It would be a crime to not know about DC Comics. So, We have curated the Top 10 best DC Comic Storylines to read.
It would be a crime to not know about DC Comics. Who hasn’t heard of Superman, Batman, and the Justice League? First published in 1937 from their Manhattan office, DC Comics have since then come a long, long way. If you didn’t already know, DC stands for Detective Comics, and it was founded by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. The company launched Action Comics featuring Superman and Detective Comics featuring Batman to critical reception, etching their legacy that continues until the date with much splendor.
Throughout their existence, from its Golden Age to the Time Warner unit, DC has come up with some thrilling stories. They do not shy away from narrating difficult plot structures and getting their superheroes to the brink of destruction and torment. We have curated the Top 10 best DC Comics to read. So, let’s begin!
Best DC Comics of All Time!
10. Blackest Night
Comic books’ obsession with zombies is the stuff of legend, and the Blackest Night saga takes this concept to a whole new level. Hal Jordan (Green Lantern for sector 2814) is the center point for this story. He is part of the Green Lantern Corps, a universal peacekeeping force that wields green projective rings powered by willpower.
On Oa, the Green Lantern Corps base, there is prophecy contained in a sacred book, foretelling the arrival of the Blackest Night. And soon enough, the prophetic event begins. Nekron, an embodiment of death, travels around resurrecting dead superpowered beings and creating a Black Lantern Corps.
He enlists the dead members of the Justice League – Batman, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Arrow, etc. Nekron has a master plan to wipe out life from the universe, and only one man can stop him – Hal Jordan.
Blackest Night was received warmly by critics for its intricate storyline revolving around emotions (because emotions power individual Lantern Corps). Hal Jordan’s rise to popularity is owed heavily to this saga. This saga was followed by the Brightest Day storyline, which is also a good read.
Alan Moore’s genius story – Watchmen was published by DC in 1986 on a monthly basis. This comic based on the Cold War anxiety subsisting during its publication and was intended to be a satire. The setting is an alternate reality where superheroes, called the Watchmen, helped actively change US history by winning wars for the government.
In 1985, these superheroes are outlawed and unwelcome because of the Keene Act, forcing them to retire and live normal lives alongside citizens. Outlining this setting is the constant creeping of the world towards World War III; the Doomsday Clock nears its end.
The comic begins with the murder of Edward Blake and a vigilante called Rorschach investigating it. Having concluded that someone is killing off superheroes, Rorschach enlists the help of his fellow Watchmen – Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and Ozymandias. What follows is a dark road towards total annihilation and some really gruesome secrets.
Watchmen challenged the mainstream comic storylines of the time by presenting a dystopian setting and expertly crafting a story out of it. Watchmen blurs the lines between heroes and villians, with both sides playing the morally good and bad roles. The comic presents a rather unique outlook on superheroes – Who will watch the Watchmen themselves?
With the release of Watchmen, DC overtook Marvel in sales for a short period of time. Time Magazine called the comic ‘the best of breed,’ while BBC called the time this comic was published as ‘the time comic books grew up.’ Watchmen is still considered among the Top 100 comic books of all time.
8. Death of Superman
Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shushter in 1938 and paved the way for, probably, the most popular superhero ever created. Clark Kent’s origin story as the last Kryptonian brought up by Smallville farmers is as legendary as its popularity. Superman can be called as the archetype of a superhero.
In the Death of Superman storyline, DC took an ambitious turn to kill their beloved hero. Doomsday arrives to Earth and begins rampaging. The Justice League members try to stop him, but they are easily overpowered by Doomsday, who is unfazed by everything that is thrown at him. Finally, Superman enters the fray and manages to throw Doomsday on the Project Cadmus mountain. They fight in Metropolis, where the epic conclusion plays out.
Death of Superman was followed by the Reign of Supermen, which is also a great story to follow. Death of Superman was critically acclaimed as fans did not know whether Superman was going to return, which created much aplomb among the readers.
