Julie Schwartz said to Denny O Neil once, “Every Comic Book is the first issue for some reader.”
Back in.the 1960s, a comic book story that went beyond one issue was rare and many comic books contained more than one story. Yet these comic books were relatively easy to understand in standalone issues.
Nowadays stories routinely take more than one issue. And routinely some understanding of what happened before to this character is required to understand the issue.
We now have more than 23,000 comic book, how can a reader new to DC navigate through the library to find the best story arcs and coverage of most major characters?
This guide may help.
First is a listing of 13 historic comic book.issues that are still readable today and give a reader of what comic books were like in the beginning.
You can safely skip all these issues if you want and go to the next list.
13 Historical Golden Silver and Bronze Age Comic Book Issues.
00 1938 Action.Comic 1 Reprinted in Superman 1 below. First Appearance of Superman
01 1939 Detective Comics 27 First Appearance of Batman. See 1979 Detective Comics 471 to 476 by Steve Engleheart and Marshall Rogers and 1987 Batman Year One by Frank Miller on next list below
02 1939 Superman 1. Reprint the earliest Actipn Comics Issues containing Superman. See 1986 Man of Steel by John Byrne and 2015 Superman Lois and Clark
03 1940 Detective Comics 38 First Appearance of Robin with Batman.
04 1940 Batman 1 First Appearance of Joker and Catwoman
05 1941 All Star Comics 8. First Appearance of Wonder Woman. Skip the dated Justice Society stories and go to the back of the issue for the first Wonder Woman Story. See 1987 Wonder Woman by Perez and 2016 Wonder Woman Year One by Rucka Scott
06 1941 Sensation Comic 1 continues story from All.Star 8.
07 1942 Wonder Woman 1
08 1956 Showcase 4 First Appearance of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash. See Flash 123 for Short Origin
09 1958 Adventure Comics 247 First Appearance of the three founders of the Legion of Super Heroes, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, with Superboy. See 1994 Zero issues in Legion of Super Heroes and Legionaires for Origin without Superboy
10 1959 Action Comics 252 First Appearance of Supergirl. See 1996 Supergirl 75 to 80 by Peter David
11 1970 Comic Book Green Lantern Green Arrow 76 O’Neill Adams
12 1971 Comic Book Batman 232 “Daughter of the Demon” writer Denny O’ Neil and atist Neal Adams redefined the Batman from the campy figure in the 1966 Batman TV series into a dread avenger of the night. This story is one of the high points of their legendary run.
The next list is Recommendations for Best DC Stories
Comics must be in DC Library
There are two exceptions to this . One substitute is given for The Spectre while the other is a Vertigo Title with Death as the main character.
Stories are relatively short arcs of consecutive issues, which means leaving out any ‘Done in One’ stories including Batman stories by O Neill and Adams. Exception is Anatimy Lesson by Alan Moore.
Very few Year One and Oriigin stories, which csn be found elsewhere easily
Recommendations for Best DC Stories
01 1960 Brave and the Bold 30 Best of the early Justice League of America stories and Last tryout of the JLA before receiving their own book. Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman Cameos by Superman and Batman. First comic book I ever read. By Gardner Fox
02 1961 Brave and the Bold 34 36 42 43 44 Hawkman by Schwartz Fox Kubert. Hawkman and Hawkgirl are married police officers from the planet Thanagar
03 1961 Flash 123, 129, 137 and Justice League of America 21 22
Introductuced Earth 2 where the original 1940s Golden Age Flash and the Justice Society of America live.
Introduced the concept of parallel worlds and the Multiverse which existed until Crisis of infinite Earths in 1985.
04 1972 Swamp Thing by Wein and Wrightson
05 1974 Adventure Comics 431 to 440 The Spectre. Superhero as horror comic.Writer/Artist Mike Fleisher/Jim Aparo. Editor Joe Orlando, (Not in Library Substitute 1992 Spectre by Ostrander and Mandrake)
06 1976 All Star Comics 58 on revival of Justice Society of America on Earth 2 Introduces Power Girl. By Conway Wood.
07 1979 Detective Comics 471 to 476 Batman by Steve Engleheart and Marshall Rogers
08 1980 New Teen Titans By Wolfman and Petez. New characters Cyborg, Raven, Starfite. plus Dick Grayson,. Donma Troy, Wally West and Beast Boy from.Doom Patrol.
