Marvel Encyclopedia (2nd Series)

    (Marvel, 2004)
™ and © 2004 Marvel Characters, Inc.

Billed as the “ultimate guide” to the Marvel Universe (at least in 2004), these over–sized references provide historical as well as current info on Marvel’s major players, including origins, powers, allies and supporting cast, and, of course, their primary foes.

There are sections solely devoted to the most popular characters: Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men; while others more briefly cover the other “big guns” in Marvel’s stable: Captain America, Daredevil, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor. An additional section gives rankings to basic abilities (á la role–playing games), so that the reader can compare their favorite heroes and villains.

The best part of the books, however, is the artwork, and the list of contributors is both long and noteworthy. It includes, among others: Alex Ross, Kia Asamiya, Art Adams, Salvador Larroca, John Romita, Jr., Jim Lee, Frank Quitely, Joe Quesada, John Cassaday, and Mike Wieringo.

— Joseph Self
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