Just some quick thoughts as a placeholder on a book I might want to do a full review of later.
I was kind of disappointed by Sean Howe's recent MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY. I guess my expectations were a bit high, since it was pretty heavily praised by quite a few people whose opinions I respect. I guess overall it's okay for what it is, a breezy pop history of the publisher, with a special emphasis on a few items of special interest to the writer. I guess I've read too much about the stuff I'm interested in, since there wasn't that much I learned about comics I liked, and just some trivia I've already started to forget about the comics I don't care for. Howe seems to like 1970s Marvel a lot, whereas my history of Marvel in the 1970s is "Jack Kirby left, Steve Gerber and Gene Colan did some interesting work both together and separately, Jack Kirby came back for a little while and soon after Gerber and Colan were gone. And Steve Ditko came back towards the end of the decade, drawing characters he didn't create". Howe seems to like Gerber, so it was cool that his work got a significant amount of attention. In comparison to their importance, I thought the 1960s got way too little room, there's a lot more you can get into there that I've read about in interviews with and articles by the people who were there, and the later eras got too much, and a lot of the wrong stuff was emphasized from those eras (the entire Epic line just seems to get a few passing references). And overall I think the book was too kind to a few individuals, presenting their stories in a "their side, everyone else's side, you figure out the truth" manner. I will say I took a certain joy in Tom DeFalco's telling of Jim Shooter's final days in charge.
Where I actually did learn a lot was the material on the various executives in charge of Marvel. Mostly that there seems to be a parade of incompetence, malfeasance and dishonesty in those positions, with no clear idea of what they had and how to properly exploit it until they happened to stumble into the success in the movie business more in spite of their actions than because of them.
The book did need at least one more run-through by a comics knowledgeable fact checker. Roy Thomas has some corrections specific to his areas of expertise (the Golden Age and his own career) here and here, and I noticed a number of things that seemed off, some of them easy to verify. Jerry Siegel is referred to as a "sixty-three year old proof-reader" circa 1968, when simple math would show that meant he co-created Superman in his late-20s and sold it to DC in his mid-30s, so definitely off by ten years. And there's a reference to George Perez's 1998 return to AVENGERS being his first work for Marvel in over 20 years, which is wrong twice, since he left for DC only 18 years earlier, and had worked on Marvel books like INFINITY GAUNTLET and HULK: FUTURE IMPERFECT earlier in the 1990s.
So, y'know, read it, don't take any of it as gospel (which isn't an expression I should use, since I don't take the Gospels as gospel...), pick up a bunch of ALTER EGOs, KIRBY COLLECTORs and Ditko essays for more details on the important stuff.