Let’s face it: Batman is the coolest.
Even for a comic book fan like me, one who spends an inordinate amount of time fixated on the Complete Marvel Universe, reading Batman is almost always a good decision. It’s no surprise there are 6 (nearly 7) Batman stories within my top 50 of the best comics of all time.
I’ll answer that here in a relatively expedient manner. Note, that Batman made his comic book debut more than 75 years ago. I won’t mention every comic he’s been in since then, and trying to read all of them would be an intimidating (if noble) life goal. Instead, we’ll focus on the comics that make Batman so great, and how you can enjoy them in a chronological order.
Where To Start With Batman Comics?
IX) DC Rebirth
Dave’s Faves: Best and Essential Batman Fast Track!
If you want just the best of the best, I’ve listed my favorite Batman stories below. Otherwise, you can carry on to check out the complete reading order and chronology!
- Batman: Year One
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
- Gotham Central
- Batman: The Long Halloween + Dark Victory
- Batman (New 52) by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
- Batman: The Black Mirror
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Batman & Robin by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
- JLA: Tower of Babel
- Batman: I Am Gotham by Tom King for DC Rebirth
Collects: Detective Comics #27 to #56, Batman #1 to #7, World’s Best Comics #1, and World’s Finest Comics #2 to #3
Let me be clear: You certainly don’t have to jump back to the 1940’s to start reading Batman comics. That said, it can be a lot of fun, and you’ll see the debuts of Batman, Robin, Joker, Commissioner Gordon, Catwoman, and many more.
The first Golden Age Omnibus is a relatively easy to find, fair-priced (around $40) introduction to Batman’s true beginnings. You can keep the party rolling with the below Golden Age Omnibi:
Collects: Detective Comics #57-74, Batman #8-15 And World’S Finest Comics #4-9
Collects: Detective Comics #75-91, Batman #16-25, And Stories From World’S Finest Comics #10-14
Collects: Detective Comics #93-112, Batman #26-35 And World’S Finest Comics #15-22
Collects: Detective Comics #113-132, Batman #36-45 And Stories From World’S Finest Comics #23-32
Most Expedient Way to Navigate Batman’s Early Decades!
Collects: Batman #7, 15, 20, 31, 37, 47, 48, 49, Detective Comics #27, 33, 38, 49, 80, Real Fact Comics #5, Star Spangled Comics #70, and World’s Finest Comics #30
Collects: Batman #62, 81, 92, 105, 113, 121, 128, Detective Comics #156, 168, 185, 216, 233, 244, 252, 267, World’s Finest Comics #81
Collects: Batman #131, 144, 148, 155, 179, 181, 200, 217, Batman Kellogg’s Special #6, Detective Comics #298, 341, 349, 369, 388, 389, 390, 391
Jeff Parker and Mike Allred’s work on the 2010’s, digital-first Batman ’66 series effectively captures the tone and humor of the 60’s TV series more than any comic you’ll find from the era.
Collects: The Brave And The Bold #74-109
Collects: The Brave And The Bold #110-156
Collects: World’s Finest #71-94
Collects: World’s Finest #95 to #116
Collects: Batman #200,203,210, Brave and the Bold #75,76,79-85, Detective Comics #370,372,385,389,391,392, and World’s Finest #174-176,178-180,182-183,185,186.
A number of the comics collected in the Neal Adams illustrations are cover work he did. While these are always a blast to see, I’ve listed out the actual full length comic issues that are included below:
World’s Finest Comics #175
The Brave and the Bold #79
The Brave and the Bold #80
The Brave and the Bold #81
The Brave and the Bold #82
The Brave and the Bold #83
The Brave and the Bold #84
The Brave and the Bold #85
Detective Comics #392
Collects: Batman #217, 220-222, 224-227, 229-231, The Brave and the Bold #86, 88-90, 93, 95, Detective Comics #394-403, 405-311, World’s Finest #199, 200, 202
The full issues collected in volume 2, which features the origins of the Man-Bat and the start of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams Batman comics is as follows:
The Brave and the Bold #86
Detective Comics #395
Detective Comics #397
Detective Comics #400
Detective Comics #402
Detective Comics #404
Detective Comics #407
The Brave and the Bold #93
Detective Comics #408
Detective Comics #410
Collects: Various Issues Of Detective Comics And Batman, Plus The Brave And The Bold #183, 190 And 194
Collects: Detective Comics #437, 438 And 440-443, Detective Comics Annual #3, Showcase ’95 #11, Batman Black And White #1 And 4, Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight #132-136, And Batman: Night Cries
Collects: Batman #232, 235, 240, 242, 243, 244, Detective Comics #411, 485, 489, 490, and DC Special Series Volume 2 #15.
