For casual fans of Christopher Nolan's 'Dark Knight' trilogy, the thought of picking up a random Batman comic and getting into the entire 70-plus-year mythos can be a little intimidating. But if you use the films as a springboard, there are several story lines and series where you can land without getting too lost. Here are five comics that are good accompaniments to the 'Dark Knight Rises' that will keep you company now that the franchise has ended.
This thirteen issue miniseries is a retelling of Batman’s early years, specifically the decline of the mafia and rise of the super-villains in Gotham City. A serial killer named ‘Holiday’ is on the loose, making his debut murder on Halloween night. He kills once a month on each holiday. Added to that is a city full of police corruption, dominated by the Falcone mob, and budding super-villains, compounding the Dark Knight’s woes. It’s great not only as a murder mystery, but also a character piece on Harvey Dent, Gotham’s darling DA. Pick it up and you’ll stay hooked all the way until the not-so-predictable ending.
Gotham City is the kickball of many comic book writers, and perhaps the best example of it is the No Man’s Land story. In it, Gotham is wrecked by an earthquake and quartered off by the US government. Divided up by street gangs, the mafia, and super-villains, Gotham becomes hell on earth for the people trapped behind, with only Batman and a handful of allies staying behind to help them. The series is also the debut of the new Batgirl, a mysterious silent assassin femme fatale, and the introduction of Harley Quinn, the Joker’s main hench-girl, into the mainstream comics. While it was a long series, running all of 1999, it was a game changer in the Batman universe and therefore a must read for any would be fan of the Dark Knight.
Perhaps Frank Miller’s greatest work, this miniseries is still looked on as the ultimate authority on Batman’s origin. For those who have seen ‘Batman Begins’ (and who hasn’t?) there is plenty familiar in this series. The corruption of the Gotham Police, the mob running rampant, and the early alliance between Batman and Jim Gordon. But there’s some differences between it and its cinematic cousin too, so it won’t feel like trending already farmed soil. It’s a quick read and essential for any who want to understand the modern Batman mythos.
The Gotham Police Department have a bad reputation, mainly because they’re so corrupt. But they’re an intricate part of the Batman-verse and as such, deserve a series focusing on them. And it’s nothing short of perfection. This series showcases what it’s like to be a cop in a dangerous city filled with super-villains and a vigilante who’s always making your department look inept. Added to that are the legal woes Gotham Police must deal with, like a crook caught by Batman is released because the Dark Knight isn’t there to testify at the trial, and how Gotham PD must hire a temp to turn on the bat signal, since it would be seen as collusion in the eyes of the law should an actual officer do it. Highly recommended for not only Batman fans, but fans of crime drama and literature in general.
Although the Clown Prince of Crime doesn't appear ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, this is still considered by many to be the quintessential Joker story. It sheds light onto the Joker’s back story, his attempts at becoming a stand-up comedian and failing miserably, only to run into the wrong crowd and a chemical bath. Or does it? With the Joker, very little is certain. But what is certain is his attempts to drive Jim Gordon insane through shockingly cruel and sadistic methods, to prove that just one bad day is enough to make anyone into a Joker. Not for the faint hearted, but highly recommended.