With 300 meaty entries, The Superhero Book (Visible Ink, 2004) garnered rave reviews from librarians and comics professionals but mixed reviews from fans who wanted more entries, analysis, and illustrations. Until comics reference goes multivolume, however, this compilation seems the best out there. The companion and equally good The Supervillain Book provides 400 entries on infamous antisocials, including Darth Vadar, Batman's rival the Penguin, and the Powerpuff Girls' nemesis, Mojo Jojo, and includes a bibliography and index. But small libraries with Mike Conroy's 500 Great Comic Book Action Heroes (Barron's, 2003) and 500 Comic Book Villains (Barron's, 2004) or Ron Goulart's Comic Book Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Guide to Characters, Graphic Novels, Writers, and Artists in the Comic Book Universe (HarperEntertainment, 2004) can probably pass on both volumes. Those that lack said titles, however, as well as larger collections, could benefit from Visible Ink's special $99 offer for both Superhero and Supervillian. There's not much manga coverage; consider Helen McCarthy's 500 Manga Heroes & Villains (Barrons, 2006), although entries do not always supply full information, and occasional details are incorrect. M.C. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Mr. Mxyzptlk vs. Superman. Voldemort vs. Harry Potter. Khan vs. Captain Kirk. This volume is a comprehensive reference guide to bad guys from Abomination to Zurg, tracking each villain through its various incarnations including film and television, comics, video games, and even action figures. The introduction explains the criteria for inclusion in this book; minor bad guys are not included. Characters from the comics get the most attention, from the Golden Age to contemporary nemeses. The entry on "Modern Age Supervillains (1980-present)" will help readers understand the evolution of villainy. The index will greatly assist readers looking for their favorite characters, who can appear in several categories. Venom, for example, has his own entry and also appears in "Arachnid Adversaries." Color and black-and-white images of many characters make this an eye-catching read. This book will be an enjoyable and educational resource for fans of all ages, whether they're teens just entering the world of comics or grown-up nerds who still haven't moved out of their parents' basements. A fascinating title that will provide hours of evil entertainment.-Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.