For over half a century, DC and Marvel have duked it out for comic book supremacy. Each has told some really good stories and each will go down in history as one Hell of a good publisher. For Marvel, stories like Annihilation, The Coming of Galactus, Kraven’s Last Hunt, and The Death of Gwen Stacey helped solidify their spot atop the comic book mountain.
Each book was cleverly and meticulously put together so as to give the reader the best experience possible. To say that they are masterpieces just doesn’t give them enough credit. And for DC, well, their spot on the mountain was solidified by what you’re about to read. Each of the next ten stories should be read slowly and thoroughly so you don’t miss the euphoric high that they will undoubtedly leave you.
And here they are! The 10 best DC stories ever published that you need to read before you die.
10. Sinestro Corps War
History has shown that the Green Lantern comic often showcases some of the best art in comic books. Each page is littered with breathtaking imagery that ushers the readers around the cosmos. So, when DC announced that they were releasing a book that focuses on Sinestro and his relation to the Lanterns, expectations were sent sky-high.
And boy did the book deliver. Simply flipping through the first couple of pages should be enough to leave any reader breathless. I know that it did for me. Sinestro Corps War sees Sinestro gather an army of beings that can and will inspire fear throughout the galaxy. With the army by his side, he then wages an all-out war against the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lanterns. The Sinestro Corps War works because at its heart is an art that doesn’t necessarily need words for the reader to understand what’s going on.
9. Longbow Hunters
Green Arrow The Longbow Hunters is the most important Green Arrow story ever written. The book takes the title character and grounds him in a way that had never been done before and probably will never be done again. In an effort to gain market share with a superhero who had lost so much of it, DC hired Mike Grell to write The Longbow Hunters. Grell stripped Oliver Queen of everything he had become known for including his trick arrows and costume and turned him into the street-level hero that we still know him as today.
The Longbow Hunters is perfect because Grell was able to change everything that readers had come to know about the Green Arrow, and replace it with grit, violence, and abuse. Never before had the world seen Green Arrow painted in this light and I’d argue that we will never see it again.
8. Tower of Babel
Perhaps I’m a little biased but the Tower of Babel is one of the best DC stories ever written. The book sees Ra’s al Ghul successfully dismantle the entire Justice League while causing worldwide panic and confusion. And how does he do this?
Simple. Ra’s al Ghul uses the exact measures that Batman created to take down the Justice League if any member were to ever go rogue. That’s right. Batman created and kept a textbook guide on how to beat any and all members of the Justice League should they ever need to be taken down.
As you can imagine, such knowledge would cause animosity among the members…and it did. Sure, by the book’s end, Ra’s had been defeated but the defeat came at a cost. Batman had simultaneously left the Justice League and lost their trust.
7. Superman Red Son
What would’ve happened in Superman landed in the U.S.S.R. instead of the U.S.A.? That’s the question Superman Red Son asks and then answers.The book is a rhetorical creation that sees Superman as a part of Communist Russia during the time of Stalin. It sees Superman rise to power and wage a war against the United States and its President, Lex Luthor.
Superman Red Son is one of the best “What if?” comics ever written not because it tells a great story. Rather, Superman Red Son is one of the best “What if?” comics ever written because it paints a perfect picture of how different the world could’ve been.
6. Kingdom Come
What makes Kingdom Come so special is that it does the exact opposite of what comic books were doing at the time of its release. While they were focussing on vigilante heroes who seek justice by any means necessary, Kingdom Come reminds comics what a true hero actually is.
Kingdom Come takes place in the not-too-distant future where it’s near impossible to discern exactly what a hero and villain are. Unfortunately, because the opposing sides
Of course, this doesn’t last and eventually, Superman comes out of his fortress and teaches the heroes of this generation what it means to be a hero…a lesson that all comic book companies could learn from.
5. Judas Contract
Of the few truly great Teen Titans stories, none are as good as The Judas Contract. The Judas Contract sees the team infiltrated by their greatest enemy, Deathstroke. He’s able to achieve this by aligning himself with a teenage girl who, like the other Titans members, possesses superpowers. With her by his side, he sends her in and she becomes a member of the team.
The Judas Contract works on so many levels. The book brilliantly touches on adultery, betrayal, and legacy. More than those, however, it also marks the introduction of Jericho and explains how exactly Deathstroke came to be. As far as great DC stories go, no list is complete without The Judas Contract.
4. Killing Joke
If not for another entry on this list, The Killing Joke would go down as the best Batman story ever created. Not only does it give context and backstory to one of Batman’s greatest enemies, The Joker, but it also lays the foundation for the character change of Barbara Gordon.
The Killing Joke further solidifies Alan Moore’s spot as one of the best writers the comic book medium has ever seen. His ability to craft and tell the perfect story is put on full display in The Killing Joke. What makes the book so special is it was designed to be a one-off and not a part of Batman’s cannon. However, because of how much things changed, it has become the jumping point for many future Batman stories.
3. Crisis on Infinite Earths
If there was a problem with comic books it’s that it’s very difficult to simply pick up a book, begin reading, and know exactly what’s going on. What I’m saying is that too often comic books become a convoluted mess that even the writers occasionally can’t figure out. Crisis on Infinite Earths aimed to fix this.
The story is a 12-book epic that sees DC collapse all of its worlds into one. The event changed the course of DC by erasing continuity, characters, plot points, and all of the confusion that goes along with it in just a single swipe. Of course, the book had some casualties (sorry Barry Allen and Kara Zor-Em) but, anyone who has read Crisis on Infinite Earths knows that the sacrifice was well worth it.
2. All Star Superman
All-Star Superman is one big thank-you note/love letter to an age of comics gone by. The book sees Superman come to terms with the fact that he is dying. Due to this, Grant Morrison takes Superman on a whirlwind journey that prepares all those around Superman for what life will be like without him.
Throughout its couple of hundred pages, Superman brings life back to the sun, cures diseases, becomes intimate with Lois, and does everything else in his power to make sure the Earth will be fine without him. For a character that’s over half a century old, it can be hard to create a fresh and timeless story about them. All
1. The Dark Knight Returns
If there was ever one Batman story to be given the title of definitive Batman story, The Dark Knight Returns is it. The book breathed new life into not only Batman but also the entirety of the comic book industry.
The Dark Knight transforms Batman from a not-to-be-taken-seriously superhero into what we still know him as today…a tough-as-nails, by any means necessary (albeit without killing) crimefighter who is capable of outsmarting and defeating any who walk in his way. The book is a giant step away from what superhero comics were known for. It draws a perfect picture of what Gotham City is…a city run to the ground by the mobs.
What separates The Dark Knight Returns from every other entry on this list is, while its story and art can be replicated, its spot in comic history cannot.