DC Comics

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
4,775
Reaction score
6,339
Growing up I was a strictly Marvel kid when it came to superhero comics. I wasn't anti-DC, just too much into the X-Men, Spiderman and their derivatives to have the time or money for anything else. Later I read a lot of Vertigo, Sandman, some Vigilante and a lot of Alan Moore's DC stuff (especially Swamp Thing) but I barely associated that with DC.

I know Marv Wolfman's The New Teen Titans is supposed to be good and he did some other horror comics for DC (Night Force) I'm interested in. I have collections of the very early Batman, Superman and even WW comics.

So what would be some of the essential DC comics to check out? Preferably available digitally or TBP. Both superhero and otherwise.
 

Endless Flight

Rise Above
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
4,428
Reaction score
8,009
Recommended Batman trades:

Essentials:
Batman: Year One
Dark Knight Returns
The Killing Joke

Non-Essentials:
Death in the Family was shocking at the time, but over the years the value of it has diminished due to future events in the universe.
Batman: Year Two isn't essential but I really enjoyed the villain, the Reaper.
Ten Nights of the Beast is in continuity. It's basically a Cold War story, where Batman takes on the Soviet's renegade KGBeast, who goes on a rampage in Gotham.

Those are all late 80s.
 
Last edited:

Endless Flight

Rise Above
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
4,428
Reaction score
8,009
General DC trades:

Kingdom Come
is really good. It's basically an alternate future of the DC universe.
New Frontier by the late great Darwyn Cooke. This is an alternate past where it explores the origins of the Justice League.
 
Last edited:

Apparition

New Generation Grognard
Administrator
Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
1,898
Reaction score
2,370
Where to begin... I bolded the titles that are absolutely essential, IMO.

Superman:

  • Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid
  • All Star Superman by Grant Morrison
  • Superman: For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb
  • Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek
  • Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? by Alan Moore
  • Luthor by Brian Azzarello
  • Superman: The Man of Steel, Volumes 1 through 8 by John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, and Jerry Ordway
  • Superman: Earth One, Volumes 1 through 3 by J. Michael Straczynski


Batman:

  • Batman: Year One by Frank Miller
  • Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb
  • Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb
  • Batman: The Complete Hush by Jeph Loeb
  • Batman: Birth of the Demon by Mike W. Barr
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison
  • Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker
  • The Joker by Brian Azzarello
  • Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
  • Batman: Earth One, Volumes 1 and 2 by Geoff Johns

Wonder Woman:

  • Justice League: A League of One by Christopher Moeller
  • Wonder Woman: The True Amazon by Jill Thompson
  • Wonder Woman by George Perez, Volumes 1 and 2
  • Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka, Volumes 1 and 2
  • Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1
  • Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka
 
Last edited:

Apparition

New Generation Grognard
Administrator
Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
1,898
Reaction score
2,370
DC Comics as a whole:

  • Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman - Trinity by Matt Wagner
  • Justice by Jim Krueger
  • Kingdom Come by Mark Waid
  • Legends by Len Wein and John Byrne
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman
  • Justice League International, Volumes 1 through 6 by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
  • Superman & The Justice League of America, Volumes 1 and 2 by Dan Jurgens
  • Wonder Woman & The Justice League of America, Volumes 1 and 2 by Chuck Dixon and Dan Vado
  • Invasion! by Keith Giffen and Bill Mantlo
  • Teen Titans: Earth One, Volumes 1 and 2 by Jeff Lemire

If you like super-heroic science-fiction, I also highly recommend:

  • Legionnaires, Volume 1 by Tom McCraw
  • The Legion by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Volume 1
  • Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds by Geoff Johns
 

Apparition

New Generation Grognard
Administrator
Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
1,898
Reaction score
2,370
I can think of some more, but those are the key DC graphic novels and collections IMO, plus or minus. It should be a good starting point. The Earth One series of graphic novels began in 2010 for those new to DC Comics, set in their own continuity, so that may be a good starting point if you don't mind relatively new stuff. There's one or two releases per year, with new Green Lantern and Wonder Woman volumes due out this year.
 

Dumarest

Vaquero de Alta California
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
9,775
Reaction score
16,589
I'd recommend the Showcase Presents series of Batman and Superman to get the classic versions at a low price. They're in black and white, though. The Batman series covers 1964 into the early 1970s, which for me are some the best stories by guys like Frank Robbins, Bob Brown, Neil Adams, Carmine Infantino, Dennis O'Neil, et al. The Superman volumes cover a good span of the Weisinger era and the classic mythos as it developed.

You can get the New Teen Titans by Wolfman and Perez in full-color trade paperbacks, I think they are up to volume 8 now covering maybe the first 60-odd issues. A lot of fun to be had there.

Additonally, there are three full-color trade paperbacks of Green Lantern by Len Wein and Dave Gibbons and Joe Staton with some great stories from the era when Hal Jordan resigned and John Stewart became our official Green Lantern.
 

