The target audience for this book seems to be people who have seen the Avengers movie (and the upcoming Age of Ultron) and all the single-character movies. Why people who haven’t read the comics, but have seen the movie would want to read a book is not clear.
I tried to come up with some clever way to intro this book, but it’s just not worth the effort. What we have here is a pure summary. We are told everything, not shown (beside some artwork from the Avengers comics through the ages) and there is no ‘point’ or ‘idea’, not even barely a historical perspective, much less any kind of story.
The first chapter is all about the Avengers, or the history of the Avengers in comics. Hard to tell the actual word count, but it’s 17 pages, some of which also have a lot of artwork on them. That plus the large font don’t leave a lot of room, so we get just over 50 years worth of history crammed in there, including not just a summary of the group and comic book, but some summary of the creators, though again, there’s no analysis or even any opinions by writer Peter A. David, just passing sentences about how some guy named Jack Kirby worked on the Avengers for a while.
The only interesting thing that happens is I think unintentional, in that the summary of the group, comic, and creators is all mixed together, so that there might be a paragraph about the group in the 70s, an even briefer paragraph mentioning a writer named Kurt Busiek came on board, but the sum style or feel of the text being that the characters are talked about (ie by name) just like the creators, and end up sounding like real people. For example, David doesn’t just say “the character Thor”, he says, “Thor”. I just like that the characters start to sound more ‘real’ than their creators.
But no, no mention of why Jack Kirby and Kurt Busiek might have been important, to the Avengers or to the comics industry in general. And their mention feels random, since there were all kinds of interesting creators working on the Avengers. Nor is there mention either of Marvel and the strategies and controversies it has generated.
The other four chapters of the book are devoted to the ‘core’ Avengers members: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk, though writer Peter David doesn’t even present that as a possible idea, that there is a core membership, nor does he bother to really say (though you can find it in the first chapter summary blur) that in fact those members did NOT belong to the Avengers for long periods of the groups existence. It’s only that they are the core members now, in the universe that Marvel is making in the movies.
And again, there’s not much interesting info about any of these core member that you wouldn’t have had even if you’d just seen the movies. Mostly, each chapter is a list of the various bad guys each hero has battled on his own.
The one redeeming thing, which has nothing to do with the writing, is the artwork, and seeing panels of the early Avengers right next to panels done in the 21st century offers some interesting contrast. I’d forgotten how big Hulk’s head used to be. And the time and detail now being given, and taken, to draw comics shows how much respect the comics industry has gained. Not that you’ll find any of that talked about in this book.
The supposed bonus cool thing about this book is the inclusion of large envelopes at the end of each chapter, inside of which you’ll find reprints, in black and white, of some of the original artwork from the super-early issues of the Avengers and the individual characters. What one is supposed to do with these I don’t know. When I first saw them, they made me think The Avengers Vault was for kids. But there’s no story in here. There’s no story anywhere.
Instead, it’s just a bogus tie-in to the movies. Sure, there might be some interesting facts you didn’t know, like about the first appearance of the Great Lakes Avengers (which happened in the West Coast Avengers, I guess) and where current cutie Squirrel Girl came from, but….who cares? Why should I care? Why should I buy this book? Why should you?