The Marvel Encyclopedia (2014)

Review by KC Carlson

Last revised in 2009, DK’s The Marvel Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe was long overdue for updating, as the Marvel Universe has made significant changes in the last five years. Because of the constant upheaval of the Marvel Universe, this volume is a major upgrade, with 32 additional pages of all-new material, including over 100 brand new entries. At least 75 previous entries have significant updates and/or upgraded artwork. Mike Deodato Jr. provides new cover artwork, printed on both the hard cover of the book and on the foil-enhanced dust jacket.

All of the material within is produced in conjunction with Marvel Comics and authorized by them. In fact, a number of current and previous Marvel employees are responsible for the actual writing of the entries, including Tom Brevoort, Tom DeFalco, and Peter Sanderson. Ralph Macchio provides a brand-new forward to go with the reprinted introduction by Stan Lee that’s been included in every edition.

All-in-all, there are more than 1,200 individual entries of characters and teams in this 432-page full-color hardcover. The length of the entries vary from a single paragraph up to eight full pages. There’s at least one illustration per entry, and frequently up to a dozen illos (or more) per page. The book is a visual treat with artwork ranging from the 1940s up to the present by hundreds of Marvel’s very best artists. Many of these illustrations are iconic shots of the characters by artists best known for drawing them.

This new edition includes dozens of new entries featuring new character additions to the Marvel Universe, as well as the Encyclopedia debut of some older characters making their first-time appearance. Just to name a few: Alpha, Annihilators, Ant-Man III (O’Grady), Bastards of Evil, Abigail Brand, The Cabal, Amadeus Cho, Agent Phil Coulson, Echo, Fantomex, Frenzy, Nick Fury Jr., Groot, Sasha Hammer, Maria Hill, Iron Patriot, Layla Miller, Miss Thing, Ms. Marvel (Khan), Nightmask, Pixie, Power Man (Averez), Quentin Quire, Red Hulk, Reptil, Valeria Richards, Rocket Raccoon, Secret Warriors, Shadow Council, Squirrel Girl, Howard Stark, Star Brand, Starlord, the Stepford Cuckoos, Hope Summers, SWORD, Trick Shot, the Twelve, and the Young Allies, among dozens and dozens more.

Major characters and teams get an additional two pages added to their entries, including the Avengers, Captain America, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, Wolverine, and the X-Men. These characters get major updates: Black Panther, Bullseye, Captain Marvel, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Ghost Rider, Green Goblin, Jean Grey, Guardians of the Galaxy, Inhumans, Mandarin, Nova, Photon, Pepper Potts, Katherine (Kitty) Pryde, Hank Pym, Red Skull, Betty Ross, Silver Samurai, Sinister Six, Spectrum, Spider-Girl, Squadron Supreme, Thanos, The Thing, War Machine, White Tiger, as well as many, many more.

Recent major Marvel Universe events such as Dark Reign (with The Siege), Chaos War, Fear Itself, The Age of Ultron, and Infinity are also detailed in two-page spreads, along with older events first detailed in previous volumns, including Annihilation, Civil War, The Fifty-State Initiative, Secret Invasion, and World War Hulk. The pages from previous volumes devoted to Marvel by the Decades have been dropped, as this material now appears in DK’s companion volume Marvel Year by Year (previously known as Marvel Chronicle).

As always, The Marvel Encyclopedia is your best bet for having thousands and thousands of Marvel “facts” at your fingertips. Only Marvel’s own Marvel Handbook project (sadly, seemingly currently in limbo) is better for hardcore data gathering. I keep a copy of the current volume (and similar books) within an arm’s reach of my desk. Not a week goes by when I don’t have to look up something like the first appearance of Groot (Tales to Astonish #13, November 1960 — are you surprised?) or the Hood’s occupation (Criminal Mastermind — is there a degree for that?) or what color eyes the Silver Surfer has. (Silver. Duh.) Of course, you might want to look up something more important than I usually do. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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