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Best DC Comics to start with for new readers

Whether you’re wanting to get into Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, or any superhero either in the Justice League or out of it, you’ll need the right starter comics for getting into DC. Backstory, reboots, resets, parallel universes and varying timelines – it can be a lot, but it’s worth it if you can find that easy way in with a good read with all the necessary details.

That’s where we come in to help. In our guide below we’ll show you all the easiest comic stories and arcs to find your way into DC comics, whoever your favourite character is, as well as some basic info on DC itself. This is also part of our larger celebrations of World Book Day, where we’ll be checking out all the best deals for your reading habits!

How to Get into DC Comics

If you’re struggling to get into DC Comics, that’s more than fair. It’s not easy to get into any big franchise with a big history, and though it’s absolutely worth the effort, we can’t blame you if you feel a bit intimidated or put off. Fortunately, there’s some cheat codes and easy solutions to that. For one thing, check out our piece on the best Marvel Comics, as the guidelines and tips we put there are also great when it comes to DC too! Once you know those, all you need to do is pick one of the comics listed below and you’ll be off. Oh, and a quick, wild history lesson first.

DC Comics History

So here’s the thing: DC has often tried to simplify or fix elements of their history for the sake of readers with big, cosmic events or time-control events. So whereas Marvel – for better or worse – is generally one long timeline that remains largely consistent, DC will occasionally reboot or reset their multiverse with some changes, often designed to make it easier for new readers. Problem is, the result is that now there’s a big, looping history that twists and reverses and changes and can seem more bewildering than ever. Fortunately, we’ve laid out some of the biggest markers below, when they were published, and what you need to know about them.

DC Comics Timeline of Major Events

Action Comics 1

  • 1938: First Appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1

DC’s universe wasn’t initially planned, it arose naturally as more and more comics were written under the same company, and little crossovers and team-ups became the norm. And all this began with Superman in the first ever issue of Action Comics in 1938, kickstarting “the golden age of comics” and leading to decades of DC and multi-generational heroics.

  • 1961: The Flash #123, “Flash of Two Worlds”

In the 1950s and 60s DC were remaking a lot of their old heroes in a more modern, sci-fi style, but this was leading to a lot of bemused questions from fans. Why were there two guys called Superman? Why was one Green Lantern a man in an opera cape, and another was a space cop? The multiverse had been referenced and alluded to before, but here was where it began properly, as an explanation to these kinds of questions. There was more than one universe, with duplicates of different heroes! A whole multiverse of heroes and villains was built off the back of this, with the main two realities being referred to as “Earth One” and “Earth Two.”

  • 1985: Crisis on Infinite Earths

This is the big one; the crossover event so huge that it split DC in half, with fans referring to everything before and after as being “Pre-Crisis” or “Post-Crisis”. Structured as both a celebration of DC’s history, as well as a complete rebuilding and streamlining of their lore, it redefined everything.  Even the tagline went “worlds will live, worlds will die, and nothing will ever be the same.” It certainly lived up to that message: all the multiverse was shattered, rebuilt and merged together, erasing everything down to one reality that was pretty much beginning anew. Most of the comics that came afterwards were reboots of classic heroes’ origins, setting a firm history to work from, and even though the wider multiverse would return two decades later in the sequel event, Infinite Crisis, now we had a firm core universe that everything was centred on, and a firm history to go with it. At least until…

  • 2011: Flashpoint/The New 52

Yes, we’re back to the Flash again. Wanting to recreate the success of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC rebooted their whole reality when Barry Allen runs back in time and changes a bunch of things by accident. He puts it back as best he can, but the result was the New 52: a whole new wave of comics that, again, reset and retold all the big hero’s stories and began them anew. This was the new status quo forever!

  • 2016: Convergence/DC Rebirth

Well, for about five years, at least. Convergence is a grand, complicated ol’ story of reality being mangled and unmangled, but the result was the full restoration of the DC multiverse and the recreation of the pre-Flashpoint timeline. Nothing from the New 52 was erased, but now there was just a New 52 universe, and the previous Post-Crisis universe next to that. I guess it’s the best of both worlds when there’s literally two worlds in play.

Best Starter Comic for Superman: The Man of Steel (1986)

Superman DC starter comic

In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC began to rebuild and renew all their heroes, starting from the basics, and John Byrne’s renowned telling of Clark Kent’s origins is a perfect beginning for that. It sets all the big elements of the Superman mythos into play with a fun, light-hearted tone, and helped establish the Last Son of Krypton’s origins in a way that’d define the legendary hero for decades.

Afterwards, why not try:

Best Starter Comic for Batman: Batman: Hush (2002)

Batman DC starter comic

There’s no shortage of Batman comics to leap onto, but few of them are as expansive as Batman: Hush, which introduces many characters, but also tells an entirely fresh story that works on its own. Aside from Jim Lee’s artwork being achingly good, it’s a mystery story about an unknown figure sabotaging Batman’s efforts by collaborating with numerous other villains. Each individual issue focuses on Bruce and one of his supporting cast, giving a great sense of the scope of Batman’s world and introducing you to all the people in it. It’s also got one of the very few examples of a Superman/Batman fight that doesn’t come across as completely ridiculous and contrived, and that is an achievement, if nothing else.

