Welcome back to another list of great comic books you should add to your summer reading list! Let’s jump right in with our next ten comics from the second largest comic book company, DC Comics. DC is the home of the first superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman; while they may be behind when it comes to movies, they still have an amazing collection of great comics that are amazing to read. Like the last list, this one will maintain the same criteria of being relatively self contained, easy to find, and most importantly fun. Now let’s jump right in with 10 great DC stories to read this summer!
THE FLASH (Move Forward)
The Flash is having some miraculous success with the TV show, and thankfully his comics are a lot of fun as well. After a chemical accident involving lightning (it happens!) forensic scientist Barry Allen becomes The Flash! The fastest man alive! Move Forward is the beginning of the most recent run involving The Flash, and it’s a science fiction romp that involves a man who can make multiple versions of himself, an old foe the Flash has to face, and time travel. What’s great about this story is that, despite all the crazy sci fi insanity, there is a lot of great character development and some really heart breaking moments. But, don’t worry, it never takes itself too seriously. And it’s a great introduction to the character for those who know nothing about him.
We all know the stereotypical superhero tropes, cliches, stakes, action, etc. But, we rarely see what the people who live in these universes are actually like. Well, DC printed a comic that asked a very interesting question: with all the insane super villains, vigilantes, and disasters in Gotham City, (Batman’s home town) how do the cops handle it all? Well it sure as hell ain’t easy for the GCPD. This book is a fascinating procedural with hints of both mystery and crime drama. Think of it like Law & Order except with superheroes… and good. The best part is that everything that happens in the stories feels so real, even though the reader knows that this is a world of fantasy. The characters are fascinating, the art is beautiful, and the stories are always gripping.
JUSTICE LEAGUE (Vol 1. Origin)
This book can best be described as a summer block buster you can take around with you. It’s an exciting romp that involves an invading alien force and the formation of a famous super hero team. Sound familiar? Okay, I promise it’s not a rip off of Avengers. For starters, it has much higher stakes, and secondly the formation of the Justice League is a lot of fun. The dialogue and wit between all of them is hysterically funny and smart. If you’re not particularly interested in reading the comic, you can pick up the animated movie adaptation they made of it. While it’s not as good as the comic, it’s still a lot of fun to watch. The summer block buster that fits in your backpack.
SECRET SIX (Vol 1 Unhinged)
Let’s be honest, superhero teams are fun, but they’re always bound by rules and ethics, which can make them a little less interesting sometimes. Occasionally, it’s a lot more fun to see a team that doesn’t let themselves get held back by “the right thing” and instead is more interested in what pays. Ladies and gentlemen, I present for your entertainment, the Secret Six. A group of third rate villains who act as mercenaries to take near suicidal jobs that nobody is interested in. Their first outing together involves them escorting a former super heroine holding a mystic playing card that is essentially a “get out of hell for free” ticket. Full of double crosses, revenge, deranged family members, and some of the best writing ever, this is definitely a book that needs to be read!
GREEN LANTERN (Rebirth)
Superhero comic books are silly. They always have been silly, and they always will be silly. And if we were to rank silliness on a scale, then Green Lantern is close to the top. His whole premise is ridiculous: through the sheer force of will, fighter pilot Hal Jordan is able to take command of a technological ring that can create anything he wants, and then becomes a space cop. However, comics can, amazingly, bring a lot of dimensions to these characters, and Green Lantern is proof of this in his Rebirth comic. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the plot, but think of this as a redemption story. And while the book focuses on Hal Jordan, it has a lot of supporting characters, and players from the DC Universe. There is a lot of background info, but it’s explained in a way that’s fun and makes the reader want to read those books. It’s silly, but a really good silly.
GREEN ARROW (Quiver)
The DC universe really likes the color green. Oliver Queen was a rich twerp who got stranded on an island, and had to learn how to survive with a bow and arrow, becoming the emerald archer Green Arrow. When he finally got off, he decided to use his new skills to fight crime in his home city. Like the Flash, Green Arrow has a network show on CW that’s become very popular. This particular story I’m mentioning is nothing like the TV series. Written by the super nerd himself, Kevin Smith, this is a resurrection story that is the perfect entrance into the DC universe. A lot of fun context and explanation is given that sets everything up great, but it also has a wonderfully entertaining through story that builds tension beautifully. And the art has this cartoonish style that flows, but doesn’t distract from the action.
BATMAN AND ROBIN (Vol 1. Batman Reborn)
There are A LOT of stories about Batman. It’s actually hard to keep track of them all, and it’s easy to understand why: Batman is awesome. However, this story takes a unique spin on the Batman mythos. Bruce Wayne is supposedly dead (because every super hero dies at least once) and the first Robin, Dick Grayson, has to take the mantle of Batman, with a new Robin, Bruce Wayne’s son. Let the insanity begin! A gritty, grainy, yet colorful artistic style makes the action pop off the page. The story is a wonderful mix of weirdness and crime drama, but luckily the story never takes itself too seriously. The plot is constantly moving, the action is great, and the dynamic between a Batman and Robin who hate each other is a lot of fun to read.
Superheroes are meant to be over powered, and there have been plenty of stories to examine what happens if a superhero community goes too far, and tries to impose its will on the world. Some of them are fine, but none hold a candle to this one. ‘Biblical’ is the only word I can possibly use to describe Kingdom Come. It’s a tale of the famed superheroes from DC taking over the world to save it from anarchy. However, another faction of superheroes are worried that they’ll go too far and decide to combat them. Super villains plotting, super heroes warring, the apocalypse coming, and only a priest who’s lost his faith can save the world. It’s deep, complex, and the art is a gorgeous realism that excels. It’s a gripping tale that rivals any story from the bible.
BATGIRL (Vol 1. Batgirl of Burnside)
Now, this comic is currently unavailable in it’s graphic novel form at the moment. But it will be on June 16th, and it’s definitely worth reading. Batgirl is a continuation from her previous (and also excellent) series. However, while that series is really good, it’s also a darker series that is a bit of a downer for a summer reading series. Batgirl of Burnside is a lot more fun. Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) moves out to the hipster neighborhood of Gotham City to set up shop there as it’s newest super heroine. Getting new gadgets, a new look, and an awesome new attitude, she fights crime and makes new relationships. It’s a great slice of life book with a superhero edge with amazing art by an up-and-coming artist. Definitely the perfect light-hearted beach book.
WONDER WOMAN (Vol 1. Blood)
Wonder Woman is awesome. That’s just a scientific fact. However, she sadly didn’t have many great known stories for a while. Her male counterparts, like Batman and Superman, had much more well known comics that constantly hit best seller lists. That all changed when DC relaunched their series with the new 52, and relaunched Wonder Woman with an ongoing series that lasted three years. Blood starts off this series with political intrigue, monsters, and a retelling of the Wonder Woman origin story that makes her incredibly compelling. Battling the ancient Greek gods, Diana, princess of the Amazons must protect the illegitimate children of a now dead Zeus. It’s fantastic read that requires no back story, and is immensely entertaining with beautiful art. That’s all that needs to be said for Wonder Woman’s latest series. Pick it up now.
All right guys. That’s the second part of this list. Next week I’ll be finishing up my reading comic book recommendations with ten great independent comics you should read over the summer. Can’t wait to see you there!