Comics : Marvel Heroes: Amazing Powers (DK)

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club

This review was first published on: Feb 2012.

Background...

The DK Readers series is a collection of books which are carefully graded according to word count and complexity. This "Marvel Heroes: Amazing Powers" book is Level 3, "Reading Alone".

It is 48 pages, 6" x 9". The cover is glossy card, and the RRP is US $3.99.

In Detail...

Marvel Heroes: Amazing Powers (DK)
Jan 2008 : SM Guest
Find ISBN 0756634946
Summary: 48pp, Spider-Man Appears
Editor:  Catherine Saunders
Writer:  Catherine Saunders
Consultant:  Linda Gambrell
Designer:  Jon Hall
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Review

"Marvel Heroes: Amazing Powers" features the origins of most of Marvel's big-name super good-guys. Spider-Man is the headliner, followed by the Fantastic Four, then most of the major X-Men, and a collection of Avengers including Iron Man, Thor, and Namor. Daredevil and Elektra bring up the rearguard.

The summaries are pretty minimal, and from what I can see, none of the art is original. Certainly I recognised many of the images, and there is no explicit "Art" credit for the book.

Of course, we're specifically interested in Spider-Man, and he appears several times. First of all, he is front and centre in the picture from the Introduction that also features a couple of hundred other Marvel heroes.

Spider-Man then gets his own two pages of glory. Just to give you a sampler of the text, here's the first page: "Spider-Man is the secret Super Hero identity of high school student Peter Parker. While Peter Parker is shy, nerdy and not very strong, Spider-Man is the complete opposite. Spider-Man is strong, fast, agile, and not afraid to take on bad guys."

And that's about it. There's a mention of the spider-bite, along with his wall-crawling abilities, his spider-sense, and Peter's exceptional intelligence. But there's no reference to Uncle Ben, or the whole "power and responsibility" thing that really forms the heart of Spidey's make-up.

Spidey also gets a mention in the Fantastic Four section, where we learn that "The Super Hero team known as the Fantastic Four are some of [Spider-Man's] greatest allies."

Actually, Spider-Man is pretty much the star of the book, and he gets two more mentions before we're done. He is portrayed as a team member in the Avengers entry, and then he and Wolverine also share another two-page dedicated entry which also reinforces Spidey's Avengers activities.

In General...

On the plus side, the book does have a feeling of being an introductory "reference" book. A kid who read this book might well imagine that they know a bit about their favourite Marvel Heroes. Unfortunately, they would be deceived on that point. The coverage is superficial, and omits many critical elements.

Still, does that really matter? The goal of this book is to get kids to read at a specific level of complexity. The pictures, the subject matter and the layout may well achieve that goal, at a very reasonable price point.

Overall Rating...

On the plus side, the book is an attractive and cost-effective introduction to reading.

On the negative, the content is superficial and clearly fails to cover anything more than the most basic of introductions to these complex and much-loved classic characters.

Let's split the difference and call it an average three web rating.