DC Comics Reading Order

Ever since I started Comic Book Herald the blog has been extensively Marvel Comics focused. This is largely because Marvel is my first love. I grew up on Spider-Man and X-Men animated cartoons, yet somehow NEVER saw Batman: The Animated Series until much later. Nonetheless, DC Comics have played an important role in developing my love of comic books, from Geoff John’s Green Lantern to Grant Morrison’s Batman.

It’s about time I put together a DC Comics reading order for new comic book fans interested in all heroic universes. By popular demand: The Comic Book Herald guide to DC Comics!

Index:

Reading DC ComicsComplete Timeline of Events!

Fast Track Guide to the Modern DCU – 25 essential DC Comics stories from 2000 to 2011.

Batman Reading Order

The Flash Reading Order

Green Lantern Reading Order

Suicide Squad Reading Order

Superman Reading Order

Wonder Woman Reading Order

DC New 52 Reading Order

DC Rebirth Reading Order

DC Comics Enter the 2000’s

Superman: Birthright

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Leinil Francis Yu

Breakdown: Although the 12 issue Superman: Birthright was published in 2003 and 2004, it marks a clean start to DC’s entry into the new millennium. Waid and Yu retell Superman’s origins so well that for a period of time, Superman: Birthright actually became the canonical origin story for Supes, surpassing John Byrne’s The Man of Steel from the 1980’s.

Emperor Joker

Publication Year(s): 2000

Breakdown: The Joker steals Mister Mxyzptlk’s reality-warping powers in this elseworld story where the Joker rules all, and remakes the DC Universe.

Issues: Superman 160-161; Adventures of Superman 582-583; Man of Steel 104-105; Action 769-770; Emperor Joker 1-shot

Batman & Huntress: A Cry for Blood

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Rick Burchett and Terry Beatty

Publication Year(s): 2000

Breakdown: Six issue miniseries from 2000 exploring the similarities between Batman and Huntress, and the different set of lines each of them have drawn around morality. Excellent miniseries.

JLA: Heaven’s Ladder

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Bryan Hitch

Publication Year(s): 2000

Breakdown: Standalone graphic novel in which the JLA teaches conquering alien civilizations the value of spirituality. Let’s just say it’s ambitious.

JLA: Tower of Babel

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Howard Porter, Steve Scott

Publication Year(s): 2000

Breakdown: Batman’s paranoia (some would say meticulous planning for all eventualities) turns against the Justice League. I would highly recommend reading the entire JLA run, starting way back with Grant Morrison in JLA #1, but for me Tower of Babel marks the beginning of the JLA in the new millennium. The plot here also became the basis for DC’s animated Justice League: Doom.

Issues: JLA #43 – #46

JLA: Divided We Fall

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Bryan Hitch

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: Continuing the examination of Batman’s “betrayal” in “Tower of Babel.” Waid and Hitch do a deep dive into the psychology and character make-up of the Justice League.

Issues: JLA #50 – #54

President Lex

Writer: Jeph Loeb, Joe Kelly

Artist: Ed McGuinness, Mike Wieringo

Publication Year(s): 2000 – 2001

Breakdown: Lex Luthor makes a run for President of the United States. Not a great trade, but sets up a lot of important DC continuity moving forward.

Superman: Red Son

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Dave Johnson, Killian Plunkett

Publication Year(s): 2003

Breakdown: What if Superman had been found and raised in the Soviet Union? Superman: Red Son is an extremely well executed Elseworld story from Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Old Man Logan) at his conceptual peak.

Batman: Evolution

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Shawn Martinborough

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: Technically, Batman: Evolution is marked as an additional volume in the Batman: No Man’s Land series that began as a year-long initiative in 1999. The background to No Man’s Land is that an earthquake hit Gotham and registered the city as “uninhabitable,” leaving Batman and the refugees (actually one of my favorite funk bands) to fend for themselves. A LOT of significant events happen during this time, but you don’t necessarily need to go all the way back to enjoy the Batman of the 2000’s. Evolution marks a turning point with Greg Rucka in charge.

Nightwing: Big Guns

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Artist: Greg Land, Patrick Zircher

Publication Year(s): 2000

Breakdown: Collects Nightwing #46 – #50, and will introduce new DC readers to Nightwing’s role in the DC Universe, and his placement in Bludhaven (not Gotham!).

Batman: Turning Points

Writer: Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Chuck Dixon

Artist: Steve Lieber, Paul Pope, Dick Giordano

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: 5 issue miniseries exploring the relationship between Commissioner Gordon and Batman. There’s a reason it was decided the Commish was a strong enough character to warrant his own TV show. This might not be it, but I’m just saying, there was a reason.

Batman: Officer Down (New Gotham Vol 2)

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Various

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: Speaking of Commissioner Gordon, team Gotham pursues the mystery of Batman tracking down who shot the Commish!

