Too often, a person will become utterly involved in a creative idea, investing themselves in the tiniest of minutiae, immersing themselves in each available secondary and tertiary article, all while overlooking the most primary of sources, discarding it off the bat as completely useless to their interests: the official company website.
If such is the case for you, friends, and your love of DC Comics, then allow me to direct you in our never-ending quest for free giveaways to a rather interesting page on the hardcore-unexplored “dccomics.com”: The Heroes & Villains page.
Named for its largest article, the “Heroes & Villains” directory features two-page biographies on over 80 of the most important personalities of the DC Universe, all written and drawn by industry professionals.
Each article even ends with an intriguing list of powers, abilities, and relevant reading material regarding the profiled character. (And you could always pop back here for a more detailed trade reading order on your favorites.) Not only that, but each is written in the style most associated with the particular character, really giving you a feel for what it’s like to read full stories centered on every one of them in a paltry two pages.
In honor of the then-upcoming Blackest Night event, 19 additional articles, six pages each, were drawn for the “Origins and Omens” section, a very different set of biographies which details not the character’s origin, but the personal demons which haunt them. If “Heroes and Villains” is about character breadth, then “Origins and Omens” is about depth.
Next, the website provides us with a real treat: a very generous look at the beginnings of DC’s most enduring icon, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman! “Superman: The Dailies” collects many of the daily Superman newspaper comic strips in circulation everywhere from 1939 to 1966.
There’s an enormous amount of quality Golden Age material here and any early comics aficionado should have a field day with this feature.
Although slightly out of date by now, the page’s next feature focuses not on a particular character, but the DC Universe itself, as Donna Troy guides us through ten articles at five pages apiece which competently put together “The History of the DC Universe”.
Think of it as Infinite Crisis‘s answer to Crisis on Infinite Earth‘s tie-in trade bearing the same name, but 20 years more useful. (Ian’s note: I wish they’d release this in a print volume!)
Next, we come to a very odd beast indeed: the 52 page collection of online comic “Batman: Shadow of Sin Tzu”, spin-off of the legendarily awful Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu video game, set in the continuity of the inversely exquisite Batman: The Animated Series. The titular Sin Tzu is an interesting character, if you know his editorial origins: wishing to replicate the phenomenal success of animated original character Harley Quinn, the team behind the DC Animated Universe conspired to add a new villainous figure to the Batman mythos in the form of Sin Tzu.
But instead of introducing him through the show, the creative powerhouse used this opportunity to perform an experiment with the medium of video games. How would consumers respond to a character introduced, not through the show, but in an original game storyline? Not very well, they discovered… which may be part of the reason we never saw a truly original DC game again until six years later in the form of Batman: Arkham Asylum. After this fiasco, Sin Tzu quietly faded into the background and was never heard from again – which is reason enough to make this collection valuable to continuity nerds.
Finally, the page exhales its last breath with a collection of behind-the-scenes art “Breakowns” from the phenomenal 52 and the relatively humdrum Countdown. Not really my thing, but if you’re into that knock yourself out.
But what more do you want from them? DC has just unloaded literally hundreds of quality pages on you for absolutely nothing, and that’s not all the website has to offer.
Perhaps we’ll explore more here another time.
Tune in tomorrow, freebie fans, for more from the Corner!