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25 Best DC Comic Books to Read: Our selection of the best DC Comics

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Everybody knows Batman and Superman and with the DC Universe expanding on the big screen, the general public has been introduced to less familiar characters such as Shazam and Blue Beetle.

Like the Marvel Superheroes, those characters have lived decades of adventures on paper before. As DC is also renowned for its complicated timeline, those characters have been rebooted and rewritten (some more than others) throughout the years, making it sometimes more discouraging for new readers to dive into this world.

It would be regretful to miss out on great stories because of some temporal shenanigans that, more often than not, are not so important to enjoy the wild, fun, and diverse style of adventures you can find on the DC Universe. From some good detective stories to adventures in time and space, horror, comedy, and more, there is something for everybody.

To help you find some of the best DC stories out there, Comic Book Treasury has made a selection of 25 of the Best DC Comics to read. This is not an exhaustive list, and there are easily more great stories from DC out there.

Whether you are a new reader, an old one, or someone who read DC Comics for some past decades and wants to reconnect with the characters, we hope you’ll find something you want to read or re-read in this list.

As said above, this is not an ultimate list, so don’t hesitate to leave your own suggestions for the best DC Comics in the comments below!

Here is our selection of what we consider 25 of the best DC comics to read (in chronological order):

Flash of Two Worlds! by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino (1961)

Released in 1961, Flash of Two Worlds (published in The Flash #123) is considered one of the most important comics in DC history. So we mostly begin with a page of history that introduced Earth-Two and the concept of the multiverse to DC Comics.

Discover how police scientist Barry Allen, the Flash of the 1960s, first crossed paths with Jay Garrick, the Flash of the 1940s as the Fastest Man Alive learned to use his super-speed to travel across dimensions to Earth-2! This flagship story also inspired the company to revive many of its Golden Age characters.

Fourth World by Jack Kirby (1970–1973)

The name Jack Kirby is more associated with Marvel, as the man is, among other things, the co-creator of Captain America, the Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron Man, and more. Unhappy with the way Marvel treated him at the time, Kirby switched companies to introduce new worlds and new characters.

This is the classic battle between good and evil as represented by the worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips. Darkseid, the evil lord of Apokolips, seeks the Anti-Life Equation which will allow him to control the thoughts of all living beings. Opposing him is Orion, his son raised by Highfather and his enemies on New Genesis.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams (1970-1972)

Some team-ups are more important than others, and few are as emblematic as the partnership of The Emerald Archer and the greatest space lawman who ever lived that took place in the seventies on planet Earth.

Ahead of their time, writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams take on issues that America was facing in the 1970s by following Oliver Queen and Hal Jordan on a road trip across the United States to better understand what was going on on their planet.

Legion of Super-Heroes – Great Darkness Saga by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen (1982)

The godlike Darkseid has established mental control over a race of three billion all-powerful creatures by using his loyal minions to gather all of the time’s magical artifacts. As their universe teeters on the brink of Armageddon, the Legion of Super-Heroes gathers their own army of every champion who has ever claimed the Legionnaire title to take on the Dark Lord and his indestructible warriors. But as the Legion suffers setback after defeat, they realize that salvation and triumph are in the hands of a strange infant who has grown into manhood right in front of their eyes!

So we have to admit that it can be a confusing experience at first with so many characters as this story features every legionnaire there have been until that point, but this is also a perfect example of a fun, action-packed epic story done right – and to be honest, a perfect read after Kirby’s Fourth World.

The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez (1984)

Introduced in the sixties, The Teen Titans were the youthful Junior Justice League, young heroes with great powers and strong personalities fighting to stomp out evil as they made their way into the world and learned about themselves at the same time. It took time, but this young team became a big hit for DC Comics in the 1980s, thanks to Marv Wolfman and George Pérez.

Both men penned the most thrilling and adventurous stories that the team has ever lived, achieving a commercially and critically high point with the now classic The Judas Contract storyline. This multipart epic played on comic readers’ expectations and offered shocking revelations and surprising twists. From the retirement of Robin and Kid Flash, to the birth of Nightwing and the introduction of Jericho, to the ultimate betrayal of a Titan, The Judas Contract is still, to this day, the most famous Titan story.

  • The Judas Contract
    Collects The New Teen Titans #39–40, Tales of the Teen Titans #41–44, Annual #3

Saga of Swamp Thing by Alan Moore with art by Stephen R, Bissette, John Totleben, and Rick Veitch (1984-1987)

Also part of our 50 Best Comics to Read and The Best Alan Moore Comics to Read, Alan Moore’s Saga of Swamp Thing is a must-read comic book full of horror, laughter, and wild concepts that will help shape a big part of American comics afterward.

