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I grew up in a house were comic books were essentially banned (other than three my Father bought me once and a stack of Little Lulu comics my aunt gave me), so, other than when a college roommate got me involved in Elfquest, I'm essentially a comics virgin who, most of the time, doesn't even know the difference between what's Marvel and what's D.C.

I went to the Wikipedia and looked at this article on The New 52 and, after that, it seems even more intimidating for a new reader. Batman, alone, has 11 different titles, three of which seem to revolve around Batman (Batman, Batman and Robin, and Batman: The Dark Knight). Then I looked at Green Lantern and there's one that seems to focus on GL himself and two that look like they focus on the Green Lantern Corps.

I was thinking about Aquaman, since that was one of my favorites as a kid, but it's part of the Justice League titles, which makes me wonder how much of the other titles in that line I'd have to read to know what's going on. (Besides that, a friend of mine, Raj Koothrappali, keeps telling me "Aquaman sucks.")

While I'm sure, in the long run, I'd like to expand what I'm reading to include crossovers (the "big" stories sound interesting), I don't want to start reading a title and find I'll have to keep up with a large number of other titles to keep up with continuity. I also don't want to read something where it's not clear who's who. (For example, I always thought Barbara Gordon was Batgirl and now I hear she's Oracle - which is okay, as long as the comic doesn't just assume I've kept up and know about those changes.)

What can I read in The New 52, as such a neophyte, that won't include plotlines and continuity that wraps through a number of other titles?

  • I recommend all of the new GLs other than Red Lantern Corps – OghmaOsiris Jan 10 '12 at 20:47
  • Do they overlap or intertwine? Any reason for excluding Red Lantern? – Tango Jan 10 '12 at 20:53
  • Red Lantern Corps is about the leader of the corps and about he rage that he feels for the universe. I only say to exclude it because it could confuse people who are also reading the other GLs and don't understand the difference between the emotional spectrum colors. – OghmaOsiris Jan 10 '12 at 20:55
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I think you have to examine what you personally enjoy when reading stories. If you want to see a 100% fresh start from a character's beginning, or don't mind being plucked down in the middle of a status quo, picking up the gist as you go along. Not many of the new 52 are starting at square one with their heroes (despite the assumptions made by the declarations DC made about this being an all-new universe). For the most part, each title in the New 52 is telling standalone stories. Batman does have multiple ongoing titles, but they are all each telling their own individual Batman story. None of the titles have crossed over yet, but as of last week it seems that there's going to start being some influence across the line (Animal Man and Swamp Thing are starting a crossover, an event in Stormwatch is being felt in Superman and other titles).

I can recommend the following, based on what I have read (NOTE: the links are to the New 52 portions of each character's Wiki page, and may contain spoilers):

Animal Man - This is family-man superhero plopped in the middle of a tense, horrific thriller. I had never read anything starring Animal Man prior to this series and picked it up quite easily. It has top-notch writing and incredibly different/disturbing art. It will, however, start a crossover with the less-accessible Swamp Thing with the next issue. The Animal Man in this series has existed before and has a history, but it is summed up quite nicely as "Animal Man was a hero and a stunt man." It's easy to jump into.

Action Comics - This is Superman as a new hero, fresh on the scene in Metropolis. He doesn't have a costume, he hasn't figured out he can fly yet, and everyone is terrified of him. It's written by Grant Morrison, who many would consider to be one of the greatest comic book writers of all time. Since this is set in the early days of DC's new 52 universe, it does not depend on any other titles...yet.

Wonder Woman - This is easily the biggest surprise of the New 52. Wonder Woman is being treated with the utmost respect and the creative team is telling what could be the defining Wonder Woman story. The main thrust of the series so far has come in the form of a retcon in Wonder Woman's origin. The retcon is explained, though, and the ramifications of it are followed through. I went into the book not knowing Wonder Woman's origin, and I was not thrown when it was changed. So far the series does not depend on past knowledge of Wonder Woman, it's just telling a great story.

Justice League - This is set sometime in between Action Comics and the rest of the new DC line. Since it is set in the past, it chronicles the first encounters between the main DC superheroes and the formation of the Justice League. If you are familiar with the "Super Friends" cartoon, all of these characters should be familiar to you. Also since it is set in the past, there's very little crossover with the rest of the line.

Batman - Scott Snyder is essentially continuing the work he's been doing on Batman for the past year, just now in the new universe. That being said, it is telling an independent story that is absolutely fantastic. Snyder's Batman has been very adult and thriller-esque, very dark. This is not the case for other Batman books (like Detective Comics) from what I have read.

Grifter and Voodoo are two books I don't read, but I know they are total reboots of previously established characters. Blue Beetle is a reboot that stars the most recent character to bear the mantle, Jaime Reyes, and it started with him getting his powers. I have not read Aquaman, but reviews have said that it's a fresh start.

I would avoid Batgirl, Stormwatch and Batwoman. Batgirl actually is Barbara Gordon again, but the new series is set after her 20 year stint in a wheelchair as Oracle. It is reliant on past continuity. Stormwatch is pretty good, but so densely dependent on the impossibly complex history of Stormwatch and The Authority that it is impenetrable. Batwoman is spectacular, but it is more a continuation of a previous storyline than a real reboot (that storyline is very much worth reading).

  • I think Teen Titans and Superboy are beginning a crossover, too, but I'm not reading Superboy so I'm not sure. – hairboat Jan 10 '12 at 20:21
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    As a brand new comics person who's just starting with the New 52, I agree with Brett's assessment that everything is basically standalone. (I did with the New 52 Batgirl and Batwoman and haven't felt anything lacking even though I haven't read any of the backstory at all.) – hairboat Jan 10 '12 at 20:27
  • Stormwatch crossed over into Green Lantern Corps last issue. – OghmaOsiris Jan 10 '12 at 20:48
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    Batgirl IS Barbara Gordon, but she appears to have only been Oracle for 3 years or so while she was still paralyzed. – Jack B Nimble Jan 10 '12 at 21:17

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