DC Comics Recommendations
Biff here and now that the holidays are over and everyone is reeling from all the joy and the presents that were spread around now we have to accept the fact that the winter season has only just begun. We had such a great time recommending things during the 12 Days Of Geeks-Mas we decided to give you a little more.
If you don’t know, all my comic allegiance goes to Marvel…it always has. It’s what I started with and what I picked back up on (except for a brief in between period where Image Comics ruled my life). The Marvel universe just feels comfortable to me. Even for the 15+ years I wasn’t reading comics, things may have changed but it was easy to dive back into. I know the characters, I know the history, I’ve formed bonds with them. To me it always seemed that since a lot of DC’s flagship characters were created in the 1940’s and 50’s they always seemed a little more dated and dull compared to the bulk of the Marvel characters that were created in the 60s.
I’ve read exactly three DC books, Watchmen, Batman: Year One and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, all of which I enjoyed. I’ve never read any Superman but I do have a copy of Allstar Superman and Superman: Red Son at home waiting for me. When I heard the premise of Red Son I was intrigued enough that I had to pick it up.
That’s it, that’s the entire extent of my DC reading. Obviously, I know about other prominent characters in the universe but nothing in great detail. So we figured we would let our in house DC experts Big Evil, Martian Luthor Kang and Arthur Harkness recommend some series and trade paperbacks for me.
hmmmm…..so Biff is a DC noob and needs some schooling’, huh? OK, I’ll oblige rook! Although I enjoy books from both of the Big 2 companies, DC has always held that special place in my heart. Many people think DC heroes are lame because all that they remember is Super Friends but they are pretty awesome, you just gotta know what to read. Here’s a good start noob…
The Golden Age by James Robinson and Paul Smith
The Golden Age was a 1993 4-issue limited series that has been collected in trade paperback form. It’s one of DC’s Elseworlds stories. (Elseworlds was a line inside DC comics that took place outside of continuity. The concept was somewhat similar to Marvel’s What If stories, except the What If stories generally diverted from a certain point in Marvels continuity. Basically there was a zig instead of a zag…What if Gwen Stacey Lived! What if Magneto formed the X-Men? Those were typical in the What If stories. Elseworlds differed in the idea that the story took place in a completely imaginary world, an alternate reality if you would, and the only familiar piece of the story would be the characters, although they usually remained in and of themselves. Cool concept, and they worked out quite well as a whole!) This story centers on DC’s Golden Age heroes (Justice Society, All-Star Squadron, Manhunter, Etc.) after they have returned from WWII. One of them returns a war hero and becomes a Senator and as we all know power corrupts, but political power corrupts absolutely! (I joke…) As the heroes try to adjust to life back home some of they become prey to The McCarthy hearings, and everything goes to hell from there. It’s a solid read and you can really go in knowing nothing about any of these characters and really enjoy whats going on!
JSA: The Liberty Files by Dan Jolley and Tony Harris
This is another out-of-continuity story that re-imagined heroes that we know as spies in the 1940’s. We are introduced to “The Unholy Three” which is a group comprised of The Bat, The Clock, and The Owl. Their job is essentially to find a man by the name of Jack the Grin, a smuggler with information of an unidentified German super weapon! The series is great because it combines the superheroes that you know and love with that 1940’s spy vibe that makes for an amazing story. It’s a must read!
Geoff Johns’ Flash and Green Lantern Runs
In my opinion, Geoff Johns has re-defined the DC Superhero and although he has worked on Superman and the Justice League, he really gave us an amazing representation of The Flash. Most people don’t really get Flash other than the fact that he is a really fast guy and Johns changed that about the character. In essence, he slowed him down and made him someone that you could relate to, just like Peter Parker, Johns made The Flash the everyman of the DCU. The characterization that he gave not only to Wally West, but the supporting cast as well makes for immensely enjoyable reading in the small stories and the overarching story arc that Johns set up…its a necessary read!
Along with The Flash, Johns went ahead and re-defined the entire concept of Green Lantern. He started by bringing back Hal Jordan and actually explaining to readers what the hell happened to him. Then he rebuilt the GL Corps and rather than just giving GL some crap-ass villains like Sonar to fight, he went ahead and made different Corps for all the different colors of the visual spectrum. This War of Light all lead up to the huge stories of Blackest Night and Brightest Day and is still continuing in GL books to this day. Along with The Flash, these books re-defined the characters in the universe and made you understand just how important the GL Corps was to the DCU!
MARTIAN LUTHOR KANG
So, you want to read a DC book? While Biff took a power nap at the Evil Kitchenette table one afternoon, I helped myself to a brain tissue sample and scanned it into a recommendation generator of my own invention: The Recommendulator 2600. Its methods are not entirely dissimilar to those of internet radio website Pandora.
