DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary [Book Review]

In September 2018, DK published the DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary. This is not their first foray into an encyclopedic style book dealing with this property. In fact, this is their fourth. We have already seen a Batman Visual Dictionary, a Character Encyclopedia, and an Awesome Guide. As with most of these books, I waited for a sale so that I could get myself the exclusive Minifigure. But, let’s take a look at the book first.

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DK’s LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary cover.

To start off with, this book seems as though it was written to be a follow up to the Batman Visual Dictionary, which covered the original Batman sets from 2006 through to 2012. This volume puts very little focus on those (you pretty much only see a scant mention of them in the timeline), and picks up with sets from 2013. It is actually fairly up to date, in that includes sets that were released this past summer. At first glance, it seems like a good idea to chunk several years into one volume, like they have done. But, this book is not comprehensive enough in my opinion. One thing that I really liked about the original visual dictionary was that it included a section in the back that showed all of the Minifigs from the series in one spread. This book left that out. It also does not show all of the Minifigures produced since 2013 in its pages. For example, only Hal Jordan is shown as Green Lantern, but John Stewart and Jessica Cruz have also been produced. The book even suggests that Jessica has not been designed. She was released a month before this book even came out. Minifigures are designed well in advance of their actual release, I am fairly certain plans for her existed when the spreads for this book were made.

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A sample of a spread from the DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary.

Speaking of the spreads, I enjoyed them much more in the LEGO: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know book. These ones were a little bland by comparison. The photography was a little lacking in some cases too. The box art from many sets was used for full two page visuals. It feels like a lack of effort to me. I also miss the little comics that were included in the Batman Visual Dictionary.

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Some spreads were just re-used box art in the DC Comics Visual Dictionary.

I suppose what I liked the least about this volume was the organization. It is called a dictionary. In my mind, that means its contents should be presented in alphabetical order. The organization of this book is a little haphazard. It is divided up by heroes, villains, and a separate section for the LEGO® Batman Movie. I would have much preferred to see all Batmans (including the movie ones) in one section. You could have gone through characters and sets in that manner. It would have created a better flow for readers, and allowed them to see all versions of one character at once. There is no logical order here. To make matters worse, for some reason, they only include series one of the Batman movie Minifigures…

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Half of the DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary is cardboard.

I have griped about this before with previous book reviews, but DK needs to come up with a better way to package these exclusive Minifigs. Like other books before it, half of this book is just empty cardboard so that the cover is thick enough to accommodate a Minifigure. With that said, the Minifigure is really the reason to buy this book. I am a big Green Lantern and Batman fan. So, I really wanted the Yellow Lantern Batman included in this book. He did not disappoint me either.

The torso of this Batman is really nicely detailed, and I was happy to see that it was not just a rehash of Sinestro from couple of years back. His legs suffer from the same paint issues as the Green Lanterns before him though. Namely, the upper leg printing looks a little sloppy and doesn’t go around the sides and back. I feel like two-tone legs would have been possible here, just as they would have been with the Green Lantern Minifigs. He doesn’t come with any accessories (other than a cape), but I would still rate this Minifig at 13/15 (87%) if it came in a set.

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Sinestro and Yellow Lantern Batman side by side. The torsos are similar, but not identical.

All in all, I really like the Minifigure that comes with DK’s DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary (man, that is a mouth full that I am getting tired of writing). But, I feel like the book itself is a step backwards from the original Batman Visual Dictionary, as well as from other recent DK LEGO® books. This book was poorly organized, and would have benefited from more detail about sets and Minifigs. If they are going to churn one of these books out every few years, then they really should go with a consecutive volume format. They could even release a box set of previous volumes every time a new one comes out. This would allow them to focus on a couple of years worth of sets in greater depth, without the need to look back at what came before at all. Packaging Minifigures in a new way would also allow for more pages and content. Sadly, this book is a bit of a bust for me. What do you think? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time,

-Tom

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