View Full Version : So I'm on a quest to read every Batman comic ever made...is it possible?

10-18-2013, 05:10 PM
I see listings for all 700+ Batman comics prior to the New 52. But this of course doesn't count Batman's appearances in Detective Comics, one-shots, miniseries, or appearances in Justice League. Nor does it count Nightwing, Bargirl, Teen Titans, etc. comics.

But if I just wanted to read the main 700 issue run prior to the New 52, is it possible? Was all the old comics rereleased in collections?

10-18-2013, 07:33 PM
I honestly don't think it's possible. A glance at wikipedia shows that issues #1 through #37 were collected in 8 separate volumes of "Batman: The Dark Knight Archives", and 11 volumes of "Batman Chronicles" combines issues #1-21 with the issues of Detective Comics that ran concurrent with them. There seems to be nothing that collects issues #38 through #163.

-"Batman: The Dynamic Duo Archives" Vol. 1 and 2 collect issues #164 through #171, while "Showcase Presents: Batman" Volumes 1-5 go a bit deeper by collecting issues #164 through #228.

-The next issues collected are #291-294, in "Batman: The Strange Deaths of Batman". Another gap, then "Tales of the Batman: Don Newton", collects Batman #305–306, and 328, along with other issues of Detective and Brave and the Bold.

-Another gap, then "Tales of the Batman: Gene Colan, Volume One", collects Batman #340, 343–345, and 348–351.

-Jump again, and "Batman: Year One" collects Batman #404 – 407.

-"Batman: Ten Nights of The Beast" collects Batman #417 – 420.

-"Batman: A Death in the Family" collects Batman #426 – 429.

-"Batman: The Many Deaths of the Batman" collects Batman #433 – 435.

There are a bunch of trades following that, but they continue to jump around between only the major storylines going all the way up to the most recent. Once you get into the mid 1980s the single issues in between are fairly easy to find but anything older than that starts to climb in price, especially some of the '70s issues that started to re-establish the more mature "Dark Knight" phase of the character. But for now you're S.O.L. as far as any of the "missing" single issues from the '40s through the '70s, unless you're a millionaire.

Basically, a lot of the Batman stuff that wasn't collected, though, was crap, and hasn't been reissued because the stories were either lousy or just non-essential reading. Especially the stuff from the beginning up through the '70s. So it's cool that you're getting into the comics, but it's not worth getting an ulcer over if you can't find all of it. Some of it probably isn't going to be available for a long, long time, but pretty much all the "good stories" have been collected.

When I started seriously collecting Superman, I knew going in I could never have even half of what was out there (like Batman, a lot of it will never see the light of day again), so my goal was to focus primarily on collecting all the books he was in from the 1986 relaunch until the present. That gave me a set beginning, middle, and end point to focus on, while still collecting older stuff here and there to fill things out, so while I mostly have the Modern Age stuff, I've managed to get a nice chunk of books from the '70s and earlier, as well. But it helps to have a focus, no matter what you're collecting, such as how you're focusing mostly on the main "Batman" book. The problem is that at some points the storyline ran through multiple Batman books at once, BUT most of those stories have been collected in TPB so even if you're not collecting 'Tec or whatever the relevant issues are in there.

The sheer volume of what's out there for characters like Batman and Superman is overwhelming. You'd need several bookcases just to hold all the Batman TPBs that are out there. :P

Best of luck, though. Here's a little bit to get you started. Don't say I never gave you anything. :P

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_(comic_book) (Scroll down to "Collected Editions")

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Batman_comics#Reprint_collections (A list of ALL the Batman comic TPBs and what issues they contain)

Happy collecting! The only downside to collecting Batman, is that there are WAY too many Batman books to collect! Kind of a good problem to have, I guess. Offhand I'd recommend "The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told", "Batman: Year One", "Batman: Year Two", "A Death In The Family", and "A Lonely Place Of Dying" as some of the better TPBs. The '80s were a really, *really* good time in the Bat-books. "Year Two" technically ran in Detective Comics but it's worth picking up. They kind of heavily borrowed from the Reaper story from Year Two for the "Mask of the Phantasm" movie, so it's worth a look.

Feel free to hit me up for any other info or recommendations. Always happy to help with this stuff.

10-18-2013, 07:43 PM
I see listings for all 700+ Batman comics prior to the New 52. But this of course doesn't count Batman's appearances in Detective Comics, one-shots, miniseries, or appearances in Justice League. Nor does it count Nightwing, Bargirl, Teen Titans, etc. comics.

