By Bobby Shortle

Welcome to my ranking of the DC Comics New 52! I have spent the better part of the last month reading and re-reading all of the comics that debuted in this industry changing relaunch, and now over the next week or so I will be ranking them 52-1.

A couple of caveats, I have not read all twelve, or for some thirteen, issues of these series. Instead, I read as much as I could, until picking up the next issue seemed like the last thing I would ever want to do. For some that came at #3, for others #6 and for some it never came. If a book went under a creative change, I would always read at least one issue from that new creator in case things dramatically changed.  I’m confident this allowed me to get a clear picture of the quality of the current runs and also helped me rank based on my gut feeling, rather than cold hard logic.

To give context to the article I have included excerpts from Talking Comics’ original reviews of these books and also sales numbers for the series in question.

If you missed it here is the link to the list featuring 52-40!            

If you missed it here is the link to the list featuring 39-30!       

If you missed it here is the link to the list featuring 29-20! 

If you missed it here is the link to the list featuring 19-11! 

I welcome your reactions, disagreements and feedback which I hope you will leave in the comment section below. So, without further delay here is the Talking Comics DC New 52 Rankings:

10. Batwoman

 

The Verdict Then:

From Steve Seigh’s review of Batwoman #1

“However, the book is jam-packed with such brilliant colors, character models, and intriguing story hooks that I hardly doubt you’ll be very worried about knowing all of the details right away…Brilliant artistry, a dark and sinister plot, sexy lead players, and so much more violence to come. What’s not to love?”

The Verdict Now:

When talking about Batwoman it’s hard not to focus on the sumptuous, haunting art by J.H. Williams III, but this tale of Kate Kane isn’t merely a pretty sight. No, this series takes a strong, layered main character, surrounds her with wonderful supporting characters and then ties it all together with an involving, mysterious plot. J.H. Williams and W. Hayden Blackman write Kate Kane as a driven, dedicated heroine, who, unlike Batman, also is struggling to maintain a working personal life. The creators also make Kate’s story unique from here male counterpart by taking it into bizarre mystical and occult realms that pit Batwoman up against villains wholly unique. I love this title and while its second arc has been perhaps too complex for its own good, it still remains one of the best titles in the entire New 52.

Sales:

09/2011: Batwoman #1  –  72,228 (+64.6%)

10/2011: Batwoman #2  –  74,392 (+ 3.0%)

11/2011: Batwoman #3  –  61,997 (-16.7%)

12/2011: Batwoman #4  –  52,757 (-14.9%)

01/2012: Batwoman #5  –  51,924 (- 1.6%)

02/2012: Batwoman #6  –  49,227 (- 5.2%)

03/2012: Batwoman #7  –  46,874 (- 4.8%)

04/2012: Batwoman #8  –  45,341 (- 3.3%)

05/2012: Batwoman #9  –  43,942 (- 3.1%)

06/2012: Batwoman #10 –  41,014 (- 6.7%)

07/2012: Batwoman #11 –  38,980 (- 5.0%)

 

9. Green Lantern

 

 

The Verdict Then:

From Brian Verderosa’s review of Green Lantern #3

“Johns & Co. have outdone themselves with this offering. We get more of the same from Hal and Sinestro’s conversation, but it turns bigger and deeper than it has before, and there is amazing tension built between these two characters who so obviously hate one another. “

The Verdict Now:

If you had asked me my thoughts on Green Lantern just a few weeks ago, I would have been dismissive and negative about the series’ unwillingness to get on board with the New 52 relaunch. However, after playing catch up on Geoff Johns’ latest outing with the Emerald Knights, I can fully see why the writer didn’t hit the reset button on the franchise. There are still problems with the run, mostly stemming from the first five issues trying to both reintroduce characters and continue Johns’ six year story arc. This led to the title feeling like it was in a creative limbo, neither starting fresh or moving on.

That all ends with issue 6, as the proverbial reigns are taken off of the book and it’s allowed to be what it was alway supposed to be; a complex, giant scope, and yet personal tale of a man who has literally gone through hell and back to regain his honor. The second half of Green Lantern is downright fantastic and this is due in large part to two things, its connections to Blackest Night and its use of Sinestro.  This treacherous,militant, fear monger has long been one of the most interesting people in all of comic books, and his special role in this run of the book has made the story all the more intriguing. I can’t tell you the first half of this run is exemplary, but I can tell you that the writing in the second half is the kind of thing I read comic books for. This is one book that’s worth the effort.

