Were you (rightfully) turned off by New 52? Well, don’t fret as since this massive volume only covers the first 75 years of DC’s existence, we only get to 2009, so not only is that debacle missing, but the new flawed movie universe and successful TV arm are not touched upon. Not that it makes a difference since this is a more a glorious visual history than a text-heavy account of the publisher’s legacy (although it still succeeds in doing that, too). As the title suggests, the emphasis of this mammoth work is the artwork, and it certainly succeeds in celebrating that.
It’s not just the usual suspects that make the pages, here. Who can forget the parody comic Plop!? Well, probably quite a few people, but the likes of that and the even earlier ‘Stone Age’ incarnations of titles like Fun Comics, Detective Comics (which, of course, would spawn a certain bat-based hero) and Adventure Comics that gave way to the Golden Age and the start of something really important.
Make no mistake about it, this is a weighty and almost essential purchase. While it may not be as in-depth with information about individual characters, it’s never less than fascinating and the illustrations are simply mouth-watering.
Of interest to younger comics fans might be the focus on the later, darker, DC output. From the grimness of The Killing Joke to Alan Moore/Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen and Neil Gaiman’s unsurpassed triumph The Sandman and Garth Ennis’ popular Preacher. For those who want the company's legacy in one neat place, there's even several tri-fold pull-outs with a complete timeline of important incidents/releases.
Closing out the book is a handy guide to some of the main players both behind the scenes at DC and those who brought the most famous heroes to life on the screen - up to a point, that is. The most recent incarnations - essentially from the ‘80s onwards - strangely, are not included (although there are notes about the Tim Burton films in the text), but Linda Carter (Wonder Woman), Christopher Reeve (and, indeed, George Reeves - both Superman), and the recently departed Adam West are there among the artists and writers who made DC the behemoth it is today.
You may not read it cover to cover often, but like the best coffee table books, it’s a beauty, just make sure you have reinforced your furniture, and be prepared to test your knee muscles with its sheer weight!
75 YEARS OF DC COMICS: THE ART OF MODERN MYTHMAKING / AUTHOR: PAUL LEVITZ / PUBLISHER: TASCHEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW