DC Universe relaunched as DC Universe Infinite back in January with little fanfare. What was a platform with movies, television, and a small selection of DC Comics became a full-fledged, Marvel Unlimited–style app. Now that almost everything DC is available here, are some must-read stories on DC Universe Infinite.
Disclaimer: Too few of the classic DC Comics stories had women or BIPOC writing or drawing. Despite my best efforts, this lists reflect that. Keep moving the needle toward diversity, DC!
Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Joeb and Tim Sale
There are a lot of great Batman stories to choose from, so I went with my favorite. As much as I love the rogue’s gallery of Gotham City, the realistic crime stuff always brings out my favorite parts of Batman, Jim Gordon, and Gotham City itself. A serial killer is on the loose, evading Batman and taking a life every holiday. Dive deep into Gotham City’s underbelly with this book.
Batwoman by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III
Don’t get me wrong, the story here is good. But what really put this book on my monthly pull list when it was happening was the amazing artwork of J.H. Williams III. There are a lot of great artists at DC, but Williams has an eye for surprising layouts that tell the story as much as pencils, colors, or the script. The two-page spreads will drop your jaw.
Birds of Prey by Gail Simone, Ed Benes, and others
DC’s Birds of Prey team has been around since the mid 1990s. A woman-centric team frequently consisting of Gotham City heroines like Huntress, Black Canary, and Batgirl, the team brings a different dynamic to the Bat-family. When Gail Simone took over writing with issue 56, the team and the book took on a whole new life and readership.
Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
“Crisis” is practically a catchphrase or codeword at DC Comics at this point. It inevitably means some big, continuity-changing crossover event with more characters than you can count. It all started with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Extra-dimensional threats, multiple Justice Leagues, strange versions of Lex Luthor, and a very angry Joker make for one of the all-time best DC stories.
Green Lantern: Blackest Night by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke
I was set on picking only one story for each of the big DC superheroes, and Green Lantern was one of the easiest ones. Geoff Johns spent a long time rebuilding the Green Lantern brand, and this was the pinnacle of his retcon achievement. Blackest Night brings a crisis-level event to the Green Lantern Corps and all the other colored corps with them. Also, it’s a bit scary, which is a nice change for Green Lantern.
Hourman by Tom Peyer and Rags Morales
And now for something entirely unexpected! Anyone who has been reading DC for the last couple decades won’t be surprised by anything on this list except for Hourman. A little-known character in an exceptional run that really embodied everything that was great about comic books in the 1990s and early 2000s, Hourman is an android with time powers, constantly in search of his humanity. Crossovers with the Justice League, Justice Society, and A-list villains abound in this great little series.
Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales
I swear, this is the only other crisis on this list. It was met with mixed reviews from fans when it came out, but I still stand by it as one of the best comic book stories ever. Bestselling novelist Brad Meltzer wrote this story about a mysterious murder in the Justice League, and how that affects these heroes and their villains not just as symbols, but as people.
Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography by James Hudnall and Eduardo Barreto
Another lesser-known gem in the DC Universe, this was a one-shot maxi book focused entirely on Superman’s arch-nemesis: Lex Luthor. It examines him as a businessman, a narcissist, a villain, and a human. This book defined who Lex Luthor really is for dozens of writers to come.
Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore and Rick Veitch
Before Watchmen or Sandman, Vertigo gave young Alan Moore a chance to show how literary and adult the comic book format could really be with Saga of the Swamp Thing. While very much a product of its time, Moore’s run changed the face of comic books and took the character from C-list hero to B-list cult favorite. It’s also a fantastic read.
Secret Six by Gail Simone, Ken Lashley, Dail Eaglesham, et al
More Gail Simone? Of course! If you’re a fan of Suicide Squad (comics or movies), then you’ll get a kick out of Secret Six. This is less about villains working for the government than it is villains living and working by their own codes. Sometimes those codes put them in the crosshairs of heroes, but not always. Secret Six has great action, humor, and sexy supervillains.
Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? by Alan Moore and Curt Swan
When picking my favorite Superman story, I always come back to Alan Moore and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Published in 1986, the story is sort of a “this is your life” for Superman. A decade after he was last seen, Lois Lane recounts his exploits and heroism through her own grief over his absence.
Wonder Woman: Lords and Liars by Mariko Tamaki and Mikel Janin
There are plenty of great Wonder Woman stories in her long history, but I’ve really been digging on the recent story from Mariko Tamaki and Mikel Janin. As Diana is recovering from her big battle with the Four Horsewomen, a new enemy emerges. Oh, and a “reformed” Maxwell Lord is also back in the picture to make life more complicated.
With over 80 years of stories, DC Universe Infinite provides more great stories than any of us can probably read in our lifetimes, but these dazzling dozen will get you started. What are some of your favorite DC Comics stories?