[x] After taking on Superman's continuity, it seemed only logical to take on Batman as my next challenge. This is a far more complete list than I have ever found anywhere else, and I will continue to update it as new books are released. Enjoy!

As with my other lists, the most important books will be in bold and the least important tie-ins will be in italics with the stuff inbetween being in a standard font. The only usefulness to items with asterisks is that they are books that I do not own, so my knowledge of them is entirely based on Internet research and sometimes my own memory of having the original issues.

Making this list has made me want to read more Batman.

-elfie


[notes | author | edition | ownership] full list | no notes | titles only

viewing by story-arc is a work in progress


[o]Archive Editions
It was between issues 38 and 39 of Detective Comics that Batman's first solo issue was published. These two titles have been released side-by-side ever since, making a "which order to I read them in?" rather impossible to answer. However, just for you, I will do my best to place these (and World's Finest) in an order such that the first time you see a character is their actual first appearance. Don't get too exicted when you see that each of the Batman Archives contains around 16-20 issues of Detective Comics. This was not always a Batman-only title, as can be seen by the fact that Batman finds his first appearance in issue #27, so each issue usually contained four stories each, only one of which was a Batman story. It is those stories, about one fourth of each issue, that are archived here. Similarly, each volume of the Dark Knight Archives only contains four issues of Batman's first solo comic, but each of those issues contains four Batman tales each, bringing us a total of 16 stories per volume, which is about the size of the Batman Archives.
Batman Archives - Volume 1 by Bob Kane, Bill Finger  (Hardcover) *
Batman: World's Finest Archives - Volume 1 by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, et al  (Hardcover) *
Batman: The Dark Knight Archives - Volume 4 by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Don Cameron  (Hardcover) *
Batman: The Dark Knight Archives - Volume 5 by Don Cameron, Bill Finger, Joe Samachson, Joe Greene  (Hardcover) *
Batman Archives - Volume 4 by Bob Kane, et al  (Hardcover) *
Batman Archives - Volume 5 by Bob Kane, Alvin Schwartz, Don Cameron, Bill Finger  (Hardcover) *
Batman Archives - Volume 6 by Bob Kane, Don Cameron, et al  (Hardcover) *
Batman: World's Finest Archives - Volume 2 by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, et al  (Hardcover) *
The first volume of Batman Archives collects Detective Comics #27-50, which includes the first appearances of Batman, Robin, Jim Gordan, Hugo Strange, and Clayface, as well as the first telling of Batman's Origin. The first volume of Dark Knight Archives collects Batman #1-4, and it is within those first four issues that we are introduced to both the Joker and Catwoman. Batman Archives Volume 2 collects Detective Comics #51-70, which includes the first appearances of the Penguin and Two-Face. The first volume of World's Finest contains Batman tales from the first sixteen issues of World's Finest Comics, including the first appearance of the Scarecrow. It is in fourth volume of Dark Knight Archives that we are first introduced to Alfred, though in his first appearance he was named Beagle rather than Pennyworth. Dark Knight Archives Volume 5 collects Batman #17-20 and contains an appearance by the Penguin. Batman Archives Volume 3 collects Detective Comics #71-86 and includes the first appearance of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Batman Volume 4 collections Detective #87-102 with Volume 5 bringing us from 103-119. Volume 6 closes up with 120-135. The second volume of Batman stories from World's Finest contains issues 17-32, which span the previous four volumes of Batman Archives in terms of original release date.
World's Finest Archives - Volume 1 by Bill Finger, et al  (Hardcover) *
World's Finest Archives - Volume 3 by Bill Finger, Jerry Coleman, et al  (Hardcover) *
It wasn't until around issue 71 of World's Finest, which had always been a home for both Batman tales and Superman tales that we finally got a Superman and Batman tale. These three volumes collect up to 116 of those stories, which include the likes of Batwoman, a Lex Luthor/Joker team-up, and a Bat-Mite/Mxyzptlk team-up!
Batman: The Dynamic Duo Archives - Volume 1 by Gardner Fox, John Broome  (Hardcover) *
Batman: The Dynamic Duo Archives - Volume 2 by Gardner Fox, Ed Herron, Bill Finger  (Hardcover) *
The Dynamic Duo Archives jumps ahead to the start of the Silver Age with Detective Comics 327-333 and Batman 164-167 and includes the death of Alfred and a revamp of Batman's look to include the friendlier yellow chest logo. Volume two features Detective Comics 334-339 and Batman 168-171, in which the Batman logo is changed and the Riddler and the Penguin return.
[o]Other Early Collections
Batman Chronicles - Volume 1 by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Gardner Fox*
Batman Chronicles - Volume 2 by Bob Kane, Bill Finger*
Batman Chronicles - Volume 3 by Bob Kane, Bill Finger*
A somewhat cheaper alternative to Archives are Chronicles, which are intended to be a complete, in-order by publication date, reprinting of every issue of the various Batman titles. This first volume collects Detective Comics #27-37 and Batman #1. Volume two contains Detective 39-45, Batman 2-3, and New York World's Fair Comics #2. Volume three contains Detective 46-50 and Batman 4-5. If you're extremely patient and optimistic, you could just wait for these to come out and buy nothing else. Good luck with that plan, though, as there is a lot of history to go through here.
The Dailies collects the black and white newspaper serials from 1943-1946 by Bob Kane. The Sunday Classics contains the color Sunday strips from the same time-period. The slipcase hardcover collects all three volumes of Dailies into one book.
