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Top 10 Best DC Graphic Novels

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Craig Butler Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down the Top 10 DC Graphic Novels. For this list, we’re looking at DC’s best graphic novels that are the most recognized and influential. We’re not including any of the titles from DC’s Vertigo imprint, so sorry Sandman and V. Special thanks to our user Anthony Castillo for suggesting this idea, check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/top+10+dc+graphic+novels
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Top 10 DC Graphic Novels

Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down the Top 10 DC Graphic Novels.

For this list, we’re looking at DC’s best graphic novels that are the most recognized and influential. We’re not including any of the titles from DC’s Vertigo imprint, so sorry Sandman and V.

#10: "Flash: Rebirth" (2010)

Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, sacrificed his life to save the universe and for decades was gone from the comics. When he returned, the formerly happy-go-lucky speedster was changed. Although he was glad to see familiar faces, Barry just didn’t feel at home anymore. Flash was only jolted out of his melancholy by the return of his arch-enemy, the Reverse Flash. This nefarious foe reveals that he has been responsible for all of the tragedies that have befallen Barry throughout his life – and that this is only the beginning. Geoff Johns deft scripting was painful at times, creating a new way to look at this most optimistic of DC characters and adding a new layer of maturity to his story.

#9: "All-Star Superman" (2007)

Superman’s immense power and invulnerability often make creating believable menaces problematic. In this alternate world story, Grant Morrison took that to a new extreme. He created a situation in which the Man of Steel became even more powerful – but at a cost. The near-omnipotent Superman only has one year left to live. This intriguing 12-issue mini-series is dark, but it also is aware of the attributes which made the character’s Silver Age stories so enthralling. Morrison juggles these two seemingly incompatible strains and creates a series of stories that are uniquely compelling and paint a decades-old character in a new light.

#8: "The Judas Contract" (1984)

When the New Teen Titans burst on the scene in the 1980s, they quickly became a phenomenon, thanks to the dynamic team of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez. That partnership reached its apex with this story arc. Earlier, Wolfman had established Deathstroke as the team’s foremost nemesis. He had also added a new character, Terra, to the Titan’s roster. In this arc, it was revealed that Terra was an agent of Deathstroke’s, sent to infiltrate and help destroy the team. The effect this had on the Titans was significant, especially for Changeling, who had strong feelings for the traitorous Terra. “The Judas Contract” was a highwater mark for the Titans.

#7: "Batman: Year One" (1987)

With “The Dark Knight Returns,” Frank Miller looked into Batman’s future. With “Year One,” he revisited the Bat’s origin – and in so doing, gave birth to DC’s many future “Year One” retellings. Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli explored the very first days of both Batman and Jim Gordon. As Bruce Wayne is learning how to don the cowl and become a costumed vigilante, Jim Gordon is causing trouble for the corrupt legal system in Gotham. Both at times seem to be fighting an uphill battle, but their grim determination wins out in the end. Miller’s script helped create the vision of Gotham as a city corrupted on numerous level, a vision which endures.

#6: "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" (1986)

With John Byrne’s epic reboot of the Man of Steel on the horizon, DC gave their flagship hero an appropriate and wonderfully touching sendoff. The brilliant Alan Moore worked with Supreme Superman artist Curt Swan to create the ultimate Silver Age story. Almost all of the elements and major cast members associated with Superman were brought back in a story that showed the demise of the legendary superhero – yet had a happy ending anyway. Moore’s storytelling and pace has never been better, yet it has a sense of fun that his more serious work lacks. This graphic novel was the perfect way to say good-bye to this phase of the icon’s history.

#5: "Batman: The Long Halloween" (1998)

Another story set early in Batman’s career, “The Long Halloween” details a year-long mystery that gets deadlier with each month. The new Holiday killer is grotesquely murdering victims on one holiday each month. Batman’s villain Calendar Man knows the killer’s identity but won’t share it - and so Batman must track the killer down before the next holiday. The story involves many familiar faces from the Batman family in a taut, gripping story with a complex plot that is full of surprises. Most readers were shocked by the revelation of the killer’s true identity, testament to writer Jeph Loeb’s skill. That skill with creating an intriguing mystery would be demonstrated later in the 2009 storyline ‘Hush’.

#4: "Kingdom Come" (1996)

Many of DC’s best graphic novels have focused on questions of power, trust and responsibility. "Kingdom Come" took this to a new level. It takes place in an alternate future, one in which Superman and the heroes of his generation have retired. They’ve been replaced by a new generation of metahumans, who aren’t all as just and virtuious as their old world counterparts. It becomes harder to tell the heroes from the villains but one thing is certain, Justice Society member Magog is the latter. Finally the old guard is compelled to return – and that sets in motion a super-powered battle that becomes increasingly dangerous to everyone on Earth. Mark Waid’s provocative tale is perfectly realized by Alex Ross’ stunning art in this disturbing work.

#3: "Batman: The Killing Joke" (1988)

One of the most controversial DC’s graphic novels, “The Killing Joke” is also one of its most powerful. Author Alan Moore has in later years expressed his regret at the brutal treatment he put the characters through, especially Barbara Gordon. In the story, Barbara is kidnapped and graphically brutalized by the Joker, who uses pictures and recordings of this event to torture her father, Jim Gordon. The Joker’s strategy is to demonstrate that any man, including Gordon or Batman, can become a monster. Psychologically potent and written with remorseless intensity, “The Killing Joke” is intensely disturbing – but well worth the discomfort it causes.

#2: "The Dark Knight Returns" (1986)

This is arguably the work that justified the term “graphic novel” and is one of the most influential comics ever published. A massive seller, it set the tone for the Batman series for years and impacted cinematic versions of the character as well. Set in a future in which Batman has been retired for a decade after the death of Jason Todd, aka Robin. Gotham has descended into madness, with a gang known as ‘The Mutants’ terrorizing the streets. Batman comes out of retirement, but he’s grimmer and darker than ever before. Although many found Miller’s work over-the-top and some deemed felt it justified fascist actions, the novel was undeniably vibrant and enthralling.
Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

"Batman: Mad Love" (1994)

"Superman: Red Son" (2003)

"Green Lantern: Secret Origin" (2008)

#1: "Watchmen" (1987)

DC originally wanted a series using some old Charlton Comics characters they owned, but Alan Moore took those characters and created his own using them as templates. He also created a masterpiece. Taking place during the cold war costumed heroes, most of which possess no superpowers at all, have been outlawed for years. But when it appears that someone may be killing these former heroes, they have to come out of hiding and unravel the conspiracy. The plot description doesn’t begin to describe the complexity of the story or the characters involved or do justice to the exceptional writing. You just have to read it for yourself.

Agree with our choices? What other epic DC tales do you think should have made the list? For more powerful top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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