Batman has always been our guy. Many of us didn't grow up reading comics, but we still played favorites when it came to Supes and Batman. We liked that his superiority came from a practiced skill, not alien genetics. Plus, as girls, it's ingrained in us to fall for tall, dark and mysterious guys. And that's cool, but you should be able to back up that knowledge in case you ever make that claim in front of someone who has actually read a comic book. These renditions are where it's at when it comes to knowing what's up with Batman and Gotham.
In 2011, DC comics rebranded and relaunched their entire collection, dubbing the makeover "The New 52." Court of Owls was Batman's first official appearance in the new lineup and it blew away nearly everyone. This is the Dark Knight you grew up watching on the big screen, but fighting a criminal collective you may not be as familiar with. The Court of Owls run everything that comes in and out of Gotham... and they don't have the city's best interests at heart. Add in a hard-to-kill assassin named Talon and you've got one hard (but never impossible) mission left at Batman's boots. Also, the coloring with the navy blues and purples is particularly awesome. A good comic store will have the first chapter on hand for $1 if you want to try it out.
Chronologically based on release date, this one should come first, as it was originally released in 1986. However, The Dark Knight Returns features an older, more mature Batman — making it perfect for following up the new series. In TDKR, Bruce Wayne is 55 and has retired as a superhero, along with all the other heroes. He's working with the U.S. government, but it's just not as fulfilling as donning the cape. As crime begins to rise in Gotham once again, Wayne knows what he's destined to do and soon finds himself back in black and on a mission to rid Gotham of Harvey Dent/Two-Face and all the other menacing creatures lurking about. The film, The Dark Knight Rises, uses some of the plot points from the comic, but you're doing yourself an injustice to skip the book.
Not exactly a Batman story, Gotham Central focuses on the Gotham Police Department, telling stories of the officers and detectives working the streets of Gotham every day. This, dear readers, would be the absolute perfect jumping off point if you catch Fox's new series, Gotham. Don't expect many crossovers, just some similarities. However, if you like comics more for the crime-fighting skew than the superhero skew, Gotham Central (and Gotham, the show) might be your gateway into a whole new world.
Batman has been around for decades, so it can be a little overwhelming to go into the comic book store without some direction. Once you delve into these new, awesome stories, don't let that be the end of your journey. Dive into the Batman back catalogs... or find a new hero to explore for a while. The options are limitless, which is kind of the best part.
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