The current era of DC comics is coming to a close which begs the question, what’s next? What does the future look like, and what order should I read it in? Well, we are still figuring some stuff out, but here’s the current reading order. This reading order is for people who know NOTHING about DC Comics and those who know everything alike (so when you see simple explanations, it’s for new readers who want to get into DC Comics but don’t know who anyone is)
(If you want to read the Google Doc Version instead–> Click Here)
While Future State is a good starting point, there are a couple of books you should probably check out or understand going in entirely
Road to Joker War
The Batman Family had just come off a major 85 issue run where Bane basically spent 85 issues breaking Batman down in Batman (2016) while I really enjoy the run, you don’t need it to understand most of the context for Future State and beyond. Instead with #86, James Tynion took over and began his own run of Batman which will continue in March 2021. On top of that, some of the ideas from the joker war inspire Batman vs. Magistrix storyline come from the aftermath of Joker War. So I recommend reading it. First is the prelude to Joker War which sets up the events premise.
This story is my recommended first story of the road to Joker War because it does the best job setting everything up for what has come with regards to the state of the bat-family, and it gives a really important sense of where Batman’s head is at going into the event. It also gives you a chance to touch base with the core Batman: Family and see what their whole deal is. This comic isn’t super important, and skippable if you want to rush to current Batman Comics, but it is very useful for laying a foundation as it does an effective job at communicating Bruce’s mental state. Some context quickly for if you are a new reader:
Nightwing (Black super-short hair): First, you should understand the State of Dick Grayson, now called Nightwing, also known as the First Robin. In Batman #55 (You just need to know this brief context don’t go read the issue), Dick Grayson was shot in the head and lost his memories. He started calling himself Ric Grayson (as of Nightwing #50), and began a new life without the memories of being Robin. While the run/section isn’t horrible (Nightwing #50-68), I don’t recommend reading it. Instead just accept that you won’t know everything going in. So basically, the summary of this run, is that the memories that make Ric Grayson, Dick Grayson are stored in a crystal (created by the Court of Owls). Not confusing or anything. If you are still confused (which you probably are) Nightwing(2016-) #70 does a decent job giving extra context when needed.
Red Hood (Wearing glasses here): AKA Jason Todd was the 2nd Robin, who was killed by the joker. He’s impulsive, violent, and a definitive anti-hero, but he is part of the bat-family still. He is kind of an outcast.
Red Robin (but kinda all over the place with names?): AKA Tim Drake hasn’t had much big stuff in the last 2 years. He’s the super smart one. Otherwise, not much you need to know here.
Robin (The short one): AKA Damian Wayne. Genetically bred in a lab by the league of assassins, he was born from the DNA of Talia Al Ghul (The daughter of the League of Assassins) and Batman. Damian is impulsive, snappy, dark, and kinda rude, but beneath it all, he’s super kind.
Batgirl: AKA Barbara Gordan: She became Batgirl for a while, until after the Joker beat her up, and she lost control of her legs. Becoming Parapalegic, Barbara Gordan became Oracle, a hacktivist/tech support for the batfamily. However, after getting hardware but in that let’s her control her legs again, she became Batgirl again.
Catwoman: AKA Selina Kyle has been dating Bruce for years which has made her become a better person, but she is still tied to the criminal underworld as you’ve probably noticed. They are informally married now.
The Plot of City of Bane: Bane took over the city of Gotham after “breaking” Batman. He captured Alfred Pennyworth and declared that if any member of the Batfamily entered Gotham, Pennyworth would be killed. So, when Damian Wayne decided to try to stop Bane, he went into Gotham and broke Bane’s rule which resulted in Alfred being killed.
READ: Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P #1
Pre-Joker War Tie-in #2: His Dark Designs
Next Read the Main Story for Batman:
Batman: His Dark Designs
Batman (2016-) #85 Epilogue
Batman (2017-) #86-94
Joker War is then best consumed, by reading 5 stories one after the other before they come together for the finale.
Joker War has a bunch of fairly important tie-ins to understanding what the Bat-Family looks like heading into 2021. These Tie-ins are useful but not 100% necessary if you just want to get to future state as quickly as possible (and want the bare minimum context). But do know that all the tie-ins are useful if you want to get a sense of the various bat members stories going into Future State. If you don’t want all the tie-ins and just want to read the main story then just read the main story. This is just here as an option.
Pre-Joker War Tie-in #3: Nightwing
READ: Nightwing: Road to Joker War
Nightwing (2016-) #70-72
Pre-Joker War Tie-in #4: Detective Comics
This Tie-in is probably the most skippable, because the comic and event don’t line up amazing well. However, it does give you a little more info on Joker’s planning before the event fully starts.
READ: Detective Comics: Road to Joker War
Detective Comics(2016) #1022-1024
Joker War is told with one main story and a couple of side stories. Chronologically, it’s hard to say which story is first/second/third because they happen at times that sometimes don’t make sense together. So my advice is to read these stories the following way:
Starting Issue: Batman(2016-) #95
Then Read: (Optional the following)
Tie-in #1: Harley Quinn
- This takes place a little before Joker War. You’ll know where the second you read it.