09 1984 All Star Squadron. Set in World War II on Earth 2 By Roy Thomas
10 1984 Saga of Swamp Thing 21 The Anatomy Lesson by Alan Moore
11 1986 Legends by John Byrne Shows the world after Crisis on Infinite Earths, where Dr Fate, Captain Marvel and Blue Beetle have always existed in the same world as Superman and Batman. FIrst time Darkseid is introduced as a major villain in the DC Universe, outside of Jack Kirby’s New Gods. Wally West in action as the new Flash and the new Suicide Squad has its first mission. Justice League is present as Justice League Detroit, including members Vixen, Vibe, Steel, Gypsy and Firestorm. Dr. Fate organizes The new Superman, Batman, The new Wonder Woman (first appearance), Captain Marvel, Guy Gardner, Black Canary, Beast Boy, Wally West Flash and the Blue Beetle to fight the forces ot Darkseid. Later Martian Manhunter is included. Most of these super heroes become the next Justice League.
12 1986 Man of Steel by John Byrne. Superman now sole survivor of Krypton. Gained powers after decades on Earth. So Supergirl and Superboy never existsed . Nowhere near as powerful.as previous version.
13 1987 Wonder Woman by Perez. This Diana is new to Man’s world. Not an experiencef super hero at all.
14 1987 Batman 404 to 407 Batman Year One by Miller and Mazzucchelli
15 1987 Justice League then Justice League International (JLI) with issue 7 by DeMatteis Griffen Inital members: Batman, Black Canary, Blue Beetle (Charlton), Captain Marvel (Fawcette), Doctor Fate (Earth 2), a female Dr. Light, Guy Gardner, Martian Manhunter, Mister Miracle. The comedic tone was Giffen’s idea, Booster Gold added. Guy Gardner was now a loutish hothead, Booster Gold was greedier and more inept than before, and Captain Marvel displayed a childlike personality… Captain Atom and Rocket Red #7 are added to the team by the United States and Russia respectively. Captain Marvel and Doctor Fate quit the team for personal reasons; Batman steps down as leader, appointing Martian Manhunter to replace him.
16 1987 Suicide Squad from issue 17 on. Villians forcrd by Amanda Waller to take on risky missions. Issue 23 has First Appeatance of Barbara Gordon as Oracle, disabled Computer Whiz. Skip Janus Dirrctive.
17 1993 Death High Cost of Living The Trade includes Death’s First Appearance in Sandman 8, 1991, Sound of Her Wings Neil Gaiman
(Not in library, available at Comixology or try Library or buy Graphic Novel trade)
18 1994 in the Zero Hour Crisis issue 61 of Legion.of Super Heroes (1989) , two sets of Legionaires gradually fade from existence For LSH ifans, issue 61 is both sad and triumphant.
The Legion storyline starts again in a clear entertaining way, with the origin of the LSH by its three founders in two books Legion of Super Heroes and Legionaires. Both titles start with a 0 issues, then alternate LSH 62 then Legionaires 19 then 63, 20, 64 21, 65, 22 etc.
19 1994 Aquaman in issue 2, Arthur loses a hand, which id replaced with a harpoon. His Long Hair and attitude influenced the Justice League and Aquaman movies decades later. This is the Start of Aquaman as a Bad Ass, No Longer a Joke Hero who could only last an hour outside water, and whose only power was to tslk to fish. By Peter David.
20 1996 Supergirl 75 to 80 by Peter David Linda Danvers Matrix Supergirl meets Silver Age Kara el Supergirl
21 1997 JLA the Original Big Seven return (Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern and Wally West as Flash) with epic plots. Grant Morrison.
22 1998 Young Justice Tim.Drske Robin, Conner Kent Superboy, Impulse And later Secret, Cassie Sandmark as Wonder Girl, Arrowette…By Peter David
23 2000 Planetary Warren Ellis John Cassidy The book’s primary concern is unearthing the confluence of influences that led to the idea of The Superhero as our modern culture now knows it. From Doc Savage to James Bond; the Lone Ranger, Green Hornet and The Shadow; Tarzan, noir Private Eyes and Fu Man Chu; 1950’s Sci-Fi B-Movies, Godzilla and Hong Kong action flicks; Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern; early Marvel comics, and more predominately, the work of Jack Kirby; the re-inventive, post-modern 1980’s DC comics work from English writers like Moore, Grant Morrision, Peter Milligan and company; all the way back to 19th century superhero precursors like Sherlock Holmes, Dracula and Frankenstein - - Ellis and Cassaday leave no stone unturned when it comes to excavating the heart of the superhuman myth as it existed in the 20th Century and continues to exist to this day.
