Curated: Uncommitted DC

This list is meant to appeal to casual fans, curious fans, or fans who just want a good tale, but do not want to get bogged down in continuity or have to wait for the next collection to see what happens. This is stuff you could easily gift for new fans, or use as an introduction to a new character for yourself.

Batman: White Knight

What you need to know: You do not have been reading any of the current titles. This is an alternate take on the Batman, one that often feels a bit like a video game in its pacing. There are sequels to this that are currently ongoing, but Batman: White Knight stands incredibly well on its own. This series feels familiar and fresh in equal measure.

Collects: Batman: White Knight 1-8

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands

The first of a few year one/origin style tales on this list. This one is a bit unique in that the original creator has come back to do a modern retelling of his creation’s origin. It is fresh, both in story and in visuals as we follow the adventures of Jefferson Pierce, who is not exactly seen as a hero in the vein of Superman, Wonder Woman or others. Extremely satisfying storytelling.

Collects: Black Lightning Cold Dead Hands 1-6

JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice Graphic Novel

Throughout the Silver Age and early Bronze Age, there was a tradition of yearly crossovers featuring the JLA/JSA. Now that both teams reside on the same earth, that tradition has largely been dropped. JLA/JSA Virtue & Vice takes a modern approach, giving us a big graphic novel with some fantastic storytelling. And then there are quiet moments featuring Superman and Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern that bookend this tale; comic book perfection.

Martian Manhunter: Identity TPB

Like Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, this a modern retelling of a classic character. This time the Martian Manhunter’s takes the spotlight with an origin tale possessing incredible depth and nuance, both narratively and visually. Truly one of the best stories DC has put out in recent readers, and it certainly leaves the reader wanting more, and wondering why they do not get more of these self-contained stories.

Collects: Martian Manhunter (Vol. 4) 1-12

Mister Miracle TPB

This one has been raved about by all corners of the internet, so if you are one of the few that has not read this recent epic, you should really just bow to peer pressure. In many ways, this series comes the closest to the original heart Jack Kirby’s, with some incredible modern flourishes.

Collects: Mister Miracle (Vol. 4)

Robin: Year One

Often referred to in other reviews and even on another Curated List (Dick Grayson by Chuck Dixon), but that is the instantly accessibility of this four issue Year One tale. Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty ad Javier Pulido have easily created on the best Dick Grayson as Robin stories you will ever read. When reviewers refer to art pieces that are love letters to previous interpretations, this easily fits that mould.

Collects: Robin: Year One 1-4

Superman Unchained

Scott Snyder’s take on the Man of Steel, with Jim Lee along for the pictures. This blockbuster is surprisingly contained to just nine issues, including back up features. Even people who are not fans of Superman need to check this one out; it is well worth the read. Action packed, big storytelling and high-octane adventure.

Collects: Superman Unchained 1-9

Batman: Court Of Owls Review

Looking back a decade on, it is quite clear that DC intended to take some creative risks when launching the New 52. The comic book industry has gone through universal reboots, but there was a sense that this time it was in fact, different. Suddenly Grant Morrison was headlining Action Comics, Justice League was given a big blockbuster start, and over in the Batman corner of the DC Universe, the reins were handed over to Scott Snyder and Tony S. Daniel. A bold move, considering Snyder had only done one other Batman story at this point (with Dick Grayson in the cowl, not Bruce), and Tony S. Daniel when not collaborating with another writer, has decidedly mixed results. Still, the fanbase was primed for the creative teams on most of the books, especially once it was announced that Greg Capullo would be joining Scott Snyder on Batman.

Batman: The Court of Owls was the first arc of the second volume of the Batman. Snyder and Capullo set out to tell a dark, mysterious and treacherous story of intrigue that would have the Dark Knight Detective questioning not only the motives of his new foe(s), but also just how much he thinks he knows Gotham City’s history… which of course also describes eighty percent or more of Batman stories published in the past eighty years. A digression…

That is not to say this is a terrible storyline. It does have its moments, and it is certainly served well by Greg Capullo’s more than capable hand in the art department, but the story ultimate buckles under its own weight. Eleven issues if you read just the main story, considerably more if you get bogged down by the sub-story “Night of the Owls” partway through this epic. While for the most part paced well within individual issues, this entire “epic” could have easily been told with fewer issues; half as few, if you include the ancillary titles. The reveal at the end of the story comes across as cliched, and a plot point if memory serves, is never even really explored again, by his creator, or any others. And considering the character the cliched plot point refers to is now dead, it may never get addressed again.

