Current Reviews


All-New Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe A-Z #7

Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2006
By: Michael Deeley

Writers: Jeff Christiansen & others
Aritsts: Various

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99 USD

The new Handbook series continues to describe the histories, origins, and powers of new characters and characters in need of an update. Prominent characters in this issue include: both Madarins, Mr. Sinister, MODOK, Victor Mancha, Layla Miller, and the lengthy history of the Morlocks and the Microverse.

Well, this comic is thorough. Iíll give it that. This is everything I could possibly want to know about these characters and then some. It seems like every story these characters ever appeared in has been summarized. Itís more information than Iíve found on the internet. (More trustworthy too.)

But I have to question the need for reference books like this. Do I really need to know Mr. Sinister had secret dealings with Gambit the next time I see him in a comic? Or that Nebula once worked with Skrull warlords when I see her in Annihilation? I shouldnít. And if I do, the info I need will be explained in the comic Iím reading. Itís interesting to learn all these secrets about my favorite characters, but I donít have to know them to enjoy their comics.

Now, you should know this doesnít include every character who falls between ďManchaĒ and ďPhantazia.Ē Files on Man-Thing, Mystique, Namor and others are found in other handbooks. In addition to this series, Marvel has published Handbooks focusing on specific characters, teams, and genres. You may have to consult them for your favorite characters. Fortunately, thereís a list of characters between M and P and where their files can be found.

Unfortunately, this issue lacks the one piece of information I really wanted: issue numbers! Earlier handbooks list key issues where major events in the characterís histories took place. Now, listing the key issues for 43 characters would have added a lot more pages to the comic, but I would like to read the stories described here. Even a short list of trade collections and major series would be helpful!

So the Official Handbook gave me pretty much what I expected: complete and up-to-date information on Marvel characters. How up-to-date? It lists events that took place in July! It had more than I needed, and lacked one thing I wanted. It answered some questions I had but nothing too pressing. Even though I know these comics are unnecessary, I still feel like buying more of them. Itís nice to know so much about these characters. It really reveals the rich tapestry of the Marvel Universe.

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