Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger.

Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger.

For the record; I have to be completely honest here. As a child, I grew up living primarily through the lens of my own vivid imagination. And, as a scrawny little guy who suffered from an array of physical and mental problems it was no surprise that out of all the various superheroes out there that I would become enamored with one who started out in a similar fashion. I adored all things military and even strived to enlist only to be denied due to my health. All that aside, there was something special at the core of the character that I could see and have held dear ever since.

So, when Matt Forbeck reached out for anyone willing to review his latest work I happily volunteered. Upon discovering it wasn’t one of his typical novels, I didn’t mind as much. But, the second the words; “Captain America,” were mentioned, I was sold. And, let me just say; I was not disappointed.

Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger is a 200 page hardbound comprehensive guide to the history of one of Marvel’s most iconic figures. It is written by award-winning author, game-designer, Father of 5 and Marvel expert/fan Matt Forbeck. The book spans the long running history of Captain America, details many of his foes, friends and highlights note-worthy events/storylines. While written as a title for young readers (9-12 years old), it manages to be enjoyable to children of all ages.

The artwork in this book alone is worth the price on the cover. Entire pages are devoted to some of the most memorable moments from Cap’s career. Gorgeous two-page spreads are littered throughout like candy for the eyes. And, at every turn we are presented with classic panels taken right from the very pages of his exciting exploits.

Beginning with both the origins of the character’s creation and his fictional background we are given a foundation of who Steve Rogers is. And, lets I forget there is one monumental element that must be pointed out; Stan Lee himself wrote the forward for this book. The book moves on to track (almost) every element of Captain America’s run through the comics up to the present day. There is so much detail here to delight a fan and interest even a casual reader. Nothing is presented in such a way to be confusing to a young reader or someone unfamiliar, yet is done so in such a way that it doesn’t feel watered down or cheapened.

A whole wealth of information is also to be found, on not just Cap, but also on his many allies, enemies and supporting characters from over the years. Each character is given a detailed dossier on who they are, how they interacted with Cap and some of the more important story arcs they are a part of.

Every decade of Cap’s time is broken down into its own section to highlight key issues and stories that happened – including important developments to Cap both behind the scenes of publication and on the pages. A comprehensive timeline lists every major event to transpire throughout Cap’s long history in chronological order can be found early on in the book. Not only is there a contents page to guide you from the beginning but a remarkable index exists in the back of the book to help you painlessly sort through the pages for references to a character or event with key entries highlighted in bold.

The book is a gold mine of information that is a joy to simply read through. Even if you have yet to see the movies or recently watched them there is so much insight to be found by giving this book some time. You will not regret it, I can guarantee it.

Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger scores 5 amazing alternative shields for Cap, out of 5 in my book. Give it a try and let’s compare notes. You might just learn something that will change the way you see the character in all his many depictions…


*Special, Spoiler-Free Note: There is a lot they have gotten right in the movies that nobody may have noticed, especially recently. Have Fun!