How to Get Into DC Comics: A Beginner's Guide to the New 52
Getting Into DC
With the recent surge of comic book characters and stories cropping up on TV and in theaters, there are a lot of people who have been wondering, “Just where do these come from?” Well, getting into comics for the first time can be a very daunting task, especially when one realizes just how old some of these characters are. Fortunately, DC has made this task a little easier with its creation of the New 52.
What Is the New 52?
The New 52 is a branding given to titles launched in September 2011 following the comic event known as The Flashpoint Paradox. This branding heralded the coming of a new age, a whole new DC universe, in an effort to revitalize dwindling sales and draw in new readers by offering this new jumping-on point.
This move has been met with mixed reviews, some seeing it as the new age of prosperity DC intended, while others saw it as the destruction of their beloved medium. I personally have enjoyed my foray into this New DC and wholeheartedly recommend it for new fans. Below, you'll find the fruits of my labors in integrating myself into this new comic world.
New 52 Official Launch Trailer
Where to Start?
First, you'll find information on the event Flashpoint, which resulted in the creation of the New 52. Thanks to that, we have a fresh slate to choose whatever we want to read starting at #1. After that, you'll find the breakdown of titles in the New 52.
The Flashpoint Paradox is the last event of the pre-New 52 timeline and results in the creation of the current DC universe. It centers around Barry Allen, The Flash, who finds himself in an alternate reality caused by the Reverse-Flash, aka Professor Zoom. Realizing that everything about this world is all wrong, including him no longer being The Flash, he does what he can to restore the time line.
At the end of it all, a voice speaks to him (while he's doing his speedforce thing and fixing time) about a split in reality and of an approaching great evil. This voice tells Barry how to combine the three universes (Wildstorm, Vertigo, and DC, though not mentioned by name) into one, so that the world might be prepared. Thus, the New 52 is born.
Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman
Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring The Flash
Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern
Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Superman
Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman
There is also an animated feature that's pretty awesome and covers all the important details. This being an alternate reality story, it's not important to grasp the New 52.
New 52 Titles
Comics in the New 52 can be broken down into 7 categories:
- Young Justice Titles
- The Edge Titles
- Justice League Titles
This where you'll find your traditional Superhero stories featuring members of the various Justice Leagues, the team-up books, and some more obscure characters.
- Batman Titles
Batman and "Bat-family" books. These are street level heroes without powers, relying on martial skill and gadgets.
- Superman Titles
Superman's solo and duo titles; Plus Superboy and Supergirl.
- Green Lantern Titles
The Green Lantern category focuses on the Lantern Corps of the emotional spectrum, primarily Green for obvious reasons. These are your cosmic/Sci-Fi stories with threats and events that span the galaxy.
- The Dark Titles
Supernatural, Magical, and Horror books.
Events and Crossovers in the New 52 are usually pretty self-contained. So we're going to break them (the crossovers) down into the same categories we split the titles up in the above "Titles" section.
But first, there are a few big events that should be paid attention to even if you don't read comics in that line, as they impact the universe at large.
Every year in September, DC has an Anniversary event to commemorate the launch of the New 52. These events cause each title to skip a month in their release, but don't need to be read in order relating to the associated titles. The first two events serve as good background information for the universe at large.
- Zero Month, the first event, provided #0 issues giving back story on the main characters, or related information, of each title being published at the time.
- The second event, Villains Month, gave us origin stories for a bunch of DC's iconic and lesser known villains, helping us get a feel for their role in this new DC universe.
- The third, and most recent, event was called Future's End and tied in with the later released Maxi-Series of an almost identical name (to be detailed later in this guide). Much like the related Maxi-Series, this event provides a glimpse of 5 years in the future of each title.
Trinity War is the first “universe” crossover and is basically one giant cluster-F#%^ as all three leagues meet, battle, and attempt to save the world. The Justice League "prime" in all its glory, the government-run Justice League of America, designed to counter the Justice League, and the Justice League Dark, bringing the Magic and Mayhem, all clash around a single character and her magic box. Pandora, who cameos in every starting title of the New 52 initial launch, and the voice that spoke to the Flash at the end of the Flashpoint Paradox, finally gets her day in the sun.
