Understandably, if you’re trying to get into DC’s New 52, the Comic Book Herald guide including every single comic may be a bit intimidating.
As a result, Bis asks:
Any New 52 fast track guide coming soon ?
Well, now that you mention it…
Below you’ll find DC’s 2011 to 2016 New 52 comics boiled down to 25 suggested reads. It’s a fast track guide to take you through the most essential, most memorable, and sometimes best New 52 comics of the era. I’ll also list a link to the collected edition that will get you started with each series.
Keep in mind that if you want every single comic in order, and links to all the trades, you can check out Comic Book Herald’s complete New 52 reading order.
DC Best Of The New 52 Fast Track!
1) Zero Year
DC’s Zero Year is largely a story set at about the halfway point of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s excellent run on Batman throughout the entire New 52. We’ll get to the full Snyder and Capullo run later, but since Zero Year marks the earliest days of the New 52 Universe, the storyline marks a logical starting place.
The DC Comics: Zero Year collection above includes Zero Year one-shot tie-ins through various DCU titles like Superman and Nightwing. These are less essential than the Batman issues, but can help color in the details of the New 52’s beginnings.
2) Grant Morrison’s Superman in Action Comics
Action Comics was actually published at the launch of the New 52, with Grant Morrison and Rags Morales telling the story of Superman’s early years. If you’re at all familiar with DC Comics, you know Grant Morrison has been one of their biggest writers for over 25 years, with books like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Doom Patrol, Final Crisis and All-Star Superman (among many, many others).
Action Comics isn’t Morrison’s best DC work (and really it’s not even his best Superman work thanks to the excellent All-Star Superman) but the strangeness of this pre-flight New 52 Superman has actually become underrated.
3) Justice League Origins
Geoff Johns and Jim Lee tell the New 52 formation of the Justice League in just about the most epic way possible. This collection likely sets the tone for a lot of the cinematic DC Expanded Universe.
I’m more of a fan of Geoff John’s work on Green Lantern throughout the 2000’s, but his Justice League is very consistent and sets the tone for Justice League as DC’s flagship title throughout the New 52.
4) Animal Man & Swamp Thing: Rotworld
Two of the most exciting New 52 launches came from books that had otherwise peaked in the mid-80’s and early 90’s respectively. Swamp Thing launched with a creative team of Scott Snyder and Yannick Paquette, while Animal Man launched behind the vision of Jeff Lemire and Steve Pagh. Both series captured the best parts of horror comics before tying together in the Rotworld crossover.
5) Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman
I’ve gathered that if you’re a DC reader coming to New 52 Wonder Woman with expectations and the baggage of the character’s near 80 year long history, the Azzarello and Chiang run may seem ruinous. For me, as a new Wonder Woman fan collecting ongoing comics for the first time in 2011, Azarello and Chiang’s exploration of Greek Mythology in the DC Universe quickly became one of my favorite books in the New 52.
If nothing else, check out Wonder Woman for Chiang’s depictions of classic Greek figures like Hades and Poseidon. Some of my absolute favorite art in the entire New 52!
6) Batgirl by Gail Simone
The extended Bat-family fared reasonably well during the New 52, with strong opening runs in the likes of Batwoman. It’s Gail Simone’s long run on Batgirl that stands out the most to me, though, rehabilitating Barbara Gordon for a new era of DC Comics.
If you’re a fan of Simone’s time writing Birds of Prey, you already know few writers grasp Batgirl like Simone, and the New 52 run is no exception. Expect much of Simone’s New 52 expansion of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl to influence the DCEU version.
7) Geoff Johns Aquaman through Throne of Atlantis
Assigning Green Lantern, Flash, and Justice League architect Geoff Johns to Aquaman sent a clear message that the New 52 wanted you to take the King of Atlantis seriously. Amazingly, it kind of worked. Sure, Johns uses all the same tricks from his Green Lantern days to fuel Aquaman’s introduction to “The Others,” but if it ain’t broke…
8) Batman by Snyder and Capullo – Court of Owls, Death of the Family, Endgame
If you only have time for one single New 52 series, it should be Batman by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Danny Miki.
In my opinion, this is hands down the best comic of the New 52, and is one of my 50 favorite comic books of all time!
9) Green Lantern – Rise of the 3rd Army, Wrath of the First Lantern
10) Batman: Requiem
The set-up for Batman: Requiem comes from Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Batman Inc, before delivering an emotional gut-punch in Batman and Robin.
Batman Inc. is a bit of an oddity in the New 52 in that the series very clearly carries through from pre-New 52 stories by Morrison. So while you don’t HAVE to have read Grant Morrison’s run on Batman to understand what’s going on in Batman Inc, it will definitely help (and can be an absolute blast if you’re ready for it!).
11) Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Power Couple
One of the biggest developments in fandom during the New 52 was Superman kissing Wonder Woman in Justice League. Superman and Wonder Woman have had romantic notions on and off throughout DC Comics history, but in the New 52 DC fully went for it. This entry is to inform new readers that, yes, this happened, and yes, the team-up book that came out of it was pretty good!
12) Justice League: Trinity War Through Forever Evil
For those starting with the New 52 fresh, the new universe essentially spiraled out of the conclusion of an event called Flashpoint. In this event, there was a mysterious hooded figure named Pandora who seemed be behind the sudden eruption of The New 52.
At the time of its release, Trinity War was billed as the answer to how The New 52 started, and what Pandora had to do with its creation.
This winds up not really at all being what Trinity War delivered, and instead it works as a prequel vehicle for the substantially more interesting follow-up event, Forever Evil.
There are a whole heckuva lot of big picture universe developments that come of Forever Evil, so if you want to understand the state of the DC Universe after 2013, this is highly recommended reading.
13) Superman: Doomed / Superman: Unchained
Writers Charles Soule and Scott Snyder take on project “Make New 52 Superman interesting!”
14) Batman: Robin Rises
If there was anyone more certain that Robin wouldn’t be gone forever, it was Batman. Robin Rises in the continually strong Batman and Robin.
15) Batman Eternal & Batman & Robin Eternal
Batman Eternal launched as a weekly release comic in the vein of DC’s 2007 52, behind the Batman braintrust of Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and many others. Eternal never reaches the heights of 07’s 52, but it’s well worth a read, and has some surprisingly influential direction for Batman comics moving forward.
16) New 52: Future’s End
Future’s End rarely pays off the way you want it to, but this mega DC event occasionally offers glimpses of brilliance in its representation of the future of the DCU. Or I’m just a sucker for anything involving Batman Beyond, either way.
Following the events of Forever Evil, Dick Grayson takes on a new role as a secret superspy in the comic by Tom King, Tim Seely and Mikel Janin.
Grayson actually explains a lot of Nightwing’s backstory, so don’t worry if you’re less familiar with Dick’s time as Robin and Nightwing in the DC Universe. The full run is one of my favorite entries in the New 52.
18) Batgirl of Burnside / Black Canary
For all intents and purposes, Batgirl of Burnside reboots Barbara Gordon within New 52 continuity to fit her into a younger, hipper, collegiate life. This will irk readers more familiar with the character’s growth, but for many it’s a great introduction to Batgirl, and a side of life not often seen in DC’s more traditional superhero line.
Black Canary takes similar direction, crafting Dinah Lance as the punk rock lead singer she was always meant to be.
19) Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead
20) Gotham Academy
Gotham Academy quickly became one of my favorite comics to hand new comic book readers, with an all ages vibe great for anyone who might perk up at “It’s like if Harry Potter, Batman and Glee had a baby.”
Tom King and Tim Seely deserve a lot of credit for transforming the one-time Wildstorm superstar Midnighter into a bonafide scene-stealer in the pages of Grayson. Steve Orlando takes that momentum and throws down a Lebron-style tomahawk at full speed (Kevin Love outlet included for maximum gorgeousness).
Midnighter is simultaneously one of the best examples of queer representation in comic books this decade, and one of the New 52’s best comics.
In my reading order for DC’s 2015 event, I compared the core event to Spinal Tap’s worst album.
While I stand by that claim (the core event issues suck), the tie-ins to Convergence, and the outcome are both interesting and important for the DCU as a whole. This is where the groundwork for DC Rebirth begins, and can help new readers get a feel for both DC’s past and where the publisher was heading.
23) The Omega Men
Tom King’s and Barnaby Bagenda’s Omega Men does not feel like a New 52 book, despite its publication placement within the general New 52 timeframe. Omega Men stands alone, quickly establishing itself as both the most interesting Kyle Rayner comic in over 15 years, and an instant classic.
While you don’t need Omega Men to understand any piece of the New 52, if you’re going to read any second comic behind Snyder and Capullo’s Batman, this is the one you want.
24) Robin War
At this point, DC’s had more Robins than Christopher. Bringing them alltogether to fight the original New 52 Bat-family threat (The Court of Owls) is a great idea, and a surprisingly effective thread through Grayson, We Are Robin, and more.
25) Justice League: Darkseid War
The New 52 Justice League came together in order to prevent a Darkseid invasion of Earth, so it’s only appropriate that the conclusion comes in the form of the Darkseid War.
Geoff John’s concluding issue answers ties together Origin, Forever Evil, and the New 52 at large, plus we get to see his version of The New Gods.
From there it’s on to DC Rebirth! You can continue enjoying DC Comics with Comic Book Herald’s complete DC Rebirth reading order.