- Posted by Johanna on December 12, 2008 at 8:12 am
- Category: Books and Prose, KC
- PUBLISHER: DK Publishing; $40 US
Review by KC Carlson
Did you know that Adam Strange’s real name is Jean-Paul Valley? I didn’t — last time I checked that was actually the alter ego of Azrael, the would-be Batman. But it’s apparently now the real name of Adam Strange. Why? Because it says so on page 330 of the updated and expanded edition of The DC Comics Encyclopedia. (Oh, and to make this whole point just that much more ludicrous, Adam Strange’s real name is actually — Adam Strange!)
Of course, in a book this big, I’d expect a mistake or two, but sadly, there are many more. Here’s a few: The Key Storylines box for the Blue Beetle entry lists stories about Dr. Fate. Text in the Superman entry was slightly rewritten and duplicated within the entry. Commander Steel is misspelled as Steele. And a caption in the Elongated Man entry erroneously states that Sue Dibny was killed by Dr. Light (she wasn’t), in a mistake held over from the previous edition of the book. Plus, there are countless typos and text problems throughout.
I had really high hopes for this version of the Encyclopedia, being a big fan of the previous edition. My original intent, when reviewing this book, was to index, in detail, all of the changes and updates in this book from the previous edition, but as I got deeper and deeper into the book, the overwhelming number of text errors, missing text, proofreading errors, and the seemingly arbitrary decisions over what got updated or didn’t just simply overwhelmed — and ultimately — defeated me.
In general, it appears to me that great amounts of text for this volume were reset (whether needed or not), and following that, no one bothered to reformat the text with any level of consistency. It also appears that either no one proofread the new text in its final layout (lots of final lines of text have “dropped out”) or that the book was rushed to press without all of the changes. Also, I was working with a list of “errors” from the first edition of the Encyclopedia (admittedly mostly minor and/or having to do with inconsistencies in presenting information) and discovered that only a handful of the most egregious errors were fixed in this new edition.
This should have been a great book. There was a tremendous amount of effort put forward to update it. There are at least 50 new pages of material spread throughout the book, including at least 60 new entries. Most of the major characters have one or two pages added to their entries, and the Encyclopedia now includes new two-page entries for recent events like Infinite Crisis and 52. Well over a hundred individual entries were updated with a new sentence or two, albeit most of them to indicate character deaths in either Infinite Crisis or the Death of the New Gods event.
And, in something that I feel somewhat personally responsible for in the first place, a great effort was made to try to explain the various versions — at least three — of the Legion of Super-Heroes, but the attempt was doomed to failure without completely restructuring the book. As it is, some of the LSH members have multiple listings for different versions, some attempt to explain the different versions in a single entry, some there was no attempt to update at all, and in others, the text describes the latest “threeboot” version of the character, but uses artwork from one of the previous versions. At least they tried…
If I had to choose one word to describe the updated DC Encyclopedia, it would have to be inconsistent. Cat Man’s entry has updated artwork showing his new costume, but no mention of him being the leader of the new Secret Six (nor any mention of the SS at all). In Troia’s entry, her name has been changed to Troy, but the entry itself has not been updated to reflect changes to her in the last four years — most notably, her return from the dead!
There’s still a lot of good, solid information in the updated and expanded edition of The DC Comics Encyclopedia, but if you’re a major fan of DC Comics and know better, these inconsistencies will drive you nuts! And what good is an encyclopedia if you cannot trust its facts to be accurate? With a price tag of $40, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)