Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Evolution of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe - Deluxe Edition

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
Real Name
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)
Final appearance (#16-20)
Unusual features*
Strength level
Known superhuman powers*
Former superhuman powers*
Other abilities*

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)
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:
(Real name/alter ego in parentheses)
First appearance*

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
Origin Galaxy
Star System
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
Usual means of access
Dominant lifeform
Prominent inhabitants*
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.

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