DK Publishing, out now
A comprehensive look at the huge roster of Avengers past and present…
Sensibly divided into six pretty self-explanatory key sections – Greatly Gifted, Upgraded, Mystic Ways, Never Surrender, More than Mortal and Shoulder to Shoulder – this volume focuses on those members of the Marvel Universe who have at some point become part of the Avengers, with all those whose powers derive from similar sources covered together. Liberally scattered among them are sections devoted to Key Storylines – from The Coming of the Avengers to Original Sin. (There’s also an alphabetical index at the back so you can quickly locate a hero by superhero-title or real name.)
According to Ralph Macchio’s introduction, there are 130 superheroes or so who could answer the “Avengers Assemble” call at the moment, but far more than that are featured in the book. At the very least for each we get a one-sentence key resume, a brief history and a data file giving their real name, occupation, base, height, weight, eye and hair colour where appropriate, first appearance with The Avengers (which of course isn’t necessarily their first Marvel appearance!) and a note of their powers. Major characters get far more – Hawkeye, for example, gets eight pages – while there are occasional spreads given over to artwork, such as a great shot of the Red Skull (there’s plenty of space given to the villainous foes as well).
If you’ve only come to the Avengers through the Marvel Cinematic Universe version, this will give you the chance to find out about their illustrious print versions… and maybe get some ideas as to where Phase 3 will take the MCU. For those who have perhaps lost track of everyone involved with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, this will be a highly useful primer/reminder.
Verdict: A well laid-out, concisely written essential guide. 10/10