This Week’s Word Is “Crusaders.”
DC Comics fans are in for a treat with the latest edition of DK’s DC Comics: Year by Year. This edition comes in a slipcase with two free prints. We’re in December now, and the holiday season looms. If you have a DC fan in your life, definitely consider picking this beauty up.
What is DC Comics: Year by Year?
It’s a full-color hardback that tells of the history of DC comics from the very first issue right up to 2019. It’s nearly four hundred pages of comic book excellence, put together by publisher DK with their usual care and attention. It’s not a whole new book, having first been published in 2010, but this version does have an extra decade added since the previous edition.
Rather sensibly, the book is broken into decade long sections, with each one looking at the key developments of DC and its characters during that period. Within each section, each year has at least a double-page spread devoted to it. One thing I really like, running along the bottom of the page, are little snippets of news from the real-world.
For example, 1937 tells us that the first Detective Comic was published in the same year as The Hobbit. This I find slightly hard to credit, perhaps because DC and its characters have grown and evolved, whereas novels tend to remain preserved in aspic.
For each year, there are several images of key issues from various DC comics along with a small column of text, that puts the particular issue in context and how it relates to the evolution DC’s stories and/or the company itself. First issues and other important editions are usually given a whole page length column to themselves.
Despite being filled with lots of cover images, there is quite a lot of text to read. The book is definitely aimed at older and more serious fans who want to immerse themselves in comic book history. Having said that, the wall of information is regularly broken up by double-page spreads of covers and panels from issues of the era.
DC Comics through the years.
The book opens with a time often forgotten by comic book fans. The time before Superman; a time of New Fun and then New Comics. March 1937 brought us Detective Comics, 1938 the first Action Comics and the first appearance of Superman. 1939 was a massive year for DC, with the first Batman story being featured AND the first ever single-character led comic, Superman, being released; a real departure for the time.
And so it goes on.
It’s fascinating to see how characters that are now household names and trip off the tongues of parents and children across the globe, first started out. How the characters that Corrina and Ray faithfully review every week, here on GeekDad, became who they are today. After all, who doesn’t love a good genesis story?
As I’ve mentioned before in other reviews for this type of book, I only dabble in comic books and their mythology. I love this type of book for the way it collects threads and story arcs together so they can be easily assimilated by the lay-person.
DC Comics: Year by Year goes one step further. It doesn’t just chronicle one character, the Justice League or even the whole superhero gamut, it looks at the publisher a whole. Whether it be the range of comics available during the early years, or the sheer volume of spin-offs, reboots, and team-ups, the book offers up a bewildering array of DC comics that go well beyond mainstream favorites. Freddy & Jason, Tiny Titans, and Veritgo titles such as Y: The Last Man are all here, as are prizewinning one-off comics such as the Pride of Baghdad.
As is the case with all the DK comic book titles. The book only looks at the history of print media. There is nothing here about film and television versions.
Why Read DC Comics: Year by Year
This book is a hugely comprehensive volume and I’ve barely scratched the surface all the titles and characters covered. It’s an amazing showcase of the work of one of the greats of comic book publishing. I feel that with the success of the MCU, DC is often considered Marvel’s poor relation.
As a long-time Batman fan (albeit, not a very clued up one), this makes me a little sad. People often look at you like you’ve grown an additional head when you say you like DC at least as much as Marvel. This book shows the true wealth and excellence of the DC stable. There may be issues transferring it to the screen, but there is nothing wrong with the lore and writing behind it.
The presentation of the book is pretty great too. DK slipcases are always sturdy, well-made things, if slightly annoying, as my children are apparently entirely incapable of EVER putting a book back in one. The prints are a nice touch too. There’s one of Harlequin by Guillem March and Romulo Farjado Jnr, and another by Micheal Cho that shows Batman and Robin surrounded by Batmans in many forms, one in rainbow form, and another even wearing a kilt. This, I feel, is probably an iconic panel, but it’s the first time I’d seen it.
All in all, this is an excellent package perfect for fans of DC and its characters.
If you enjoyed this review, do check out my other Word Wednesday posts.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of DC Comics: Year by Year, you can do so here, in the US and here, in the UK.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.