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Assembled!: Five Decades of Earth's Mightiest Heroes    by Van Allen Plexico order for
by Van Allen Plexico
Order:  USA  Can
White Rocket, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Their first-string superheroes are as iconic as most others in both Marvel and DC Comics; Captain America, Thor, Iron Man. But the Avengers as a team have not had the same staying power in terms of wide appeal as the Justice League of America in DC Comics or even the X-Men. Among booming comic book movies, Iron Man is the only Avenger to have emerged with his own film. Captain America seems to be following also, but others such as Thor, The Wasp, The Vision, Hawkeye and the rest are barely recognizable by non-Marvel readers. Yet, as Plexico and the authors of this anthology reveal, the Avengers are a quite impressive and interesting group, around for over forty years now.

The crux of this book is a history of the Avengers from their creation under the legendary artist Jack Kirby and equally legendary writer Stan Lee all the way through to Civil War, a meta-event in the Marvel Universe that ends with the death of Captain America (don't fret; he's back; sort of). However, rather than trace the history from an issue-to-issue angle, here the transitions are marked by the changing of the artists/writers, with a few exceptions. This is an interesting perspective that helps readers to better understand the vision and approach by the different artists throughout the years.

The rest of the book is supplemental information that colors in the history. For instance, in Other Avengers-Related Series, readers are informed of the West Coast Avengers; a branch-off team of the Avengers in the 1980s and the Ultimates, a modern-day reinterpretation of the Avengers. The book also explores other interesting elements of the Avengers including their foes, their short-lived cartoon series, Captain America's cinematic appearances, and even pieces on both Captain America's death and Civil War.

Hard-core fans might find fault with the interpretation or rendering of information, especially from the history which can sometimes be a bit choppy. People familiar with the Avengers will find it interesting and useful in better understanding the dynamics of a team that has been around for forty years but still doesn't quite have the wide-appeal of Marvel's other two iconic teams (X-Men and Fantastic Four). Plexico has assembled a good mix of information that is both accessible and interesting to read through, or simply use as a reference.

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