The Characters & Their Universe
by Michael Mallory
(Barnes & Noble, 2002)
So I'm walking through a Barnes & Noble store in Amarillo a few weeks ago, and I stumble upon a beautiful book called Marvel: The Characters & Their Universe. Now, I'm a sucker for comics history books. So, this incredibly beautiful leather-bound (or close enough to fool me, anyway) coffeetable book, with a colorful raised illustration of some of Marvel's greatest characters, drew me in at first glance. Upon thumbing through the book, generously filled with lavish illustrations and photos, I was quickly hooked and headed for the checkout stand.
Author Michael Mallory has put together a respectable history of Marvel Comics, starting farther back than most who retell this particular story, with the inception of Red Circle, then a pulp-fiction magazine publishing company. And, considering the fact that the book chronicles Marvel history up to the 21st century, it can be considered quite comprehensive.
One of the most attractive characteristics of this book, however, is that it not only covers Marvel properties in print, but in other media as well. Covering just about every incarnation of any Marvel character on big screen or small since the 1960s, Mallory's inclusion of the company's Saturday morning contributions and live-action primetime projects were a pleasant revisiting of many beloved memories for this longtime fan. I especially enjoyed some previously unknown information (to me) concerning the '70s television show The Incredible Hulk, as well as the various TV movie spin-offs.
This gleeful walk down a brightly colored memory lane will bring a lot of pleasure to current fans and former fans alike. It would make a great Christmas gift for the comics fan in your life.
by Mark Allen