7. Long Halloween
DC fans would have recognized the influence of the Long Halloween saga in the new Robert Pattinson Batman movie. Long Halloween was created by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale as a 13-issue comic series, depicting the early years of Batman’s reign as a masked vigilante in Gotham. It also sets the rise of Batman’s rogue gallery, especially Two Face (Harvey Dent).
The story begins with an enigmatic person called Holiday murdering well-known personalities in Gotham. The killings take place only on holidays, each month. Additionally, Batman, District Attorney Harvey Dent, and Captain Jim Gordon enter into a pact to dismantle Carmine Falcone’s reign in Gotham. However, when Holiday kills Johnny Viti, Falcone’s nephew, leaving behind an untraceable pistol and a jack-o-lantern as clues, The Dark Knight has no choice but to enter into detective mode (did you understand that Arkham game series reference?!).
Long Halloween reinforces the idea that Batman is foremost a detective, and it proves that putting the Caped Crusader into a criminal mystery saga creates an awesome story worth re-reading again and again. This is a true noir story. Long Halloween received immense applause by critics and readers and is considered the best Batman story written.
The Flashpoint explores the realm of alternate realities (not parallel universes, mind you) through the eyes of the Fastest Man Alive – Barry Allen. Written by Geoff Johns, Flashpoint alters the DC Universe, paving the way for New 52. This comic was adapted into a film – Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox, and the third season of CW’s Flash is based on this story.
Barry Allen wakes up to not having any superpowers. His mom Nora is alive and well, instead of being dead. And there is no Justice League; Captain Cold, the Flash’s villain, is a celebrated hero of Central City. Barry soon realizes that he is in an alternate reality, a reality that he may have created through his own actions. This new reality, however, is bleak – with Atlanteans and Amazonians at war, Thomas Wayne as a gruesome murdering Batman, and Superman as a guinea pig in a laboratory. It is up to Barry to fix the timeline.
Flashpoint dissolved the earlier DC universe and created a new timeline for the heroes’ adventures – the New 52. The comic saga is a den for science nerds (all Flash comics are, usually) but it also delves deeper into alternate realities and tells a wonderful story.
5. The Killing Joke
Bob Kane and Bill Finger were made legends after creating the Batman, but it is their creation of the maniacal, psychopathic Joker that made them comic Gods. Joker is simply the best villain ever created. The green-haired, acid-scarred Clown Prince of Crime can drive actual Gods to insanity (like he did to Superman in the Injustice Saga).
The Killing Joke tells the story of Joker’s origins while driving a parallel story of him paralyzing Barbara Gordon and terrorizing Jim Gordon. The comic is also known for its iconic cover photo of the Joker dressed as a tourist, with a point-and-shoot camera.
The Killing Joke tries to explain Joker’s history; of a time before he fell into the vat of acid. It is written by none other than the brilliant Alan Moore, who wanted to explore the mirror identities of the Batman and Joker – the aphorisms of ‘one bad day away from being insane.’
The Killing Joke won the Eisner Award for the Best Graphic Album in 1989, with critics calling it the best Joker story. The action-packed comic was praised for its humanity and reformative aspects.
4. Crisis on Infinite Earths
The idea behind creating this massive saga was to unify all the multiverses into a single DC universe, and the writer – Marv Wolfman, and penciller – George Perez did their job spectacularly. The Crisis on Infinite Earths was hailed as a massive success for DC, who went on to seal their place in creating the first massive superhero saga. It was also known for killing many of its main heroes, like the Flash and Supergirl.
A wave of antimatter energy is sweeping and destroying universes. The heroes unite and travel to each universe to halt the spread of this antimatter, which results in severe clashes across the multiverse. The battles converge to reveal the identity of the Anti-Monitor as the main super villain. Due to fractions in reality, a different Antimatter Universe is created. The Anti-Monitor transports the new Earth to this universe, where the climactic battle takes place.
