Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics

Collecting super-villain origin stories

Writers, artists: Various

DC Comics, $19.99, color, 192 pages

The obvious question about this book is: Who's it for?

Necessary Evil is comprised of 27 stories about villains, ranging from two-page descriptions (of which there are a lot, from when DC was doing that routinely in 2007-08) to the longest and oldest one here, 16 pages of "The Demon Lives Again!" from Batman #244 (Sep 72). It appears to be a companion book to DVD/Blu-ray of the same name, which I have not seen.

But none of these stories or vignettes are dated later than 2008, so they are necessarily moot, right? As I scanned through -- I've read all of this before -- I mentally placed question marks on information that hasn't been confirmed, has been obviated or is contradicted in The New 52 continuity. Those question marks stacked up alarmingly fast.

But something else stacked up fast, too, and that was quality. Those two-page explainers DC did in 2007-08 were usually by A-list talent. The longer bits were also high-quality material, like the Catwoman/Batman "Date Knight" (by Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale) from Solo (Dec 04), or important moments, like Max Lord murdering Ted "Blue Beetle" Kord in Countdown to Infinite Crisis (Dec 05).

And, while the details may change, are the basics really all that different? When and how Gorilla Grodd got his force-of-mind power, or if Solovar and/or Gorilla City existed or not, does that really matter as to what threat Gorilla Grodd poses? However you slice the details of his origin, he's still a power-mad, psychic gorilla who hates humans (especially The Flash). So most of his entry in this book is true, and those parts are the important parts.

And it's not like DC fans don't have a lot of books already on their shelves that don't match up to The New 52!

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