But if I just wanted to read the main 700 issue run prior to the New 52, is it possible? Was all the old comics rereleased in collections?

lol i thought you were asking if it was physically possible, but you could probably get a majority of them on Comixology.com

10-18-2013, 09:12 PM
Why doesn't DC reprint all this stuff in collections? I'm sure they'd make a profit over it...there are what over a billion Batman fans out there?

10-18-2013, 09:51 PM
A lot of the early stuff they'd have to reprint simply wasn't very good. A lot of it came out during the years where the Comics Code Authority were cracking down heavily on comics after the whole fiasco with Dr. Frederic Wertham and his book "Seduction of the Innocent", which claimed comics turned kids into criminals and that Batman and Robin were gay. So for a long time comic books in general were very poor quality because they couldn't offend anyone. Batman books were especially neutered, as most of his best villains were shelved for being "too horrifying", and Batman and Robin themselves couldn't be put in situations that were actually dangerous or anyone's life was threatened. So you got a lot of stories with stuff like Batman and Robin teaching a class on criminology at the local college, or helping Boy Scout Troops learn life skills and things like that. Just a lot of really bland, juvenile crap that ranged from pointless to flat-out goofy. For people who hate the Adam West show, they'd be shocked to know that Batman comics from the late 1940s through the 60s were even WORSE, and the show was positively straight by comparison.

So basically, the stuff that was either historically important or any good to read HAS already been released. More or less, if it's not available, it's because DC is embarrassed by the quality of it and not in any hurry to remind people it exists. Batman fans, in particular, are a very protective sort who tend to reject Batman's "Goofy Phase", so most of what happened between 1950 and 1970 simply wouldn't sell enough to make them worth re-releasing.

Sure, you have the occasional "I want to have everything" collector like you or me who would buy them, but you can't get around the fact you're asking people to buy a series of books that may as well be called "Batman: The Stuff You'd Rather NOT Read". Again, I wouldn't sweat it. The very, very best stuff is easy to find. Being able to say, "I read the story from issue #209 where Batman turned into a tiger-man!" earns you no bragging rights whatsoever, and may even get you punched depending on how enthusiastically you say it to people.

10-18-2013, 10:52 PM
Honestly I'd like to read some of those old cheesy stories just out of curiosity. I know they're garbage, but its of "historic significance" and its a great time period piece in American history.

As for Detective Comics, is there any way to find out which ones Batman appeared in?

10-18-2013, 11:10 PM
A glance at wikipedia seems to show that he pretty much took over the book after his debut in issue #27. As far as I'm aware, he was in every issue from #27 until 2009, when Batwoman took it over for a year's worth of issues while Bruce was "Dead".

Aside from the two "main" books, Batman and 'Tec, there have been about a dozen or so other important ongoing Batman books. Part of why I never got into collecting Batman as heavily as Superman is because there's just SO much Batman stuff. I swear they had six books a month at one point. I have a bunch, though, but Batman's a serious project for completists. And yeah, I would read those older, lesser stories, too, but that makes us two and like four other people. :lol:

10-19-2013, 04:14 AM
Even if you could track down all the issues, it would take you a VERY long time to read them.

Remember, Batman has 75+ years worth of comic books to go through.

10-19-2013, 04:32 AM
I've physically proven that if you make sure you have literally NOTHING else to do for an entire day, you can bang through a good 80 or so issues if you start early and have prepared food available at all times. It completely fries your brain and you go into a weird kind of shock for about a day, because your brain physically can't process what you just flooded it with, but if a person would do that maybe, twice a week, it would only take them a couple of years to read *everything*.

Granted, that's an extreme scenario and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but I've been tempted to try it again. Last time I did that was when Final Crisis and all its cross-over books came out. A solid weekend of Grant Morrison's Darkseid/Dark Monitor apocalypse spread out over several dozen mini-series and one-shots and tie-in books. I swear it all makes beautifully perfect sense, despite what some have said about it, but I think it only makes *perfect* sense if you consume it in exactly such a way, because by that point you are willing to believe absolutely anything the story tells you. They have Superman in a giant universe-saving Superman Robot, and you're like, "Well OK then." Superman conquers Darkseid and restores the multiverse by singing, and you've already seen a billion impossible things in the last 60 issues you've read that lead up to it so it's like, "Absolutely, he does that!"

Holy sh*t, if anyone read 50-60 issues of 1950s/60s Batman in one sitting, I think all those issues with gorillas in them might actually start making sense, too. And Gaggy, The Joker's midget clown sidekick... oh man. Or the time Jerry Lewis showed up... I'm like, "That didn't happen," but it totally did.

