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2/06/2020 7:17 pm  #1


Your First OHOTMU

Historical text from Comixfan:

Roger Ott

Apr 9, 2011, 12:37 pm

Doing some reflection yesterday on my years as a comic book reader, and various "firsts" that come along with 30+ years of trips to the drug store, gas station and eventually the comic book shop. One of the firsts that popped into my head was my initial encounter with the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

In 1983, I was 12, which for many is the Golden Age of a comic book reader. I honestly don't think it's ever been as good as it was between the ages of 10-14. I didn't buy the OHOTMU right out of the gate. At the time, with my meager allowance, buying a comic book that cost a whole dollar seemed preposterous when regular comics only cost 60 cents. So I passed. Until issue #10. At that time, Spider-Man was it for me. I was devouring the Roger Stern/John Romita Jr run in Amazing, Marvel Tales was filling me in on the very beginnings of the character, with Spectacular Spider-Man and Marvel Team-Up rounding out my monthly Spider-reading. I had subscriptions that came in cool brown sleeves. Life was good. So, when I saw Spider-Man on the cover to OHOTMU #10, I gave it a look. Everything I wanted to know about Spider-Man was in there! Had to have it. I missed the last two issues of the regular run, but by then I was also completely obsessed with the Green Goblin and had to have the Book of the Dead issue he was in. I was hooked. I've been a statistic junkie ever since.

So, what's your first OHOTMU experience?




Phoenixx9

Apr 9, 2011, 02:15 pm


:stars: I bought the very first OHOTMU #1 for $1 USA way back in 1982! :stars:

I had read somewhere about two years previously to the print that there was going to be a comic book that described all the characters and their powers. So, I knew at that moment that I wanted that comic! Then, I forgot about the book. Lo and behold, in 1982, I saw that first OHOTMU in the rack and I instantly remembered that was the book I had been waiting to premiere! When I saw the wrap-around cover, I discovered that this was going to be multi-issued, which was a great idea, because even taking days to finish the book, the mind was on overload! :hypno:

:cheers: I would rate the OHOTMU as probably my all-time favorite MU comic, because so much detail, pics and powers are listed that it is really the MU wrapped up in a neat package!! :yum:




Eduardo M.

Apr 9, 2011, 02:16 pm


My first OHOTMU was the Deluxe Edition. I remember picking up #1 and being astonished at the sheer number of characters that I didnt know about.




captainswift

Apr 10, 2011, 01:44 am


I bought the first issue of the first run, right out of the gate.




Rob London

Apr 10, 2011, 04:07 am


Late adopter here - wasn't really reading comics and/or born yet for the first run, so my first OHotMU was Spider-Man 2005. A mere six years later, here I am writing them.




gorby

Apr 10, 2011, 04:56 am


I discovered the OHOTMU with X-Men 2004 (I read Marvel Comics since 2003 and the first french-speaking publications by Panini Comics).




Andy E. Nystrom

Apr 10, 2011, 06:12 am


I started right with the prototype, Contest of Champions, then with the original series.




bigvis497

Apr 10, 2011, 02:59 pm


I started collecting comics when I was 10 years old in 1993, so I missed out on the original runs. The Master Edition wasn't really my cup of tea, and I remember it being pretty expensive at the time. There was an antique store in the middle of nowhere that just happened to carry back issues. My mom would look at antiques, and I would hit the back issues. All issues were a dollar, and I happened to snag a few issues of the Deluxe Edition. I was instantly hooked, hunting down issues whenever I could. It took a few years, but I finally completed the run. I used to read the Deluxe TPB's in the comic store, wasn't old enough to afford them yet.

I started collecting at a pretty rough time for handbook fans, we went a long time without getting any type of sourcebook. I liked the Encyclopedias, but they couldn't compare to the Handbooks. When the X-Men handbook was announced in 2004, I was ecstatic. I've bought every handbook since the revival.




Michael Regan

Apr 10, 2011, 03:01 pm


I remember buying Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions when it first came out and loved the character listing concept at the end of each issue, so I obviously jumped right onto the first official handbook run. At the time the book of dead characters was such a great idea as death was a novelty at the time. It would be interesting to review that particular issue to see how many are still dead




Rayeye

Apr 10, 2011, 04:18 pm

I remember years ago when I was a kid my brother bought a few issues of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition (including #3). I was totally impressed by them and it were actually those handbooks that started my interest in the Marvel Universe.