Batman in the Forties by Bill Finger, Jack Schiff, et al*
Batman in the Fifties by Bill Finger, Joe Samachson, Edmond Hamilton, et al*
Batman in the Eighties by Len Wein, Doug Moench, Mike Barr, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Barbara Randall, Alan Brennert*
These decade-spanning collections are your best source for Pre-Crisis Batman tales. The Forties collections Batman's first appearance in Detective Comics #27 as well as the first appearances of Robin, the Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, and the Mad Hatter. In the Fifties the Dynamic Duo is joined by Batwoman, Bat-Mite (Batman's answer to Mxyzptlk), and Ace the Bat-Hound. The Sixties, which includes an introduction by Adam West, brings us more adventures with Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Bat-Mite as they go up against the Joker, Clayface, Poison Ivy, and Blockbuster. In the Seventies, we begin to see the Dark Knight as his more grim adventures introduce the pre-crisis Huntress and Ra's al Ghul. The Eighties includes Dick Grayson's transition to Nightwing and the creation of Batman and the Outsiders as well as appearances by Batgirl, the Joker, Penguin, and the Scarecrow. The Eighties does actually contain some Post-Crisis stories, but nothing that can't be enjoyed by being read separately.
The Original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes - Volume 1: Batman by Michael Fleischer*
Originally published in 1976, this book includes every detail of everything you ever wanted to know about Batman and his exploits from the 30s to the 70s.
Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams - Volume 2 by Dennis O'Neil, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, et al  (Hardcover) *
Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams - Volume 3 by Dennis O'Neil, Bob Haney, Len Wein, et al  (Hardcover) *
Neil Adams is historically the most influencial artist on the look and style of Batman comics, starting with his first Batman issue, Batman #200, continuing to his final issue #251. His work contained in these volumes spans Batman, Detective Comics, The Brave and the Bold, and World's Finest and includes some tweaks and re-coloring done by Neil Adams himself. Keep in mind that these collections only contain the issues for which Adams was the artist, so some story arcs may be incomplete.
[o]Pre-Crisis
Batman: Tales of the Demon by Dennis O'Neil*
This is an early collection of stories by Dennis O'Neil about one of the Dark Knight's most fearsome rivals, Ra's al Ghul, the Demon's Head.
Batman: Strange Apparitions by Steve Englehart, Len Wein*
Batman: Dark Detective by Steve Englehart*
Often considered the definitive pre-crisis Batman, Strange Apparitions book was much of the inspiration for the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman as well as most of the modern Batman mythos. The stories here cover the range of the Joker, Clayface, Hugo Strange, and the Penguin, as well as Bruce Wayne's relationship with Silver St. Cloud and her discovery of his dark secret. The issues contained within this book were originally released in the seventies, so if you pick up the decade books above, you should probably read this one between the Seventies and the Eighties. Englehart and the art team that created Strange Apparitions got together for a reunion show in 2006 for the mini-series Dark Detective. In this story, the Joker runs for mayor under the slogan "Vote for me or I'll kill you!" We also see the return of Silver St. Cloud. The placement of this book is terribly difficult since it does not seem to fit at all into modern continuity, which is why I've chosen to place it here among this teams earlier work.
The end of the Multiverse and the creation of the streamlined DC Universe. The Absolute Edition includes loads of extra information and cool stuff and is highly recommended for any DC fan. However, the Crisis is not particularly signifigant in the history of Batman himself except for the fact that it spawned Frank Miller's reboot and the modern Infinite Crisis, in which Batman plays a much more major role. History of the DC Universe, originally planned as issues 11-12 of Crisis on Infinite Earths, lays the groundwork for Post-Crisis DC continuity.
[o]A New Beginning, a Darker Knight
After the Crisis, Frank Miller was given the task of recreating the origin story of the Batman, and he does an absolutely amazing job of this in Year One. This is, without a doubt, essential Batman. This book, along with the Long Halloween, was much of the inspiration for the Batman Returns movie. The leatherbound edition actually collections Year One along with the Dark Knight Returns and one other Frank Miller story, Santa Claus: Wanted Dead or Alive. Though I am not trying to make a habit of including spin-off titles, I thought Her Sister's Keeper was important enough to include as it contains Catwoman's post-Crisis origin in a story that coincides with and shares several scenes with Batman: Year One.
Batman: Shaman by Dennis O'Neil*
Batman: Prey by Doug Meonch*
Batman: Gothic by Grant Morrison*
Batman: Venom by Dennis O'Neil*
Collections from Legends of the Dark Knight can be rather difficult to place as they usually do not take place in the continuity of the time-period in which they are released, but instead are sort of back-dated to earlier times in Batman's life. I'll do my best to list them in the most logical places possible. The four listed here are written to take place around the time of Year One and can be considered to take place concurrently with it. Shaman actually begins prior to Bruce Wayne first donning the mantle of the Bat, as he is saved by an Alaskan Shaman, who teaches him legends of the bat. Prey features the introduction of the Batmobile and the Bat-signal as well as providing a current-continuity introduction to Hugo Strange. In Gothic, Batman must contend with haunting nightmares of a cruel headmaster that tormented Bruce Wayne as a child as he battles to stop Mr. Whisper from unleashing a lethal plague on Gotham. Venom is noteworthy as the background story for Bane's origin, in which Batman turns to a new performance-enhancing drug in his struggle to battle crime.
Batman and the Mad Monk by Matt Wagner*
Batman: Snow by Dan Curtis Johnson, J.H. Williams III*
Year Two follows the lead of Year One's retelling of Batman's origins by actually reintroducing Batman's yellow chest logo. But far more important than the color of his costume, this is the story of Joe Chill, the man who murdered Bruce Wayne's parents. Also taking place during Batman's sophomore year, though written much more recently, Batman and the Monster Men looks back at the Dark Knight's first battles against super-powered villains. The Mad Monk is Wagner's sequel to the Monster Men, specifically focusing on this single villain. Snow tells the origin of Mr. Freeze from a new perspective, that of a family tragedy forging the obsession of a new villain and the strike force that Batman builds to track him down.
