Marvel Encyclopedia

    (Marvel, 2003)
™ and © Marvel Entertainment Group

If someone cares about The Hulk, issue #3 of this series is an invaluable resource. At $20 for a hardcover edition, it’s also a good buy. It’s just not much of an encyclopedia.

There is a nice comparison of all the incarnations of The Hulk (’60s, TV, movie, ’90s, etc.), but precious little about his rogues’ gallery.

What little there is is irreverent. The Absorbing Man is “the dark side of The Wonder Twins without the monkey.” Black Bolt is a “deaf, dumb, and blind kid [who] sure plays a mean pinball.” And Kiefer “double dog dare[s]” us to guess what The Chameleon does.

No, as a resource on The Hulk as he appears in the Marvel universe, it’s pretty useless. But as a resource on The Hulk in the real world, well, that’s a behemoth of a different color.

The Hulk in comics is explored, including his “salad days” [groan]. Hulk merchandise is examined. Special, loving emphasis is placed on the TV show. And some excellent stories are reprinted (although some of these also appear in the movie-adaptation trade paperback).

Cynics will consider it a 208-page ad for the movie, but it’s actually a fine book. Marvel just does readers a disservice by making it an installment in a series to which it bears no resemblance.

But while they totally blew Marvel Encyclopedia Volume 3: The Hulk. They listened to what the fans had to say and they fixed things with Volume 4: Spider-Man.

This is an encyclopedia. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close as anyone has a right to expect (and probably more than anyone did expect after the Hulk debacle).

It might be forgivable if “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” and “The Spectacular Spider-Kid” were not listed, but they are. They are under “Tim Harrison” and “Ollie Osnick,” respectively. Again, it might be forgivable, if one had to hunt for them, but their better-known titles are listed in the index. Way to go, Marvel!

Entries are cross-referenced with “hyperlinks,” so you know who has more data listed without the text’s resorting to “See Morbius” and “See Lizard” every three sentences.

OK, it’s not without flaws. Equinox first appeared in an issue of Marvel Team-Up featuring The Human Torch and Iceman sans Spider-Man, while his entry makes it sound as if he were triple-teamed. Big deal. “Six-Armed Spider-Man” has his own listing, and that more than makes up for it.

There are chapters on Spidey on TV, the Spider-Man movie, and Spider-merchandise, but who cares? The Spider-Mobile has a full page. That’s the kind of thing buyers of an encyclopedia want to see.

— Jack Abramowitz
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Hardcover #3

Cover Price: $19.99
1 copy available for $21.00
Kit Kiefer 
Hardcover #4

Cover Price: $24.99
1 copy available for $20.00
Kit Kiefer