12 comics to read before you play Batman: Arkham Knight

The comics that fans deserve

Batman: Arkham Knight is just around the corner, promising one of the biggest adventures starring the Caped Crusader yet. Plenty of villains and allies are set to make an appearance or two, and the scale can be intimidating, especially if you haven't played the rest of the Arkham series.

Thankfully, there's a way to go into this feeling a bit more prepared: comics! Batman got his start in comics, and has more than 70 years' worth of reading material for you to check out. We've highlighted some of the best and most pertinent to Arkham Knight here. Enjoy!

Batman: Arkham Knight

Okay, this is the easy, obvious one. Taking place within the Akham-verse, this official comic relates the events that take place between Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Knight. If you want to know all the lore behind Rocksteadys tertiary game starring the Dark Knight, this is the comic you need.

Batman: Under The Hood

If you pre-ordered Arkham Knight from GAME or GameStop, youll receive the Red Hood story pack DLC. But who is Red Hood, exactly? If you want to know that, this comic will give you your answers. As is typical with comics though, Under The Hood weaves in and out of other story arcs, most notably Hush and A Death In The Family. Still, its an enjoyable read in and of itself, and was even turned into an animated film starring John DiMaggio (Bender from Futurama) as Joker.

Batman: Hush

Speaking of Hush, this comic is widely regarded as one of DCs best, and for good reason. Similar to The Long Halloween (another entry on this list), Hush plays with the concept of a mysterious, unknown villain showing up in Gotham and toying with both Batman and his villains. Sounds kind of like the Arkham Knight, dont you think? The ending is not great, but there are still lots of fantastic individual moments that make up for it, not to mention the foundation it sets up for characters like Red Hood.

Secret Six: Villains United

Spoilers for those who havent played Arkham City yet: By the end of that game, the Joker lies dead. While you might think that would be a relief to the citizens of Gotham and her vigilante protector, its actually made things more difficult. Villains that previously warred against one another no longer have the Clown Prince of Crime getting in their way and stirring up trouble, and so they have formed a more unified front. The Secret Six comics also address such a concept, though with smaller-name rogues. Still, to see what the bad guys can do when they stop fighting each other, check this one out.

Suicide Squad: Kicked In The Teeth

What does Harley Quinn do when her puddin isnt there to boss her around? Why, she teams up with other villains and goes on suicide missions for the government, of course. The Suicide Squad comics band together unlikely allies and put them work toward a greater goal, not unlike Villains United. The difference here is that the squad, while not exactly led by Quinn, nonetheless features her in a prominent position of power, unshackled by her love for Mr. J. Expect the same in Arkham Knight.

Batman: Sword of Azrael

Were not sure what role anti-hero Azrael will play in Arkham Knight, but we see him briefly in trailers and hear him warn Batman that dark days are here along with other prophetic musings. Azrael is an interesting character who has served as friend, foe, even replacement to Batman, and the Sword of Azrael story gives the best idea about his personality and motivations.

Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth

The Arkham games have come to be known for their grittier portrayal of Batman and his world, and fans have come to love this more serious take on the Dark Knight. If youre the sort where you not only enjoy Rocksteadys twisted vision but wish there were more Batman stories that ventured into the darker corners of storytelling, check out Grant Morrisons A Serious House on Serious Earth, which incidentally inspired the original Arkham Asylum game. A fair warning though: this story is not for the faint of heart.

Batman: The Long Halloween

Almost every villain and their mom seems poised to make an appearance in Arkham Knight, and the same can be said of this tale set during Batmans early years of crimefighting. In The Long Halloween, a new villain appears and begins a murder spree of one victim per month. Calendar Man knows who the mysterious killer is, but wont tell good ol Bruce, instead forcing him on a hunt throughout the city which is being torn apart by mob violence. Similarly, in Arkham Knight, Gotham is falling apart at the seams as a new bad guy - the Arkham Knight - comes to town.

Batman: Dark Victory

Dark Victory is the direct follow-up to Long Halloween, and is just as good, if not better in some ways, than its older sibling. Once again featuring appearances from seemingly everyone in Batmans rogues gallery, Dark Victory tells a fascinating tale of the escalation of violence in Gotham and its intimate connection to Batman. Essentially, Dark Victory makes us wonder if things would be as bad in Gotham as they are if Batman had never come along. On that note, one has to wonder if the Arkham Knight would have orchestrated his rise to power if it hadnt been for Bruce giving him someone to fight against.

Batman: Ego

Its hard to see the Arkham Knight as anything other than a dark mirror to Batman. Where Batman uses non-lethal force and is joined by a handful of friends and family, the Arkham Knight dispenses violent, deadly force using not only himself but a literal army of goons. In many ways, the Arkham Knight is probably what Batman would become if Bruce ever lost control, and thats precisely what begins to happen in Batman: Ego, as a broken mind battles itself for control of its bodys future. Part action, part psychological thriller, Ego makes us see what would happen if Batmans symbolic presence were twisted into something more vicious.

Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?

Batman: Arkham Knight is set to be Rocksteadys final outing with tall, dark and brooding (thats you, Bats). Although its sure to be action-packed, it also feels a bit like saying goodbye; a memoriam, if you will. Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader by Neil Gaiman is of a similar tone, as the story opens on the funeral for Gothams protector. Why is Batman a legend? This story will tell you, show you, and convince you.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Girl Robin. Batman beats up Superman. The animated version has Bats voiced by Peter Weller, AKA Robocop. It probably will have no parallels to Arkham Knight, but its really freaking good and you should totally read it.

WHERE ARE THEY?!?

WHERE'S RACHEL?? WHERE'S THE TRIGGER?? Er ... ahem. Sorry, got a bit carried away there. Anyway, those are our suggestions for the best DC universe comics to prep for Batman: Arkham Knight, but we're always open to suggestions! Let us know your favorite Bat-comics in the comments!