The Batman, director Matt Reeves is looking to mix up the traditional Batman formula by taking a seemingly darker view on Batman. This new tone is not only fresh and welcome but also fitting. Anyone who’s read the Batman comics can tell you that, for the most part, The Defender of Gotham is a pretty dark character set within a pretty twisted world. Overall, it’s a welcome change to see a version of Batman on screen that much more closely mirrors the ones from some of our favourite comic books.
With that being said, here are four comic books that director and co-writer of The Batman, Matt Reeves says inspired his version of Batman.
The Batman Comic to Read
Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween was a 13-issue limited comic series that became a much-beloved animated film. We see Batman during his early days of fighting crime in this series. Gotham has been hit by a mysterious serial killer known only as “Holiday” who only murders people on holidays. One every month.
While working with James Gordon and Harvey Dent, Batman must race against the calendar to try and uncover the identity of “Holiday” before the next big event and the next victim. This comic series is well known for several reasons; first, it saw the re-introduction of “Calendar Man”, one of Batman’s most elusive foes. It also tied into the events that saw Harvey Dent go from friend to foe and included a plethora of villains from the universe.
1 TP written and with art by Darwyn Cooke (Batman/The Spirit; Catwoman; The Spirit)
Otherwise known as “Ego: A Psychotic Slide into the Heart of Darkness“, this story steers away from the regular vigilante story and instead takes a deep dive into the psychology of being Batman. Ego is all about showing us the trauma and guilt of being the Dark Knight. Set in the direct aftermath of one of the Joker’s crime sprees, we see Batman chasing after a thug named Buster Snibbs. The previous night Batman had used Snibbs to get the Joker’s location.
Batman catches up to Snibbs just as he is about to commit suicide and narrowly saves him, only to have a furious Snibbs scold him for it. Snibbs explains that the Joker knows of his betrayal. Since Snibbs has no faith in either Batman or the police’s ability to keep Joker contained, Snibbs had already killed his own family to save them from Joker. Snibbs then shoots himself right in front of an already mentally exhausted Batman, condemning him with his very last breath.
Shaken and wracked with guilt by this turn of events, Batman retreats to his Batcave and what follows is his mind divided. On one side, we see the revenge-hungry Batman, and on the other, we see the rational human side, Bruce Wayne. As the two sides discuss and debate their history, looking for how to proceed, we are given insight into the toxic burden being a super-hero truly is.
Batman: Year One
If there was any doubt as to how well-received Batman: Year One was since its original print run in 1987, the four-issue arc has been reprinted into a hardcover, many TPs, several deluxe editions in both soft and hardcover, as well as an Absolute Edition. The comic was also adapted into an animated movie in 2011. The story in the rather aptly named Batman: Year One recounts Batman’s first year on the job, and most of the story is told from the perspective of Jim Gordon.
Batman: Year One was an entire revamp of Batman. Away with the over-the-top villains and the fun, zany adventures and in its place a return of who Batman was originally intended to be: a dark and brutal detective working in a gritty Gotham City. We see Bruce Wayne transition into being Batman for the first time and get introduced to a criminal calling himself the Joker during this story.
For the sake of potential spoilers, I don’t want to get any further into the story of Batman: Year One. Throughout the trailers for the upcoming The Batman film, multiple scenes from the comic can be seen. Director Matt Reeves has also been quoted more than once talking about how much inspiration he drew from this particular story.
Batman: Dark Victory
Batman: Dark Victory is a direct follow-up to The Long Halloween, which serves as a re-telling of the origins of Batman’s sidekick Robin and introduces him to the story. Batman: Dark Victory also brings much-needed closure to many characters from Batman: Year One. The story starts several months after the killed known as “Holiday” was apprehended and sees Janice Porter replace Harvey Dent as the District Attorney of Gotham. Batman is dealing with a lot of guilt and has become even more withdrawn than usual, even distancing himself from Gordon.
Batman can’t help but feel that everything that happened to Harvey is his fault and hates that his former friend now resides in Arkham Asylum. While trying to get his head around the pain he has caused to those around him; Batman is also dealing with his failing relationship with the love of his life, Selina Kyle. While also being called to help catch yet another serial killer that threatens the lives of everyone he cares for in Gotham.
While reading through the comics that inspired The Batman is a wonderful way to get yourself excited for the upcoming film, we would be remiss not to include some of the comics favourited by Robert Pattinson, who will be taking on the role as The Dark Knight himself in the upcoming movie.
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
While the actual title of Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth might not sound familiar, almost everyone familiar with the comics will recognize what it’s commonly known as Batman: Arkham Asylum, which is also the title of the videogame, partially influenced by the comic. The comic follows Batman as he gets called to help control a riot that’s broken out between some of the most dangerous supervillains in Arkham Asylum.
Once inside of Arkham, nothing is as it seems, and Joker soon forces Batman into a deadly game of hide-and-seek, giving Batman a single hour to escape from Arkham before Joker sends his men to hunt and kill him. While travelling through the asylum, Batman starts discovering secrets about Arkham, how it was established, and learning about its founder Amadeus Arkham.
5 Issues written by Dennis O’Neil (The Question; Daredevil; The Amazing Spider-Man) and with art by Ed Hannigan (Green Arrow; The Defenders; Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight)
Batman: Shaman was a short yet powerful storyline set in the very early days of Batman’s career, and according to the timeline, somewhere within the first few weeks of Batman: Year One. During Batman: Shaman, we learn about Batman’s life in the years leading up to him becoming Batman. We follow Bruce as he is left badly injured after a run-in with a killer in Alaska. Found and rescued by a local shaman, Bruce is healed by being told a secret tale about an ancient bat.
During his first year as Batman in Gotham, many cultist killers popped up. While investigating them, Batman discovered that the killers wore masks precisely like those used by the shaman who had healed him, causing Batman to return to Alaska once more in search of answers.
Batman: Damned is a short, supernatural horror comic still set within Gotham City but outside of the mainstream DC continuity. The story acts as a follow-up to “Joker” and begins shortly after the events at the end of Joker. After a fight, Batman and Joker fall off of the Gotham Gate Bridge. When Batman wakes up, he is in an ambulance with no memory of the previous events.
Fearing he may have murdered the Joker and searching for answers about his missing memory, Batman reaches out to John Constantine. Together, the two of them dive into the supernatural underbelly of Gotham in hopes of solving a mystery Batman has long forgotten.
Want to pick up any of these Batman comics for yourself? Then remember to head over to Critters and Comics or click here. If you’re new to comics but all the hype around The Batman has you wanting to get into them then click here to read out post on everything you need to know to get started collecting.