Wednesday, November 10, 2010

BAB Book Review: DC Comics Year by Year

DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle
DK Publishing, 2010
MSRP $50.00 (discounted by many vendors)

Doug: About a year-and-a-half ago, we reviewed DK's sister publication, The Marvel Chronicle over on the Two Girls... blog. At the time, we sang the praises of the packaging, but bemoaned the numerous errors throughout that otherwise fine tome. All style, no substance? Well, not exactly -- the Marvel book is an able resource overall. It was just really irritating that some of the errors got past the writers and editors. I mean, what are those people there for, if not quality control? So, with the passage of time, have the folks at Dorling-Kindersley gotten it right?

Let's start right where we began with the Marvel Chronicle, and that's with the packaging. DK has hit another home run with this volume. The book itself is a heavy hardcover with wraparound art. You can see the front cover at the top of this post; the back cover art is to the left. If you notice, the front and back covers serve as their own little history of the DC Universe. The front depicts images from the Golden and Silver Ages of DC history; the back cover showcases scenes from the Bronze and modern ages (has anyone ever agreed upon a post-Bronze Age term?). I believe the art is by the cover artist, who ably apes former DC pencillers. Although the front cover looks like it is embossed, the art is actually flat. Kudos to the colorist, however, for giving it some real depth around the center image of the DC Trinity. Speaking of which, that brings us to the inside front cover, which is a pocket. You may recall that the Marvel Chronicle contained a plate of the cover art; this book does as well, and in full color. You can see that pack-in at left. It's frameable, if one were so inclined. What I didn't realize was also in the pocket (at least I hadn't seen it until I began to write this review) is a black and white sketch plate of the Batman image. This was a very nice surprise, the B&W rendering heightening the quality in my opinion. The entire volume comes in a big heavy slipcase, the slipcase's spine featuring the same graphics as the book's. I should also state that the cover of this book is "normal"; the Marvel Chronicle featured a die-cut cover. No loss in that regard, however.

The inside of the book is simply beautiful, and like the MC has a lot of nice touches, and attentions to detail. From the title page with it's classic art hovering above recent depictions of the DC heroes, it's just a fun book to look at. Also like the MC, every so often there is a nice two-page spread of some panel or even a portion of a panel. This usually requires the reader to tilt the book lengthwise. One of the memorable spreads is the wraparound cover from Crisis on Infinite Earths #1, all stretched out. George Perez at his impressive best! I've provided four sample pages below -- you can see a Neal Adams full-page panel from one of the Green Lantern/Green Arrow "drug issues" -- the psychadelia really comes through in an image that's about 20"x12"!

Just a quick comment on DC history itself. It's certainly well-known that I'm a Marvel man first, but I have to say -- throughout the years DC has taken some chances and in many cases beaten Marvel to the punch. The period that ushered in the Silver Age was pure brilliance, and it was amazing in the post-Crisis era how the company reinvented itself. Dark Age aside, there were a lot of fond memories from my college years.

So overall, what's the verdict? I'll be honest -- I've not exhaustively read the entire book. But I've leafed through it pretty thoroughly, and spot-read here and there. I'd say that many of the problems that plagued it's predecessor have been fixed here. I'm sure there's a boo-boo or two along the way. But like any DK book, what this volume really has going for it are the tons and tons of images -- covers, interior panels, close-ups, etc. I might complain, however, that as an older guy the type is too small in some places. Glad I had the bifocals on!

I got my copy of this book through a sale from the Science Fiction Book Club. I know Amazon has it for sale at around a 40% discount, and I'd guess this might be a book that will show up on the discount shelves at Barnes & Noble or Borders as the holidays approach. Go ahead and get yourself a copy -- if you're like me and have a pretty decent comics library, you'll want this to go alongside your other "coffee table" books. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Karen said...

OK, you convinced me Doug! I'm adding this to my long list of books to pick up.


Related Posts with Thumbnails