Batman: Four of a Kind*
Four of a Kind is a little hard to place. It contains the origin stories of Scarecrow, the Riddler, Man-Bat, and Poison Ivy from DC's Year One annuals event from 1995. These were a take-off on the previous success of Miller's Year One, but do not necessarily take place within the same time-period. I have placed them here for a lack of anywhere better to put them.
Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb*
In Loeb's Long Halloween, Working alongside D.A. Harvey Dent and Lt. James Gordon, Batman must track down a killer who murders his victims on holidays. The Long Halloween reportedly provided much of the basis for Batman Begins. In the sequel, Dark Victory, Batman again teams up with Harvey Dent and James Gordon, this time with new sidekick Robin in tow, as they find themselves up against new villains, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and the Joker.
Batman: Faces by Matt Wagner*
Batman: Terror by Doug Moench*
Two more Legends of the Dark Knight collections, one featuring Two-Face, the other featuring the Scarecrow, both of which take place in approximately Batman's third year.
Batman: Rules of Engagement by Andy Diggle*
Rules of Engagement collects the first story arc of the new Batman Confidential series that is another reprise of Batman's early years. This story takes a look at some of Lex Luthor's first steps against costumed super heroes.
Batman: Fortunate Son by Gerard Jones  (Hardcover) *
Though written long after Dick Grayson's graduation to Nightwing, this story takes place during his time as the Boy Wonder. In this generation gap tale, Batman suspects the latest and greatest rock god of using his teenage fans as a criminal army. Robin disagrees, however, insisting that his idol is not guilt, and the two must overcome their differences to solve the mystery.
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
Alan Moore's Killing Joke sheds a bit of a sympathetic light on the origins of the Joker as he dons the mantle of the Red Hood. This origin story is inter-woven with a current Joker tale that ends Barbara Gordon's career as Batgirl.
Batman: A Death in the Family  (Hardcover)
Hot on the heels of the Killing Joke, another bat-sidekick is lost to the Joker's mania, as Jason Todd's quest to find his birth-mother comes to an bloody end.
Batman: The Cult by Jim Starlin*
An old shaman, Deacon Blackfire, turns the city's homeless into a crime-fighting army. Batman must discover Blackfire's hidden agenda.
Batman: Blind Justice by Sam Hamm*
Written by the screenwriter for the Tim Burton Batman movies, Blind Justice actually features a minor role for Ducard, Batman's trainer from Batman Begins. This story features original characters such as Bonecrusher, rather than more familiar Gotham villains, to tell the story of a former Wayne Enterprises employee who has lost his memory.
The Many Deaths of the Batman by John Byrne*
I suppose if you like John Byrne, you might like this book, in which someone is killing off Batman's teachers and dressing them in Batman costumes.
Batman: Haunted Knight by Jeph Loeb*
I know this is listed well after the Long Halloween, but it was actually created by the same team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale several years earlier. Coincidentally, it is a collection of three Halloween stories featuring the Scarecrow, the Mad Hatter, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, and the Joker.
Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison  (Hardcover, Anniversary Edition, Hardcover Anniversary Edition) *
In this Mature Readers book by Grant Morrison, the inmates have taken over the asylum. On April Fool's Day, the Joker, Scarecrow, Poison, Two-Face and others force Batman to live among them in exchange for the release of their prisoners, the asylum's doctors and guards. Keep in mind that this book is essential based on the quaility of the work, not on its ties to continuity. The Anniversary Edition includes the original script with annotations by Grant Morrison and Karen Berger.
Robin: A Hero Reborn by Alan Grant, Chuck Dixon*
A Lonely Place of Dying is the bridge from Dick Grayson to Jason Todd to Tim Drake. In this cross-over with New Titans, Tim Drake, seeing Batman's anguish after losing Jason Todd, tries to reuinite Batman with Nightwing. A Hero Reborn follows-up A Lonely Place of Dying as Tim Drake first dons the mantle of Robin.
Batman: Birth of the Demon by Dennis O'Neil  (Hardcover) *
These three original graphic novels feature none other than Ra's al Ghul. The first two focus on the relationship between Batman and Talia, al Ghul's daughter, as well as the possibility of them having a son! The third uses a framing story about Ley Lines and Lazarus Pits to flashback to the origin of the Demon's Head.
Batman: Night Cries by Archie Goodwin  (Hardcover) *
Painted by Scott Hampton, Night Cries is an extremely bold book that tackles the subject of child abuse. A serial killer is murdering child abusers. Must he be stopped? Batman struggles with the accusation that he is the killer as Commissioner Gordon struggles with his own past. Also painted by Scott Hampton, Gotham County Line follows batman as he tracks a case out of his usual territy into the Gotham suburbs.
[o]The Age of the Great Gotham Crossovers
In the mid 90's to early 2000's, DC was infamous for huge Batman crossovers, somtimes spanning a year or more, that included not only all of the Batman-specific titles, but also all of the spin-off titles like Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, and Batgirl.
Batman: Sword of Azrael by Dennis O'Neil*
Though it was released after the events of Knightfall, Sword of Azrael serves as a prequel to that tale, as it provides the origins for Jean-Paul Valley as Azrael.