Endless Flight

Rise Above
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
4,428
Reaction score
8,009
My favorite Silver Age DC was the Gardner Fox/Joe Kubert run on Hawkman. Some of it was collected in a color trade in 1989 that’s out of print but can be found for reasonable prices on the secondary market or you can go the Showcase route as Dumarest has mentioned.
 

Apparition

New Generation Grognard
Administrator
Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
1,898
Reaction score
2,370
Death in the Family was shocking at the time, but over the years the value of it has diminished due to future events in the universe.
I'm still honked off that I spent $1.50 in quarters in 1988 to have DC Comics kill off Jason Todd, and they brought him back anyway. :tongue:

Batman: Year Two isn't essential but I really enjoyed the villain, the Reaper.
Batman: Year Two is extremely contentious (the whole "Batman would never ever use a gun, especially not the gun that Joe Chill used to murder his parents" thing), but I enjoyed it. FWIW, a Deluxe 30th edition collection came out a few months ago which collects this and the direct sequel, Batman: Full Circle.
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
4,775
Reaction score
6,339
Thanks all, not into colour comics printed in B&W unfortunately but I'm not a completist so a few volumes in colour are usually good enough for me. Shoulda mentioned that I do have the Dark Knight, Killing Joke and Batman: Year One (David Mazzucchelli is one of my favourite comic artists). Still more than enough here to keep me busy reading for a long while!
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
4,775
Reaction score
6,339
General DC trades:

Kingdom Come
is really good. It's basically an alternate future of the DC universe.
New Frontier by the late great Darwyn Cooke. This is an alternate past where it explores the origins of the Justice League.
Didn't realize Darwyn Cooke, who I know from his crime comics work, had done DC superhero comics. New Frontier looks great. What did you think of Cooke/Brubaker's Catwoman comics?
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
7,276
Reaction score
12,953
Not counting Vertigo (which is really where I think the best DC work, possibly the best work in comics for the decade of the 90s, took place), my absolute favourite series from DC, and a fantastic starting point for readers new to the universe, is James Robinson's Starman.

Starman was a lesser-known Golden Age Superhero. Robinson's series picks up with his younger son taking up the mantle from his father as he's retiring. And shortly afterwards getting shot point blank. At which point the legacy falls on the Golden Age Starman's older son, who wants absolutely nothing to do with it, and has a very dim view on Superheroes altogether. He thinks the costumes are ridiculous, the concept is delusional, and in general he represents that hard-edged, dark 90's attitude towards the "goofier" legacy of superheroics.

The series is basically taking the 90s, as embodied by Jack Knight, and showing it the value of the Golden Age. It's also, in this way, about the slow reconciliation between a father and estranged son. It explores the nooks and crannies of DC's legacy, from its very first costumed Vigilante (The Golden Age Sandman) all the way up to Superman. Its the ultimate in reconstructionism after years of reactions to deconstructionist works like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. You could almost call it the reverse-Watchmen.
 

Apparition

New Generation Grognard
Administrator
Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
1,898
Reaction score
2,370
I love Starman. I have all six hardcover omnibuses, they're some of the rare print books that I haven't gotten rid of. However, I didn't recommend it because, IMO, it requires a little foreknowledge of the DC Comics universe, and last time I checked the omnibuses are out of print and the collections still aren't available digitally.
 

Baulderstone

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
May 13, 2017
Messages
4,568
Reaction score
9,800
I love Starman. I have all six hardcover omnibuses, they're some of the rare print books that I haven't gotten rid of. However, I didn't recommend it because, IMO, it requires a little foreknowledge of the DC Comics universe, and last time I checked the omnibuses are out of print and the collections still aren't available digitally.
I'd disagree that it requires foreknowledge of the DC Universe.

I didn't have much in the way of a superhero comics background at the time outside of occasionally reading a comic at a friend's house throughout the '80s. I read the big groundbreaking comics like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen as well. I didn't start buying comics on my own until Sandman, which lead me into buying Vertigo and similar themed comics.

Starman came out at the time I began working in a game/comic store, so I was curious to expand my comic horizons. Reading Starman, almost all the references to the Golden Age were unknown to me. At the same time, they were evocative and encouraged me to dig deeper.

I wouldn't say that Starman requires foreknowledge of the DC Universe. I would say it simply requires curiosity about the DC Universe.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
7,276
Reaction score
12,953
I love Starman. I have all six hardcover omnibuses, they're some of the rare print books that I haven't gotten rid of. However, I didn't recommend it because, IMO, it requires a little foreknowledge of the DC Comics universe, and last time I checked the omnibuses are out of print and the collections still aren't available digitally.

They are slowly putting out the Omnibuses in softcover (so far I think only the first one or two are available), but the regular trades are still pretty easy to come by.
 

daniel_ream

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2017
Messages
406
Reaction score
377
What's so funny about Truth, Justice and the American Way? is probably the quintessential modern Superman story. Oddly, I think the OVA Superman vs. the Authority handles the story better.

The various Green Lantern Corps issues of Green Lantern and the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps titles are great space/cosmic SF.
 

