The PopCult Bookshelf
DC Universe by Alan Moore
Written by Alan Moore, Drawn by Various
This book has a problematic title. It’s basically a collection of everything Alan Moore wrote for DC that wasn’t Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, The Killing Joke or Watchmen. As such, it’s hard to determine just exactly which DC Universe this book takes place in. Some of it dates back to “Earth 1” from the days before the Crisis On Infinite Earths. Some of it takes place in the “New DC Universe,” which was wiped out a couple of years ago and replaced by the “New 52” DC Universe and some of the stories were published by Wildstorm, which used to be a separate company before DC bought them. A better title for this book would be “Random Superhero Stories By Alan Moore.”
As such, it’s still uniformly excellent. This is Alan Moore we’re talking about here, the most influential writer in comics history. Before Moore came onto the scene, there were no “superstar” writers, with the possible exception of Stan Lee, who was more of an editor than a writer most of the time. Moore changed comics and spawned so many imitators that he literally changed the face of comics forever.
This book includes some stories that rank with his best work. The two part “Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?” was the swan song for the classic incarnation of Superman and teamed Moore with the definitive Superman artist, Curt Swan. These stories have been reprinted in a stand alone volume, but it’s nice to have them included here too.
Also included in this volume is the Superman Annual from 1985 “For The Man Who Has Everything,” which teamed Alan Moore with his Watchmen collaborator, Dave Gibbons, on a story that was later adapted into an episode of the animated “Justice League Unlimited.” Superman also turns up in “The Jungle Line,” a very unusual teamup with Swamp Thing.
There are a handful of Batman stories in this book, the standout of which is “Mortal Clay,” which saw Alan Moore re-invent the classic Batman villain, Clayface, in a story drawn by George Freeman.
Lesser works represented in this volume are some short Green Lantern and Omega Men stories and a two-part Vigilante story.
The less impressive work in this book is the Wildstorm material, which unfortunately takes up about two hundred pages. While it’s good, it’s far from Moore’s best work and it doesn’t have the charm of the earlier stories where Moore is obviously having a blast crafting stories about the heroes he grew up reading.
Aside from the artists I’ve already mentioned, there’s some notable work by Klaus Janson, Jim Baikie, Moore’s “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” collaborator Kevin O’Neill, Rick Veich, Joe Orlando, the creator of “Fables,” Bill Willingham and the late Al Rio.
This book is perfect for the Alan Moore completist and it’s available as a forty-dollar hardcover edition or the softcover, which I reviewed here. It’s pretty much a no-frills package, with no introduction, forward, or afterword and a continual reprinting of what must be the cover for the hardcover edition throughout. There should be Alan Moore completists out there. Regardless of what you think of the man and his various crusades, his work has never been less than excellent. Everything he touches is worth reading.
Even though Moore himself is probably not thrilled that his name is featured in the title of a book published by DC Comics, with whom he has been seriously feuding for a quarter century, it’s a testament to the quality of his work and his commercial appeal that this volume exists.
This book is highly recommended for any Moore fan who doesn’t have the original comics.