Sales:

07/2011: Green Lantern #67  –  74,521 (- 1.1%) Before the New 52

09/2011: Green Lantern #1   — 141,682 (+90.1%) [169,159]

10/2011: Green Lantern #2   — 142,344 (+ 0.5%)

11/2011: Green Lantern #3   — 122,644 (-13.8%)

12/2011: Green Lantern #4   — 104,199 (-15.0%)

01/2012: Green Lantern #5   –  97,878 (- 6.0%)

02/2012: Green Lantern #6   –  94,087 (- 3.9%)

03/2012: Green Lantern #7   –  90,232 (- 4.1%)

04/2012: Green Lantern #8   –  88,335 (- 2.1%)

05/2012: Green Lantern #9   –  87,601 (- 0.8%)

06/2012: Green Lantern #10  –  80,615 (- 8.0%)

07/2012: Green Lantern #11  –  78,708 (- 2.4%)

 

8. Batman and Robin

 

The Verdict Then:

From Brian Verderosa’s review of Batman and Robin #1

“Damian is a jerk. He’s a bratty, precocious little snot who feels entitled. Perhaps that is the point, that Bruce needs to straighten him out. However, I don’t buy it.”

The Verdict Now: 

If I had stopped reading Batman and Robin after the first issue, I would have completely agreed with Mr. Verderosa’s criticism. Damian is bratty, entitled and precocious, but it only takes a little careful examination to realize that he’s so much more. In fact, the son of Bruce Wayne is one of the richest and coolest characters in the entire DC Universe. Peter Tomasi seems to have a knack for taking high maintenance, abrasive characters and making them infinitely likable. Grant Morrison may have birthed him, but Tomasi has done a spot on job of showcasing the duality in Damian.  He’s a boy who all at once doesn’t care what his father thinks, and also desperately wants his approval.  It’s also important to note that Patrick Gleason’s art is superb in both its action beats and its depiction of the quieter father and son moments. Batman and Robin may not play in the same genius pool as the next Batman title on this list, but its a superb handling of one of the best characters around and it should not be overlooked.

Sales: 

08/2011: Batman and Robin #26 –  52,704 (- 4.5%) Before the New 52

09/2011: Batman and Robin #1  –  94,713 (+79.7%) [116,053]

10/2011: Batman and Robin #2  –  98,807 (+ 4.3%)

11/2011: Batman and Robin #3  –  86,309 (-12.7%)

12/2011: Batman and Robin #4  –  76,000 (-11.9%)

01/2012: Batman and Robin #5  –  72,786 (- 4.2%)

02/2012: Batman and Robin #6  –  70,103 (- 3.7%)

03/2012: Batman and Robin #7  –  68,010 (- 3.0%)

04/2012: Batman and Robin #8  –  66,659 (- 2.0%)

05/2012: Batman and Robin #9  –  75,967 (+14.0%)

06/2012: Batman and Robin #10 –  66,894 (-11.9%)

07/2012: Batman and Robin #11 –  65,043 (- 2.8%)

 

7. Supergirl

 

The Verdict Then:

From my review Supergirl #1

“Supergirl #1 is full of action that is both interesting and enthralling, but its really the internal adjustment process that Kara has to go through which has me singing this book’s praises.”

The Verdict Now:

In a lot of way Supergirl  is everything the New 52 should have been, as it shirked all previous continuity and took the story right back to day dot. By committing to the relaunch writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson have taken a character I cared nothing about, and fashioned her into one of the strongest in publication right now. The great writing is buoyed by Mahmud Asar’s painterly, powerful art,  these two element make Supergirl  the complete package. The only ding against the book is that at times it gets a little too wordy, but those instances are few and far between. Overall, Supergirl is an excellent character piece, with fun action and great art.

