This is truly a weighty tome and at 1216 pages it is probably the largest volume you will ever see in comics’ history. Don’t read it on your lap though, use a table, as it weighs as much as couple of bricks and has edges just as uncomfortable. The hard cover and binding are exceptional and those pages won’t be coming out any time soon. No money was scrimped on production values.
Why would you buy this though? There are very few people who are interested in all the titles and as they aren’t going to be collecting 52 of the next issue into a single volume it seems like a bit of an albatross. You would be better off browsing the single issues. This is the kind of thing that should be made available online for free or distributed to every public library.
If you have been away from comics for some time, if you want to encourage your friend, partner, child, to read comics, or you need something to stop your car rolling down a hill then this is definitely something to check out. There is a little from every genre here, including ones you never thought existed, and no matter how jaded your palette there will be something you have not seen before.
Where this book comes into its own – and there is nothing else like it – is if you have any aspirations whatsoever of creating comics. If you want to be an artist, letterer, editor, colourist, inker or writer you simply must get this book. If you want to be an author, artist or filmmaker in general, this book is for you. Where else can you get 52 storylines, plots, art styles, first pages, cliff hangers and dialogue techniques, all by established industry professionals. Forget those How-to books just watch and learn. Compare and contrast the different styles. How do ten different writers establish the character of Batman or Superman? How is external narration vs. internal monologue used? What works, what makes you want to keep reading and what would you do differently.
Even on its own it is a very enjoyable read. Most of the stories will engage you and leave you curious for more. This is heralded as a reboot making it accessible to new readers. This is true for the most part. Some stories will recap on what has gone before and the Green Lantern ones carry on seamlessly from the last issue but provide enough clues for new readers. The book is divided into genre/ character blocks. Justice League, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, The Dark (horror and supernatural), The Edge (weird and miscellanea), and Young Justice (teenage heroes).
DC has been criticized for its portrayal of female characters recently. In this book are some of the most fully clothed ladies in comics. Catwoman, Batgirl and Voodoo provide strong, independent women and are much better reads than trashy brain-dead, women’s lifestyle magazines.
Criticism-wise the size does make it hard to open the book fully and so some of the stories in the middle are hard to read close to the spine. Also some of the pages are blank (plain black or white) where adverts have appeared in the single issues and they have been removed for this collection. There are a few variant covers at the back but no other extras. A bookmark would also have been good.
I am really glad I read this as I wasn’t a DC fan before and I am now. I will be picking up the trade paperbacks of most of these titles when they become available and without this book I would not have. Thumbs Up DC!