Best DC Comics New 52 Guides and Reading Orders


Best DC Comics New 52 Guides and Reading Orders

When DC Comics announced their New 52 initiative, there were a lot of reading guides online for the various New 52 series, which were coming and going, the best and the worst and so on.

Now that the DC New 52 is in full swing, however, you might be looking for something more detailed, a reading order guide to how to read the DC New 52 or who DC Comics's new or relaunched characters are.

Presented here are some guides to the DC Comics New 52 universe I've used or that have impressed me (plus our homegrown edition). If you've got more, please leave them in the comments section and I will continue to update this post. What we're looking for are guides on how to read and understand the DC New 52, not just recaps or reviews of the first issues.

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* Comicosity - Read Between The Lines: History of the DC Universe 3.0

A lot of hard work went into Keith Callbeck and company's timeline of the DC Comics New 52, which puts the major events of the New 52 in chronological order. They sorted through over 700 comics; this list is especially good for understanding how some of the New 52's more far-flung titles like Demon Knights, Shade, and All-Star Western fit into the grand scheme.

* The Unofficial Guide to the New DC Universe

This wiki is an offshoot of the equally amazing Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe, which catalogs and includes details almost every post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC comic, along with character chronology information. The new site, editable for registered users, is building the same kind of database for the New 52, also with chronology information. For detailed, issue-by-issue questions of who's who and what happened when, this is your source.

* DC Comics Database

Also good, with maybe a smidgen more artwork but slightly less chronological information, the DC Comics Database also includes issue lists, notes, and synopsis, as well as creator credits. They've also got a great mobile site for your superhero questions on the go.

* Tor: Reader's Guide to the New DC Universe

Though Tim Callahan's reader's guide started out as snapshots of the initial DC New 52 series, he's added to it with addendum updates for the Second and Third Wave series. This set of posts may not be as technically detailed as some of the others, but it stands as a good guide to how the New 52 has unfolded over time with short write-ups of all the books.

* DC New 52 Trade Paperback Timeline

Last but not least, if I can be permitted a plug, some readers still haven't noticed that the DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline now includes DC New 52 books! The timeline contains all the New 52 Vol. 1s, as well as a majority of the Vol. 2s and 3s. As always, the DC TPB Timeline offers a clear reading order for how to read the New 52 collections, as well as explanations for why the books are listed the way they are. Our New 52 TPB timeline follows the "old" DC Universe timeline, and makes reference to events of the past where they're still in continuity.

And even though you can go to the DC Universe Trade Paperback Timeline for all your reading order information, here's a snapshot of the guide to the DC New 52 trades -- you can find more information and future volumes on the timeline.

Justice League Vol. 1: Origin (review)
Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel (review)

Both of these titles take place around five years prior to the present. The story in Action Comics takes place before Justice League, but DC published Justice League first and meant it to be the starting place for the DC New 52.

Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Midas Touch (review)

A number of DC New 52 titles reference Green Arrow Oliver Queen's company Q-Core, introduced in Green Arrow: The Midas Touch.

Flash Vol. 1: Move Forward (review)
Captain Atom Vol. 1: Evolution (review)
Static Shock Vol. 1: Supercharged (review)
Savage Hawkman Vol. 1: Darkness Rising (review)

The Static Shock book mentions Hawkman, Captain Atom, and the Teen Titans; Flash appears in the Captain Atom book.

Supergirl Vol. 1: Last Daughter of Krypton (review)
Superboy Vol. 1: Incubation (review)
Teen Titans Vol. 1: It's Our Right to Fight (review)

Supergirl appears first in her own collection, then in Superboy and then in Superman: What Price Tomorrow? Superboy: Incubation takes place concurrent with the Teen Titans collection.

Batman Vol. 1: Court of Owls (review)
Batman and Robin Vol. 1: Born to Kill (review)
Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection (review)
Nightwing Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes (review)
Birds of Prey Vol. 1: Trouble in Mind (review)
Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology (review)
Batwing Vol. 1: The Lost Kingdom (review)
Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 1: Redemption (review)

The Batman, Batgirl, and Nightwing books all interconnect.

Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt (review)
Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones (review)

The Animal Man and Swamp Thing collections take place concurrent to one another.

Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE Vol. 1: War of the Monsters (review)
Men of War Vol. 1: Uneasy Company (review)
OMAC Vol. 1: Omactivate (review)

The Frankenstein and OMAC volumes cross-over with one another. Frankenstein appears in Men of War. The OMAC book alludes to the Challengers of the Unknown story in DC Universe Presents.