Sales:

08/2011: Supergirl #67 –  19,764 (-  1.2%) Before the New 52

09/2011: Supergirl #1  –  60,058 (+203.9%)

10/2011: Supergirl #2  –  61,388 (+  2.2%)

11/2011: Supergirl #3  –  50,784 (- 17.3%)

12/2011: Supergirl #4  –  44,180 (- 13.0%)

01/2012: Supergirl #5  –  41,446 (-  6.2%)

02/2012: Supergirl #6  –  38,719 (-  6.6%)

03/2012: Supergirl #7  –  37,041 (-  4.3%)

04/2012: Supergirl #8  –  36,042 (-  2.7%)

05/2012: Supergirl #9  –  35,129 (-  2.5%)

06/2012: Supergirl #10 –  33,309 (-  5.2%)

07/2012: Supergirl #11 –  31,879 (-  4.3%)

 

6. Wonder Woman

 

The Verdict Then:

From Steve Seigh’s review of Wonder Woman #1

“After re-reading the events of this book I can say honestly that I’m now excited to see where the story goes. With lots of references to the Greek gods, decapitated horses, and my favorite Amazon taking control I would only imagine that it gets better.”

The Verdict Now:

Mythology, intrigue and overall craziness add up to an engrossing and surprising series. This may change up a character people have known for years, but I think this is the kind of writing that could be made into a movie right now and be highly successful. Writer Brian Azzarello writes Wonder Woman like a Vertigo book, and it works to amazing effect. Diana is strong and smart and the villain she faces are complex and threatening. When picking this up you’ll probably have to leave a lot of your expectations at the door, but if you can get past pre conceived notions you will find a great book waiting for you.

Sales:

08/2011: Wonder Woman #614 –  29,223 (-  1.7%) Before the New 52

09/2011: Wonder Woman #1   –  76,214 (+160.8%) [95,902]

10/2011: Wonder Woman #2   –  79,060 (+  3.7%)

11/2011: Wonder Woman #3   –  65,621 (- 17.0%)

12/2011: Wonder Woman #4   –  57,675 (- 12.1%)

01/2012: Wonder Woman #5   –  57,626 (-  0.1%)

02/2012: Wonder Woman #6   –  54,190 (-  6.0%)

03/2012: Wonder Woman #7   –  51,314 (-  5.3%)

04/2012: Wonder Woman #8   –  50,450 (-  1.7%)

05/2012: Wonder Woman #9   –  48,750 (-  3.4%)

06/2012: Wonder Woman #10  –  47,229 (-  3.1%)

07/2012: Wonder Woman #11  –  45,669 (-  3.3%)

 

5. Batgirl

 

The Verdict Then:

From Brian Verderosa’s review of Batgirl #1

“Reacquainted with running and jumping, Gordon kicks some major ass in the series opener, as well as gets shell-shocked when introduced to our new villain. This juxtaposition of power and vulnerability is masterfully handled by Simone, who treats Barbara as a real person with real feelings and fears.” 

The Verdict Now:

Barbara Gordon is one of my favorite characters in all of comic books, and veteran writer Gail Simone takes her from the chair to the cowl without missing a beat.  It’s something to behold when a writer can make you feel like you are taking a journey with a real person, and that’s just what happens in Batgirl. Mr. Verderosa got it just right in his review of #1 and his words have run true all the way to the current issuesWhether you love the character, or have never read a word of her, this is a perfect way to get your monthly fix of the former Oracle.

Sales:

08/2011: Batgirl #24     — 22,695 (+  0.3%) Before the New 52

09/2011: Batgirl #1      — 90,543 (+299.0%) [107,055]

10/2011: Batgirl #2      — 83,586 (-  7.7%)

11/2011: Batgirl #3      — 69,971 (- 16.3%)

12/2011: Batgirl #4      — 59,972 (- 14.3%)

01/2012: Batgirl #5      — 57,030 (-  4.9%)

02/2012: Batgirl #6      — 53,151 (-  6.8%)

03/2012: Batgirl #7      — 50,761 (-  4.5%)

04/2012: Batgirl #8      — 48,878 (-  3.7%)

05/2012: Batgirl #9      — 58,710 (+ 20.1%)

06/2012: Batgirl #10     — 47,050 (- 19.9%)

07/2012: Batgirl #11     — 45,004 (-  4.4%)


4. Aquaman

 

The Verdict Then: 

From my review of Aquaman #1

“Geoff Johns wants you to be clear of one thing; Aquaman is cool. You may not think he is but that’s your own damn fault because this king of the sea is pure bad ass.”

The Verdict Now:

Take a character that no one cares about, reinvent them, and make them one of the most vital cogs in the DC Universe. This is the Geoff Johns formula for success and what was once true for Green Lantern, is now true for Aquaman. Johns’ tale of Arthur Curry and his sorted past, is one of the true triumphs of the DC New 52.  The writer has managed to take a character that has long been a punchline and make him into one of the coolest heroes there is. He has done all this not by drastically changing the man himself, or going wildly off model when it comes to character behavior, but instead by changing his circumstances. Aquaman now faces threats that are worthy of a great hero and is surrounded by a cast of supporting players that fill out his universe nicely. Make no mistake about it, this is one of the breakout books of the last year and any self respecting comic book fan should be picking it up.  Oh yeah, and Mera is one kick ass queen of the sea.

