Batman continuity has been on my mind a lot lately. I've noticed that I have trouble to keep track of the different versions of key moments in the characters' history, mostly for Batman and Nightwing, because those two are the characters I'm most interested in, and consequently I read more (and more "conflicting") stories about them, but it happens with other characters too. So I decided to make notes of what versions I've read so far. Clearly this is a work in progress, but I thought others might be interested in my efforts at organization.
When I started to organize my knowledge of their origin stories, and to write a post on it, it soon became clear that it would be a very sprawling post, and it got worse and worse, and then I realized that the blogging options for me were either to wait a rather long time, where interesting posts would be scarce in my blog (even more so than usual), because my fannish time and energy meanwhile is going into the monster post, or to make it literally a work in progress, and post it as a series, which would spread the (hopefully) interesting content over a bit of time in my blog (and keep each part at manageable lengths for the readers too).
My first project is trying to piece together an overview of Batman's origin story, i.e. the details of his parents murder, what's known about his childhood, his years of training and travel, as well as key moments early in his vigilante career that formed the present day Batman. Within that, the first meetings between Batman and his enemies as well other superheroes and allies are a chapter of their own. I don't think it's practical to divide it much further, like to make separate sections for "pre-murder childhood," "Wayne murder," "pre-Batman training and travel" and "early career" because in many stories several or all of the above are touched upon, and to separate them would divide the notes on each story needlessly. However the first encounter stories are often separate, and in cases when they are not, like for much of the early history of Dent, Gordon and Batman, and the eventual origin of Two-Face, those are often co-origin stories for all the characters and are the main plot of the stories, so that treating them separately makes sense and is more practical than to mush that together with the often briefer references and flashbacks to his childhood and the like.
Second project will be Nightwing's history, details of his parents murder, the Robin I origin story, how he became Bruce's ward, and the origin of his Nightwing persona. Then at a later point maybe posts on other characters, like Batgirl I/Oracle and Robin III.
The method I've decided on for each of the sections is to first post a list of all stories/issues that I know of which contain relevant information or (re-)tell key events of that time. I'll list them in their publishing order and mark those which I haven't read yet with a "*". In that list I'll also briefly mention why the story is relevant (at least if it isn't self-evident from its title), and for those I haven't read I'll cite the website that referred to them, however my detailed notes only cover the comics I've read myself, and I'll just expand on them later. If those lists are missing important or even minor issues, I'd love to hear about those. I mean, right now I've only read a small portion of the available canon, and browsed a couple of websites, there's no chance these lists are complete.
In the detailed notes I'll mention in the later stories where they contradict the ones published earlier, but not vice versa, mostly for practical reasons, because otherwise the cross-referencing becomes a nightmare fast, and keeping track becomes much harder. Maybe I'll include "bi-directional" referencing in the final version, once I have all notes at hand.
Of tremendous help for staying on top of the continuity facts have been:
In the places where I mention issues I haven't read yet, but have read about in those resources, I'll link to the specific site from which I have the information.
The second post, where I actually start to examine Batman's origin's will follow shortly.