Well, not ALL of Grant Morrison’s Batman; his stand alone stories are not discussed here – only the currently in progress epic, which will continue on during 2012/2013’s relaunched Batman Inc.
If there is one question I’ve answered more than any other in the past few years in regards to Batman, it is “what is the reading order of Grant Morrison’s run”, or some variation thereof. So I have created this list as a permanent resource and answer to that question. I’ve also created this list for my own edification, to satiate my own disturbingly deep love for Morrison’s Bat tale.
This will hopefully be a straightforward, simple and easy to follow chronological list that will tell you the reading order and supply you with visual representations of all the comics that make up the run, to help the die hard, single issue collectors out there. (I’ve pictured all variant versions of issues below, but not all re-printings where the only thing that changed was a color tone shift and I’ve also put this list here as pure text, just in case you simply want to copypasta it onto your phone, etc. for use in comic shops.)
0: Background Material
This is completely unnecessary to understand the Morrison arc, but extremely enlightening nonetheless, think of it as extra credit.
Morrison’s arc has integrated, retconned, referenced and reinserted many silver age Batman moments in(to) it’s labyrinthine tale, so to see where some (but certainly not all) of these ideas originated, and to contextualize the contemporary references, you’d do yourself well to read the collection of stories re-released as the TPB, The Black Casebook
If you’re still hungry for context in regards to the other obscure references, you can always go read this wonderful article by John Wells over at ComicMix, which helps to highlight more of the callbacks present in Morrison’s arc.
The first bit of story that Morrison crafted for his Bat-epic actually appeared in small chunks in two different issues of 52 (not to be confused with the “new 52”). Fifty Two was a weekly comic series which ran from 2006-2007, the series’ concept was to fill in the missing year between Infinite Crisis and Countdown to Final Crisis.
In 52, Morrison gives us a few glimpses of Bruce wandering to Nanda Parbat where he would undergo the thögal ritual which is referenced later on during his proper Batman run. All in all the only two issues which contain pertinent details to Morrison’s story are Issues (“weeks”) #30 and #47. In TPB form 52, Vol. 3 collects weeks 27-39 and Vol. 4 collects the remainder of the series, and therein week #47. You could also just go all out and get the Omnibus collection, which collects all 52 weeks in one volume.
1: “Batman and Son”
The real start of the run begins in Batman #655 – #658 then takes a short break and picks back up in Batman #663 – #666. This first part of the arc is generally referred to as Batman and Son, even though the only issues to carry that name in original print were the first four issues. Regardless all issues above can also be found compiled in the TPB known as Batman and Son. Batman #666 should be considered notable as it takes place in a “possible” future – and as such, may be full of red herrings… or maybe not.
The newly released Batman and Son – Deluxe Edition contains all of the Batman & Son issues AND the entire Black Glove run, which is the next entry on this list – so if you’d like both runs collected in one volume, opt for the Deluxe Edition of Batman and Son.
2: “The Black Glove”
This chapter consists of the issues Batman #667 – #675, and it would be a pretty straight forward jaunt, if not for two issues right in the middle of the chapter that take a break to act as the bookends for another arc: The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul. Batman #670 and #671 are chapters in the Ra’s story, which continues outside of the main Batman book and is handled by writers other than Morrison. The two issues certainly fit in well enough without reading the missing pieces between 670 & 671 – but if you want the whole story on Ra’s resurrection you will, unfortunately, have to hunt down the various issues which make up the crossover, or just buy the trade. Once again, the only parts that are considered pertinent to Morrison’s story are the ones listed here, so you will not miss anything by not reading the entire “resurrection” arc by itself.
The Black Glove is available as a TPB in a normal edition and also, now in a Deluxe Edition which includes all the Batman & Son issues AND the entire Black Glove story line, so if you opt for the Deluxe Edition of the Black Glove trade, then you can skip purchasing the Batman & Son TPB listed above, as it is now combined into one book.
3: “Batman R.I.P.”
R.I.P. actually begins with a prologue that is found in a book outside of the normal Batman issues: DC Universe #0, the prologue is actually only three pages long and is just a short conversation between Bats and Joker – it is pretty great though, for only being three pages you’d think they’d have just stuck it in with the first issue of the arc proper, which would be Batman #676 – #681. If you read the trade collection, the DCU #0 prologue is included.
3a: “Last Rights” and “R.I.P. The Missing Chapters” – the bridge to Final Crisis
This is where things begin to get a bit confusing. Batman #682 and #683 are meant to bridge the gap between R.I.P. and Final Crisis – then Batman #700- #702 jump back in time, before Final Crisis to fill in the “Missing Chapters” betwixt the two. Oddly though, Batman #701 & #702 spoil events from FC, so it is best to consider reading Final Crisis after you finish Batman #683 and before you read #701. I think… you see you don’t really need to read Final Crisis to understand Morrison’s Batman arc, but it does enhance it. All you really need to know about FC to follow along with Morrison’s main Bat-arc, is that Bruce “Kills” Darkseid, but in the process “dies” himself and is sent skipping through time, fighting his way back to the present, as seen in the coming series The Return of Bruce Wayne. The trade titled Time And The Batman contains Batman #700-#703 and the Batman R.I.P. TPB contains the Last Rites issues.
4: “Batman and Robin”
Bruce is dead/missing and Dick Grayson is now Batman, while Damian is Robin. If you want to know how this came about, read Battle for the Cowl – which is not written by Morrison and has no real bearing on his story. The most important thing to keep in mind is that Batman and Robin #1 – #16 take place at the same time as The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 – #6 . If you’re reading them “together” the only thing to remember is that TRoBW #6 is meant to synch into the big reveal on the last page of B&R #15, so as long as you read TRoBW #1-#6 before you reach the end of B&R #15 you’re golden. The Morrison run through the first sixteen issues of Batman and Robin has been released in various trade volumes: Vol. 1: Batman Reborn – Vol. 2: Batman vs. Robin – Vol. 3: Batman & Robin Must Die!
4a: “The Return Of Bruce Wayne” and “Batman: The Return (One Shot)”
Bruce Wayne is skipping through time and if you synchronize reading issue six of TRoBW , with reading issue #15 of Batman and Robin you’ll be perfectly caught up. After you make your way through all of that, you will read what is essentially the first issue of Batman Incorporated, Batman: The Return, a one shot that will lead us to the actual first issue of Batman Inc. The Trade contains all six issues.
5: “Batman Incorporated”, “Leviathan Strikes” and “Batman Incorporated Volume 2″ (The end)
Batman Incorporated is the globetrotting adventures of The Goddamned Batman as he recruits “Batmen” all over the world, while simultaneously hunting down – and being hunted by– “Leviathan” – a shadowy person and/or group embroiling the Dark Knight in a complex, systematic and long-term attack. This is actually the most straightforward chapter out of the arc so far, it follows along easily from Batman Inc. #1 – #8 then ends with the double-sized one-shot, Batman Inc. Leviathan Strikes! Leviathan Strikes is DC editorial’s hasty attempt to wrap things up to fit more nicely in with their absurd New 52 structure; it basically consists of what would have been issues #9 and #10 of the regular Batman Inc. series.
Volume II begins
And so, there you have it…
A comprehensive guide to lead you through Grant Morrison’s batshit insane Bat-epic.
Follow the current run of Batman Inc. vol.II through to 2013 and be there for the end of it all!