10-19-2013, 09:03 AM
It doesn't take long to read through a comic really. Takes me less than 10 minutes to read through a standard 22 page comic.

How many pages of story did these Batman comics have?

10-19-2013, 09:35 AM
The old batman stuff (1950's) is terrible and I've only read the descriptions for them. I'm not saying don't read them, though. It's cheesy fun.

10-19-2013, 02:20 PM
It doesn't take long to read through a comic really. Takes me less than 10 minutes to read through a standard 22 page comic.

How many pages of story did these Batman comics have?

Depends, a lot of old books had several stories per issue and some books like 'Tec would have a rotating cast of back-up stories with various miscellaneous characters, but I'm sure the reprint TPBs would only reprint the Batman-related content. Since some books had 3 or 4 stories per issue, some of the stories would only be 10-12 pages or so in length.

10-19-2013, 03:10 PM
Actually there are some comics that have quite a bit of text, and not entertaining text which makes reading old issues really tedious. Also another thing to continue is not just reading the Batman books but many storylines continue in more than one book, so basically whenever there were crossover events with other Batman books you have to know the story or you'll be very lost and characters never introduced will appear or conclusion to storylines are just not going to happen in your book. This is why many TPBs print out storylines rather than just a book since sometimes they appear in various ones. Also from the few Batman comics I've read Detective Comics has always been superior to "Batman", so it'd be better to start there.

I once had a similar quest back almost 10 years ago and I ended up realizing it wasn't worth my trouble especially since there is no real reward to reading everything since there's retcons and they forget things that happened anyway, it is better to just read specific storylines or to choose "one/two years worth" of a specific character and read all the books of that character in that year.

And yeah there's no legal way of reading all the books but it's easy enough to find them online. And reading comics on a tablet is almost as good as having the real thing.

10-19-2013, 03:29 PM
I just feel after only watching the Batman cartoons and movies that I am missing out on the bulk of the universes storylines.

10-19-2013, 10:44 PM
It's not that it's "pointless" exactly but it is a Herculean undertaking if you want to read ALL the "important" stuff. As far as most of the stories that cross over into other characters' books, that wasn't very prevalent until at least the 1970s, as cross-marketing books wasn't exactly "a thing" yet and the focus of each books was merely to sell as many copies of that book as possible. It took a few years for editors to realize the potential for cross-brand marketing. Most stories from the 40s through the 70s are self-contained.

I'll disagree to a point about 'Tec, also, as all the various books and their quality varied by year and who was working on them. Also, it depends on what a reader is looking for. "Batman", the main book, has most often been the more action-oriented book, faster-paced, more often containing Robin and more of the "main" villains. "Detective Comics" has, at times, tried to focus more on its original theme, more procedural-type stories and "Whodunits", usually with Batman working solo (though occasionally with Robin) and the culprit usually being a newly created one-shot villain or one of Batman's "lesser" foes. There have been several times when one book's quality was greater than the other, but it always went back and forth.

At the end of the day, anyone who only follows Batman through movies and TV IS really missing out, because at the end of the day none of the adaptations can quite compare to how they were originally presented in print. It's no different than any other book that gets adapted into a movie or TV show, important pieces are always lost in translation, and it's always worth going back to the source material.

At the same time, most of what a person would be interested in reading , or what they *should* read, is easily available in TPB form, from the very earliest stories (including first appearances of villains like The Joker, "The Cat"/Catwoman, and even Prof. Hugo Strange) to more recent stories like the 70s Neal Adams stuff (the rebirth of the "Dark Knight" version of Batman), the terrific 80s period with Denny O'Neil and Jim Aparo handling the character, as well as Frank Miller's (slightly overrated but still good) interpretation and "Year One" origin retelling, and the event-heavy 1990s. Not to mention controversial but fun stories from the last 10 years or so like "Hush" or "Batman: R.I.P.", that have both their fans and detractors but for me, is still some of the very best of Batman.

I agree that a certain amount of focus is necessary to maintain sanity. The easiest thing to do is always start with TPBs of certain storylines or eras and branch out from there. "Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told" does a decent job covering a lot of the best single-issue stories from the early days to the modern age. "Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told" is also essential. "Year One" is the best version of the origin story. Some of the better stories from the 1990s onward that contain major events every Batman fan needs to have read are collected in the "Knightfall", "Hush", and "R.I.P." TPBs, and have never been properly adapted in TV or film.

So it might be best to focus on the very earliest stuff first, just for reference, then jump to the major 70s stuff, then the rest of the "major events" through the 80s up to the present, then work backwards and fill in the holes. It's best to be caught up on the "Essentials", first, rather than the more obscure stuff. It's easier, anyway.

