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Old 05-18-2004, 05:51 AM
Arch Trout is offline
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Which Batman Comics/Graphic Novels Should I read?


Being from a country (UK) where the reading of comic books is frowned upon past the teenage years I gave up reading comics over a decade ago.
I mostly read 2000AD and the characters from that.

Recently I was given a copy of "The Dark Knight Returns" and "The Dark Night Strikes Again".

I found out that I actually enjoyed them very much and now want to read more Batman graphic novels.

However, being British and having been out the loop for a long time I have no idea what Batman to buy and in what order to read them in.

I bought "Sword of Azrael" yesterday but I'm not sure whether to read it now or wait until I've bought and read other ones, like maybe "Year One"??

So can any dopers out there tell me which Batman graphic novels they recommend and a reading order as well?


Cheers
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Old 05-18-2004, 06:19 AM
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Year One is very good but too short.

The Long Halloween would be a great mystery if you didn't know much about Batman's rogue's gallery. And even if you do I'm told that the books following it put a different spin on it. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

There's ~60 years of great Batman stories out there but, unfortunately, if you started with The Dark Knight Returns, you read the best first.
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Old 05-18-2004, 06:20 AM
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I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.


Errr, them? I've read The Long Halloween, I haven't read the book[s] after it.
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Old 05-18-2004, 07:30 AM
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Batman: The Chalice

A very cool graphic novel.

That wasd the Amazon US site.

amazon UK should have it, too.
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  #5  
Old 05-18-2004, 08:23 AM
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All my favorite batman comics are from Neal Adams and Dennis O'Neil

I would highly recommend this - Batman: Tales of the Demon

maybe not the spit and polish / arty feel of the modern graphic novel, but excellent artwork and story. Not to mention important comic book history.

I think I've also heard that Ras Al Ghul will be a villian in the next movie.
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Old 05-18-2004, 09:27 AM
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The Killing Joke is a must read.

I enjoyed Bruce Wayne: Murderer? and Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, but coming in fresh, you're probably better knowing a bit of the backstory before reading that, like Killing Joke, Cataclysm, No Man's Land, etc.
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Old 05-18-2004, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzoron
The Killing Joke is a must read.

I enjoyed Bruce Wayne: Murderer? and Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, but coming in fresh, you're probably better knowing a bit of the backstory before reading that, like Killing Joke, Cataclysm, No Man's Land, etc.
These are good suggestions. Personally I also enjoyed Arkham Asylum but read that after a few of the others, it's a bit confusing without some back story.

In addition to these positive recommendations I'd add a caveat to avoid most of the crossovers such as Batman vs Judge Dredd or whatever it was called. I did not enjoy reading these and was very glad I didn't have to pay for them.

Outside of Batman if you enjoyed Frank Miller's work in The Dark Knight Returns you may also enjoy his Sin City series, get the first one and judge from there.
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Old 05-18-2004, 10:34 AM
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Thanks for the tips so far.

I've just ordered the following:
Batman: Year One
Batman: The Chalice
Batman: Long Halloween
Batman: Killing Joke

I assume I should read Year One first.
Apart from that is there anything here that requires backstory or contains major spoilers to anything else?

My gf will womder what's happening she's still firmly in the "comics are for kids not 28 year olds" camp.
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Old 05-18-2004, 10:35 AM
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And by "womder" I of course mean "wonder"
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Old 05-18-2004, 10:41 AM
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From where did you buy The Killing Joke? Been looking for it for a little while, myself.. Amazon never seems to have it.
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Old 05-18-2004, 10:58 AM
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Most of the good Batman TPBs have already been mentioned upthread, so I'll mention a couple that haven't already been discussed.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an oft-cited great Batman Elseworlds tale (and being an Elseworlds, it doesn't matter when you read it).