If the reader takes it as a separate parts of a whole, the storyline did give us a new foe in both the Court of Owls itself as well as their Talon foot soldiers. Those concepts have considerable legs, having been used in both animated media, and allegedly for the upcoming Gotham Knights game. Even if Scott Snyder’s story telling suffers, his concepts and ideas do not. During the most ridiculous moments, Batman still seems badass or incredibly cool, but reading it a second time years on, you begin to realize you fell for the hype a bit…

Unfortunately, Snyder still suffers under his own success and hubris with subsequent stories. If you wish to read him at his best, you should pick up a copy of Batman: Black Mirror. That is not to suggest this is a terrible storyline; there are worse, and at least one better.

Collects: Batman: (Vol. 2) 1-11

Batman Beyond – S1 Ep4 – Golem Review

In this episode we have the classic tale of the bullied school nerd being given the opportunity for revenge and eventually going crazy with power.

There are a few events which lead to Willie Watt taking to the dark side. Rejection from his school boy crush Blade, being picked on by school bully, Nash and being antagonised by his Dad all add up to his anger. He steals a robot from his Dad’s work called The Golem which he can control by using a visor and first on his agenda is to hit Nash right where it hurts. His car!!

I really enjoyed this episode and it’s definitely the best so far. Subtle elements remind you that this is set in the future and I appreciate how these things aren’t thrown at you. It’s all very natural. We also see more of Terry’s personality and private life in this too which is important in us building a connection with his character. Even though they’re not friends, Terry springs to Willie’s defence several times which was nice to see. I feel like we are seeing Terry gain more control over his Bat-abilities too which again is portrayed subtly which doesn’t give you the repetition of watching someone’s ‘journey’.

As Willie increasingly gains control over The Golem he becomes another great villain introduced in the series. I must also mention that I loved the additional vocal talent of Seth Green as Nash and Scott McAfee as Willie for this episode. I’m quickly learning that this show is not going to disappoint!

Batman Beyond – S1 Ep3 – Blackout REview

In this episode we see Terry stupidly attempting to live any kind of normal life. His night off doesn’t go to plan and it’s not long before Bruce calls upon him to fight off a new villain.

Meet Inque. An oily, slimy, sultry shapeshifter who is recruited by Derek Powers to destroy a rival company. Inque was great and her introduction brought in some great fight scenes. We also got to see Terry show of his smarts as he quickly realised that she doesn’t like water and begins to use this against her.

I still find myself excited by Terry’s bat suit and in Blackout we may have possibly witnessed a new disguise for Bruce too which is more fitting for a detective. Bruce really holds up his part of this new team by putting his detective skills into practice. There was a nice scene at the end of the of the episode where we meet Barbara Gordon for the first time. An older version than what we are used to seeing but the brief interaction she has with Bruce shows off how much history they have. More of this please!!!

Batman Beyond – S1 Ep2 – Rebirth: Part 2 Review

“You’re pretty strong for someone who thinks they’re Batman”

An action packed second episode completely has you hooked by the end (if you wasn’t already). This was a brilliant episode and it really sets the tone for what’s to come.

Bruce figures out what Derek Powers is up to and isn’t happy that he’s experimenting with nerve gas under his company’s name. He sets Terry off on a mission to pass on the evidence to Commissioner Barbara Gordon, but Derek Powers appears to be one step ahead.

There are excellent combat scenes mixed in with some very witty one liners as Terry steals that sexy Batsuit on a mission to put a stop to Powers’ antics. This suit is so awesome and takes Batman’s strength and skills to a whole new level. It actually makes this an even more exciting viewing experience as you watch him do things like seemingly make batarangs appear out of thin air.

Bruce does his best to put up resistance to Terry’s bat desires but by the end of the episode gives in and takes on the Alfred role of being Terry’s guide. He loosens up the grumpy even more and we start the journey of their relationship as Bruce officially welcomes Terry to his world.

Powers’ bragging about his nerve gas backfires on him. His own evidence shows that the gas doesn’t mix well with humans, but luckily for him, he comes out glowing! Oh and a special mention to Mr Fixx, Powers’ right hand man. Love this character. He’s scary as hell and made it to the top of Terry’s list. I’m so excited for more!!!