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Marvel Comics : The Untold Story by Sean Howe

The first thing to point out is that surely this book needs an exclamation mark somewhere in the title. How can you have a book about superheroes without an exclamation mark in there? That apart, it’s a fascinating book, detailing the ups and downs and the chequered history of the House of Ideas across the past 60 years or so. In these days of box-office madness, its difficult to recall, but Marvel spent much of the 80s and nineties on the skids, unsure of whether it would be able to meet its commitments from week to week, and lurching from desperate owner to desperate owner.

Howe’s book is strong when it’s covering this era, but it’s stronger when it’s covering the sixties and seventies when Marvel was just a comics company without any real thought on how it could monetize it’s properties and it just ripped it’s artists off because nobody had really thought about it by that point.

Thanks to the depth of his research, Howe really communicates the ins and outs of Marvel across these times, and the madness that was the period after Stan Lee handed over the role of Editor-In-Chief to a succession of overworked editors working under impossible demands. The book is a little weaker in the modern era, partly because the people involved are still working there, and partly because it’s all so corporate now. But, as a fan of Marvel Comics since I was a kid, I really enjoyed this book, and although it emphasises that the books are now little more than source material for Hollywood, it does at least acknowledge that there still some diamonds amongst the rough.

1 comment to Marvel Comics : The Untold Story by Sean Howe

  • Rol

    I loved this book too… though I since read a review that made me rethink some of the author’s opinions. But still, the best book about comics I’ve ever read.

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