Roger Ott

Apr 10, 2011, 05:22 pm

  Rayeye wrote:

...it were actually those handbooks that started my interest in the Marvel Universe.

The Handbooks got me interested in a lot of other characters I'd never heard of. The only trouble was, back then it was hard to find the appearances of those characters because they wasn't a good readily-available resource to list them at the time. When the Bibliography listing showed up in the Master Edition, I loved the idea as it gave me an issue listing I could use to track down the most important appearances. The online bibs during the All-New run were the next generation of that concept (and are sorely missed).




Phoenixx9

Apr 10, 2011, 06:31 pm

  Rayeye wrote:

I was totally impressed by them and it were actually those handbooks that started my interest in the Marvel Universe.

It's definitely a great way to get started reading about the MU!

That's why I consider the OHOTMU a delicious 'meal' wrapped in such a tight little package: one issue contains many characters spanning a multitude of comics both past and present with all the gooey handbooky details on top. :yum:

Sort of like a Marvel's Kid-Meal that is enjoyed by Adults, too.




DeadpoolRP

Apr 11, 2011, 05:45 am

Grrrr . . . apparently I took too long to type that up, because when I tried to preview my post, I was told "Your submission could not be processed because the token has expired," and I lost my whole post.

Here's the gist of it, though: Other than a few master editions I bought from the back stock of my local shop because they had a complete X-Men roster feature in the back, I didn't start buying handbooks regularly until the recent revival (in 2004, was it?).

However, my love for Marvel's handbooks started much earlier than that, when I was in junior high in the early '90s. Most years we would spend the majority of our summer vacation halfway across the country at my grandparents' home in Massachusetts. One year a friend of mine let me take a big stack of his comics with me for the trip, and amongst them were quite a few deluxe editions. A highlight of the summer was lying around reading about obscure heroes, villains, alien races, and more. Good times . . .




ToddCam

Apr 11, 2011, 02:18 pm


I didn't get into comics until I was 15, in 1993 (due to the X-Men animated series). A classmate of mine lent me some old New Mutants when they found out about my love of the X-Men. Along with the bag of old comics was some beat up copies of the OHOTMU Deluxe Edition. I loved it so much! However, the back issues were exorbitantly priced, so I never got any to own.

I was kind of slow to pick up on the OHOTMU when it was revived in 2004. I think the first one I picked up was the Golden Age one. Since then, I've gotten almost everything.




Roger Ott

Apr 11, 2011, 05:46 pm


Along with the bag of old comics was some beat up copies of the OHOTMU Deluxe Edition. I loved it so much! However, the back issues were exorbitantly priced, so I never got any to own.
Did you ever get them? If not, and lack of color is not an issue, get the Essential OHOTMU volumes. In Stock Trades has them for just over $10 each. They look great on a bookshelf alongside the recent Hardcovers.




Eduardo M.

Apr 12, 2011, 12:18 am

Roger Ott wrote:

Did you ever get them? If not, and lack of color is not an issue, get the Essential OHOTMU volumes. In Stock Trades has them for just over $10 each. They look great on a bookshelf alongside the recent Hardcovers.

I find the only time the lack of color is a problem is the illo of SHIELD uniforms in #11.




ToddCam

Apr 12, 2011, 07:29 pm


^^ I did indeed get those. Also got the original (which sure was basic at first) and Update '89. Never got the Master Edition though, only cause it didn't look nearly as informative.




Michael Regan

Apr 12, 2011, 07:50 pm

ToddCam wrote:

^^ I did indeed get those. Also got the original (which sure was basic at first) and Update '89. Never got the Master Edition though, only cause it didn't look nearly as informative.

The three-hole Master Edition was a great idea, but the restrictions of one page certainly reduced the overall quality. If the one page issue could have been overcome, it could have been an excellent idea if it had continued.




Andy E. Nystrom

Apr 13, 2011, 11:04 am

  Michael Regan wrote:

The three-hole Master Edition was a great idea, but the restrictions of one page certainly reduced the overall quality. If the one page issue could have been overcome, it could have been an excellent idea if it had continued.