Gotham Central is an excellent Bat-family book, although the man in the cape himself doesn't appear very often. There are two TPBs available so you can get in at the beginning. The Catwoman relaunch under Ed Brubaker is an outstanding Bat-family book, also with two TPBs available: Dark End of the Street and Crooked Little Town. Big Bad Voodoo Lou wrote an excellent review of the series on one of the recent weekly comics threads that's well worth digging around to find.
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Old 05-18-2004, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by CandidGamera
From where did you buy The Killing Joke? Been looking for it for a little while, myself.. Amazon never seems to have it.
Most odd. I just ordered it from amazon.co.uk for 5.99 but when I went back in to get you the link they don't seem to have any new copies anymore.
Maybe I got the last one.
I notice that amazon.com doesn't seem to have it either.

I've a funny feeling they may be emailing soon saying they can't fulfil my order.
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Old 05-18-2004, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Arch Trout
Most odd. I just ordered it from amazon.co.uk for 5.99 but when I went back in to get you the link they don't seem to have any new copies anymore.
Maybe I got the last one.
I notice that amazon.com doesn't seem to have it either.

I've a funny feeling they may be emailing soon saying they can't fulfil my order.
Don't despair.. you may have snagged Amazon UK's last copy or some such.
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Old 05-18-2004, 04:37 PM
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The Killing Joke is highly overrated. Alan Moore himself has said that he doesn't think very much of it. There is very little in terms of story or plot to it, the only "big things" are Bolland's art and the fact that this story is the one where Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) is shot by the Joke and ends up a paraplegic.

I would highly recommend The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told as well as The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told. A lot of comic book fans here at the SDMB seem to have extremely short memories when it comes to comic books and don't know that for nearly 25 years Batman wasn't the grim "Dark Knight" character, but rather the crimefighter who would duel members of his rogues gallery atop various giant typewriters/teapots/dinosaurs etc and who had an attitude that while it couldn't be called lighthearted, wasn't all grim and angry, but rather had a great sense of play and humor about him.
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Old 05-18-2004, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Pastrami
A lot of comic book fans here at the SDMB seem to have extremely short memories when it comes to comic books <snip>
Or maybe fans here saw that the OP is 28 and enjoyed DKR and DKSA, which epitomize grim 'n gritty superheroics, and a book reprinting primarily Golden and Silver Age stories aimed primarily at children wasn't the first thing they thought of?
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Old 05-18-2004, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Selkie
Or maybe fans here saw that the OP is 28 and enjoyed DKR and DKSA, which epitomize grim 'n gritty superheroics, and a book reprinting primarily Golden and Silver Age stories aimed primarily at children wasn't the first thing they thought of?

That's nice, except that the Greatest Batman/Joker Stories Ever Told collections have stories that aren't aimed primarily at children, which you would know if you bothered to check them out.
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Old 05-18-2004, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Pastrami
That's nice, except that the Greatest Batman/Joker Stories Ever Told collections have stories that aren't aimed primarily at children, which you would know if you bothered to check them out.
That's nice, except that most of us are familiar with the older Batman stories, and while respecting them for the contribution they made to the Batman character and the effort that was put into them we don't find them to be of the same quality or have as high an entertainment value as the more recent Batman stories and therefore are less likely to recommend them, which you might've guessed if you hadn't gotten pretentious. Not to mention that most of the Batman/Joker stories you are hyping are aimed at an all ages audience which the reader will have to go through to get to those stories you claim are written for us big boys, as opposed to the more recent material for the character that has been recommended in this thread that is almost entirely aimed at an older audience.

As for The Killing Joke being overrated, I love how you cite Moore and expect that to be the end of it. There is a type of literary criticism that holds that the message received by the audience is more important than that intended by the artist. So therefore, if most people who have read The Killing Joke find it to be an excellent story (which they do) and if it brings to people new insights to an existing character that reverberates with future renditions of that character by different writers (which is does) it is therefore worthy of being considered an important work in the history of that character, regardless of whatever the artist intended the work to say or do. Would you honestly say that The Killing Joke hasn't had an important impact on subsequent representations of the Joker? And since it has had that impact, regardless of your personal opinions of the story, shouldn't it be recommended to people seeking out Batman stories if for no other reason than it will likely give them a better understanding of Batman's arch-villian and thus increase enjoyment of those stories containing that character, just as it has done for so many others?

