- Posted by Johanna on March 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- PUBLISHER: DC Comics; $14.99 US
DC Universe: Origins is a wonderful idea that could have used some improvements in the execution.
The book collects a bunch of the two-page character introductions first printed in the weekly series 52 and Countdown. Unfortunately, this slim volume is very hard to browse. It’s 160 pages, so almost 80 profiles, but the paper is so thin that it’s hard to flip through and find what you’re looking for — the pages stick together, they’re hard to turn, and they feel like they’d be easy to damage. More problematic: there’s no table of contents, so no list anywhere of which characters are included.
Each origin has its own credit box, which is a good idea (no flipping back and forth to find out whose art you’re looking at), and the creator selection is excellent. Most are written by wonks Mark Waid or Scott Beatty, and classic artists were used on great character choices. Brian Bolland on Animal Man and the Joker! Howard Chaykin on Black Canary! Doug Mahnke on Bizarro! Walt Simonson on Desaad! (Love his New Gods!) Bruce Timm on Harley Quinn! Kyle Baker on Mxyzptlk! George Perez on Nightwing! There’s a pleasant diversity of art styles, but all are readable.
Each character also has a small “Powers and Weapons” text box and a list of Essential Storylines, nice touches. I did wonder about some of the inclusions, mostly when it came to villains. Were characters like Amazo, Black Manta, Circe, General Zod, and especially Monarch included because they were playing roles in some of the crossovers of the time? They don’t seem major enough otherwise. And the blue Starman? Was it really necessary to include him?
This book was promoted as “perfect for new fans”, which explains the three pages of trade paperback ads at the back. I’m not sure it’s the best starting point — it’s somewhat disjointed and necessarily abbreviated — but it’s not a bad reference, although with just a few format improvements it could have been a great one. Then again, how long do origins stay in continuity these days? Maybe they knew they weren’t creating a book to last for ages.
One last note: the two characters that drew my eye strongly on the book’s cover were Aquaman and Flash. Guess who don’t have origins included in this book?