Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide
This hardcover collection of 208 single page character bios from DK is a bit below the typical quality seen recently of other Marvel books coming out of their shop. Unfortunately riddled with minor errors and bizarre omissions, its usefulness even to the younger crowd as its intended market (DK’s website says ages 8 – 17 years) is questionable. Less than favorable reviews of this book have mentioned creepy duplicate entries and disturbing missing children, but this post finds an “acceptable-yet-strange” opinion of the book from the standpoint of its Alpha Flight related material. Marrina appears in a 1pg entry, presumably as an honorary member of the Avengers. Puck appears in her entry, and Talisman appears in Arachne’s entry.
The format of the entries are all single pages, with a standardized layout: a main illustration, two side-bar style insets, a smaller portrait illustration and two main blurbs of text, one being a short character summary and the other a Vital Stats listing. On the bottom of the pages are power rankings from 1 to 7.
Marrina’s entry doesn’t contain any glaringly wrong information but does have a few odd things, one being that it doesn’t actually say she was a member of the Avengers! For the record, she was an honorary member from issues #286 to #293. Another odd thing is that it refers to Tom Smallwood as Thomas Smallwood. Of the three illustrations, only one, a side-bar, is taken from an Avengers issue (that being a portion of the cover to Avengers #292, showing her in Leviathan form). The other three are Byrne images of her as an Alpha Flight member (the main illustration shows her in the spirally-arm costume from Alpha Flight #15, the other side-bar illustration is a portion of the cover of Alpha Flight #15 which also shows Puck, and her portrait is an image of Marrina wearing a turtleneck in a reversed panel from Alpha Flight #1), all likely chosen for their canonical imagery rather than out of any sense of association with the Avengers. For those of you who keep track of these things, her Power Ranks are Energy Projection (3), Strength (4), Durability (4), Fighting Skill (4), Intelligence (4) and Speed (5), dubiously wild as compared to her recent Avengers Assemble entry, where her ranks seemed more consistent with her actual character.
Most of the entries end chronologically around the time of the Siege storyline, but Marrina’s actual story ended earlier in Dark Reign when the Sub-Mariner killed her mercifully in Dark Reign: The List – X-Men #1, so there’s no out-of-date info. Unfortunately, author Alan Coswill (the creator of the Classic Marvel Figurine Collection and DC Super Hero Collection for Eaglemoss Publications), uses a bit too much discretion when describing that issue, declining to mention that she was killed by being crushed to death in the unimaginable pressure of the ocean deep, her head severed from her monstrous body and tossed into Norman Osborne’s office. Instead it just mentions that she attacked the Sub-Mariner. Well, it is supposed to be a kid’s book!
Note that this book pre-dated the release of the Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 issue by over two months, so no mention of Marrina’s re-appearance is expected.
The Arachne entry refers to events chronologically during or just after Omega Flight, as it incorrectly states, “Arachne is currently part of the Canadian Super Hero team known as Omega Flight.” In fact, each of the four illustrations are from that series, and boy is it nice to see that art again! One of the illustrations is part of the cover of issue #4, with the title block removed, featuring Talisman being tossed around by Piledriver. Omega Flight was disbanded quite some time before this book was published, so technically that info is outdated, but had the error not been made, it’s unlikely an image of Talisman would have been published!