Which DC Comics won the year for every year of the 2010’s? Since John and I are already defining the best comics of the decade, I’m approaching my Big 2 superhero specific lists a little differently.
It’s a fun exercise in revisiting my favorites from the decade, as well as semantics of publication dates that lead to situations where a long-running series might carry over a story arc from year to year. Ultimately, though, I feel pretty good about the picks for each year!
Series: Grant Morrison’s Batman
Issues: Batman and Robin #6 to #15, The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 to #6
Creatives: Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Lee Garbett, Pere Perez, Ryan Sook, Georges Jeanty, Yanick Paquette, Frazier Irving, Chris Sprouse
The more superhero comics I read, the more I realize that few works age better than Grant Morrison’s substantial contributions to the DC Universe. Since Morrison is so heavily hyped by comic critics, a lot of my introduction to comics included works by the famous writer, only to be met with some thrills, some disappointment, and a whole lot of confusion. The more I read, though, the more I see what he’s pulling from and how it all ties together, and it’s honestly quite remarkable.
Morrison’s time on a variety of Batman titles is a nice blend of those pop sensibilities and meta master plans. 2010 is particularly special because it follows up on Final Crisis and the apparent removal of Bruce Wayne (there’s a series listed above called “The Return of Bruce Wayne,” there’s no way around this ‘spoiler’), and thoroughly delivers on the promise of Dick Grayson as Batman with Damian Wayne as Robin. These are likely my favorite stories in the entire run, building off everything that’s come before including a heavy dose of Batman R.I.P.
Series: Detective Comics
Issues: Detective Comics #871 to #881
Creatives: Scott Snyder, Jock, David Baron, Todd Klein, Francesco Francavilla
The last ride of Detective Comics (before “The New 52” blew everything up!) is a remarkable swan song. It’s actually easy to forget looking back because of the shadow of the New 52 and Snyder’s work on Batman, but the “Black Mirror” arc is still a Dick Grayson as Batman story, which is a large part of its enduring appeal. Toss Jock and Francesco Francavilla into dueling artistic leads and the horror/mystery of “Black Mirror” is an all-time exploration of Gotham.
Issues: Batman #3 to #12, #0, #13
Creatives: Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion
The Snyder and Capullo era of New 52 Batman is one of my favorite runs of the 2010’s, with a remarkable opening arc known as “The Court of Owls.”
In retrospect, one of the biggest things that stands out to me is how badly DC’s New 52 needed this run from Snyder and Capullo. If the creative team hadn’t come out of the gates with an all-time addition to the Batman mythos, the entire New 52 lineup would have looked almost unbearably shaky. Batman holds the center through 2016, and it all starts with Gotham’s secret society of Owls pulling the strings.
Series: Wonder Woman
Issues: Wonder Woman #14 to #25
Creatives: Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson, Jared Fletcher
The New 52 era of Wonder Woman is my favorite mash-up of Diana and Greek mythology, particularly driven by Cliff Chiang’s stunningly re-imagined designs for the likes of Poseiden, Hermes, and Hades. I don’t know that New 52 Wonder Woman stands out as a net positive for the character, but as my first experience reading Wonder Woman comics, it certainly stands out to me as excellent comics.
Series: Gotham Academy
Issues: Gotham Academy #1 to #3
Creatives: Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, Karl Kerschl, Dave McCaig, Steve Wands
It occurs to me that the amount of Dick Grayson comics on the first half of these picks gives the appearance that I’m a diehard first Robin fan. I especially noted this when I was feeling a strong pull to give 2014 to Grayson the excellent Tim Seely, Tom King and Mikel Janin series that only dropped its first three issues in the year’s front half.
Of course, Gotham Academy has the exact same self-applied limitations (the series launched in October 2014), but I’d argue it’s an even bigger breath of fresh air for both the world of Batman and DC Comics as a whole. So while Batman worked through the quite good “Zero Year” and start to “Endgame,” Gotham Academy opened up an entirely new franchise for a broader audience. Sure, it’s the X-Mansion or Hogwarts for Gotham City, but it’s also in the hands of an incredible creative lineup of Cloonan, Fletcher and Karl flippin’ Kerschl.