Gee, it's fun being snippy.
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Old 05-18-2004, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asylum
Would you honestly say that The Killing Joke hasn't had an important impact on subsequent representations of the Joker? And since it has had that impact, regardless of your personal opinions of the story, shouldn't it be recommended to people seeking out Batman stories if for no other reason than it will likely give them a better understanding of Batman's arch-villian and thus increase enjoyment of those stories containing that character, just as it has done for so many others?
To answer your questions:

1) Yes, I can honestly say that I can't see what if any impact, let alone an important impact The Killing Joke has had on stories involving the Joker since then, except for how the jokers shooting of Barbara Gordon has utterly changed her character. But that really has little or nothing to do with the Joker, aside from his being the means by which she was made a paraplegic.

2) No, it shouldn't be recommended, at least not given your criteria, as they are false. If someone wants to read it because it has some excellent artwork, though much of the framing artwork was taken straight out of Watchmen, fine with me. But saying that it has had a huge impact on subsequent stories involving the Joker is simply untrue.

The Joker's character hasn't been written any differently. There haven't been any startling or astonishing insights into his psyche. Moore didn't even give us any of that in the Killing Joke, but instead, had the Joker spout off a monologue of pointless drivel and pseudo psychobabble.

Frank Miller did a lot more with the character of Joker in The Dark Knight Returns with his fairly blatent insinuation that the Joker is a homosexual, or was for the purposes of Millers story.
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Old 05-18-2004, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Pastrami
To answer your questions:

1) Yes, I can honestly say that I can't see what if any impact, let alone an important impact The Killing Joke has had on stories involving the Joker since then, except for how the jokers shooting of Barbara Gordon has utterly changed her character. But that really has little or nothing to do with the Joker, aside from his being the means by which she was made a paraplegic.
It's right there in your post. Although the Joker had long before established hisself as a villain extraordinaire, with The Killing Joke it is shown that not only can he kill important characters (as opposed to will, if you get the distinction) but he can also destroy lives to get others to see his point of view, which some would argue is worse than killing. The Joker is not simply insane, he has a specific agenda beyond killing Batman and robbing banks, he wants others to understand him and/or have the world make sense to his understanding and will do whatever it takes to make it so.

Quote:
2) No, it shouldn't be recommended, at least not given your criteria, as they are false. If someone wants to read it because it has some excellent artwork, though much of the framing artwork was taken straight out of Watchmen, fine with me. But saying that it has had a huge impact on subsequent stories involving the Joker is simply untrue.
God, I love that debate tactic. "No! That's false! You're wrong!" Care to explain how my stating that a great many readers have claimed that The Killing Joke is a great Joker story and on the basis of the opinions of the majority merits it to be recommended to others, regardless of your personal opinion of the story? This isn't a movie that just came out, this is a book that has been out for over ten years, and the jury is in: The Killing Joke is an important story in the Joker's history. If you know that most people enjoy the story and give it great heft as far as the Batman mythology goes and therefore any newcomers to the story will likely enjoy it, why not recommend it to them? Because there might be one more person who disagrees with you?
Quote:
The Joker's character hasn't been written any differently. There haven't been any startling or astonishing insights into his psyche. Moore didn't even give us any of that in the Killing Joke, but instead, had the Joker spout off a monologue of pointless drivel and pseudo psychobabble.
And I disagree. Go read the "Going Sane" storyline from LOTDK for what I believe is a clear example. Overall though, no, I can't just point at a continuous set of stories and go "Look! Out and out proof!" because any influence is likely to be more subtle than that, and thus open to other interpretations than the Joker seeking to have the world make sense. But follow this line of logic:

The Killing Joke is hailed as one of the greatest Joker stories ever by most readers; comicbook writers are readers of comics as well; comicbook writers are influenced consciously or subconsciously by those who came before them and the more they agree with or enjoy the work of a given previous creator the greater the impact it will have upon their work; Therefore current creators of Joker stories will be disproportionately influenced by Moore and Bolland's The Killing Joke when compared to most other Joker stories.