Bane, a survivor of the Venom storyline, destroys Arkham Asylum, freeing all of its prisoners, pitting Batman against the Joker, the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, the Riddler, and the Scarecrow. By the end of the first book, Bane breaks Batman's back. With Batman out of commission, Bruce Wayne turns to Jean-Paul Valley, Azrael, to take up the mantle of the Dark Knight. But Azrael's sanity quickly comes into question as he exhibits extreme levels of violence against his foes. Miraculously, Bruce recovers, and must battle Jean-Paul for the right to wear the cape and cowl.
Batman: Mitefall*
Mitefall is a humorous look at how the events of Knightfall played out in the world of Bat-Mite, as Bane-Mite tries to take over his world.
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time by Dan Jurgens
Zero Hour was DC's attempt to clean up the continuity issues still left over from Crisis on Infinite Earths. Time is unraveling due to the plotting of Extant, and all the heroes must band together to hold the timestream together. But even if they defeat Extant, Parallax may help time to fully unravel, giving all of DC continuity a fresh start. Also seen here is the origin of Impulse, the aging of most of the original JSA, and Jack Knight's takeover of the Starman mantle. The direct signifigance this has in Batman continuity is the creation of his status as an urban legend, the erasure of Joe Chill's identification and capture, and the start of Batman's distrust of Hal Jordan. See my Crisis or Superman lists for more on Zero Hour.
Batman: Prodigal by Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, Alan Grant*
As he should have done during Knightfall, Dick Grayson takes over as Batman while Bruce has to temporarily leave Gotham. Knightwing (as Batman) and the new Boy Wonder, Tim Drake, face off against Two-Face, the villain that Dick failed against in his first battle as Robin.
Batman: Contagion by Alan Grant, Chuck Dixon, Dennis O'Neil, Doug Moench, Christopher Priest*
Batman: Legacy by Alan Grant*
In Contagion, a deadly virus, The Clench, has been unleashed upon Gotham, and it is up to Batman to contain the disease while trying to track down the survivors of a previous outbreak, who may be the only source to a cure. Contagion also contains two issues of Azrael's solo series. In Legacy, Batman attempts to track down the source of the virus. This book also serves as a bit of a lead-in to Cataclysm.
Batman/Deadman: Death & Glory by James Robinson*
Posessed by an evil spirit, Batman unknowingly massacres a restaurant full of people. With the help of Deadman, he must now track down the killer, and finding that he himself was the culprit, must then track down and defeat his paranormal posessor.
Batman: Cataclysm by Chuck Dixon*
Batman: No Man's Land - Volume 1 by Bob Gale, Devin Grayson*
Batman: No Man's Land - Volume 2 by Greg Rucka, Bob Gale*
Batman: No Man's Land - Volume 3 by Greg Rucka, Kelley Puckett*
Batman: No Man's Land - Volume 4 by Greg Rucka, Devin Grayson*
Batman: No Man's Land - Volume 5 by Greg Rucka, Devin Grayson*
Gotham City is devistated by an earthquake so destructive that the city is declared a No Man's Land by the United States government. This long arc crossed every bat book and spin-off and brought us a new Batgirl and the return of Bane. By the story's end, Bruce Wayne must battle Lex Luthor for financial control over the rebuilding of the city.
Batman: The Chalice by Chuck Dixon*
Batman comes into posession of the Holy Grail, and in doing so discovers that his is the descendant of a Grail Knight from King Arthur's court. He must now defend the Grail against those who would claim it for their own, most notably Ra's al Ghul. There are also appearances here by the Penguin, Two-Face, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordin, and Azrael.
Batman: Harley Quinn by Paul Dini*
Batman: Harley and Ivy by Paul Dini, Judd Winick*
Harley Quinn, the Joker's girlfriend, who had previously only been seen in Batman: The Animated Series, is brought into actual Batman continuity in her own mini-series, Harley Quinn. Harley and Ivy collects two mini-series about this particular dynamic duo, Harley and Ivy and Love on the Lam.
JLA: Tower of Babel by Mark Waid*
In Tower of Babel, Batman has concocted contingency plans to take out all of the other members of the Justice League. You know, just in case.
Superman: Emperor Joker by Jeph Loeb, J.M. DeMatteis, Joe Kelly, Mark Schultz
Wonderfully, amazingly, perfectly, awesomely, twisted story. By far one of my favorite Superman stories of all time. The experience of reading this in single-issue form cannot be re-captured in this graphic novel if for no other reason than because the halfway-through shocker is revelaed right in the title, but that just means that I can actually tell you what it's about without worrying I'm ruining anything. Ready for this? The Joker has obtained nearly infinite cosmic power. Period. The End. That's it. Just let your mind run wild with that one. Characters are introduced here that last well into the pages of Infinite Crisis. Though not the main-character, Batman plays an absolutely essential role in this twisted tale.
These two trades explore Gotham City after the reconstruction, as those citizens that stayed in Gotham during No Man's Land (OGs, Original Gothamites) battle against those that fled (DeeZees, deserters). In Evolution, Ra's al Ghul returns to plague the Dark Knight. Though Tower of Babel actually takes place during Evolution, the events of the former are only mentioned once in the latter, and the mention isn't signifigant enough to warrant skipping back and forth when reading these books. Officer Down finds Comissioner Gordon shot thrice in the back, and Catwoman is the only witness.
Bruce Wayne: Murderer? by Ed Brubaker, Chuck Dixon, Greg Rucka, Devin Grayson, Kelly Puckett*
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive - Volume 1 by Ed Brubaker, Chuck Dixon, Devin Grayson, Kelly Puckett*
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive - Volume 2 by Ed Brubaker, Chuck Dixon, Devin Grayson*
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive - Volume 3 by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Devin Grayson, Kelly Puckett, Geoff Johns*
Bruce Wayne is found with a dead Vesper Fairchild in his arms and is arrested for her Murder. Unfortunately, the Batman is his only alibi. Rather than reveal his dual identity, Batman decides that the only obvious course of action is to drop the Bruce Wayne persona alltogether, since of course Batman is the real man and Bruce Wayne is the mask. Batman is backed-up by bat-buddies in bulk, including Bruce's bodyguard, Sasha Bordeaux.
