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1/07/2020 2:35 pm  #1


The Evolution of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

NOTE: I'm pretty sure I expanded this further on Capes(Optional). Does anyone have the expanded post?

I created this thread on Comixfan on Feb 21, 2012, 03:08 pm. As I expect to update the first post regularly, the rest of the historical text will start with the second post.

The Evolution of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

This is a new feature that I’m posting on my blog and on the Comixfan site which I think will be of interest to people. For the blog, each volume will get a separate post. For the Comixfan site, all posts will appear at the top for ease of references, with additions noted in the replies below. Illustrations always in colour unless otherwise noted.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (first series) 1983-1984

Number of Issues: 15 (32 pages plus covers)

Covers: Front and back covers in a single image, first 12 issues combine to form a poster that is three issues across and four down. #13-14 for a poster that is two issues across. #15 is by itself. Every solo character with an entry depicted (for #15, every wielder of a device depicted). Colour backgrounds for all.

Formatting: The inside front covers for all list the contents and credits.

#1-12: The body usually covered all but the last two non-cover pages. Most entries were 1 page, though quite a few were ½, with two ½ page entries in a row filed alphabetically. On rare occasions entries took up 2 pages The last two non-cover pages were usually for Alien Races (all but Human Races ¼-page each). #12 had only 6 instead of 8 races, and they were slightly earlier in the book due to the Appendix. The Appendix, usually in the inside back cover was usually a full page of capsule entries. In #1 it was only a ½-page at the bottom due to a ½-page Editorial at the top of the inside back cover. In #12, aside from the inside back cover (other than a small Special Announcements Section at the bottom of that page), there was an addition 1 ½ pages of Appendix entries.

#13-14 (Book of the Dead & Inactive): The main section covered all but the last four non-cover pages (#13) and all the non-cover pages (#14). Page counts remained typically ½-1 page. There was a four page section on defunct teams in #13. The inside back covers were basically a full-page discussion on an aspect of death (the top of #13’s inside back cover has an editor’s note)

#15 (Book of Weapons, Hardware, and Paraphernalia): Non-cover pages were typically about ½-page each (a few 1-pages). Inside back cover had entries on Adamantium and Vibranium that were close to ½-page, though instead of illos of these there was an Editor’s Note with ID card drawings for Avengers and SHIELD.

Interior Art: New main illos. Some entries have a secondary illo taken from another series (none in #13-14). Team entries are usually headshots with no other illustrations. Locations typically have maps. Some maps and diagrams have captions that are typeset while others are hand lettered. Colour backgrounds (this would not be used again until 2004).

Text Categories (*= not for all entries; categories only used once or twice not noted):

Main Entries (Solo)(#1-14)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Real Name
Occupation
Identity
Legal status
Former aliases*
Other current aliases*
Code-name in own language*
Place of birth
Place of death (#13-14)
Marital status
Known relatives
Group affiliation
Base of operations
First appearance (First modern appearance for characters who first appeared prior to Fantastic Four#1)
Final appearance (#13-14)
Origin (#1-12)/History (#13-14)
Height
Weight
Eyes
Hair
Unusual features*
Powers
Weapons*

Legal status covers both location and criminal record. Identity refers to if secret or not. Early issues in the Origin section would cover how they got their powers and in some cases key early activities after becoming active. Later issues were more likely to go into more in depth into the careers of characters covered but that was not a hard and fast rule.

#12-13 focussed on deceased characters and therefore the Origin category was replaced by History and gave a snapshot of their entire career up to their deaths or time inactive. Subsequent Handbooks have for the most part stuck with the term History to cover back stories (Master Edition is a notable exception).

In cases where characters first appeared prior to Fantastic Four #1, only their first modern (i.e. post Fantastic Four#1) appearance is noted, not their true first appearance.

See the Appendix notes below for a discussion of the Roman numerals that appear in some #13-14 entries.

Main Entries (Teams/Groups)(#1-14)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
First appearance* (later issues only)

It was very uncommon in the early issues to note the First appearance of teams. With rare exceptions, issue 9 appears to be the starting point and even then this was done inconsistently at first.

For those team/group entries to have headshots (a majority), they used the following format, which continues to this day:
HEADSHOT NAME IN CAPS
(Real name/alter ego in parentheses)
First appearance*
Active*

Main Entries (#15)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Description (untitled)

Alien Races categories
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Origin Galaxy
Star System
Planet
Habitat
Gravity
Atmosphere
Population
Physical Characteristics (Type/Eyes/Fingers/Toes/Skin color/Average height)
Special adaptations
Type of government
Level of technology
Cultural traits
Names of representatives
First appearance

The more prominent alien races (Kree, Shi’ar, Skrulls) followed the team/group format (no headshots) and were in the main body rather than the Alien Races section.