Hawk and Dove Vol. 1: First Strikes (review)
Blue Beetle Vol. 1: Metamorphosis (review)
Justice League International Vol. 1: The Signal Masters (review)

Green Arrow, Frankenstein, Hawk and Dove, Captain Atom, Hawkman, Blue Beetle, and Batman appear or cameo in the first Justice League International book.

Blackhawks Vol. 1: Great Leap Forward (review)
Mister Terrific Vol. 1: Mind Games (review)
Huntress: Crossbow at the Crossroads (review)

The Blackhawks appear in the Mr. Terrific book, and also in Deathstroke and Voodoo.

Deathstroke Vol. 1: Legacy (review)
Resurrection Man Vol. 1: Dead Again (review)

Deathstroke appears in flashback in Resurrection Man.

I, Vampire Vol. 1: Tainted Love (review)
Justice League Dark Vol. 1: In the Dark (review)

I, Vampire and Justice League Dark take place concurrently.

Superman Vol. 1: What Price Tomorrow? (review)
DC Universe Presents Vol. 1: Deadman and Challengers of the Unknown (review)
Stormwatch Vol. 1: The Dark Side (review)
Grifter Vol. 1: Most Wanted (review)
Demon Knights Vol. 1: Seven Against the Dark (review)

Stormwatch takes place after the formation of Justice League International; a member of Stormwatch guest-stars in Grifter. Superman, Stormwatch, Grifter, Voodoo, and Demon Knights each refer to a certain alien threat.

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1: Hostile World (review)
Legion Lost Vol. 1: Run from Tomorrow (review)

The Black Razers Blackhawk group appears in Legion Lost and Voodoo.

Green Lantern: New Guardians Vol. 1: The Ring Bearer (review)
Voodoo Vol. 1: What Lies Beneath (review)
Green Lantern Vol. 1: Sinestro (review)
Red Lanterns Vol. 1: Blood and Rage (review)
Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1: Fearsome (review)

The Green Lantern book is most closely connected with the "old" DC Universe, taking place right after War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath. Green Lantern: Sinestro, Green Lantern: New Guardians, and the Red Lanterns book all interconnect.

Catwoman Vol. 1: The Game (review)
Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Faces of Death (review)
Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth (review)

The events of Detective Comics: Faces of Death take place specifically after Catwoman: The Game and I, Vampire: Tainted Love, but before the Suicide Squad book. Suicide Squad makes a minor reference to the events of the Stormwatch book.

All-Star Western Vol. 1: Guns and Gotham
Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench (review)
Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men Vol. 1: God Particle (review)
Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood (review)

The All-Star Western, Aquaman, Firestorm, and Wonder Woman books are mostly independent from the rest of the DC Universe in their first volumes.

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 2: Bulletproof

Takes place five years before the current DC Universe.

Batwoman Vol. 2: To Drown the World (review)
Batman, Incorporated Vol. 1: Demon Star

The Batwoman and Batman, Inc. collections are generally unrelated to the other Batman collections at this time. Batwoman Batgirl: Knightfall Descends.

Batman Vol. 2: City of Owls (review)
Batman: Night of the Owls (review)
All-Star Western Vol. 2: The War of Lords and Owls
Batgirl Vol. 2: Knightfall Descends (review)
Nightwing Vol. 2: Night of the Owls
Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Scare Tactics
Birds of Prey Vol. 2: Your Kiss Might Kill
Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 1: Knight Terrors (review)
Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2: Cycle of Violence
Catwoman Vol. 2: Dollhouse (review)

All of these trades tie in to Night of the Owls except Batman: Dark Knight: Cycle of Violence.

Superman Vol. 2: Secrets and Lies
Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 2: The Starfire

The last chapter of Superman: Secrets and Lies relates to the last chapter of Red Hood and the Outlaws: The Starfire.

Captain Atom Vol. 2: Genesis
Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey (review)

Captain Atom: Genesis is unrelated but takes place before the end of Justice League: Villain's Journey.

Blue Beetle Vol. 2: Blue Diamond
Justice League International Vol. 2: Breakdown (review)
Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men Vol. 2: The Firestorm Protocols
Batwing Vol. 2: In the Shadow of Ancients (review)

The Justice League International trade reflects the events of Justice League: Villain's Journey. Justice League International, Firestorm, Blue Beetle, and Batwing tie into one another or contain guest appearances by the JLI.

