The Avengers, an organization of superheroes in the Marvel universe, many created or co-created by the famed Stan Lee. If there were a pantheon of comic book writers/creators of superheroes, probably he would be the equivalent of Zeus. But anyway. The release of the live action Avengers movie inspired me to finally read my copy of the Marvel Encyclopedia, Avengers edition. Of this group, you're most likely acquainted with Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and now also Black Widow (the Natasha Black Widow).
What not everyone knows, however, is that The Avengers has a rotating active membership, with a large number of reserve members as well. Some of these other members are recognizable from the X-Men, such as Wolverine and Storm, and others are known on their own, like Spider-Man. Others are likely to be new faces to some, or many, of you. People like Squirrel Girl, or maybe the Kelsey Leigh incarnation of Captain Britain.
This encyclopedia doesn't just provide biographies, however. You're given a complete rundown of the characters' other group affiliations and solo endeavors; their gear and abilities; aliases; known relatives, the title in which they made their first appearance, among other such trivia. In some cases, for example, Hulk, She-Hulk, and Wasp, multiple images are provided which show different variations of the character, whether it is a change in the art style or simply a change in the character's form or costume.
The artwork is colorful, and while I wish there were a few more pictures to go along with some of the lesser-known characters, there is enough overall to make the book visually appealing apart from all the text. Which is expected, since this is a reference book about comic book characters, so the medium in which they appear is mainly visual to begin with. At the end of the book is a bonus comic, featuring the team that is pictured on the front cover: Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Storm, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Giant-Girl.
This was a fun read, and is really a great book for fans of any age. Some things I already knew, but I learned a lot and was introduced to some heroes that I wasn't aware of prior to reading this. I'll be keeping an eye out for encyclopedia covering other heroes in the Marvel universe.
I mentioned Stan Lee at the beginning of this post: incidentally, if you are a fan, and you are in the area, he will be attending Dallas Comic-Con Fan Days next month, October 19-October 21! I'm volunteering at the convention, and I've already purchased my autograph ticket for Stan Lee (and also Gina Torres, to all the Browncoats out there). Anyway, Stan Lee is fantastic not only for his contribution to the comic book world (and thus also to television, movies, and video games), but he has also founded a non-profit for literacy, education, and the arts, the Stan Lee Foundation.