That and the paper quality resulting in a higher than usual price per page count (happily, the Essential format renders that point moot if you don't mind the B&W).

It was an interesting idea but aside from the above problems, the timing for this and the later Who's Who was pretty bad: at the height of the collector mentality you're asking readers to essentially reduce the condition of their purchase to Poor. That limited your audience to people who were actually going to read the things, which wasn't a good idea at that point in time.




Roger Ott

Apr 13, 2011, 12:07 pm


I loved the Master Edition. It was my initial guideline when I started building my Marvel Legacy Windows app, and you can still see traces of it in there today.

I loved the art all being done in similar style because it gave a uniform appearance to the series, and that appeals to my sense of organization. The very specific statistical data also appealed to me. The modular nature, as stated by Mark Gruenwald, meant that it could be easily updated without having to start all over. New sheets could be introduced to update characters whenever needed (and that happened on a few during the ME run).

I agree that the format needed to be tweaked and that it's timing wasn't perfect, which ultimately led to its cancellation. It took me a couple years on eBay in the early 2000's to snag enough of those cool custom binders to hold the entire series, but it looks really nice in my OHOTMU collection, and I reference it nearly as often as the other versions.




ToddCam

Apr 13, 2011, 02:21 pm


I guess my favorite part of the OHOTMU is the history, and so something stat-based is not really my cup of tea. I rarely look at those power bars at the bottom, and even the heights and weights are usually so absurd that I ignore them entirely. (Why is it that most male superheroes are over 6'? Storm is NOT 5'11" and 127 lbs. She'd be sickly thin if so... Sorry, really big pet peeve.) I loved the DE's descriptions of powers, though. I always feel a little disappointed when reading the more vague power descriptions in the modern OHOTMU.

I do like the idea of uniform character drawings. Some of those really weird or abstract artists can make figuring out what a character would look like in real life very difficult. I think getting Gus Vasquez to do most of the new stuff was a brilliant idea.




Phoenixx9

Apr 13, 2011, 02:28 pm


While I love, love, love :love: OHOTMU, to me, and I know alot of you are going to disagree with this statement and that is perfectly fine, the Master Edition was the worst out of the lot--OK in general standards, but not the best by any means. For instance, I love detailed history, background and power descriptions, which that version did not have. Example: I loved reading (and learning) that Wasp Janet Van Dyne could fly at 38 mph even while at tiny size and that she trained to fly upside-down. Those details are interesting to me, plus it allows me to know when a story has Wasp doing something she should not be able to do. Plus, with an interest in entomology, I can compare/contrast Jan with insects and their abilities. Where are her powers similar to the insect she mimicks? Where are they different? Is she a Wasp in name only? Another dislike is that while all the characters were featured in the same 3 positions for easy comparison to other characters, it seemed like there were really only 4-5 major differences and all the others were exactly the same. Sort of like with action figures--all look somewhat different at quick glance, but upon closer observation, there are only 4-5 different head/body types from which all characters are made. A very good try and it was something different, but just not for me, not to my taste. I love most of the classic, iconic poses, which the current series uses as well as some updated, new art, especially Gus Vazquez' work which is all magnificent!!

This is not to say that the ME didn't have some good qualities: it did introduce an updated power ranking with new terms, back and side views of the characters, a paraphernalia section and some detail in the form of things that occurred with the character and the issue in which it happened.

While most people like the pull-out binder-type pages, this was a total turn-off for me and a major reason why I got rid of mine. I have no intention of moving the pages around; I want them bound with a good, stable binding. Yeah, yeah, I know, with new HBs coming out, not all the characters are in total alphabeical order, but that's OK. That doesn't rock my world nor shake my crib. I pair the new HBs with the HCs and everything is good.

:cheers: My favorite version of all is the current version and format with the power grids and the HC and HB editions. So thanks to all of you who make this book possible for all of us who so enjoy your great work! :cheers:




Andy E. Nystrom

Apr 13, 2011, 08:03 pm


You're not the only one who isn't that big a fan of the Masters, mainly as you say due to the lack of history (my favourite section was Significant Issues). Actually one thing I wouldn't mind seeing put back would be a Key Issues category, much like what was online for the earlier books (only with just the issues listed, not the text repeating what's already under History).

