Monday, March 5, 2012

The Evolution of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe - Update '89

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.

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