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Frank Miller’s Batman Series Reading Order (The Dark Knight Universe)

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In 1996, Frank Miller reinvent Batman as a more controversial and ruthless figure in The Dark Knight Returns. And he followed up with Batman: Year One, cementing his version of Batman which will influence many writers.

In the DC Universe pre-flashpoint, all these tales are part of the Earth-31, also known as The Dark Knight Universe or Millerverse. On this Earth takes place the best and the worst of Batman’s stories.

Batman by Frank Miller Publication Order

The Dark Knight Returns (1986)

It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired, and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now, when his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenage female Robin, Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city. And after facing off against his two greatest enemies, the Joker and Two-Face, for the final time, Batman finds himself in mortal combat with his former ally, Superman, in a battle that only one of them will survive.

Batman: Year One (1987)

In his first year on the job, Batman feels his way around a Gotham City far darker than the one he left. His solemn vow to extinguish the town’s criminal element is only half the battle; along with Lieutenant James Gordon, the Dark Knight must also fight a police force more corrupt than the scum in the streets.

Spawn/Batman (1994)

A one-shot comic book written by Frank Miller with art by Todd McFarlane and published by Image Comics. Batman comes to New York City in his search for an arsenal of high-tech weapons and robots that use decapitated human heads as their brains. Antagonistic, confrontational and suspicious of each other, Spawn and Batman engage in violent battles before realizing they are both after the same villain. Grudgingly, they decide to work together. The person they seek has been kidnapping and decapitating the homeless for use in the robots, but that’s only part of the plan: there is also a nuclear arsenal ready to be deployed.

The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001)

Three years later after Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman must return once again to save the world from themselves. Faking his own death and creating an underworld civilization, Bruce Wayne has been keeping his eye on the world above. As that false Camelot reaches its breaking point, it’s is up to the Dark Knight to emerge from the underground shadows and once again return order to chaos. Joined by his army of Bat-soldiers and his female sidekick Catgirl, an elderly Batman wages a final war against a diseased world in an epic tale that features Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, and the Atom.

All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder (2005)

At the circus, all hell breaks loose as Bruce Wayne and gal pal Vicki Vale witness a young boy’s life shattered before their eyes, and now, the orphaned boy, Dick Grayson, has nowhere to go and no one to turn to–no one but Bruce Wayne.

A sequel was announced, but the series was never published.

The Dark Knight III: The Master Race (2015)

It’s been three years since the Batman defeated Lex Luthor and saved the world from tyranny. Three years since anyone has seen Gotham City’s guardian alive. Wonder Woman, Queen of the Amazons…Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern…Superman, the Man of Steel…all of the Dark Knight’s allies have retreated from the front lines of the war against injustice. But now a new war is beginning. An army of unimaginable power led by Superman’s own daughter is preparing to claim Earth as their new world. The only force that can stop this master race—Batman—is dead. Long live the new Batman…

The Dark Knight Returns: Last Crusade (2016)

As the Joker is manically returned to Arkham Asylum, Bruce Wayne is struggling to train his sidekick and heir apparent, the new Robin, Jason Todd. While a new string of bizarre killing sprees involving Gotham City’s elite takes up Batman and Robin’s attention, critics begin to question if the Dark Knight has a right to endanger the life of a child. What does night after night of danger and brutality do to a child? And what is the Joker planning?

Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child (2019)

It’s been three years since the events of Dark Knight III: The Master Race. Lara has spent the time learning to be more human, and Carrie Kelley has been growing into her new role as Batwoman. But a terrifying evil has returned to Gotham City, and Lara and Carrie must team up to stop this growing threat–and they have a secret weapon. Young Jonathan Kent, “the golden child,” has a power inside of him unlike anything the world has ever seen, and it’s about to be unleashed…

Batman New 52 Reading Order Icon

The Dark Knight Universe in Chronological Order (sometimes called Earth-31)

Last Updated on June 16, 2022.

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