New 52 round up: The Top

Posted by CB Droege

Last month we saw an unprecedented marketing move from DC Comics. They relaunched and renumbered all of their superhero lines at once, revamping and reconfiguring almost every title.

Many character got new backgrounds or origin stories, some just got new costumes, some have been picked up from long-ago cancellations.

The idea was to bring in some new readers, to create some jumping on points for people who have never read comics before, or for people who haven’t read comics in a long time, like myself.

The "relaunchyness" fell along a spectrum however, with some titles being completely rebooted, and others having no change other than the new number.

52 titles is an overwhelming number of titles for new readers, however, and this guide, and its accompanying guide New 52 Round up: The Bottom - which will be published soon, is here to help you figure out which are the best from the point of view of a new reader.

Thus, in alphabetical order are the nine best of the New 52, and why they are great for new readers - besides that all of them are well-written and illustrated:

 

Action Comics

Brief synopsis:

Superman is just beginning his career as a superhero, he’s running around in jeans and a t-shirt. The cops and other authority figures hate him, and are trying to take him down with Lex Luthor’s help.

Justification:

Superman is sort of a big deal, and DC is giving him a whole new background and attitude, which requires a lot of explanation, and so allows new readers a lot of wiggle room. This is a vigilante style Superman, which we’ve never seen before outside of ‘alternate timeline’ comics, and he’s a much more relatable and interesting character.

All-Star Western

Brief synopsis

Jonah Hex explores the old west of the DC universe and kicks some asses. In the first arc, he teams up with Doctor Arkham to solve a string of murders.

Justification:

This title is disconnected from the rest of the DC universe stories by its timeline, which makes it great for readers who might otherwise find the intertwining arcs confusing. It also serves as a departure from superhero stories, since, at least so far, there are no superpowers. 

Aquaman

Brief synopsis

Aquaman is starting a new life as a surface dweller.

Justification

We’re not getting a full reboot here, as with some titles, but all you really need to know about Aquaman before you get into the new version is what you already know from pop culture and reruns of Super Friends: Aquaman is a readily mocked figure, and this line takes a look at Aquaman as a hero in need of proving himself.

Demon Knights

Brief synopsis

The DC universe in the middle ages.

Justification:

Like with All-Star Western, this line has a distinct separation from the main story world, and is thus a lot easier to get into. A great title for fans of pseudo medieval fantasy, as many of the tropes of that genre are to be found here.

Detective Comics

Brief synopsis

The early tales of the Batman.

Justification

If you want to read a Batman story, this is the only one for new readers. All of the others are chock full of continuity. Only this one has an uncomplicated, unbaggaged Batman. One who is still a detective, and who has a challenging mystery to solve.

Green Lantern New Guardians

Brief synopsis

One of Earth’s green Lanterns has been chosen by all of the colors of the Lantern, and must discover why, and how.

Justification:

This title would be a great one for a new reader who is interested in getting into the world of the Lanterns, but finds the other titles too entrenched . This one looks like it will do a lot of exploration of the Lantern mythos and the purposes of the various colors.

Supergirl

Brief synopsis:

Another Kryptonian comes to earth on a bit of an asteroid, apparently frozen in stasis for many years.

Justification:

Supergirl is a full reboot of the story, starting with her origin. It’s one of the few New 52 that readers will truly be able to get in on the beginning of the story. It helps that it’s also one of the most cleverly written, and beautifully illustrated of the entire batch.

Superman

Brief synopsis:

Put-upon alien in blue armor works to defend our world from threats both terrestrial and otherwise.

Justification:

We all know Superman. He’s a pretty big deal, and his reimagining was one of the major purposes of the New 52 relaunch. He was a symbol for all of DC comics, and, frankly, he had gotten stale. Superman was too well developed, too powerful, and too happy. He was an unrelatable character from nearly every angle. This new version of Superman is completley changed. His timeline has not been reset, but it’s clear that things have gone differently for this Superman. We’ll  see his new history and development in Action Comics. Superman’s relaunch just works so well that it’s hard not to applaud. They set out to make Superman interesting again, and they have succeeded. Also, his underwear is not outside of his clothing anymore.

Wonder Woman

Brief synopsis:

Diana is having some family issues. There is conflict among the gods, and only their mortal representative can save man from their plots.

Justification:

Similar to Superman, Wonder Woman’s story is not rebooted, but it’s clearly changed significantly. He personality is slightly more prickly, and she seems to have more involvement with the pantheon. Of all the titles in this list, this one might be the most difficult to hop on, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, it looks like it’s going to be a fun title to follow.

I’m not saying that these are the only good ones, or that you shouldn’t check out any of the others. I encourage each reader to make their own calls, but if you’re a new reader, and would like to know where to start, these titles are a good place. Each of them can be picked up wherever you buy comics, including the comiXology store, where some of the #1s have already dropped in price from release. Check here for more in-depth reviews of some of the individual titles.