There isn't really a "main story" that every comic is constantly connected to. Think of it more like a web of smaller stories. Every comic is self-contained in its own little bubble UNTIL it's mentioned somewhere else. Occasionally, there are major crossovers/events where a selection of series will be connected briefly (e.g. Civil War). That said, there have been a few attempts at planned, long-form plotting with an overarching story e.g. most of Hickman's Marvel works builds up to Secret Wars.
Here is my usual new reader guide:
How to Get Into Comic Books (13:40) | Patrick Willems
Consider your intent/commitment. Think about your favorite shows, movies, books, etc. Reading primarily for enjoyment or encyclopedic knowledge? Collecting? Have the time/resources to read 50 or 500 comics per character?
Don’t try to read everything at once. There’s too much. Forget about catching up, continuity, universes, etc. for now. Older comics can be an acquired taste for modern audiences, so they aren’t necessarily ideal starting points. Writers change often, characters get re-worked, and origins are re-told. Remember, there are many great characters, creators, publishers, etc. to explore.
Pick an interesting character/team and seek their most popular/acclaimed stories. Focus on self-contained, complete stories in one corner of the universe. There will be unexplained references/characters, just persevere or Wiki. Don’t let the tangled web of shared-universe comics overwhelm you. Think of it like solving a jigsaw puzzle one small piece at a time until you finally see the big picture.
Discover your preferences and let them guide you. Don’t get stuck preparing/over-analyzing, just start reading. Do you like/dislike old/new comics? Specific writers/genres? Cartoony/realistic art? Familiar/weird concepts? References/self-contained? All-ages/mature content? Follow these instincts. Didn’t understand a reference? Maybe read that next.
Or skip to the 2016 re-launch DC Universe: Rebirth event and then any Rebirth series #1.
Before the internet, there wasn't really a good way to organize and discuss comics (e.g. figuring out which run to start with). Now, you can just refer to a guide that selects the most relatively self-contained and fresh storylines for new readers. Generally, you can pick any #1 issue and just continue on until the writer changes, then reevaluate if you want to continue. If you type "where to start with Spider-Man comics" into Google, it'll show plenty of quality resources to help you get started. Google some guides and make note of titles mentioned often.
I don't understand the question. "Come in" what? A "volume" is a logical division of a book series, a trade paperback refers to an actual softcover book. If Harry Potter released an 8th book, you could call it "volume 8" or "the 8th paperback book"—same thing, really. To make things more confusing, a "volume" can also refer to when a series was renumbered and created a logical vision across the entire series. For example, If Batman was released over years and reached 500 issues, the publisher might feel the need to start over with #1 instead of #501. This "new" #1 renumber will then be called "volume 2" of Batman while the first 500 issues are called "volume 1" of batman. This definition of volume is rarely important and not worth looking into.
Here's my usual new reader guide:
You can skip to the 2016 re-launch with DC Universe: Rebirth and then any Rebirth series #1.
Consider your intent/commitment. Think about your favorite shows, movies, books, etc. Do you seek quality storytelling or encyclopedic superhero knowledge? Plan to collect? Do you have the time/money to read 50 or 500 comics per character?
Don’t try to read everything at once. There’s too much. Forget about catching up, continuity, universes, etc. for now. Think of it like solving a jigsaw puzzle one small piece at a time until you finally start to see the big picture. Older comics can be an acquired taste for modern audiences, so they aren’t always ideal starting points. Creative teams change often, characters get re-worked, and origins are re-told.
Pick an interesting character/team and seek their most popular/acclaimed stories. Focus on self-contained/complete stories. You will encounter unexplained references/characters/events—just keep reading or Wiki. Don
You can skip to the 2016 Rebirth re-launch with the DC Universe: Rebirth event and then any Rebirth series #1.
DC Vertigo/Wildstorm (mature readers):
ComicBookHerald's New 52 Reading Order
There are different ways to approach getting into comics:
Whatever method you decide, you'll need to do a little research on which titles are worth skipping. Research will only take you so far, though, since you have to actually start reading comics to figure out what you want from them. There are A LOT of comics and probably 75% of them aren't worth your time as a new reader.
This is what I usually recommend for new readers:
Pick an interesting character/team and seek their most popular/acclaimed stories. Focus on self-contained/complete stories. You will encounter unexplained references/characters/events—just keep reading or Wiki. Don’t let the tangled interconnectedness of shared-universe comics overwhelm you.
Discover your preferences and let them guide you. Avoid over-analyzing—just start reading. Do you prefer old/new comics? Specific writers/genres? Cartoony/realistic art? Character/plot -driven story? Explicit content? Follow these instincts. Didn’t get a reference? Make that your next read.
TPB or hardcover? Put it on a shelf and dust it periodically. Single/floppy? Bag + board.
Forget about continuity, universes, timelines, etc; it's all very confusing, even to creators/fans. Don’t try to read everything, else you'll be wading through decades of mediocre comics for far too long. Remember, there are so many other great characters/stories/publishers to explore.
First appearances/origins are not always good starting points. Creative teams change often and characters get re-worked e.g. I never cared for Hawkeye until Fraction & Aja’s interpretation. Focus on well-received and relatively self-contained stories. Pick an interesting character or team and seek their “greatest hits” stories. You may encounter the occasional unexplained reference/character, but just try to ride along or Wiki if you must.
Modern DC characters/teams:
Alternatively, read the Rebirth event (2016) and then any Rebirth #1.
Events/crossovers can be fun and/or tedious. They are most appreciated by readers well-versed in relevant continuity. Generally, the best non-event comics integrate these seamlessly or avoid them entirely (notwithstanding editorial/executive mandates). Regardless, you may want to familiarize with major plot points.
Modern DC events/crossovers:
Discover your preferences and let them inform your next comic selection. Do you like older/newer comics? Weird concepts? Super-smart meta-analysis and social commentary? Family-friendly content? Hyper-violence? Male/female protagonists? Humor? Horror? Have you noticed that a specific artist, writer, and/or creative team consistently produces content you like? Follow these instincts.
Comixology for digital. instocktrades for physical (US). ISBNS for price aggregate.
Suggestions to improve this list are welcome.