I'll be honest—I've always been a True Believer (i.e. a shameless Marvel fan). But I can look past the two party system and get excited about DC for once, because DC Comics just announced a line of YA novels. Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and Catwoman are all getting their own novel for young adults. As in, Random House and DC have teamed up to bring us four brand new books about superpowers, coming of age, the struggle between good and evil, and (presumably) punching bad guys in the face.
If that's not enough to get you pumped, just check out the all-star team of authors who've signed on to write the books: Newbery winner Matt de la Peña is writing Superman. Leigh Bardugo of Six of Crows is taking on Wonder Woman. Throne of Glass author Sarah J. Maas will handle Catwoman. And Marie Lu, author of Legend and Young Elites, is going to write about everyone's favorite sad billionaire orphan in Batman. This all sounds a little too good to be true?
Personally, I'm hoping that Marvel follows suit (I would totally read John Green's Thor, is what I'm saying). But this is still pretty freaking awesome. The only downside is that the first DC novel isn't coming out until the summer of 2017. So we might as well fill the time with comic books.
If you only know these characters through movies or lunch boxes, now is the perfect time to catch up on some of their greatest hits. Here are ten super comics to read before the books come out:
1. Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb, art by Tim Sale and Bjarne Hansen
A lot of people get down on Superman. He's just so nice and good. But Superman for All Seasons is the kind of intro to the Man of Steel that'll remind you why he's the world's greatest hero. It's a look into Superman's origins, and it's a sweet, heartfelt tale that's not so heavy on the gratuitous gore. It's not exactly an epic, but it is a quintessential coming-of-age story that'll make you love Clark Kent as he starts to learn what his powers can do.
2. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, art by Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley
If you're not so much into the heartfelt coming-of-age stories, however, you might want to try Frank Miller's Batman. It's a dark, inventive retelling of Gotham's Dark Knight, complete with a female Robin and a whole slew of psychopaths. This is a portrait of Batman's grittier, vigilante side, and it's one of the most influential Batman comics out there.
3. Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka, art by J.G. Jones, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Dave Stewart
Just look at that cover. That's Wonder Woman's boot all over Batman's stupid face. If that cover doesn't make you want to read this graphic novel, I can't help you. Seriously, though, The Hiketeia is one of the greatest Wonder Woman comics out there: a young woman comes to Wonder Woman seeking help, and Wonder Woman ends up having to take Batman down in order to protect her. Yes, please.
4. Catwoman: When in Rome by Jeph Loeb, art by Time Sale
In this beautifully illustrated volume, Catwoman goes to Italy to find the truth about her own origins (and beat up some baddies while she's at it). Catwoman is one of the more complicated DC characters—she's not exactly a hero, but she's not all bad either. She (like most cats) does as she pleases. This book is as action-packed as any comic, but it also gives Catwoman a little breathing room to be her own badass self without those other idiots in Gotham crowding her.
5. Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? by Alan Moore, art by Curt Swan
If you like your Superman on the sadder side of the spectrum, this is the comic for you. Alan Moore takes on Superman in his "last" adventure. It's an unforgettable story, and a fitting farewell to the Silver Age version of the Man of Tomorrow. Superheroes never truly die, of course, but they do get "rebooted" so often that sometimes you wish you had time to say goodbye. (Plus, this book features Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin rescuing Superman from an ice cave, if you're into that sort of thing).
6. Wonder Woman: The Circle by Gail Simone, art by Terry Dodson and Bernard Chang
If you want to see Wonder Woman fight a gorilla and also a Nazi, this is the book for you. Wonder Woman has had a lot of male writers, and only a handful of female writers, so Gail Simone is truly a gift. She reinvents the character just enough for new readers to jump on, and she writes Diana with all the strength and vibrancy you would expect from an Amazon warrior. She's tough, she's otherworldly, and yet she's still human (and she totally fights a gorilla).
7. Teen Titans: Year One by Mary Wolfram, art by Karl Kerschl and Serge LaPointe
If you prefer to read about superheroes you'd like to hug, then check out Teen Titans Year One. DC recently rebooted all of their heroes, including their adorable (but still pretty fierce) team of super kids. If the Justice League crowd just feels a little too stuffy and old school for you, Teen Titans is an all-ages book about the younger heroes in the DC universe looking cute and fighting crime.
8. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alam Moore, art by Brian Bolland
Let's be real: we all like Batman for his villains. Sure, I guess there are some people who are just really into brooding rich guys, but deep down we know it's all about the Joker (and maybe Catwoman and the Penguin). Well, this book gives us the origins of the Joker. And boy is it not for the faint of heart. If you're looking to acquaint yourself with the more twisted side of Gotham, this is the comic to read.
9. Catwoman: Relentless by Ed Brubaker, art by Cameron Stewart and Javier Pulido
Catwoman tries her hand at being a sort of Robin Hood figure to the residents of Gotham. The result are... mixed. A truly horrifying villain begins to take out his anger on Catwoman's loved ones, and she's forced to go on the offensive in this tightly-plotted story. The art is a noir-inspired version of Gotham, and it all comes together to create a dark, brutal book for one of DC's most morally ambiguous characters.
10. All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison, art by Frank Quitely
This is classic Superman at his most classic. If you need to rinse your brain from all that Gotham grit, then take a look at Grant Morrison's Superman. This book is a celebration of the Man of Steel and all the things he stands for. We get to see Superman reveal his secret identity to Lois Lane. We get to see Superman chilling with his dog. And of course, there's plenty of flying about and Lex Luther being a jerk. It's a lovely tribute to Superman if you already know him, and a great introduction if you don't.
Images: ErikaWittlieb/Pixbay, Giphy (1)