Back in the 1970's, Marvel produced a lot of comics, but not so many books. Most of what Marvel did create were published via "Fireside Books". There was a great mix of stuff, including The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength and Fitness Book, and The Mighty Marvel Superheroes' Cookbook.
This "Marvel Mazes" book was also in the mix.
This book is soft-cover, 8.5" x 11", 96 B&W pages.
A typically bombastic introduction from Stan Lee introduces the work. From what I understand, Stan at the time was dead keen to see as much of his writing printed in book form as possible. He had already had a taste of publication with his contributions to Origins Of Marvel Comics and Son of Origins of Marvel Comics. He saw Fireside Books (i.e. Simon & Schuster) as an important part of his personal future, and so it's not surprising to see his signature enthusiasm at key moments in the text.
The primary contents are of course the 30 mazes. But whereas a modern-day mazes book would contain mazes with a bit of Marvel clip-art, these classic books received a more more affectionate treatment.
So in fact, each maze is a two (or four) page episode. The first page (or two) consists of black and white reprinted content from a classic Marvel comic book, and concludes with a cliff-hanger crisis. At that point, you the reader are implored to step in and save the day: "How can Spider-Man escape the cloud of Goblin poison gas?" "Can you help the heroes find the sword of Akshan before Doom unleashes his robot army? etc.
The one (or two) page maze then follows. Your mission is clear, and you are given a time-limit commensurate with the difficulty of your task. Take your trusty pencil in hand!
And if you get really stuck, the answers follow at the back of the book.
These days, publishing a book is pretty easy. A couple of thousand bucks will get you a limited print run. Factories in China will spit out a coloring book for twenty cents a copy.
Back in 1978, they printed books in the U.S.A. for goodness' sake! Producing a Marvel book like this was a slightly more costly decision, and the care and concern for the contents reflects that.
Marvel Books from this era tend to fill me with a gentle mix of appreciation and affection, and this one is no exception. There's an innocent earnestness which leaps from every dynamic Kirby-fuelled page and every hyperbolic Lee-infused paragraph.
A clean copy of this book will cost you far too much cash to want your kids to go near it. But it's nonetheless a classic work that belongs with pride on the bookshelf of any keen collector of Marvel classics.
Four and a half webs.