Five years ago, DC Comics relaunched their entire universe in an event called “The New 52.” While well-received at first, it’s no secret that it left longtime readers wanting. Old fans felt like their favorite characters had been turned into shells of their former selves, and like the DC Universe they loved so dearly was gone. Thankfully, the powers that be were listening. With “DC Rebirth,” things have changed yet again, but this time for the better. With a renewed focus on the characters and what made them special, DC has proven that old can be new again.
Fans responded in kind and turned Rebirth into a massive success. Ask anyone currently reading, and they will tell you just how good it feels to be reading DC comics once again. At the relaunch’s center, there’s also a mystery that ties the “New 52” to “Rebirth,” one that we know somehow involves the “Watchmen” characters. As exciting as that sounds, there are a ton of great comics to read under the “Rebirth” banner, whether they have a role to play in this mystery or not. Here is a list of the 15 series you should be reading right now.
15. THE FLASH
Barry Allen has seen a surge in popularity ever since the start of his new television series in 2014, and he’s now about to appear in the “Justice League” movie. If you need a book to pick up to learn who Barry Allen is, both as a man and superhero, this series is the one. For new fans, this is a perfect jumping on point that doesn’t necessitate much prior knowledge. But it’s also just what the old fans needed: a series that brings new elements to the Flash mythology just as much as it revamps the old one.
The kinetic, eye-popping art by Carmine Di Giandomenico is absolutely thrilling, making The Flash almost pop off the page. For his part, writer Joshua Williamson blends the old and the new, from re-establishing the Rogues as main threats to introducing new characters like supervillain Godspeed. Iris West is back as Barry’s love interest, and her nephew, the “New 52” version of Wally West, is also here as the new Kid Flash. And finally, a certain blood-spattered yellow button is about to become to center of attention.
14. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA
There is the big, official Justice League — comprised of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and two Green Lanterns. But a second team team has been formed, this time by none other than the Bat himself. Seeing as the Justice League is effectively a team of godlike beings, Bruce is looking to create a team that is more human, one that the public can look at and see themselves in. One they can be inspired by. To accomplish that, he assembled a very different roster: Vixen, The Atom, Black Canary, The Ray, Killer Frost and the main man himself, Lobo.
Spinning out directly out of “DC Rebirth’s” first official crossover event “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad,” the series is off to a solid start thanks to writer Steve Orlando. Since it’s still in its infancy, we’ve only gotten a small taste of what this new version of the team can do, and especially how their personalities interact with each other. Seeing a more human Batman head his own Justice League is an exciting prospect for any fan, and with the series only on its second issue, it is a perfect time to jump on this series.
13. TEEN TITANS
After a departure from the Teen Titans team, old fans used to know and love in the “New 52,” writer Benjamin Percy was tasked with bringing some of the team’s most loved team members in a new iteration of the title. This time however, fan-favorites Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy would have to face something they had never faced before. Or rather, someone: the leadership of Bruce Wayne’s very own son, Damian, aka the new Robin. To fill out the ranks of this new team, the new version of Wally West would bring the lightning.
Damian is young, headstrong and rules with an iron fist. However, as he faced the wrath of his grandfather Ra’s Al Ghul, he has come to see the value in his teammates, and care for them. Thanks to their strong friendship, the Teen Titans have managed to change Damian for the better, and things are only starting to get interesting. Next up, the following story arc will bring one of the mainstays of the “Young Justice” cartoon back to comics, Kaldur’ahm, the hero known as Aqualad, another fan-favorite.
Dick Grayson has always been a character beloved by fans. “The New 52” took an unexpected turn when it took him out of the superhero game and traded his spandex for the tactical outfit of a spy. There is no doubt that this was a departure for the character, but it worked very well under the guidance of writers Tim Seeley and Tom King and it was a direction that the fans embraced. With “Rebirth,” the character was brought back to the rightful black and blue, but he also carried something over: writer Tim Seeley.
Seeley understands the character very well, and it shows in every caption box and piece of dialogue. To honor the idea behind DC’s “Rebirth,” the series, after its opening arc, brought its titular character back to the city that made him who he is: Blüdhaven. There, Dick is given the chance to start fresh, make some new friends, start a relationship and even run into some old acquaintances. “Nightwing” embodies everything about Rebirth: it harkens back to the old, molds the new and is an absolute joy to read.
After a successful first season on television, Supergirl has become one of the more popular female characters in comics. All that her new fans needed was a new comic book to pick up to see her in action. This title does away with a lot of the old and focuses on what made the television show successful, like establishing her in National City and bringing in the DEO and Kara’s adoptive parents Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers. Although it’s not all similarities. This time around, there is no job for Kara. She’s in high school.
