This 2015 coloring book from Scholastic Australia looked at first glance to be yet another reprint of their first ever Marvel Coloring & Activity Book. Namely, the classic Marvel Super Heroes: Colouring Book (Scholastic Australia) – first published in 2011 and then re-printed (with captions removed) in 2013.
All three share the same ISBN 978-1-74283-182-4. Furthermore, inside the front cover of this latest book, the publishing information states "First published by Scholastic Australia in 2011. This edition published in 2015."
But that is a blatant lie. This is a new product.
The books share the same physical format – a glossy staple-bound cardboard cover enclosing 24 black and white pages of high-grade paper-stock. But the artwork for this 2015 edition is entirely different.
Of course, I have complained ad nauseum regarding the shameless and endless re-cycling of the limited pool of artwork which Scholastic Australia have regurgitated again and again in their coloring and activity books. So you might imagine that I would be overjoyed to see some brand-new material published at last?
Well, I would be, if it weren't so crap.
Yeah. Crap. I don't know who was responsible for this steaming pile. But the illustrations manage to seem sloppy and amateurish, while simultaneously appearing uncomfortably constrained and forced.
The layouts are pathetic – a master class in how to not design a comic book panel. The backgrounds are either heavy-handed, or completely absent. The captions are embarrassingly irrelevant. The line quality is soulless, yet erratic.
This entire product reeks so badly of incompetence that I had to open a window while I was reviewing it.
All the paper quality, glossy cardboard, and automatically-computer-cleaned line art in the world can't hide the fact that this is perhaps the most ham-fisted, ill-conceived, badly-realised, amateur-hour coloring book to extrude itself out of the Australasian corporate waste-pipe in quite some time.
Of course, it still looks good compared to the Chinese knock-off products. But that's nothing to be proud of.
A kids face mask (please ask an adult to cut-out the mask for you) graces the back cover – Wolverine in the original two books, Nova in this new version.