The Batman trailer has graced the public conscious with dreams of a suede-suited man gallivanting in the night. The response by Batman fans – new and old – has been “What should I read in preparation for the new film?”
Coveted by fans as one of the mainstay Batman stories, ”Batman: Year One” has stood the test of time with reprints, name drops and on-screen adaptations ranging from film to animation. That said, it’s not a good introduction. Instead, “Year One” doesn’t focus much on Batman; rather, the comic follows a young Commissioner Gordon as he navigates corruption, affairs and a few kidnappings, as Batman trains.
Batman is more than crime and corruption. Batman comics are about mysteries, family and even horror stories that challenge the character and craft lasting stories. These are the three best introduction points to the Cape Crusader.
“Batman: The Long Halloween”
"The Long Halloween" is easily one of the best Batman comics ever made, with a perfect blending of art and writing. The book opens with a crime lords’ death on Halloween, the first of several Holiday-based murders that occur through the plot. As Batman hunts this new "Holiday Killer" he also must deal with several supervillains that aim to stop or distract the Cape Crusader from his investigation.
Having a strong core plot, the book is an excellent example of a page-turning mystery, as readers are trapped by the question of who the Holiday Killer is. Exemplifying Batman's Detective abilities and the villains he faces, “The Long Halloween” is a breezy read that leaves the viewer enthralled, in a way “Year One” is missing.
“Batman and Robin: Bad Blood”
“Bad Blood” follows Batman and his son Damian as they try to stop a villain who is hunting allies of Batman. As Batman tries to solve the mystery of who this new threat is, Batman must also raise his long-lost son, Damian. The narrative shows Batman as not only a hero but as a father teaching Damian to be a hero.
What “Bad Blood” has in spades is a family drama. Unlike “Year One,” which ignores most of Batman’s training before his return to Gotham, “Bad Blood” fleshes out Batman’s past training. The past becomes a framework for the lessons Batman teaches his son, Damian. Batman imparts his rules on killing, crime, and revenge, each being tested by the mysterious villain. Why the book is great is due in part to Batman’s role as a father. We are given a window into his philosophy on childcare and the lessons we impart to the next generation.
“Batman: Black Mirror”
Batman strikes fear into the heart of criminals, chasing them deep into alleys and extorting information. But what about the villains who don’t know fear, the monsters that bump back? “Black Mirror” answers this question in the first few pages with the transformation of a young boy into a monster. When a new transformative drug hits the streets of Gotham, Batman seeks answers. Concurrently, Batman must solve a series of murders committed by an unknown serial killer.
Similar to Batman comics of the late ‘80s to ‘90s, this comic presents a chilling take on mystery fiction. Reshaping what a Batman story can be, "Black Mirror" challenges the perspective of the reader to read a new and scary Batman comic. This deviation has informed Batman moving forward, as horror has slowly permeated the medium. While "Year One" reminded people that Batman fights crime, "Black Mirror" established Batman as a horror lead, a legacy that exists today.
Benjamin Ervin is a senior studying English literature and writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by emailing him firstname.lastname@example.org_.