Took me a while, but I’ve read it. Or at least as much as I wanted to. This gigantic book is meant as an overview and retrospective of the comics publisher now known as Marvel, previously as Timely, Atlas, and many other lesser-known imprints. As such, it’s about half pictures, but even so, there’s lots of text. I read the first two sections covering 1939 to 1961 the most thoroughly, as it’s the period I knew the least about. I was buying and reading Marvel comics from that point on, and had a chance to catch up with a lot of the issues I missed later, so the period from 1962 to about 1990 was a fun reminiscence of things I was mostly familiar with. From 1991 to the present my Marvel reading has declined steadily, so those sections didn’t mean as much to me, and I generally skimmed.
Roy Thomas has done a fine job with the text, but it’s such a large subject that often he was only able to briefly mention some titles and creators that stood out from the crowd, especially when the output of the company began to grow in the mid-70s. And it’s an official company history, so anything that might make the corporation look bad was glossed over or ignored, but since the emphasis is on the books and the creators rather than company politics and business deals, I didn’t mind that. And there’s always “Marvel Comics, The Untold Story” and “The Secret History of Marvel Comics” if you’re interested in that side of things.
The art is glorious, lots of larger-than-life reproductions of covers and story pages. To make layouts work, other elements were sometimes a bit too small, but I understand they did the best they could without making the book twice as thick. In all, it’s a fine book, if difficult to lift and read. I’m kind of glad to be done! I imagine I’ll be going back to it for reference in future.