Top 10 BEST DC Comics Stories Ever Written
VOICE OVER: Dan Paradis
Written by Thomas O'Connor
The DC Universe is full of great stories, but only a few can be the very best. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 DC comics stories ever written.
For this list, we'll be looking at stories published by DC Comics that stand out as the best of the best, taking the company's iconic characters to new heights. Oh, and look out for spoilers!
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The DC Universe is full of great stories, but only a few can be the very best. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 DC comics stories ever written.
For this list, we’ll be looking at stories published by DC Comics that stand out as the best of the best, taking the company’s iconic characters to new heights. Oh, and look out for spoilers!
#10: “JLA: Tower of Babel” (2000)
You don’t get to be the Dark Knight without being prepared for every possible outcome, but this story demonstrates that Batman’s habit of planning for any contingency doesn’t always pan out well. After R’as al Ghul steals Batman’s top-secret files explaining how to take down every member of the Justice League in case any of them ever went rogue, the League finds itself totally incapacitated. Understandably, Batman’s teammates are more than a little miffed after the dust settles. This is one of many stories that establishes Batman’s ultra-preparedness, as well as how his methods can cause friction with his teammates and fellow superheroes. For Batman and Justice League fans, Mark Waid’s JLA run is a must-read.
#9: “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” (1984)
This beloved story sees DC’s premiere teen super team brought to the edge of defeat when one of their own, new member Terra, is revealed to be an ally of the villain Deathstroke and betrays the team. Deathstroke has long been a thorn in the Titans’ collective side, but this memorable story is still regarded as Deathstroke’s most brutal. In addition, the storyline also fills readers on on Deathstroke’s origins, and also features Dick Grayson’s first appearance as Nightwing. Being a teenager is hard, but this story demonstrates that not even teen superheroes have it easy.
#8: “JLA: Rock of Ages” (1997-98)
Perhaps the most critically acclaimed storyline from Grant Morrison’s tour of duty as writer on JLA, this tale sees the league encountering the New Gods and butting heads with Lex Luthor and Darkseid, in an adventure through time and space. Eventually Aquaman, Green Lantern and The Flash find themselves transported to a dark future in which Darkseid’s control of the planet is absolute , leading to one of the toughest battles in the League’s history. It may be a lot to wrap your head around, but this mind-bending story is undoubtedly one of the League’s most interesting and original adventures.
#7: “Batman: The Long Halloween” (1996-97)
The first of many Batman stories featured on our list, this limited series sees Batman, still relatively new to fighting crime as the Caped Crusader, trying to catch a serial killer who only strikes on holidays while simultaneously averting a gang-war between Gotham’s organized crime families. Heavily inspired by “The Godfather” and other classic crime films, this acclaimed storyline injects the Batman mythos with a heavy dose of Noir atmosphere, and introduces new versions of Batman’s greatest foes including Catwoman, Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and many others. Jeff Loeb’s brilliant tale was also cited as a major influence on the first two films in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy.
#6: “Superman: Red Son” (2003)
Imagine an alternate universe where, instead of crash landing in Kansas, the rocket containing the infant Superman landed in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Well, that’s just the what-if scenario that Mark Millar’s beloved mini-series is built around. Having been raised by the State instead of a kindly couple, Superman grows up to become a symbol of Communist might, eventually succeeding Stalin as leader of the Soviet Union. And the only one who can oppose him is the President of the United States: none other than Lex Luthor. If you plan on checking out any of DC’s alternate-universe “Elsewheres” stories, this is the place to start.
#5: “Kingdom Come” (1996)
But speaking of dark alternate timelines, this 1996 tale presents an alternate future in which a new generation of heroes has arisen, one with as much enthusiasm for spreading havoc and destruction as peace and justice. To set these young whippersnappers right, Superman, Wonder Woman and others must come out of retirement to try and get the new heroes on the right path. Sadly, it isn’t that simple and things end up going from bad to worse. Conceived as a response to the gritty, violent superheroes that were popular in the 90s, this story features stunning artwork by Alex Ross and a moving and memorable storyline from writer Mark Waid.
#4: “All-Star Superman” (2006-08)
This entry from superstar comic scribe Grant Morrison sees the Man of Steel lethally poisoned by an overdose of yellow-sun radiation, and Earth’s greatest hero must put to rest his life and legacy before his time runs out. Featuring numerous callbacks to Superman’s adventures in the Silver Age of comics, this story is all about high concept adventure and an unabashed love of the sillier aspects of Superman’s history. It also cuts directly to the core of what makes Superman so important and beloved. For anyone looking for a break from gritty, grounded superhero stories, this is the Superman story for you.
#3: “Batman: The Killing Joke” (1988)
Taking things back to the grim and gritty side of things, this hugely influential story from the legendary Alan Moore sees the Joker shoot and paralyze Barbara Gordon in an attempt to drive her father insane. Naturally Batman has to intervene, and his strict “no killing” policy is pushed to its limit. This story was one of many that pushed the Batman and Joker dynamic into much darker territory in the 1980s, further distancing the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime from their campy, kid-friendly days. The story also had long-lasting implications for Barbara Gordon, forcing her to give up the mantle of Batgirl and adopt the new moniker Oracle.
#2: “Watchmen” (1986-87)
Does this one even need an explanation? Considered by many to be the peak of comic book storytelling, this seminal work from Alan Moore radically deconstructs the superhero genre by presenting costumed crime fighters as dangerous, hopelessly naïve or downright deranged. It also examines the hypothetical impact that super-powered individuals might have on the world around them, and in Moore’s estimation, it isn’t good. While it inspired an entire decade of poorly conceived, edgy-for-the-sake-of-edgy-ness knock offs in the '90s, it has also pushed countless comic creators to write challenging, inventive stories within the superhero genre.
Before we reveal our top pick, be sure to check out these honorable mentions:
“Superman for All Seasons” (1998)
“Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth” (1989)
“Blackest Night” (2009-10)
#1: “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” (1986)
This legendary Batman story reinvented the Dark Knight for a new generation of readers, presenting an aged Caped Crusader coming out of retirement to bring a futuristic Gotham City back from the brink of chaos. In addition to old enemies like Two-Face and The Joker, Batman now finds himself under attack by a vicious gang called The Mutants, and even Superman and the Gotham Police. Writer and artist Frank Miller was instrumental in revitalizing Batman, both with this work and “Batman: Year One,” taking the character to new, incredibly dark places with a no-holds-barred approach to the war on crime.