Appendix entries
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Real name/aliases if known in parenthesis (untitled).
In same paragraph as above, History (untitled)
In same paragraph above: First appearance and where died.

In some cases there would be a mixing of different characters of the same name, in which case after the first character was covered, the next version of the character would be covered in the same paragraph.

In a few cases an entry was just a cross-reference.

In cases in the Appendix and in characters in #13-14, characters sharing the same name as another character would be noted by a Roman numeral, with the first published version of a character getting a I, the second a II, etc. (as opposed to the Deluxe and later versions, in which the chronological rather than published earlier version would get the earlier Roman numeral.

This is the only series to have a general Appendix, those appendices for specific purposes would appear in later volumes.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe – Deluxe Edition (second series) 1985-1988

Number of Issues: 20 (64 pages plus covers)

Covers: Front and back covers in a single image again; all solo characters included, plus those with sub-entries. #1-15 combine to form a single image, as do #16-20. Images continue to the right in subsequent issues, no poster style with one issue above another. have the characters facing right; white backgrounds. #16-20 (Book of the Dead issues) have ghostly versions of the characters facing forward; blue background.

Formatting: The inside front covers for all list the contents and credits, as well as an editorial section that frequently spills into the back cover. In some of the later issues the editorial section is in the form of a list of data corrections.

For the non-cover sections, the entirety of #1-14 is the regular entries, as is the first half of #15. Entries are typical 1-2 pages, often 3-4, a few higher. No ½-pagers; however, some team entries have ¼-page sub-entries (a few sub-entries ½-page). The second half of #15 is ¼-page Alien Races entries. #16-20 constitute the Book of the Dead, with entries in the same format as the regular entries except as noted below. No defunct teams/groups unless the entirety/majority of the team is deceased at time of publication. In #20, the editorial (Data Corrections) section spills over to the last non-cover page.

Due to colouring errors in #8, the middle section of #9 has the colour-corrected versions of those pages (4 pages).

Inside back covers: #1-4: Glossary. Appendix: Alternate Dimensions#5-15. #16 is devoted to Strength Levels in the Known Marvel Universe. #17-18 lists series set in the Marvel Universe, Editorial section from inside front cover spills over into back in issues #2-5, 7-9, 11-13, 15, 18-20. #15 has a second editorial at back plus 2 additional Alien Races as described above. #19-20 have no additional sections other than the editorial (Data Corrections) started on the inside front cover.

The editorial section is Data Corrections in #8-9, 11, 13, 18-20.

Interior Art: Main illos: Either new art or art taken directly from the original series; in the latter the art is sometimes modified somewhat to make it more current. Considerable use of secondary illos including action shots taken from various comics. If team members head an entry elsewhere they’re usual depicted with a headshot; if not, they are drawn full body in their ¼-page sub-entry. Some entries have weapons and paraphernalia specs embedded in the entry, some new, some adapted from #15 of the previous series. The Alien Races section has been completely redrawn. White backgrounds.

Text Categories (*= not for all entries; categories only used once or twice not noted):

Text in this series used cross-references, many to a non-existent but planned at the time Appendix. Roman numerals according to in universe chronology were common.

Main Entries
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Real Name
Occupation
Identity
Legal status
Former aliases*
Other current aliases*
Code-name in own language*
Place of birth
Place of death (#16-20)
Marital status
Known relatives
Group affiliation
Base of operations
First appearance (First modern appearance for characters who first appeared prior to Fantastic Four#1)
Origin
Final appearance (#16-20)
History
Height
Weight
Eyes
Hair
Unusual features*
Strength level
Known superhuman powers*
Former superhuman powers*
Other abilities*
Abilities*
Limitations*
Weapons*

Origin has a different meaning than in the first series. Here it refers to which issues have a character’s Origin stories. First appearance and Origin sometimes merged together as First appearance and origin. History now covers characters’ careers in greater depth.

As should be evident above, the specific combat related categories are determined by the nature of the character.

Main Entries (Teams/Groups)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
First appearance

The First appearance category was now standard.

For those team/group entries to have headshots, they used the following format as per the original series:
HEADSHOT NAME IN CAPS
(Real name/alter ego in parentheses)
First appearance*
Active*

Some entries, where the members are too minor to have their own entries and where this wouldn’t result in too large an entry, ¼ page sub-entries are used. Sub-entries work similar to main entries; however, categories are further abridged for space reasons.

Alien Races categories
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Origin Galaxy
Star System
Planet
Estimated population
Physical Characteristics (Type/Eyes/Fingers/Toes/Skin color/Average height)
Special adaptations
Type of government
Level of technology
Names of representatives
First appearance

So Habitat, Gravity, Atmosphere, and Cultural traits have been dropped from the first series, and Note added. This the final series to have ¼-entries on Alien Races as separate sections, though larger such entries do appear in later volumes with very different categories.