Green Lantern: Circle of Fire

Writer: Brian K. Vaughn

Artist: Various

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Quality GL miniseries from all-time comic writer great Brian K. Vaughn (Y: The Last Man, Saga) that may serve as a reasonable intro for new DC fans to Kyle Rayner, the current Green Lantern during the early 2000s in the DC Universe.

Green Lantern: New Journey, Old Path

Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Matt Wagner, Dale Eaglesham

Publication Year(s): 2000 – 2001

Breakdown: First arc of Green Lantern with Judd Winick (writer of all-time favorite Marvel series Exiles) guiding Kyle Rayner’s adventures in space. The new course for Rayner as GL technically begins before the above GL miniseries but I prefer it after allowing Brian K. Vaughn to do the introductions.

Harley Quinn: Preludes & Knock, Knock Jokes

Writer: Karl Kesel

Artist: Terry Dodson

Publication Year(s): 2000 – 2001

Breakdown: Tough to beat the combo of an excellent Sandman reference in the volume title, Kesel and Dodson’s fabulous handle on Harley Quinn, and the fact this volume is (nearly) Harley’s introduction to the DC comic book universe after originating in Batman: The Animated Series.

Wonder Woman: Paradise Lost

Writer: Phil Jimenez, J.M. DeMatteis

Artist: Phil Jimenez

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: Collects Wonder Woman #164 – #170 and begins Phil Jimenez’s highly regarded run on Princess Diana. The opening “Gods of Gotham” arc brings Wonder Woman to Gotham and, as you expect, features an excellent Batman team-up.

JSA: The Return of Hawkman

Writer: Geoff Johns, David S. Goyer

Artist: Stephen Sadowski

Publication Year(s): 2000 – 2001

Breakdown: Excellent reintroduction to the DC Universe from two men who would go on to architect both the DC Comics and Movie landscape in the coming decade.

Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie, Robert L. Washington III

Artist: John Paul Leon

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: Graphic novel collecting both the Rebirth of Cool #1 – #4 Static Shock arc from 1993, and the 4 issue refresh from 2001.

The Flash: Wonderland

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Angel Unzueta

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: Geoff John’s first arc on The Flash. Collects FLash #164 – #169.

The Flash: Blood Will Run

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Ethan Van Sciver, Scott Kolins

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: Geoff Johns continues on the Flash with issues #170 – #176.

Batman: Gotham Noir

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Sean Philips

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: Brubaker and Phillips (Criminal, Fatale) in 2001 doing Gotham Noir. No brainer. Worth noting that this is a DC Elseworld’s tale, meaning it’s intended to live outside canonical continuity.

Joker: Last Laugh

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Artist: Rick Burchett

Publication Year(s): 2001 – 2002

Breakdown: Remarkably despised six issue miniseries featuring the Joker’s final scheme after he’s told he has an inoperable brain tumor that will kill him. A sampling of the troubling plot: “Chaos soon spreads throughout the entire Earth and US President Lex Luthor declares war on the Joker. While the JLA searches for him, the Joker hides out on Easter Island and sends his minions to capture Harley Quinn so he can impregnate her and produce an heir. Harley is eventually rescued by Spoiler, Batgirl, and Power Girl.”

JLA: Terror Incognita

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Bryan Hitch

Publication Year(s): 2001 – 2002

Breakdown: JLA faces off against the White Martians. The fifth chapter in the story is a crossover with the aforementioned Joker’s Last Laugh.

Issues: JLA #55 – #60

DC Universe Crossover Event: Our Worlds At War

Our Worlds at War

Writer: Jeph Loeb, Joe Kelly

Artist: Mike Wieringo, Ed McGuinness

Publication Year(s): 2001

Breakdown: Enormous DC crossover, and the first crossover I ever read. I’ll admit, I had virtually no background on the DC Comics universe when I read this originally, and as a result I found the whole thing both epic in scope and monstrously confusing. Essentially, a cosmic force named Imperiex lays waste to the DC Universe in such dramatic fashion that the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid all team up to prevent his assault from succeeding. I lay out an issue by issue reading order below, but take note that the trade collection linked above does not include all issues.

Issues: 

Prelude to War

Superman 151
Superman 152
Superman 153
Superman Y2K 1
Superman 154
Adventures of Superman 576
Superman – The Man of Steel 98
Action Comics 763
Superman 159
Superman 171
Green Lantern – Our Worlds At War 1
Adventures of Superman 593 – Suicide Mission
Batman – Our Worlds At War
Superman – The Man of Steel 115 – Metropolitan
Young Justice – Our Worlds At War – Drafted
Superboy 89
Action Comics 780 – The End Of The Beginning
Superman – Our Worlds at War Secret Files 1
Supergirl 59
Wonder Woman 171

All Out War

Superman 172
JLA – Our Worlds At War 1
Young Justice 35
Adventures of Superman 594 – The Doomsday Protocol
Nightwing – Our Worlds At War
Superman – The Man of Steel 116 – Chest Deep In Heroes’
JSA Our Worlds At War 1
Superboy 90
Action Comics 781 – Thousand Yard Stare
Wonder Woman – Our Worlds at War
Batman 593
Supergirl 60
Wonder Woman 172

