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The Marvel Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe Hardcover – October 16, 2006

118 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"As intriguing as the information is ... it's the artwork that leaps off the page." -- KIRKUS

"... must have book both for new fans and for those who grew up loving the excitement of the Marvel Universe." -- North Bay Bohemian

"Everything- and we mean everything-you need to know about ... Marvel's classic characters." -- Publishers Weekly

"Eye popping layouts and superb color reproduction make it a pleasure to peruse." -- Orlando Sentinel

"Trumpeted as "the most comprehensive one-volume A-Z guide to the Marvel Universe ever published."" -- The Post & Courier

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: DK; 1st American Ed edition (October 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780756623586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756623586
  • ASIN: 0756623588
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 1.1 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Dave Huber on January 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My buddy recently purchased the Marvel Encyclopedia and lent it to me, as he frequently lends me comics I don't have (and I, vice versa, to him). I both dug the thing and was sorely disappointed at the same. The layout is fantastic -- the chosen pictures extraordinary with old-panel word balloons remastered -- with an excellent combination of old school artwork and new. The typeface is also well done.

However, when one gets into the nitty gritty, one'll be finding himself going "Huh??" quite often. And this is mostly the fault of lousy proofreading. To be sure, a comics novice would most likely in no way be able to pick up on a lot of these blunders. But being that I was heavily into Marvel Comics in the 70s and early 80s gave me a good vantage point from which to judge.


Let's start with my favorite hero, Iron Man. For the most part, the writer (Andrew Darling, one of several contributors) did a good job. Obviously the writers cannot cover every tidbit of a character's career or the volume would be over 1,000 pages, possibly more. Some things do have to be omitted. But most of Shellhead's key moments made it into print. The main proofreading blunder in the Iron Man section (a two-page spread, by the way; I'd expect no less!) was in the "Old Flames" segment at upper right. Long-time Tony Stark girlfriend Bethany Cabe is listed, but there's just one problem -- it's not Bethany pictured. It's [volume 3] Tony Stark girlfriend Rumiko Fujikawa! Doh! Rumiko didn't make the list but should have -- easily so over very briefly-noted-in-IM-lore squeeze Sunset Bain. In addition, you can see the influence that current Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada has; in the "Essential Storylines" segment, Iron Man vol. 3 #27-30 are listed. Guess why? Quesada wrote 'em.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Mcfeely on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In the style of their 2004 publication, "The DC Comics Encyclopedia," Dorling Kindersley have released "The Marvel Encyclopedia," a guide to the characters of the Marvel Comics universe. DK are no strangers to Marvel's universe, having frequently released "Ultimate Guide" books covering the histories of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and next year, Ghost Rider. But how does this tome, touted as "the definitive guide," stack up?

The sheer number of characters included is absolutely massive, with over 1000 separate entries for characters that span the past and present of the Marvel Universe, and even occupants of other dimensions, timelines and alternate universes (such as MC-2 characters like Spider-Girl, or occupants of the future of 2099). Each entry is headed with a table that provides a quick hit of info from the character's vital stats to their real names, first appearances and powers. The body of the entry provides an abbreviated origin and history for the character, bringing things up as recent as possible at the time of writing, and includes at least one image of the character. Standard entries are a paragraph long - of such a size that, barring larger pictures, about six can fit on a single page. At no time does such a thing occur, however, as entries range from being this size to quarter-page, half-page, full-page, and for the most notable characters and teams like Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, double-page spreads.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By errorfound482 on November 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Marvel Encyclopedia is a heavy, heavy book rich with tons of information about characters and of course great art for each character. The problem with this book is like everyone says - it has tons of errors, is not always up-to-date, and is missing a lot of key characters (which is strange because there are so many minor characters there).

In almost every entry, they'll talk about another character (e.g., for DIRE WRAITHS, they'll talk about ROM), but every time the other character they mention isn't in the book (ROM isn't in the book, of course). We're not talking about a couple of characters -- we're talking tons of major characters. This does get really, really annoying.

But the pro is that this book is still a fun read (it may be heavy for a bathroom book, but it works). If you're a comic collector or looking for a gift for a comic collector, this is a must-have, especially at's prices (I wouldn't pay the full price for it at Borders or Barnes & Noble). I would get the DC COMICS ENCYCLOPEDIA before this one, because that one was edited much better.

Am I annoyed by the extremely sloppy editing and way this book is put together? Yes. Do I regret buying the book? No. It still gets 4-stars for being such a great book chock full of interesting info. It doesn't get that one extra star for being a little bit annoying.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Anderson on February 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Well designed, nicely laid-out with a generally high standard of artwork (although some of the older material is of a much lower resolution than one might expect to see these days) and certainly good value for money in terms of how much book you get for your buck.

But this encylopedia is depressingly full of errors, both typos and factual inaccuracies, particularly in the choice of illustrations, their annotations and the various character summaries. Some of it might be obvious only to fanboys (no-one other than a reader of "Alpha Flight" would know that the entry for Laura Dean is accompanied by a picture of Zuzha Yu), but even novices will wonder whether entirely human crime boss The Rose should be described as having "feathers", why the main illo of Johnny Storm has him wearing a backwards 4 on his chest, or why an "eleven-year-old" Jean Grey is depicted as an infant.

Unlike previous reviewers, I think the balance between well-known and obscure characters is about right. No single volume could ever reasonably cover every Marvel character. But the structure of what's here is questionable. Looking at associated entries, it becomes obvious to the reader that The Sworsdman has had an extraordinarily convoluted history, yet his own description is suprisingly terse. Damien Hellstrom gets two separate entries (one as Hellstorm, another as Son of Satan) that are virtually identical, yet the authors seem to have gotten hopelessly muddled on the difference betwen Adam Warlock and the New Mutant called Warlock, to the extent that the latter has been overlooked, despite the fact he's cross-referenced in other entries.

This book certainly should have been more thoroughly proof-read before publication, but the fact that so many points of Marvel lore got past Tom Brevoort and Tom deFalco (who was Marvel's editor-in-chief when much of what's described was in print!) is unforgivable.
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