DC needs to bring back "Who's Who."
I'm not saying this out of some sort of nostalgia; I've looked at maybe two Who's Who issues in my life. Of course, it was through a cursory grade-school read-thru of a friend's random Who's Who issue that I was first exposed to the idea of Earth-2 and the fact that, somewhere, Batman and Catwoman were married. That rattled the ol' 3rd-grade senses a bit.
No, I'm saying this out of a realization at how incomplete the DC Encyclopedia is, and how daunting a task it would be to try to cram anything resembling 'complete' into a single binding. The DC Encyclopedia is itself an outgrowth of the Who's Who series, a periodical that had capsulized histories of characters, and offered updates as necessary, in an attempt to catalogue as many DC characters as possible. Returning to that format is not only a good idea, but it'd be a huge asset in this era of more cohesive continuity.
Ideally, Who's Who wouldn't be in comic form (as it has been in at least one incarnation), but would be loose pages, sold in packets, formatted to fit in a three-ring binder. This would allow for near-infinite expansion, while also keeping things easily organized. Instead of turning to update issues, updates could be placed directly after the original entries.
The packets would be organized by content (character, locale, storyline, group, species, etc.), then by faction (hero, villain, neutral), then by alphabetical placement. Each one would contain 20-25 full entries, and should retail at $3-5.
So, here's the solicitation:
Who's Who Binder
Includes full three-page character entries on Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, the Joker, and Darkseid; (three-page) group entries on the Justice League of America, the Green Lantern Corps, and the Secret Society of Super-Villains; (two to three-page) locale entries on Krypton, Apokolips, Mars, Metropolis, and Gotham City; (one to two-page) storyline entries on the Death of Superman, Knightfall, and Infinite Crisis. Binder is made of quality plastic with metal rings and can hold hundreds of pages.
Who's Who Heroes A-I Vol. 1
20-25 entries on heroes from the Atom to Ice. No character receives less than one full page, major characters warrant two or three.
Who's Who Heroes J-Q Vol. 1 and Heroes R-Z Vol. 1 follow the same pattern. Each packet should include 2-4 characters who were neglected in the DC Encyclopedia.
Villain entries would look the same.
Who's Who Locales Vol. 1
20-25 entries (mostly 1-2 pages) on the various planets, countries, and cities in the DCU. Definite inclusions would be Coast City, Star City, Keystone/Central, Gorilla City, Happy Harbor, Rann, Thanagar, New Genesis, Warworld, Oa, Earth, Earth (30th Century), Kandor, Arkham Asylum, the Fortress of Solitude, the Watchtower, Titans Tower, and the JSA Brownstone.
Who's Who Groups and Species, Vol. 1
20-25 entries on the JSA (original and current), the All-Star Squadron, the Teen Titans (probably original, "New," and current versions), the Outsiders, the Omega Men, Thanagarians, Rannians, Elementals, Martians, Kryptonians, Manhunters, Durlans, Coluans, Guardians, New Gods, etc.
Then, there would be storyline-centric packs, like:
Who's Who Crisis on Infinite Earths
25-30 entries on the storyline, the major Earths (1, 2, S, X, and Prime), several of the alter-Earth characters, Supergirl, Fury, Psycho Pirate, Harbinger, Monitor, Anti-Monitor, Huntress, and Barry Allen. Group entries would necessarily include the Earth-1 JLA, the Earth-2 JSA, and Infinity, Inc.
Who's Who Countdown to Infinite Crisis
20-25 entries on Checkmate, Max Lord, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, OMAC, Brother I, Jean Loring, Eclipso, the Shadowpact, Captain Comet, Hawkwoman, etc.
New volumes would be released quarterly, including new entries and updates (or maybe even just releasing updates separately).
Wouldn't DC be able to seriously cash in on this? It can't be any less cost-effective or popular than those "ultimate guide to" books. Come on DC, show us Who's Who!