Carl embraces the brilliance of the Marvel Universe with Stan Lee’s bumper new Marvel Encyclopedia from DK Books.
You’ve really got to hand it to DK Books. When they do an encyclopedia on a subject, they really go to town. Take the yearly Star Wars ones they produce. For every new character or vehicle that enters that universe, they give the reader the complete low down on it. Unless of course, the inclusion is a huge spoiler for the upcoming film/ television show and then it’s inclusion is conspicuous by its absence. But it makes the reader yearn for the next edition, to have a complete record of everything about that world.
Marvel Encyclopedia New Edition | By Stan Lee & Various Artists (Foreword by Chris Claremont)
This years edition of the Marvel Encyclopedia is no different. Yes, it avoids spoilers for the new Avengers movie but that’s how it should be. You have to see the film clean so as not to spoil any of the shocks or surprises that lay ahead. This years edition is AMAZING! Running to 448 pages, none are wasted. And to make things even better, it’s all in alphabetical order for the reader. Starting with Abomination to Azazel and completing with a section on The Multiverse, the book has everything the reader could wish for. We are treated to sections on The Age of Ultron, Annihilation, Civil War parts 1 and 2, Dark Reign, Fear Itself, The Fifty State Initiative, Secret Empire, Secret Invasion, Secret Wars and World War Hulk. All classic graphic novels in their own right but here they are presented to the reader to read up upon and whet the appetite of those who have yet to savour their classic, rich comic book fulfilment.
The opening foreword is by writer Chris Claremont. Here, he reminisces about days gone by, when he was a child collecting comic books for fun and their sheer enjoyment and fascination. He himself describes the book as a stroll down memory lane. Claremont pays tribute to Marvel for his childhood memories, of simpler times when one could go to the store, pick up the latest comic of our favourite heroes and hide away and read them to our heart’s content. Childhood fantasies of joining Captain America on his quests. To fly alongside Iron Man. To swing through the city like Spider-Man. To battle evil mutants alongside the X-Men. I myself used to do exactly the same thing. I was almost never happier than going to the store and picking up a new comic book. In my attic, I still have quite a collection of them. They will never again be read but that’s not the point. It harkens back to childhood. They are a collection that must be preserved. Claremont also documents his journies to England when he was building his writing career and his visit to DK’s store near Covent Garden in London. Here he used to just browse, allowing himself to be drawn into their world. He pays tribute to DK in his foreword, thanking them for everything they have done.
The Introduction to the book, however, is both enough to make us smile and sigh with a feeling of immense sadness. The introduction to this volume is by the late, great and sadly missed Stan Lee. Here we discover that the godfather of comic books didn’t realise his creations would stand the test of time, that they would still be around today, as much beloved as they’ve always been ever since they sprang out at us from the printed page. He pays tribute to the encyclopedias vast array of Marvel illustrators. He praises them for the way he has brought his creations to life. He pays tribute to the writers of the book for penning the incredible texts that litter the volume. And he ends his introduction stating he could say so much more but to do so would take him away from this magnificent book. We, the reader feel ourselves wishing that he had written more. Stan Lee’s sad passing has left a giant hole that will never be repaired or closed. We, as fans of his creations, find ourselves wanting just a few more words from him, a fitting epitaph for such a legendary man.
The contributors have hit the nail spot on with this book. Esteemed luminaries such as Tom DeFalco, Peter Sanderson, Tom Brevoort, Michael Teitelbaum, Daniel Wallace, Andrew Darling, Matt Forbeck and Alan Cowsill alongside additional text provided by Ruth Amos, Alastair Dougall, David Freeman, Emma Grange, Matt Jones and Cefn Ridout present us with such a rich, rewarding volume that we can’t help but be amazed and astounded. However, the daddy of them all, the person who, in my opinion, is the go-to person for this kind of book has also contributed. Adam Bray has yet again worked his considerable magic and has enriched the book far beyond what we could hope for. Bray’s volumes are always inspired. His 2019 edition of the DK Marvel Character Encyclopedia I’ve already reviewed and have in my considerable library at home. His books are a must have, for every page is a delight to open and read. Here, he and the other contributing persons have completely outdone themselves. This isn’t a small book as you can tell by the 448-page length but it’s heavy, thick and totally amazing. It’s also one of the best books you could ask for.
Every page is littered with our favourite characters alongside many you may not have heard of. Page 10 is where the fun begins in earnest. Every character has an illustration by their name. Every character has their own detailed story written by them. Every fact, from when they first appeared, in what publication and even their vital statistics are listed here. You really can’t ask for anything more from the contributors. Every aspect of the character is delved into including their final fate as written in comic book lore. Of course, there are various offshoots from the various timelines for several characters but the book focuses on the comic books only. And that’s a good thing, to be honest. We all know (or will know) several characters arcs that are completed in the cinematic incarnations of these books. Here, we are presented with the classic stories and the classic character arcs that we have come to know and love over the years.
Would I recommend this book? You’re damn right I would. This book has everything that I could possibly wish for. Any comic book fan or collector worth their salt MUST get a copy of this encyclopedia. It may be an updated version but so what? As I said at the beginning, this is a must own book. The richness and in-depth character analysis are beyond reproach. The contributors should take a huge bow and be applauded for their sterling work on this encyclopedia. They deserve every plaudit they get around the world and from us, the fans. They have done us a great service with this in-depth, enthralling book and I for one am proud to have it in my collection.
Until next time and in the words of our dearly departed godfather…
Marvel Encyclopedia New Edition By Stan Lee & Various Artists (Foreword by Chris Claremont) is published by DK Books and is available to buy NOW.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!