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Marvel Year By Year: A Visual History- New Edition Book Review

‘Marvel Year By Year: A Visual History- New Edition’ is an insightful look at Marvel Comics history.

‘Marvel Year By Year: A Visual History- New Edition’ is a new DK Books release that covers Marvel Comics from 1939 to 2021. The book kicks off with a foreword by the late legend Stan Lee followed by an introduction from Tom DeFalco. After that it dives straight into the main content which is comprised of an overview of each year. Among the topics covered are key comic issues, descriptions about comics and characters, tidbits about the writers and artists and a sidebar with notable events that year ala  Marilyn Monroe’s death in 1962, the movie sequels of 1989, Amazon’s birth in 1995, and the short film ‘405’ being the first movie distributed on the internet in 2000 (which was news to me). This is all accompanied by comic book covers and artwork. Scattered throughout the pages are full page spreads (such as the Sub-Mariner opening pages), cover art, inked unfinished pages and comic panels (an example being panels from ‘New X-Men’ #150 in 2004). Readers can also expect to see blurbs about the years including the Comics Code Authority in 1955, the rise of Image comics, the comic selling highs of the direct market in the 90’s and more. The book concludes with an index and acknowledgments. 

For anyone with a modicum of interest in Marvel Comics, ‘Marvel Year By Year’ is a must read. Not only is there a wealth of information about comic titles, but it’s a real trip down memory lane to see just how much Marvel has evolved, struggled, and grown over the years and what fads there were at different points in time be it ‘Millie The Model’ being a juggernaut in 1945 or the swinging 60’s being an embarrassment of riches with the debut of ‘Fantastic Four’ #1 in 1961, the first appearance of Spider-Man in ‘Amazing Fantasy’ #15 in 1962, and Black Panther hitting the comic scene in 1966’s ‘Fantastic Four’ #52. 

As one might expect, just about every major key run/issue is covered here from Captain America’s first appearance in 1941 in ‘Captain America Comics’ #1, Kang, The Conqueror’s debut in ‘The Avengers’ #8 in 1964, ‘The Savage She-Hulk’ debut in 1980 (soon to be an MCU series on Disney+), 1984’s ‘Secret Wars,’ ‘Daredevil: Born Again’ run in 1986, Kurt Busiek’s mesmerizing ‘Marvels’ in 1994, 2000’s ‘Ultimate Spider-Man,’ ‘Old Man Logan’ in 2008, and 2014’s ‘Ms. Marvel.’ And that’s just scratching the surface.  Of course, the artistic geniuses behind the comics get the spotlight as well such as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Garth Ennis, Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis, and Kelly Sue DeConnick

Personally speaking, some of the most rewarding elements of the book included seeing obscure titles mentioned like the ‘Dennis The Menace’ knockoff ‘Melvin the Monster,’ ‘Lobo The Duck,’ the Warren Ellis title ‘Dr Druid,’ and ‘The Kid Commandos.’ On top of that, you get to learn some trivia that will no doubt come in handy at trivia night or in geeky comic conversations like ‘Two-Gun Kid’ being the first Marvel western comic, ‘Spider-Ham’ getting his own title in 1985, and ‘The Silver Surfer’ being the first Marvel graphic novel in 1978. As if that wasn’t enough, you even get to learn about history from the time period covered in the sidebars. It’s quite the educational book.

While it would have been fun to see a ‘Star Wars Year By Year’ approach where it covers all mediums of Star Wars entertainment, it’s easy to see why that wasn’t the case here as the book would have been gigantic (it’s already a monster hardcover book as is). Thankfully, some other Marvel events such as movies and shows are mentioned in the yearly sidebars or even in certain comic descriptions as is the case with 1964’s ‘Daredevil’ #1 containing a reference to the 2003 film.


August 14, 2022 - Posted by | Book review | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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