Comic Review – “History of the DC Universe”

Those who have read my reviews of DC product know that I’m not familiar with that Universe. This is an excellent volume for people like me.

General Information

Title: History of the DC Universe
Author: Marv Wolfman
Illustrator: George Perez
Original Publication Date: 1986
ISBN: 1-56389-798-9
Cover Price: $9.95 US, $16.95
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After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was decided that the
DC Universe needed a good reference guide for the remaining history.
This is it.

High Point

It’s hard to pick the high and low points for this. It’s a very
uniform collection, detailing the new history, with no real plot.

The first drawing of Batman looked great, so I’ll pick that.

Low Point

The “where do heroes come from?” theme was pretty overdone.

The Scores

I know of one other history text for a fictitious history (the Star
Trek Chronology), and this came first. I think that’s
original enough for a score of 5 out of 6, even though the
content had all been established everywhere.

The artwork by George Perez in the interior is pretty good,
detailed when needed, but sparse when it works better. The Alex Ross
cover is, well, an Alex Ross cover. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is not a plot, but rather a history text that
chooses not to go into great detail. It’ll be a great reference for
people like myself who are not yet familiar with the DC Universe, but
the plot and storytelling are pretty weak. That wasn’t the point of
the volume, so it’s not a big problem, but it’s there. I give it 2
out of 6.

The characterization is, by the nature of the book, virtually
nonexistant. I think Superman, Batman, and Green Lanterns in general
were the only heroes that appeared on more than two pages. Darkseid
is the only villain with that much space. There wasn’t space to even
attempt to characterize in more detail than “hero” or “villain.” I
give it 2 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced was pretty weak. It
reads like a history text, for the most part. Seeing the origins of
these heroes would be more meaningful for me if the heroes meant more
to me, but it’s a solid introduction. I give it 2 out of 6.

The flow is very good in the first book. By the end of the
second book, the core of DC’s history started showing up, and there
weren’t enough pages left to cover it all, so things began shifting
abruptly with little or no transition. I give it 3 out of 6.

Overall, this volume does an excellent job of what it set out
to do; it summarizes the history of the DC Universe including the
basic origins of the major heroes. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, History of the DC Universe receives 24 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

The total score seems low, but that’s mainly because of the nature of
the volume. This is a good reference for the general shape of the DC
Universe and its major heroes and teams. I think it’ll be enough for
me to pick up any major or B-list DC title and quickly figure out who
is who (among the heroes, anyway.) If you’re new to the DC Universe
as I am, this is a good buy. I seriously considered reviewing this
under the textbook template instead, but the current textbook template
assumes that there are questions to solve and examples, which is just
as mismatched as this one.

One reply

  1. Ah yes, the 80’s…
    I have long held the opinion that mid to late 80’s DC was one of the best periods, creatively, for comics in the US. Heck, even Marvel of the same period was pretty rockin’. Love seeing reviews of all of this older stuff; keep it up!

    It’s just too bad, though, that a lot of History is no longer valid in current DC continuity. Oh well, at least it’s real pretty to look at.

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