DC realized that the multiverse concept that they had introduced soon became a convoluted mess and presented huge complexities for writers to maintain continuity in storytelling. The Crisis on Infinite Earths was written precisely to tackle this difficulty and bring forth one universe. The saga was an instant bestseller, being titled as the story that saved the company from crisis.
3. The Dark Knight Returns
Zack Snyder directed the Dawn of Justice movie, where he pitted Batman against Superman. While the movie showed the battle shoddily, its main influence – The Dark Knight Returns, doesn’t disappoint one bit. The story spreads out over a four-part-comic, written by Frank Miller, and it begins with a boom – a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne returning to the vigilante fold and taking on the mantle of Batman.
With the gang called ‘the Mutants’ terrorizing Gotham and its citizens, old-man Batman decides to hit them with an iron fist. His return isn’t a smooth transition since he retired a decade ago. You can see Batman struggling with his ninja moves as agility comes to him with difficulty. Meanwhile, because the Batman is declared an outlaw, the government commissions Superman (a bureaucratic pawn), to confront his old friend and bring him in. This leads to a confrontation between both the superheroes, with Batman showcasing some of his best combat strategies.
The Dark Knight Returns was initially sold at $2.95 a copy, and the creators weren’t expecting much publicity for the story. However, today, many critics rank this comic at No 1. in their best comics list. It is widely considered as the best Batman story.
2. Justice League: The Darkseid War
This saga is the last for the Justice League in the New 52, after which the universe was rebooted for DC Rebirth. Justice League: The Darkseid War is a story told on a monumental scale, featuring almost the entire DC Universe superheroes. The comic series was heavily praised all around for its plot and action. The best-selling point of this comic is that it handles the complex events of the war without losing focus and becoming hazy for the readers.
The saga begins with the Anti-Monitor killing off Metron and stating that he wants a war with Darkseid. This soon comes to fruition, as the two Gods face off on none other place than – Planet Earth. The Justice League are left protecting the fragile planet from the destruction that these two behemoths create in their wake. However, they soon realize that something more is afoot – someone has sinister plans behind enabling war between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and it revolves around the Anti-Life Equation.
The Darkseid War brings about two of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe and pits them against each other. It also creates some epic moments – like the Batman taking over the Mobius Chair and becoming the God of Knowledge, the Flash binding himself with the Black Racer, and the Justice League teaming up with the Crime Syndicate.
1. Injustice: Gods Among Us
Imagine Marvel’s Civil War, but on a much bigger scale and timeline; the Injustice Saga volumes spread over five years, and the story continues with the massively successful video game of the same name. The comic was written by Brian Bucchellato and Tom Taylor and explores the ‘What If’ of Superman descending into villainy and total authority.
Superman desperately searches for Lois Lane, who is kidnapped by the Joker and Harley Quinn. When he is sprayed with Scarecrow’s fear toxin, Superman accidentally punches Lois Lane into space and kills her (this tells you to not underestimate Batman’s rogue gallery). The catch is, Lois is pregnant with Superman’s child, who also dies.
Mortified and filled with grief, Superman snaps and decides that he needs to take control of the planet’s administration. He breaks the League’s no-kill policy by wrenching Joker’s heart from his body, while Batman shockingly looks on. This event breaks the Justice League apart, with individual members taking either Superman’s side or Batman’s side.
In this comic, you will see Batman at his moral best and Superman at his maddest (but somewhere, you will feel that he does make sense). The Injustice: Gods Among Us saga was followed by Injustice 2, that brings the heroes together to fight Brainiac, only to culminate in a final Batman v. Superman battle. Injustice was received a plethora of awards and acclaimed praise from readers and critics.
There you go- The best DC Comics of all time. If you have read any of these comics, you should know how good these are and if you haven’t read them yet, we highly recommend you try reading them.
So, do you think these are the best DC Comics as per your experience? Or do you think any other comics should deserve a spot on the list? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
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