DCAMU: Your First Steps Into The DC Verse

Wondering how to get into this vast, decades spanning, multiverse of DC? Don’t! It’s easy, and I am here to help you out.

With the first Adventure Comics releasing in June, 1938 and Detective Comics #27 a year later, the world ushered into the Golden Age of Superheroes: extraordinary beings, in colorful tights, fighting crime at an incessant pace.

It’s been 80 years since, and these two, with countless others have become pop culture icons and with decades worth of stories, countless universes given birth to, it becomes all too easy to be overwhelmed, for someone who enters a comic book store for the first time. A decade ago, the comics got another boost with the rise of Cinematic Universes, which brought more fans to the shops and I am one of those. First, the MCU and then the DCEU, I wanted to know more stories about these awesome superheroes on my screens. I took a deep breathe and dived into the world of comics. Almost, a year has passed and I have read a lot, enjoyed a lot and learnt a lot. So, here I am to help you ease your journey into DC beyond the Extended Universe.

Baby Steps

There are a lot of stories in the DC Verse, here I shall recommend only a few of those, to kick start your journey, the rest you will be able to figure out on your own post this beginning. The stories I will recommend, many of those have been adapted into animated under the DC Universe Animated Original Movies umbrella, and it is these movies that I believe will help you understand the characters, the stories DC has to offer it’s readers. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

The DC Universe

Superman: The Boy Scout

“Truth, Justice and the American Way.” An infant from a dying, alien planet takes shelter in the farms of Kansas and grows up to become the living ideal of hope. If you want to know who Superman truly is, there’s no better book than Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman. Faithfully adapted into an animated film of the same name in 2011, this is a must read for all.

All-Star Superman cover

Next up, I’d like you to watch the film Superman vs. The Elite. “Why would a man with super human strength, laser beams and even near invincibility, let villains go? Why would he not punish them?” The film aims to answer. Based on the story “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?” from Action Comics #775, we get to understand the core of Superman’s ideals and why he believes in them.

Also, you must definitely read Superman: Smashes the Klan, where we see Superman take down a white supremacist clan that threatens an Asian family’s wellbeing. Superman, not indifferent from our Asian American protagonist, must also learn to accept who he truly is and that despite all the differences we have, we all belong.

Batman: The Dark Knight

“I am Vengeance! I am the night! I am Batman!” When a young boy’s parents are murdered one unfortunate night, the boy decides to dedicate his life to fighting crime, so no one must ever suffer the same fate. He is Batman! Making his debut in Detective Comics #27 1939, he has since become one of the tentpole characters for DC and has tons of awesome stories to share, perhaps much more than any other character.

Batman: Year One

Frank Miller’s Year One is the definitive beginning of Batman’s crusade. Miller takes us to the very first days, where we see a young Bruce Wayne experimenting ways of fighting crime, however when all ideas fail a battered Wayne, on the verge of giving up, receives an omen and the words are spoken:

I shall become a Bat!

Page from Batman: Year One

Batman: The Long Halloween

Taking place during Batman’s early days of crime fighting, The Long Halloween tells the story of a mysterious killer named Holiday, who murders people on holidays, one each month. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Captain James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month, while attempting to stop the crime war between two of Gotham City’s most powerful families, Maroni and Falcone. From the final issue of the series, the story continues into Batman: Dark Victory, where Batman is finally able to unravel the identity of Holiday.

Also, I would suggest you read the spin-off Catwoman: When in Rome, which follows Selina Kyle from The Long Halloween on her journey to Rome, to find out answers to the question who is her true father? It saddens me to think that there aren’t many standalone books featuring Catwoman as the protagonist given how crucial she is to the lore of Gotham, not to mention her innate awesomeness!

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns can never go unmentioned if you are talking about The Batman. Taking place into the far future, a retired Bruce Wayne is forced to dawn the cape and cowl, given that Two-Face returns to create havoc in the city. And, if Batman returns how can The Joker stay behind on the fun.

The question is: Will Batman be able restore peace to Gotham, given that the new Commissioner has put out a warrant for him, and the United States President himself asks Superman to put Batman down?

Adapted into a two part animated film having the same title as the book, this is yet another iconic Batman story you cannot miss!

The DC Animated Movie Universe

Launching in 2013 with the film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, the Dc Animated Movie Universe is a shared continuity of animated films from DC, boasting of more than 15 films, all of which were well received by fans and critics alike. Before it’s end with Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, the continuity brought to life some of the best stories from the DC cannon, new and classic alike. Some notable mentions include: The Death of Superman, The Court of Owls, Batman: Bad Blood, Hush and many more.

Here, on the left, you can see the complete set of films in this shared universe, starting from JL: The Flashpoint Paradox all the way to JLD: Apokolips War.

This however, is not all. There are many more films under the DC Animated Original Movies umbrella. A few honorable mentions include: Superman: Red Son, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, Justice League: Doom, Superman: Unbound, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, Batman: Gotham Knight and more.

Only The Beginning

This may be the end of this article, but in no way, is it the end of your journey into the DC Verse. On the contrary, it has only begun.

You see, when the creators completed these stories, they did not stop. They went on for more. And I encourage you to do the same. Never stop exploring.

And to help you with that I suggest you check out the DC Essentials Editions. The series highlights the best standalone stories the medium has to offer, featuring comics’ greatest characters. The focus is on the ease of entry into DC’s vast library, with seminal, groundbreaking tales that transcend the printed page. The likes of, Final Crisis, Batman and Son, The Darkseid War, Blackest Night Saga can all be found this lineup.

Then there’s DC’s Young Adult series that introduces DC’s most iconic Super Heroes to the newer generation of fans with standalone stories, not part of DC’s ongoing continuity, and completely accessible to new readers! So, yeah! Go ahead! Watch some of those films, read some of those books and do share your experience in the comments below!

A curious thinker and a fiction writer with a penchant for mythologies, comics, philosophies and a tiny bit of politics. Check out my lists to read more!