Once again, certain key alien races received full group entries in the body of the text, following the group format. No headshots except for the Kree.

Appendix: Other Dimensions categories
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Type
Environment
Usual means of access
Dominant lifeform
Prominent inhabitants*
Comments
First appearance

This is the only series to have this section, though some dimensions later get full entries.

There was also a 10-volume trade paperback series based on the Deluxe Edition with a few new entries and some removed (including all the Alien Races and inside cover material). The new entries follow the same pattern as the rest of the Deluxe Edition. In addition some of the existing entries were modified either cosmetically (e.g. a different costume) or extensively.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe – Update ‘89 (third series) 1989

Number of Issues: 8 (48 pages plus covers)

Covers: Front and back covers in a single image again; select characters only, facing forward; colour background.

Formatting: The inside front covers for all list the contents and credits, plus a humour cartoon. #1-14 have an editorial section called From the Doghouse in #1-3 and In the Doghouse in #4.

Non-cover pages are the main entries, all 1-4 pages. A single-entry Deceased section appears at the end of #8; the final non-cover page of #8 has the start of the Data Corrections section (this series; continues in inside back cover).

Inside back covers: Data Corrections: #1-6, Data Updates #6-7 (all for the Deluxe Edition), Data Corrections: #8 (this series); #2 also has Marvel Assistant Editor Awards for 1988 and Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards for 1988 forms. #3 also has an amended Chameleon entry (instead of illos of the Chameleon, there’s a cartoon Peter Sanderson figure explaining what happened). #4 also has a discussion on the Atlanteans. #5 also has another cartoon. #8 also has a poster merging the covers of first series #1-12 with some modifications as per an actual poster sold at the time, being the art to the then-present day.

Interior Art: Main illos: new art. Considerable use of secondary illos including action shots, all also new art, making this the only series to be entirely composed of new art. If team members head an entry elsewhere they’re usual depicted with a headshot; if not, they are drawn full body in their ¼-page sub-entry. Some entries had a full-page colour background, some had a colour square background, some had a white background.

Text Categories (*= not for all entries; categories only used once or twice not noted):

Once again, text in this series used cross-references, many to a non-existent but planned at the time Appendix; this was the final volume to make use of cross-references. Roman numerals according to in universe chronology were common.

Main Entries

As per Deluxe Edition with two key exceptions: All entries now have a Known superhuman powers category (often the answer is “None”) and pre-Fantastic Four #1 characters now have both a First appearance category and a First modern appearance category, the modern covering their true first appearance and the latter covering their first post-Fantastic Four#1 appearance. Starting here the “modern” appearances would fall more and more out of favour, probably due to a combination of more Golden Age stories being seen as in continuity and due to the 1960s becoming too far into the past to be considered modern. Indeed, Fantastic Four#1 is now further in the past in the present than Motion Picture Funnies Weekly#1 was at the time of the first Handbook.

Main Entries (Teams/Groups)

Again, this follows a pattern similar to Deluxe. However, entries with no sub-entries are more likely to depict full body shots rather than headshots, with or without First appearance. This is the final series to use ¼-page sub-entries.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe – Master Edition (fourth series) 1991-1993

Curiously this series claimed to be the third series again. It was actually the fourth.

Number of Issues: 36 (48 pages plus cover)

Covers: The front cover had a colour image of a key character plus headshots of the other characters, on a colour background, with contents. In #1-12 the contents were on the bottom, in #13-36 they were on the left, which non-solo entries noted in a blurb in the artwork.

There were no back covers.

Formatting: The inside front cover have either an editorial with credits (sometimes with additional entry info for those characters who needed more than two pages), an explanation of the special ability categories, or a glossary.

All entries are exactly two pages. Loofleaf format. Unlike previous titles, where the alphabetizing spanned the entire run, each issue has its own alphabetizing.

Interior Art: For solo entries, the front side of each entry have three illos each with the character facing front, left, and back; these were all pencilled by Keith Pollard and inked by Josef Rubenstein. If there is room, some entries have reprinted illos on the back of the character in action. For team entries, the front side have new art from other artists showing the team in action; there is rarely art in the back for those entries unless the team’s supporting cast is depicted (see below). Some sheets show a hero in action on the front (new art). Usually but not always the back side show headshots of the character’s supporting cast (new art).

Text Categories (*=not all entries)

Roman numerals according to in universe chronology were common.

Main Entries
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS (both sides; sometimes the front side entry name different from the back side entry name)

Rest of the categories back side only, divided into sections in caps, with bars around the sections. There were slight differences in the biographical section if the character was deceased at the time.

