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So I was looking to start reading the batman series. I have read through this question: Where to start reading The Batman?
but it only seemed to confuse me as some of those releases are from the new 52 and some are not. I am relatively new to comics and I have watched all of the batman live action movies(including the new batman vs superman) and a few of the animated movies including (son of batman, batman vs robin, bad blood,the dark knight returns and batman: the red hood.

I am unsure of where to start reading the comics, I presume the best way to read it would be from the start of the new 52 but I am unsure if I should read it from the new 52, the original series, or a combination of both. A lot of people recommend reading batman: the killing joke which is a one shot and not part of the new 52 or the original series. Some recommend batman: year one. What I wanted to know is, how is the best way to read the batman comics, is it like manga where I start at the beginning of new 52 and continue on from there to get the cannon story only? Do I read the side stories knowing that they are not part of the cannon, new 52 series of batman? Where do I start reading so that everything I am reading continues in chronological order?

Any help you can provide me to clear up this confusion will be greatly appreciated, Thank you.

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    There's nothing to stop you reading Batman right from the start. It'll take you a while, but when you've finished, I'm sure you'll be pleased that you took the time to do it properly. – Valorum Jul 4 '16 at 18:03
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Option 1: Go into your local comic shop and ask this question. They'll be able to help you figure out exactly what you're looking for much better than we can. Honestly this is probably the best thing to do, but if you don't have a local comic shop...

Option 2: Wait for the next arc to start, and start reading there. Comic books come out in arcs, which are similar to how TV shows come out in seasons. A particular comic book will have 3-6 monthly issues that tell a story, that storyline comes to an end, and then a new arc starts. It's easy to jump on at the beginning of arcs, just like it's easy to start watching tv at the beginning of a new season.

Option 3: Just start with the current issue. It might take a few issues for you to figure out what's going on, but you'll also be able to catch on whenever the next arc starts.

Option 4: Start at the beginning of the New 52. This was a revamp/relaunch, so they tried to make it easy for people to start reading here.

Option 5: Go back and read the collected issues. You've mentioned a few popular storylines from Batman, and I'd also add Dark Knight Returns to the list.

You could also do any or all of the above. You could start reading the current issues, but then also read it from the beginning to catch yourself up. You could also read the older comics, since they're mostly standalone and have nothing to do with the issues currently coming out.

is it like manga where I start at the beginning of new 52 and continue on from there to get the cannon story only?

That is definitely one way to do it. Keep in mind that many of these different Batman stories happen in different universes, so you don't have to read them all to get the full story.

Do I read the side stories knowing that they are not part of the cannon, new 52 series of batman?

You can, but you don't have to. Think about it this way: did you have to watch the 1989 Batman to understand and appreciate Batman Begins? Think of the New 52 as Batman Begins. It's a great place for new readers to start, but you can also go back and read the older stuff if you want- but you don't have to.

Where do I start reading so that everything I am reading continues in chronological order?

Either start at the beginning of New 52, or start at the next arc, or start at the current issue.

There is no wrong way to read comics. What you read really depends on exactly what you're looking for. Maybe you want to read through Batman's greatest hits, or maybe you want to be up to date with what's going on right now. Maybe you want to do both. Maybe you want to start reading monthly issues, or maybe you want to stick with collections. Maybe both. So there really isn't a correct or incorrect way to do it.

Also keep in mind that many of these different comics books take place in different universes, just like the Batman from the 1989 movie is a different person than the Batman from Batman Begins, or from the Batman in the animated movies. So you don't have to read all of them to understand everything that's going on in one of them. You also can go back and read older comics without worrying about them being out of order, since they happened in completely different universes.

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    I see, thank you so much. You have cleared up so much confusion. All these things happening in multiple universes and what is currently considered cannon can be confusing. I will try finding a comic book store but currently I am planing to read from the beginning of the new 52 and also read the main/proclaimed batman comics. This way I can understand the character batman a lot better. Thank you. – Michael Apr 4 '16 at 13:42
  • @Michael No problem. You're right, it can definitely be confusing, especially for new readers. That's actually part of why they created the New 52, to make it easier for new readers to jump on. That can be even more confusing though. But just know that there isn't really a wrong way to do it, and you shouldn't worry too much about reading order since it's split up into multiple universes anyway. Good luck and happy reading! – Kevin Workman Apr 4 '16 at 13:46
  • This is a great answer, just to add a note: it's cool to have physical copies of single issues for sure, and graphic novels especially IMO, but when youre catching up on a huge series, also check out digital sources like comixology. You may find deals on Trades (an entire arc in one collected volume) or older arc issues. – Dpeif Apr 4 '16 at 17:20
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    Bravisimo! Your answer is the epitome of what we hope for on the Stack: complete, concise, well-structured, and supportive of the original post. Thank you for your effort. – Thaddeus Howze Jul 4 '16 at 21:21
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The answers given are great, but in all honesty the Batman history/continuity is so convoluted I'm going to come at this from a different angle and give you a piece of advice that I've seen on several comic book sites - when it comes to Batman choose your own 'head-canon' and go with it; if you like a story it happened, if you don't it didn't. Otherwise you can seriously tie yourself in knots!