Not a big fan of the Power Grid though because it's too easy to find exceptions; too subjective.




Phoenixx9

Apr 13, 2011, 09:06 pm


Glad to have another person who was not that big a fan of the ME, Andy.

The Power Grid is one of my favorites, and if it was up to me, I would expand with a few more options, like Agility, Endurance, Reason, Willpower and Overall Power Level.

Yes, there are errors, but those are caused by humans, not the Power Grid. I don't think there are many exceptions and there should not be. Example: If someone is Class 100 strength, that is where he/she should be on most days. If the text says "Class 100" but the grid says anything but a "7", that is the human error. I am not saying the Power Grid is all-encompassing, nor should it be, but we do need a gauge of abilities. Sometimes we don't know someone's full capabilities, and especially in those cases, the Power Grid helps to demonstrate that character's abilities at least to some extent for better understanding what he/she can do.




Andy E. Nystrom

Apr 14, 2011, 12:19 am

  Phoenixx9 wrote:

Glad to have another person who was not that big a fan of the ME, Andy.

Definitely not. Given the choice between Masters and no handbook, Masters wins of course, but it needed a bit more finessing.

  Phoenixx9 wrote:

The Power Grid is one of my favorites, and if it was up to me, I would expand with a few more options, like Agility, Endurance, Reason, Willpower and Overall Power Level.
That's fair, and at the end of the day, it doesn't take up that much space. It's not for me but I don't lose sleep over others liking it.

Ironically, outside of rpgs, the first handbook series to use something like the Power Grid was in fact the Masters Edition, though it used descriptive words like "Normal" and "Peak Human" rather than numbers. The categories were Intelligence, Strength, Speed, Stamina, Durability, Agility, and Reflexes (before moving on to specific abilities)




captainswift

Apr 14, 2011, 12:57 am


I'm going to say I'm not a big fan of the power grids, either. All that information should already be covered in the text (and be more precise). Still, it is a fun little quick reference, and I sometimes get the urge to pull out mah pen and paper and list everybody by Fighting score. Then I get bored and throw it away. The process will begin again in a few months.

I am far too fond of pointless listing.




Roger Ott

Apr 14, 2011, 03:52 pm

  Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

Definitely not. Given the choice between Masters and no handbook, Masters wins of course, but it needed a bit more finessing.

I think, had it continued, the Master Edition would eventually have included sheets for histories, as well. The character sheets that came in the second year showing off the character in action on the front with the back listing supporting cast members could have been done differently. Personally, I think the back should have had more detailed descriptions of the powers shown on the front, and maybe even Eliot R. Brown technical drawings.

The Master Edition holds a spot in my OHOTMU-lovin' heart because of the organizational nature of it, but the current version is by far the best, because it is essentially a synthesis of all previous versions. Where else could you get an 11-page profile on Iron Man that also shows every armor he's worn up to that point?




Roger Ott

Apr 14, 2011, 03:57 pm

  Phoenixx9 wrote:

Glad to have another person who was not that big a fan of the ME, Andy.

Glad? Not sure I understand the reasoning behind that.




skippcomet

Apr 16, 2011, 04:56 pm

Roger Ott wrote:

I think, had it continued, the Master Edition would eventually have included sheets for histories, as well. The character sheets that came in the second year showing off the character in action on the front with the back listing supporting cast members could have been done differently. Personally, I think the back should have had more detailed descriptions of the powers shown on the front, and maybe even Eliot R. Brown technical drawings.

The Master Edition holds a spot in my OHOTMU-lovin' heart because of the organizational nature of it, but the current version is by far the best, because it is essentially a synthesis of all previous versions. Where else could you get an 11-page profile on Iron Man that also shows every armor he's worn up to that point?

My favorite thing about the Master Edition was that it gave full entries to characters that had previously only gotten, at best, quarter-page entries in previous editions of the OHOTMU, like members of the Wrecking Crew not called the Wrecker, or of the Imperial Guard, Savage Land Mutates, etc., as well as characters who had never gotten entries in any previous edition up to that point, like Centurius, Cutthroat, or Senor Muerte. Plus, back in '04-'05, there was all that speculation BMD chose who was imprisoned in the Raft and later escaped from it by giving the ME a cursory glance without checking to see who was dead or alive....like Centurius or Cutthroat.