Causalities of War

Superman 173 – The Red Badge Of Courage
Young Justice 36
Adventures of Superman 595 – Escalation
Flash – Our Worlds at War
Impulse 77
Superman – The Man of Steel 117 – Total Abandon
Harley Quinn – Our Worlds At War
Superboy 91
Action Comics 782 – Trial By Fire
Batman 594
Wonder Woman 173
World’s Finest – Our Worlds at War 1
Supergirl 61

Green Arrow: Quiver

Writer: Kevin Smith

Artist: Phil Hester

Publication Year(s): 2001 – 2002

Breakdown: Kevin Smith (yes, the director of Clerks, Dogma, etc) reintroduces Oliver Queen in one of the finest Green Arrow stories ever told.

Wonder Woman: Paradise Found

Writer: Phil Jimenez

Artist: Phil Jimenez

Publication Year(s): 2001 – 2002

Breakdown: Collects Wonder Woman #171 – #177. Begins with Our Worlds at War tie-ins before progressing to the fallout in Wonder Woman’s world.

JSA: Fair Play

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Various

Publication Year(s): 2001 – 2002

Breakdown: Geoff Johns run continues, collecting JSA #26 – #31.

The Flash: Rogues

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Scott Kolins

Publication Year(s): 2001 – 2002

Breakdown: Collects The Flash #177 – #182.

Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score

Writer: Darwyn Cooke

Artist: Darwyn Cooke

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Original graphic novel featuring Catwoman from writer / artist Darwyn Cooke.

Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Darwyn Cooke, Mike Allred

Publication Year(s): 2001 – 2002

Breakdown: All-star creative team of Brubaker, Cooke and Allred kick off Catwoman’s solo series in spectacular fashion. Don’t let the Halle Berry movie fool you – Selina Kyle has plenty of great stories to tell.

Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: J.G. Jones

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: An original graphic novel featuring Wonder Woman, and as you can see from the cover, a contentious relationship with Batman. The graphic novel has been deemed a modern Greek Tragedy and is worth checking out.

Batman: Bruce Wayne – Murderer

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Scott McDaniel

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Bat-wide crossover involving the following issues:

Detective Comics 766-770

Batgirl 24,27

Nightwing 65-66, 68-69

Gotham Knights 25-29

Brids of Prey 39-41

Robin 98-99

Batman 599-602

Green Lantern Legacy: The Last Will and Testament of Hal Jordan

Writer: Joe Kelly

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: An original graphic novel look back at the life and legacy of Hal Jordan. For readers unfamiliar with DC comics of the 1990’s, it’s worth noting that Hal was corrupted by the yellow power ring source and became Parallax (essentially the cosmic embodiment of fear). He committed a lot of atrocities, hurt a lot of Green Lanterns, and ultimately realized what he had done and sacrificed himself to save the universe. Hal then becomes the Spectre after being released from Purgatory (as seen in Emperor Joker for example). So… yeah. It’s a big change from life as a Green Lantern.

JLA: The Golden Perfect

Writer: Joe Kelly

Artist: Doug Mahnke

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Kelly and Mahnke’s first run on JLA, includes JLA issues #61 – #65.

Green Lantern: The Power of Ion

Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Dale Eaglesham, Eric Battle

Publication Year(s): 2001 – 2002

Breakdown: Collects Green Lantern #142 – #150 and introduces Ion to the DC Universe.

Batman: Bruce Wayne – Fugitive

Writer: Various

Artist: Various

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Continues the storyline that began in “Bruce Wayne – Murderer.” Collects Batman #603-607, Detective Comics #768-775, Batman: Gotham Knights #29-32 and Batgirl #29 and 33.

JSA: Stealing Thunder

Writer: David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns

Artist: Various

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Collects JSA #32 – #37.

Green Arrow: Sounds of Violence

Writer: Kevin Smith

Artist: Phil Hester

Publication Year(s): 2002

Hawkman: Endless Flight

Writer: Geoff Johns

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Excellent Hawkman solo series after the character’s reintroduction in Justice Society of America.

Catwoman: Crooked Little Town

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Brad Rader

Publication Year(s): 2002

JLA: The Obsidian Age

Writer: Joe Kelly

Artist: Dough Mahnke

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: The Obsidian Age spans two volumes. Book One, listed above, collects issues #66 – #71, while Obsidian Age: Book 2 collects JLA #72 – #76. The story relates to the aftermath of Aquaman’s Atlantis in “Our Worlds at War,” but otherwise I recommend reading both volumes together for a cohesive story.

The Flash: Crossfire

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Scott Kolins

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Collects Flash #183 – #191.

Green Lantern: Brother’s Keeper

Writer: Judd Winick

Publication Year(s):  2002

Breakdown: Collects Green Lantern #151 – #155. Features Hal Jordan as the Spectre.