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
Real name
Other current aliases / Alias at time of death
Former aliases
Dual Identity
Current occupation / Occupation at time of death
Former occupation
Citizenship
Legal status
Place of birth
Place of death *(deceased characters only)
Marital status
Known relatives
Known confidents
Known allies
Major enemies
Usual base of operations / Base of operations at time of death
Former bases of operations
Current group membership / Group membership at time of death
Former group membership
Extent of education

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
Height
Weight
Eyes
Hair
Other distinguishing features

POWERS AND ABILITIES
Intelligence
Strength
Flight speed*
Stamina
Durability
Agility
Reflexes
Fighting skills
Special skills and abilities
Superhuman physical powers
Superhuman mental powers
Special limitations
Source of superhuman powers

PARAPHERNALIA
Costume specifications
Personal weaponry
Special weaponry
Other accessories
Transportation
Design and manufacture of paraphernalia

BIBLIOGRAPHY
First appearance
Origin issue
Significant issues

So this series breaks things down further than most series do, separating out similar categories that are normally lumped together. Citizenship refers to country while Legal status refers to criminal records. Education is the main new carry-over into future editions, though some of the Ability categories may have inspired the Power Grid and may in turn have been inspired by the Marvel Superheroes Role-Playing Game being published at the time. Allies and Enemies, while interesting categories, have not proven to have longevity, probably because the History normally covers that. This is the only volume to not have a History section as is normally perceived, though the Significant issues section covers key events with issues noted; unfortunately being the last section of the sheet and being limited to one sheet of text it tends to get cut off a lot.

Team Entries
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS (both sides; the front side usually refers to a specific line-up but that is not the case with the back sides).

Rest of the categories back side only, divided into sections in caps, with bars around the sections. Most team entries spanned multiple issues. The first time a team entry appears, it follows the following format:

ORGANIZATION
Purpose
Modus operandi
Extent of operations
Relationship to conventional authorities
Base of operationsFormer bases of operations
Major funding
Known enemies
Known allies

MEMBERSHIP
Number of active members
Number of reserve members
Organizational structure
Known officers
Known current members
Known former members
Known special agents
Membership requirements
Note*

HISTORY
Founders
Other leaders
Previous purpose or goals*
Major campaigns or accomplishments
Major setbacks

TECHNOLOGY AND PARAPHERNALIA
Level of technology
Transportation
Standard uniforms
Standard weaponry
Standard accessories

BIBLIOGRAPHY
First appearance
Origin issue

So far more extensive in terms of categories than any other volume’s team entries, though at the extent of a typical History entry.

Most teams have additional pages with MEMBERSHIP ROSTER data on the back. These followed the following patterns per member

CHARACTER NAME IN CAPS
Real name
Current status
Membership record
Note

For those team entries that have a supporting cast section, see In Action sheets below

IN ACTION Sheets

Some of these have equipment instead. The front side is labelled as per what was being depicted, then for the same character the back has text, usually SUPPORTING CAST for the same character.

SUPPORTING CAST entries used the following categories
CHARACTER NAME IN CAPS
Current occupation
Relationship
First appearance

The PUNISHER IN ACTION sheet has PUNISHER’S ARSENAL on the back. This is a unique occurrence but it’s likely had the series continued, these categories would have eventually reappeared.

ARSENAL NAME IN CAPS
Caliber
Action
Capacity
Weight
Note

Marvel Encyclopedia 2002-2004

I debated whether or not to include these. Ultimately the deciding factor was a number of elements now in the Handbooks appeared here.

Number of Issues: 6 (240 pages plus covers and dust jacket), of which only five were actually encyclopedias. As such only v1-2, 4-6 covered below

Dust jacket: 2 colour images on colour backgrounds (1 front, 1 back); introductory text on flaps; only key characters depicted

Covers: Colour image with colour background spanning both sides; only key characters depicted

Formatting: Inside covers colour but blank. Credits and new art before chapters. Some Chapters introduction/history pieces, with reprinted art. Start of main body variable. Some volumes have separate sections for separate subject categories. For sections with entries, entries typically ranged from 1/3-page to 4 pages. Volumes 4-6 have an Appendix section.

Interior Art: Artwork is usually reprinted; I think some of the larger entries have a new main illo. Text is always in a white background. While this is not a hard and fast rule, generally, entries a page or more tend to have white backgrounds for the art while entries that are less than a page tend to have the colour backgrounds that the art was originally taken from.

Text Categories

In all instances where there’s a First Appearance category, a Roman numeral indicates which series it is (if unclear) and the date of the issue is given; the latter continues to present day Handbooks

Main Entries (Solo)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Real Name
First Appearance
Height
Weight
Eye Color (if entry 1 page or more)
Hair Color (if entry 1 page or more)
Untitled history section
Powers/Weapons (bullet points)
Untitled power grid with:
• Intelligence
• Strength
• Speed
• Durability
• Energy Projection
• Fighting Skills

The Power Grid, introduced here, continues to the present day with the same categories, though here it’s a line with dots rather than its present format.

