Underrated Gems

What are some titles found on DC Universe that you think are great but no one else talks about?

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Nightwing the New Order.
Madame Xanadu.
Omega Men.
Huntress: Cry For Blood.
Justice League Cry For Justice
JSA the Golden Age.
JSA the Liberty Files: The Whistling Skull.
Black Canary & Green Arrow.

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Mystik U
Tiny Titans
Gotham Academy

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Underrated WildStorm titles

Underrated DC titles

  • Super Powers, volume 1. Jack Kirby’s little-known '80s gem.
  • Trinity of Sin: Pandora. A fun New 52 read starring a vastly underrated character.
  • Blackhawks. The New 52 iteration of the property and a wonderfully fun title, along with a principal antagonist that is deserving of more use.
  • OMAC. Another gem by Jack Kirby.
  • OMAC. The New 52 take on the above.
  • Justice League Elite. The best Justice League mini-series of the 21st century, so far. Writer Joe Kelly did no wrong with the Justice League in this book and in the regular JLA series that was concurrent to it.
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I, Vampire (2011). It was a New 52 launch title. Terrible timing to release. Looked like it was just trying to cally in on Twilight’s popularity. But it’s a very good horror book. It didn’t last long, so it’s a quick, great read.

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Talon by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV.
This was one of my favorite spin off titles. It was a great exploration of what a Talon from the Court of Owls would do if they basically defected. It also reminds me of the Goodwin/Simonson run of Manhunter.

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Grayson by Tom King. Easily one of the highlights of the New 52 for me.

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Hourman by Tom Peyer is simply put amazing

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I thoroughly enjoyed Gregg Hurwitz’s run on Batman: The Dark Knight (#10-29), which I’ve hardly ever seen anybody talk about. Scott Snyder’s Batman gets all of the attention from that era, but this run better hits my personal Batman sweet spot. Scarecrow, Mad Hatter and Clayface at their most brutal and sadistic, but also at their most… well, if not sympathetic, then understandable. The run delves deep into their psychologies and backstories to examine just what makes them tick and what turned them into the monsters that they are. Very thoughtful and very well-written, and also mostly disconnected from the other Batman continuity that was going on at the time, so it’s easy to pick up and read by itself. Highly recommended.

Pro tips for reading: Read #0 either first or after #15, and Annual #1 after #21. Otherwise, they’ll interrupt the stories that they were published during. #23.1-#23.4 can be skipped, since they were Forever Evil tie-ins that weren’t written by him.

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The 1988 Starman series has been almost completely overshadowed by the 1994 series, but it deserves a second look. At least, the first half does. It’s really a tale of two series. Two runs, actually, that almost neatly divide the series in half. But it’s the first half of the series, by Roger Stern and Tom Lyle (with Dave Hoover taking over the art duties for the last few issues) that’s the underrated gem. It’s a wonderfully humanistic story about Will Payton, an average guy with a good heart who is unexpectedly gifted with massively powerful abilities beyond his wildest imaginings. Much focus is placed on Will’s family, home life, and the struggles he faces learning about and adapting to his incredible new powers. It’s beautifully written and beautifully drawn, and does one of my favorite things that a superhero series can do by focusing on the hero’s personal relationships (all of which are perfectly, realistically written) while sometimes even eschewing the “fight of the month” (that last part may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is very much mine). It also uses female characters in a unique way: the main supporting characters are Will’s mother, sister and friend/boss. Will basically doesn’t have a love interest during the run, which I found pretty refreshing for a comic of that time. Issues #1-25 tell a complete story, with #26-27 serving as an epilogue introducing David Knight, the son of the original Starman, who I understand is an important character in the 1994 series (yeah, yeah, I haven’t read it yet; I’m getting to it). #28 is basically a Superman issue that was slotted into the Starman series, but that’s where the Stern run ends. Overall, it’s one of my favorite runs that I’ve read yet in my now three years of reading comics.

The Len Strazewski run that follows, however, starting at issue #29, is a different matter entirely. Nearly everything that made the Stern run charming and wonderful is jettisoned immediately, and the characterization of all of the regular characters is just completely off, for Will Payton most especially. Will’s mother and sister are pushed aside and forgotten about entirely by the end, and Will himself turns into a quippy, empty-headed stock comic book character, and a bit of a horndog, pursuing multiple women at once. Again, completely different from Stern’s run, where it was nice to see a young male character from the late '80s/early '90s who had something other than sex on the brain. The series itself turns into standard, meaningless “fight of the month” crap, with no overarching story, and no thoughtfulness whatsoever. And don’t even get me started on Starman #35, one of the single worst comic issues that I’ve ever read. By the time Lobo shows up and he and Starman and Eclipso are having a random brawl on the moon at the end of the series, everything that made the series fantastic has been wiped away. Watching this series go from the thoroughly enjoyable Stern/Lyle run to the exceedingly basic and off-putting Strazewski run is one of the greatest disappointments that I’ve experienced in my time reading comics.

All that said, I still highly recommend checking out the Stern run. Issue #27 (with #28 optional, only if you’re also reading that Superman storyline) is a perfect place to stop and you get a complete story, without the bad taste that was left in my mouth by the Strazewski run.

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Earth 2 : World’s End and SocietyWorld’s End traumatized me…