Phoenixx9

Apr 16, 2011, 05:18 pm

Roger Ott wrote:

Glad? Not sure I understand the reasoning behind that.

Glad in the sense that I was not the only one to feel that that the Master Edition was the bestest version ever done of OHOTMU. To me, it is not and I am happy the format changed to what it is now! That being said, I did list about 5 positives that the me gave to us, so I think I presented a fair review of why I liked/disliked that version. And as Skippcomet mentions, the me also gave full entries to some who had only received partial-page entries previously. That is a good point especially if those characters were a favorite to someone. Afterall, all characters are favorites to someone.

While it seemed as though I was alone in my opinion, which is fine with me since it is my opinion, I was pleasantly surprised and glad at least one other person on here didn't like this version the best. I Hope you didn't mind that someone agreed with me?

The main thing is that we are all fans of OHOTMU!! And that we support the books and the hard work that goes into them. We may all like different aspects for different reasons, but that is what makes the world go 'round.




Roger Ott

Apr 16, 2011, 05:47 pm

  skippcomet wrote:

Plus, back in '04-'05, there was all that speculation BMD chose who was imprisoned in the Raft and later escaped from it by giving the ME a cursory glance without checking to see who was dead or alive....like Centurius or Cutthroat.

I hear that happens more than you'd think.




Andy E. Nystrom

Apr 17, 2011, 02:57 pm


For what it's worth, while the Masters wasn't a favourite of mine, even the worst Marvel handbooks are better than a lot of other reference books in my mind. Many are written in a "bubble gum" fashion while the Handbooks have never insulted the readers (well, there's GI Joe Order of Battle which I think did cross that line, but while it was an official handbook put out by Marvel, it's a step removed from the regular Handbooks, being for a licensed property not part of the Marvel Universe). So for me, Masters is the weakest Handbook series, but in a Recommended or Not question, I'd still answer Yes. Certainly it was professionally done even though it wasn't quite what I was looking for in a Handbook.




Roger Ott

Apr 17, 2011, 03:10 pm


The recent DK Marvel Encyclopedias that came out were riddled with inaccurate information, wrong pictures for characters, etc. While the OHOTMUs aren't outside of containing a mistake now and then, they're about as good as is possible considering the vast amount of history that has to be gone through.




Andy E. Nystrom

Apr 17, 2011, 06:33 pm

Roger Ott wrote:

The recent DK Marvel Encyclopedias that came out were riddled with inaccurate information, wrong pictures for characters, etc. While the OHOTMUs aren't outside of containing a mistake now and then, they're about as good as is possible considering the vast amount of history that has to be gone through.

I skipped that book because their DC book, at least the first edition was the same way; if I found it for $5 I might buy it for the art but word of mouth plus my experience with the DC version has disuaded me from spending too much on it. I think fans of these kinds of reference books will generally tolerate the occasional error, but there's a point where it becomes too jarring. Luckily the Official Marvel Handbooks and DC's Who's Who are/were professionally done; consumers can tell when the people involved have high standards.




Madison Carter

May 21, 2011, 08:57 pm


Getting back to the original question, was issue #7 of the original run for me. One of my step-cousins visited us on my birthday that year and picked up a huge stack (15 or 20) Marvel comics at a local store on his way down as my present. That and the Cap issue with the Viper/Constrictor finale are the only two I can still distinctly remember as part of that batch.




Blue_Shield

Aug 20, 2011, 12:11 pm


My first handbook was OHOTNU Update '89 #4, I got it from Waldenbooks in Gresham, OR. I had read comics before this, but hadn't started collecting till late 1989. I been hooked on the handbooks ever since.




JusticeGH

Aug 24, 2011, 12:05 am


I don't remember which was my first exactly. I remember getting some old Who's Who issues at a flea market for a dime or a quarter, and being thrilled that there was SO much material for just a dime! I think that was my first indication that I'd be a handbook addict.

I got a couple of Deluxe Edition issues after that, then some of the original Handbooks. ME was the first series I put together a full collection of. I think I started around # 6 and bought it monthly from there, and went back and found the first five.
 


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