The “DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2013” has published a list of what DC consider their “Top 25 Essential Graphic Novels.”
It’s a pretty good list, with a few edits. Here’s the list as I would do it:
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
- The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes
- Batman: Year One
V For Vendettathere’s no doubt that V For Vendetta is an amazing book, but in my mind it’s #26 on a Top 25 list. Instead, wouldn’t you really want to read the book that, along with Sandman, redefined comic book writing for the modern era? That’s why I’d give this spot to the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon classic Preacher Volume 1: Gone To Texas.
- Saga of the Swamp Thing Book One
- Fables Volume 1: Legends In Exile
- Batman: The Killing Joke The Deluxe Edition
- Y: The Last Man Volume 1: Unmanned
- All-Star Superman
- Kingdom Come
- Batman: The Long Halloween
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 1
Batman: Earth OneInstead of another “Year One” style book, the better pick would be a compliment to the legacy and myth of the Batman, and one familiar to viewers of the DC animated films. Namely, Batman: Under The Red Hood. Green Lantern: Rebirththis, and Flash: Rebirth, are very “inside baseball.” Both books were used as a mechanism for DC to bring two dead characters (the Silver Age Green Lantern and Flash) back to life. They were powerful stories for older readers like me, but to new readers they fall short due to a lack of context. Instead, I’d go with a great Green Arrow title. Specifically the one that is defining some of the urban edge that the television show Arrow is trying to create; Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.
- American Vampire Volume 1
Blackest Nightthis was the culmination of a multi-year story across Green Lantern (that started, funny enough, with Green Lantern: Rebirth). Instead of this “third act,” I’d recommend “backing up” and going with Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War. Final CrisisI loved Final Crisis. Loved it! But in a Top 25 list, it’s #26 (tied with V For Vendetta). The better Grant Morrison selection would be the book that helped modernize super heroes in the late eighties; Animal Man Book 1: Animal Man.
- JLA Volume 1
- Identity Crisis
- Batman: Hush
- Joker (tie) I’m going to cheat here. I can’t knock Joker off this list, because it’s a great book, and fans of the Batman film will like this book. What I will do is compliment this with the Grant Morrison/Dave McKean Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.
The Flash: Rebirth(see #15) I’d use this spot to recommend one of the best super hero series of the last few years, Ex Machina Volume 1: The First Hundred Days. Superman: Earth One Volume 1If you have to pick a Superman “Year One” title, the better choice is the book that inspired the Smallville TV series, Superman: For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (who also did Batman: The Long Halloween).
- Planetary Volume 1: All Over The World And Other Stories