BOOK REVIEW: The Marvel Vault
O.K. I’ve got to admit this: I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun with something I’ve pulled out of my weekly Diamond Distributing box., Betty Boop blow-up dolls notwithstanding.
At first glance, The Marvel Vault might appear to be just another well-designed history book. And who better to write such a tome than master comics writer and former longtime Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas and noted comics historian Peter Sanderson? Well, Roy’s a noted comics historian too, but I’ve got a thing for the "editor-in-chief" title. Whereas there have been somewhat more comprehensive histories of Marvel (more-or-less including "corporate-approved" volumes), everything you need to know to understand and appreciate the publishing house is here, along with a great deal of inside information and well-informed observation that other books are lacking.
Nope. What makes The Marvel Vault amazing fun is the surplus of bells-and-whistles. It’s subtitled "A Museum-in-a-Book with rare collectibles from the World of Marvel" for a reason: it’s got tons of removable reproductions of all kinds of cool stuff produced by Marvel and its predecessor imprints Timely and Atlas over the past 70 years. To name but a few: original sketches of the early 1940s Sub-Mariner and Human Torch by Carl Pfeufer, including work from the history-making 50 page crossover from Human Torch #8; Bil Everett’s illustrated postcards to his daughter; a John Severin color piece denoting himself and fellow Atlas artists Bill Everett and Joe Maneely; the plot synopsis to Fantastic Four #1, a ton Merry Marvel Marching Society stuff; the program book to the 1975 Mighty Marvel Convention, Bernie Wrightson’s Howard The Duck For President art; Marvel Value Stamps from 1974; the Marvel No-Prize Book; a Marvel stock certificate from 1993; Andy Kubert’s Wolverine sketches from Origin… and, as the saying goes, a lot more.
The spiral-bound Marvel Vault was designed by Megan Noller Holt, and she deserves notation and praise. The Marvel Vault makes for a wonderful gift, particularly to yourself. It’s available at comic book stores (either in-stock or by special order), online retailers and better big box outlets. When it comes to being a Marvel fan, if, on a one-to-ten scale, you are anything north a "2" you’ll love this book.
The Marvel Vault, by Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson
US $49.95, CAN $60.00, UK £29.99
Published by Running Press