24 2002 Global Frequency For Mature Adults Mission Impossible type stories with mostly new characters each issue Warren Ellis
25 2002 Hawkman Hawkman and Hawkgirl are now with their original 1940s origin of being reincarnated lovers through out all of history. This Hawkgirl is in her 20s and has no memory of their past lives together. By Geoff.Johns
26 2003 Teen Titans Young Justice mentored by New Teen Titans Geoff Johns
27 2004 DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke. Set in late 50s and early 60s. Golden Age Siuperman Batman and Wonder Woman and Origins of Silver Age Age Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter plus Flash at stsrt of his career. Restart with second issue if can’t get into first issue. Also there is an extra one shot issue which is very good.
28 2004 Birds of Prey issue 56 on. Black Canary and Barbara Gordon as Oracle work as a team . Later Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) and Lady Blackhawk, displaced from the 1940s, are added to team
29 2005 Villains United Limited Series by Gail Simone. Later Secret Six series, starring Catman and Deadshot
30 2006 A new Blue Beetle starts as Jamie Rayes, a teenage Hispanic character has an intelligent Scarab involuntarily inserted into his back, which gives him incomplete control of his new super powers.
31 2006 Shadowpact by Bill Willingham Nightmaster, Ragman,
Nightshade, Blue Devil, Enchantress and Detective Chimp.
32 2007 Justice Society. The New Age. Green Lantern Alan Scott, Flash Jay Garrick and Wildcat Ted Grant rebuild with New Members Stargirl, Cyclone, Liberty Belle, Hourman Damage Starman and more. Later Kingdom Come Superman
33 2008 Superman The World of New Krypton by Geoff Johns James Robinson and Sterling Gates
The city of Kandor now resides near the Fortress of Solitude in the North Pole, populated by 100,000 Kryptonians. Superman attempts to aid the Kryptonians in their assimilation with the rest of the Earth, something very few Kryptonians seem interested in, including the city’s leaders.
34 2009 Batgirl is Stephanie Brown by Byran Miller. Set in time when Bruce Wayme is presumed dead, Dick Grayson is Batman, Damien Wayne is Robin and Barbara Gordon is Oracle. The best of all Batgirl Books
35 2009 Power Girl by Amanda Conner
36 2009 Detective Comics 854 to 860 Batwoman Elegy by Rucka and Williams
37 2010 Zatanna by Paul Dini
38 2011 Aquaman by Geoff Johns Movie has some ideas taken from this first arc.
39 2011 Demon Knights. A Magnificent Seven defend village in Medieval.Times Members Etrigan the Demon, Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage, a trans Shining Knight Amazon Outcast, a Horse Woman and an Arab Inventor By Paul Cornell
40 2011 Frankenstein Agent of
S.H.A.D.E, plus the Creature Commandos, the Bride of Frankenstein and Ray Palmer by Jeff Lemire.
41 2011 Huntress mini series (Helena Wayne from Earth 2) followed in 2012 by series Worlds Finest with her and Power Girl on main Earth Paul Levitz
42 2013 Earth 2 17 on. New Super heroes from a world ravaged by Darkseid fight back including Thomas Wayne, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Aquawoman and a Zod, by Tom Taylor
43 2015 Superman Lois and Clark Introduction of Jon Kent, their son. Dan Jurgens followed by Superman Rebirth in 2016, by Tomasi followed by Super Sons.
44 2015 Titans Hunt 1960s Original Teen Titans by Dan Abnett followed by DC Universe Rebirth 1 then Titans Rebirth 2016
45 2016 DC Universe Rebirth 1 Geoff Johns Reboot of Universe to restablish old relatioships and revive legacy characters like Wally West, the Flash for several decades and Kid Flash before that.
46 2016 Wonder Woman Year One. Issues 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Rucka Scott
47 2016 Detective Comics Rebirth Tynion IV. Batman Batwoman Tim Drake Cassandra Caiin Stephanine Brown Clayface.
48 2016 Green Lanterns Rebrth Sam Humpries Jessica Cruz Simon Baz are rookie Green Lanterns.
49 2016 Flintstones Satire Mark Russell
50 2917 Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns Dr Manhattan of Watchmen has interfered with the History of the DC Universe, changing events. 1986 Watchmen is available as a Motion Comic in Vdeos. Main problem is thar one narrator does all voices, including females.
51 2018 T.he Terrifics Mr Terrific Metatmorpo Plastic Man Phantom Girl by Jeff Lemire
52 2018 Justice League Dark. Wonder Woman Zatanna Swamp Thing Man Bat Detective Chimp By Tynion
53 2018 Hawkman by Robert Venditti Hawkman reincarnates in Space and Time
54 2018 Justice League Odyssey Jessica Cruz From Issue 6 on .By Dan Abnett