After a first story arc that focused on the new Cyborg Superman and his army, the series is poised to fit into the larger scheme of the “DC Rebirth” mystery, with the arrival of Emerald Empress and her search for Saturn Girl. Supergirl will team-up with the likes of Superman and Batgirl, and with Saturn Girl involved, who knows how long it’ll be before the Legion of Superheroes, another fan-favorite team from DC’s classic days, shows up. This is a title for everyone, for fans of the tv show just looking to read up on the character, and for longtime DC readers.
10. SUPER SONS
With Damian Wayne featuring in the “Batman” series (from time to time), as well as working with the Teen Titans in San Francisco, you’d think he’d have his hands more than full. And yet, it seems he has the time to co-headline another series of his own, one that he shares with Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s son, Jonathan Kent. Together, they form the smallest, youngest world’s finest team. Written by Peter J. Tomasi, this series spins out directly out of the events of the writer’s other series, “Superman.”
Superboy and Robin, just like their fathers, have a semi-antagonistic friendship that is only rendered more playful by the fact that they are both young children. Both are very different, from the way they were brought up to their abilities, and yet both are the same in some aspects, like their need to sneak out after bedtime and help others in need. There is only one issue of this series out just yet, so it will be quite easy to catch up and see what these two will be up to next, and what will cause their next disagreement.
9. GREEN LANTERNS
Yes, Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart and Guy Gardner are all beloved characters, and rightfully so. But, even with four human Green Lanterns, it’s time to add two more names to that list: Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. In Sam Humphries’ “Green Lanterns” series, the two are the only protectors of space sector 2814 left. As partners, they must protect the Earth from all threats, from the rage of the Red Lanterns to the emergence of a new power ring.
Contrary to their predecessors, Jessica and Simon are new at this, and not only are they less experienced, but also they both have to deal with their own personal and psychological issues, from dealing with the country’s xenophobia to a severe case of anxiety. The series is well known to use dual text boxes to showcase what each character is thinking to great effect. Humphries isn’t afraid to go into his characters’ heads, and it makes all of there achievements, failures and triumphs all the more resonant and impressive.
8. SUICIDE SQUAD
After the financial success of the “Suicide Squad” movie, “DC Rebirth” relaunched the team with a roster very similar to the one seen in the movie: Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, and Enchantress, all led by Rick Flag Jr and Katana, who answer to Amanda Waller. The premise is the same as it’s always been: Task Force X, going into dangerous black ops mission. But thanks to writer Rob Williams, the Squad has regained its equal sense of fun, dark and danger.
This series employs a different format than the rest of the DC books, with a 12-page main story, and an eight-page backup story that always focuses on one particular character. This format allowed legendary artist Jim Lee to tackle art duties on the entire first arc, and following the events of “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad,” also-legendary artist John Romita Jr. has taken over art duties. With half a book that can focus on action, and the other on depth, the series has found a footing that works brilliantly.
7. ALL-STAR BATMAN
After an amazing five-year run on the character, a run that brought his name up there with the biggest and best Batman writers ever, Scott Snyder stuck around the Bat-cave for DC’s “Rebirth.” But this time around, this new series wouldn’t be like his previous work. With “All-Star Batman,” Snyder found a way to bring Batman fans something completely new; maybe even experimental. In what was the equivalent of a metal album on the page, Batman left on a colorful and brutal roadtrip for a single, honorable goal: saving Harvey Dent.
But underneath all the blood and the action and the inventive bat-gadgets, there is something that Snyder hasn’t forgotten: how to write the man underneath the cowl. This exhilarating series also proved itself to be emotional and personal, something that Snyder always brought to the character’s mythology. With the next story arc, which sees Batman cross paths with Mister Freeze, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter, and many more still to come, Snyder will get to showcase even more of the villains he never got to use in his previous run. And we can’t wait to see what he will do with them.
6. WONDER WOMAN
Diana Prince is a character that has seen many variations of her origin story. From the made of clay story, all the way to her being an actual daughter of Zeus. With the Rebirth relaunch, writer Greg Rucka came in to shatter everything fans, and Wonder Woman herself, believed to be true. By redefining the character of Cheetah and her relationship with Diana and bringing Steve Trevor back to the table, this is a Wonder Woman series that feels worthy of the Amazon Princess.