Tales of the Demon marks a more immediate introduction to Rah’s Al Ghul and Talia Al Ghul, and features the creative pairing of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. Note that this overlaps with the above Neal Adams artist edition.
A good starting place for Bat-fans just trying to get the best and most essential Batman stories through the years!
Collects: Detective Comics #469 to #476, #478, #479
Immeasurably influential late 70’s run on Batman from storytellers Steve Englehardt, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin. Includes the classic Joker story “The Laughing Fish.”
Collects: Detective Comics #408, #444-448, #466, #478-479, #500, #514, Batman #307-310, #312-319, #321-324, #326-327, World’S Finest Comics #207, Dc Retroactive Batman – The 70S, Untold Legends Of The Batman #1-3, Batman Black And White #5
Collects: Batman #305-306, Detective Comics #480 And 483- 492 And Brave And Bold #153-165
Collects: Detective Comics 463, 464, 497-499, 501-504, The Brave And The Bold 158, 161, 171-174, Batman 295, 305, 306, Batman Family 17, Man-Bat 1 And , World’S Finest Comics 250, 269
Collects: Batman #337-346 & #348; World’s Finest Comics #270; Detective Comics #505-513
Collects: Batman #340, 343-345 And 348-351 And Detective Comics #510, 512, 517, 528 And 529
Collects: Batman #373, Detective Comics #530-538 And 540-544 And World’s Finest Comics #297 And #299
To date, we’ve progressed in order of publication release date, but as we move into what many now consider the greatest Batman stories of all time (and the logical starting place for any new readers), we’ll be ordering according to Batman’s timeline.
Collects: Batman #404 to #407
Batman: Year One is the 1986 graphic novel from Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. Alongside Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Year One is considered not only one of the best Batman stories, but one of the best graphic novels of all time.
If you’re really all in, you could also check out Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper here, which expands on Catwoman’s role in Year One.
Collects: Batman in “The Man Who Falls”
Collects: Legends of the Dark Knight #1 to #5
Note that the first issue of Shaman actually takes place during Batman: Year One.
Collects: Legends of the Dark Knight #6 to #10
An early Grant Morrison story mixing elements of Fritz Lang films, Byron poems, mobster radio serials, and opera into a quintessentially Morrison story.
Collects: 4 villain Year One one-shots
Poison Ivy in Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual #3
Man-Bat in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #5
Scarecrow in Batman Annual #19
Riddler in Detective Comics Annual #8
Collects: Legends of the Dark Knight #16 to #20
Batman becomes addicted to venom, the same substance that gives Bane his strength. A harrowing look at addiction through the eyes of one of the most dangerous men in the DC universe.
Collects: Detective Comics #575 to #578
Collects: Legends of the Dark Knight #11 to #15, and #137 to #141
The Man Who Laughs is Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke’s modern (the book was published in the 2000’s) take on the Joker’s origins.
Long Halloween and Dark Victory are two 12 issue graphic novels from the creative team of Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale, where each chapter represents one month in the calendar year. I’d reiterate that these books were actually published in the 1990’s, but they deal (excellently) with Batman’s early days, as well as District Attorney Harvey Dent. Some personal favorite Batman stories in here.
Collects: Batman Legends of the Dark Knight #32 to #34, #38, #42 to #43
Collects: Batman Legends of the Dark Knight #35 to #36, #76 to #78
Collects: The Brave And The Bold #200, Batman And The Outsiders #1-13, And New Teen Titans #37
Collects: Batman And The Outsiders Annual #1 And Batman And The Outsiders #14-23
Collects: Detective Comics #579, #582-594, #601-607 And Stories From Batman Annual #11-12
Collects: Batman Legends of the Dark Knight #65 to #68, #200
The Killing Joke is the increasingly controversial graphic novel from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. In my opinion, Moore is the best comic book writer of all time, and while this isn’t his best work, it’s a formative Batman graphic novel, with lasting ramifications for Batman, Joker, and the Gordon family.
