Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe – Spider-Man related entries

(WARNING: This is a long, very dry listy post. You may wish to skip it if that’s not your sort of thing.) As we’ve seen when going through these reviews, there are a number of Essential volumes that contain entries from the various editions of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Whilst I don’t intend to review in full the eight volumes that contain the original, Deluxe and Master editions, it’s useful to at least note all the various Spider-Man characters who were considered significant enough to rate an entry at each stage. I’m using as my definition characters who either debuted in the Spider-Man titles or who debuted outside but are strongly associated with them (e.g. the Beetle who first appeared in the Human Torch’s slot in Strange Tales before regularly clashing with Spidey). Quite a few of the entries on these lists that this approach produces are characters who made their first appearances in an issue of Marvel Team-Up but are more associated with that issue’s guest star than with Spider-Man. But I felt it best to include all.

With that said here are the relevant entries in the original edition:
  • Arcade
  • Basilisk
  • Beetle
  • Belladonna
  • Black Cat
  • Captain Britain (His entry gives Marvel Team-Up #65 as his first appearance but I guess Marvel US weren’t explicitly including his Marvel UK stories)
  • Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau)
  • Cloak & Dagger (combined entry)
  • Doctor Octopus
  • Electro
  • Fly
  • Frog-Man
  • Hobgoblin
  • Kingpin
  • Kraven the Hunter
  • Lightmaster
  • Lizard
  • Madame Web
  • Mysterio
  • Punisher
  • Rhino
  • Sandman
  • Scorpion
  • Silvermane
  • Speed Demon
  • Spider-Man
  • Swarm
  • Vulture
  • Will O’ The Wisp
And in the Book of the Dead and Inactive:
  • Green Goblin
  • Jackal
  • Man-Wolf
  • Morbius
  • Spider-Woman
  • White Tiger
Finally the Book of Weapons, Hardware, and Paraphernalia:
  • Doctor Octopus’s Arms
  • Hobgoblin’s Bat-Glider
  • Spider-Man’s Belt-Camera
The list has a lot of familiar names but also some surprises. Spidey’s camera is an interesting choice for the Book of Weapons et al (his web-shooters are covered in a section of his own entry), whilst I’m amazed that Belladonna merits an entry, even half a page – maybe someone had plans to make more use of her but she is rather limited by her motivation and that’s probably why she’s only appeared in one storyline. Otherwise most of the big name Spider-Man villains are there but some from the next tier like the Chameleon and the Shocker are absent. Morbius and the Man-Wolf may seem like other candidates for exclusion but both had prominent careers outside the Spider-Man titles, whilst the Speed Demon may have debuted in that form in Spider-Man but went on to become a more generic villain across the Marvel Universe. I presume Basilisk and the Lightmaster fall into this category as well.

The Deluxe Edition went for more detail with some characters getting a second page and also ran for longer, thus taking up many more Essential volumes. From the Spider-Man titles we get:
  • Arcade
  • Beetle
  • Black Cat
  • Captain Britain
  • Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau)
  • Captain Universe
  • Cloak
  • Dagger
  • Daily Bugle
  • Doctor Octopus
  • D’Spayre
  • Jessica Drew
  • Electro
  • Enforcers
  • Frog-Man
  • Hobgoblin
  • Hydro-Man
  • Jack O’Lantern
  • J. Jonah Jameson
  • John Jameson
  • Kingpin
  • Dr. Michael Morbius
  • Misty Knight
  • Kraven the Hunter
  • Lightmaster
  • Lizard
  • Mysterio
  • Puma
  • Punisher
  • Rhino
  • The Rose
  • Sandman
  • Scorpion
  • Shocker
  • Silvermane
  • Silver Sable
  • Sin-Eater
  • Slyde
  • Speed Demon
  • Spider-Man
  • Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter)
  • Tinkerer
  • Vulture
  • Will O’ The Wisp
And in the Book of the Dead:
  • Basilisk
  • Big Man
  • Carrion
  • Cyclone
  • Jean DeWolff
  • Green Goblin (despite the 2nd not actually being dead)
  • Hobgoblin 1 (his death and revelation came during the Deluxe Edition’s run)
  • Jackal
  • Kangaroo
  • Ben Parker
  • Gwen Stacy
  • Tarantula
  • Wraith
(There was no Book of Weapons, Hardware, and Paraphernalia this time with that information incorporated into the main entries.)