Issues: The Multiversity: Guidebook, The Multiversity: Mastermen, The Multiversity: Ultra Comics, The Multiversity #2
Creatives: Grant Morrison
Morrison’s Multiversity gets the “split year” treatment, but with both “The Guidebook” and “Ultra Comics” falling into 2015 territory (the year that brought us one of DC’s worst of the decade: Convergence) it’s more than enough to give Multiversity the win.
Whereas “Ultra Comics” is the book designed to blow minds (remarkably, applying the lessons of Sesame Street’s Grover to the world of superhero comics), it’s “The Guidebook” that I have perpetually bookmarked on my shelf for quick reference to all of DC’s 52 Earths. As I really started to love reading comics, I obsessed over things like Marvel or DC Encyclopedia’s and “The Guidebook” carries that same wide-eyed thrill of discovery.
Issues: Superman #1 to #11
Creatives: Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Doug Mahnke
Turns out I really like comics about super-Dads. As muddled and messy as it was, the transition from New 52 to DC Rebirth Superman delivered the promise of the Super-family, Clark, Lois and Jon, and instantly became one of my favorite Superman works of all time. Watching Clark and Lois settle in to raise their very own Superboy is a perfect scenario for the longtime couple, and Tomasi and Gleason make up one of the DC collaborative partnerships of the decade.
By year’s end Superman would introduce Jon Kent to Damian Wayne, and the adventures of the Supersons would begin in earnest, ensuring yet another wonderful addition to the DC Universe.
Series: Dark Nights Metal
Issues: Dark Days – The Forge #1, Dark Days – The Casting #1, Dark Nights Metal #1 to #4 (plus various tie-ins!)
Creatives: Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion
At this point, there are reasonable odds I’ve recommended Metal more than any other comic book on Comic Book Herald. This isn’t to say it’s my absolute favorite (there are picks on this list I have ranked higher!), but it’s certainly been a highlight of reading superhero event comics. Metal is the first time after Secret Wars (2015) that I actively wanted to read every issue and tie-in, and actively annotate and engage with the material as I put together the definitive Metal reading order.
At the end of the day, I most love Metal’s enthusiastic passion for the medium, pulling from continuity easily recognized by readers of Johns, Morrison or even Snyder and Capullo themsleves. New 52 Batman ended, but then as it turns out it didn’t; it just got even more fun.
P.S. (Baby Darkseid Is)
Series: Mister Miracle
Issues: #6 to #12
Creatives: Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Nick Derington
As John and I are still finalizing our top 10 of the 2010’s, there’s a good chance Mister Miracle finishes either among or as the decade’s best. At any given moment, I could agree with you 100%. No comic this decade has wowed me or made me think quite the way Mister Miracle could. From the Nick Derington covers to King and Gerads delivering an impossibly grounded insider’s view into war on Apokolips, everything about Mister Miracle is why we read comics. It’s the high (and the lows) that keep us coming back Wednesday after Wednesday, seeking miracles.
Series: The Green Lantern
Issues: The Green Lantern #3 to #12, The Green Lantern: Blackstars #1
Creatives: Grant Morrison, Liam Sharpe, Tom Orzechowski
You know, when I made my mid-year 2019 best of DC list, I did not consider The Green Lantern in my top 3. That was before John and I decided to dedicate the first Comic Book Herald deep dive to the work. As I mentioned with Morrison’s “Batman” line at the very start of this, it was this re-exploration with added context and annotations (I found the excellent Adventures in Poor Taste reviews particularly helpful) that started to really sell me the unassailable depth of the work.
I’d be lying, though, if I said this pick wasn’t aided by a relative lack of competition. Contenders from my mid-year list include Jimmy Olsen (which I admittedly jumped the gun on overpraising!) and Batman: Last Knight on Earth (which won’t conclude this year). Otherwise the closest pick is The Wild Storm which suffers (at least in my estimation) from reduced comparative output – the final arc, issues #19 to #24 were released this year.
All of that takes away from some wonderful odes to forgotten Silver Age Green Lantern concepts, as well as Liam Sharpe’s preposterously detailed and easter-egg laden cosmic flourishes. The Green Lantern is not a “quick” read. Nonetheless I’ve been impressed by the payoff when you’re willing to take the time to meet Morrison half (ok, maybe 70%) of the way there.