Batman: Harvest Breed by George Pratt  (Hardcover) *
During an investigation into horrific killings, which lead him back to Viet Nam, Batman becomes so out of control that he even attacks Commissioner Gordon.
Batman: Absolution by J.M. DeMatteis  (Hardcover) *
Batman tracks down the terrorist that attacked Wayne Enterprises ten years ago in a quest that even takes him as far as the Taj Mahal.
Hush gives us a brilliant new Gotham villain. An amazing story that features a wide cast of DC characters, including, perhaps, a brief glimpse of Jason Todd? Hush will play a major part in Batman's life from this point forward. The Absolute Edition collects both Volume 1 and 2 in an oversized slipcase edition, which looks just lovely on a book shelf.
Arkham Asylum: Living Hell by Dan Slott*
Warren White, "The Shark," thinks he can beat his rap by pleading insanity. A transfer of the case to Gotham City wins him his plea, but lands him in Arkham. Now "The Fish" must contend with the likes of the Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and Killer Crock.
Batman: Death and the Maidens by Greg Rucka*
A dying Ra's al Ghul offers Batman the opportunity to speak with his dead parents. In exchange he asks for help against his daughters (yes, plural), who are destroying his Lazarus Pits.
Batman: Broken City by Brian Azzarello  (Hardcover) *
Brian Azarello and Eduardo Risso, writer and artist for Vertigo's 100 Bullets, bring us an excellent Batman tale, as the Dark Knight investigates a woman's body found in a Gotham landfill.
Batman: As the Crow Flies by Judd Winick*
In As the Crow Flies, the Batman faces the terrifying Scarebeast, manifested by the partnership of Scarecrow and Penguin. Under the Scarecrow's influence, Batman receives visions of Jason Todd.
Batman: Hush Returns by A.J. Lieberman*
Hush Returns, bringing more confusion as to his true identity and motivations.
Jeph Loeb's run on Superman/Batman was epic and amazing. In Public Enemies, Superman and Batman work together with and against almost every current DC hero to conclude the presdiential reign of Lex Luthor, who, with the final words of this book, foreshadows the coming of a Crisis. Supergirl reintroduces Kara Zor-El as Superman's Kryptonian cousin and also brings us a return of Harbinger as Supergirl struggles to find her place in the world, first being taken in by the Amazons of Paradise Island and then by Darkseid! In Absolute Power we are shown Superman and Batman on multiple Earths and in multiple timlines. They begin the story as the ruthless rulers of a conquered Earth as an uprising of heroes joins together to battle them, an uprising of heroes that includes Uncle Sam, the Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, Doll Man, and Wonder Woman. But when Wonder Woman kills Batman, and Superman kills her in return, the Superman of Kingdom Come must step in to help set things right. The story contines with appearances by Kamandi and Tufta... Cinnamon, Bat Lash, El Diablo, Jonah Hex, and Scalphunter... Darkseid, Metron, and Etrigan... Sgt. Rock, and the Easy Company... the Blackhawks... and even Ra's Al Ghul and the Legion of Superheroes. Consider this a fantastic refresher on the breadth of the DC Universe as we lead into the beginnings of Infinite Crisis. In addition to bringing together all of the stories that go back to the beginning of Public Enemies, Vengeance brings us the extra special bonus of referring back to one of my favorite storylines of all time, Superman Arkham / Emperor Joker. I wish so badly that DC would release this story in trade. If they did, it would definitely go on this list. Vengeance also ushers in the return of Bizarro, Batzarro, and almost every other incarnation of Superman or Batman that has ever existed or been imagined (including the Superman of Red Son and the Batman of Batman Beyond).
Batman: War Drums by Bill Willingham, Andersen Gabrych*
Batman: War Games Act One by Ed Brubaker, Andersen Gabrych, Devin Grayson, Dylan Horrocks, A.J. Lieberman, Bill Willingham*
Batman: War Games Act Two by Ed Brubaker, Bill Willingham, et al*
Batman: War Games Act Three by Ed Brubaker, Bill Willingham, et al*
At his father's request, Tim Drake quits as Robin. Subsequently, his girlfriend, Spoiler, takes up the Robin mantle against Batman's wishes. Eventually Batman agrees to train her, but when she fails, and he fires her, Gotham goes to hell as Spoiler enacts Batman's never-to-be-used contingency plan that would hope to unify Gotham's criminal element under Matches Malone, one of Batman's alternate personas. Unfortunately, Spoiler is unaware of Matches's true identity, so that part of the plan is not enacted in time, resulting in a bloody gang war. By the end of this tale, Batman will alienate all of his allies.
[o]Infinite Crisis
This section follows Batman from Identity Crisis to Infinite Crisis. Because I have meticulously laid out a spoiler-free jumping-around order for reading the Infinite Crisis tie-ins elsewhere, the books in this section will be laid out in the order that makes the most sense from the perspective of a Batman reader rather than an Infinite Crisis reader. Therefore, be warned that if you follow this list, major plot points of Infinite Crisis will be revealed prior to reading Infinite Crisis itself. This is an attempt to keep the Batman stories from being broken apart. If you would prefer a more spoiler-free reading experience to a logical/linear one, please use the Infinite Crises list.
Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer  (Hardcover)
Identity Crisis is an incredible story that shakes the foundation of much of the DC Universe. A hero's wife is murdered and the members of the Justice League, old and current, must band together to find the killer before their own spouses are next. But as the investigations continue, a potentially more sinister crime is revealed, which centers around Batman.
