REVIEW: Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Swan Howe

I bought this book because a couple of the reviews I read for it said that it was full of stories about the Mighty Marvel Bullpen and how counter-culture and crazy the creative teams were back in the day. Instead, I was provided with a lecture about how to succeed in business with your head up your ass. Hardly a full paragraph on the drug-induced creative bursts, but instead pages and pages of in-fighting and bickering between writers, artists, and editors. Seriously, I get it! Kirby is pissed off that Lee rarely shared creator credits and Gerber didn’t want to lose control of his Duck.

Also, through no fauly of Sean Howe’s, this book would have benefited greatly from including pictures. It’s a book about art, right? So, how’s about a couple of visuals? Or, no, that would make too much sense, I guess. Howe’s editors really let him down by not fighting to include some of the art discussed in the book, and probably cost themselves a lot in sales. I know how expensive getting the image rights would be, but it would have been worth it. The book is incomplete without them.

Now down to Howe’s writing. He’s not bad, a little inconsistent on the pacing and grammar, but all in all it was an okay read. However, it was occasionally hard to keep track of time-lines in the book as he jumped around a little, but always within the same general era so it never got overly confusing. I would have liked to have read a mention about when Marvel originally foled the Epic line of books, but that was skipped until he said they relaunched Epic in the 21st Century. I also think that when talking about Shooter’s New Universe back in the 80’s, that Howe had taken at least a couple of sentences for that ridiculous NFL Superhero comic that was part of that line – even at 12 I thought that was a blatant cash-grab tie-in and wanted nothing to do with it, and, in fact, that one title turned me off of the entire New Universe line, so I think it deserved at least a sentence or two…

All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this to any but the most die-hard of Marvel fans. Based on the reviews, my wife wanted to read it, but as she’s fairly new to comics, I have to say she would find this to be an extremely boring read and a total waste of time.