Superman: Ending Battle

Writer: Geoff Johns, Joe Casey, Various

Artist: Various

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Issues included in this collection include: Adventures Of Superman # 608, Superman: Man Of Steel # 130, Action Comics # 795, Superman # 187, Adventures Of Superman # 609, Superman: Man Of Steel # 131, and Action Comics # 796. Story deals with Superman’s secret identity being exposed.

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again

Writer: Frank Miller

Artist: Lynn Varley

Publication Year(s): 2001 – 2002

Breakdown: In 1986, Frank Miller created what is universally considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time: Batman – The Dark Knight Returns. The graphic novel is up there with Watchmen in terms of the greatest reads you can find in the comic book medium. The Dark Knight Strikes Again is Miller’s sequel to that classic, and it’s received a substantially more mixed reaction. Personally, I enjoyed the story, although it’s far from the all-time great standards set by its predecessor. If nothing else, if the Dark Knight Strikes Again gets you reading Dark Knight Returns for the first time, it’s a success.

JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice

Writer: Geoff Johns, David S. Goyer

Artist: Carlos Pacheco

Publication Year(s): 2002

Breakdown: Original Graphic Novel in which the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America team up to take down… some of their own. An earlier version of Marvel’s Civil War.

DC Comics From 2003 to Identity Crisis

John Constantine, Hellblazer: Red Sepulchre

Writer: Mike Carey

Artist: Steve Dillon, Marcelo Frusin

Publication Year(s): 2002 – 2003

Breakdown: While issues #175 – #180 might seem like an odd place to start with John Constantine’s exploits in Hellblazer, they mark the beginning of a new creative vision from Mike Carey (Lucifer). It’s worth noting that technically Hellblazer is a Vertigo title, but seeing as Constantine has made it all the way to the mainstream with an NBC TV show, the title seems worthy of DC reading order inclusion.

Supergirl: Many Happy Returns

Writer: Peter David

Artist: Ed Benes

Publication Year(s): 2002 – 2003

Breakdown: This actually marks the final arc in Peter David’s Supergirl, so it may be confusing if you don’t have much background on the character.

Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty

Writer: Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka

Artist: Michael Lark

Publication Year(s): 2002 – 2003

Breakdown: Amazingly successful look at the GCPD, the police force trying to protect Batman’s town. If you find yourself enjoying Fox’s Gotham (or maybe even more appropriately, NOT enjoying the TV show), Gotham Central is a great place to see the concept executed at its highest level.

JSA: Savage Times

Writer: Geoff Johns, David Goyer

Artist: Leonard Kirk, Keith Champagne

Publication Year(s): 2002 – 2003

Breakdown: Collects JSA #39 – #45

Green Arrow: Archer’s Quest

Writer: Brad Meltzer

Artist: Phil Hester

Publication Year(s): 2002 – 2003

Breakdown: Meltzer continues the success of Kevin Smith’s resurrection of Oliver Queen with Green Arrow #16 – #21.

Batman: Hush

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Artist: Jim Lee

Publication Year(s): 2003

Breakdown: Hush has its detractors, but Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s Batman mystery is one of the most successful Bat stories of the 2000s. Nearly every major Batman villain makes an appearance in this twisting mystery. Collects Batman #609 – #619.

Green Lantern: Passing the Torch

Writer: Judd Winick

Publication Year(s): 2003

Breakdown: Winick’s final arc on Green Lantern. Issues #156 and #158 – #161.

Hawkman: Allies & Enemies

Writer: Geoff Johns, James Robinson

Artist: Rags Morales

Publication Year(s): 2002 – 2003

Breakdown: Hawkman #7 – #14

Catwoman: Relentless

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Cameron Stewart

Publication Year(s): 2002 – 2003

Breakdown: Third volume of Catwoman collects issues #12 – #19.

The Flash: Blitz

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Scott Kolins

Publication Year(s): 2003

Breakdown: Flash issues #192 – #200. The return of Zoom (Reverse-Flash)!

Gotham Central: Half a Life

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Michael Lark

Publication Year(s): 2003

Breakdown: Issues of Gotham Central #6 – #10, plus prelude stories in Batman Chronicles #16 and Detective Comics #747

Green Arrow: Straight Shooter

Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Phil Hester, Ande Parks

Publication Year(s): 2003

Breakdown: Judd Winick grabs the quiver for Green Arrow issues #26 – #31.

Arkham Asylum: Living Hell

Writer: Dan Slott

Artist: Ryan Sook

Publication Year(s): 2003

Breakdown: While many Batman fans will point to Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum as the ultimate in Arkham comics (rightly so), Slott and Sook’s six issue miniseries often flies under the radar. Slott has since become very well known for his lengthy run on Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man (and Superior Spider-Man) but here he exposes the darkside of Gotham.

Catwoman: Wild Ride

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Cameron Stewart, Guy Davis

Publication Year(s): 2003

Breakdown: Catwoman issues #20 – #24. The final arc with Ed Brubaker as the writer of Catwoman.

