I’m not gonna go into huge detail on the GMing chapter, as most of you already know what a GMing chapter tends to be. Instead, I’ll just briefly note the given fluff and campaign ideas. The fluff focuses mostly on different comic ages you can play in, lighthearted vs. serious and the shades of gray in between, etc., etc. Similarly, the few campaign ideas given are…eh. They are mostly just “the Justice League has gone missing, you have to replace them!” or “have your own version of Battle for the Cowl (which is a fun read, I might add)!”, but there are a few interesting suggestions such as a supers-oriented World War II campaign, which is indeed an interesting idea as I can’t recall many DC heroes that pulled a Captain America and went in swinging to the heart of the Axis powers (IIRC, in-canon, the explanation is something to the effect of Hitler having uber-magic mind control artifacts, so…yeah). If you use this campaign, I imagine the Mutants and Masterminds book Golden Age would be rather useful, but I’m not a plugger and I haven’t reviewed that title yet, so let’s move on…
Chapter 10 is where the book separates itself from Mutants and Masterminds wholly. It’s a chapter that focuses on the DC universe, starting with its history from the evolution of the first intelligent life up to the “modern age”. This is a relatively bare bones history, presumably to get you hooked up into actual comics (or just Wiki the data 😛 ), but it’s still serviceable and gives you what you need to know about major events of the DC Universe’s past. Afterward, there is a look at major locations in the DC Universe that aren’t necessarily “real world” items, starting with the USA, since this is a US-centered book from a US-centered company. Some cities, such as Gotham, Metropolis, and Coast City, get a fairly good dose of information due to being the hometown or base of operations for one major hero or group, while others such as St. Roch, Louisiana (the home of one Hawkman) and Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, get mere footnotes. Nations are more fairly balanced, giving mostly equal focuses to places including Atlantis, Gorilla City, Markovia, Nanda Parbat, Qurac, and Zandia. Finally, there’s a look at places beyond earth, including Oa (the home of the Green Lantern Corps), the Polaris system (containing the planets of the Blue Lantern Corps, the Thanagarians – Hawkman’s source of tech – , and the hero Adam Strange’s adopted planet of Rann), alternate DC Earths such as the post-apocalyptic Earth-17 and Captain Carrot’s Earth-26, Heaven and Hell (seriously), and the lost world of Skartaris. Strangely enough, there is no entry on Apokolips, the world of Darkseid. I mean, that is a rather major locale to miss, there…
Heroes and Villains
Of course, no book is complete without a bestiary of sorts for your perusal. The DCAHH gives us chapter 11 for this purpose. Statted within are…
Heroes: Aquaman (Power Level [PL] 12), Batman (PL 12), Black Canary (PL 10), Captain Marvel (PL 15), the Flash (PL 12), Green Arrow (PL 10), Green Lantern (PL 14), Martian Manhunter (PL 14), Nightwing (PL 10), Plastic Man (PL 11), the Tim Drake Robin/Red Robin (PL 8), Superman (PL 15), Wonder Woman (PL 15), and Zatanna (PL 11).
Villains: Black Adam (PL 16), Black Manta (PL 10), Brainiac (PL 13), Catwoman (PL 10), Cheetah (PL 12), Circe (PL 14), Darkseid (PL 16), Gorilla Grodd (PL 12), the Joker (PL 11), Lex Luthor (PL 14), Prometheus (PL 14), Sinestro (PL 14), Solomon Grundy (PL 14), and Vandal Savage (PL 13).
There are also stats for various non-supers from bystanders (PL 0) to SWAT officers (PL 5), and stats for seven animals – the ape, dolphin, hawk, lion, shark, whale, and wolf – given, but they are pretty much just there for summoners, NPCs, and as pretty much the only fair fight a character of PL 8 or lower can get. This is one of the problems of this section: there are no low-powered individuals besides Tim Drake, not even any of the Blackhawk Squadron or the like. Similarly, the villains are rather back-loaded, with most characters being either Superman or Justice League enemies or enemies equally powerful.
Similarly, I can’t agree with all the choices of inclusion made. I mean, sure, Black Manta had to be there for Aquaman to have someone as an enemy representative, but still… Three Superman villains, for one, and yet they couldn’t have at least one more Batman villain? Similarly, we have “iconics”, but no Booster Gold or Blue Beetle, or hell, no Teen Titans? What about Deathstroke the Terminator as another villain, instead of Prometheus? At first, I thought these absences would mean some focused sourcebooks like “The Teen Titans Training Manual” and “the Gotham Guidebook” or what have you, but no, they’re going the cluster method and releasing Heroes and Villains Volume 1 next, which is a jumble of DC supers with names that begin with letters A through K. I…just..huh?
Okay, so we’ve gone through this title now, so what do I think of it? First off, as a d20 Modern junkie, I’m fond of classed systems, but I cannot hold that against the title; that wasn’t the point, and it’d be like rating an apple on how much it tastes like an orange. So on the merits of a M&M title, how does this fare? Well…like I said, it has its problems, but these are mostly down to my personal preferences. I also can’t hold this title to its next installment’s odd choice of organization… Still, purely on its own merits, I can imagine that you’d probably get more mileage out of Mutants and Masterminds 2E, a DC universe Wiki, and your spare time. If you’re that type, I can’t really justify the $40 price tag this thing totes. If you are a Game Master that wants DC straight out of the box or are really thirsting for the M&M 3E rules, though, it’s not the worst you could buy, so I’d say give it a look. I give the DC Adventures Hero’s Handbook a 7/10.