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.

Not including events

Issues:  Action Comics #6 to Legionnaires #4

Years:  1938-1986

Events:  Jack Kirby’s Fourth WorldAquaman: Death of a PrinceCrisis on Infinite Earths

First Appearances:  BatmanBig BardaBizarroBrainiacCatwomanThe CreeperDeathstrokeDoom PatrolJimmy OlsenJohn ConstantineJokerKryptoMetal MenMetalloNew GodsParasiteSolomon GrundySupergirlSwamp 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

Years:  1987-1990

Events:  LegendsMillenniumInvasion!Superman: ExileJanus DirectiveBatman: A Lonely Place of DyingArmageddon 2001War of the Gods

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

Years:  1991-1997

Events:  Panic in the SkyJustice League: BreakdownsEclipso: The Darkness WithinDeath of SupermanFuneral for a FriendReign of the SupermenBloodlinesDC Universe: TrinityKnightfall SagaBatman: ProdigalBatman: TroikaZero HourThe Trial of SupermanUnderworld UnleashedThe Flash: Dead HeatBatman: ContagionBatman: LegacyFinal Night

First Appearances:  AzraelBaneStephanie Brown

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

Years:  1997-2002

Events:  GenesisBatman: CataclysmBrotherhood of the FistBehold! The Millennium GiantsDC One MillionBatman: No Man’s LandDay of JudgmentThe Justice Society Returns!Superman: Emperor JokerBatman: Officer DownOur Worlds at WarJoker’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

Years:  2000-2005

Events:  Bruce Wayne: Murderer?Bruce Wayne: FugitiveWorld Without Young JusticeJSA: Black ReignBatman: War Games

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

Years:  2005-2009

Events:  Identity CrisisCountdown to Infinite CrisisBatman: War CrimesInfinite CrisisBatman: Face the FaceSuperman: Up, Up, and Away!Amazons Attack!Lightning SagaThe Resurrection of Ra’s al GhulSinestro 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

Years:  2008-2016

Events:  Final CrisisBattle for the CowlBlackest NightBrightest DaySuperman: New KryptonBatman: Judgment on GothamReign of DoomsdayWar of the Green LanternsFlashpointBatman: Zero YearThe CullingNight of the OwlsRise of the Third ArmyWrath of the First LanternRotworldThrone of AtlantisSuperman: H’el on EarthDeath of the FamilyGreen Lantern: Lights OutBatman: RequiemKrypton ReturnsGothtopiaGreen Lantern: UprisingTrinity WarForever EvilForever Evil: BlightRed Daughter of KryptonSuperman: DoomedRobin RisesNew 52: Futures EndGreen Lantern: Godhead,  MultiversityConvergenceBatman: EndgameSuperman: Savage DawnRobin WarDarkseid WarFinal 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.