On August 31, 2011, DC Comics changed the way we read comics. Or at least they changed the way we read their comics. With JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, we saw the beginning of 'The New 52.' The DC Universe had changed. All DC titles had a fresh start with a new #1. In the four months since it all started, there have been some major evolutions with some characters while others have remained relatively untouched.
It was a bold and daring move on DC's part. The goal was to make comics fresh and exciting for new and old readers. For the most part, the reaction has been positive.
On December 13, 'DC Comics: The New 52' arrives in bookstores. This is a collection of every single #1 from 'The New 52.' At first you might think this is just a collection of reprints but it's also a piece of history in some ways.== TEASER ==
Right away you'll notice it's an impressive collection. We're talking 1216 pages and 7.6 pounds of comic material. Unfortunately the dust cover features the same cover to JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, an image we've seen so many times. Then again, that image became the known for launching 'The New 52.'
Removing the cover you'll see another familiar image, the shot of the team that was revealed right before San Diego Comic-Con. What's interesting in how the cover looks. It isn't printed with your typical hardcover material and almost has a textbook look and feel to it (if you've ever seen a brand new textbook, you'll have an idea). It's not a bad thing and gives it a sturdy feeling. The slight bit of gloss to it also makes the image pop out a little more.
One of the deterrences might be that this collection contains comics you already own. That may be the case but how many people can say they purchased all fifty-two #1 issues? Personally, I see this as a great reference tool. There have been so many times I've referred back to these issues and have had to dig through stacks of comics to try to locate the one single issue I was searching for.
Besides that, there is the size. I didn't measure6 my copy but according to Amazon, the dimensions are 11.2 x 7.4 x 2.9 inches. That makes it bigger than an actual comic. It almost adds a different feel to your reading experience. Enlarging the pages just that little bit allows you to see everything a little clearer.
What comes across as a little odd is the way some of the pages fall into place. This is a minor thing but because there there aren't any advertisements, a page that originally was on the left might now be on the right. This means that some thought had to be put into the order the issues appear since some contained two-page spreads. There are some filler pages in between to divide the 'sections' of the book. You also get nice clean images of the covers (without the logo and UPC covering it up).
As for the reading order, this was something I was immediately curious about. The issues aren't presented in the order they were released. JUSTICE LEAGUE is the first one here and that makes perfect sense. But it's followed by JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL and then AQUAMAN. If you recall, JLI did come out during the second week (first week of September) but AQUAMAN came out during the last week of the month. I wasn't sure if this was meant to be the essential or proper reading order. It's more that the issues are grouped by families.
It starts off with the Justice League titles (including CAPTIAN ATOM, FURY OF FIRESTORM, SAVAGE HAWKMAN and MISTER TERRIFIC), then followed by the Superman books, Batman, Green Lantern, Dark books, the Edge books and the young Justice books.
This is where some of the problems come in. Let's say you wanted to read BATWOMAN #1. You can see from the inner sleeve of the dust cover where if fits in with the other books. There just isn't an easy way to get there. There are no page numbers at the bottom (which would be more annoying when it interfered with the art on the page). You just have to have an idea what's before and after and start flipping through.
The other problem is some of the two page spreads are a little difficult to see. Because the book is over a thousand pages, it can be hard to fully open the book without fear of damaging the binding. But this book has such a solid feel, you probably couldn't damage the binding if you tried (I don't suggest you make the attempt).
Perhaps the question should be, would you actually be reading this book or is it more of a collectible? Chances are you've probably already read most of the titles but there might be some that you didn't get around to or sold out before you could purchase them. Now they are all here.
This actually brings about a third problem. If you now find yourself really impressed with one of the titles you didn't pick up before, you're going to have to scramble to try to locate issues 2-4 at your local comic shop.
This book really isn't for the reader that hasn't picked up a single 'New 52' issue. It is a great starting point. You literally have all the issues here to read over.
I mentioned before that this is a piece of history. That's where the collectibility factor comes in. I've found myself talking to people that knew nothing about comics because of this relaunch. It's clearly a big conversation piece if someone comes over and sees it sitting on your coffee table (I don't know if it would fit on your shelf or if it would take up your entire shelf).
Now the part I've been putting off. How much does this cost?
The book has a suggested retail price of $150. Of the 'New 52' books, forty-eight had a cover price of $2.99 and four were at $3.99. That means they all would cost $159.48. But here, you get a nicer package and oversized pages (with no ads). Also, the $150 retail means you'll be able to find it cheaper elsewhere (for example, Amazon has it for $89.99, way less than the $159.48).
But there is something nice looking about the whole presentation. It's very impressive. It's great to have in your collection, especially if you plan on going back to certain issues from time to time, this is a handy resource. The price might be an issue, especially if you already have most of the issues. It's not the best starting point for completely new readers since they'll have to scramble if they want to continue reading a certain series. It will look great in your collection.
Here's some more shots to get a feel for what you'll get.