Quote:
Frank Miller did a lot more with the character of Joker in The Dark Knight Returns with his fairly blatent insinuation that the Joker is a homosexual, or was for the purposes of Millers story.
All he did was point out something that had been speculated for years before. I admit that is was important in that there was finally something official from DC that hinted at the Joker's bizarre love for Batman, but he didn't come up with the idea and should therefore mitigate its importance.

See, my beef with you is this: You seem to hold your opinion as being more valid than others. That's not to say that your opinion doesn't have worth, because as a general rule of thumb all opinions are equally valid, but because you read an interview with the creator of a work, and he disagrees with the popular interpretation of the work, everyone who has the popular interpretion has an opinion that is inferior to yours that coincides with (or is perhaps a rip off of) the creator. Feel free to state your opinion, just don't hold it as being superior to others who most likely do have a clue.

Oh, and would you care to respond to my criticism of your claim that we of the Straight Dope have forgotten everthing about Batman beyond the last 25 years? Sheesh.
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Old 05-19-2004, 03:26 AM
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Wow, I've started an argument.

Anyway - to clear things up, I am interested in the more "adult" stories from the Batman series.

I note that Captain Pastrami is now banned so my request for him to say things like batgirl gets paralysed in spoiler boxes is not needed.

Remember I am new to all this and don't necessarily know what's happened to what character.
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Old 05-19-2004, 05:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch Trout
Wow, I've started an argument.

Anyway - to clear things up, I am interested in the more "adult" stories from the Batman series.
Try to pick up Legends of the Dark Knight issues, then.

Of course, being a 2000AD fan, you can get the Batman/Dredd crossovers - though I only recommend the first one.

(And adult comic reading is not frowned upon in the UK as much as you think.)
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Old 05-19-2004, 07:29 AM
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I can't believe I forgot a terrific, continuity-free Bat-tale that I love on a variety of levels! If you can find the two prestige format miniseries Batman/Grendel: Devil's Riddle and Grendel/Batman: Devil's Requiem, I highly recommend it.

I realize the names are confusing. Devil's Riddle is the first half of the story, Devil's Requiem the second half. There's also a second Batman/Grendel crossover (Devil's Bones and Devil's Dance) which I personally don't care for as much but is still a worthwhile read.

Both miniseries are readily available on eBay and other secondary market sources, and well worth the effort to acquire. They carry the added bonus of potentially enticing you into the world of Grendel, which is a fantastic mature readers series in its own right.
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Old 05-19-2004, 07:31 AM
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Well, heck. Looking on Amazon today, I say they'd restocked The Killing Joke. So I've got it on order!
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Old 05-19-2004, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Selkie
I can't believe I forgot a terrific, continuity-free Bat-tale that I love on a variety of levels! If you can find the two prestige format miniseries Batman/Grendel: Devil's Riddle and Grendel/Batman: Devil's Requiem, I highly recommend it.

I realize the names are confusing. Devil's Riddle is the first half of the story, Devil's Requiem the second half. There's also a second Batman/Grendel crossover (Devil's Bones and Devil's Dance) which I personally don't care for as much but is still a worthwhile read.
[Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons]
Excuse me, but the second volume is called "Devil's Masque," not "Devil's Requiem."
[/Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons]
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Old 05-19-2004, 08:43 AM
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BBVL is absolutely right. "Devil's Requiem" is a Grendel short story that has nothing to do with Batman at all.
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