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Book Review

Book Cover

The Avengers Vault (Hardback)


Author: Peter A. David
Publisher: Aurum Press
RRP: £25.00
ISBN: 978 1 78131 398 5
Publication Date: 05 March 2015

Following the success of Marvel’s Avengers: Assemble film comes the imminent Avengers: Age of Ultron. To tie-in with this much anticipated superhero extravaganza we get Marvel: The Avengers Vault, a hardcover history of the much-loved fighting team, by Peter A. David, a writer with a twenty year connection with superhero books, comics and graphic novels (The Incredible Hulk/Wolverine/Spider-Man/Supergirl/Aquaman). It is released by Aurum Press, an imprint of the Quarto Publishing Group UK, on very good quality full colour paper, at a RRP of £25.00.

I unashamedly love the Marvel live-action films, but I confess to knowing very little of the comic book history since I read them as a kid – and even then it was mainly my favourites Batman (admittedly DC) and Spider-Man. The only Marvel graphic novels I have read in the last decade or two are the Spider-Man tales written by J. Michael Straczynski, as I love his writing and characterisation. Although the movies require no pre-knowledge of the characters and situations, this is certainly where a book like this comes into its own. The Avengers Vault takes us briefly through the main events of the Avengers comic book history, from its origins to shortly before the Avengers: Assemble movie. All the main players get a mention; the different writers and artists and what they did with the storylines and team line-ups. I have to say I had no idea just how many super-powered heroes had served a stint in one variation or another of The Avengers. I think most people would prefer that the main quartet of characters remain stable, with only the peripheral ones coming and going. This is what the next section of the book explores.

It starts with Captain America, a creation I don’t hold much affinity for – although the industrial espionage, intrigue and edge-of-the-seat action made The Winter Soldier a very fine film. Cap was created as a WWII hero to go up against Hitler and the Nazis, but later found himself floundering without a visible enemy in a somewhat sinister cold war setting. Therefore, the character was reinvented and brought into the sixties by (who else but) Stan Lee. Captain America has a most bizarre history, including no less than four versions which turn out to be imposters!

Next we move on to Thor, with a short but useful lesson in Norse mythology, and how this connects to Thor’s comic book origins and that of his hammer, Mjolnir. With Thor, Stan Lee created a different kind of hero. Being a god, he is obliged to answer to Odin and protect Asgaard, as well as aid the Earth for the love of a human woman. The arrival of his mischievous half-brother, Loki, tests the patience of the moral, honourable and virtuous Thunder God. With three films following his exploits, weapons industrialist and scientific genius, Tony Stark – otherwise known as Iron Man – is almost certainly better known. Again, we get a description of the rather conceited character’s history and background. Then it’s The Hulk, who is probably the most well-known of these central characters, just because of its beautiful Jekyll and Hyde simplicity.

The last section of the book explores The Avengers on film and TV – particularly the animated series bringing it up-to-date post-Civil War storyline. There is some quite simply gorgeous artwork from different time periods, and plenty of covers shown from ground breaking stories or first time issues. In addition, there are some pockets concealing layouts, artwork and early sketches. So, if you can afford the £25 price, and you’re a fan of Marvel and/or The Avengers – particularly if you’re not aware of the comic timelines – then this is the book for you.


Ty Power

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