely go through a lot of hard-to-get comics, a lot faster. There’s also OTHER ways, if you know what I mean.
3. The last way to read comics would be purchasing trade paperbacks, omnibus’ and graphic novels. The collected editions of comics makes reading a lot more easier (with less ads, a more fluent story arc collection and and a more manageable physical book). The biggest downsides would be the wait till its released, then the fact that some single issues aren’t included and finally the confusion that comes with series that do crossovers with other series and what not.
Now. Some comic series are truly complicated. X-Men is probably the most sophisticated bat-shit crazy in that domain. The moment I attempted to look up the chronology in the issues, I think my computer blew up. Nowadays, you can find Amazing X-Men, Outstanding X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Incredible X-Men. Bruh, don’t ask me to help you in differentiating each series from one another. I just don’t know what went through their minds.
Batman has existed since the Golden Age of comics. He also survived the Silver and Bronze Age while living several dramatic changes to the character. What you know of Batman is definitely not what it was like back in the Golden Age. There’s two collected editions of Batman comics from that time that you can check out if interested: Batman Archive editions and Batman Chronicles. The most important thing to understand with Batman is that there are two dominant series related to him. The first is simply called Batman, while the other one is called Detective Comics. The Archive and Chronicles editions mix up both series in their collections so that the events make sense and to give readers an enjoyable experience.If you ask me, these comics aren’t must-reads for new comers. Batman and Gotham knows a lot of transformation after that era of comics. A major revamp in characters make the older eras less mandatory.
Personally, I think readers are better off reading Batman in the modern age.
What I would mostly recommend newcomers is to dive into trade paperbacks of key events that introduce you the Batman, his “family” and his enemies.
The modern age essentially starts of with Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. This origin story gives a great idea of how everything started. From this point on, there’s a bunch of important trade paperbacks and graphic novels that should be read. Instead of naming them, I’ll link it to a nifty list from Wikipedia (jump to 6.4. Modern Batman). Honestly, I wouldn’t tell you to follow that list to the letter since it can be pretty hard to find the trade paperbacks and graphic novels. What I’d recommend is to go through some of the bigger titles in order (and if possible, to go through them all). For example, I’d tell you to read Batman: Year One, The Man Who Laughs, Haunted Knight, Long Halloween, Dark Victory, The Killing Joke, A Death in the Family, Sword of Azrael, Knightfall, etc. You can also find some really interesting websites that gives you lists of recommended readings, especially if you’re really familiar with all the characters in Batman’s universe.
After the Modern Age of comics, DC launched the New 52 in 2011. An absolute reboot of every single superhero. From that moment on, every series people knew were rebooted from scratch with new writers and artists. You will surely hear “Pre-New 52” and “Post-New 52” often in the comic world. This is a significant change in the comic world and moves comics in a new path. Before New 52, there are also some significant “events” within the comic book world. These events are part of the plot of several superheroes (The Flash, for example) and have a universe-wide impact on every other hero. Once you’ve learned more of your favorite heroes (or not), there are some key series/comics that should be read to understand the event and see how it changes everything (like Crisis on Infinite Earths).
When it comes down to New 52, there are still two dominant Batman series : Batman and Detective Comics. I wouldn’t exactly recommend anyone to jump into these out of the blue (especially if you don’t know some major players in “Batman’s family”). However, if you don’t mind not knowing and getting somehow “spoiled”, diving into Zach Snyder’s Batman series is a must. The best way to do so is to get your hands on the trade paperbacks in the order they were published (The Court of Owls, The City of Owls, etc.). What you also need to know is that there are multiple of other series Batman-related, like Batman: The Dark Knight or Batwing. When there’s a major event in the original Batman series by Zach Snyder, the events also happen in the other series. This means that you might get more information on a storyline by reading the other on-going series. This bit is complex since it forces you to dig around to find out what other issues are living the same event, but there are trade paperbacks that collect them together to make life a bit more easier (for example, there’s Batman : Night of Owls that comes between The Court of Owls and The City of Owls).
In general, with New 52 comics, you should definitely start reading the issues from #1 and move up according to release dates. It’s important to note that there are also annual issues (oversized single-issues) that come out in the middle of the series. However, you can also jump into a series from the moment a “story arc” ends or begins. It’s always better to follow everything from scratch, but if you’re not the type of person who wants to break their heads just to understand the continuity of things, you can do absolutely anything you want. In the end, reading comics really comes down to you. You decide what you feel like reading, where you want to start and what you want to read. I mean, if you don’t want to know anything about the Modern Batman era and wants to be up to date in Zach Snyder’s masterpiece of a series, then you go right ahead.
There’s honestly no bad way to embark in the comic world. It just comes down to your taste and what you have access to. There are so many series to follows and new ones that come out. Check them out with your local comic book store for even more input on what you should try (hopefully, the comic book guy isn’t a Scrooge). Once again, comic books aren’t only about superheroes. There’s a bunch of magnificent comics out there that are classics themselves.
If you have absolutely any questions, you can drop them in the comment section and I’ll gladly answer them to my knowledge.
If you see things that are wrong in this guide, please tell me so I can rectify it. I also wouldn’t mind adding things that are very important for newcomers and that I might have missed. It would be my pleasure to make this guide as right as possible.
If the guide is well appreciated, I might make a sequel to it and talk about more things to know about comics and Batman.
Thank you so much for sticking around till the end. You are the best!