Main Entries (Groups/Teams)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Membership (not all entries)
First Appearance
Untitled history section

Appendix entries

Note: No category names given in Appendix entries, just the actual data

In one row:
Entry name (bolded)
Real name if known (bolded)
First appearance (italicized)
Description/history (plain text)

Between the main entries and the Appendix, the Fantastic Four volume as two additional sections:

Alternate Earths
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Designation
First Appearance
Untitled history section

Alternate Earths Appendix
Note: No category names given in Appendix entries, just the actual data. Instead of being listed in order of entry name, this section is listed in order of First Appearance.

In one row:
First appearance (italicized)
Designation (bolded)
Description/history (plain text)

In the latter two sections, Designation refers to the Earth number. This was the first series to assign Earth numbers to the various realities. Of course the term is a bit of a misnomer because the Earth is only a small portion of the reality and in rare cases like the pre-Big Bang reality there isn’t even an Earth present.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: ____ 2004

Number of Issues: 8 one-shots, 32 pages plus covers

Covers: Outside front cover shows a selection of characters (not complete). Outside back cover is a list of entries. Inside front cover lists the credit plus an image from a comic that the Handbook references. The inside back cover has a Bibliography (continued from previous page) followed by Power Ratings.

Other Formatting: Each issue devoted to a specific theme, alphabetical within an issue (though the Avengers volume has the more technical material in the back rather than in the A’s). The first page repeats the logo and has a new image. The last page again starts the Bibliography, leaving 30 pages of actual entries. Most entries one or two pages. Some were larger but none smaller.

Interior Art: Curiously, the unpopular colour backgrounds returned for the first time since the original series. Main images seem new in the first volume (X-Men) and reprint in the last volume (Golden Age). In between issues seem to have a mix of the two, though the second last volume (Book of the Dead) looks like it also be all reprints. Reprinted art both from stories and previous handbooks and I think trading cards. Does anyone know for sure which images were created for this round of Handbooks? Each main image has a plain “border” behind the hero (smaller than the main image) which is yellow in the X-Men issue (a few characters actually step into the shot from the border this issue only) and black in the subsequent issues. Design spec illos and team illos have no such borders. As with the first two Handbooks there are also images from various comics

Text Categories (*= not for all entries; categories only used once or twice not noted):


Art credits in margins. Text in main background is black, in black background is white

Main Entries (Solo)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Real Name
Known Aliases
Identity
Occupation
Place of birth
Citizenship
Marital status
Known relatives
Group affiliation
Education
First Appearance (starting with #4 Hulk)
History
Physical Stats in Black Box (First Five):
Physical Description


  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eyes
  • Hair
  • Distinguishing Features


Powers & Abilities

  • Strength Level
  • Superhuman Powers
  • Special Skills


Physical Stats in Black Box (Last Three)
Height
Weight
Eyes
Hair
Distinguishing Features*
Superhuman Powers *
Limitations *
Abilities *
Paraphernalia *
All (in same black box)
Power Grid

  • Intelligence
  • Strength
  • Speed
  • Durability
  • Energy Projection
  • Fighting Skills


Main Entries (Teams/Groups)
The first three volumes had no real team entries though #3 Avengers did have an Avengers Roster (more on this below)
For most team entries #4 (Hulk) and #5 (Daredevil) other than U-Foes (not described as its format was just used once):
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
First Appearance
History
#6 (Wolverine) and #8 (Golden Age) more or less followed this pattern (albeit with a fair bit of variation)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Purpose
Known Members
Major Enemies
Known Bases of Operations
Known Extent of Operations
First Appearance
History

Only #3 (Avengers) and #6 (Wolverine) used headshots. The pattern there (with Avengers Roster using black backgrounds that would reappear later; again, a number of variations here):
NAME IN CAPS
(most had real name in parentheses)
First Appearance

Bibliography
First Three
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
First Appearance
Origin
Significant Issues
Last Five
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Origin Issues
Significant Issues

First Appearances and Origins list both the volume number and the date of the issues.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: ____ 2005

Number of Issues: 12 one-shots (including two Official Handbooks of the Ultimate Marvel Universe), 32 pages plus covers

Covers: Outside front cover shows a selection of characters (not complete). Outside back cover is a list of entries. Inside front cover lists the credit plus a list of earlier Handbooks with related entries, an image from a comic that the Handbook references, or both. The inside back cover has a Bibliography (continued from previous page except the Ultimate books) followed by Power Ratings (except: Age of Apocalpyse has a Checklist, then the Power Ratings).

Other Formatting: Each issue devoted to a specific theme, alphabetical within an issue. The first page of the first five issues repeats the logo and has a new image; with the sixth issue, Fantastic Four, the entries start on the first page. The last page again starts the Bibliography (aside from Age of Apocalypse and Ultimate books), leaving 30-32 pages of actual entries. Most entries one or two pages.

