Review – Marvel Comics : The Untold Story
I have been a comics fan for a long time. I’ve worked in a comic book store off and on since 2006. I like to think I know a little bit about the industry and the community that surrounds it, but the extensive research on display within the pages of this book is so expansive and all-consuming that I found myself completely lost in the information being spilled onto the page. The revolving doors of Marvel’s management, the rise and fall of its star writers and artists, the trials and tribulations of those crushed under the restrictions of work-for-hire agreements; it is all spelled out in meticulous detail.
Author Sean Howe presents a look into the evolution of the comics business in a way that is equal parts documentary and sensationalized narrative. The people who built Marvel; Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, Gene Colan, Gerry Conway, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Jim Shooter, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Avi Arad, Joe Quesada…all these names come with preconceived baggage for the established comic fan. Within the pages of the book they come to life as if you worked in the bullpen right along with them. The book feels like Mad Men: Marvel Edition at times. As a reader, you get drawn in and start to become emotionally invested in these people, even if you might already know where their story ends.
I cannot recommend this book enough to comic fans, I recommend it equally to anybody who is a fan of detailed history as well. This is just as interesting as any other book chronicling a decades long timeline of a niche element. Culturally speaking, Marvel’s influence is so far-reaching that I cannot imagine anyone not being enthralled by this particular book.
The book also has an internet supplement on Tumblr with pictures and references galore. I would classify Marvel Comics : The Untold Story as a potential rabbit hole that is easy for anyone to tumble down.