It is nice to see how somehow this “essentials” improved from the 2015 collection, but it still did not provide as many good comics/graphic novels that it could have.
This collection has the basic comics/graphic novels that we should all definitely read, Watchmen, most of the best Batman comics, The Sandman, All-Star Superman, Superman: Red Son, Aquaman, Trillium, and The Longbow Hunters. But it also has some pretty bad recommendations, and it omitted a lot of great comics (most of which where either led by female characters, or written by females) and I felt like this was a big robbing of the reader, as they will be missing some great stories. So here I will target the comics I felt are not as good as the others, and the ones that should have been included. I hope I do it justice, if I don’t, you can tell me in the comments, since I’ve not read every single comic out there from DC.
The first featured character is Batman, who is the most famous and best selling of all the characters. And although they included some very good stories like Black Mirror, Dark Victory, The Long Halloween, The Court of Owls, Year One, it also included The Dark Knight Strikes Again, which is a disaster and a shame to the character, the creators, and everyone inbetween (it is seriously awful). They also included Under the Red Hood (good choice), but not A Death in the Family, which is an essential story that must be read before that comic in order to understand Batman’s character development, as well as Red Hood’s character. No Man’s Land, another classic Batman tale, that presented him and the Bat-family with good character growth in a Gotham closed up from the rest of the world, was not presented in the list. The Man Who Laughs was not included, a story that shows the main rivalry between The Joker and Batman, as The Caped Crusader confronts his first “super-villain”, the Clown Prince of Crime, and how they became each other’s main enemies.
The second character was Superman, and they did
finally have Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Superman: For All Seasons, and Superman: Last Son of Krypton, all fantastic pieces of work, but they missed Superman: Secret Identity. Even though this is a non-canonical story, it is one of the best Superman stories out there, an origin story based in the “real world”which will lead the main character into a journey of self-discovery, and the inspiration he will draw from others and give to some. However, they did have time to include The Death of Superman, which almost ruined the comic book industry, and is like The Dark Knight Strikes Again a horrible story. I’ve heard that many people dislike Superman because he is after all, a man with infinite power that does not get corrupted by it, and since we can never be him, we look at him with disdain, so the best they could have done was include incredible stories that make him likable to all of us, and they did include some, but they coul’ve done better. Superman: Brainiac, could have replaced his “death;” in this story our hero encounters an alien villain bent on controlling all knowledge. How cool is that? Another short story, For the Man Who Has Everything, which I’ve sadly not read, has more buzz and love than some of the ones listed, it was even adapted into a Justice League episode. With Superman we must thread lightly.
Then we get to Wonder Woman, and she gets a very bad treatment, albeit slightly better than before. In the 2015 edition, where only seven books were listed, which were all consecutive volumes rather than self containing stories, (Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chang run, which is very good), with the other one about Superman and Wonder Woman, her best stories were omitted. Those same volumes, minus Superman one, get listed, plus the horrible run that came after Azzarello and Chang left the series. There are better stories out there, the first one being Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, in which a woman gets protection from Wonder Woman, even though she is being hunted down by the Bat himself, also famously known as the one where Wonder Woman has her foot over Batman’s face as he lies on the ground. There is also the short story called Spirit of Truth, offering a small introduction to the character from her mother’s perspective, as well as Wonder Woman’s place in the world today, what she means to us, and what she could mean. The run of Gail Simone is also omitted, and even though it is not the best of The Amazon, is very, very good. It is Gail Simone after all.
I am still upset about the Justice League. Even though it had Blackest Night, Flashpoint, Geoff Johns run on Aquaman, (which are not actually Justice League but actually stories based off of the characters from the series) it did not have Tower of Babel or Rock of Ages, which are some of the best volumes that have come out from The Justice League as of late. This team has had a fluctuating run.
Teen Titans was very upsetting, as once again, they included one of the worst runs to have ever happen in all of DC, the New 52’s It’s Our Right To Fight, which did not only excluded some vital members, but also completely missed the point of the main characters, as well as it undid a lot of good that had happened in the previous run. Sadly they also recommend the equally awful Blinded by the Light, another book that will surely turn everyone away from reading the better runs. The best run is the Marv Wolfman and George Pérez run (only first volume is shown), which has the incredible The Judas Contract and The Terror of Trigon, which helped create and solidify Teen Titans as the heroes we know and love today, and it served as an inspiration for the amazing cartoon . They also did Terra Incognito and Who is Donna Troy? , and in contrast to the cartoon, we get to see a darker side to the characters and how they must deal with being betrayed from the inside, and a background to who really someone is. The 2003-2011 run by many authors/artist was also very good
also the one that got ruined and nothing they did mattered due to the New 52 but to me is still brilliant and pretty awesome therefore we should all read it and had a lot to show, including the final redemption of Raven and how her relationship with Beast Boy is shaped, and how they can learn many things from each other. (they do finally get together in a very well-developed way)
Again, they sort of “missed” Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl, which might just be the best run Barbara Gordon has ever gotten, and instead we are given the first volume of the hipster Batgirl run. I am not completely sure of everything that happened between DC and Gail Simone, but they better patch it back up and add her to everything they can, because that woman can write. This year I read her fantastic run on Birds of Prey and Sinister Six, which made me want to read them over and over, but I don’t recall having seen any of it in this guide. A true shame, she is one of the best writers out there, I will most likely be reading most of her works, as should everyone that likes dynamic characters and well written plots.
The Vertigo essentials were very well recommended. 100 Bullets, American Vampire, Ex Machina, The Invisibles, Hellblazer, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Saga of the Swamp Thing, Transmetropolitan, V for Vendetta, and Daytripper are good comics/graphic novels that show some of the best the imprint has to offer (and due to what is going on with them, they need to showcase the best quickly). But they did miss some pretty awesome opportunities. Yes, they included Grant Morrison’s Animal Man, which is quite good, but it did not add the even better Jeff Lemire run. They missed The Losers, which has even been made into a film. I’ve also heard Lucifer is a very good one, and I am not sure if I saw it there. If they are trying to save this imprint, they might need to work a bit harder.
I HOPE YOU ENJOY ANY IF ALL OF THESE STORIES, BECAUSE THEY ARE AMAZING AND INTERESTING!