DC Comics is adamant that The Killing Joke remain in Batman continuity, and everything from Arkham Knight to the New 52 have treated this book as sacred text.
Collects: Batman #417-430 And Batman Annual #12
New collection of Jim Starlin’s time writing Batman overlaps with “A Death in the Family” collection below.
Collects: Batman #425 to #429
Collects: Detective Comics #598 to #600
Now known as the beginning of the fantastic Arkham video games, Arkham Asylum is also a beautifully haunting (and immensely popular) graphic novel from Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. In many ways, Arkham Asylum is like a waking nightmare for Batman, and also establishes the always enjoyable story of Batman pummeling his rogues gallery on their turf: a haunted prison.
Collects: Batman #426 to #429, #440 to #442, and New Titans #60 to #61.
Another must-read, featuring three excellent Ra’s Al Ghul stories.
You can find a full chronological guide to every issue in the Knightfall trilogy (including an essential “Road to Knightfall” fast track) in Comic Book Herald’s complete Knightfall reading order.
Fans of the Arkham Knight video game can check out Azrael’s comic book origins here as Batman heads towards Knightfall.
Collects: Batman: Vengeance of Bane Special #1, Batman #491-500, Detective Comics #659-666, Showcase ’93 #7-8 and Batman: Shadow of the Bat #16-18
Iconic and satisfying Bat-event, as Bane seeks to break the bat. The inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.
Collects: Detective Comics #667-675, Shadow of the Bat #19-20, #24-28, Batman #501-508, Catwoman #6-7 and Robin #7
Collects: Batman #509-510, #512-514, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #29-30, 32-34, Detective Comics #676-677, #679-681, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #62-63, Robin #88-9, #11-13 and Catwoman #12-13
Collects: Batman #515-525, 527-532 And 535
Collects: Batman #536-552 & #555
Collects: Batman/Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm And Batman: Crimson Mist
You certainly don’t need to read Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s late 90’s JLA as part of your Batman experience, but the first story is a great showcase for Batman, and goes a long way to defining the character’s relation to the Justice League and the DC Universe at large.
Collects: Batman Adventures #1-10
Collects: Batman Adventures #11 To #20
Collects: Batman Adventures #31 To #27, Annual #1
Collects: Batman Adventures #28 To #36, Annual #2, Batman Adventures Holiday Special #1
Collects: Batman & Robin Adventures #1-10
Collects: Batman & Robin Adventures #11-18 And Annual #1
Collects: Batman & Robin Adventures #19 To #25 And Annual #2
Gotham City is rocked by a deadly earthquake, sending the city into total chaos. To make matters worth, President Luthor annexes Gotham from the rest of the United States, leaving the city helpless. It’s up to the Bat family, GCPD, and a few unlikely heroes to keep the city alive long enough for the country to come to its senses.
Collects: Batman #553-554, Detective Comics #719-721, Shadow of the Bat #73-74, Nightwing #19-20, Catwoman #56, Robin #53, Batman Chronicles #12, Blackgate: Isle of Men #1, Huntress/Spoiler: Blunt Trauma #1
Evolution and Officer Down are essentially No Man’s Land: Aftermath, as the players adjust to New Gotham. The extraordinary Greg Rucka writes most of this, with assists from Ed Brubaker.
Another JLA story that goes a long way to developing our understanding of Batman in the expanded DC Universe.
Collects: Detective Comics #766-767, Batgirl #24, Batman: Gotham Knights #25-26, Batman #599-600, Nightwing #65-66, Birds of Prey #39-40, Robin #98-99
An early glimpse at Ed Brubaker’s skills as a crime novelist. Bruce Wayne is discovered with the body of a wealthy heiress in his arms,, and now the entire Bat family must work to secure his freedom. It’s a story right out of any dimestore novel which is why it’s absolutely perfect for the Dark Knight.
