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Batman Character Encyclopedia

Batman Character Encyclopedia
Studio: DK Publishing
Publishing Date: February 9th, 2016

Synopsis: From Robin to the Joker, Batman Character Encyclopedia is your guide into over 75 years of the Dark Knight's friends and foes. This compact, informative guide takes you through over 200 heroes and villains of Gotham City as well as tons of facts and information on the Caped Crusader himself. Organized alphabetically, each character profile is crammed with statistics, informative annotations, and exciting comic book art illustrated by leading DC Comics artists. Batman Character Encyclopedia is perfect for the newcomers to the Batman series or the die-hard DC Comics fan, and is an excellent addition to DK's best-selling collection of Batman titles.

Spreads from Batman Character Encyclopedia - copyright 2016 Dorling Kindersley Inc. Used with permission.

Batman Character Encyclopedia Review
By James Harvey

Comic continuity can be confusing for just about any character, regardless of their publisher or age. The amount of characters to keep track of, recent events, what’s in continuity and what’s no longer relevant – essentially what matters right now to these characters – can sometimes be a bit hard to figure out. And the world of Batman is no different. Thankfully, DK Publishing has whipped up a Character Encyclopedia to get folks up to date just as Batman V Superman: Dawn of the Justice is set to hit theatres. Naturally, this book is also a useful tome to have if you happen to be a fan of the animated interpretations and are interested in exploring their respective comic book roots.

Covering over 200 characters from the Dark Knight's world and featuring comic book art, stories, facts, statistics and up-to-date information on DC Comics' Batman characters, Batman Character Encyclopedia spotlights super Heroes and allies, such as Robin and Alfred Pennyworth, and super-villains, the likes of The Joker and The Penguin. Each character has his or her own page illustrated with up-to-date DC comic book artwork, including the recent titles Batman Eternal, Gotham by Midnight, Arkham Manor and Gotham Academy.

Without question, the Batman Character Encyclopedia is as thorough as you'd expect. Given that it's written by Matthew K. Manning (Batman: A Visual History, among numerous other titles), that should be no surprise. With the content running roughly 200 pages, it's a pretty detailed list of character's who're apart of Batman's world. The list includes a wealth of characters outside of Gotham, as the Justice League, along with the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman, are added to the mix. Characters are divided up among a heroes, allies and rogue, with some falling into the neutral category (Catwoman, for instance), and each are given a basic rundown of their origins and a few other character facts. Its fairly simple and straightforward, and presented in an easy-to-read fashion.

The artwork is ripped directly from the comics themselves, showcasing some of the best artists currently working on DC Comics' family of Bat-titles. I was surprised to see some pre-The New 52 content appear (seeing Arkham Asylum: Living Hell's Humpty Dumpty was actually pretty cool, given how obscure of a character he's considered), but it's without question the author had no choice in order to make the encyclopedia as thorough as possible. And, honestly, this book has done more to establish what the Bat-universe is like in The New 52 than the comics themselves. Many of these origins, and characters, I was seeing for the first time. The origins are, for the most part, similar to we all grew up with, though all seem to be slightly altered through a macabre lens. Everything is a shade darker than what came before.

Batman Character Encyclopedia is also a testament to just how vast the comic mythos are of our favorite Dark Knight. The core characters are here, yes, but the expanding supporting cast, new creations, and B, C and D-list villains make up an impressive cast-list.

Character details are fairly up to date and seem fairly recent, as the book gives mention to the recent "Superheavy" arc in the monthly Batman DC Comics title. Batgirl's excellent "Burnside" makeover is included, although, unfortunately, so it's Wonder Woman's recent armored look (but that's not the fault of the book, of course). Dick Grayson's current status as global superspy is also included, as is James' Gordon's current role as the GCPD-sanctioned Batman. For someone who just jumped into the comics within the past few months, this book would actually prove quite handy.

The title also ends up being a great companion piece to 2014's Batman: A Visual History. Together, these two provide a fantastic over-arching look at the Batman mythos, from its inception to today, with this Encyclopedia providing a little help in filling in the blanks for readers hoping to jump into the comics. Keep in mind the entries in this book focus specifically on the comic book interpretations of these characters, so any information on movie or animated appearances won't be found here. Of course, the book does also include some of the more sillier aspects introduced into the Batman mythos overtime (like the recent rogue addition Jackanapes, a monkey henchman of the Joker), but those do help balance out the predominantly dark overtones of the current Batman franchise.

Housed in a nice looking hardcover package, Batman Character Encyclopedia is a worthwhile addition to any newbie or long-time Batfan's collection. For those recently making their way into the franchise, this will definitely help ease them into Batman's vast world. And for those long-time readers? It's a thorough breakdown of Batman's world, and will more than likely hold some new snippets of information even for the most researched of Bat-enthusiasts. The details are presented in a straight forward, to-the-point fashion, the chosen artwork is usually excellent (there were a few pieces chosen where the artwork, I found, was sketchy and even difficult to make out, and didn't present the characters in the best possible light), and the layouts easy to follow. Batman Character Encyclopedia provides a perfect baseline for new fans, while also giving long-time readers a nice package to review just how massive the Batamn mythos have gotten. Recommended.

Spreads from Batman Character Encyclopedia - copyright 2016 Dorling Kindersley Inc. Used with permission.

Batman Character Encyclopedia is now available at retail and digital outlets everywhere.


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