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REVIEW: The DC Vault

September 3rd 2008 13:32

The DC Vault
by Martin Pasko

Everywhere you look, on every surface imaginable one way or another there is an image from the world of DC Comics and that’s just the way they like it over at DC. This new book The DC Vault is a complete beauty as far as the art work and treasures it holds goes.

I’m a little skeptical about the ring-binder style of publication, it’s practical to a point but a little frustrating because you have to be quite careful with it; not as tear-proof as Superman’s cape. I guess that contributes to the sense of ownership and its special status as an interactive object. Obviously a book is an interactive object, but this one more so than the average because it contains a variety of awesome little treasures inside plastic slips; so in the act of reading the book, or even simply looking through it, one is tempted consistently to pull out each of the treasures and have a look. It’s something you unfold and avoid damaging. Speaking of the treasures I have to say I was a bit flabbergasted with delight.

Excellent objects such as: The No.1 Action Comics cover; great artwork. Spicy Detective cover, Passion Killer (1922); what a rare little hoot this is. Face down but searching up with her eyes, a woman bound at the wrists on a red rug with a dead match on the wooden floor. No wonder there was such a close watch on comics from the moral majority. Double Action Comics #2, Ashcan (January 1940) a great reproduction. A Batman Mask reproduction from 1943; cute as. Wonder Woman Button (May 1942) reproduced as a sticker, so you’ll have to decide yourself if you want to peel and stick it or not.

This is a collectors dream. A reproduction of original artwork by Joe Kubert (1976) with a deliciously devilish story referenced. A Wonder Woman Bookmark (1987); I love that the princess is saying reading is strength, and DC Moving Notice (1980) another fabulous plaything, wonderful artwork. Shazam Cellophane Button (1972) reproduced as a sticker; Shazam is Coming. It’s magnificent stuff with the freshest from the vault feeling you could hope for.

There’s a great insight into the whole DC Comics universe which means television and animation production as much as publishing comics. What a remarkable thing was The New Adventures of Wonder Woman in the 1970’s. Lynda Carter cut a fine figure, but possibly not as fine as Jenette Kahn the incoming manager in 1976 who led a shift in the entire comic industry between 1976 and 2004.

How much do people love the comic world of DC Comics? Plenty; for example when the publishers decided to create a story called Crisis where various planet Earths in the Multiverse are crashed together, and a range of super heroes are brought together onto one planet Earth it created a bridge for readers into the stories of characters they’d never considered to read. Some readers were annoyed by it, but others responded by publishing an index in two volumes of the whole thing. That’s love, dedication and wonder.

If you know little or nothing of this vast world, here in the Vault is the best place to start; highly informative and containing a beautiful reproduction of the History of the DC Universe Poster (1987) with everybody’s favourites all in one big group. For a considerable period of time there was censorship in cartoons in the form of the Comics Code and you had to publish outside the seal of the code if you wanted to publish horror or crime titles. Once the Time Warner merge happened in the late 1980’s DC Comics promised to pour many fine stories into the Hollywood machine…

The Batman Movie changed a great deal for Warner and DC as well as Michael Keaton who rode a few good lead roles on the dramatic trail after his moody portrayal. I personally will always love Jack as The Joker; a Joker for the time. Just as Karen Berger was clearly the woman to step up on the helm of new imprint Vertigo in 1993. Over the years from the start until now there have been some fine items left in the DC Vault, something to continue to treasure for every comic lover who will want this very much.

David Jobling

The DC Vault, published by Running Press, distributed by Bookwise International RRP$65.00 Available now in good bookstores.
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