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Dorling Kindersley and BradyBooks publish an excellent range of game books and strategy guides, usually in large format and always filled with glossy, colourful pages. The latest book I have from DK is the MARVEL: AVENGERS Battle Against ULTRON by the esteemed author Matt Forbeck. I first met Matt at Spiel in Essen when he was on the Pinnacle Entertainment Stand with the Deadlands game. Since then I have met him on occasion at events like GenCon in the US and have seen his career as a writer blossom to almost superstar status. Matt has written with and for Gary Gygax and New Infinites, Shane Hensley (Pinnacle Entertainment) and WotC, GW, TSR, Decipher, White Wolf, Green Ronin, AEG, Reaper Miniatures, Image Comics, WildStorm Productions, Atari, Ubisoft, Mattel, and Human Head Studios. This volume is aimed at younger readers who have the ability of reading alone (thus aged from about 7 years old) but is good for anyone with an interest in the super-hero AVENGERS as it is fully illustrated in colour and is written descriptively in large print font.


The text is spread throughout the book in black on white or white on black separating the illustrations from the descriptions of the lives and powers of the Heroes, the Villains and S.H.I.E.L.D. The text is written in a manner similar to the way an adult will tell a child a bed-time story, not in a condescending or patronising way but more straightforward and elementary. It is written to inform and help the reader understand how characters from comic books and movies can also be used in boardgames and role-playing. For this it shows statistics of how a character is made up, not perhaps fully statted like a D&D character created from dice rolls but more in the height and weight by number and skills by name and description.


For £4.99 you get a heavy covered 128 page which covers the characters, the stories, a Quiz, a glossary and illustrations in the same style dynamic costumes and colours found in the comic books and graphic novels rather than in the often darkened down versions seen on the television and cinematic silver screen. "Great value for money"  was my first thought, quickly followed by another think (I thunk alot) which loudly stated "What a super Christmas or Birthday present it will make for young super-hero-liking persons". If I didn't already own a copy I'd be happy to get one for my birthday and I'm slightly older than a 7 year old (and I can read alone). 

Some books go too far by getting into too many statistics, details, back stories, fore-stories, possibilities, character backgrounds, character home lives, villains beginnings, skills, abilities, equipment, vehicles etc etc etc. Matt Forbeck's book is more like the type of schoolbook you would have loved when you were at school. It has all the necessary information you would need to study the AVENGERS, NICK FURY, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the most infamous VILLAINS associated to them with a 15 question Quiz at the end like an exam. Who are Steve Rogers, Thor Odinson, Tony Stark, Robert Banner, Clint Barton, Henry Pym and Janet van Dyne when they aren't in their street clothes (okay, trick question as one of them wears the same clothes almost all of the time) but can you name the others ?  These aren't the quiz questions by the way.

I found out a number of things I didn't know about the AVENGERS as well as confirming some things I did know and putting me straight on other things I thought I knew. This is also most useful as a reference book for playing or writing start-up or beginner Super-Hero games and for when you are on the couch (potato style of course) watching the myriad super-hero shows and movies currently on the TV and Movie circuit, or playing your :PC, Nintendo, XBox, PS3/4; this is the book to have.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2021