As a life-long comic book collector when I had a question about a particular character in the past I would pull out issues of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe or Who’s Who in the DC Universe to find the piece of information or answer I was looking for. Those resources were also great templates for use in the Marvel Super Heroes or DC Heroes role playing, table top games as well.
Ultimate Marvel by DK though rivals some of those great and reliable comic book resources.
The 313 page, hardcover book explores not only the most prominent figures in the Marvel universe but also famous locations, technology and vehicles. Since it is primarily made for those who are familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, characters like Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange are given extensive bios which usually amounts to two-page spreads.
Those bios track the character, their most critical stories through a time line starting at the Golden Age (beginning in 1939) to the Heroic Age we are presently in. Readers will get a good sense of how Hawkeye, Doctor Doom, The Sandman, Magneto and others evolved throughout the decades and the major happenings in their lives which formed the hero or villain they are today.
Even though it does not bill itself as a guide to everything Marvel, Ultimate Marvel still lists Millie the Model and even The Great Lakes Avengers, which is traveling pretty deep into the history of Marvel Comics.
It is a journey that even Kang the Conqueror (located on page 83) would be impressed by.
Despite the comprehensive attention to detail, Ultimate Marvel still misses the mark here and there, not that a newbie or mainstream fan would notice though that Captain America recently became the leader of Hydra in a dreadful series of comics or that Hank Pym (the original Ant Man) was once guilty of abusing his wife, Janet van Dyne, the Wasp. In all honesty, these are probably parts of comic book history that Marvel would like to forget so it makes sense that they wouldn’t be mentioned, especially the Pym abuse angle as it apparently was a miscommunication between editor and artist at the time.
Only veteran comic book fans would notice these small discrepancies though. It does say something about the amount of research done to put this tome together when even an experienced fan like myself has never heard of and therefore learned about Asbestos Girl and Combat Kelly from reading Ultimate Marvel.
Another good thing is the book emphasizes the mainstream MCU and virtually ignoring some of the recent and redacted changes that were made to many popular Marvel characters like The Hulk, Iron Man and Wolverine in the comic books. Not only would those alterations be confounding for mainstream fans but the changes themselves are contentious by many die-hard fans.
If you have just discovered the Marvel universe or a weathered fan like me, Ultimate Marvel will not only answer any question you have but it might also teach you a thing or two you didn’t know making even Mr. Fantastic green with envy.
- THE GOOD
- Tremendous art.
- A wide-range of information from the biggest to the smallest characters.
- An impressive 313 page, hardcover coffee table book.
- THE BAD
- Some minor omissions.
For old or new groupies, Ultimate Marvel has everything you ever wanted to know about Iron Man, Captain America to what powers Ghost Rider’s motorcycle and where Doctor Strange practices all of his magic.