Comics : Marvel Chronicle: A Year By Year History
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club
This review was first published on: 2 Apr 2016.
This book by DK Publishing, Inc. was first released in 2008 in deluxe boxed hardback format (10" x 12") with 352 pages. An updated edition in 2013 had 384 pages, and came in two editions – deluxe slipcase (10" x 12"), as well as a cheaper and far more practical smaller-sized (8.5" x 10.3") UK-only edition standalone hardback.
As the title would indicate, the format is strictly chronological. The major milestones in Marvel's long history are posted month-by-month beginning with Marvel Comics #1 in 1939. Key comic-book issues are identified, along with the origins and major events in the lives of Marvel heroes and villains.
Sidebars also provide context by describing important or interesting "real world" events from the year.
The first version of the book ends with 2007. The second edition includes years up to 2013. Other than the addition of another 32 pages for the extra six years, my casual glance didn't reveal any changes made at all to the preceding content when the new version was printed.
This book is huge, heavy, detailed, and attractive. Other than that, I'm really not sure what to say about it. It is accurate and well-written, as you would expect given the impeccable pedigree of continuity-respecting authors like Tom DeFalco, Tom Brevoort, and Peter Sanderson. Matthew K. Manning (1990's and 2000's) is lesser-known to me. But his writing style integrates seamlessly with the other chapters.
Visually, the book is appealing, with an effective and always interesting design. The page layouts are structured and consistent giving good guidance to the reader, and always drawing the eye forward with bright and varied colours – but never straying so far as to be "busy" or "lurid". The illustrations are plentiful, but never gratuitous.
The packaging of the deluxe editions is equally attractive. The 2008 version is boxed, and includes a poster. The 2013 slipcase edition features embossed foil on the outer case. I'm not normally a big fan of fancy packaging, but a book this good merits being pampered just a little.
Excellent technical books like this one are very hard to review. There are no flaws to identify. There's no plot to summarise. The book quietly and deftly does everything it promises to do. It entertains, delights, and informs all at the same time.
Five Webs for either edition, although you'll want to buy the 2013 now in order to get the extra content.
Spider-Man Chronicle: Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging was released in 2012, using the same structure, but focussing of course on our favourite wall-crawler.