JLA: Trial by Fire

Writer: Joe Kelly

Artist: Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen

Publication Year(s): 2003

Breakdown: JLA issues #84 – #89

Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds

Writer: Gail Simone

Artist: Ed Benes

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Breakdown: While this volume starts at Birds of Prey #56 and continues through issue #61, it’s the beginning of Gail Simone’s acclaimed run on the series so makes for a logical starting place.

JSA: Prince of Darkness

Writer: Geoff Johns, David Goyer

Artist: Leonard Kirk

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Breakdown: JSA #46 – #55

JSA: All Stars

Writer: Geoff Johns, David Goyer

Artist: Tim Sale, Bob Almond, Various

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Breakdown: 8 issue miniseries.

Teen Titans: A Kid’s Game

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Mike McKone, Various

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Breakdown: A new beginning for the Teen Titans with issues #1 – #7.

Superman / Batman: Public Enemies

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Artist: Ed McGuinness

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Breakdown: Superman and Batman team-up to end President Lex  Luthor’s reign of supremacy.

Wonder Woman: Down to Earth

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Drew Johnson

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Breakdown: Collects Wonder Woman #195 – #200.

The Flash: Ignition

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Albert Dose

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Breakdown: Collects Flash #201 – #206.

JSA: Black Reign

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Rags Morales, Keith Champagne

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Collects JSA #56 – #58, as well as Hawkman #23 – #25.

Superman: Godfall

Writer: Joe Kelly

Artist: Michael Turner

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Collects issues Action Comics 812-813, Adventures of Superman 625-626, Superman 202-203.  Features a totally baller Superman costume as he finds himself on Krypton during a Civil War.

Batman: Broken City

Writer: Brian Azzarello

Artist: Eduardo Risso

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Breakdown: Batman #620 – #625.

Plastic Man: On the Lam

Writer: Kyle Baker

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Eisner Award winning all ages Plastic Man series begins here!

JLA: The Tenth Circle

Writer: Chris Claremont, John Byrne

Artist: Jerry Ordway

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: JLA #94 through #99 are not particularly well regarded, but the series is worth noting simply because it features the legendary Uncanny X-Men creative team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student

Writer: Gail Simone

Artist: Ed Benes

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Birds of Prey #63 – #68

Wonder Woman: Bitter Rivals

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Drew Johnson, Shane Davis

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Wonder Woman #200 – #205

Teen Titans: Family Lost

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Mike McKone

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Teen Titans #8 – #12

Batman: As the Crow Flies

Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Dustin Nguyen, Richard Friend

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Batman #626 – #630. Promoted during its publication as a primer for Batman Begins due to the involvement of Scarecrow.

Gotham Central: Jokers and Madmen

Writer: Ed  Brubaker, Greg Rucka

Artist: Michael Lark

Publication Year(s): 2003 – 2004

Breakdown: Gotham Central #11 – #22

Swamp Thing: Bad Seed

Writer: Andy Diggle

Artist: Enrique Breccia

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Relaunch of Swamp Thing collected as Swamp Thing #1 – #6.

Superman / Batman: Supergirl

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Artist: Michael Turner

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Superman / Batman #8 – #13. Later the foundation for a DC Animated Movie.

Batman: War Games

Writer: Various

Artist: Various

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: 2004’s summer crossover event involving a massive gang war in Gotham. Collected in three parts, so also see War Games Vol 2 and War Games Vol 3.

Issues:

Batman: The 12-Cent Adventure

Detective Comics #797

Batman #631

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #182

Nightwing #96

Batman: Gotham Knights #56

Robin #129

Batgirl #55

Catwoman #34

Detective Comics  #798

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight  #183

Nightwing #97

Batman: Gotham Knights #57

Robin #130

Batgirl  #56

Catwoman #35

Batman#632

Batman #633

Batgirl  #57

Catwoman #36

Robin #131

Batman: Gotham Knights #58

Batman: Hush Returns

Writer: A.J. Liberman

Artist: Javier Pina

Publication Year(s): 2004 – 2005

Breakdown: Collects Gotham Knights #50 – #55. A poorly regarded story arc, but one that follows up on the excellent “Hush” storyline from Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee.

Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn

Writer: Gail Simone

Artist: Ed Benes

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Birds of Prey #69 – #75.

DC’s New Frontier & Identity Crisis

DC: The New Frontier

Writer: Darwyn Cooke

Artist: Darwyn Cooke

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: Darwyn Cooke reimagines the entire DC Universe during 1950’s Cold War Red Scare paranoia. Pretty great stylistic vision for an Elseworlds read.

Superman: Secret Identity

Writer: Kurt Busiek

Artist: Stuart Immonen

Publication Year(s): 2004

Breakdown: 4 issue miniseries about a high school student named Clark Kent… but not the one and only Superman! A really fantastic concept and series from Busiek and Immonen. Somehow not a Superman story, and yet one of the best Superman stories of the 2000’s.