Collects: Batman #601, 603, Batman: Gotham Knights #27-28, Batgirl #27, 29, Birds of Prey #41, 43, Nightwing #68- 69
Collects: Detective Comics #768-772, Batman: Gotham Knights #31, Batman #605
Collects: Detective Comics #773-775, Batman #606-607, Batgirl #33
“Gotham Central is one of my 25 favorite comic book series of all time, with amazing GCPD stories from Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, and Michael Lark.
This story almost exclusively focuses on the GCPD with only an appearance or two by Batman. Imagine HBO’S The Wire set in Gotham City, only the fight is against super criminals. Watching cops go up against the likes of Mister Freeze and the Joker is as compelling as it gets in comics. The “lack” of Batman actually does a service to the character by giving the reader an unfiltered look at how the city and her finest really feel about their “heroes.”
Collects: Batman #609 to #619
Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee team up for one of the most popular Batman stories of the 2000’s.
Hush serves as a fantastic jumping-on point for new readers who just want to get into modern day Batman without doing homework on all the versions that came before. It introduces all the major players and elements while still delivering a satisfying mystery for existing fans to follow along. At the end of it, pretty much every character is left with some new narrative force. While it has its detractors, and some parts haven’t aged great, it’s still a solid arc that managed to inject some much needed energy to the long-running title.
Plus there’s a Batman/Superman brawl and you just gotta love those!
President Luthor declares Batman and Superman the titular “public enemies.” Watch two of DC’s most iconic superheroes outwit and outfight everyone else on the block as they make a run for the White House. Along the way, the book does a great job of highlighting the difference between the two eponymous heroes for both dramatic and comedic effect.
Collects: Detective Comics #790 to 796, Robin #126 to 128
Collects: Detective Comics #797, Batman #631, Legends of the Dark Knight #182, Nightwing #96, Gotham Knights #56, Robin #129, Batgirl #55, Catwoman #34
Collects: Detective Comics #798, Batman #632, Legends of the Dark Knight #183, Nightwing #97, Gotham Knights #57, Robin #130, Batgirl #56, Catwoman #35
Collects: Batman #633, Batgirl #57, Catwoman #36, Robin #131, Batman: Gotham Knights #58
One of the most popular and controversial stories in the entire DCU, this is largely outside the scope of Batman. That said, those invested in Batman’s relationship with the Justice League will want to check this out.
Collects: Batman #635 to #641, #645 to #650, and Batman Annual #25.
Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke team-up for one of the better Batman turning points of all time. Don’t read the product description if you want any part of this story to remain a mystery!
You really don’t need to read Infinite Crisis as part of a Batman guide. I list it here primarily because it’s the mid-way point for the entire DC Universe in the 2000’s, and because Gotham Central, Book 4 features an Infinite Crisis tie-in.
Please note that the titles below that feature issues written by Grant Morrison during his extended run on the Dark Knight are italicized and bolded like so.
Collects: Detective Comics #821 to #826
Not a part of Morrison’s run. Detective Comics featured writing from Paul Dini during this time period (Dini created Batman: The Animated Series alongside Bruce Timm).
Collects: Batman #65, 86, 112, 113, 134, 156, 162, Detective Comics #215, 235, 247, 267, World’S Finest Comics #89
While the Black Casebook is not a part of the Morrison Batman run, these 50’s and 60’s stories do provide the primary reference points for Grant Morrison’s Batman research.
You don’t have to read these issues to enjoy the run starting with Batman and Son, but I can promise you Morrison’s plot and reverence for Batman lore will make a lot more sense if you do.
Collects: Batman #655-658 And #663-683, Stories From 52 #30 And#47 And Dc Universe #0
Collects: Batman #655 to #658, #663 to #669, #672 to #675
Collects: Detective Comics #827 to #834
Collects: Batman #670 to #671, Robin #168 to #169, Detective Comics #838 to #839, Nightwing #138 to #139, Batman Annual #26, Robin Annual #7
Final Crisis is genuinely the most difficult superhero universe comic I have ever attempted to read, although at the time I was not nearly as well-versed in the DC Universe. Reader beware! Nonetheless, it’s Morrison’s Crisis event, and sets us up for the next stage of Batman!
