Bringing Back Who's Who

One of the better announcements to come out of DC Comics lately is that they are finally going to publish a new Who's Who starting in May. This is great for a number of reasons.

First, I love me some Who's Who, most of all the original series whose format the new project will probably use. Especially since Didio makes mention of it as still a bible of sorts for writers, and DC has been in 80s revival mode for a while now. Besides, there's no way the loose leaf format of the last Who's Who could include 800 entries. If you're doing the math, that's an average of 44 entries per issue, so I'm guessing 18 48-pagers. Nice and thick! Here's hoping it'll look a lot like the original and not like the Marvel Universe series with its faux-RPG power levels and text-over-art aesthetic.

The second reason to rejoice is that it heralds a more stable era for DC Comics. Didio says: "truth be told, if we ever planned to take on these two monumental projects again, we wanted to make sure we rolled them out at a time we felt that the universe was no longer in flux and the history, as built, and the Who’s Who entries would stay relevant for as long as the original projects." In other words, Blackest Night is the Final Crisis. If the original Who's Who lasted for so long, it's that the DCU didn't suffer a new Crisis every other week and you could (mostly) count on the information found within. And if you couldn't, the pretty pictures! But lately, sheesh. Who can keep it straight? It's one Crisis after another, and we're never even sure what changes stuck or didn't. After Blackest Night, we can hope for a lull in continuity-changing events, hopefully in favor of good stories starring iconic characters.

Here's to 18 months of stability!


De said...

If Bob Greenberger's Twitter entries are any indication, it looks like he's happy to be in the Who's Who saddle again.

Diabolu Frank said...

1) I vastly prefer the OHOTMU format, as I always wanted lots of solid information over pin-up art, and the uniformity on the visual front made it feel all the more authoritative.

2) Is either reference book relevant to the internet age, anyway? I buy the occasional new Marvel Handbook, but more out of habit then need, especially since what original art there is isn't very good.

Siskoid said...

You just made my argument for me, Diabolu!

Solid information can be found on Wiki. New art at least holds interest. I'd also say the Who's Who format:
-Allows for more entries and is thus a more complete picture of the DCU.
-Leaves things a little more free for writers, especially in the DCU where continuity has been in flux for so long. Especially for the actual limits of powers.

All I really need in an entry is the iconic story. I'll read the rest in trades.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

As much as I'd like to believe Didio (prior history aside), we still have Brightest Day, War of the Supermen, and who knows what else. I have trouble believing they've gotten over their Eventitis.

Although at this point, since I've all but stopped caring about the primary DC and Marvel universes, I'm going to need more than Who's Who. It is still good news and I may check it out (I kind of liked the looseleaf format).

Matthew Turnage said...

ShadowWing Tronix, I don't see War of the Supermen (which is confined to that miniseries and only lasts a month) and Brightest Day as being the sort of line-wide shakeups that would potentially invalidate a project like Who's Who so quickly.

Lest we forget, Crisis was followed by Legends and Millenium, and those only required a few annual updates to keep Who's Who current. I don't see either of these projects as being even that far reaching in terms of impacting this type of reference work.

Siskoid said...

I agree. You can have events without them being Crisis-level. After Brightest Day, we should have a DC Universe that's fun to play around in, and events can use the new status quo instead of redefining it.

Diabolu Frank said...

I will say this:
Who's Who Looseleaf > Marvel. By, like, a factor of ten.

Siskoid said...


But ultimately, kind of a pain and gave us fewer entries than a normal comic might have.

Looseleaf Marvel was just awful of course.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

You guys may have a point, but we'll have to wait and see what DC ultimately does. I've been a DC fan for years, but it's been getting harder and harder, with Cry for (In)Justice being the final nail. At least the Marvel Universe I wasn't as invested in.

I may get the Who's Who, but it's going to take more than that to bring me back to the main DC Universe.

As for Marvel's version, the profile shots might be good if your trying to draw the characters, but the info layout needs a lot of work. Something closer to the classic format would have been better.

Teebore said...

1. I am uber excited about a new Who's Who, and hopefully a Showcase or some other reprint of the old one.

2. That said, I much, much MUCH prefer Marvel's dense, text-heavy Handbook approach over DC's artsy and relatively basic Who's Who style. I want a DC HANDBOOK, chock full of info, tracking characters' narratives, not just a gussied up pinup book.

Since first discovering the Marvel Handbooks, I've longed for that same approach applied to DC characters. Alas, it's just never going to happen, it seems.

Yeah, most of the info in the Marvel Handbooks is available on Wikipedia or elsewhere online, but I'm old-fashioned enough that having that info in book form feels more "real". Besides, I can't curl up in bed with Wikipedia like I can a Handbook.

But then, maybe I'm the only one weird enough to read the handbooks on their own and doesn't just use them as a reference guide...

Siskoid said...

A Handbook is only really possible if continuity is sacred. What IS the true history of [NAME IT] in the DCU?

Teebore said...

Ideally, I'd love to see something that tried to parse pre-Crisis, post-Crisis, Zero Hour, Infinity Crisis, etc. into one narrative. Something not unlike the profiles Alan Kistler did for Michael Hutchinson's Monitor Duty blog.

Superman's origin...these events took place...then the Crisis happened and Superman was like this, after which these events happened, etc.

Yeah...that's just not going to happen. Ever. So I'll just have to be happy with what we're getting. And, really, I am.


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