Interior Art: The unpopular colour backgrounds continued. Most if not all images (main and secondary) other than cover and title page are reprints, possibly some from trading cards. Does anyone know for sure? Most issues have a plain “border” behind the hero (smaller than the main image); colour can vary between issues but not within an issue. Team and other unusual illos have no such borders.

Text Categories (*= not for all entries; categories only used once or twice not noted):


Art credits in margins. Text in main background is black, in black background is white

Main Entries (Solo)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Real Name
Known Aliases
Identity
Occupation
Place of birth
Citizenship
Marital status
Known relatives
Group affiliation
Education
First Appearance
History
Physical Stats in Black Box
Height
Weight
Eyes
Hair
Distinguishing Features*
Superhuman Powers *
Limitations *
Abilities *
Paraphernalia *
Power Grid

  • Intelligence
  • Strength
  • Speed
  • Durability
  • Energy Projection
  • Fighting Skills


Main Entries (Teams/Groups)
While there was some variation before and after (including the later 2004 patten), #5 Teams established the most frequent pattern for this run:
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Current Members
Former Members
Base of Operations
First Appearance
History

Main Entries (Alternate Universes)
While this pattern was limited to #9 Alternate Universes, it is included because it would be used as the basis for of later runs
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
Core Continuum Designation
Significant Inhabitants
Significant Locations
First Appearance

Headshots rarely used; just a bit in Age of Apocalypse, Avengers, X-Men.
NAME IN CAPS
(most had real name in parentheses)
First Appearance (not Age of Apocalpyse)

Bibliography (not in Age of Apocalypse)
ENTRY NAME IN CAPS
First Appearance
Origin (not in Alternate Universes)
Significant Issues

First Appearances and Origins list both the volume number and the date of the issues.


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1/07/2020 2:43 pm  #2


Re: The Evolution of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

Historical text from Comixfan:
 
Andy E. Nystrom

Feb 21, 2012, 09:42 pm

Updated to include the Deluxe Edition.




Stuart V

Feb 22, 2012, 07:08 am

  Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

<i>#15 </i>: Inside back cover had entries on Adamantium and Vibratium

Vibranium.

Interesting idea to track the evolution. However, if you want to truly do that, it is definitely worth at least mentioning the Handbooks' "prehistoric" ancestors. The earliest ancestors were probably the one page posters that most frequently appeared in annuals, which included small snippets of biographical information. Though closer to posters than character background entries, there's a touch of proto-handbook in them, with the idea of providing readers with a quick summary of who characters were accompanied by a good visual main image of said person. You also had descriptions of things like Spider-Man's equipment, which again could be seen as ancestors of the diagrams Eliot Brown later did. Then you have this strength chart from Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1981
http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/5...annual_15_.jpg
an early attempt at quantifying relative strength levels (not wanting to discuss how well it quantified, just noting its historical significance). And then you have the capsule entries in Contest of Champions.




Andy E. Nystrom

Feb 22, 2012, 12:11 pm

  Stuart V wrote:

Interesting idea to track the evolution. However, if you want to truly do that, it is definitely worth at least mentioning the Handbooks' "prehistoric" ancestors. The earliest ancestors were probably the one page posters that most frequently appeared in annuals, which included small snippets of biographical information. Though closer to posters than character background entries, there's a touch of proto-handbook in them, with the idea of providing readers with a quick summary of who characters were accompanied by a good visual main image of said person. You also had descriptions of things like Spider-Man's equipment, which again could be seen as ancestors of the diagrams Eliot Brown later did. Then you have this strength chart from Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1981
http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/5...annual_15_.jpg
an early attempt at quantifying relative strength levels (not wanting to discuss how well it quantified, just noting its historical significance). And then you have the capsule entries in Contest of Champions.

Those might be interesting to add on in the future. The reason I decided to start with the first series rather than Contest etc was if you compare, say, between Contest to first series you're largely comparing apples and oranges (i.e.. the entry formats bear little resemblance to one another), whereas between the original and Deluxe series, the basic infrastructure is in place, and you can start seeing some of the adjustments that were made (greater use of action shots, History instead of Origin, etc.). I might add in some of the older stuff later, but in the short term I wanted to focus on what's easier to compare.




Michael Regan

Feb 22, 2012, 12:34 pm


A great project idea, and an equally great inclusion idea from Stuart. I look forward to the results.




William Keogh

Feb 22, 2012, 02:27 pm


Definitely a worthy project idea!




Andy E. Nystrom

Feb 23, 2012, 12:16 pm

Corrected a few typos.

Added in number of issues and page counts

Added in coverage of team/group entries

Updated the coverage to Update '89




Eduardo M.