READ: Harley Quinn: Joker War
Harley Quinn (2016) #75 (Back-up issue, not the main part of this issue)
Tie-in #2: Batgirl
- Batgirl’s run by Cecil Castellucci is coming to an end, and while alot happened, this story is centered around 2 things, 1) Barbara Gordan (Batgirl’s) relationship with the Joker, and 2) Barbara Gordan’s Family drama in the midst of a crisis. Definitely one of the better tie-in issues. Speed Context:
- Commissioner Gordan was infected with a toxin that turns you evil which was created by the Batman who Laughs, an evil alternate reality/history version of Batman. He did bad things. He still hasn’t fully recovered.
READ: Batgirl: Joker War
- P.S. There’s a continuity error with Nightwing and Batgirl that makes the two stories hard to connect chronologically. You’ll see why.
Tie-in #3: Nightwing/Red Hood
- I don’t know what the plan for Red Hood is in 2021, but here’s some speed context. Red Hood (Jason Todd) was the 2nd Robin, who was killed by the joker. He’s impulsive, violent, and a definitive anti-hero, but he is part of the bat-family still. The Nightwing/Red Hood Tie-ins are weird as Red Hood’s Tie-in and Nightwing #73 happen at the same time, before they share Nightwing #74, so you can decide the order. I’d probably choose Nightwing #73 first but it’s up to you.
READ: Nightwing/Red Hood: Joker War
In either order:
Nightwing (2016-) #73
Red Hood: Outlaw (2016-) #48 (P.S. this might show as Red Hood and the Outlaws #48)
Main Story: Batman (2016-) #96-98
Tie-in #4: Detective Comics
- This story doesn’t have much needed context at all, you already have it….well except for one thing:
Kate Kane: AKA Batwoman is Bruce’s Cousin, who worked for Batman in the 2016-2017 era of comics before Kate and Batman had a falling out.
READ: Detective Comics: Joker War
Detective Comics (2016-) #1025-1026
Tie-in #5: Catwoman
- You have all the context already. Note: The back-up story takes place post-Joker War.
READ: Catwoman: Joker War
Catwoman (2018-) #25
Tie-in #6: The Short Important Stories
These are a series of stories from certain books that are super short, but can be important to read. Blue Issues, are more important
Important Short Stories
The Punchline story in Joker’s 80th Anniversary #1
Detective Comics #1027 “The Gift”
Written by the 2021 Detective Comics writer, Mariko Tamaki, and it sets up her run
Batman - The Joker War Zone #1
All of this is crucial to 2021 as each story sets up a plot point likely to happen in 2021.
Main Story: Batman #99-100
CONGRATS!!! YOU FINISHED YOUR FIRST EVENT COMIC!!! I hope you enjoyed this story. From here to the end, there’s only a small handful of comics that you need to read from the
Joker War Aftermath
Batman: Joker War Aftermath
Batman (2016-) #101-105
Detective Comics: Joker War Aftermath
Detective Comics (2016-) #1028-1033
Batgirl: Joker War Aftermath
Batgirl (2016-) #50
Punchline: Joker War Aftermath
Red Hood: Joker War Aftermath
Red Hood #51-52 (Probably just filler)
Clownhunter: Joker War Aftermath
Batman Annual #5
Catwoman #25 (2018-) (back issue) - Catwoman 28
EVENT: Death Metal
There’s a lot of context and lead in here, but I think it’s best to just start with the main series. This is a MUCH harder book to just jump into, but it probably makes more sense to just jump in. ESPECIALLY since, as far as I am aware, it’s important to understand the big cosmic implications of the DC Universe, but it likely won’t really affect the stories of most/if any of the heroes. Only time will tell. That being said, it’s still important.
Main Story: Dark Knights: Death Metal #1-3
Tie-in #1: Dark Knights: Death Metal - Legends of the Dark Knights #1
Tie-in #2: Dark Knights: Death Metal Guidebook #1
Tie-in #3: Dark Knights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1
Tie-in #4: Dark Knights: Death Metal - Speed Metal #1
Tie-in #5: Dark Knights: Death Metal - Multiverse’s End #1
Tie-in #6: Dark Knights: Death Metal - Rise of the New God #1
Tie-in #7: Dark Knights: Death Metal - Robin King #1
Main Story: Dark Knights: Death Metal #4
Tie-in #8: Dark Knights: Doom Metal
READ: Justice League #53-57
Main Story: Dark Knights: Death Metal #5
Tie-in #9: Dark Knights: Death Metal: The Multiverse Who Laughs #1
Tie-in #10: Dark Knights: Death Metal: The Secret Origin #1
Tie-in #11: Dark Knights: Death Metal: The Last Stories of the DCU #1
Main Story: Dark Knights: Death Metal #6-7
CONGRATS: You made it through your second DC Event!!
Death Metal: Aftermath
Now that Death Metal is over, the continuity of DC Comics is changing. The aftermath of Death Metal leads into Generations, a set of one-shots that leads into March 2021.
Main Story: Detective Comics #1027 Story “Generations: Fractured”
Generations: Shattered #1
Generations: Forged #1
Other Important Stories
There are a couple of other stories that you should check out going into Future State:
Justice League Dark: A Costly Trick of Magic
READ: Justice League Dark #20-28
Legion of Superheroes Vol. 1 and 2
READ: Legion of Superheroes #1-12
Author’s Note: I am still planning to update this with more context including a section explaining the confusing road to death metal. On top of that, expect a super link at the bottom that will connect this page to an entire reading order like my rebirth one. When these stories start coming to DCU Infinite, I will be updating this with links to the comics. Also, if you want to read this reading order with other people, make sure to check out my New to DCU Book Club when it returns at the DCU Infinite Launch