Marvel’s Avengers: Black Ops Field Guide Review

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Posted August 20, 2015 by Kierra Prince in Nerdy Bits

Published By: Put Me in the Story

 

Inevitably, Marvel’s success with their superhero franchises were sure to make it to just about every kind of market imaginable. We here are We the Nerdy managed to luck out and get our hands on a copy of a personalized Avengers book courtesy of Put Me in the Story, a website which offers many books and gifts that can be personalized to fit each and every individual child (or adult).

Personalizing your field guide is simple and takes no more than 5-10 minutes. You simply upload a picture of the recipient, put in their full name, identify some personal things like gender and hair color, and then write up a cool little dedication. This makes it perfect for gifts and especially perfect for children as it would be easy to write it up as if their favorite hero was inviting them into shield. Or as “Mom & Dad”. That works too.

There's a TON of room to actually write something heartfelt.

There’s a TON of room to actually write something heartfelt.

The first thing you’ll notice about the book is that it’s actually made quite well. The book is hardcover, the pages themselves are pretty heavy and seem durable, and the binding is all properly done. I’ve often seen personalized merchandise look rushed and shoddy because they’re using a cheap template but that isn’t the case here. This field guide is clearly made with care and should last for years.

The first page of the book contains the receiver’s special I.D. card that features the image that was uploaded and the various personal details to make it seem more authentic. It also gives your own agent I.D. number. The back of this I.D. card has a special decoder that will be used throughout the rest of the book to solve riddles. The creators of this book smartly made this page an extra one that contains a dotted line so that it’s known it can be cut out and even gives you a tip that it would be smart to laminate it. I highly suggest doing so as even though the paper is a bit thicker than average, it could still easily be destroyed if it got wet (or underwent the casual mayhem that kids somehow seem to subject everything to).

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I went with the approach of “leave it in the book” because I would lose it

Unfortunately, that’s basically where all the fun stops in regards to customization.

Now don’t get me wrong. The book is absolutely packed full of Marvel goodies as the entirety of it is basically a rap sheet of various Marvel heroes and villains. A handy guide at the beginning of the book shows you how to read the upcoming pages and lets you know how they rank people, how they choose their ranking of abilities, and other superpower things. And then the rest of the book is full of various characters and how Marvel presumably ranks each and every character.

Now you can skip the movie and save $12 (jokes! I'm full of them!)

Now you can skip the movie and save $12 (jokes! I’m full of them!)

These character sheets are admittedly kinda cool, with a paragraph devoted to a quick summary of how they came to be and their general role in the Marvel universe taking center stage along with a picture of them. While someone like Thor may not necessarily need this treatment, it becomes fairly important for characters like MODOK and even Vision whom people might not be very familiar with. Surrounding this quick summary is a breakdown of stats (speed, strength, durability, etc.), an overall rank, and a civilian profile that shows who they may hide as (or who they were before they became villains).

WHO ASKED FOR MODOK????

WHO ASKED FOR MODOK????

So where does the customization fit in, you ask?

Sadly, the customization comes in the form of an entire page devoted to each character in which you get to personally rank them.  And that’s it.

I know that someone will have a blast doing this (or fixing certain stats that I know extreme fans will have qualms with) but I personally had no interest in completing 14 pages of the same stuff over an over again. How fast do I think Loki is? Who is Vision’s greatest enemy? What is Iron Man’s greatest power?! Not only will I tell you that these are answers entirely dependent on the Marvel Universe in its current iteration but also why is this all I get to do? Sure, these may be a few fun things to debate over dinner and a few beers but as a goddamn adult there is no way in hell I wanted to spend anything beyond 5 minutes debating whether or not Hawkeye and Ant Man have the same level of intelligence or if Thanos could really destroy the universe with the infinity gauntlet. Although choosing the latter can leave you with a satisfying selection of only choosing a city and then smugly laughing while you call Thanos a chump.

I wasn't joking

I wasn’t joking

There’s also a passphrase on each page that you get to decode with that handy decoder you probably forgot existed and I can assure you that it’s probably best forgotten. Almost all the phrases are fairly generic phrases based around the characters and left me groaning. For example, Captain America’s special phrase was “Star-Spangled”. The Hulk’s was “World Breaker”. And it could’ve been cool if they had decided to make these things some kind of answer to a riddle but it’s instead written off as “Make sure we know it was you who did these pages!!!” as if SHIELD has a huge problem with papers to the wrong people.

"It says here that Ultron has an intelligence of 1, is less durable that an unsuited Iron Man, and can best be defeated by Your Mom. Looks like a job for Ant Man."

“It says here that Ultron has an intelligence of 1, is less durable that an unsuited Iron Man, and can best be defeated by Your Mom. Looks like a job for Ant Man.”

The thing that makes me most annoyed, however, is that they leave the best part for last by having you fill out your own SHIELD sheet describing your assets to the group and what your theoretical powers are. The reason why this frustrates me so much is that the people who created this clearly had some good ideas but for some reason just couldn’t execute them properly. Which, considering this is from a website/company called “Put Me in the Story”, I would’ve liked to see more stuff like this instead of a book of me finding ways to rank other characters. Why couldn’t I have fought evil instead? Why couldn’t I have chosen some of these things upon checkout so that I could’ve have a really cool book in which I fight evil using my telekinetic sorcery powers? Why couldn’t my rap sheet in which I’m clearly stronger than everyone have been included at the beginning of a book about me going off to destroy Thanos or whoever instead of me filling out a sheet saying “Why yes, I do indeed think that Ultron’s armor could withstand a missile but NOT an atomic blast.”?

I chose not to rank myself because I would have clearly maxed out all the stats and it's just not fair.

I chose not to rank myself because I would have clearly maxed out all the stats and it’s just not fair.

So is the book worth it?

As far as an adult audience goes, I absolutely can’t suggest it unless you’re a huge Marvel fan who ultimately needs every piece of product that Marvel can buy. It could be a thoughtful gift, but with a pretty hefty price of $35 (plus shipping) there are definitely a ton of other gifts you could buy for the Marvel fan in your life. And, as a huge nerd, I already got to live the life of choosing both my powers and a stellar outfit in games like City of Heroes. There’s basically nothing in here that I haven’t already done elsewhere.

However, I can see kids absolutely loving this thing, especially since most kids who are getting into superheroes as a result of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and various video games probably aren’t digging hardcore into Marvel history to figure out everything about Thanos that they can. And with the easy interaction, I could see this being a great way for parents to bond with their kids since even though younger children can’t read they can definitely answer a question of “How strong is the Hulk?”

 

 

From a Parents Perspective

By Andrew Semicek

I also got this book and had it customized for my oldest son who is in love with Marvel right now. He (and his younger brother) have both been in love with the book since I ordered it. If you are a parent and have a child who loves the Avengers then this is a must buy for sure. If you do go with the book make sure to get it customized too so that you can have their picture included inside of it to make them feel like they truly are a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent but do be aware this is not a storybook like some of their other products and would be more inclined for a child that’s slightly older (say 5-8) than a younger child who may not understand what all this entails.

 


About the Author

Kierra Prince

Was born with a controller in her hand. Fan of all things nerdy and has a tremendous amount of love for RPG's, anime, and anything horror. She secretly wishes to be a mash-up of Catwoman and Sailor Moon.