Feb 23, 2012, 04:29 pm


Something interesting about the Update 89, some entries has a full color background, others had a small square in the background, and some had none.




Andy E. Nystrom

Feb 23, 2012, 04:37 pm

  Eduardo M. wrote:

Something interesting about the Update 89, some entries has a full color background, others had a small square in the background, and some had none.

Good catch. I'd add that in. While I have the originals, I was using the Essentials for convenience sake and working from memory in the colour area, so I overlooked that.




Eduardo M.

Feb 23, 2012, 07:17 pm

  Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

Good catch. I'd add that in. While I have the originals, I was using the Essentials for convenience sake and working from memory in the colour area, so I overlooked that.

I remember debating my cousin as to why they did that. We liked the colored backgrounds




Andy E. Nystrom

Feb 23, 2012, 09:11 pm

  Eduardo M. wrote:

I remember debating my cousin as to why they did that. We liked the colored backgrounds

I don't mind colour backgrounds on characters (though I find white backgrounds make the characters stand out more), but white is a must for the text area I think. Agreed though that being consistent looks nicer.




Eduardo M.

Feb 23, 2012, 10:02 pm

One more thing you may want to mention with Update 89

The poster in the back of #8 is the same as the Marvel Universe poster on sale at around the same time. It adds more characters and changes some to reflect their current looks or other changes at the time (Ex; non-furry Beast, Xavier walking, Iron Man's silver centurion armor)




Phoenixx9

Feb 24, 2012, 04:12 pm

This is a wonderful idea for a thread Andy. Thanks for posting it.

If I remember correctly, in the 10-Volume TPB version of the Deluxe Edition, Wonder Man was the only character that was given a costume update.

They changed his red "safari" jacket outfit to the black/red costume with the red "W" on his chest and changed his gray hair to black in a mullet hairstyle and showed his glowing red eyes.




captainswift

Feb 24, 2012, 04:28 pm

  Phoenixx9 wrote:

This is a wonderful idea for a thread Andy. Thanks for posting it.

If I remember correctly, in the 10-Volume TPB version of the Deluxe Edition, Wonder Man was the only character that was given a costume update.

They changed his red "safari" jacket outfit to the black/red costume with the red "W" on his chest and changed his gray hair to black in a mullet hairstyle and showed his glowing red eyes.

A lot more than that.

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Hawkeye, Nomad, and Henry Pym also had costume updates; the Power Broker Inc. profile was replaced with Power Broker himself, the android Zodiac entry was expanded to include 1/4 page profiles, Patsy Walker Hellstrom was replaced with Hellcat, Daimon Hellstrom was replaced with Hellstorm. And there was an entirely new profile of the Headmen (not the same one used later in Update 89).




Sidney Osinga

Feb 24, 2012, 05:18 pm

  captainswift wrote:

A lot more than that.

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Hawkeye, Nomad, and Henry Pym also had costume updates; the Power Broker Inc. profile was replaced with Power Broker himself, the android Zodiac entry was expanded to include 1/4 page profiles, Patsy Walker Hellstrom was replaced with Hellcat, Daimon Hellstrom was replaced with Hellstorm. And there was an entirely new profile of the Headmen (not the same one used later in Update 89).

Plus, Primus was omitted.




captainswift

Feb 24, 2012, 05:21 pm

Sidney Osinga wrote:

Plus, Primus was omitted.

Oh, a loooooot of characters were omitted, including the entire Alien Races appendix. I only listed what was new.




Andy E. Nystrom

Feb 24, 2012, 06:55 pm

I did some tweaking to Deluxe and Update, in part incorporating people's suggestions. Master Edition added.




Andy E. Nystrom

Feb 28, 2012, 11:45 am

The Marvel Encyclopedia series now added (bringing my post count to 999; see Master List thread in just a moment for my 1,000th post!)



Andy E. Nystrom
Oct 29, 2013, 10:14 pm

I've fallen way behind on this one but do plan to update this to the 2010s eventually.
 
Historical text from CxPulp:
 
Stuart V
06-30-2015, 02:59 PM
 
It'll be interesting to see this get on to the modern era books. There were a lot of changes in the early days as we hammered out the formatting, and you can spot some of them as we went from one book to the next. Many were subtle space-saving measures, as we had strict word count limits. That's the reason we ended up including longer paragraphs - every paragraph break loses a dozen or so words! Among the things we did (but I couldn't say off the top of my head exactly which book they began with) were:
amalgamating powers, skills and equipment into a single section
dropped marital status - we figured that people could figure that out via relatives
Legal status became Citizenship - we also went from the old style listing of "Citizen of Latveria with no known criminal record" to just "Latveria" on the assumption that if we didn't state "with a criminal record" then readers could figure out for themselves that the character had none.