You can pick up the Justice League Vol 4: The Grid trade paperback for Justice League issues 18-20 as a lead in to Trinity War, but they foolishly include issues 22 and 23 (Parts 1 and 6 of Trinity War) so beware of spoilers at the end of that trade.
Forever Evil is the direct follow up to Trinity War and is the New 52's first line-wide crossover. This means that no title is safe from the repercussions of this event. The crime syndicate, an evil/alternate reality Justice League, has invaded Earth with the intention of taking over. Evil Superman blocks out the sun and villains rain supreme. With the Justice League's (that's right, plural) unaccounted for, it's up to the few heroes and even villains, who refused the Syndicates call to action, to save the day.
This event has a main title mini-series (Self-titled), several tie-in trades and tie-in mini-series'. The full rundown goes:
Forever Evil: Arkham War
Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion
Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S
Forever Evil: Blight
Justice League Vol 5: Forever Heroes
Justice League of America Vol 2: Survivors of Evil
Suicide Squad Vol 5: Walled In
The New 52: Future's End
Future's End takes place 5 years in the future where Earth Prime (our DC universe) is still recovering from war with another earth. So distracted by this, an evil that threatens everything is beginning to emerge. Hailing from an even more distant future, the Batman Beyond travels to this not so distant future in effort to prevent the atrocities of his time. The series ran for 48 issues and the 3rd/final trade paperback will be released in September 2015.
Earth 2: World's End
World's End takes place on Earth 2, and alternate earth in the multiverse. Much like in our home universe, a Justice League formed to do battle with Apokolips and its leader Darkseid. At great cost, they thought they had won. But, now Darkseid has returned and its up to the new generation of “Wonders” to save their world. This is a tale of how worlds end (see what I did there??). The series ran for 26 issues. The first trade will release on May 19, 2015, and the second trade finishing the story will release December 8th.
Multiverity isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things. It's a short but fun event revolving around a bunch of different earths in the Multiverse. I haven't gotten a chance to read it myself, but it's definitely on my comic “to-do” list.
Amazon's description reads as follows:
“The biggest adventure in DC's history is here! Join visionary writer Grant Morrison, today's most talented artists, and a cast of unforgettable heroes from 52 alternative Earths of the DC Multiverse! Prepare to meet the Vampire League of Earth-43, the Justice Riders of Earth-18, Superdemon, Doc Fate, the super-sons of Superman and Batman, the rampaging Retaliators of Earth-8, the Atomic Knights of Justice, Dino-Cop, Sister Miracle, Lady Quark, and the latest, greatest Super Hero of Earth-Prime: YOU!
THE MULTIVERSITY is more than a multipart comic-book series. It's a cosmos spanning, soul-shaking experience that puts YOU on the frontline in the battle for all creation against the demonic destroyers known as the Gentry!
Featuring artwork by Ivan Reis (JUSTICE LEAGUE), Frank Quitely (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN), Cameron Stewart (BATGIRL) and many others, THE MULTIVERSITY tells an epic tale that span 52 Earths.”
The trade releases October 27, 2015. If you can't wait that long, the series of one-shots go in this order:
- The Multiversity #1 - House of Heroes
- The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes: The Conquerors of the Counter-World #1 - Conquerors from the Counter-World
- The Multiversity: The Just #1 - #earthme
- The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1 - In Which We Burn
- The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1 - Captain Marvel and the Day that Never Was!
- The Multiversity Guidebook #1 - Maps and Legends
- The Multiversity: Mastermen #1 - Splendour Falls
- The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 - Ultra Comics Lives!
- The Multiversity #2 - Superjudge
Alright, here we're going to go over the various crossover stories divided into categories and which comics they involve. Each category represents a collection of related titles, more on that in the list of New 52 titles below.
1. Throne of Atlantis
Atlantis rises up and attacks the surface world! Lead by Ocean Master with some serious Atlantean artifact mojo, they hit the east coast of the US. The league must turn the tide against the vast army of Atlantis.
This crosses Justice League with Aquaman.
2. Darkseid War (coming soon)
3. Truth (coming soon)
1. Night of the Owls
The Court of Owls make their move against Batman and his allies.
- Red Robin with the Teen Titans
- The Birds of Prey
- Even the Red Hood!
