RECOMMENDED READING

YEAR ONE

Born out of tragedy, Batman was created the night young Bruce Wayne watched helplessly as his parents were gunned down in front of his eyes. Sin City's Frank Miller crafts a retelling of Batman's origin in this classic tale that not only revisits the night of the Wayne murder, but gives us an insightful glimpse at Bruce's first forays as the caped crusader. This is a Batman still lacking experience, a Batman who makes mistakes and is not yet trusted by the police. This tale heavily influenced Christopher Nolan's film Batman Begins, including the scene where Batman calls on a swarm of bats to come to his aid.

THE LONG HALLOWEEN

There's a new serial killer in Gotham City, and he strikes on holidays. Set during the early days of Batman's career, this tale by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale takes Batman through a year of baffling murders by the killer known as Holiday. Who is this madman, and can Batman stop him before he strikes again? Woven into the story is a powerful retelling of the origin of Two-Face, as Bruce Wayne's good friend Harvey Dent is horribly scarred and left a changed man forever.

A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

It was one of Batman's greatest losses... the second Robin, Jason Todd, brutally murdered at the hands of the Joker. Now, Batman is pushed almost to the breaking point. Will he take revenge and kill the clown for what he's done? This shocking tale made headlines when it first saw print by leaving Robin's fate in the hands of the readers... two 1-900 numbers offered the choice: Robin lives, or Robin dies. In the end, it was not the Joker who killed the Boy Wonder after all... it was the fans.

THE KILLING JOKE

The Joker has always been one of Batman's deadliest enemies. But how did he come to be? His past has been shrouded in mystery, until now. Alan Moore (Watchmen, Leage of Extraordinary Gentlemen) gives us a possible glimpse into Joker's origins... a failed comedian who fell in with the wrong crowd, and ended up taking a dive into some chemicals after a run-in with Batman. Is it true, as Joker suggests, that one bad day is enough to push someone over the edge? He sets out to prove that it is... by shooting and paralyzing Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl.

NO MAN'S LAND

An epic story that spawled across an entire year's worth of Batman stories. Left devastated by a record-breaking earthquake, Gotham City is beyond all hope. Rather than repair the dilapidated city, the government rules it a federal no man's land and blows all bridges into and out of Gotham. Those that stay behind find themsleves surrounded by chaos, with rival gangs, led by villains like Two-Face and the Scarecrow, ruling by force and violence. Batman, Jim Gordon and some members of the Gotham P.D. stay behind to try to maintain order, but how do you uphold the law in a city where there is none?

THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS

It has been years since Bruce Wayne put on the bat-suit, and Gotham has been taken over by a violent streetgang known as The Mutants. Then one night, a startling vision prompts Bruce to take up the mantle of the bat once more, and reclaim the city that he once swore to protect. But the hero's return prompts his old villains to crawl out of the woodwork as well, with old enemies like Two-Face and the Joker returning to plague Batman and Gotham once again. When the government becomes concerned that the vigilante has become a problem, they recruit Superman to take him out, leading to a battle-royale in the streets between the former super friends. Written by Frank Miller (Batman Year One, Sin City), this dark, grim vision of Batman redefined him as a Dark Knight, and inspired the tone of Tim Burton's original Batman film.

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Russ Dimino 2008