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Official Article

Mighty Marvel Jumbo Fun Book

How the Mighty Marvel Jumbo Fun Book from 1979 came to be in my possession is a story shrouded in mystery by the passage of time. But more than likely I picked it up at a garage sale around 1986 for a quarter and it has been a part of my personal library ever since. It is a nearly 400 page book filled with perplexing puzzles and titanic teasers of the brain featuring the world famous (and some barely remembered) characters from Marvel Comics. It has continued to entertain me and my family for 30 years now, so join me in flipping through these fun-packed pages. (Note: all those pencil and marker lines are proof of my personal enjoyment over the last few decades.)

As you might expect, being aimed at younger kids, many of these Marvel-ous pages are dedicated to super-hero themed mazes. It would have been easy to take a generic maze scheme and insert a drawing of The Silver Surfer, but the creators of this book actually took the time to apply characteristics of each icon into the design with humorous titles and instructions. In this case we see the Fantastic 4's Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic with his elastic arms in a tangle and we have to find out which paths lead to his left and right hand. Next we get the opportunity to run our pencil along the craggly crevices of The Thing's rock like exterior.

The book also kept it simple with connect the dot activities, like this one featuring Marvel C-Lister, Howard the Duck (who you may recall from the final after credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy). I had seen the George Lucas produced feature film flop by this point on VHS, which was my only point of reference for the grouchy Donald Duck clone. I should also mention that each section had it's own title page with this group of headlining heroes, which I used to practice coloring between the lines.

There was also a section dedicated testing your artistic skills, possibly designed to cultivate new talent to fill the pages of Marvel comics pages in years to come. As you can see, my pre-school artistic interpretations of 2 Marvel icons left a lot to be desired. Even with 4 chances my attempts at conveying the emotions of The Incredible Hulk made him look more like a bootleg Fred Flintstone than Lou Ferrigno. "Pretty as a picture?", try "Nasty like a nightmare!" Poor Ms. Marvel looks to have been the recipient of a face transplant from an orangutan donor. Judging by these examples, you'd probably be surprised to hear that I did win an elementary school art contest just a few years after this. I guess pastels, not ballpoint pens were my medium.

My favorite sections really tested your knowledge of the Marvel Universe by asking you to identify certain traits or powers. In this case, whether or not a character had the ability to fly. Most people know that Spider-Man swings and sticks, but does not fly. Captain America can't zoom around like his shield, but Iron Man has rocket powered boots. Now for a wild card like Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, you may assume that he just swims fast, when actually he has tiny wings on his ankles that inexplicably allow him to soar through the air.

Another great one was identifying the nationality of a character. Especially with the "All new, All Different" X-Men it was easy, since they were written with accents and the whole point of that team was their international flavor. For example, Colossus was Russian, Nightcrawler was German and Wolverine was Canadian. Also, Spider-Man is apparently from the country of New York. Apparently the only one I didn't know was Number 3 aka Batroc, the Leaper who in subsequent years I've learned is a goofy Frenchman. 

As I got to be even more of a comic book nerd, I was especially intrigued by my ability to identify a hero or villain based solely on an arm or a leg. Since this book was in black and white sometimes that made it a little bit harder, but there was no mistaking the Hulk's ripped pants and bare feet or weird Asgardian boots of Thor. The hands were a little tougher, but I could always spot Mysterio's wacky gauntlets or what I assumed were Peter Parker's web-shooters, but in retrospect may have been Black Widow's stinger bracelets.

If I wanted to cheat, I could always flip through the answers glossary pages in the back, which confirms that yes, that was Black Widow's hand. To be fair, she wasn't a household name in the late 80's like she is now thanks to The Avengers films. Ah well, I still had many years of reading old comics and Wizard magazine alone in my room before my knowledge became encyclopedic.

So that's the story on the Mighty Marvel Jumbo Fun Book. There are hundreds of other games to show you, but this will have to do for now. Did you have this book or another like it? Did any of your favorite cartoon or TV characters inspire similar activity books?
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Vaporman87 Posted on Feb 01, 2016 at 08:57 PM

I, unfortunately, never owned this awesome piece of Marvel history. But I did have many similar activity books prominently featuring other properties. Most of those were either Masters of the Universe or Transformers related. I still own a Masters of the Universe Sticker book, complete with some of the stickers that were meant to fill it's pages. I didn't manage to get many of the stickers though, so most of the spots meant for the stickers are blank. Maybe I should search Ebay for what I need to finish it, eh?

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