By Martin Pasko (writer) and Paul Levitz (forward)

The Story: Following in the footsteps of last year’s Marvel Vault, The DC Vault is everything a comic book fan could possibly want from an archival book. Its narrative by Martin Pasko takes the reader from the very beginnings of DC Comics right to the present. Along the way the reader is greeted by some incredible photos of relics and treasures often spoken of, but never seen.

Stuff like the fabled Action Comics #1 ashcan has its cover reproduced along with the original ads for the book before its release. All of DC’s major characters, from Superman to Batman are all represented, while gems like New Fun Comics and Star Spangled Comics get their day in the sun, too.

The big draw, however, is the 25 pages of plastic-encased pieces. Each of these pieces represent a replica of DC’s history – some may be mundane like an early mask of Batman’s mask, while others may be original penciled covers. The tangibility of these items will excite comic historians and fans alike.

What’s Good: The narrative by Martin Pasko serves as a fun and entertaining guide through DC’s history. The quotes from DC execs and creators bring a lot of insight on the how comics are created (then and now) and the trials the company (not to mention the entire industry) had to endure. The supported photographs act as an visual guide. For those who aren’t interested in reading all the chapters, the photos and their captions do an excellent job of providing a less dense version of what’s being told in the narrative.

The replicas contained within the plastic pages do a fantastic job of bringing the past to life. They’re fun, nostalgic, and bring a lot of legitimacy thanks to their tangible essence. These may not be the real McCoys, but they serve their purpose by giving the reader something he or she can examine in his or her hands.

What’s Not So Good: Because the pages are bound in a ringed binder, it’s easy for pages to be bent and even worse, ripped out. I also worry about leaving this binder upright on my bookshelf. It just doesn’t seem to be sturdy enough to support the inner pages over time. The Marvel Vault has the same build, and I’ve decided to keep these binders laid out flat rather than upright.

Also, the copy I was shipped had the last page ripped away prior to me opening the skrink wrap, so buyer beware. A couple of pages also had printing defects. They don’t affect the narrative, but they are glaring. Be sure to open your copy as soon as possible and exchange it for another if you find any defects.

Conclusion: Clocking in at 192 pages and containing more than 25 different artifacts from DC’s past, it’s hard to pass this one up at $49.95. It’s the perfect companion to last year’s Marvel Vault, though I found the collectibles in the Marvel Vault to be superior to DC’s offering. Still, for any fan of DC’s characters and legacy (or any comic book fan in general), this is a must-buy. It presents nicely on a coffee table, but keep it away from kids and careless hands. It’s a bit on the fragile side.

Grade: A-

– J. Montes