By Dustin Cabeal
I’m going to echo a lot of what I said in my review for The Big Book of Girl Power, here in my review for The Big Book of Superpowers. The main reason being that they have all the same strengths and weaknesses, which is funny since that’s what this book is about.
The Big Book of Superpowers is a kid’s encyclopedia for DC Comic heroes. Depending on the hero there’s at least two pages dedicated to them, their origin, powers and supporting cast. All of the heroes are men and women that DC is backing in other forms of media; mostly the movies, but TV and video games as well.
It should be enjoyable and great, but it’s just bland. A lot of that comes from the art which confuses me. There’s a strange mesh of Silver and Bronze Age art. A few panels are even right out of the comic book as is the case with Green Lantern which comes from an iconic cover. In the case of Superman, there’s even some Golden Age style art thrown in. While I get that it’s essentially showing the history of the character, it’s still a strange choice in that you’d think this book’s number one goal would be to introduce kids to these characters and perhaps get them interested in comics.
If I were a kid and picked this up and then picked up a modern comic book, I would go back to this book and wonder why there was such a huge contrast. Why does it look so old, when comics look so new? The answer seems to be that it’s for parents and hell, maybe even grandparents to share their memories of these characters with their kids and grandkids. I can see that being the target demographic, but then who knows.
The other reason The Big Book of Superpowers is bland is that there’s nothing exciting about the powers. The way they’re presented is more of an information card. “The Flash is really fast… time moves slowly for him.” That’s not a real example, but my point is, was that interesting or exciting? It’s for a kid, don’t show the flash saving everyone from a burning house, show him racing a horse, a car and a plane. For a book on superpowers, the powers seemed second to the information about the characters and that’s just a shame. Readers grow to like the characters second; they like the powers first. No one starts reading superhero comics because they like Clark Kent at the Daily Planet, they like him because he can fly and lift stuff over his head.
The Big Book of Superpowers is an okay book for a child. They’ll learn a little about the characters and if they’re into superheroes, because who isn’t, they might enjoy this. There’s no narrative; there’s a lot of art, and they get to see a variety of characters in one place. Will it be their favorite book? Sadly, no, there’s not a lot of reasons to re-read this book, even for a kid. It’s like an encyclopedia, but the information is pretty swallow.
The Big Book of Superpowers
By: Morris Katz
Publisher: Downtown Bookworms