Feature Essential Batman comics July 22, 2008 Know your Dark Knight? Be a studious crusader with our guide to the best Batman books on the market! With The Dark Knight just days away, now is the time to start pretending that you know all there is to know about Batman in order to impress family and friends alike (or even anyone you meet at tomorrow’s advanced screening!). To help you along the way, we’ve come up with a list of 10 Essential Batman Reads, courtesy of Tim O’Regan of Dublin’s Forbidden Planet. Movies.ie presents your beginner’s Guide to Gotham City’s Favorite Son: (1) The Killing Joke From the brainchild of Watchmen’s Alan Moore comes ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’. Here, Moore weaves a psychological tale between Batman and his long-time nemesis the Joker, as the latter attempts to drive Commission Gordon insane (thus proving that the most upstanding citizen is capable of going mad after having “one bad day.”) Along the way, the Joker has flashbacks to his early life, gradually explaining his possible origin. (2) Batman : Year One The Definitive Batman origin story -much of which was later used for the film ‘Batman Begins’. – Here Frank Miller recounts the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s career as the Batman and Jim Gordon’s with the Gotham City Police Department. (3) The Dark Knight Returns Another Miller story, this 1986 reinvention of Batman is still one of his best known works. Set in an alternative future, Batman has long retired but returns with a new female Robin. He must also fight Superman, who has become a puppet of the government. A polticial story of its time but well worth a read. (4) Batman: The Long Halloween A mystery story by Jeph Loeb (producer of Smallville) & Tim Sale (Artist on Heroes – Isaac’s Paintings). In the chronology of the Batman mythos, Long Halloween follows Miller’s Year One. A Harvey Dent story, the comic was heavily influenced by film noir, focusing on a mysterious killer who murders his prey only on holidays. (5) – Dark Victory The sequel to Long Halloween – but in no way a copy. The plot centres on a series of murders involving Gotham City police officers by a mysterious serial killer only known as The Hangman. Central to the storyline is a territory war between Two-Face and the remnants of the Falcone mob. The story is also a re-telling of the origins of Batman’s sidekick Robin and his adoption by Bruce Wayne. The story brings closure to many characters introduced in Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. (6) – Arkham Asylum A very different Batman story based around the inmates of Arkham Asylum. Grant Morrison, the current writer of the ongoing Batman title, tells quite a different psychological tale, which depends as much on the wonderful art of Dave Mc Kean (Sandman covers, long-time Neil Gaiman collaborator & co-director of Mirrormask). It removes itself from plot-oriented storytelling and stands as a truly original piece of art. A must have for any Bat-fan. (7) Hush Another story by Jeph Loeb. Another mystery that unravels over 12 issues. Drawn by Jim Lee, who is considered a legend in the comics field (and a real nice guy), Hush focuses on the often overlooked early Bruce Wayne’s years, specifically the time before the death of his parents. (8) Knightfall The Broken Bat story. Not as well known as the Death of Superman story but a landmark crossover (an event which spanned all the Bat titles for over a year). It sees the inmates of Arkham Asylum being freed by Bane, a man determined to break Batman physically and spiritually. It sees a replacement Batman (Azrael) who defeats Bane but who loses his mind in the process. It also sees the rehabilitation of Bruce Wayne & teaches him the lesson why he alone must carry the mantle of the bat. (9) No Man’s Land Another sprawling year long crossover. The lead-up story began with the arc “Cataclysm” which described a major earthquake hitting Gotham City. This was followed by the storylines “Aftershock” and then “Road to No Man’s Land” which resulted in the U.S. government officially evacuating Gotham and then abandoning and isolating those who choose to remain in the city. The “No Man’s Land” story proper covered the residents of the city during this time of isolation until its time of re-opening and the beginning of rebuilding. (10) The Man Who Laughs A more recent entry from Ed Brubaker (the man, who killed Captain America, Steve Rogers) & Doug Mahnke. Intended as a sequel to Batman: Year One, this is a must for all your Joker needs. The Dark Knight is in Irish cinemas July 24th.