First, thanks so much for putting effort into your request for recommendations post. Providing preferences and ratings like that really helps.
> Im a fairly new comic reader
> Batman: Hush 9/10
> The Dark Knight Returns 4/10
Everything checks out here, lol. Obviously, everyone has different tastes, but I think you'd be surprised how often these scores swap after new readers revisit these stories years later.
Even if you didn't like Miller's DKR, you should still try his Batman: Year One.
On to recommendations:
Or skip to the 2016 re-launch DC Universe: Rebirth event and then any Rebirth series #1.
Or any of the Valiant 2012 superhero universe reboot comics like Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, or:
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.
This site has a lot of really great info, especially for your boyfriend when deciding what to read and make sense of it all. I've used it a fair amount. This wikipedia article might help if he's into the big crossover stuff.
As far as another big one, Civil War is always a popular choice. It's one of the better comics of the last couple decades. He'll have heard all about it and seen the movie, so it might be neat to see what he's missing.
As far as other good stuff, a sort of out there one is the Authority . It's in a completely other comic universe with people he probably won't know, but it's really great. It was one of the first to show the gritty, flawed heroes, plus it supposedly inspired how a lot of the movies were shot. It's also by my favorite writer, Warren Ellis. I typically choose comics by writer.
Speaking of great writers, you could pick up the first volume of either Y: the Last Man or Saga , which are both pretty ubiquitous in the comic world.
And here's the link to Secret War . I included the links for clarity, but do please go to a local comic book store if you can. It's great to support them and they will typically give solid recommendations. Or be assholes. Or both.
You can skip to the 2016 re-launch with DC Universe: Rebirth and then any Rebirth series #1.