Comics can be overwhelming – Where do you start? Superheroes? Independent publishers? The options are endless. That’s why I’m here! Last month I recommended 5 Graphic Novels for Newbies, this time around I’ll be tackling where to start with DC, and in the coming weeks I’ll be doing the same with Marvel. So let’s talk superheroes, shall we?
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1. Batgirl (New 52)
I’m a Marvel fangirl to a fault, so when I got sucked into Gail Simone’s Batgirl run I was surprised…and maybe a little disappointed in myself but it’s SO GOOD. This was my introduction into the DC Universe and It’s a fantastic place for newbies to start reading. Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl incorporates important events from iconic DC stories but does so in a way that it’s easy for new readers to pick up and run with. Any information that you may need…who is Barbara Gordon? Wait, she was in a wheelchair?…is seamlessly explained in the first volume, if not the first issue or two of the run. The nice thing about Batgirl is that you can read it separate from other New 52 stories but if you really enjoy it the arcs tie in with New 52 Nightwing and Batman.
After Simone’s run, Barbara Gordon was taken over by Cameron Stewart who added a little hipster twist to the Batgirl we know and love. Batgirl of Burnside is definitely different from what Simone did with the character but Stewart was able to smoothly transition Batgirl devotees over to the new look and feel, without too much effort. Batgirl of Burnside is what it says it is…a fresh start. I personally liked reading Stewart’s run after Simone’s just because the story does carry over in some ways but if you read Batgirl of Burnside first, I promise you don’t have to worry about getting too lost in the existing DCU either. If you’re a fan of cutesy YA novels with pop culture references and hipster hangouts but with some badass crime-fighting thrown in, this is where you should start.
“ This place has an impenetrable history. These old walls are built with even older stones. Every stone has a story… but not every story has a happy ending.”
- —Olive Silverlock, Gotham Academy (via DC Wikia)
I cannot say enough good things about Cloonan and Fletcher’s Gotham Academy. Following the story of Olive Silverlock as she attends Gotham Academy where things aren’t quite what they seem; bizarre rituals, mysterious fires, and supernatural beings, pfft…that’s just a typical day at GA.
Gotham Academy is unlike anything else in the DC Universe and it’s one of my go-to recommendations for newbies…or anyone really. While there are appearances from other DC characters (cameos really), and the occasional mention of a past DCU event or two, this series reads very much like a stand-alone comic. You can sit back, relax and enjoy this comic all on it’s own and you won’t feel pressured to read other DC titles if you don’t want to – this is honestly my pick for best entry point into reading DC. You get the feel of the current DC Universe but with a little more spunk, it’s a win-win situation really and you won’t regret picking this title up.
” Without warning it comes… crashing through the window of your study… and mine… I have seen it before… somewhere …it frightened me… as a boy… frightened me… yes, Father. I shall become a bat. “
— Bruce Wayne (Via DC Wikia)
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller is a great starting point for those who want to read Batman, or just enjoy classic superhero stories. This isn’t the typical Batman story though, it’s quite simply an origin story- one that introduces you to some of the most important characters and concepts in the Batman universe. We follow Bruce Wayne and James Gordon as they begin their careers as Gotham crime-fighters. James Gordon, starting his job at the GCPD realizes just how corrupt Gotham law enforcement is and devotes himself to straightening it out. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne returning to Gotham after twelve years, 18 years since the murder of his parents, is desperate to punish the criminals of Gotham. Year One won’t overwhelm you with things you don’t understand. If anything you’ll want to read more after finishing this comic and lucky for you many popular Batman titles tie in to some of the plot points, The Long Halloween and The Man Who Laughs to name a few.
4. Wonder Woman (New 52)
Brian Azzarello’s New 52 reboot of Wonder Woman serves as a great starting point for reading the character. The reboot brought about a whole new Diana, complete with a new origin story. Right from the start we learn that Diana’s mother – the queen of the Amazons, has been keeping the truth about Diana’s father from her. What everyone knows, including Diana about her history is now a lie, and one that has huge consequences when the truth comes out.
If you’re a newbie the series separates itself enough from Wonder Woman‘s past that you can read it without knowing much about her long history. Azzarello writes this new Wonder Woman narrative in a way that as a reader you feel like you’re learning about Diana along with her, and I think that’s a great way to be introduced to a character…especially an iconic one like Wonder Woman, as a new reader.
5. Justice League (New 52)
Geoff Johns gives the Justice League a whole new origin story to the Big 7 in his New 52 run. When Batman is faced with Darkseid set on destroying the world, he finds himself seeking help from the Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman, Cyborg, Aquaman and Green Lantern (but that doesn’t mean he trusts them) in order to save humanity. Like with Wonder Woman this kind of reboot gives newbies a great place to start reading. John’s outlines how the team comes together and the sacrifices they make in order to you know…do what superheroes do….save the world!
I’ve mentioned a lot of New 52 titles in this post, and while the New 52 can be fairly limited, and there are more iconic titles that are admittedly better; let’s face it, the DCU can be difficult to navigate. The New 52 provides origin stories and character introductions that separate themselves enough from previous events that a new reader won’t feel lost, but also leaves the door open should they wish to go back and read more.
I’ll admit I’m a bit of a DC newbie myself so I’d love to hear what DC titles you would recommend for new readers, leave your suggestions in the comments. I’ll be back soon with a Comics for Newbies: Marvel post too, so stay tuned!
P.S. In case you missed it I posted a camp themed Comics For… post over on IGGPPC this week, check it out!