All participate in this Gotham-wide attack.
2. Death of the Family
The Joker has it in his mind that Batman is getting soft. That his allies are holding him back and Joker misses battling Batman at his best. So he concocts the most insane plot to teach Batman this lesson, possibly at the cost of his allies' lives.
3. Batman: Zero Year
Holy Origin Story Batman!
The Zero year event covers Bruce Wayne's first run-ins with the Red Hood Gang and Harvey Dent. This is before Batman became Batman (you don't want to miss that transformative moment), before the Batcave and Robin, The Joker and the Batmobile. Gotham City goes dark, power cut by The Riddler, just days before a horrific super-storm. Not only do we see Batman, Six years before present day, but we catch an early glimpse at Nightwing, Green Arrow, Batgirl, Superman, the Birds of Prey, Catwoman, Batwing, Batwoman,The Flash, Green Lantern (John Stewart), and Jason Todd (Red Hood).
Collected in Batman Vol. 4: Zero Year - Secret City and Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year - Dark City for the main story, and DC Comics: Zero Year for the tie-ins.
"Gotham City is and always has been a crime-free utopia, where the heroes are celebrated through the streets of one of America's best cities. Batman is a universally beloved vigilante clad in white. His sidekick is Selina Kyle, otherwise known as Catbird. Who—or what—has created the Dark Knight's alternate hometown?" Credit: Amazon
Detective Comics Vol. 5: Gothtopia collects the primary issues of this event, but it doesn't seem to contain the tie-in issues that make it a crossover. This missing issues are:
- Batgirl 27
- Catwoman 27-28
- Birds of Prey 27-28
- Batwing 27-28
1. H'El on Earth
This story reminds me a lot of the Man of Steel movie.
A figure from Krpton's past arrives and plans to rebuild Krypton at the cost of Earth. Doesn't sound too familiar? Well at least this one has Supergirl. Regardless this crossover between the Super titles is pretty decent. Worth the read if you're interested in the Superman Category.
2. Supergirl: Red Daughter of Krypton
The Red Lanterns have sent out a call to bolster their ranks. Red rings have been traveling the galaxy in seek of candidates with rage in their hearts. On Earth, none other than Supergirl answers the call. Crosses the Supergirl title with Red Lanterns (and Green Lantern 28).
3. Superman: Doomed
It's Superman verses his iconic adversary Doomsday! The clash of titans is only part of the battle as Superman becomes infected by Doomsday, taking a monstrous form complete with his adversary's powers and traits!
Green Lantern Crossovers
1. Rise of the Third Army
The mysterious Third Army has arisen, spreading to throughout the galaxy and destroying everything in its path. With Hal and Sinestro both M.I.A. it's up to the new guy, Simon Baz to find the will to save everything.
2. Wrath of the First Lantern
It's the Lanterns vs. the Guardians of Oa and their Third Army, when the First Lantern is released. I'm sure "Wrath" told you all you needed to know about what happens next.
The fate of Hal and Sinestro revealed!
3. Lights Out
The massive Relic arrives! Ring light fades as the drain on the emotional spectrum reaches its breaking point. It's up to Hal to sound the rallying cry if the universe is to survive.
The Khund and the Durlans have the Green Lantern Corps under attack. John Stewart and his rag tag group of Lanterns must recover an undercover operative as things begin to heat up. Of course, that Lantern's been undercover so long, they may be impossible to track down.
Young Justice Crossover
1. The Culling
The evil leader of K.N.O.W.H.E.R.E., Harvest's plans start to come to fruition as the Teen Titans and the Legion Lost get thrown together with a bunch of other teen supers in a fight to the death called the Crucible.
The Dark Crossovers
Animal Man and Swamp Thing find themselves flung into the future during their battle with The Rot. In this new Rotworld, they must band together with what remains of Earth's heroes to break The Rot's hold on the world.
2. Forever Evil: Blight*
The Justice League dark must deal with the magical after-effects of the Trinity War during the Forever Evil event, pitting them against the dark manifestation of the collective human psyche. Much like the Justice League of America tie-in trade, it answers the question of "Where the eff is the JLD in all this?". Saving our skins, that's where.
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