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The Comics 101 Bookshelf – Guardians, Sorcerers and Avengers (And a Smidge of Self-Promotion)

Let’s take a look at a few new arrivals here at Comics 101 HQ, some very nicely put together hardcover releases for the Marvel fan. Kicking things off is DK’s Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide, by Alan Cowsill. Although it’s been out for a year or two, I’d never seen it before discovering it recently at Disneyland (which has rapidly become my go-to place for finding cool new Marvel merch).



Surprisingly exhaustive, the Ultimate Character Guide lists just about all of the Avengers’ members, friends, foes and hangers-on, with short, punchy entries that quickly sum up the characters’ histories and statuses quo.



If I had one quibble with the book, it’s that I would have preferred a little more classic art in place of all the characters’ most modern (and occasionally less cool) versions, but your mileage may vary.



And it’s hard to complain about an Avengers book that includes a full entry for Edwin Jarvis.



Also recently released by DK was The Mysterious World of Doctor Strange, an impressive history of all things Sorcerer Supreme, obviously published in conjunction with Dr. Strange’s feature-film debut last fall.



Mysterious World covers everything from Strange’s various costumes to his enemies to his spells, as well as all the major dramatic turns and triumphs in the character’s five decades of publication.



Honestly, I wouldn’t have thought Dr. Strange was an important enough character to warrant one of these big history hardcovers from DK, but the editors have done a wonderful job, diving deep into Strange’s backstory and providing a marvelous all-encompassing guide to the character.



It’s well designed, too, with a unique antique look to the layouts and chapter headings, right down to a gold foil leaf treatment on the pages.



My only complaint is one I have with most of these books – for some reason, they feel compelled to replace the lettering from the original comic-book printings, and the new lettering is always inferior. Still, a minor annoyance, to be sure.

The biggest surprise came in the form of Insight Editions’ new release Guardians of the Galaxy: Creating Marvel’s Spacefaring Super Heroes – The Complete Comics History, written by Marc Sumerak.



That’s a hell of a title, but as it turns out, it’s appropriate, as this is a hell of a book. I was expecting something along the lines of the two aforementioned books, a kind of shorthand “Who’s Who” for the Guardians universe. What I got instead was a meticulously researched and expertly written history of the Guardians of the Galaxy concept in comics, beginning with the characters’ debut in 1969 (in a very different lineup and setting), and covering not only the fictional history of the characters and their journeys, but the creators and publishing history as well.



And even better, the oversized hardcover is packed to the gills with beautiful artwork from the last 48 years’ worth of comics about the Guardians and its members, like this gorgeous Jim Starlin page featuring Gamora and Drax from Warlock #15.



This is for the true Guardians fanatic; it doesn’t merely focus on the characters as seen in the films, but is a deep dive into one of Marvel’s least-considered and most overlooked corners of their universe. It’s honestly a little better than the characters deserve. Highly recommended.

And finally, if you’ll forgive a bit of self-promotion, I recently got my hands on the reissue of my book Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay, which has been re-released in a new hardcover edition by Eaglemoss as part of their Star Trek Graphic Novel subscription series.



The folks at Eaglemoss did an excellent job with our book in this well-produced hardcover, retaining all the extra material David Tipton, JK Woodward and I created for the original release.



It’s good to see the book treated well, and I’m pleased to see it thought highly enough of for Eaglemoss to use it as one of the leadoff hitters in their subscription series. For more information about Eaglemoss’s Star Trek series, head over to https://www.eaglemoss.com/en-us/sci-fi-fantasy/star-trek-the-graphic-novel-collection.

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