It helped people realize that comics could be for adults, participated in the slow demise of the Comics Code, and started what is called the British Invasion at DC. It’s also where John Constantine made his debut. Above all else, this is the deconstruction of the classic monster, with Moore exploring and commenting on environmental, political, and social issues explored against a backdrop of horror.

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-1987)

This one needs no introduction. Watchmen is The Classic. The Comic Book everyone, even non-readers, has heard about it. One of the first comics that is recommended to new readers. Without any surprise, it’s also part of our 50 Best Comics to Read (and Best Alan Moore Comics to Read.)

In case you have lived under a rock for the past 30 years, Watchmen is set in an alternate world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history, the US won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the Cold War is in full effect. When the superhero known as the Comedian dies, a series of events are set into motion that bring the world ever closer to a deadly threat no one saw coming.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller with art by David Mazzucchelli (1987)

Also part of our 50 Best Comics to Read as well as our selection of Best Batman Comics For Beginners. One year before, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli created the most definitive story about Daredevil with Born Again (part of our Best Marvel Stories to read). The duo continued their collaboration by redefining Batman for a new generation of readers with its gritty vision of a violent and dangerous Gotham who got the vigilante it needed.

In his first year on the job, Batman feels his way around a Gotham City far darker than the one he left. His solemn vow to extinguish the town’s criminal element is only half the battle; along with Lieutenant James Gordon, the Dark Knight must also fight a police force more corrupt than the scum in the streets.

Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell (1987)

For a long time, Green Arrow was not a familiar character outside comic book readers. The character made his way into several animated adaptations in the 2000s before appearing in the live-action series Smallville. But it is really with the television series Arrow launched in 2012, where our titular character was played by Stephen Amell, that the Emerald Archer became more mainstream.

Before taking the bow to make justice on the little screen, Oliver Queen was an urban hunter in Mike Grell’s run on the character that started with the classic limited series The Longbow Hunters. Stripping the Emerald Archer of his gimmicks and trick arrows, Grell introduced the world to an aging Oliver Queen haunted by the life he’s led and the paths not taken.

Wonder Woman by George Perez (1987-1992)

Like many DC characters, Wonder Woman was reimagined in a Post-Crisis World by legendary comics creator George Pérez. This new version of the legendary Amazon Princess from DC Comics gained unparalleled levels of public and critical praise very rapidly.

In collaboration with co-writer Len Wein and inker Bruce Patterson, Pérez sent on to craft Wonder Woman’s adventures for years, redefining the character for the modern age. Pérez can be considered the first person to take Diana and her mythology seriously, reworking her rogues gallery and introducing new characters. Be warned though, the run can be dialogue-heavy, between some heart-stopping battles, affecting the pace of the story.

Animal Man by Grant Morrison with art by Chas Truog (1988–1990)

In the wake of Alan Moore’s successful run on Swamp Thing and Watchmen, DC editor Karen Berger recruited many writers and artists from the UK, including Grant Morrison who pitched an Animal Man series. The Scottish writer took what was considered a forgotten, almost laughable DC Comics hero and reimagined him to deliver social commentaries, with a focus on animal rights, and deconstruct the superhero genre and the comic book form, giving us an iconic run.

Meet Buddy Baker, a second-rate superhero struggling with real-life issues and moral dilemmas. Buddy is a caring husband, devoted father, animal activist, and super-powered being. But as he attempts to live up to all of his roles, he finds that there are no black-and-white situations in life…

Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison with art by Richard Case, John Nyberg, Doug Braithwaite, Scott Hanna and Carlos Garzón (1989-1992)

After reimagining Animal Man, Grant Morrison went on to update the Doom Patrol and redefined the team for the next 30 years — and a big influence on the television adaptation, if you have seen it! If you’re up for some Dadaism, Doom Patrol delivers many weird and wonderful hours of reading.

With the Chief determined to rebuild his team to its former greatness, The new Doom Patrol puts itself back together after nearly being destroyed, and things start to get a lot weirder for everybody. Always present is Robotman, after a stay in a psychiatric ward; Larry Trainor who regains his previous connection with the Negative Man, and becomes Rebis after involuntarily combining with a female doctor named Eleanor Poole. They are joined by Crazy Jane, a patient at the hospital Robotman stayed with who possesses a different superpower with each of her multiple personalities; Dorothy Spinner, an ape-faced girl with powerful “imaginary friends.” and sentient neighborhood Danny the Street.

Atlantis Chronicles by Peter David and Esteban Maroto (1990)

Now the star of some blockbuster movies, Arthur Curry aka Aquaman was seen for a long time as a lesser DC superhero, always in the shadows of other superheroes. The character was rehabilitated by Geoff Johns in the New 52 (a great entry point for new readers), but it was not the first Aquaman run to make some splash. In the nineties, Peter David left its mark by crafting an epic saga and building new mythos for the character.

