Ask for a list of essential Batman comics and you’re likely to get a list of books from decades ago. From The Dark Knight Returns to A Death In The Family, Year One to The Killing Joke, many of the most famous Batman books in pop culture are from the ’80s. Having a passing knowledge of these books can help people understand how Batman is usually portrayed, but some—perhaps even most—of what made them innovative and important at the time they were published is out of date, and in some cases no longer even canon for the character.
Comics featuring Batman are easy to come by, but decades of backstory (to say nothing of repetitious titles and changing numbering conventions) can make finding where to start difficult at best. If you were to begin with the most recent Batman #1, for example, it would only take you back to 2016. The one before that came with the launch of The New 52 in 2011, with little guidance on how linked they are during the intervening years. The last decade of Batman has largely been defined by three men: Scott Snyder, who launched the character into the New 52 continuity; Tom King, whose run was in some ways defined by Batman’s romance with Catwoman; and James Tynion IV, who brought new characters and new perspective to the Batman franchise. If you’d like to dive into the best of the more recent Batman runs, it’s impossible to go wrong with any title on this list.