Rucka chose to approach his series differently than the others. With the twice-monthly shipping, readers would get one story set in the present, expertly drawn by Liam Sharp, and another, beautifully drawn by Nicola Scott, set in the past. The past segment works as the definitive origin for Diana in the “Rebirth” era, and it feeds the story set in the present, each issue bringing something essential to the overarching story. Nothing is as it seems, and we have to keep reading to find out the real truth.
5. DETECTIVE COMICS
“Detective Comics” is only one of two series (the other being “Action Comics”) that has reverted back to its original numbering, now well over 950. If that wasn’t a sign that DC is honoring the past, the fact that this series was essentially turned into a team book that would showcase all of the Bat-family members, old and new, is. Starring Cassandra Cain, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, Clayface, Batwoman, Luke Fox as Batwing, Azrael and finally Batman himself, this is a book that no Bat-family fan can afford to miss.
Brilliantly written by James Tinyon IV, this is a series that will give you all the batarang-throwing action you can crave, but it’s also not afraid to go into its characters’ heads. You’ll find yourself rooting for unlikely hero Clayface, and you’ll find yourself crying along when the team suffers a loss. This book isn’t shy on darkness, and it isn’t afraid to surprise you. Just when you think you’ve settled in, the rug will be pulled out from under you, and it will only leave you wanting more.
4. GREEN ARROW
Green Arrow is a character that has gone through many shake-ups and creative teams during the “New 52.” But with the arrival of “Rebirth,” writer Benjamin Percy brought Oliver Queen not only back to basics, but back to what the fans loved most about the character. Where the relationship between Green Arrow and Black Canary was nearly non-existent in the “New 52”, it is brought to the forefront here, to the point that the series might as well be titled after the both of them.
With regular artists Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra, the book is a visual romp of archery and action that never ceases to impress. New villains are brought into the fold to make this a new beginning for the character. The book also honors the character’s origins as a social justice warrior, a man who fights for the little guy however he can. With Roy Harper now making his return to the series, this is just the right mix of old and new fans have been waiting for.
Marvel’s “The Vision.” Vertigo’s “The Sheriff of Babylon.” DC’s “The Omega Men.” Writer Tom King has so many great, dark and compelling series to his name that it was just a matter of time before his talents were taken to DC’s biggest character, Batman. Following in Scott Snyder’s character-defining footsteps would not be easy, and King smartly opted to approach the series in a very different manner. However, make no mistake. King brings the “dark” to the Dark Knight.
Using a more simplistic approach to his panels, King lets the work of his strong rotating team of artists including David Finch and Mikel Janin speak for themselves. The story is intricate, reflective and powerful. Divided into separate seasons that build on each other, this is one big tapestry that brings new players like Gotham Girl to the Batman mythos and redefines villains like the force of nature that is Bane. The third arc of this story is almost complete and it isn’t over yet. We can’t wait to see where it will lead next.
The title of the book’s first story arc was “The Return of Wally West.” And really, what more needs to be said? After being all but gone during five years of the “New 52,” the one and true Wally West has returned thanks to his friends. The first issue alone tugs at the heart strings and you’ll find yourself just as happy as the Titans to see Wally back where he belongs. The Titans are a family, and they are strongest together. For fans of the older DC Comics days, this book feels like coming home.
The book is also one of the main titles to keep an eye on for the ongoing “Rebirth” story, where the seeds of the Watchmen mystery are planted and growing. Being from the previous timeline, Wally knows that someone, or something incredibly powerful was behind the tampering of the universe. There is a lot to look for here. Considering that the new Teen Titans tower was built in Manhattan, this might be no mere coincidence, seeing as there is a certain doctor who also bears that name.
This “Superman” series is in many ways DC’s current flagship title. While it might not be its most action-packed or its flashiest title, it is where the heart and soul of the entire “Rebirth” relaunch lie. Under the guidance of storytellers Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleeson and a rotating crew of artists, the pre-52 Superman has returned to his rightful place as the brightest, most hopeful character in the DC pantheon. In a nutshell, this is the series longtime Superman fans have been waiting for.
But make no mistake. This series is not just a Superman book. It may not be short on super-heroics, but this is first and foremost a book about family. It’s about Clark Kent and Lois Lane becoming parents. This time around, Clark Kent sees himself becoming the guiding parent to a child with burgeoning super-powers. This is a book that can start on a quiet, sunny day at the farm and end with a battle on the moon. But in-between all that, there is still time to breathe, and go to the town fair. The series wears its heart on its sleeve, and it best represents DC Comics right now.
Be sure to tell us in the comments which DC’s “Rebirth” title you feel we need to be reading!
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