I did the Marvel portion of this months and months ago and now that I have a little time , it’s time I think to do the DC portion of things. By DC I mean the mainstream stuff; not the Vertigo stuff which will be its own fantastically-written-by-me article. Recommending beginner stuff for DC is a little weirder because of there constantly shifting continuity and universe-bending Crises. But this sorta thing is my bag so I got this.
Best place to start is with Superman and Batman cause they're the most well-known characters in comics.
SUPERMAN: A lot of people doubt Superman and his relevance and the relative quality of Superman stories, but our Superman section of the rack says differently. All-Star Superman is the best place to start for anyone looking to get into the character or anyone questioning the validity of the character. Superman: Red Son takes a different slant on the character by having his rocket crash-land in the Soviet Union and making him a Communist. To get a little bang for your buck pick up the first Showcase: Superman for 500 plus pages of Superman having really really trippy adventures in the 1950s. Worth the 10 dollar cover price for the issue where Superman wears an Alfred E. Neuman mask to teach Lois not to judge people by their looks. Other notable collections include Superman and the Legion of Superheroes, Last Son, Birthright, Up, Up, and Away and the Man of Steel collections.
BATMAN: There are five key stories to be well-versed in the Batman universe: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, and Arkham Asylum. Yeah this section is a lot shorter than the Superman but there’s nothing really left to say about these books that hasn’t been said by other people.
GREEN LANTERN has been a fantastic book since Geoff Johns has taken over so I recommend picking up Green Lantern: Rebirth and picking up the other trades or hardcovers written by him especially the Sinestro Corps War hardcovers.
Series like Grant Morrison’s JLA, Gotham Central, and soon Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing are being collected into Deluxe Hardcovers and are all definitely worth picking up.
DC excels at epic storytelling and books like DC: The New Frontier, Kingdom Come, and The Golden Age are the best of the best of said epics.
Where DC definitely beats Marvel is in having a more diverse stock of characters so look into books with characters like Sgt. Rock (war), Jonah Hex (western) , Adam Strange (sci-fi), Warlord (fantasy), and House of Mystery (horror).
If you’re looking to get into the wider, current DCU I recommend Identity Crisis, 52, Justice League of America: The Tornado’s Path, and Justice Society of America: The Next Age.
More to come!