by Kevin Huxford
When boss-man told me to review a classic, I wanted to go for something a little different something that hadn't been reviewed as a classic (much) before. I started to go with COSMIC ODYSSEY, but then I was inspired to cover something else. (Relax CO is next on my list!) What classic would I do?? WHO'S WHO!!!! If you don't think that WHO'S WHO is a classic well you must not be a REAL DC fan!
I can remember my first issue of WHO'S WHO like it was yesterday. I didn't start with the first issue. Why not? Well I didn't live near a shop, so I was pretty reliant on my mother's whims for when I could get to a shop. One of the times I walked in there it was sitting on the shelf WHO'S WHO Volume III.
Who is on the cover but two of my favorite characters: BLUE DEVIL and BLACK LIGHTNING. But the most eye-catching aspect of the cover was NOT those characters, but the interaction of all the characters (pioneered in this maxi-series by George Perez). Not all of the other cover artists did this as well as Perez, natch, but it was still entertaining in less able hands.
I remember coming in the store, wide-eyed, looking to see who was in this week's WHO'S WHO issue!! Don't ask me why but I couldn't have been more excited for any book ever than WHO'S WHO Volume IX. Featured on the front cover was the one, true Green Lantern: John Stewart!! OK just a little joke, fellas don't hange me in effigy. Joining John on the cover were Jack O'Lantern, Geo-Force, Green Man, Green Arrow, Goldface, Guardian, etc etc etc.
But lets focus on why this series is a classic before going back to more childhood reminiscing. Its a classic because the series collects many of the characters fond in DC's rich universe. I remember pouring over every page and finding so many new "old" characters some made me scratch my head and wonder "Why don't I see this character in any DC books?" while some made me wonder "Why was paper wasted on this character?".
Each issue brought some new character(s) that I was intrigued about (Volume IX; Global Guardians). Each issue had some character(s) that I had no interest in (Volume IX; Golden Gladiator). Each issue had some character(s) that I knew almost everything about yet didn't mind hearing it again (Volume IX; Green Lantern II).
Each entry was just what a reader needed to know about a character to pique his interest. The less-than-one written page summary of important character points, with a montage of important moments in the two-color background, with a four-color pin-up (more or less) added up to a joy to read for each entry.
Let me demonstrate with the entries of two Blue men: Blue Devil and Blue Beetle II. The Blue Devil entry has, in its background, a face-shot of Daniel Patrick Cassidy (his alter ego), the schematic for the suit, a demonstration of his acrobatics, and Nebiros' blast that grafted the suit on him. Blue Beetle's entry showed (again) a face-shot, a demonstration of his acrobatic fighting skills, The Bug (vehicle), and Ted Kord (his alter-ego) kneeling at the side of a dying Blue Beetle I, Dan Garrett a pivotal moment in his background.
I was introduced to many characters through this series. It was the fuel for many late night discussions with my best friend on who were some really cool characters who could beat who who was cooler. We poured over the issues to come up with some true hidden gems. I wrote God-only-knows how many letters to Justice League of America's letter column asking for this or that obscure WHO'S WHO character to be added to the team. Not only was it an enjoyable piece of work on its own, but it added to my enjoyment, speculation, and imagination related to ALL DC titles.
That my friends makes WHO'S WHO a classic!
Article © Kevin Huxford 1998
Layout and text © Fanzing 1998
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This piece is © 2002 by the author listed above.
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