Green Lantern Vol. 2: The Revenge of Black Hand (review)
Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Alpha War
Green Lantern: New Guardians Vol. 2: Beyond Hope
Red Lanterns Vol. 2: Death of the Red Lanterns (review)
Stormwatch Vol. 2: Enemies of Earth (review)

Green Lantern: New Guardians: Beyond Hope intersects with Blue Beetle: Blue Diamond. Stormwatch: Enemies of the Earth crosses over with Red Lanterns.

Culling: Rise of the Ravagers
Superboy Vol. 2: Extraction
Teen Titans Vol. 2: The Culling

The Culling collection includes the Teen Titans Annual #1; otherwise the "Culling" issues are also found in the Titans, Superboy, and Legion Lost trades.

Swamp Thing Vol. 2: Family Tree (review)
Animal Man Vol. 2: Animal Vs. Man (review)
Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE Vol. 2: Secrets of the Dead (review)

Swamp Thing and Animal Man interconnect; Frankenstein leads into the Animal Man/Swamp Thing crossover "Rotworld."

Sword of Sorcery Vol. 1: Amethyst
Justice League Dark Vol. 2: The Books of Magic
I, Vampire Vol. 2: Rise of the Vampires (review)

I, Vampire and Justice League Dark cross over. Amethyst appears in the Justice League Dark trade.

Earth 2 Vol. 1: The Gathering (review)
Worlds' Finest Vol. 1: Lost Daughters of Earth 2 (review)

Worlds' Finest will reflect events in the Batman titles with its second volume.

Legion: Secret Origin
Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 2: The Dominators

Legion: Secret Origin expands the Legion's origin for the New 52.

Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others
Dial H Vol. 1: Into You (review)
Green Arrow Vol. 2: Triple Threat (review)
Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Guts (review)

Aquaman, Dial H, Green Arrow, and Wonder Woman remain generally unrelated to the rest of the New 52.

Shazam Vol. 1 Vol. 1
Aquaman Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis
Justice League Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis
Flash Vol. 3: Gorilla Warfare

The Throne of Atlantis books cross over. Shazam takes place prior to Throne of Atlantis; Flash: Gorilla Warfare takes place at the same time.

Green Lantern: Rise of the Third Army
Green Lantern: Wrath of the First Lantern
Green Lantern Vol. 3: The End
Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3: Willpower
Green Lantern: New Guardians Vol. 3: Love and Death
Red Lanterns Vol. 3: The Second Prophecy

These books include the Green Lantern crossovers "Rise of the Third Army" and "Wrath of the First Lantern."

Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family
Joker: Death of the Family
Batman and Robin Vol. 2: Pearl
Batman and Robin Vol. 3: Death of the Family

These titles tie in to Death of the Family but not Requiem.

Justice League Dark Vol. 3: The Death of Magic
Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger Vol. 1: A Stranger Among Us
Birds of Prey Vol. 3: A Clash of Daggers
Teen Titans Vol. 3: Death of the Family
Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 3: Death of the Family

The Phantom Stranger appears in Justice League Dark; Raven appears in Phantom Stranger and then in Teen Titans; Teen Titans crosses over with Red Hood; Birds of Prey and Teen Titans connect.

Batman, Incorporated Vol. 2: Gotham's Most Wanted
Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Emperor Penguin
Nightwing Vol. 3: Death of the Family
Batgirl Vol. 3: Death of the Family

These trades deal with both Death of the Family and Requiem.

Demon Knights Vol. 3: The Gathering Storm
All-Star Western Vol. 3: The Black Diamond Probability
Team 7 Vol. 1: Fight Fire with Fire
Catwoman Vol. 3: Death of the Family

Demon Knights, All-Star Western, Catwoman, and Team 7 are all part of the "Black Diamond Probability" event. Catwoman connects to Death of the Family and Requiem.

Savage Hawkman Vol. 2: Wanted
Green Arrow Vol. 3: Harrow
Deathstroke Vol. 2: Lobo Hunt

Deathstroke, Hawkman, and Green Arrow participate in the "Hawkman: Wanted" crossover.

Superman: H'el on Earth
Superman Vol. 3: Fury at World's End
Superboy Vol. 3: Lost
Supergirl Vol. 3: Sanctuary

Superman, Superboy, and Supergirl participate in the "H'el on Earth" crossover.