1) Based on your enjoyment of Watchmen and your piqued interest in mainstream DC I would recommend the collection entitled DC UNIVERSE: THE STORIES OF ALAN MOORE. It contains a little of everything from every corner of the DC universe as it was in the 80s. You have several clever Green Lantern tales, a few touching Superman stories, the famous Killing Joke Batman one-shot, and it’ll introduce you to characters like Vigilante and the Phantom Stranger. If possible, shoot for the older printing of the softcover instead of the more recent hardcover. The one on the left (as displayed below) omits the Wildstorm stories which, while the best of that line, are not essential reading. It will also help you to up your quotient of sweet, sweet Alan Moore beard.
2) Based on your interest in Red Son’s premise of baby Superman crash landing elsewhere, The Recommendulator 2600 suggests JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NAIL. It’s a very neat concept… it won’t be spoiling anything except the first few pages to tell you that, due to a flat tire, the Kents don’t cross paths with that crashed rocket and the DC Universe is wildly different because of this. It’s a world without a Superman, a world where the rest of the Justice League doesn’t get to take him for granted, and it’s one of my favorite DC Elseworlds tales. And all of that before we even touch on the art. Alan Davis is, in my opinion, the perfect match for Silver Age DC designs.
His anatomy is flawless, his faces convey deep emotion, he can handle the massive scope of the entire Green Lantern Corps but adeptly handles the microscopic adventures of the Atom. The sequel JUSTICE LEAGUE: ANOTHER NAIL is fun as well, but involves a much grander cast and might be better left for when you’re a bit more familiar.
3) Based on your appreciation of the possible future presented in The Dark Knight Returns as well as the artwork of Alex Ross, Recommendulator 2600 suggests KINGDOM COME. This story, written by DC history buff Mark Waid and beautifully illustrated by Alex Ross, offers a glimpse at what is to come for the characters of the DC Universe. All of the popular characters are prominently featured, but between Ross’ habit of filling backgrounds with Easter Eggs and Waid’s encyclopedic knowledge of the world in which it is set, you’re also going to see the most obscure characters you could happen across in your Wikipedia travels.
So my good friend Biff asked me a little while ago to come up with some suggestions for some good DC books to read. That’s a tall order my friend. With the amount of books and years spent into DC, it is rather difficult to just pick a few. However, I did find some that I think my fellow geeks will enjoy. These should be relatively easy to find, but if not, there’s always other routes to acquiring them. Here we go!
1) Dark Knight Dark City: I was perusing the internet a while ago and came across a list of little known but really good Batman stories. being a fan of Batman, I decided to look into it. Now anyone who knows me knows that I love the Riddler. I find him to be vastly underestimated in terms of brilliance and sheer craziness. I happened upon a title starring both the Bat, and the master of riddles. Dark Knight Dark City brings the Riddler into the forefront as a legitimate villain, and paints him as a bonified monster. Luring ol’ Batsy into an old part of Gotham and into a series of mind games with the prize being an innocent child’s life. I won’t go into too much detail as I do not want to give away any important bits of the story, but you should really check it out. The conclusion will leave you wondering if the supernatural really does play a role in Gotham.
2) Justice League: Cry For Justice: When is being just a Hero not enough? When all goes wrong and people die, yet the bad guys always get away, where is the justice? Where is the super happy conclusion? Why do bad things happen to good people? When a person loses something very dear to them in a horrible fashion, what does said person seek? Justice. Pure and simple. when a group of men/women/and an ape declare they want Justice for all the crimes and horrible things that they have endured, by Odin they will have it. Collecting a series of comics starring the Justice League (also starring one of my favorite villains, will not give the name for spoilers sake.) , Cry For Justice is a beautifully drawn tale of heroes feeling broken yet needing to do what is right to save everyone from an elaborate (and quite dastardly ) plan cooked up by one of DC’s finest villains. I really enjoyed the story and characters involved, and thought everything was nicely done. Feel free to disagree with me, but don’t until you get a chance to read it.
3) Rogue’s Revenge: As part of the Final Crisis event, the Flash’s rogue’s gallery got a bit of spotlight shone unto them. I really enjoyed this short series because it gave the Rogue’s a very humanized aspect to them. They don’t do drugs, and will kick your ass if you do. They have a sense of honor, albeit evil honor if that makes sense, and they take care of their own. Cross them, and there will be hell to pay. Just ask Inertia. I really enjoyed this based on the fact that when it all seems like the villains are going to win and rule the world, they tell Libra and the group of baddies and miscreants recruited to join Darkseid to essentially go fuck themselves. I laughed so hard and got so enamored with these characters because of that statement that I couldn’t stop reading. A return, a flash of yellow, and a zoom later the Rogue’s make good on a promise they made to themselves, and a man you would think they would rather just avoid at all costs. By the end, you will be a fan of Captain Cold and the rest of the Rogues.
Happy Holidays and Good Reading kiddies!
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