10-20-2013, 02:34 AM
And you're missing out in a lot of great Batman stories but reading everything from the beginning is not the best option. Like I mentioned I really got into Batman back around 2005 and I wanted to read everything and I (not so)quickly realized it was pointless, because with so many reboots and retcons to events that they just don't matter that you read them, so there's no point since you'll get frustrated, also many stories especially in the beginning are way too similar that you get a feeling of deja vu and they weren't good issues either, many 80s comics are filled with long boring dialog and the worst of all even when you try to follow everything you'll still see a bunch of references in books that you never read, and finally there's a lot of great Batman stories in comics, much better than the cartoons however there's even more crap than good so while the highs may be very high, the lows can be very low and there's a lot of those.

So I really don't think it's worth it, read the essentials from previous decades and even then you'll find it painful, for a more lighthearted batman watch Brave and the Bold, they took the concept of silly batman and made it watchable but the comics aren't like that they're more similar to the Filmation pre-BTAS Batman cartoons,.

The way I read Batman comics is when I find some storyline interesting I go as back as I can before that storyline and and begin reading from there and I'll understand for the most part everything, anything smaller I just consult the internet to understand the references, if I find them interesting enough I go back to them at a later time but this isn't usually the case. Knowing the basics of Batman pretty much gives you enough background information to jump in at any time you just have to wiki a few characters that may have never appeared in the cartoons. Sometimes not knowing the convoluted story of a certain character actually makes the story better.

Start with a storyline that sounds interesting or just the essentials like origins and whatnot, and then whatever sounds interesting to you and make your own comic canon since the comics will continue to retcon everything anyway. And I suggest to read Bat books in general and not to stick with only Batman.

10-20-2013, 05:35 AM
The only stuff that ever really got retconned out was the 50s and 60s stuff. Some of the continuity from then on is a little "loose" through the 80s and 90s, as far as what still "counts" as canon, but for the most part nothing major ever really got changed except for whether Joe Chill killed Bruce's parents or not. They went back and forth on that one a couple of times. And Jason Todd's two entirely different origins, but that's easy enough to overlook as most people simply accept the second origin as the "proper" one.

A lot of the single issues in between the major arcs, especially from the 80s and early 90s, are really good, too, regardless of whether they're still canon or not. Batman's always been one of the few characters they don't try and change too much too often, but when they do, they can kind of get away with it because they usually try to portray Batman as almost more of a mythical or legendary figure, so as to leave it a little bit vague as to how much of the stories "really happened". "Legends of the Dark Knight" was a really good series, with some fairly dark storytelling, that explicitly existed outside or parallel with regular continuity. So the stories may not exactly be canon but they're still awesome Batman stories anyway. Particularly "Venom".

10-20-2013, 09:03 AM
I hate the fact that Batman never ages yet all the Robin's do. How does Dick Grayson become an adult with 3 Robin's after that yet Batman seems to be an immortal 35 year old man?

10-20-2013, 09:10 AM
I hate the fact that Batman never ages yet all the Robin's do. How does Dick Grayson become an adult with 3 Robin's after that yet Batman seems to be an immortal 35 year old man?

Perhaps a future writer will decide that he's secretly been taking yearly trips to the Lazarus Pit...and has now gone completely mad!

10-20-2013, 12:43 PM
Haha, cartoon/comic book aging at its best. The "real" answer is simply, "nobody is supposed to think about it too much." :lol:

It does completely make DC's logic of the last two years since the "New 52" started completely bogus, their "Everyone is 25 and super-heroes only appeared five years ago" BS. Batman's mythology alone makes that entirely impossible, so I just ignore that stupid little "rule".

I generally accept in my mind that he became Batman in his very early 20s, adopted Dick about 6 months into his career when he was about 12 (Dick's original age has varied from like 8 to 10 or 12, but I feel 12 makes the most sense, accounting for him having later attended college and become Nightwing), and that roughly ten years have passed since then leading into the "present day", making Bruce somewhere around 35, Dick about 23, Jason about 19, and Tim now about 16 or 17 at the most.

It doesn't completely work, and it gets a little fuzzy, but characters' ages in serialized fiction like comics, cartoons and TV shows is seriously one of those things nobody should put too much stock in. It really doesn't affect anything at all, and it's just one of those questions like "when do they sleep/go to the bathroom?" that you're just not supposed to ask.