Identity Crisis

Writer: Brad Meltzer

Artist: Rags Morales

Publication Year(s): 2004 – 2005

Breakdown: Hugely influential 7 issue murder mystery from mystery novelist Brad Meltzer. This series genuinely rocks the foundations of the Justice League and is an immensely intriguing mystery. There are a lot of darker elements of morality and ethics and what types of actions are go in the name of “the greater good.” Identity Crisis is controversial in that there is a vocal element of comic book fandom that despises the series, but regardless, it’s definitely worth a read and formulating your own opinion.

The Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Howard Porter

Publication Year(s): 2004 – 2005

Breakdown: Includes some Flash issues intended as Identity Crisis tie-ins. Flash #214 – #216 can be read after Identity Crisis #3. Flash #217 occurs after Identity Crisis #5.

Manhunter: Street Justice

Writer: Marc Andreyko

Artist: Jesus Saiz, Jimmy Palmiotti

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Not to be confused with Martian Manhunter, this is instead prosecutor Kate Spencer taking out criminals who’ve eluded the courts. Manhunter #1 can be read after Identity Crisis #1, and the remaining issues #2 – #5 can be read alongside Identity Crisis #2.

Manhunter: Trial by Fire

Writer: Marc Andreyko

Artist: Jesus Saiz, Jimmy Palmiotti

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Collects Manhunter #6 – #14. Follows up on events relating to Firestorm in Identity Crisis.

JLA: Crisis of Conscience

Writer: Geoff Johns, Allan Heinberg

Artist: Chris Batista, Mark Farmer

Publication Year(s):  2005

Breakdown: Works as both Identity Crisis aftermath and Countdown to Infinite Crisis. Collects JLA #115 – #119.

JLA: World Without a Justice League

Writer: Bob Harras

Artist: Tom Derenick

Publication Year(s): 2005 – 2006

Breakdown: Collects JLA #120 – #125, continued fallout from Identity Crisis.

Green Arrow: Heading into the Light

Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Tom Fowler

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Directly deals with the events of Identity Crisis as Dr. Light seeks his revenge.

JSA: Lost

Writer: Johns, Goyer

Publication Year(s): 2004 – 2005

Breakdown: JSA #59 – #67

John Constantine, Hellblazer: All His Engines

Writer: Mike Carey

Artist: Leonardo Manco

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Original Graphic Novel featuring Constantine saving the world from a supernatural plague.

Superman / Batman: Absolute Power

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Artist: Carlos Pacheco

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Collects Superman/Batman #14 – #18 in an alternate reality story where Superman and Batman rule the world.

Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Drew Johnson, Sean Phillips

Publication Year(s): 2004 – 2005

Breakdown: Wonder Woman #206 – #213

Superman: For Tomorrow

Writer: Brian Azzarello

Artist: Jim Lee

Publication Year(s): 2004 -2005

Breakdown: Collects Superman #204 – #215. Story begins one year after a million people vanish from Earth without a trace. Think “The Leftovers” but with Superman on the case.

Green Lantern’s Rebirth and Countdown to Infinite Crisis

Green Lantern: Rebirth

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Johns and Sciver transition Hal Jordan from the role of the Spectre back to his life as Green Lantern. Hugely essential 6 issue miniseries that lays the groundwork for both Green Lantern and the DC Universe events to come in the 2000s. Awesome events like The Sinestro Corps War begin here!

Batman: The Man Who Laughs

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Dough Mahnke

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Story of the first time Batman met the Joker from Brubaker and Mahnke. Intended as a follow up to the classic Batman: Year One.

Batman: Jekyll & Hyde

Writer: Paul Jenkins

Artist: Jae Lee, Sean Phillips

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee teamed up earlier in the 2000s to produce one of my all-time favorite Marvel miniseries, the twelve issue Inhumans graphic novel. Although Jae Lee doesn’t last for the duration of this exploration of Two-Face’s duality, the addition of Sean Phillips (of Criminal with Ed Brubaker fame) is an incredible tag team hand off.

Swamp Thing: Love in Vain

Writer: Joshua Dysart

Artist: Enrique Breccia

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Swamp Thing #9 – #14

Teen Titans: The Future is Now

Writer: Geoff Johns, Mark Waid

Artist: Mike McKone, Ivan Reis

Publication Year(s): 2004 – 2005

Breakdown: Teen Titans #16 – #23

Legion of Super-Heroes: Teenage Revolution

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Barry Kitson

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Waid and Kitson launch a new era of Legion of Super-Heroes with issues #1 – #6. If you enjoy, also reasonable to continue with volume 2, Death of a Dream story arc here.

Adam Strange: Planet Heist

Writer: Andy Diggle

Artist: Pascal Ferry

Publication Year(s): 2004 – 2005

Breakdown: Adam Strange #1 – #8.

Gotham Central: On the Freak Beat

Writer: Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker

Artist: Michael Lark

Publication Year(s): 2004 – 2005

Breakdown: Collects Gotham Central #23 – #31.