One of the more significant tweaks that arose part way through the run, and one I am particularly pleased about, is the addition of unmasked/untransformed images for every character where one is available. Given one of the reasons for the handbooks is to provide a reference for artists as to what a character looks like, including a shot that shows someone unmasked or in human form is a vital inclusion.
 
Andy E. Nystrom
07-05-2015, 10:44 PM
 
Sorry I've fallen behind on this. I'm going on a trip soon but will try to tackle 2004 at least when I get back. The unmasked aspects was a great addition. The original Who's Who also did that, though not in colour until the looseleaf versions (one of the few areas that Who's Who beat the Handbooks) -- as an aside, while they eventually dropped it, I also liked their pronunciation guide for some of the trickier characters. Agreed that it's an important reference (I know Magneto had more than one unmasked look a long time ago). I had wondered about some of the missing categories, so the word count limit explains a lot.
 
Andy E. Nystrom
10-17-2015, 11:12 AM
 
The wait is finally over! Finally got around to adding the 2004 issues. It was necessary for me to use the chronology thread to make sense of these as there was some changes that occurred during this set of issues.

Since Madripoor was the only location in the 2004 books I didn't bother listing the categories there, though I may change my mind as I get further down these. Due to the large amount of variations in team and headshot categories, only the most frequent patterns noted.
 
Andy E. Nystrom
11-06-2015, 09:30 AM
 
The 2005 run now added. I'll probably skip the Marvel Legacy books because they were deliberately done in a manner that wasn't intended to be permanent, though if people really want them in here I'll reconsider.
 


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1/07/2020 2:55 pm  #3


Re: The Evolution of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

Marvel Encyclopedia 2002-2004

I debated whether or not to include these. Ultimately the deciding factor was a number of elements now in the Handbooks appeared here.

Additionally, this is where many of the current crop of handbook writers started, so these are definitely the precursors to the 21st century volumes.

Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

Interior Art: Artwork is usually reprinted; I think some of the larger entries have a new main illo.

I could be wrong, as we were less involved with art choices at this stage, but I suspect there was no new art at all.

Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

In all instances where there’s a First Appearance category, a Roman numeral indicates which series it is (if unclear) and the date of the issue is given; the latter continues to present day Handbooks

Yeah, we dumped the Roman Numerals fairly fast iirc. In terms of which volume of a comic you are looking for, the volume numbers don't really convey any real info, and can actually be misleading - there's no consensus among even those who know about the differing volumes as to whether or not to include one-shots or minis in those counts, plus when numbering reverts back to the original count, does the volume do so too? Giving the year of publication is clearer and more informative, and there's only one instance that I can think of where it wouldn't clarify completely as to which issue someone needs to look for. Bonus points for figuring out which title has that problem.

Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

In the latter two sections, Designation refers to the Earth number. This was the first series to assign Earth numbers to the various realities. Of course the term is a bit of a misnomer because the Earth is only a small portion of the reality and in rare cases like the pre-Big Bang reality there isn’t even an Earth present.

Hence why within entries you'll sometimes see references to "Reality-xxx" or "Universe-xxx" rather than Earth-xxx

Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

Interior Art: Main images seem new in the first volume (X-Men) and reprint in the last volume (Golden Age). In between issues seem to have a mix of the two, though the second last volume (Book of the Dead) looks like it also be all reprints. Reprinted art both from stories and previous handbooks and I think trading cards. Does anyone know for sure which images were created for this round of Handbooks?

Again, I could be wrong, but I don't think there was any new art done for these books. It wasn't until we'd been running for a few years that we were given a small budget for some new art. Trying to find usable "hero shots" for some characters was not easy, I can tell you. We did get art redone or amended (if all that was needed to make an image a usable shot was, for example, the addition of a leg, for example).

Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

Main Entries (Teams/Groups)
For most team entries #4 (Hulk) and #5 (Daredevil) other than U-Foes (not described as its format was just used once):

If this is the U-Foes entry I recall doing, I made the case that since there was only four members on the team, we could give them individual stats like the old Handbooks had done for races like the Asgardians, especially as they were unlikely to get individual entries any time soon.
 

 

1/09/2020 7:10 pm  #4


Re: The Evolution of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

I'll recheck the U-Foes profile later since it's been a while since I wrote the above.

Loki wrote:

Giving the year of publication is clearer and more informative, and there's only one instance that I can think of where it wouldn't clarify completely as to which issue someone needs to look for. Bonus points for figuring out which title has that problem.

Spider-Gwen had two issue 1s in 2015. Technically so did Howard the Duck but at least with that one you can use the cover year for the next volume and say 2016. By the way, I must prefer the Handbook's using the date the issue was published instead of the date the series first started. It's always strange in solicitations of reprints to see a comic that came out in a later decade having a 1960s date.

Last edited by Andy E. Nystrom (1/09/2020 7:16 pm)


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