10 Comic Books That Redefined DC (& How)

DC is one of the most important comic publishers in history, helping drive the comic industry forward in many ways. A multitude of famous comic firsts came from DC and though they haven’t been the sales leader in a long time, the comic industry in America would be unrecognizable without the publisher. DC has survived over eighty years, and in that time has produced some of the greatest comic stories ever.

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Over the years, some DC comics have had a bigger effect on the company than others. These stories have changed the way DC is perceived by fans and how it tells their stories, for better and sometimes for worse.

10 The Sandman Made Vertigo A Juggernaut And Proved Comics Could Be Literature

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is one of comics’ most beloved stories. Working with artists like Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, Colleen Doran, Jill Thompson, Michael Zulli, P. Craig Russel, and others, Gaiman wrote a work of fiction that stands the test of time and helped make the Vertigo imprint one of the hottest in the comic industry.

beyond that, The Sandman picked up where earlier DC works by Alan Moore and others left off, cementing the idea that comics were literature. It was the only comic to win a World Fantasy Award and its aesthetic inspired many comics, at DC and beyond.

9 The Dark Knight Returns Remade The Company’s Biggest Character And Changed Its Course Forever

The Dark Knight Returns, by writer/artist Frank Miller, is a seminal work that changed DC forever. Batman has long been one of the most popular pop cultural creations and TDKR completely changed the public perception of him. Gone was the slightly campy Batman of older times; Miller channeled the O’Neil/Adams and Englehart/Rogers Batman filtered through his own noir aesthetic.

TDKR’s Batman became the portrayal of choice and the maturity and sheer grit of the title spread throughout DC’s line of books. DC started to put out more mature books, books that were more complex with edger content.

8 DC Rebirth #1 Ended The New 52 And Recharted DC’s Course

The New 52 quickly became a controversial subject for DC fans. While it began well enough, things soured quickly but it took five years for DC to remedy the situation. That remedy was DC Rebirth #1, by writer Geoff Johns and artists Phil Jimenez, Gary Frank, Ivan Reis, and Ethan Van Sciver. The story ended the New 52 and set new plots into motion.

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While it can be argued that the overarching story it was setting up – Doctor Manhattan’s manipulation of the DC Universe – fizzled, the book still ended the New 52 and set a new course for DC. This course has produced some fan-favorite comic runs and helped make the company a contender again.

7 Watchmen Brought An Unmatched Level Of Artistry To Comics

Watchmen Alan Moore Cast.

Watchmen is a masterpiece. Writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’ seminal work is widely considered the greatest comic ever and DC has spent years milking its success in a variety of ways, some good and some not so good. the impact of Watchmen is manifold, but one huge thing it did for DC was that it changed the way comics were perceived.

Moore and Gibbons elevated sequential storytelling to an artform with Watchmen and DC’s best creators have taken that to heart. Watchmen showed that comics could be art like never before and its success paved the way for a raft of DC books that pushed the bounds of comics.

6 Flashpoint Began The New 52

Flashpoint Paradox Barry Allen

DC is known for its continuity reboots, some of which have been much more successful than others. flashpoint, by writer Geoff Johns and artist Andy Kubert, is a strange beast within that pantheon of stories. It brought massive change to DC with the New 52 and did exactly what it was supposed to at first, driving DC to its best sales in years.

That luster did eventually wear off, though, and that’s put Flashpoint’s legacy into question. The story itself is good as long as one doesn’t think too hard about it but it can’t be denied just how much it changed the way legions of fans looked at DC for years to come.

5 JLA #1 Revitalized Interest In DC’s Biggest Team

Grant Morrison has gone down as one of the Justice League’s most important writers and that all started with JLA #1. Joined by artist Howard Porter, Morrison took a back-to-basics approach to make the Justice League popular again after years of fan apathy. JLA was a massive hit, not only making the team big again but leading to the return of DC’s best team concepts.

JLA led to JSA and Young Justice, each one supporting an important pillar of the DC Universe. The book opened the floodgates and made an entire generation of readers into massive DC fans. It showcased the publisher’s greatest heroes in their biggest adventures, showing everyone just how great DC could be.

4 Saga Of The Swamp Thing #21 Was Alan Moore’s Big Break In American Comics

Alan Moore is one of DC’s most influential writers, even though he hasn’t written for them in decades. His first work by him full work for the publisher was Saga Of The Swamp Thing #21, with artists Simon Bissette and Jon Totleben, a comic that would change DC forever. Moore’s mature horror stylings struck a chord with audiences and led to an unprecedented period of growth for DC and comics.

Moore’s success on Saga Of The Swamp Thing led to DC’s British Invasion, as the company brought in more talent from the UK. This led to books like The Sandman, Animal Man, and Doom Patrol, which led to Vertigo. Moore and his influence changed DC forever.

3 Infinite Crisis Brought The Silver Age Back Into The Modern Day

The Infinite Crisis

Infinite Crisis is one of DC’s biggest event books. Written by Geoff Johns with art by Phil Jimenez, George Perez, Ivan Reid, and Jerry Ordway, the book acted as a sequel to Crisis On Infinite Earths and in a lot of ways was the exact opposite of its predecessor. If CoIE was about ending the Silver Age and bringing DC into the modern-day, CI brought the Silver Age back to modern DC.

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Infinite Crisis brought back many of the retcons from CoIE, revisiting a lot of plot points but with a modern edge. It’s a great event book, full of bombast and as epic as they come. It represented DC melding its past and present, heralding a new day for the publisher.

two Showcase #4 Began The Silver Age

The Silver Age of comics led to the modern comic industry as fans know it, and that all began with showcase#4, by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Carmine Infantino. This is the comic that is credited with beginning the Silver Age, introducing fan-favorite Flash Barry Allen. It was the beginning of DC using its past to build its future and brought superheroes roaring back in comics.

showcase #4’s success led to new characters like Hal Jordan, Ray Palmer, Katar and Shayera Hol, and more taking up old Golden Age mantles. It led to the debut of the Justice League of America, the Teen Titans, and marked the beginning of the biggest boom period in DC history.

1 Crisis On Infinite Earths Ended The Silver Age And Codified The Modern Event Book

Crisis On Infinite Earths is one of the greatest event books ever made. Written by Marv Wolfman with art by George Perez, Crisis ended the DC Multiverse, Supergirl, and Barry Allen, killing the three biggest symbols of DC’s Silver Age. As the book’s tagline went- worlds lived, worlds died, and nothing was ever the same.

Crisis drew a line between the past and future of DC. It not only changed the heroes and their histories but also how they were perceived. It also set the path for every event book that came after, codifying event storytelling in a way that influenced DC and Marvel.

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