Collects: Batman #687 to #691
Collects: Batman: Streets Of Gotham #1-4
Detective Comics (Vol. 1) #852
Batman (Vol. 1) #685
Collects: Batman: Streets Of Gotham #5-11
Collects: Batman #692-699
Collects: Batman: Battle for the Cowl: Arkham Asylum;
Batman: Arkham Reborn [Mini-series, 3 issues];
Detective Comics (Vol. 1) #864-865
The particulars of “Time and the Batman” (collecting Batman #700 to #703) get quite timey-wimey. If you really want the full ordeal, I recommend the CBH Morrison Batman guide.
Collects: Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batman and Robin #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Red Robin #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batgirl #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Outsiders #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Catwoman #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Oracle #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Commissioner Gordon #1, and Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Ra’s al Ghul #1.
A number of 1-shots. Supplementary reading material that’s interesting but not crucial reading.
The issue marking Bruce Wayne’s return to full-time Batman duty.
Bruce and Damian Wayne must get reacquainted after Bruce’s trip through time.
Collects: Batman: Street Of Gotham #12-14, #16-21
Collects: Batman: Gates of Gotham #1-5, Detective Comics Annual #12 and Batman Annual #28
A mad bomber with a centuries old grudge is out to level Gotham city. This story delves into the history of the city and how that history has impacted the entire globe.
Collects: BATMAN #704-707 and #710-712
Collects: Detective Comics #871 to #881
Consider this the ceremonial passing of the torch from the Grant Morrison era to the Scott Snyder Batman era. Black Mirror occurs in the wake of Morrison’s seminal run on the character, and features some early, excellent work from Snyder before he would take over during the New 52.
Following the events of Flashpoint, the DC Universe rebooted as the New 52. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo took over creative duties on DC’s Batman, which quickly became the critically-acclaimed flagship Bat-book for the New 52. Snyder and Capullo books are marked below like so.
Note that if you want everything, including all the Bat-family books and to see how Batman plays in relation to the DC Universe at large, you can check out the Comic Book Herald New 52 Reading Order!
Collects: Batman #21-24
You have two options with New 52 Batman. You can either start with the first issue and “The Court of the Owls” story arc, or you can start with “Zero Year,” which is a variation on the classic early days of Batman as told in Year One. I’ve tried it both ways, and I actually prefer “Zero Year” first, but your mileage may vary.
Collects: Batman #24-25, Detective Comics #25, Batgirl #25, Batwing #25, Batwoman #25, Birds of Prey #25, Catwoman #25, The Flash #25, Green Arrow #25, Green Lantern Corps #25, Nightwing #25, Red Hood and The Outlaws #25 and Action Comics #25
The companion Zero Year collection expands to a bunch of other DCU heroes, some closely tied to the Bat Family, and some closely tied to Bats’ Justice League membership. This will not advance the Batman Zero Year story much, but will provide some New 52 companion issues.
Collects: Batman #25 to #27, #29 to #33
Collects: Batman #21-27 and #29-33
Scott Synder’s in-cannon reimagining of Batman’s origins, all in one place (overlaps with the above Vol. 4 & Vol. 5 collections!).
Collects: Batman #1-7
Collects: Batman #8-9, Batman Annual #1, Detective Comics #9, Batman: The Dark Knight #9, Batwing #9, Batman and Robin #9, Red Hood and the Outlaws #9, Birds of Prey #9, Batgirl #9, Nightwing #8-9, and All-Star Western #9
Collects: Batman #8–12, and Batman Annual #1
Collects: Detective Comics #1 to #7
Collects: Batman, Incorporated #0-6
For all intents and purposes, Grant Morrison’s extended run on Batman continues with the New 52 Batman, Inc. The series essentially continues operating as if the New 52 never happened, which is totally cool if you enjoyed Batman, Inc. to begin with.
