Previously DK Publishing has given comic book fans the DC Comics and Marvel Comics Encyclopedias but now they take a turn for the dark by tackling the Vertigo Imprint. Started in 1993, the Vertigo Imprint celebrated its 15th anniversary this year as the most successful imprint ever. The Vertigo line introduced a new type of comic, geared to older and more mature fans who were looking for more depth and complex storylines. It's successes are numerous: Animal Man, The Sandman, Doom Patrol, Preacher, The Books of Magic, John Constantine: Hellblazer, and countless others, and they are all covered in this book.
Each of the main ongoing and major limited run series are listed with the following information: First issue date, series run, artists/writers, main storyline, creation notes, and key characters. Some of the more major titles also list outstanding moments, trade paperback collections, spin-off publications, and any awards the title may have won.
If you think it's just a fluff piece, think again. The information is quite detailed. The Fables and Hellblazer sections run a full ten pages each. If you are not already a reader of these titles, this would be a great way to get up to speed and a heck of a lot cheaper than going out and buying a slew of back issues. The Hellblazer listing takes you through the entire history of the character from the tragedy at Newcastle, to his meeting Swamp Thing, to his battles with Nergal, and the incredibly numerous and diverse cast of characters.
The other major selling factor of the book (and for DC consequently) is that it will certainly generate interest in the Vertigo line whether it's with current and on-going titles or those titles that have ended. I am now very interested in picking up titles like "The Un-Men" and "DMZ".
Now the book simply can't cover everything released in the Vertigo line which includes over 200 one-shots and limited series. For those titles the book includes the Gazeteer. The Gazeteer runs through these titles in a thirty-page section that features capsule listings. The capsule listings provide the series run, creators, and a description of the series or one-shot. The titles here include original graphic novels like "Deadboy Detectives", one-shots like "Doctor Thirteen" and limited series like "Flinch". A comprehensive index rounds it out.
The material is accompanied by hundreds of pieces of art taken directly from the comics. DK did a nice job with their previous encyclopedias but this one is the best yet. In some ways it's an easier task because there is only fifteen years of history but on the other hand, these are titles which have much smaller yet often more faithful readerships so they had to do a good job. Neil Gaiman provides an introduction.