A glossy, large profile coffee table book of Marvel Art? What on earth are they thinking? Well, for starters, they're thinking 8.75" x 12", 128pp.
When I saw this book, the same question leapt to my mind as for "Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide". Why did it take so long?
Marvel has produced a ton of fine art over the last forty years. The real challenge must have been choosing what to include and what to leave out. In the end, they managed to select 128 pages worth of the very best of Marvel art for this collection. And I can't really argue with any of it.
You won't find any Steve Ditko four color reproductions in here. There's no regular comic art in here at all. All this art is painted, or mixed color media. All, or nearly all of it has already appeared on covers, or in special painted art limited series, or on posters. This is essentially a collection of Marvel's art highlights.
Perhaps I was a bit hasty in crediting Marvel with forty years worth of painted art. In practice, art of this quality really only started to appear during the 80's - and only became common in the last ten years. But that doesn't matter, there's no shortage of candiates for a collection like this one.
The collection is organised into sections. The first three are Spider-Man, then Marvel Heroes, and X-Men. Then we proceed into sections for big name artists - Alex Ross, Moebius, Kent Williams, and Bill Sienkiewicz.
Nearly all of the pictures are full page, with a number of two-page fold-out pictures. There are no logos, speech bubbles, or anything to detract from the full impact of the art. There is no commentry, no introduction by Stan Lee, no background to the pictures. The art is presented to stand or fall on its own merits.
The four big names get a dozen or more pictures each, but all the other names are there in the first three sections. Lee, Quesada/Palmiotti/Mack, Bisley, McDaniel, and many more. It's a shame to have to pick and choose!
This book is the best of Marvel Art, and there's plenty more where this came from. It's a reminder that - amidst the monthly deadlines, the corporate meddling, and the action figure tie-ins - there are a number of very talented creators who are getting their work out to a waiting public.
At US$29.95 RRP, this is a beautiful book which belongs on the shelf of anyone who truly loves good Comic Art. Perfect printed pleasure.
Nothing less would do. Five webs.