Sales:

09/2011: Aquaman #1  — 80,302

10/2011: Aquaman #2  — 79,156 (- 1.4%)

11/2011: Aquaman #3  — 69,137 (-12.7%)

12/2011: Aquaman #4  — 64,961 (- 6.0%)

01/2012: Aquaman #5  — 65,094 (+ 0.2%)

02/2012: Aquaman #6  — 63,450 (- 2.5%)

03/2012: Aquaman #7  — 62,345 (- 1.7%)

04/2012: Aquaman #8  — 61,657 (- 1.1%)

05/2012: Aquaman #9  — 60,527 (- 1.8%)

06/2012: Aquaman #10 — 59,288 (- 2.1%)

07/2012: Aquaman #11 — 57,675 (- 2.7%)

 

3. Swamp Thing

 

The Verdict Then:

From Brad Jones’ review of Swamp Thing #1

“My sole exposure to Swamp Thing as a franchise was the weird 80’s movie and weirder TV show, so I went into this book skeptical at best. What blossomed before me was a fully realized, definitely interesting character study. True, we’ve seen the reluctant scientist-turned-grotesque-hero a bunch lately through the Hulk and all of its entities, but even Bruce Banner’s reintroduction into mainstream pop culture was not as accessible or emotionally grounded as the 22 pages of general excellence that Swamp Thing #1 offers.”

The Verdict Now:

We enter the top three with Swamp Thing, Scott Snyder’s masterful tale of Alec Holland and his trials as avatar of the Green.  The book is all at once as dense as it is welcoming, as charming as it is dark, and as fantastical as it is emotionally grounded.  This is not the first time Swamp Thing has been handled by a exceptional writer, Alan Moore had a legendary run in the 80′s, but it’s the first time in a long time that he is one of the premiere players in the DC Universe. It’s also vital to note that the series has a great love story that feels organic and to have that in the middle of such a scary book is one of the things that brings Scott Snyder’s title to another level. Without this relaunch I never would have picked up a book featuring Alec Holland and that would have been sad because this has been consistently excellent from issue #1 on.

Sales: 

09/2011: Swamp Thing #1  — 54,757

10/2011: Swamp Thing #2  — 58,634 (+ 7.1%)

11/2011: Swamp Thing #3  — 52,300 (-10.8%)

12/2011: Swamp Thing #4  — 44,660 (-14.6%)

01/2012: Swamp Thing #5  — 43,806 (- 1.9%)

02/2012: Swamp Thing #6  — 41,235 (- 5.9%)

03/2012: Swamp Thing #7  — 40,268 (- 2.4%)

04/2012: Swamp Thing #8  — 39,431 (- 2.1%)

05/2012: Swamp Thing #9  — 39,385 (- 0.1%)

06/2012: Swamp Thing #10 — 37,383 (- 5.1%)

07/2012: Swamp Thing #11 — 36,257 (- 3.0%)

 

2. Animal Man

 

The Verdict Then:

From my review of Animal Man #1

“Jeff Lemire has brought to the table a vibrant, dark and intriguing universe that promises to delve into depths that most superhero books usually stray from.”

The Verdict Now:

It takes a special kind of writer to work within an established genre and make it his own, but that it just what Jeff Lemire has done with his brilliant run on Animal Man. His tale of Buddy Baker isn’t a standard superhero story, instead it’s a family drama with hero trappings. Buddy’s family is so real, so alive and so much apart of his story that at times, it feels like their narrative and not his.  I find myself constantly impressed by the inner strength of Buddy’s wife Ellen and engrossed in the development of his daughter Maxine, who Buddy lovingly calls Little Wing.  This well established and loving family is juxtaposed by a frightening and surreal world, where Buddy must fight for survival of not just his family, but of the human race itself.  There is as much horror as their are hugs here, and it’s this duel focus that makes the book a standout above almost every other title in the DC Universe.