Ravagers Vol. 1: The Kids from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.
Legion Lost Vol. 2: The Culling
Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man Vol. 3: Takeover

Superboy and the Ravagers appear in Legion Lost; Legion Lost and Firestorm connect regarding a Captain Atom storyline.

Animal Man Vol. 3: Rotworld -- The Red Kingdom
Swamp Thing Vol. 3: Rotworld -- The Green Kingdom

Animal Man and Swamp Thing cross over with "Rotworld."

Hope this helps you sort things out. If I've missed a good site or you have any corrections, leave a comment and I'll check it out. Cheers!

Comments ( 13 )

  1. Nice!
    A fun trade reading order! Now I can start digging into the New 52 properly.

  2. Thanks for this guide!

    Has someone noticed there is a change in the Frankenstein Vol. 2 collection?

    Originally, there was a Vol. 2 collection announced named Son of Satan's Ring (144 pages, issues #8-11, plus Man of War #8). Now it is gone from Amazon replaced by another Vol. 2 named Secrets of the Dead (224 pages). So there's room for issues #0 and 12-15. Issue 15 is the finale of the Rotworld: Secrets of the Dead storyline and currently the last solicited issue.

    I haven't read Vol. 1 yet (still on the fence about buying it, but heard good things about it), but I hope this isn't a sign for cancellation...!?

  3. Very astute catch. Yes, hopefully this is just to pick up on the popularity of the Rotworld Animal Man/Swamp Thing crossover, and not to wrap up this series for its conclusion. Issue #15 wasn't solicited as "final issue," but you never know. I bet we'll learn more with the solicitations next week.

    You should get Frankenstein volume one. Great weird science-fiction, nice art.

  4. @CE: Yeah, thanks for the advice. :)

    Up until now I read 17 of the New 52 collections, 5 more are to come this and next month. After that I will use the quiet month of December to get some of the paperbacks I skipped the first time around.

    Possible December purchases: Frankenstein (definetely at the top of my list), Deathstroke, Demon Knights, Red Lanterns or perhaps All-Star Western. We'll see. ;)

  5. Rob Liefield tweeted:
    So, Tomasi, Meltzer, Hitch..New Superman, New Superman/ Batman...Legion Lost, Grifter, Frankenstein, Blue Beetle gone-Put those to NYCC test

  6. Just saw that. Interesting if it's true; pity about Frankenstein but the others are probably mercy killings. Liefeld added that he meant to include Aquaman in there -- my guess is that Tomasi takes Aquaman.

    A Brad Meltzer Superman/Batman book will be controversial, to say the least -- I wonder how Meltzer will write the New 52 Superman and Batman different than the "old" DCU versions.

  7. Frankenstein is cancelled :(
    Along with Beetle, Grifter and Legion lost.

  8. Really too bad about Frankenstein. On the Legion side, I hope Paul Levitz can reintegrate those characters into the main Legion title, and maybe even address now the issues of time-travel in the New 52.

  9. You might also be interested in the New 52 comicographies available at

  10. I may be wrong, but wouldn't Demon Knights before Justice League? In Issue #1 it states that it is happening in 'The Dark Ages' and its pretty clear that the characters and setting are set in the medieval times

  11. Fair question, and if this were a real timeline-timeline, then definitely Demon Knights would appear before Justice League (see the Comicosity list for instance, which puts the individual issues in date order).

    But this and my DC TPB Timeline are really "reading orders" (if confusingly named) -- sometimes it's the order things happened, and then sometimes it's the way you can read the books to get the best reading experience.

    Like, for instance, Robin: Year One takes place in the Batman: Year One/Man of Steel era, but it wasn't published until years later and contradicts other stories; if it was placed toward the beginning of the timeline, it wouldn't make sense. Rather it ties into a volume of Nightwing, so it's placed there instead.

    In the same way, DC specifically published Justice League before all the other New 52 books, so that's why Justice League comes first; Demon Knights ties in to Stormwatch, Grifter, and Voodoo, so that's why I placed it where I did.

    Thanks for asking though; I'm happy to talk through timeline placements any time!

  12. Will the new 52 death of the family be on tbp? Sorry iam New to this whole thing since I can't keep up with the issues I thought might as well wait for the tpb but not sure if dc is goin to release it on that format again sorry for being such a noobs but I need to know ><.

  13. I am absolutely sure Death of the Family will be collected, and I think it's very likely DC will handle it like Night of the Owls -- a collection of just the main Batman issues, and then also a collection of the Death of the Family tie-in issues all together. Hasn't been announced yet, though.


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