The Marvel Vault is a sturdy yet elegant, spiral-bound tribute to the art and artistry of the Marvel Comic Group, which since 1939 has fed the imaginations of millions through its tales of unique superheroes achieving fantastical feats. Authors Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson, both former Marvel editors, provide a readable text that runs down Marvel's early years, its growth during WWII (lots of stories about defeating the Nazi threat), its growing pains through the 1950s (its more lurid products tamed by the Comics Code Authority), and on to the latter day, where it is still churning out wild adventures featuring characters like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and X-Men. The text is dominated by colorful reprints of comic book covers and pages, plus samples of exploratory draftwork, photos of the artists at work and play, and plastic-encased ephemera cataloging the Marvel culture (various documents, correspondence, postcards, posters, trading cards, etc.). This wonderfully produced and agreeably priced gift also supplies welcome insight into a slice of pop-culture history.

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