Marvel Encyclopedia (DK, Revised 2014)

 Posted: Jun 2015
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)


Dorling Kindersley, aka DK Publishing, Inc. is almost certainly the world's most prolific publisher of general reference and popular culture "infotainment" books. Their extensive and attractive range of "facts about fiction" books covers Star Wars, Star Trek, and all the major super-hero franchises.

Story Details

This is the third revision of DK's "Marvel Encyclopedia" offering, and it probably won't be the last.

All editions are roughly 10" x 12" in size. The original 2006 publication contained 352 glossy pages and formed an attractive slab just about an inch thick. The 2009 re-release extended the page count to over 400 and bulked up to over 1.25" thick. This 2014 version is now 440 pages, and is pushing nearly 1.5 inches in depth. That's a lot of book for an asking price of just $24 on Amazon (recommended retail is $40).

Following the now-standard pattern, the latest release adds a few more entries, and also expands and slightly reworks some of the existing ones. It's a process of gradual, incremental change and updates.

Of course as Spider-Fans, our primary concern is the coverage given to our favourite web-head. In the preceding second edition, Spidey received four pages of content, plus a general two-page "Anti-Venom" splash art filler. In 2014 the first four pages are essentially unchanged, but the double-page splash art has been replaced with two pages of detailed extended material. This new content brings us up to date with the latest events from Spidey's long career, covering the Mac Gargan Spider-Man from Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers, the Grim Hunt (return of Kraven, death of Mattie, death of Kaine) storyline, Peter's involvement in the FF's Future Foundation, as well as Spider-Island and Superior Spider-Man.

Flipping a few more pages, I see that Spider-Girl has had her entry expanded from 1/6 page to 1/2 page. Spider-Queen has been added. Spider-Woman's page has been updated to mention Mattie Franklin's death at the hands of the Kraven Family.

I also tend to keep an eye on J. Jonah Jameson's entry, just as a second reference point. He still has a page all to himself. The 2014 has given him some new artwork, and references the death of his beloved wife, Marla Jameson. Part of his Spider-Slayers history has been trimmed to make space for this.

General Comments

Obviously, even 440 pages is going to be spread incredibly thin among the extensive history represented by tens of thousands (probably closer to a hundred thousand) Marvel comic books. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggest that every page of the encyclopedia would have to cover the events of 200 comics.

But despite the inevitable superficiality of any such "all of Marvel" reference book, DK has still managed to produce something interesting, accurate, relevant, and attractive. The team of contributors is hard-working and conscientious, and they're backed by DK's slick editorial and manufacturing expertise.

Overall Rating

If you're planning to buy just one "Marvel Encyclopedia", this is probably the best one to get. At least until the fourth edition comes out in 2018.

Four and a Half Webs.

 Posted: Jun 2015
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)