Year One: Batman / Ra's al Ghul by Devin Grayson*
Don't believe the title. This book has absolutely nothing to do with anybody's "Year One." It does, however, have to do with Batman receiving a letter from Ra's al Ghul One Year after the events of Death and the Maidens.
Prelude contains snippets of stories leading up to and foreshadowing all of the Countdown to Infinte Crisis books. The OMAC Project includes the original Countdown to Infinite Crisis one-shot that leads into the other Countdown books and therefore into Infinite Crisis itself. Maxwell Lord leads Checkmate and has unleashed an army of OMACs upon the superhuman community. What are Batman's ties to this plot?
Batman: City of Crime by David Lapham*
Bruce Wayne must contend with a 14-year-old, who is far too close to the drug ring that Batman is currently investigating. This book collects issues of Detective Comics that came out at the same time as the issues of Batman that are collected in Under the Hood below. War Crimes, which contains issues from both series, also takes place halfway through this book, but to the best of my knowledge the second half of City of Crime makes no references to either of the below collections, so it should be safe to read separately.
Batman: War Crimes by Anderson Gabrych, Bill Willingham, Devin Grayson, Bruce Jones*
In Under the Hood, a new vigilante has appeared in Gotham who does not share Batman's opposition to lethal force. The Red Hood pits himself directly against the Black Mask, the new crime head of Gotham City. Shocking revelations and Hush tie-ins abound. It may seem odd to place the concluding chapter of War Games in between two seemingly unrelated books, but trust me that this is exactly where everything belongs. War Crimes closes up a very nasty loose end from War Games and serves as a lead-in for the second volume of Under the Hood. Volume 2 continues the battle between Batman, the Red Hood, and Black Mask, while also throwing in the Joker just for a laugh. I know I said I wasn't going to worry about Infinite Crisis spoilers in this section, but the very last chapter in this book, "The Return of Jason Todd" from Batman Annual #25, really won't make any sense unless it is read after Infinite Crisis. You've been warned.
JLA: Crisis of Conscience
The events of Identity Crisis finally come full-circle in Crisis of Conscience, driving the Justice League of America to disband. The last page of this book leads directly to the first page of Infinite Crisis.
Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns  (Hardcover) *
Twenty years after Crisis on Infinite Earths, a true sequel is finally published. Superman-2, Superboy-Prime, and Alex Luthor return for a universe-shattering adventure that will again reshape the face of the entire DC Universe. Part of the backlash of Infinite Crisis provides that in current continuity, the murderer of Bruce Wayne's parents (presumably Joe Chill) was once again identified and captured, an event that had been erased by Zero Hour. The Infinite Crisis Companion appears as though it is going to contain all of the Infinite Crisis Specials that were released alongside Infinite Crisis. It is good that these are going to be collected in trade, but collecting them separately from Infinite Crisis itself is going to make it nearly impossible to read everything in the proper order. Use it primarily as a means to fill in the blanks that Infinite Crisis may have left you with.
[o]One Year Later
Batman: Face the Face by James Robinson*
One year after Infinite Crisis, Batman returns to Gotham to discover that someone has begun murdering Gotham's most high-profile villains.
Batman: Detective by Paul Dini, Royal McGraw*
The Dark Knight faces the Riddler, the Penguin, and Poison Ivy as well as brand-new villains while pushing himself to the limit to solve crimes.
Superman/Batman: The Enemies Among Us by Mark Verheiden*
The Martain Manhunter attacks Batman, Parasite and Titano return, and Superman's ellegiances are tested among the Green Lantern Corps.
Batman and Son by Grant Morrison  (Hardcover) *
Talia al Ghul reveals that the events of Son of the Demon may have actually been in-continuity, resulting in Damien, which Tim Drake fears will complicate the matter of his adoption by Bruce Wayne.
[o]Anthologies
This section contains books that span multiple decades and are therefore relatively impossible to place into any kind of continuity. The provide a reasonable history of the characters they focus on, but not of the Batman mythos as a whole.
Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told by Bill Finger, Dennis O'Neil, et al*
Released to coincide with Batman Begins, Greatest Stories collects Batman tales spanning six decades, including one taking place shortly after Bruce Way: Fugitive in which Bruce attempts to regain his reputation.
Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told - Volume 2 by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Roy Thomas, et al*
Reprints classic stories from the 1940s to the present.
The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told*
The Clown Prince of Crime is the focus of this five-decade-spanning collection.
Batman: Scarecrow Tales by Bill Finger, Gardner Fox, et al*
Another Bagman Begins release, Scarecrow Tales contains eight stories originally printed in single comic book format spaning a total of 61 years.
Batman: Secrets of the Batcave by Bill Finger, Don Cameron, Edmond Hamilton, Gerry Conway, Alan Brennert, et al*
Collects several early Batman stories, all centering around the more mysterious aspects of the Batcave.
Batman: Ego and Other Tails by Darwyn Cooke*
DC has put together a collection of early Batman stories from the writer and artist of DC: The New Frontier. This collection includes the story Ego as well as the entire graphic novel, Catwoman: Selina's Big Score.
Tales of the Batman: Time Sale by Darwyn Cooke, James Robinson, et al*
This appears to be a collection of Batman stories illustrated by Time Sale. I have not found any other information about this collection as of yet.
Batman: Turning Points by Greg Rucka, Chuck Dixon, Ed Brubaker*
Collecting the entire mini-series, this graphic novel explores the relationship between Batman and Jim Gordon throughout their years in Gotham.
