I think DC might have the right idea by releasing its DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2014 as a free ebook. It’s built to guide a newbie comic-reader through the myriad titles, back-catalogs, and trade paperbacks by starting them off with the best it has to offer.
Circa 1999, my future-husband-to-be loaned me his trade paperback of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes and Death: The High Cost of Living. That was my introduction into the world of comic books and graphic novels. I soon devoured the entirety of The Sandman and Death books. Next he suggested The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore. Then Watchmen. I could go on, but here’s my point: Like how Michael started me not with comic books but with collected graphic novels, the DC guide kicks off with their 25 Essential Graphic Novels list. Each gets a summary, raving blurbs from various reviewers or celebrities like Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, and four miniature pages to give an idea of the art. On this list of 25, my husband has lead me to the ones listed above plus many, many more. All-Star Superman. Fables. Y: The Last Man. Going through the list of 25 was like remembering old friends.
I cannot stress how great this list of 25 titles is. Download the ebook just to check off that list and seek out the ones you’ve missed.
Next the DC guide runs through the first few issues of all of their New 52 titles. Back in 2011, DC rebooted all of their titles to provide an easier starting point for contemporary new readers. There were hits and misses, of course, but the guide gives info on the first three issues of the title and gives brief plot overviews.
After that it goes title by title, giving a little intro to, say, Batman, and then listing all of the best related trade paperbacks and back issues.
The guide finally gives a chronology of how all the titles fit together so you can move linearly through the title’s timeline if that’s your desire. But beware, I don’t think anyone anywhere except as is implied in this guide would suggest a new reader read the Before Watchmen trades before reading the original Watchmen.
So DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2014 doesn’t have the effusive enthusiasm or collection to loan that a comic-loving friend might have, but otherwise this is a great source for entry into the world of DC.