Apparition

New Generation Grognard
Administrator
Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
1,898
Reaction score
2,370
FWIW, DC Comics made a liar out of me and finally began uploading collected editions of Starman to Comixology and Google Play Books a few days ago.
 

Dumarest

Vaquero de Alta California
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
9,775
Reaction score
16,589
...DC's legacy, from its very first costumed Vigilante (The Golden Age Sandman)...
Is that a change they made on purpose or an error? Because the Crimson Avenger was their first costumed vigilante in reality (Detective Comics #20, October 1938). Basically a poor man's Green Hornet predating any more original inventions.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
7,276
Reaction score
12,953
Is that a change they made on purpose or an error? Because the Crimson Avenger was their first costumed vigilante in reality (Detective Comics #20, October 1938). Basically a poor man's Green Hornet predating any more original inventions.

Its not a "real world" claim, its an in-universe decision (at least as of the cannon at the time of Starman's publishing, dont know how many reboots have happened since). IIRC Crimson Avenger showed up as a villain in Sandman Mystery Theatre.
 

Apparition

New Generation Grognard
Administrator
Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
1,898
Reaction score
2,370
Let's see. There was Infinite Crisis which was a small reboot on the order of Zero Hour. Then there was Final Crisis, which basically only redid Superman's origin for the nth time. Then there was Flashpoint/The New 52 in 2011 which was an extensive reboot. Then there was Convergence in 2015, which undid 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths... Then Rebirth in 2016, where no one knows what is in or out of continuity now, not even the DC Universe characters. Yeah, DC Comics continuity is pretty funked up right now.

It's one of the reasons why I like the Earth One graphic novel series. One or two small chunks of a whole new continuity a year.
 

David Johansen

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,108
Reaction score
1,119
A few by no other virtue than being my favorites:
Sandman by Neil Gaiman: I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison: Are we not proof that the universe is a drooling idiot with no fashion sense?
All Star Superman by Grant Morrison: You will believe a man can die.
The Warlord by Mike Grell: For Tara! <stab> For Joshua! <hack> For Me! <chop, slice, rip>
Hawk World by Tim Truman and John Osterander: As above, so below.
Watchmen by Alan Moore: Ipsos quo custodies
 

Apparition

New Generation Grognard
Administrator
Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
1,898
Reaction score
2,370
Legionnaires, Vol. 2 has been announced for April. It will collect the next twelve issues or so. So glad that DC Comics is finally collecting the 1994 - 2004 Legion of Super-Heroes run. The Legion of Super-Heroes 1994 reboot and Starman were the two best things to come out of Zero Hour IMO.
 

Endless Flight

Rise Above
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
4,428
Reaction score
8,009
I picked up Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo, Volume 3 a couple weeks ago. It's contains a bunch of his later Brave and the Bold, Batman and Detective work. He's definitely one of my three or four favorite Batman artists ever.
 

Dumarest

Vaquero de Alta California
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
9,775
Reaction score
16,589
I picked up Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo, Volume 3 a couple weeks ago. It's contains a bunch of his later Brave and the Bold, Batman and Detective work. He's definitely one of my three or four favorite Batman artists ever.
Love Jim Aparo...enough to read Batman and the Outsiders, even!
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
7,276
Reaction score
12,953
I picked up Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo, Volume 3 a couple weeks ago. It's contains a bunch of his later Brave and the Bold, Batman and Detective work. He's definitely one of my three or four favorite Batman artists ever.
After Denny O'Neil, I'd consider Aparo my favourite Batman artist...back when the character was the one I grew up with.
 

Endless Flight

Rise Above
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
4,428
Reaction score
8,009
Adams and Aparo have a similar style. It really helped set some continuity on how Batman looked for about twenty years. Add in Alan Davis, who was similar as well. Really great stuff in that era.
 

Endless Flight

Rise Above
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
4,428
Reaction score
8,009
Yes. I'm not a big fan of Todd McFarlane. He strikes me as an artist who takes a lot of shortcuts. He did an issue of G.I.Joe before getting his big shot at other stuff at Marvel like Spider-Man and it was terrible. They knew he couldn't do military characters and vehicles and never let him touch it again after that. I remember reading it as a kid and even thinking how bad it was following Rod Whigham's run.
 

Dumarest

Vaquero de Alta California
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
9,775
Reaction score
16,589
The great Bob Brown from the O'Neil/Adams era is criminally overlooked and underrated, too.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
7,276
Reaction score
12,953
Davis is one of my all time favourites His run on Excalibur was exceptional.

I have to sadly admit as a young kid I liked McFarlanes stuff on Spider-Man. It was exaggerated and different. It wasn't until my mid teens I started to see his work for what it is.
 

Endless Flight

Rise Above
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
4,428
Reaction score
8,009
Good art but hard to imagine an drawing that is less Batman in spirit!
I like covers that change the status quo. Like the above trade paperback where Batman is wielding a handgun. That would never happen in the comics (except in that trade, ha), but it's an exciting cover and makes fans go "what!???" Comic covers over the last twenty years have become very stale and boring, mostly just static shots of heroes and villains doing nothing except posing.
 
Top