Teen Titans: The Death and Return of Donna Troy

Writer: Phil Jimenez

Artist: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Collects Graduation Day #1 – #3, as well as The Return of Donna Troy #1 – #4.

Wonder Woman: Land of the Dead

Writer: Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns

Artist: Rags Morales

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Wonder Woman #214 – #217 (plus Flash #219)

Batman: Under the Red Hood

Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Dough Mahnke

Publication Year(s): 2005 – 2006

Breakdown: Collects #635 – #641 and Batman #645 – #650, as well as Batman Annual #25. One of my favorite Bat mysteries of the 2000’s, tackling the question of Batman’s continued insistence on capturing the murderous Joker alive.

Batman: Year One Hundred

Writer: Paul Pope

Artist: Jose Villarrubia

Publication Year(s): 2006

Breakdown: Elseworlds graphic novel that takes a look at Gotham City in the year 2039 and the legacy of Batman.

The Flash: Rogue War

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Howard Porter

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Flash #218, #220 – #225

Teen Titans / Outsiders: The Insiders

Writer: Geoff Johns, Judd Winick

Artist: Matthew Clark, Tony Daniel

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Crossover story between Teen Titans #24 – #26 and The Outsiders #24 – #25 and #28. Works as a partial prelude to Infinite Crisis.

Supergirl: Power

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Artist: Ian Churchill

Publication Year(s): 2005 – 2006

Breakdown: Supergirl #1 – #5 after her introduction in Superman / Batman Volume 2.

Green Lantern: No Fear

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Carlos Pacheco, Ethan Van Sciver

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Green Lantern #1 – #6 following the return of Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: Rebirth.

Green Lantern Corps: Recharge

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Dave Gibbons

Publication Year(s): 2005 – 2006

Breakdown: The Green Lantern Corps are recharged after the events of Green Lantern: Rebirth.

JSA: Black Vengeance

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Don Kramer. Keith Champagne

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Collects JSA #68 – #75 and features the Spectre in the aftermath of Green Lantern: Rebirth.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis: Day of Vengeance

Writer: Bill Willingham

Artist: Justiniano, Walden Wong

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Collects Day of Vengeance #1 – #6, Action Comics #826, Adventures of Superman #639 and Superman #216. Trade will do the best job helping to explain the elements of magic and the Spectre’s role in Infinite Crisis.

JSA: Mixed Signals

Writer: Geoff Johns, Keith Champagne

Artist: Don Kramer, Dale Eaglesham

Publication Year(s): 2005 – 2006

Breakdown: JSA #76 – #81, direct follow up to Days of Vengeance.

Superman: Sacrifice

Writer: Greg Rucka, Mark Verheiden, Gail Simone

Artist: Ed Benes, John Byrne, Rags Morales, Tony Daniel

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Collects Superman #218 – #220, Adventures of Superman #642 – #643, Action Comics #829, Wonder Woman 219-220. Essential Countdown to Infinite Crisis read as the events of Superman Sacrifice spiral directly into Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman’s standing during Infinite Crisis.

Wonder Woman: Mission’s End

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Ron Randall

Publication Year(s): 2005 – 2006

Breakdown: Continues Wonder Woman’s story from the issues included in Superman: Sacrifice. Collects issues #218 – #226.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis: The OMAC Project

Writer: Geoff Johns, Judd Winick, Greg Rucka

Artist: Jesus Saiz, Rags Morales, Ed Benes, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Collects OMAC Project #1 – #6, Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1, and the Wonder Woman #19 issue also included above. As you’d expect, crucial in setting up Infinite Crisis.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis: The Rann-Thanagar War

Writer: Dave Gibbons

Artist: Ivan Reis

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Rann-Thanagar War #1 – #6.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis: Villains United

Writer: Gale Simone

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

Publication Year(s): 2005

Breakdown: Collects Villains United #1 – #6 as the villains of the DC Universe react to the revelations brought on by Dr. Light in Identity Crisis.

Superman: Ruin Revealed

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Karl Kerschl

Publication Year(s): 2005 – 2006

Breakdown: Collects Adventures of Superman #640 – #641 and #644 – #647. The events of Superman: Sacrifice and The OMAC Project spill over into the pages of Adventures of Superman.

Infinite Crisis and DC’s 52

Infinite Crisis

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Phil Jimenez, George Perez, various

Publication Year(s): 2005 – 2006

Breakdown: DC’s biggest event of the 2000’s, and an enormously influential story arc on the DC Universe to come. For any readers looking at the Infinite Crisis Omnibus, all issues are collected in the countdown trades listed above, and almost always for a better price. Same essentially goes for the Infinite Crisis: Companion – I would recommend the individual countdown trades instead.

Teen Titans: Life and Death

Writer: Marv Wolfman, Bill Willingham

Artist: Tony Daniel, Todd Nauck

Publication Year(s): 2005 – 2006

Breakdown: Infinite Crisis tie-ins. Includes Teen Titans #29 – #33, Teen Titans Annual #1, and Robin #146 – #147, as well as Infinite Crisis #6.