Collects: Batman and Robin #1 to #6
Collects: Detective Comics #8 to #12, Annual #1
Collects: Batman and Robin #0, #9 to #14
Collects: Batman #13-17
Collects: Detective Comics #16-17, Catwoman #13-14, Batgirl #14-16, Red Hood and the Outlaws #15-16, Teen Titans #15, Nightwing #15-16, Batman and Robin #15-17, #Batman 17, Suicide Squad #14-15, Batgirl #13, Red Hood and the Outlaws #13-14, Teen Titans #14, #16, Nightwing #14
Death of the Family Reading Order:
Batman and Robin #13 to #14
Suicide Squad #14 to #15
Detective Comics #15
Batgirl #14 to #16
Batman and Robin #15 to #16
Detective Comics #16 to #17
Nightwing #15 to #16
Red Hood and The Outlaws #15
Teen Titans #15
Red Hood and The Outlaws #16
Teen Titans #16
Batman #16 to #17
Batman and Robin #17
Red Hood and The Outlaws #17
Collects: Detective Comics #13 to #18
Collects: Batman, Incorporated #7-13 and Batman, Incorporated Special #1
Collects: Batman and Robin #18 to #23
Collects: Detective Comics #19 to #24, Detective Comics Annual #2
Collects: Batman #0, #18-20, #28, #34, and Batman Annual #2
Collects: Batman Eternal #1-21
Collects: Batman Eternal #22-34
Collects: Arkham Manor #1-6
Collects: Batman Eternal #35-52
Collects: Batman #35-40
Collects: Batman Annual #3, Batman #35-39 backups, Gotham Academy: Endgame #1, Batgirl: Endgame #1, Detective Comics: Endgame #1, and Arkham Manor: Endgame #1
You should read Batman #35 to #37, and then read the tie-ins above. From there you can move to Batman #38 to #40.
Collects: Batman #41 to #45
Collects: Batman #46 to #50
Collects: Batman #51-52, Batman: Futures End #1, Batman Annual #4
It’s a testament to the strength of both Batman and the creative teams responsible that the Dark Knight escaped the controversial New 52 relatively unblemished. If anything, Snyder and Capullo gave us a new great run to talk about for years.
DC Rebirth resets everything on the DC Universe, re-instituting much of classic DC history that the New 52 ostensibly disposed of. Batman survives, as always, and you can check out the full DC Rebirth reading order here.
Collects: Batman: Rebirth #1, Batman #1 to #6
Tom King takes over Batman with this, the first installment of his “I Am…” series. Each book takes a look at one narrative element and examines how it interacts with Batman, starting with “I am Gotham.” This was King getting his Bat-legs under him, and it was controversial at the time… but as a part of his over-all vision, it’s well done.
Collects: Detective Comics #934 to #939
Collects: Nightwing: Rebirth #1, Nightwing #1 to #6 (Note that issues #5 and #6 are part of the “Night of the Monster Men” crossover and should be read below)
There is some overlap with the first Bat-family crossover and the subsequent collections, but this will give you the crossover in its intended order.
Collects: Batman #7, Nightwing #5, Detective Comics #941, Batman #8, Nightwing #6, Detective Comics #942
Collects: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 to #6
Collects: Batgirl #1 to #6
Collects: Red Hood & the Outlaws #1 to #6
Collects: All-Star Batman #1 to #5
Collects: Batman #7 to #12, Batman Annual #1
Collects: Detective Comics #940 to #945
Collects: Batman #13 to #18
Functions as a Justice League vs. Suicide Squad epilogue series of sorts.
Collects: Justice League of America #1 to #6
Collects: Trinity #1 to #6
Collects: Detective Comics #950 to #956
Collects: Trinity #7 to #12
Dark Nights: Metal
Comic Book Herald’s complete Dark Nights: Metal reading order!
Collects: Batman #25 to #32
Much of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” takes place in Batman’s early years, about a year after Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s New 52 “Zero Year.” Since the narrative is told as a series of flashbacks from Batman in the present day, I’d still recommend reading the “War of Jokes and Riddles” at this point in the Rebirth timeline.
Collects: Detective Comics #957 to #961
Collects: All-Star Batman #10 to #14
Collects: Detective Comics #963 to #968, Detective Comic Annual #1
After DC Metal
Collects: Batman #33 to #37, Batman Annual #2
Collects: Detective Comics! Collects issues #969-974 and Annual #1.
Collects: Batman #38-44
Collects: Detective Comics #975-981.
Collects: Batman #45-50 and DC Nation #0.
The controversial “Wedding” story. This marks the half-way point of King’s arc and begins the descent of the Bat.
You can find the whole reading order for this mini-event, with Comic Book Herald’s Batman and Catwoman wedding reading order.
Collects: Detective Comics #982-986
Collects: Batman #51-57
Collects: Detective Comics #988-993
Collects: Batman #58-61, Batman Annual #3 and Batman Secret Files #1.
