Presented as documents compiled for Shuri, The Wakanda Files is a fun, and informative, tour of the science and technology of the MCU.
Although no doubt intended for a slightly younger readership, The Wakanda Files: A Technological Exploration of the Avengers and Beyond will no doubt find an audience in fans old enough to remember days spent in the 1980s poring over copies of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. It’s not that this new book, written by Troy Benjamin, is a comprehensive guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe; it doesn’t set out to be. Instead, it goes to great, and thoroughly enjoyable, lengths to provide a pseudo-scientific explanation for everything from the powers of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff to the potential adverse effects of a mortal wielding Thor’s enchanted hammer.
A survey of the science and technology of the MCU, The Wakanda Files is presented as a collection of documents compiled at the request of Princess Shuri, to further her aim to improve the future of humanity, but also to find a synthetic substitute for the Heart-Shaped Herb, which grants the Black Panther his abilities. (Wakanda‘s supply was burned by Erik Killmonger in 2018’s Black Panther, but Nakia was able to save one of the plants.)
Woven together by transcriptions of Shuri’s authentic-sounding observations and questions, the documents draw from MCU sources dating back to the 1940s with the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division, on to its successor, S.H.I.E.L.D., the U.S. Army, and even the terrorist organization Hydra. But Wakanda’s central intelligence service, the War Dogs, also gains access to the notes of Tony Stark and Hank Pym for more personal insight into the development of the Iron Man armors, the Iron Spider Suit and the Quantum Pod.
There’s hardly a corner of the MCU, and its history and technology, that isn’t touched upon in The Wakanda Files, whether it’s the composition of Peter Parker’s web fluid, misconceptions about Thor’s ability to summon thunder and lightning, or an inventory of the weapons of Hawkeye and Black Widow. However, there’s no mention of the Guardians of the Galaxy, likely attributable to a lack of information available to any organization except the Avengers. (That said, the Avengers’ file on Thor notes that Stormbreaker’s handle is carved from living Flora colossus tissue — that is, Groot.)
Heck, even largely forgotten characters from the early days of the MCU, like Ivan Vanko from Iron Man, the Asgardian Destroyer from Thor, and Stan Lee’s Pingo Doce-drinking Milwaukee resident from The Incredible Hulk, receive space, believe it or not.
Although the information contained within is certainly enough to recommend the book to MCU aficionados, the aesthetic appeal of The Wakanda Files is undeniable. The plastic slipcase is removed to reveal not only the handsome embossed hardcover but also, in a nod to Wakandan technology, three plastic Kimoyo Beads extending from the right-hand side. Held in place by magnets, the center bead is actually a small UV light that exposes hidden content on certain pages.
If The Wakanda Files has any shortcoming it’s that, in a couple of instances, the book inadvertently breaks from its conceit: that it’s an in-world collection of documents, dating back to the early 1940s. That’s perhaps most noticeable is the World War II-era newspaper “clipping” that features a color still from Captain America: The First Avenger.
That’s a minor criticism, however. The Wakanda Files: A Technological Exploration of the Avengers and Beyond is a must-have book — and a must-buy holiday gift — for Marvel Cinematic Universe fans.
Published by Epic Ink, and written by Troy Benjamin, the 160-page The Wakanda Files is on sale now for $60.
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