Infinite Crisis Aftermath: Battle for Bludhaven

Writer: Justin Gray

Artist: Jimmy Palmiotti

Publication Year(s): 2006

Breakdown: Collects the Battle for Bludhaven six issue miniseries as Nightwing and company deal with the Infinite Crisis ramifactions on the city of Bludhaven.

Infinite Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre

Writer: David Lapham

Artist: Cliff Chiang

Publication Year(s): 2006 – 2007

Breakdown: The Spectre finds a new host.

Gotham Central: Corrigan

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Ed Brubaker

Publication Year(s): Kano

Breakdown: Gotham Central #32 – #40, the conclusion of the series.

DC Universe: 52

Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Keith Giffen

Artist: Various

Publication Year(s): 2006 – 2007

Breakdown: In the aftermath of Infinite Crisis, DC produced a weekly comic book that looked at the DC Universe for one year without Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman. The end result was 52, a surprisingly fascinating series. The full set of 52 issues is collected in four volumes, with the first 13 issues linked above.

DC: World War III

Writer: Keith Champagne, John Ostrander

Artist: Various

Publication Year(s): 2007

Breakdown: Occurs towards the end of 52 (during the 4th collected volume), and follows Black Adam’s launch of World War III.

THE END… FOR NOW!


31 Replies to “DC Comics Reading Order”

        1. I’ll be honest, it’s a bit further down on my list.

          If DC wants to unleash a DC Unlimited in the near future, my timetable will speed up accordingly 🙂

  1. I’m only 12, and I’m kind of money tight, so is there any way you could just do an “essentials,” or just reply it to me? Like what you did with Marvel 25 essential? Thanks!

  2. Hey Dave!

    If you had to pick ONE for each:

    1) what is your favorite Superman story arc?
    2) what is your favorite Batman story arc?
    3) what is your single favorite DC story arc?

    Like you, I started with Marvel – I know the newer Marvel arcs pretty well and have read pretty much everything since the mid-2000s. I’d love to get into DC, but I find it hard to pick a starting point and I’m not familiar with the majority of DC characters.

    Any guidance would be much appreciated! Thank you

    1. I love this question so much I’ve started a more detailed column for early next week. I’ll link that here once posted.

      For now, if you need just one story within the DC Universe, and you haven’t already read, check out The Dark Knight Returns. It’s not necessarily the best intro to reading Batman, but man is it great!

        1. I am in the same boat as you guys. I remember about 20 years ago my dad was a marvel fan, although he did like green arrow in the early nineties, so I just fell in love with marvel. I have been trying to read all of Geoff johns green lantern, but still am confused. I feel like DC doesn’t do “cosmic” or “epic” as well as marvel. But also the villians in DC are just awful when compared to marvel

  3. Batman: Evolution made me go backwards and start the whole No Man’s Land series starting with 18 issues of Cataclysm.

    Pretty awesome collection.

  4. Hey Dave
    Possible for you to continue this reading order?
    i just finished reading 52 series and i am not able to find out properly what to continue with.
    Would be great if you could finish this 🙂

  5. Enjoying this list so far. Was not expecting The Flash to be so dark, particularly Blood Will Run. That’s a fair body count!

  6. Hi I was wondering if you had or if you could make a Green Lantern Stiry arc for the prelude during and post stages of the Blackest Night/Brightest Day story arc because I’ve seen numerous story arcs on other sights but most don’t state how relevant they are to the main story and I like I you do state the importance factor often!

  7. hey, I’m trying to get into DC comics and have started the new 52 just recently. Is it still a good starting point?? I know they stopped making it but should I still read it? If not what else should I do to get into the DC universe? Thank you!!

    1. I had no idea they stopped making them I have the same question should I stop reading them? I’ve collected many of the graphic novels of the new 52 should I not bother to any more?

  8. The Catwoman Wild Ride volume finishes with a bit of a cliffhanger issue #24 and then she doesn’t show up on this list until War Games and there are 10 issues in between.

    Not saying you should add them to this list but if anybody is interested they are still worth reading.

  9. Hey Dave,

    I was just wondering if you had any plans on doing a new 52 reading order? Maybe up to Convergence?

    Love the site, keep up the awesome work!

  10. Dave,

    Good stuff! Just wondering, how come you don’t have a seperate “The Flash” reading order section like you do with batman, superman, wonder woman, etc.

  11. Hey Dave, I was just wondering why The Man Who Laughs appears so late in the timeline, considering Emporer Joker happens so soon in the timeline?
    And also, why is Batman Year 100 and The Dark Knight Strikes Again in this timeline?

  12. World Without a Justice League seems sorely misplaced. Maybe I’m missing something but at the top of issue 123 says “Infinite Crisis Crossover.” Hal Jordan is also back to being a Green Lantern, before his rebirth is listed in the timeline. Feels like this should storyline should go along with Infinite Crisis. Again, correct me if I missed something.

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