This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on December 10, 2016.
It has been a great second half of the year for DC Comics. Six months ago they launched their Rebirth initiative to widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike. It really seems there is something for every superhero reader in their new mix of bi-weekly and monthly comics. Pacing, style, and tone vary wildly between the bunch, but they’ve all managed to maintain impressive schedules and gather unique followings.
With many books past the 12 issue mark and dozens of series launched, it’s a great time to consider what the biggest successes have been thus far. We’ve assembled a countdown of our favorite series from the Rebirth relaunch so far. Some you’ll see coming from a mile away, but others are likely to surprise you (and hopefully encourage you to check out these great series). So read on and see how your favorite Rebirth series stacked up against our countdown.
A brief note on accreditation: Due to the enormous mix of creative teams on bi-weekly series, only the writer and artist roles are being credited in full. This is not meant to diminish the role of inkers, colorists, and letterers. They are important artistic contributors who help make each of these series what they are.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Carmine Di Giandomenico, Neil Googe, Felipe Watanabe, Jorge Corona, & Davide Gianfelice
The best Flash series always manage to combine legacy with invention. That’s what makes the Waid and Johns’ runs truly legendary, and it’s a key building block of this volume. There is a real sense of history to Central City with stacks of Rogues and speed force-powered allies in the wings. That doesn’t stop Williamson and the many artists on the title from introducing new villains to their already expansive soap opera. The Flash is a solo superhero title at its most pure with so much happening that you’ll surely miss something if you blink.
Writer: Tom King
Artists: David Finch, Mikel Janin, Ivan Reis, & Riley Rossmo
The newest volume of Batman has made the wise choice of separating itself in tone and style from its beloved New 52 predecessor. Rather than focus on one epic arc after the next, each story so far has felt like a unique piece in a collection. “I Am Gotham” served as a serious thesis statement; “I Am Suicide” is a dirty heist story; “Night of the Monster Men” was a kaiju smackdown. All of this is brought together by writer Tom King’s quirky love of the genre, constantly referencing D-list villains and Batman ‘66, along with unexpected art teams, combinations of pencilers, inkers, colorists, and letterers that truly elevate one another’s work.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: Brian Ching
Perhaps the most astonishing thing about Supergirl is how smoothly it has combined elements of the popular TV show while remaining entirely its own thing. At its heart this is an immigrant’s story addressing issues of culture and assimilation in a smart, but never heavy handed, fashion. Kara’s struggles are relatable like the best teen superheroes, as she manages her outsider status with some very fun adventures. Supergirl is a colorful blast to the eyes that never disappoints.
Writer: Ben Percy
Artists: Otto Schmidt, Juan E. Ferreyra, & Stephen Byrne
More than any other Rebirth relaunch, Green Arrow emphasizes the back-to-basics approach of this initiative. Everything you want from a Green Arrow story is here, including Ollie’s bleeding heart liberalism, his romance with Black Canary, and even the goatee. Even with all of these classic elements on the board, Green Arrow is not a carbon copy of the past. It is constantly introducing new villains and conflicts (physical and philosophical) that bring out the absolute best in the Emerald Archer.
Writers: Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Artists: Patrick Gleason, Doug Mahnke, & Jorge Jiminez
The joy of Superman comes from the combination of classic characterization with one massive new element being added: Superman and Lois Lane’s son, Jonathan. Watching Superman perform his fatherly duties reassures us of all the reasons why we love this character. His wisdom, power, and sense of justice are all brought to the forefront of this series. The antics of Superboy (and now Damian Wayne, Robin) are a blast as well. It’s pure fun that results in some really wild settings and sequences, including a great riff on Darwyn Cooke’s Dinosaur Island.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Eddy Barrows, Alvaro Martinez, Andy MacDonald, Al Barrionuevo, & Carmen Carnero
This is the team comic that the Batman line deserves. The wonderful selection of characters in Detective Comics lays a strong foundation for what appears to be the new backbone of the Bat-line. Diversity in all of its forms leads this bunch of allies to bring out the best (and sometimes worst) in one another, and delivers stories big enough to threaten all of Gotham. Even when playing into a broader line-wide story, this creative team plays up the melodrama in the best possible fashion with big visual moments and lines that hit you right in the gut.
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Liam Sharp & Nicola Scott
If any bi-weekly comic has established the model for this fast-paced style of publication, it’s Wonder Woman. The alternating stories set in the past and present provide a reliable creative team for unique plots, and still manage to interact in interesting ways. Readers can double dip on DC’s premiere superheroine without sacrificing consistency. The stories themselves embody the best attributes of this character, examining contrasts in peace and war, as well as the messy greyness that surrounds all violence.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: John Romita Jr. & Declan Shalvey
This series is truly earning its “all star” status. Every creator contributing to the title now (and just down the road) is a household name for comics fans. They’re also all delivering some of their best work in years; Romita Jr. is back in a big way with Danny Miki on inks. It’s also a nice tonal shift from the stories Snyder told in Batman. This comic is big, bold, and bats**t crazy in the best possible way. It manages to provide incredible depth and a new spin to a character like Two-Face without losing the wild fun of over-the-top superhero battles. Quite the accomplishment.
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artists: Viktor Bogdanovic
The amount of invention paired with the cross-cultural study occurring in New Super-Man makes this a true “must read” of Rebirth. There’s nothing too familiar about anything in this book. It takes known elements like the Justice League and high school bullies and combines them in a way that accomplishes two key things. First, it reveals new stories within the familiar superhero genre, and second, it helps explore modern Chinese culture from an American perspective. On top of all that, the designs for so many new characters are stunning. It’s simply a blast and one you’ll continue to think about.
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artists: Carlo Pagulyan & Joe Bennett
The biggest surprise to roll out of the initial Rebirth announcement was that of writer Christopher Priest coming to work at DC Comics. His auteur approach to writing comics makes him instantly recognizable and has led to some revered runs in superhero books. Now on Deathstroke he has not disappointed in returning to the genre. Deathstroke manages to consistently be funny, smart, inventive, and entirely unique in each issue published. Layouts and stylistic choices made by the entire creative team set this book apart in a way you can spart before reading any words. The action is as brutal as you’d expect in a familiar artistic style, but both Pagulyan and Bennett play with elements in the margins that will astonish you upon a closer examination. Deathstroke is truly something special and we can all expect to still be talking about it long after the Rebirth branding has faded from DC Comics’ covers.