Some suggested graphic novels/collected editions that get at the 'core' of Batman;

  1. Batman: Year One (this one's his origin)
  2. Batman: The Man Who Laughs
  3. Batman: The Long Halloween
  4. Batman: Dark Victory
  5. Batman: The Killing Joke
  6. Batman: Strange Apparitions
  7. Batman: Venom
  8. Batman: Ten Nights of the Beast
  9. Batman: Son of the Demon
  10. Batman: Knightfall
  11. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Elseworlds tale, gives a possible ending to his career)

These give a good grounding in Batman's career and also introduce characters that become important to the mythology as it progresses (a quick internet search will fill you in on general content and summary of each book). You'll notice that none of these are New 52 or Rebirth. It's not that I don't think there's some great stuff there - there absolutely is; but for my money the titles I've given do a great job of highlighting various aspects of Batman's complex character - what makes him 'tick'.

After that just read what takes your fancy on the shelves!

Good luck!

  • This is an interesting take on the subject, and one I agree with. What about Batman: Hush, or Batman: Noel? Also, Brian Azzarello's Joker was pretty good too. – Gallifreyan Apr 7 '17 at 5:21
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    Noel and Joker are very good (especially Joker) and Hush is great - I just went with ones that particularly stood out to me. To be honest if I didn't stop somewhere I'd still be listing now! – Gray Apr 7 '17 at 21:28
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You could do what I did and start at a little before "Crisis on Infinite Earths" (CoIE) and read every Batman and Batfamily book in publication order which is something like 4000 issues. It was worth it because Batman and the Batfamily often get the best writers. Also you get great things that you would otherwise never be recommended like Gotham Central, Gotham City Sirens, Harley Quinn's book, etc. You also don't get a complete picture of many of the more notable arcs like No Man's Land because they don't adequately compile it.

The problem with doing this is finding them all and keeping track because in the 90s you have 4 Batman books that released monthly along with several Bat-family books that released monthly often crossing over with each other.

I stopped reading after a year and a half of New52 because they had messed up a lot of the characters. They did not know what they were doing and were incredibly inconsistent about the timeline while saying nonsense that didn't work if you paid attention (which I did reading a lot of the New52 books to figure out the new canon and creating a timeline). At present DC is doing "Rebirth" which is changing the canon again, bring back the characters from the pre-new52 so it's probably better to read from CoIE.

batman: the killing joke which is a one shot and not part of the new 52

It actually is supposed to be

or the original series.

I am assuming you're talking about the Modern Era or Bronze Age which starts after CoIE, or slightly before.

Some recommend batman: year one

This one isn't part of new 52.


What you have to understand which you don't seem to is that comics have continuity but not at the same time. I'll try to explain...

When these comics started they all were part of one universe to some degree, but as time went on writers wanted to explore ideas that obviously didn't fit with the established characters so they just made them into alternate universes. Because of this there were now infinite universes...

Then in the Silver Age (i think the 60s) there was a reboot of sorts with a lot more sci-fi origin characters being introduced some which had the same name as the older character which led to the question of do they both exist in the same universe? The answer is that older versions exist in "Earth 2" and the New canon of comics exist in "Earth 1" but still "infinite Earths" which they can tell stories in.

In the 80s another soft reboot happened and it was considered that the whole infinite universe thing was too confusing so they did CoIE.

So at this point we have 30s-60s being one universe and 60s to 80s being another universe in 1 multiverse which was then smashed together creating 1 universe in 1 multiverse.

There were errors so some reboots happened which altered the single universe/Multiverse, but also at this time DC and Marvel worked together at times with Marvel more using the previous model which means we have a 2 Multiverses, the DC 1 having 1 Universe. I'm just mentioning this for completeness and it will come up again.

Then DC revived the idea of the multiverse and created a set number of universes, 52 to be exact and then later it was revealed that there is a multiverse of DC multiverses.. thus we now have Infinite Multiverses with Infinite DC Multiverses each with 52 universes...

And while this does change the timeline of a particular universe, technically all the previous timelines still happened in the ultimate universe so not actually ever a reboot...

That is the state before the New52. The new 52 rewrites the timeline and then collapses the DC multiverse, Variant universe, and Wildstorm universe together into a new DC Multiverse which is the new 52... but then the latest event happened and now we learned some things that makes the New 52 not that, but rather something else...

So where to begin? You could argue the very beginning, first issue, but pre-CoIE/Bronze Age/Modern Age there wasn't a lot to consider with canon and they are more like Episodic Episodes of a tv show where as after the Bronze Age become more Serial and so it is akin to asking where do you start in regards to a serial? at the beginning of that series/serial. In this case it is roughly CoIE. You can always just pick up where ever like a Soap Opera, but you'd be lost for a while and eventually you'd ask the same question and it depends on how dedicated you are.

To be honest though any Batman related book that doesn't have Batman in the title you can start from issue 1. The Batman books themselves are harder, but start with ones around CoIE and move forward from there...

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