Every once in a while it becomes apparent that writing for a site like Comics Bulletin has its perks. I was granted such a perk when I got the opportunity to receive and review the Hardcover edition of DC Comics Super-Villains – The Complete Visual History. In the past I might have mildly allowed the true nature of my comic obsession to show, but this book allows me to fully express it. I love character biographies. The Complete Visual History not only gave me everything I was looking for, but it actually gave more than I could have hoped. It is truly a gem for any collector.
The foreword by Kevin Smith was fantastic and it gives a great insight into his mind. He lets everyone know the truth: no matter how great a hero is, they can only be as good as their villains, and while Marvel Comics may dominate in a lot of categories, when it comes to villains, DC is king. I’m not saying that Marvel doesn’t have a few great villains, but DC has so many that their heroes are elevated to an even higher status.
Daniel Wallace does an excellent job giving the general definitions of each villain, not going into massive details but giving enough for your general enthusiast. Accompanying Wallace’s well written biographies is artwork spanning not only from our modern age but quite often right back to each character’s original appearance. This really helps in seeing how far various artists have taken some of your favourite characters visually.
The cover of this very large book was drawn by Phil Jimenez, who is known well for his work as the writer/artist on Wonder Woman from 2000 to 2003, and for his collaborations with Grant Morrison on New X-Men and The Invisibles. While the cover collage (featuring such villains as Lex Luthor, Bizarro and the Joker) is excellent, it pales in comparison to the quality of coloring and inking to be found inside the book. Still it is quite good, and a bonus can be found in the back of the book: a nice pullout copy of the full cover.
As I mentioned, this is a very large book, possibly suited for a coffee table. The size is required so that some of the visuals within can truly pop, and they do. Even if a casual reader shows no interest in the words, this visual guide is excellent, presenting artwork from some of the best-ever comic artists.
While the cover price is a hefty $50 American, I was able to find it for less on various online sites. That being said, $50 is a steal for such a wonderful visual guide. While it lacks in details in the biography, meaning that it isn’t DC’s version of Marvel’s Ultimate Handbook, this guide is a fantastic aid for first time readers and especially for younger children just getting into comics. My two year old has literally drooled over some of the images. I recommend this book for all levels of comic fans; seriously, the visuals alone should be enough to remind you of why you love comics.
Images reprinted from DC Comics: Super-Villains: The Complete Visual History by Daniel Wallace, published by Insight Editions. All related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics. (s14)
Purchase this book from Insight Editions here.