Newly published tarot and oracle decks arrive on Amazon, Etsy, crowd-funding platforms, and in bookstores every month. Today there are literally thousands of decks to choose from, including out-of-print decks as well as published ones. Reviewing a deck is a subjective judgement intended to help readers determine if they want to own the deck.
The critical review of a deck for AskAstrology involves looking at the quality and size of the cards, visual accessibility of the art, quality of the companion book or booklet, and potential usefulness in professional practice.
This month I have chosen to review the DC Tarot by Casey Gilly (author) and 17th & Oak (art).
From the introduction in the booklet:
Welcome to the DC Tarot, a deck imbued with the strength, heroism, mysticism, and mayhem of the most iconic figures in the DC universe. Not only have these Super Heroes and Super-Villains captivated readers for generations, but their myths and lore are in perfect alignment with the archetypes used in tarot as well, opening a world of narrative possibilities.
About the author:
Casey Gilly is the mother of a young goblin, a horror fan, and a comic book writer. The first two prepared her for the third. Her work includes Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer, My Little Pony: Generations, and Star Wars Adventures, as well as many tarot decks with Insight Editions. She resides in Portland, Oregon, where she divides her time between writing creepy books, hanging out with her cats, and growing tropical plants.
About the illustrator:
UK-based illustrator 17th and Oak creates art that is rooted in capturing a moment in time and telling a story with dramatic effect. His work is a stylish combination of his unique drawing style, his background in graphic design, and a steady diet of pop culture that reflects his passion for movies and comics. He has collaborated with a wide variety of international clients and contributed work to some of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world, creating art for movie posters, book covers, and a host of other editorial projects.
Card Stock and Shuffling
Printed on thin to medium card stock, these cards have a matte finish with rounded corners. They are easy to shuffle because they flex easily and the finish does not allow the cards to stick together. On the down side, if the deck is used heavily, it will need to be replaced after a relatively short period of time.
Artwork and the Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The artwork is well-done, befitting comic book characters. The artist does a good job “capturing a moment in time with dramatic effect.” It’s not so much that the poses and composition convey the idea of the cards well, but rather that the characters that have been selected fit the meanings of the card. This approach does create a significant limitation if you are not a DC comics fan and are not familiar with some of the less well known characters.
Unfortunately, and inexplicably, the Minor suits one to ten are just a collection of symbols (essentially what is known as pip cards), one to ten of Stargirl’s staff (for Wands), Green Lantern’s ring (for Pentacles), Katana’s sword (for Swords) and, well, honestly, not sure what the symbol is from DC Comics for the Cups and it does not say in the guidebook. When you have the huge stable of characters DC has in its world, it makes no good sense to use pip style cards instead of additional characters.
King of Pentacles
From the booklet:
This King represents prosperity, success, and the ambition required to manifest wealth. Lex Luthor knows business, and he understands what it takes to transform an idea into a plan. His presence indicates that you are no longer struggling to reach your goal, like the Knights and Pages, but instead have arrived fully prepared to enjoy the fruits of your labor. (72)
From the booklet:
This card brings action, momentum, and the unbridled energy of the Scarlet Speedster at his best. Like police scientist Barry Allen, if you remain focused and determined and stay the course, you are going to thrive. That doesn’t mean the path will be easy – you will encounter challenges, moments of self-doubt, and anxiety – but if you stick to your convictions, nothing can defeat you. This card can mean that travel is on the horizon for you, but no matter what is propelling you forward, know that things are about to blaze into action. (27)
Three of Wands
From the booklet:
Ah, the sweet feeling of progress! This card finds you on your way toward your goal, comfortable with the process and maybe ready for a little bit more. It’s time to expand your horizons, say yes, to a new opportunity, and shake up your surroundings. If you’ve been considering travel, the Three of Wands is telling you to pack your bags. (64)
Explanation of the Cards
This deck does have a companion booklet that is very good, with clear explanations. The Major Arcana cards have a description of the character and upright/reversed meanings. The Minor Arcana cards just have the upright/reversed meanings.
As a professional reader, I can say that this deck is mediocre to poor for both personal and professional use. Maybe if you only worked with the Major Arcana and the court cards, which have the characters, you could you make this a useful deck. Choosing to make the Ace to Ten in the minor suits pip style cards basically makes them worthless unless you memorize the meanings; some of the cards offer context for meaning, but not many.
I would not recommend the deck for personal use or professional use. You might want to own it as collector, and especially if you are DC comics fan and want some pretty good artwork for most of the characters. The character cards are creatively drawn and would be worth separating and putting in a frame for a display.
I give this deck 2 out of 5 stars. Really, it’s mostly a disappointment. One star goes for the Major Arcana and court card artwork and the other star does go for the upright and reversed meanings in the booklet; they are well-written, and follow the meanings of the Rider Waite tarot. But, for a deck that got licensing from DC Comics, this falls far short of what it could have been.
Where to Buy this Deck
If you like this deck and wish to purchase a copy, you can do so on Amazon.