Comic Book Herald’s complete Doomsday Clock reading order!
Not long before he redefined Batman’s origins with Year One, Frank Miller was reshaping the graphic novel medium with The Dark Knight Returns. It’s an amazing achievement, and frequently hailed with Watchmen as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time (personally, I have it 9th).
You can find the entire “Dark Knight Returns Universe” comics selection in Comic Book Herald’s complete Frank Miller Batman reading order.
Miller returned to The Dark Knight about 15 years later, and well, let’s just say it’s far less of a unanimous celebration. I find the Dark Knight Strikes Again relatively interesting, but don’t go in expecting it to hold a candle to The Dark Knight Returns.
Another all-time great writer, Neil Gaiman, wrote his version of the “final” Batman story in “What ever happened to the Caped Crusader?” It takes its inspiration from Alan Moore’s “What ever happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”
Writer/artist Paul Pope’s take on a futuristic Gotham that’s run like a surveillance state by totalitarian GCPD, and the low-tech Batman who fights for the right of anonymity and choice.
Collects: BATMAN VS. PREDATOR I, II, & III
These three miniseries helped define 90s comics and are an absolute must-read for any fan of the era, the Bat, or just action-packed fun.
Collects: BATMAN/ALIENS #1-2, BATMAN/ALIENS II #1-3, SUPERMAN/BATMAN VS. ALIENS/PREDATOR #1-2, WILDC.A.T.S/ALIENS #1.
A kind of companion piece to Batman vs. Predator, this book collects a series of stories where Batman, Superman, and WildC.A.T.S. must face-off against the Xenomorphs. More 90’s fun!
Collects: Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgment On Gotham, Batman/Judge Dredd: Vendetta In Gotham, Batman/Judge Dredd: The Ultimate Riddle, Batman/Judge Dredd: Die Laughing #1-2 and Lobo/Judge Dredd: Psycho Bikers Vs. Mutants From Hell!
Any time that Gotham’s Dark Knight and Megacity 1’s Violent Protector get together, it’s bound to be a violent, absurdist good time. This collection highlights some great writers and some of 2000AD comics’ best artists.
Alan Grant. Simon Bisley. Why are you still reading this?
A collection of fun, experimental, and downright absurd Batman stories. Includes the origins of Batmite.
An absurd send-up of the 90s Knightfall event. Do NOT enter into this expecting a Batman comic. Instead, think more along the lines of a Groo the Barbarian for the dark and violent decade. What more could you expect from Alan Grant of Lobo fame?!
A nasty little character study of the Clown Prince of Crime, delivered by the always excellent Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. This gets a little intense.
Batman meets Dickens. This story shows familiar heroes and villains throughout the ages in a loose approximation of A Christmas Carol… only with more punching.
Collects: Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham #1-3
By Mike flippin’ Mignola
Art by Mike Mignola, script by Brian Augustyn
Collects: Batman: Holy Terror, Batman: The Blue, The Grey, And The Bat, Robin 3000 #1-2, Batman/Dark Joker: The Wild, Batman/Houdini: The Devil’S Workshop, Batman: Castle Of The Bat, Batman: In Darkest Knight And Batman: Dark Allegiances
Collects: Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm And Batman: Crimson Mist
Collects: Batman White Knight #1-8
Collects: Batman/The Shadow #1-6, Stories From Batman Annual #1, Detective Comics #253, #259
Outside continuity, this DC and Dynamite Comics character crossover is simply a lot of fun. Story by Scott Snyder, Steve Orlando, and Riley Rossmo.
Batman is out to stop the sale of a drug that allows people to live the life of their dreams — by litterally shapshifting into that person for 24 hours. After that, the users die. This one is heavy on Japanese influence.
Collects: Batman: Damned 1-3
A Batman story for mature audiences. Joker has been murdered and Batman is the primary suspect. And only John Constantine to help the World’s Greatest Detective solve this mystery.
Yet another fantastic team-up between Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo.
Collects: Insert New
Batman Beyond Reading Order
Collects: Digital chapters #1 to #16
New 52 Batman Beyond
DC Rebirth Batman Beyond
Collects: Batman Beyond #7 to #12