Aurum Press, out March 5
A heavily illustrated guide to the key moments and members of The Avengers…
Trying to cover the entire history of Marvel’s supergroup as well as delineating the major moments in the lives of its core group in the word count that Peter David has for this book is not an easy task, and David has sensibly opted not to get involved with too much intricate detail. Each of the core Avengers – Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk – would warrant a book this length on their own to describe their adventures and character development over the past 50-plus years (75-plus in Cap’s case), and inevitably comics fans are going to wonder why incident A is mentioned but incident B isn’t…
But major comic book fans aren’t the target audience for this book. This is aimed at those who might have felt alienated by the Avengers movie because they didn’t know who the participants were (and hadn’t seen the earlier films introducing them). Using plenty of interview material, it explains the origins of the characters, and David doesn’t hesitate to point out when plots seemed (or, more to the point, were) totally illogical, or when characters contradict themselves (Steve Rogers’ reasons for assuming/stepping away from the role of Captain America, for example).
David has a keen sense of humour and as the book progresses into the individual entries on the core group, there are some asides, ranging from the witty to the snarky but often nailing a point that outsiders would feel coming to the books fresh – his commentary on Namor’s reasons for anger (there’s a y in the day of the week) is one early spot-on note.
It’s a Vault, so there are facsimiles of some key covers and other memorabilia (although not as many as in some such projects), but the illustrative material generally is well-used, bringing back fond memories of my regular comic-reading days in the late 1970s/mid-80s. There are original pages of art and design sketches to accompany the panels/pages from important moments, and the non-comicbook incarnations of the Avengers are also covered.
It’s not going to give you the detail of something like the Marvel Encyclopedia, but this is a great introduction/reminder to the team for those who don’t need to know the exact number of times the Vision has referred to his origins, or other such minutiae.
Verdict: With Age of Ultron hitting cinemas very shortly, this is a Timely reminder of the breadth of the Marvel-ous universe. 8/10