[o]Frank Miller's Dark Knight
So far, DC comics has only incorporated one Frank Miller Batman tale into DC continuity, that being Year One. However, Frank Miller himself has declared that regardless of DC's opinion, anything he writes about Batman takes place within the universe of The Dark Knight Returns, considered by many to be a masterpiece. For your convenience, all of these stories will be listed here within their own mini-continuity.
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller  (Hardcover, Leatherbound) *
Bruce Wayne's very first year as Batman as envisioned by Frank Miller, the man who brought you Sin City. This is, without a doubt, essential Batman. This book provided much of the basis for the Batman Returns movie. The leatherbound edition also includes the Dark Knight Returns.
All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder - Volume 1 by Frank Miller  (Hardcover) *
In the most recently published book of this group, Frank Miller yet again takes the reigns of a Batman tale in this gritty story of the early days of Batman and Robin.
Batman: Black and White - Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman, Joe Kubert, Frank Miller, Jim Lee, et al*
Sadly, this book has been very hard to find any information about. What I can tell you is that all of the authors involed in the project were given free reign to write any batman story they wanted without regard for continuity. This book contains one Frank Miller story, which I am pretty arbitrarily placing around the middle of his other books.
Spawn/Batman by Frank Miller, Todd McFarlane*
Written to take place prior to The Dark Knight Returns, this Spawn cross-over follows Batman as he travels to New York City to track down an arsenal of weapons and robots that use severed human heads as processors. Spawn, also following the same case, meets Batman and they battle violently until they realize they're both on the same trail. The conclusion of this tale had lasting affects within the Spawn universe.
The definitive Batman that never was, The Dark Knight Returns is often credited as being the start of the concept of Elsewords. According to DC, its popularity was responsible for the launch of the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman movies. In this story, ten years after Batman has retired, he returns to duty with a new female Robin to battle two of his fiercest enemies for the last time, the Joker and Two-Face. But it doesn't end there, as Batman must then face his old friend, Superman, in a battle to the death. The Dark Knight Strikes Again, a sequel to the Dark Knight Returns, tells the story of the army of Batmen that Bruce Wayne has created to watch over his city. As his Dark Knights fall, he must take a more personal hand in the survival of Gotham City, joined by his new sidekick, Catgirl. The leatherbound edition actually collections Year One along with the Dark Knight Returns and one other Frank Miller story, Santa Claus: Wanted Dead or Alive, which Miller drew but did not write. The Absolute Edition collects both the Dark Knight Returns and the Dark Knight Strikes Again in one beautiful oversized volume.
[o]Elseworlds and Other Tales
These two DC/Marvel cross-overs took place just around the time of Knightfall. Because of this, Lake of Fire actually features Jean-Paul Valley as Batman, while Deadly Knights features Bruce Wayne.
Batman: Master of the Future by Brian Augustyn*
Gotham by Gaslight, the first official Elseworlds book published by DC, asks what would happen if Batman were around to face Jack the Ripper. Master of the Future was written as a sequel to Gotham by Gaslight.
Batman: Holy Terror by Alan Brennert*
In this tale, Britain won the war and still has control over the North American colonies. Bruce Wayne is about to enter the priesthood when he discovers, by way of Inquisitor Gordon, that his parents were executed by the church for their views.
Batman: Dark Dynasty by Mike W. Barr*
This epic tale spans the adventures of three different Dark knights from the 14th century to the year 2500 as they battle the immortal Vandal Savage.
Batman: Bloodstorm by Doug Meonch  (Hardcover) *
Batman: Crimson Mist by Doug Meonch  (Hardcover) *
The incredible Batman Vampire trilogy begins as Dracula attempts to take over Gotham city and Bruce Wayne must make sacrifices to save his city. By the story's end, Batman has become a vampire himself, and his former allies must must make sacrifices of their own for the sake of Gotham. Tales of the Multiverse appears to be a collection of all three stories, but I will confirm that once more information is available.
Batman/Dark Joker: The Wild by Doug Moench  (Hardcover) *
The Batman, a humanoid creature with wings, must protect the Wild, a land of magic and fantasy, from the world's most diabolic sorcerer, Dark Joker.
Batman: Castle of the Bat by Jack C. Harris*
In Castle of the Bat, the Batman is Frankenstein's Monster.
Batman/Manbat by Jamie Delano*
In this realistically-painted Elseworlds book, Batman tracks down genetic engineers who have created a Manbat of their own.
Batman: Black and White - Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman, Joe Kubert, Frank Miller, Jim Lee, et al*
Batman: Black and White - Volume 2 by Paul Dini, Steven T. Seagle, Brian Azzarello, John Byrne, Howard Chaykin, Warren Ellis, Alan Grant, Dave Gibbons, Paul Levitz, Paul Pope, et al  (Hardcover) *
Batman: Black and White - Volume 3 by Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, Judd Winick, Jill Thompson, Michael Wm. Kaluta, et al*
These three oversized volumes collect several short (about 8 pages) Batman stories by some of the industry's greatest writers, who were given free reign to write any batman story they wanted without regard for continuity.
Batman: Thrillkiller by Howard Chaykin*
Thrillkiller takes place during the early 1960's and features Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and a host of villains, all with new origins.
Batman/Aliens by Ron Marz*
Batman/Aliens II by Ian Edginton*
In these Dark Horse crossovers, Batman battles the greatest hunters in the universe.
Batman: Other Realms by Mark Kneece, Bo Hampton*
Other Realms is a small collection of surreal Batman tales, one focusing on a Viking Price and the other on a world inhabited by the conciousness of coma victims.
Batman: Detective No. 27 by Michael Uslan  (Hardcover) *
Bruce Wayne becomes a member of a secret society of detectives to battle the criminal conspiracy that left him orphaned.
