5 Batman comics to read before The Brave and the Bold movie

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The Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder have formulated one of the superhero genre’s most iconic partnerships in comic book history. The Dynamic Duo is a well-oiled machine kickin’ villainy butt and taking names. It’s easy to reflect on the golden age iconography surrounding the partnership’s more lighthearted era. But make no mistake, the few young lads who have donned the Robin duds over the past several decades have gotten their hands dirty.

Batman and Robin underscore just one of many partnerships the Caped Crusader has formed during his time under the cowl. With the DCU’s film The Brave and the Bold on the distant horizon, there’s plenty of speculation to be had. Mostly, it’s hard not to wonder what a modern Batman and Robin team-up film might look like. But the name of the film is a clear reference to an era of comics that saw the Dark Knight working in tandem with heroes to deliver justice. In fact, there’s a treasure trove of comic books to soak up while we wait for the film to hit theaters. Here are 5 of the best.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold No. 1 (2023)

Batman attacking in cover image for Batman The Brave and the Bold issue #1.
DC Comics

That’s right, this issue is hot off the presses and features a whopping 64 pages of Batman crime-fighting justice. This mega-issue is actually an anthology collection of four separate stories. It’s meant to evoke the episodic nature of the original Silver Age era The Brave and the Bold series. That original series featured heroes often partnering up for villainous beatdowns. Batman eventually became a mainstay. The first storyline in this mega issue featuring the Dark Knight and his DC hero pals is actually a poignant one. Written by Tom King, Batman: The Winning Card Part 1 kicks off this issue with a retelling of Batman’s first face-to-face with the maniacal Joker.

You might feel like this is fairly basic for a Batman story, but you’d be mistaken. King crafts an organic and haunting tale that elevates the Joker’s particular brand of evil. It’s one that follows in the footsteps of Ed Brubaker’s Batman: The Man Who Laughs without mimicking the iconic storyline. The other stories offered in this issue are just as wild and varied. This title is worth the price of admission.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Omnibus Vol. 1

Batman and the Joker in The Brave and the Bold issue #111
DC Comics

This massive collection (which is infinitely cheaper if purchased digitally), brings together all the zany and wild adventures of Batman and his most prestigious team-ups with other DC heroes during the Bronze Age of comic books. While Robin is, of course, an obvious choice for partnership, the Dark Knight also forms duo alliances with characters like Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and even more obscure heroes like Deadman in order to foil some of the gnarliest criminal capers afoot. In fact, he even teams up once with the Joker if you can believe it.

And if you’re a real fan of the medium, then you’ll appreciate that this collection includes the legendary talent from several notable writers and artists including the great Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, and Denny O’Neil. To truly understand the origins of Batman and his most famous partnerships, including the Boy Wonder, this is the collection to read.

Batman and Son

Batman leaping in cover image for Batman and Son
DC Comics

With the upcoming DCU film The Brave and the Bold set to be Damian Wayne’s live-action introduction, what better place to start in comic books than the fierce Robin’s debut in Grant Morrison’s Batman and Son? While the lore behind Grant Morrison’s new Robin posits that the baby shared between Bruce and Talia as shown in 1987’s Batman: Son of the Demon was in fact Damian, the character wasn’t actually established in comic book lore until the Batman and Son storyline where Bruce learns of his young son who has been trained by the League of Assassins to be a bloodthirsty killer.

Talia clearly has ulterior motives for introducing Damian into Bruce’s life. However, Bruce has a chance to connect with the son he’s never known and begin the makings of an enduring relationship – one where he can eventually coach the boy into abandoning the violent principles his grandfather had taught him.

Batman and Robin Vol. 1 (2009)

Batman and Robin in cover image for Batman and Robin vol. 1 by Grant Morrison.
DC Comics

In 2008, Final Crisis was a massive DC crossover event that was in full swing as Darkseid reared his ugly head once again. In the wake of it all, Batman, or Bruce Wayne rather, was seemingly killed by Darkseid’s Omega Beams. It’s later revealed that Bruce Wayne was actually sent backward through time to the Paleolithic Era by the Omega Beams. But despite this, the rest of the DC world believed him to be dead. Dick Grayson would soon don the cowl and take on the mantle of Batman for Gotham City and Damian Wayne would stand by his side as Robin. In Grant Morrison’s first volume to kick off the series following the Final Crisis event, Dick Grayson’s Batman and Damian Wayne’s Robin square off against Gotham’s seedy underbelly including the nefarious and sinister Professor Pyg.

Sure, Bruce Wayne might technically be absent from this story. But Dick Grayson’s less imposing attitude compared to Bruce Wayne enabled a series of adventures that felt reminiscent of the Golden Age era. This time. however, (and much like Jason Todd) Robin isn’t just Batman’s yes-man. He’s got a mind (and ego) all of his very own and he isn’t afraid to be bullish and challenge his cohort. Thematically, this volume encapsulates a perfect blend of the new and old.

Batman: The Court of Owls

Batman fighting villains in cover image for New 52 Batman issue #1.
DC Comics

Perhaps, one of the greatest modern Batman stories ever told, The Court of Owls is a collision course between esteemed writer Scott Snyder and long-time comic book artist Greg Capullo. This series began the New 52 rebrand in 2011 for DC Comics. As such, the first issue of Batman was reset to No. 1. However, this story introduces Bruce and Damian to a new sinister, but unseen villain in Gotham City. Akin to the fabled Illuminati, the Court of Owls is a group of elites who ultimately interfere with political, social, and criminal networks within Gotham. They use nearly-immortal beings named Talons to assassinate key figures to guide Gotham toward the path they deem necessary.

While the Court was once a myth and nursery rhyme for children when Bruce was a youngster, he’s now come to discover that the evil governing body is, in fact, real and propped up by the richest families throughout the city. This is one Batman and Robin struggle that is an absolute must-read.

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