Marvel: Myths and Legends (2020) – James Hill

The comic book has been called the forum of the modern myth. In the shadows of our own history, there have always been stories of superheroes, whether we knew them as masked webslingers, or children of the gods of Mount Olympus, or the Vedic literature of India, the Norse gods, the heroes of Chinese folklore, heroes have been with us in some form or another since we told stories.

It should come as no surprise that Marvel comics, which has stories set in cities and places the reader knows, should embrace that broad tapestry of mythology and legend and incorporate it into their own world, and story-telling.

And there’s a lot of it.

Author Hill, with incredible access and support from those at Marvel has crafted what could be thought of as a comprehensive history and mythology course on the Marvel Universe. Guiding us through the primordial and the primeval the book, and filled with gorgeous art from countless artists, Myths and Legends lays it all out for the reader.

The book takes us through the incarnations of supernatural beings, demigods, gods, monsters, sorcerers, all of whom we are familiar with (whether through our own knowledge of mythology, or through comics) and lays out their existence and story in the Marvel universe – and sometimes, it seems our world and theirs connect, and for a reader like me, that just grounds the Marvel Universe more. Sure people have amazing powers, but it’s not so very different from our own world, and that’s why the comic book characters created by Marvel are so very truly, the modern incarnation of the mythological heroes.

With a thankfully easy to digest text, honestly, this could have read like some dull historical tome, Myths and Legends peels back the layers of the Marvel Universe, laying bare incidents, characters, and events that laid the groundwork for the ever-expanding comic-verse that so many of us love. It takes us from the very beginning of the Marvel Universe to the present, exploring the source of powers, roles of elementals, and supernaturals.

Going into the holiday season, this one can be chalked up as a must for any Marvel fan. It lights the universe anew, giving us a straightforward look at the mythology and history of a beloved fictional universe that so many of us would like to be a real part of… though I wonder what kind of hero the Marvel Universe would turn me into?

DK Books proudly unveils Marvel: Legends and Myths in (online) book stores (shop local!) just in time for your holiday gift-giving, but don’t forget to get one for yourself True Believer!

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