The writer started its run with Atlantis Chronicles, a miniseries detailing the history of the Atlantean Royal Family and a spanning tale exploring the history of Atlantis like never before (or after). When the continent of Atlantis was struck by a meteor, the surviving cities of Poseidonis and Tritonis used an unusual combination of science and magic to protect the people. While King Orin had faith in the science that let his people thrive underwater, his brother, King Shalako, rejected science in favor of worshipping dark powers, setting up a conflict that would mark all who followed… This is the story of how a once-great civilization rose and fell like the tides, producing heroes and villains and culminating in the birth of the man who would grow to become the King and champion–Aquaman.

The Flash: The Return of Barry Allen by Mark Waid and Greg LaRocque (1993)

Following Crisis On Infinite Earths, Barry Allen wasn’t the Fastest Man Alive anymore. Under the pen of Mark Waid, Wally West was running fast to create the most influential run on The Flash. It was great character-building with Wally West maturing into a Flash in his own right. The Return of Barry Allen, Waid’s second story arc on the title, marks a major turn for Wally who lived under the shadow of Barry up until that point. That is the story that changed Wally for good.

On Christmas, a revived Barry Allen knocks on Wally West’s house and surprises him. The two attempt to collaborate, but conflict develops about sharing The Flash’s identity. This returned Barry is different and more violent, forcing Jay Garrick to take measure to stop him, while Wally West discover the truth about who this Barry really is…

The Batman Adventures: Mad Love by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm (1993)

Set in the continuity of Batman: The Animated Series, Mad Love is a classic Batman book exploring the origins of Harley Quinn who made her comic book debut with this story.

Expanding on her role from the television series, Mad Love is a cautionary tale exploring domestic violence and codependency, diving into Harley Quinn’s backstory and revealing her past as Joker’s former therapist at Arkham Asylum who becomes his loyal follower and put in the role of the long-suffering girlfriend.


Starman by James Robinson with art by Tony Harris and Peter Snejbjerg (1994-2001)

James Robinson’s celebrated run on Starman is a classic example of a writer taking on a less-known character to explore the significance of legacy, family and the responsibility that comes with it. A story that succeeds in combining forward-thinking and nostalgia.

Jack Knight–antique collector and dealer–inherits the name and powers of his father’s old Starman identity from his older brother. Reluctantly adjusting to his role, Jack reinvents the look of Starman, ditching the traditional red and green in favor of black leather and aviator goggles. But Jack has inherited more than a heroic identity from his brother . . . he’s also gained a foe: the beautiful but mentally unbalanced Nash, daughter of the villain known as the Mist. Jack also must come to grips with the Shade, the morally ambiguous former villain who decides to become Jack’s mentor.

  • Starman Compendium One
    Collects Starman (vol. 2) #0–42, Annual #1; The Shade #1-4; Starman Secret Files and Origins #1; Showcase ’95 #12, Showcase ’96 #4, Showcase ’96 #5, The Power of Shazam! #35-36
  • Starman Compendium Two
    Collects All-Star Comics 80-Page Giant #1, Batman/Hellboy/Starman #1-2, JSA All-Stars #4, Starman #43-81, Starman #1 (1998), Starman/Congorilla #1, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0, and The Shade #1-12.

Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross (1995)

Established in 1990, Elseworlds was the publication imprint for a selection of DC comic books that take place outside the company’s main continuity. Gotham by Gaslight is considered the first Elseworlds story, and a few years later was released Kingdom Come which became one of the most famous Elseworlds stories.

An exploration of the notion of power, responsibility and the violent and gritty anti-hero trend of the time, Kingdom Come is set in the not-so-distant future, at a time when Batman is retired, Superman is in a self-imposed exile and the rest of the Justice League nowhere to be found. The DC Universe is spinning inexorably out of control. The new generation of heroes has lost their moral compass, becoming just as reckless and violent as the villains they fight. But not for long. After a cataclysmic event costs the lives of millions, the Justice League–led by a rejuvenated Superman–returns to bring balance back to the world. However, the new guard will not go down quietly. A battle is coming between the uncompromising protectors and an untamed group of young powerhouses–one that will define what heroism truly is.

Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (1996-1997)

Happy holidays! Go back to Batman’s early days of crime fighting with this timeless Batman mystery story by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale that has it all: a compelling story, a richly developed setting, a fantastic cast of villains, and a perfect noir-like atmosphere.

Christmas. St. Patrick’s Day. Easter. As the calendar’s days stack up, so do the bodies littered in the streets of Gotham City. A murderer is loose, killing only on holidays. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month.

Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (1998)

Following their success with Batman: The Long Halloween (see above!), Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale tackled Superman with a similar concept. Instead of a story rhymed by seasons, this one is told through the course of the seasons. Set in parallel to Byrne’s origin story (but can be read as a stand-alone), All Seasons is an emotional tale looking at what makes Superman a hero through different points of view.

Smallville, Kansas. Young Clark, brought up by his adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent, discovers as he grows up that he possesses extraordinary abilities. After saving a resident from a tornado, he discovers that he can fly, has superhuman strength and highly developed senses. As time goes by, Clark finally takes off for Metropolis and a future career as a journalist, unaware that for him, this is just the beginning…

JLA: Tower of Babel by Mark Waid with art by Howard Porter (2000)

Following Grant Morrison’s defining run on JLA, Mark Waid took over and started his run by writing one of the most famous JLA storylines, The Tower of Babel.

A mysterious plague has swept across Earth. All language has seemingly turned to gibberish, and the world is plunged into a state of panic as communication becomes impossible. The JLA is determined to set things right…but it turns out that one of their own may have played a role in this disaster. Is one of the heroes truly responsible for the chaos across the planet? Will the JLA survive this shocking betrayal?

Gotham Central by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, and Michael Lark (2002-2006)

Gotham City, home of Batman, his allies and his many foes. A town with one of the highest crime rates of all the DC Cities. A town filled with corrupt cops, ruthless crime lords, petty thieves… and a few honorable souls ready to fight back. Writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka put the spotlight on the ordinary men and women working for the Gotham Police Department in Gotham Central, delivering a classic detective drama in the world of Batman.

Gotham’s Finest works around the clock to not only keep the world’s most psychotic criminals off the street… but also to clean up the mess left behind by Batman’s one-man war on crime. Grizzled veteran Harvey Bullock, Captain Maggie Sawyer, Detective Renee Montoya and the GCPD are the law force that stands between order and complete anarchy. 

DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke (2004)

Go back to 1950s America and explore a page of comic book history in the company of Darwyn Cooke with the now classic DC: New Frontier, naturally part of our 50 Best Comics to Read. This epic and hopeful story shines a light on the Silver Age era, with all its quality and default, his classic heroes as well as the more obscure and forgotten characters from DC’s past such as The Losers, Challengers of the Unknown and King Faraday.

So welcome to the DC Universe in 1950s America — a land of promise and paranoia, of glittering cities and segregated slums, of dizzying scientific progress and simmering Cold War conflict. A land without the Justice League–Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Or so it seems. The masked mystery men who fought for freedom in the Second World War have been outlawed. The soldiers and spies who conducted top-secret missions into the unknown now work in the shadows. And those icons who do still fight on operate under hidden agendas and dueling ideologies. Yet this America needs its heroes more than ever. With darkness gathering on the horizon once more, only a bold new generation of adventurers — young, daring, and dedicated to the better angels of our nature — is equal to the challenge of the New Frontier.

  • DC: The New Frontier
    Collects the 6-issue miniseries plus Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1

Green Lantern: Rebirth by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver (2004-2005)

Geoff Johns has been a major architect of the DC Universe in the Noughties, and a DC list would be sort of incomplete without at least one of his books. One of his biggest accomplishments is his epic saga on Green Lantern where he has expanded the mythology, added in new concepts and co-creating numerous characters. And it all started with Green Lantern: Rebirth.

It’s been years since the death of Hal Jordan and the end of the Green Lantern Corps. But as the torchbearer Kyle Rayner is about to find out, an adventure of epic and mythological proportions is about to begin as the former Lantern returns to the land of the living to atone for his sins.

Plastic Man by Kyle Baker (2004-2006)

A humorist superhero from the Golden Age of Comic Books, Plastic Man was updated by cartoonist Kyle Baker in a 2004 series full of jokes and beautiful illustrations.

Plastic Man is back in action and must come to terms with his criminal past when the FBI assigns him to catch his underworld alter ego, Eel O’Brian. Can Plas clear his name? Maybe, with the help of his beautiful, ruthless new partner, FBI Agent Morgan. Or, maybe not, thanks to the completely useless help of his old crime-fighting sidekick, Woozy Winks.

All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (2005-2008)

What does Superman represent? No story answers this question better than the out-of-continuity maxi-series All-Star Superman, from the creative team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Delivering an “iconic” Superman for old and new readers, this is Morrison’s homage to the Silver Age Superman and and celebration of his mythos.

In it, the Man of Steel goes toe-to-toe with Bizarro, his oddball twin, and the new character Zibarro, also from the Bizarro planet. And Superman faces the final revenge of Lex Luthor in the form of his death!

If you want to read more DC stories, don’t forget to check out our pages dedicated to all our DC Comics Reading Order Guide!

Last Updated on March 23, 2024.

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