The DC Comics Encyclopaedia – The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the Expanded DC Universe – Updated and Expanded

The DC Comics Encyclopaedia

The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the Expanded DC Universe

Updated and Expanded



When I saw my brother rolling up the street in a fork lift truck I wondered what the devil he had on the end of it.  As it turned out it was my Christmas present, the massive and updated 2009 edition of what is pretty much as ‘definitive’ a book as you’re likely to get on the costumed heroes and heroines of the DC world.  And when I say ‘updated’, that is just from 2004, which should give you an idea of just how much that comics Universe changes over a quick period of time these days.  I suppose that if you had brought one of these out in the ’80s you would have been able to read back over a consistent history stretching over decades; but I’ll come back to that in a moment.

This is a really beautiful publication.  It is a coffee table book, certainly, but one that deserves to be picked up and dipped into on a daily basis, not just left there for show; although it’s nice for that as well.  Every page is an illustrated delight and you’re going to come across characters that you had forgotten even existed.  There are over 1,000 entries so it will keep you going for a long time.  And seriously, every page is to be savoured.  Right off I have to say that the first thing I did was check to see if my old teenage fantasy Power Girl was there; and I’m glad to report that her  breasts are as unfeasibly large as they were back in the seventies.  Although Wonder Woman on the contents page certainly gives her a run for her money.

And that is the last gratuitously sexist comment from the Sad Old Bloke.  He’s been put back in his cage for the remainder of this review.

As well as the various characters good, bad and in between there are fascinating sub-sections on such things as Weapons, Alien Races, epic battles, team-ups and so on.

Now I mentioned the fast changes to this fictional universe over the past decades and I have to admit to being a little out of touch with the comics’ scene. Twenty years ago I would have been a pretty enthusiastic collector, but these days it usually takes an Alan Moore or something equally special to get me parting with the shekels.  I’ve always regretted falling away from it but as one’s interests change it’s impossible to keep up with every old passion.

So here I’m thankful to the denizens of the excellent SUB-CITY COMICS in Corbett Court, just off Eyre Square in Galway, for explaining a thing or two to me.  Any misunderstanding is down to my inability to take in information (and I have to tell you, some of the comic book changes these days lead to some pretty complex explanations).

When I was reading them on a steady basis, the concept of reboots was unheard of, and as someone who was (and still is) a bit of a continuity nut when it comes to ANY fictional universe—whether it be that of Tarzan or the James Bond novels– the idea would have been unpalatable in the extreme.  Those characters had a past that pretty much had to be addressed when writing new stories; and in cases like the Batman and Superman it was a past that went back to the thirties.

One thing that was impossible to argue against, however, was the fact that the DC Universe, due to its commingling of Golden Age Heroes with more modern ones had led to Earths One and Two…and it eventually got out of control for even the hardiest continuity watcher.  That is why we were given the excellent story-line in a 12 part series of Crisis on Infinite Earths.  It condensed the worlds and timelines back into one again and it was one of the last continuing series that I read.  Well, that and artist-writer John Byrne’s reboot The Man of Steel (six issues, if my memory serves me right).  And so I had vaguely thought—when I thought of it at all—that this was where matters now stood:  a fairly solid and permanent history restored.  But if I understand the SUB-CITY crowd correctly, then I’m ‘way off the mark.

Which is my very long winded way of saying please take this Encyclopaedia and enjoy it for what it is— a very beautiful publication indeed and a pleasure to have and to open at random.  Do not, however, take anything in it as definitive.  It seems that ‘definitive’ is something that my generation had in their reading but which this one doesn’t.  And I don’t suppose it bothers them.  Hell, as a way of exploring ideas that we couldn’t it’s probably even a good thing.

The only other quibble I might have with this magnificent gift is that if I had been flying with Ryanair you can be sure they would have screwed an extra forty Euros out of me.  Lightweight it is not!


The DC Comics Encyclopaedia is published by DK. (Dorling Kindersley Limited, London.)


Every character has an origin story, so too the Sad Old Bloke : I give you Power Girl :





Author: Charley Brady

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