Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Evolution of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe - Marvel Encyclopedia

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)
Real Name
First Appearance
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)
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
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.

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