Every schoolchild recognises their protagonists: the Avengers, the X-Men, your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. The superhero comics that Marvel has published since 1961 make up the biggest self-contained work of fiction ever created: over half a million pages and counting. Eighteen of the 100 highest-grossing movies of all time are based on it. And not even the people telling the story have read the whole thing – nobody’s supposed to.
But Douglas Wolk did. In All Of The Marvels, a critic and superfan takes on the epic to end all epics. What he finds is a magic mirror of the past 60 years, from the atomic terrors of the Cold War to the political divides of our present. Wolk teases out Marvel’s mixture of progressive visions and painful stereotypes, its regrettable moments as well as its flights of luminous creativity. The result is an irresistible travel guide to the magic mountain at the heart of popular culture.