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.
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.
Other current aliases / Alias at time of death
Current occupation / Occupation at time of death
Place of birth
Place of death *(deceased characters only)
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
Other distinguishing features
POWERS AND ABILITIES
Special skills and abilities
Superhuman physical powers
Superhuman mental powers
Source of superhuman powers
Design and manufacture of paraphernalia
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.
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:
Extent of operations
Relationship to conventional authorities
Base of operationsFormer bases of operations
Number of active members
Number of reserve members
Known current members
Known former members
Known special agents
Previous purpose or goals*
Major campaigns or accomplishments
TECHNOLOGY AND PARAPHERNALIA
Level of technology
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
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
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