Field Guide to Superheroes is a series of four books detailing 40 superhero character archetypes for the Icons system by Adamant Entertainment. The first ten archetypes alphabetically are included in this first volume (A through D). These archetypes are meant to represent the myriad of heroes seen in comics over the years.
The author Jason Tondro has a Ph.D in Literature specializing in Comics, and his knowledge of the genre really shows in this product. But don't let that fool you - this isn't some dry academic treatise - the writing is both informative and entertaining.
Both players and GMs will get a lot out of use from this book whether you use random Icons character generation or point buy. I particularly liked that the author acknowledges out of the gate that there is some overlap between archetypes in the characters seen in the comics. And he doesn't just pay lip service to this idea - the detailed archetypes are all given common related archetypes in the text and example characters.
I especially liked the Qualities and Challenges section found in each archetype. Coming up with these Aspects for Tagging and Compelling use can be the most difficult part of character creation, in particular for people not familiar with the concept, and there are lots of great ideas related to the archetype for fleshing out this section of your character .
There are also two new Powers in here: Adaption (x2) which gives temporarily gives you a Power related to the situation you are in (chosen by the GM or spend a Determination Point to override and pick it yourself) and Equipment, which basically gives you access to an array of low-powered tools (think Batman's Utility Belt).
Finally, after the archetype write-ups, there is a section that introduces the author's personal "default" campaign setting, Worlds of Wonder. This is like a bonus however and doesn't permeate the archetype write-ups which are setting neutral.
The beautiful layout and Dan Houser's artwork puts this product over the top. Vigilance Press has taken the Icons license from Adamant Entertainment and really run with it.
This is a well-crafted enhancement to the Icons core rules. I can honestly say this is the best Icons third party support product I have seen to date and look forward to the rest of the volumes in the series when they come out.
[5 of 5 Stars!]