Batman: Child of Dreams by Kia Asamiya  (Hardcover) *
Batman: Hong Kong by Doug Moench  (Hardcover) *
Child of Dreams, a Black and White manga, originally published in Magazine Z, has been translated into English by Max Allan Collins. Following-up on the success of Child of Dreams is Hong Kong, a full-color graphic novel by Doug Moench and Tony Wong. Batman discovers a series of snuff films on the Internet and must travel to Hong Kong to tract down the killers.
Batman: Nine Lives by Dean Motter  (Hardcover) *
Investigating reports of a giant alligator living in the Gotham reservoir, the vigilante known as the Bat-Man discovers the dead body of his ex-girlfriend, Selina Kyle. Now he and Detective Richard Grayson most uncover how Selina died before another victim is claimed. Annoyingly, in my opinion, this book is presented in a landscape format, making it fit oddly on a shelf.
Batman: Secrets by Sam Keith*
Written and Illustrated by the creator of The Maxx, Secrets finds Batman caught on film pummeling the Joker without mercy, a story that the press grabs hold and runs with.
Batman: Year One Hundred by Paul Pope*
In 2039, the Batman, an old forgotten icon, is wanted for the murder of a federal agent. Also includes Pope's "Berlin Batman" story set in 1939.
Batman: Cover to Cover  (Hardcover) *
This hardcover collection features a great history of Batman comic book covers. Several writers, artists, actors, and directors select their personal favorites, including Christopher Nolan, Adam West, Mark Hamill, Neil Gaiman, Alex Ross, Brad Meltzer, Mark Waid, Jim Lee, Jeph Loeb, Paul Levitz, and Neil Adams.
[o]Television and Film
Many of you probably have a bit of a love/hate relationship when it comes to Adam West and Burt Ward's depiction of Batman and Robin from the 60's. Personally, I loved it. It was campy to be sure, but it was fun. Sadly, the series itself has yet to be released on DVD. All you can get thusfar is the Movie and the... ahem... reunion show.
Scooby Doo Meets Batman*
Don't ask. I wouldn't even know where to begin.
Batman: The Movies by Dennis O'Neil*
The first two modern Batman films were actually quite good. I thought that Tim Burton and Michael Keaton truly did the character justice, as did these films' villians. In the first film, Jack Nicholson plays an excellent Joker. I have heard complaints about his dual-role replacing Joe Chill, but I personally thought this was a very welcome addition to the dynamic of the character. In Batman Returns, Danny DeVito brings us the Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer plays an infinitely better Catwoman than Halle Berry could ever dream of being. Look for Christopher Walken and Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman) in supporting roles. Joel Schumacher put the Batman franchise into a ten-year coma with Batman Forever and the Ambiguously Gay Duo (I mean, Batman and Robin). The former stars Val Kilmer as Batman, Chris O'Donnel as Robin, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Jim Carey as the Riddler, and Nicole Kidman as Generic Love-Interest #3. Did you know that in Batman and Robin, George Clooney purposely played Batman as gay? I think that fits well with the rest of this film, which also stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl, and Chris O'Donnell reprising his role as Robin. Bane even makes an extremely pathetic appearance. The DVDs listed here are new two-disk versions that contain both Full and Widescreen as well as piles of new extras. The Anthology contains all four two-disc sets in one package. Based on the original screenplays, the graphic novel Batman: The Movies contains Dennis O'Neil's version of all four Batman films of this era. Working from the same source material, his version features variations and extra scenes that were not included in the films.
Since we're about order of continuity here, not order of release, The Batman has to be listed prior to the Animated Series. Though it is the newest of the animated Batman television shows, The Batman is focused on Bruce Wayne's early days under the cape and cowl. The Batman vs Dracula movie is loosely based on the Batman Vampire Trilogy of graphic novels: Red Rain, BloodStorm, and Crimson Mist.
Batman Strikes collects the comic book series based upon The Batman animated series listed above.
The first three volumes of this set represent the 90's Batman Animated Series in its entirety, a series often credited as the best animted super-hero show in history. The fourth volume is actually a collection of the New Batman Adventures, which had completely revamped graphics and introduced new characters from the DCU. This latter series was the real beginning of the DC Animated Universe, as both the style and characters from this short-lived series were carried over into both the Superman Animated Series and Justice League. The movies in between the volumes are in approximately the order that they were released alongside their respective series.
The Batman Adventures by Kelly Puckett, Martin Pasko*
Batman: Gotham Adventures by Ty Templeton*
These Batman Adventures books are the graphic novel collections of several issues of the comic book series of the same name that were modelled after the Batman animated series from the early 90s. However, most of these were actually released long after the animated series itself had ended.
Set forty years after the Animated series and twenty years after Batman's retirement, Batman Beyond brings us an aging Bruce Wayne, training Terry McGinnis to replace him as Gotham's Dark Knight. See Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman series for in-continuity references to Terry.
Batman Begins: The Movie and Other Tales of the Dark Knight by Scott Beatty, Dennis O'Neil, Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Bill Willingham*
Batman Begins rebooted the Batman film franchise with Christian Bale in the title role. Christopher Nolan directed and co-wrote this tale of Bruce Wayne's first foray into his Batman identity against The Scarecrow. Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, and Gary Oldman also star in the first of what will surely be a soon-continued series. The Special Edition adds a second disk of bonus material, on top of which the Deluxe Edition adds a small-format comic book containing Batman's first appearance from Detective Comics #27, The Man Who Falls, and 48 pages of The Long Halloween, comics upon which the movie was based. The Movie and Other Tales collects the graphic novel adaptation of the Christian Bale film as well as collection four classic Batman tales.
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