Afterwards, why not try:

Best Starter Comic for Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman: Gods and Monsters (1987)

Wonder Woman DC starter comic

George Pérez’s run is considered one of the great eras of Wonder Woman. Like The Man of Steel, it’s a follow-on from Crisis on Infinite Earths, but Pérez’s work carried on beyond a simple retelling of Diana’s origins into a vast epic of mythology that spanned the DC universe and back again. Wonder Woman’s origins have always changed across the era – from god to demigod to ambitious pottery project – but the core of the character is set in stone and the reason why Diana has been an icon for all this time.

Afterwards, why not try:

Best Starter Comic for Aquaman: Aquaman Rebirth: The Drowning (2016)

Aquaman DC starter comic

Aquaman is many things – hero, warrior, outcast, king – but here in the wake of the Convergence event and the Rebirth relaunch, we see him as something new: an ambassador. Working to build relationships between Atlantis and humanity, all of Arthur and Mera’s work is put under threat when a mysterious force begins trying to sabotage matters with a series of planned attacks. It’s a fun, quietly clever book that does respect to all the characters and effortlessly introduces Atlantis to humanity – us included.

Afterwards, why not try:

Best Starter Comic for the Flash: Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus (1956)

Flash DC starter comic

Flash stuff is a little complicated: there’s three characters all with a claim to being THE Flash. There’s Jay Garrett and his tin helmet in the forties, Barry Allen as the most famous Flash in the 50s onwards, and his nephew Wally West taking over when Barry died in Crisis on Infinite Earths (don’t worry, he got better later on). If you’re talking iconic though, Barry is considered by most to be the definitive Flash, and there’s no better way to get why than starting with his beginnings in 1956, as well many of his famous villains in the follow-up issues.

Afterwards, why not try:

Best Starter Comic for Green Lantern: Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn (1989)

Green Lantern DC starter comic

The Green Lantern mythos is a massive, crazy idea: a whole organization of cosmic law enforcement using weaponised courage channelled through jewellery, all as part of a whole spectrum of harnessed, colour-themed emotions. With all that in mind, best start from the beginning. Emerald Dawn is the retelling of Hal Jordan, the first Green Lantern’s origins (there’s been about five or six Earth-born Lanterns total since then), in his journey from cocky test pilot to… er, cocky superhero.

Afterwards, why not try:

Best Starter Comic for Green Arrow: Green Arrow: The Archer’s Quest (2001)

Green Arrow DC starter comic

Many of you probably know Oliver Queen simply as “Arrow” after the TV show, but the bones are pretty similar: a rich industrialist who, after being stranded in a shipwreck, teaches himself mastery of the bow and returns to civilisation as the vigilante hero styled after Robin Hood, known as the Green Arrow. The Archer’s Quest is a perfect way to find out about Ollie’s history, a walk through his past as he goes looking for old memorabilia and treasures tied to his identity.

Afterwards, why not try:

Best Starter Comic for Harley Quinn: Batman: Harley Quinn (1999)

Harley Quinn DC starter comic

From villain to antihero to icon, Harley Quinn first appeared in the 90s animated Batman show, but was popular enough to be brought into the comics continuity. In fact, we see how that’s done right here, in a story that outlines her history, her character, and her lasting connection with Poison Ivy, the impact of which we’re still seeing in comics now. Harley’s history itself is split into two halves: being with the Joker and moving beyond him midway through the New 52, turning into an independent character with her own agenda. Whichever phase you find her in, Harley’s always dangerously enjoyable to read.

Afterwards, why not try:

Best Starter Comic for Justice League: Justice League International (1987)

Justice League DC starter comic

There’ve been a hundred different versions of the Justice League, with different names, line-ups and causes, but perhaps the most enjoyable is Giffen’s acclaimed run on the team from the late eighties. With many of the most popular heroes unavailable, Batman forms a new version of the League, largely using B-lister heroes like Guy Gardner, Mister Miracle and Doctor Fate. The tone was light and comedic, with many readers fondly remembering the bumbling bromance between Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, which carries on in DC to this very day. It’s probably not the perfect representation of the Justice League, not with how goofy it gets (or how certain characters feel like caricatures of themselves), but it’s fun and fresh, and determined to make you enjoy yourself no matter what.

Afterwards, why not try:

There you have it – a whole multiverse of comics to be starting with, with hundreds more beloved characters beyond that, from the New Gods to Swamp Thing to the Teen Titans to Zatanna to Animal Man and more! Of course, you can always check out our Marvel page to see our equivalent list of starter comics, or remember to head to the Jelly Deals Twitter page for up-to-the-minute info on the best deals across the internet!

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