DC Master Reading Order
Welcome to the DC Master Reading Order. This is a reading order for all DC comics that are deemed important or are just enjoyable comics to read. Comics from the Golden and Silver Ages are contained in Part 1 of the reading order. These comics, at least until the 70’s, can be tough to read as the plots rely on staggering amounts of coincidence and the characters tend to hammer home their personality traits issue after issue. If you find you aren’t enjoying these issues it is recommended you skip to Part 2 of the order, which begins immediately after Crisis on Infinite Earths.
First appearances are marked by the earliest issue the character appeared in, not necessarily their earliest chronological appearance.
Issues: Action Comics #6 to DC Comics Presents #97
First Appearances: Batman, Big Barda, Bizarro, Brainiac, Catwoman, The Creeper, Deathstroke, Doom Patrol, Jimmy Olsen, John Constantine, Joker, Krypto, Metal Men, Metallo, New Gods, Parasite, Solomon Grundy, Supergirl, Swamp Thing
The first part of the order contains all the Pre-Crisis comics and ends with the Crisis on Infinite Earths event. The beginning of the order starts off heavily with the Superman Family but gradually other characters are brought in. A lot of the Golden and Silver age comics rely on extreme amounts of coincidence for their plots, which doesn’t always make for the easiest reading. If you are mainly interested in the Post-Crisis DC Universe you should skip this part and begin reading at Part 2.
Issues: Batman #404 to Mister Miracle Vol. 2 #19
First Appearances: None
The beginning of the Post-Crisis era. We start off with a high concentration of some of the most iconic Batman stories of all time; Year One, The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, Killing Joke, and A Lonely Place of Dying. Also featured is the excellent Man of Steel limited series and the Post-Crisis origins of many of the biggest DC superheroes. Post-Crisis we also see the beginning of large crossover events.
Issues: Robin Vol.2 #1 to Detective Comics #707
Events: Panic in the Sky, Justice League: Breakdowns, Eclipso: The Darkness Within, Death of Superman, Funeral for a Friend, Reign of the Supermen, Bloodlines, DC Universe: Trinity, Knightfall Saga, Batman: Prodigal, Batman: Troika, Zero Hour, The Trial of Superman, Underworld Unleashed, The Flash: Dead Heat, Batman: Contagion, Batman: Legacy, Final Night
Along with the annual crossover events we also see two of the biggest comic events of the 90’s; Death of Superman and the Knightfall Saga. These two events helped fuel the speculator boom of the early 90’s and ultimately played a significant part in the collapse of the comic book market. The Batman: Contagion event marks the beginning of a series of events that will culminate in Batman: No Man’s Land several years later. Zero Hour is the second of DC’s large “Crisis” events.
Issues: JLA Secret Files and Origins #1 to Batman: Nine Lives #1
Events: Genesis, Batman: Cataclysm, Brotherhood of the Fist, Behold! The Millennium Giants, DC One Million, Batman: No Man’s Land, Day of Judgment, The Justice Society Returns!, Superman: Emperor Joker, Batman: Officer Down, Our Worlds at War, Joker’s Last Laugh
First Appearances: Cassandra Cain
This part of the reading order starts off with a revamped Justice League being written by Grant Morrison and also sees the return of the Justice Society. The DC One Million event depicts the DC Universe 83,000 years in the future. Gotham City continues to have a bad time in Batman: Cataclysm and the government finally says enough is enough in Batman: No Man’s Land.
Issues: JSA: The Liberty File #1 to Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #5
First Appearances: None
The popular Batman storyline Hush takes place in this part of the order and we have an updated version of Superman’s Post-Crisis origin with the the Superman: Birthright limited series. The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again are placed in this section since they have to appear somewhere. We also have the excellent alternate universe Superman: Red Son limited series.
Issues: Detective Comics #801 to Booster Gold Vol. 2 #14
Events: Identity Crisis, Countdown to Infinite Crisis, Batman: War Crimes, Infinite Crisis, Batman: Face the Face, Superman: Up, Up, and Away!, Amazons Attack!, Lightning Saga, The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, Sinestro Corps War
First Appearances: Damian Wayne
And here we go. First up is Identity Crisis, followed by the massive Countdown to Infinite Crisis and then the Infinite Crisis event itself. This is followed by the 52 limited series and the One Year Later storylines, which explore the changes in the status quo of various heroes after the Infinite Crisis event. During the Countdown to Infinite Crisis we have the excellent Green Lantern: Rebirth limited series and the beginning of Geoff Johns epic run with the character.
Issues: Trinity #1 to DC Universe: Rebirth #1
Events: Final Crisis, Battle for the Cowl, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, Superman: New Krypton, Batman: Judgment on Gotham, Reign of Doomsday, War of the Green Lanterns, Flashpoint, Batman: Zero Year, The Culling, Night of the Owls, Rise of the Third Army, Wrath of the First Lantern, Rotworld, Throne of Atlantis, Superman: H’el on Earth, Death of the Family, Green Lantern: Lights Out, Batman: Requiem, Krypton Returns, Gothtopia, Green Lantern: Uprising, Trinity War, Forever Evil, Forever Evil: Blight, Red Daughter of Krypton, Superman: Doomed, Robin Rises, New 52: Futures End, Green Lantern: Godhead, Multiversity, Convergence, Batman: Endgame, Superman: Savage Dawn, Robin War, Darkseid War, Final Days of Superman
First Appearances: Larfleeze, Pandora
Don’t be fooled by the low number of issues listed, keep in mind this reading order ends with the 2200+ issue New 52 Reading Order and the 550+ issue DC You Reading Order. We have yet another “Crisis” event with Final Crisis, which has major repercussions within the Batman Family series of comics. There are several huge events such as Blackest Night, Brightest Day, and Superman: New Krypton. Then there is Flashpoint which radically changes the DC Universe and ushers in the New 52 era.