Sales:

09/2011: Animal Man #1     — 46,051

10/2011: Animal Man #2     — 53,432 (+16.0%)

11/2011: Animal Man #3     — 49,184 (- 8.0%)

12/2011: Animal Man #4     — 42,630 (-13.3%)

01/2012: Animal Man #5     — 40,573 (- 4.8%)

02/2012: Animal Man #6     — 38,504 (- 5.1%)

03/2012: Animal Man #7     – 36,860 (- 4.3%)

04/2012: Animal Man #8     — 36,369 (- 1.3%)

05/2012: Animal Man #9     — 35,699 (- 1.8%)

06/2012: Animal Man #10    — 34,992 (- 2.0%)

07/2012: Animal Man #11    — 33,909 (- 3.1%)

 

1. Batman

 

The Verdict Then:

From my review of Batman #1

“From an opening confrontation in Arkham Asylum to a reunion of past Bat-sidekicks, writer Scott Snyder plays wonderfully on our expectations of what Batman #1 should be. He also showcases the Dark Knight’s detective skills here by introducing a new and major murder mystery that I’m dying to see the resolution to.”

The Verdict Now: 

Let’s be honest, is this a surprise to anyone reading this list? Scott Snyder’s Batman is the pinnacle of mainstream, big time comic book storytelling. With every page and panel Snyder and artist Greg Capullo have crafted a tale worthy of being mentioned with the best Caped Crusader tales ever written. They both seem to understand the awesome responsibility of working on what is possibly the most high profile book in the world, and instead of being intimidated by that pressure, they thrive on it. It would have been easy to start out this run with an established villain, but instead the team brought us a new set of rogues, who I believe can stand toe to toe with any Bat-villain.

Batman is a book full of history, ingenuity and a refreshing focus on The Dark Knight as detective. Snyder also works hard to make Bruce as vital to this world out of his cowl as in it, and this goes a long way to making the plots of the book as engrossing as they can possibly be. There is no title I look more forward to reading every month and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. This is DC’s best character in its best book, and that is the way it should be.

Sales:

* Interesting to note these sales numbers from before and after the launch with Rob Liefeld’s assertion that Batman sells no matter who writes it.

07/2011: Batman #712 –  51,385 (-  3.3%) Before the New 52

08/2011: Batman #713 –  51,760 (+  0.7%) Before the New 52

09/2011: Batman #1   — 188,420 (+264.0%) [223,299]

10/2011: Batman #2   — 172,428 (-  8.5%) [177,721]

11/2011: Batman #3   — 150,984 (- 12.4%)

12/2011: Batman #4   — 133,781 (- 11.4%) [144,777]

01/2012: Batman #5   — 135,145 (+  1.0%) [142,499]

02/2012: Batman #6   — 128,459 (-  5.0%) [135,435]

03/2012: Batman #7   — 131,091 (+  2.1%)

04/2012: Batman #8   — 130,602 (-  0.4%) [136,218]

05/2012: Batman #9   — 134,605 (+  3.1%)

06/2012: Batman #10  — 130,265 (-  3.2%)

07/2012: Batman #11  — 127,210 (-  2.4%)

 

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One Response

  1. RepStones

    Glad to see batman & Robin make the top 10. It took its time to get going and im sure the characterization of Damian pissed most people off to begin with, because nobody wants to read about a brat. But the development of his and Bruce’s relationship over the 11 or 12 issues so far, has been excellently paced by Tomasi. The zero issue added even more depth to the character of Damian and will really enrich the run when i go back to read it a second time.

    Seriously annoyed now that i didn’t jump on Aquaman, it sounds pretty sweet. I can’t argue with your pick for the top 3. Its great that 2 of the top 3 spaces are filled by alternative superheros. Obviously with Snyder on Swampy you knew it was going to be awesome and the art of Yannick Paquette, particularly some of his splash pages where the vines and undergrowth just take over the page, are truly jaw dropping.
    Animal Man has also been superb. As you highlight, its not only a great superhero comic but a brilliant character study and exploration of the family dynamic – being able to do that with such a fantastical and horrific storyline is no mean feat and just goes to show the kind of writer Lemire is.
    Do we need to say anything more about Snyder and Capullo’s batman? just an honorable mention for the James Tynion and Albuquerque back up story which was fantastic.
    those figures do indeed make interesting reading in light of Liefeld’s remarks. Basically Snyder and Capullo have way more than doubled sales so i think they have a legitimate beef with Liefeld’s tantrum.

    Thanks for a great rundown Bobby, been a pretty good (and expensive) year, huh?

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