1989 saw the release of Update ‘89 which I’ll treat as part of the Deluxe Edition despite it not actually using those words in the title, since it built on the contents of the Deluxe rather than starting again. This one primarily carries new and previously omitted characters but also updates for those who’d had major changes in the intervening few years. The Spider-Man entries are:
  • Chameleon
  • Chance I
  • Foreigner
  • Hammerhead
  • Hobgoblin II
  • Betty Brant Leeds
  • Carlos Lobo
  • Madame Web
  • Harry Osborn
  • May Parker
  • Prowler
  • Razorback
  • Joe Robertson
  • Rocket Racer
  • Speedball
  • Swarm
  • Tarantula II
  • Flash Thompson
  • Tombstone
  • Venom
  • Mary Jane Watson-Parker
The Essential Update ‘89 volume also includes several entries that were modified for the first trade paperback collection. However none of them are Spider-Man related.

The larger length means more characters could be included, though in Spider-Man’s case this largely results in key supporting cast members getting entries. However it’s a surprise to see the likes of Slyde, the Kangaroo and Carlos Lobo getting entries. This probably suggests there were big plans for using them (and resurrecting the Kangaroo) but they never came to fruition. Some of the other entries may seem surprising but as I said they’re often characters who first appeared in Marvel Team-Up and went on to bigger things outside the Spider-Man titles.

The Master Edition rather skimps on actual biographical details, giving just a list of key issues and one line summaries of them. The format was completely overhauled so instead of purchasing complete comics containing entries, it was now a series of loose-leaf files which could be compiled and reordered in a binder. This time we get:
  • Answer
  • Arcade
  • Beetle
  • Black Cat
  • Captain Britain (His entry now acknowledges his first UK appearances but lists his US debut in Marvel Team-Up #65 as well)
  • Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau)
  • Captain Universe
  • Carnage
  • Carrion
  • Chameleon
  • Chance
  • Cloak
  • Cutthroat
  • Cyclone
  • Dagger
  • Demogoblin
  • Doctor Octopus
  • D’Spayre
  • Electro
  • Foreigner
  • Gardener
  • Green Goblin
  • Grizzly
  • Hammerhead
  • Hobgoblin
  • Hydro-Man
  • Jackal
  • Jigsaw
  • Kangaroo
  • Karma
  • Kingpin
  • Misty Knight
  • Lightmaster
  • Lizard
  • Madame Web
  • Mirage
  • Molten Man
  • Mongoose (a shadowy appearance in Amazing Spider-Man before appearing in full in Thor)
  • Morbius
  • Mysterio
  • Orb
  • Princess Python
  • Prowler
  • Puma
  • Punisher
  • Razorback
  • Rhino
  • Rocket Racer
  • Sandman
  • Scorpion
  • Shocker
  • Silver Sable
  • Silvermane
  • Solo
  • Speed Demon
  • Speedball
  • Spider-Man
  • Spider-Man 2099
  • Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew)
  • Spider-Woman II (Julia Carpenter)
  • Tarantula
  • Tinkerer
  • Tombstone
  • Venom
  • Vermin
  • Vulture
  • White Tiger
  • Will O’ The Wisp
  • Wraith
(The original publishing format means this time there was no separate Book of the Dead.)

Once again it’s a mixture of the big names and those who made it elsewhere. The name that really shocks me this time is the Grizzly. Maybe one day the Gibbon will get an entry!

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