Batman Day 2022 is fast approaching, so there’s no better time to crack open our vast library at DC UNIVERSE INFINITE and read yourself some Batman comics. Whether you first encountered the Dark Knight through movies, television, video games or somebody’s sick tattoo, there’s no wrong way to take your first steps into Gotham City. But with thousands of comics at your fingertips, it can be pretty daunting knowing where to get started. That’s why I’d like to offer a personal recommendation to any Batman fans delving into the comics for the first time—begin your Batman adventures with The Batman Adventures.
The Batman Adventures is your perfect on-ramp to Batman comics to this very day because that’s exactly what it was designed for—albeit in a somewhat different context. In 1992, Batman: The Animated Series left its mark on a generation of viewers, instantaneously minting millions of new Batman fans over its TV run. Much has been written about what makes that show such a special and essential take on Batman and his world. (If you’re not familiar, you can watch the whole thing right now on HBO Max.) Regardless, the Batman Adventures series was a line of comics released concurrently with the show, channeling the aesthetics and narrative tone of the show into the comic book format to ease all these new followers of Batman into the medium from whence he came.
In execution, however, the talents behind this tie-in comic created something much greater. By translating what many Batman experts today consider the most essential version of Batman into comic book form, The Batman Adventures features a series of easy-to-read stories which essentially capture Batman as deftly as the show itself. Just jump in and you’ll get to see Batman and many of his closest allies and enemies express themselves in ways you’ll never forget.
Let’s Talk Talent:
Alongside a few special stories written by Batman: The Animated Series co-creator Paul Dini, most of the writing for this companion series represents some of the early work of Kelley Puckett. Cutting his teeth on a pitch-perfect tonal recreation of the show, Puckett would eventually go on from here to co-create two beloved characters: Batgirl Cassandra Cain and Green Arrow Connor Hawke. Just give Puckett’s name in any deep-in-the-paint DC fan circle and you’re guaranteed instant credibility.
Ty Templeton, Brad Rader, Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett all share art duties throughout the series, working studiously off Bruce Timm’s original models to capture the unique aesthetics of Gotham City in its most crystalline form—and Timm himself even stops by to pencil a few stories of his own.
A Few Reasons to Read:
- No Experience Necessary: The Batman Adventures may be a spiritual tie-in to Batman: The Animated Series, but you don’t even need to have seen the show in order to enjoy this book. Every issue features a self-contained adventure which won’t leave you scratching your head about some missed crossover or ancient back issue which keeps you from understanding the full context. For any new Batman fan, The Batman Adventures presents a simple to understand experience which provides a complete picture of what to expect from a typical Batman comic.
- A Batman Return: For those of you who are already fans of Batman: The Animated Series, The Batman Adventures is like discovering a brand-new season of the show in its prime which you never got to see. The spirit of the series is so prevalent in every page, you can’t help but hear Shirley Walker’s musical cues in your head from scene to scene as Kevin Conroy’s Batman trades bon mots with Mark Hamill’s Joker. It’s the long overdue return trip to your favorite neighborhood in Gotham City, with the blood red sky overhead.
- Here for the Drama: Part of the magic of Batman: The Animated Series was how it instilled a unique pathos in Batman’s rogues gallery, giving the viewer no choice but to sympathize with their toils and trauma even as they rooted for Batman to save the day. The Batman Adventures doesn’t shy away from this aspect of its inspirational source material either. Poison Ivy, Clayface, Mr. Freeze and Talia al Ghul are all put through the ringer for that sweet melodrama, but none more than Batman himself.
- Mad Love: As a tie-in to Batman: The Animated Series, The Batman Adventures holds a very distinctive place in comics history: it’s also the print debut of the show’s most popular breakout original character, Harley Quinn. The Batman Adventures further develops Harley’s budding relationship with Poison Ivy, sets her up as a nemesis to Batgirl, and in the Batman Adventures: Mad Love special, tells her origin story for the first time. (This comic would eventually be adapted into the New Batman Adventures episode of the same name, but all things considered, you may find you prefer the original story to the adaptation.)
Where To Next?
The Batman Adventures don’t stop after this collection. For more great comics inspired by Batman: The Animated Series, you can go on to 1995’s Batman and Robin Adventures, where artist Ty Templeton expertly assumes writing duties; 1998’s Batman: Gotham Adventures, where Batgirl and Tim Drake join Batman in a direction reflecting The New Batman Adventures animated series; the return of the original title in 2003’s Batman Adventures; and the recent Batman: The Adventures Continue, in which Dini and Templeton introduce newer characters like Red Hood and the Court of Owls to Batman’s animated universe.
Read The Batman Adventures this weekend and you’ll be armed with the understanding of many of Gotham’s greatest heroes and villains for whichever Batman comic you pick up next.
The Batman Adventures by Kelley Puckett, Ty Templeton, Brad Rader, Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett is available to read in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly “Ask the Question” column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.