This pocket puzzle book is a bit of an oddity. It's rather tall and skinny, just 4.25" wide but 9.2" tall. It features a glossy cardboard cover, and a square-bound glued spine to hold its 128 full-color glossy pages.
Perhaps more curious than the format is the simultaneous dual-publication by Scholastic Australia, Inc. (in June 2012 in Australia as ISBN 978-1742834054, for AU$5.99) and also by Parragon Book Service, Ltd. (in July 2012 in the UK as ISBN 978-1445459929 for GB£3.99).
This dual-publishing thing is likely to happen more and more often, as the cost of printing short runs starts to reduce, and the cost of air-freight increases. That leaves an interesting question for "completist" collectors like myself. Do we want to collect all the different versions? Or do we ignore the different ISBN and publisher info and just treat them as one and the same.
Personally I'm going to say that my Australia copy is just as good in every way as any other printing. The alternative is madness.
Inside, the book is jam-packed with full-color puzzle pages. There's quizzes, word games, matching games, spot-the-difference games, memory games, join-the-dots, code games, number games, sudoku, and a good smattering of coloring and drawing pages to fill it all out.
Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine and Thor are the nominal stars. But many of the other X-Men get a look-in, as well as a steady stream of guest villains.
One-hundred-and-twenty-eight full-color glossy pages for six bucks? How the heck can you turn that down?
Most of the art appears to be original, but some of it I did recognise from the Marvel: Origin Story Books series. Still, even if it is ripped-off, it's ripped-off from somewhere new for a change.
I have a few minor quibbles. The character interpretation is pretty superficial, and doesn't really speak of a writer who is too worried about getting the details correct. For example, Peter Parker is not actually an enthusiastic photographer. In fact, he is a rather mediocre photographer who takes pictures only as part of a money-making scam.
Also, the long-skinny format does have its disadvantages. If you want to get into the pages properly, e.g. to do any drawing or mazes, you would have to spread the spine open pretty far. Still, at that price, the book is clearly designed to be used and abused.
Pro: Great quality art-work, design and production - plus a huge amount of content for the price.
Con: The Marvel facts and characterisations are typically superficial, and the format is a bit hard to read.
But I think the good firmly outweighs the bad. Three and a half webs.