You really wanna make your head hurt, try making sense of how the characters in Dick Tracy have aged since 1931. They've acknowledged each real-life year passing within the strip since the beginning, and the strip usually acknowledges the real-life seasons and New Year and everything, and the characters do age, but they still age a lot slower than real people do and they long-since gave up saying any character's age out loud, because most of them would be dead by now.

It's just something in comics and cartoons that just never has and never will make any sense and you just gotta roll with it. :lol:

10-20-2013, 01:03 PM
With quite a bit of time and money...I suppose it would be possible.

10-20-2013, 01:42 PM
I doubt that it's even possible considering how many comics there are.

10-20-2013, 04:57 PM
Ok can someone link me to these great Batman trades online? I might as well just order them online rather than go to a comic store.

Someone link me to the 5 best Batman collections so far, and I"ll start with those and continue if I like what I read.

10-20-2013, 05:37 PM
Ok can someone link me to these great Batman trades online? I might as well just order them online rather than go to a comic store.

Someone link me to the 5 best Batman collections so far, and I"ll start with those and continue if I like what I read.

Cubed, the 5 best Batman collections is truely an opnion no matter what overrated or underrated collection is lsited by us. Its really what stnads out to you that you should look for. I personally love the New Look Era up to COIE. Others like overrated darker tales like Dark Kinght Returns, The Killing Joke. This website is a grea source for references. Here is a list of every single reprinted version of each issue if available in reprint.


10-20-2013, 10:30 PM
Yeah, it's all pretty subjective, but some books either cover some of the "best" or most historically significant storylines and wouldn't be a bad place to start.

You can't really cover even just the "Very Best" in just five TPBs, though. We often seem to have similar taste in comics-related stuff, so here are some of the ones I most prefer, going in chronological storyline order (except for "Greatest Stories...", obviously, since they jump around each decade):

-The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told (any version)
-The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told (any version)

-Batman: Year One (contains Batman's origin)
-Batman: Year Two
-The Killing Joke (Joker's origin re-told)
-A Death In The Family (contains the death of Jason Todd)
-A Lonely Place Of Dying
-Knightfall Part 1: Broken Bat (Bruce Wayne defeated by Bane)
-Knightfall Part 2: Who Rules The Night (Azrael becomes Batman)
-Knightfall Part 3: KnightsEnd (Bruce Wayne returns as Batman)
-Hush (Essentially Batman vs. all his greatest foes)
-War Games Act 1: Outbreak
-War Games Act 2: Tides
-War Games Act 3: Endgame
-Under The Hood, Vol.1 (Return of Jason Todd)
-Under The Hood, Vol. 2
-The Black Glove (Sets up "Batman R.I.P." introducing several important elements)
-Batman R.I.P. (Batman's last adventure before "Final Crisis")

Those are all really good stories and hit just about all the "Major" Batman storylines. The only ones that you could really skip if you wanted would be "Year Two" and "War Games", as they drift in and out of being canon but are still really good stories anyway. Everything else is pretty much your "Must-Read" stuff that you *have* to have, either because it's a great story itself, a major event in the mythos, or both.

Have fun!

10-21-2013, 04:19 PM
What is The Long Halloween about? I heard it has a lot of villains and a new one debuts?

10-21-2013, 09:49 PM
Essentially it's a long, drawn-out re-telling of the Two-Face origin. It's pretty good, but not to everyone's liking and the ending can be a little confusing. There's a lot of plot twists and red herrings as to who the real villain is, and then at the end it's kind of like, "Really?" And then you wonder why they never addressed this MAJOR revelation regarding this supporting cast member before, because it's kind of a game-changer. I don't think they ever followed up on it, either, but I could be wrong. I mean, it's good, it's very much in-continuity, especially with events from "Year One". The big reveal at the end kind of made me like it less, but it's good. I just didn't quite buy who the killer was.

Batman Annual #14 tells a pretty straightforward Two-Face origin all by itself, and although the issue and "Long Halloween" exist parallel with each other, and TLH does reference events from the Annual, I'm not sure the story needed an additional 13 issues expanding on it. You could easily read both, no reason not to, but you could know everything about Dent you need to know just from the Annual, especially his troubled past with his father that other books haven't gone into nearly as much. TLH does a good job showing what Dent was doing during the months leading up to him becoming Two-Face, but the Annual does a great job showing how Harvey was always a little cracked, and furthermore it shows why.

Anything by Jeph Loeb is usually pretty good, so you can't really do wrong with "Long Halloween". I just think it's a little overrated. Go ahead and add "Dark Victory"; it's the "official" modern Robin origin and the sequel to "Long Halloween", so no reason not to go for both.