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Marvel: The Expanding Universe Wall Chart (& Contest!)

September 22nd, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

MarvelFolderSuperhero comics encourage obsessiveness. I know you know it. Don’t pretend that it doesn’t. Paying attention to continuity, untangling the quagmire of a character’s past, and following all of the news and trivia of a company is something we’ve gotten pretty good mileage of here on 4l!, even.

And I mean, I make fun of it all the time, but it’s also pretty interesting. It’s kind of like solving a puzzle. A puzzle with several dozen pieces that all have the same shape, so putting it together is an event. The companies even encourage this with their crossovers and events.

Rizzoli USA, the folks who published Louise Simonson’s DC Comics Covergirls (a book I’ve wanted to read forever but haven’t gotten my hands on) sent over something pretty interesting last week. Marvel: The Expanding Universe Wall Chart is pretty much the perfect thing for a new reader or an old reader looking to pick up some new tricks. First, check out the size of the thing:

MarvelWallChart_scale

That’s twelve feet long by three feet tall. It’s enormous. Essentially, the Marvel Wall Chart is an expanding poster book, accordian style. As you pull it open, and it keeps opening and opening, it reveals more and more Marvel characters, all of which are sorted into “families.” The design emulates an atom, the thing that is at the heart of so many Marvel origins, and each atom features one major character as its nucleus. The Torch anchors the Golden Age and pre-Marvel characters, Spider-Man is at the center of his family, the FF take care of many other heroes and cosmic Marvel, the X-Men revolve around Professor X, and Dr Strange takes care of the magical characters.

Now, that’s all well and good, but images only go so far, right? On the flipside of the chart is a continuity wonk’s dream: pages and pages of info on your favorite characters. They’re sorted by theme, rather than character, so you can see things about teams, kid heroes, origins, names, and so on. There’s even a bit on marriages. I uploaded a flickr set with a few G1 shots of them so that you can see what I mean.

It’s all pretty neat, to be honest. It’s a little tongue in cheek (Hellcat and Hellstorm’s marriage contains the blurb “presumably this ceremony was not held in a church”), and Patsy Walker gets a lot of love, surprisingly. I like it.

Now, here’s the thing that should interest you. I’ve got an extra one of these, new in box/mint condition/still in the wrapper, which means that it’s contest slash giveaway time. Here’s the details:

1. Share your favorite bit of Marvel or DC trivia or continuity porn down in the comments
2. Leave a valid email address in the email box
3. In the name box, put your real name. First name, last name, both names, whichever you prefer. Just no pseudonyms.
4. You have until midnight, this Friday, to enter. I’ll put a reminder post up on Thursday in case you forget to enter.
5. Also, this is open only to US residents. If you want to share trivia, and you’re from Uzbekistan or somewhere, you can, but please mark that down in your comment.
5. Wait until Monday, when I announce the winner and ship them a big fat chunk of Marvel history.

Sound good? Let’s get it in. Show me what you got.

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21 comments to “Marvel: The Expanding Universe Wall Chart (& Contest!)”

  1. First thing to pop into my head was an issue of Cable & Deadpool (Can’t remember the number) that had the titular characters fighting Luke Cage and Iron Fist. In one panel Fist kicks Deadpool in the face. Fast forward a few issues to the Civil War and Deadpool is fighting Daredevil (Iron Fist in disguise). It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t know it was Iron Fist at this point. He kicks Deadpool in the face, same pose as the earlier issue. Deadpool gets deja vu.

    I never even realized it until someone pointed it out online, but looking back it just seems brilliant. Ever since I’ve been paying closer attention to art. Ya never know when something like that could happen again.


  2. I’m getting this just for the Patsy thing – she should always get lots of love!


  3. While I mostly grew up on Marvel comics, one of my favorite bits of “comics porn”, as it were, was when Neil Gaiman rediscovered a DC character for his Sandman comics; a character obscure enough that she wasn’t put into the Who’s Who In DC Comics. Urania Blackwell, the female version of Metamorpho, who was “allowed to die” in a very cool and moving issue of Sandman. Sad that such a potentially interesting character was allowed to fall into obscurity, cool that she was allowed to die with dignity in an awesome comic book.


  4. Not really sure if this counts but I would say in what I call the best shameless tie in, in one of the most recent issues of Tiny Titans a lightbulb is broken by Croc in the classroom and janitor Darkseid comes to fix it. Robin asks him if he has a flash light but all he has are lanterns. Robin then ask him for differnt colored lanterns to which he has none. Finally Robin proclaims it to be The Blackest of Night.


  5. Share your favorite bit of Marvel or DC trivia or continuity porn down in the comments

    Squirrel Girl’s badassery gives me nearly limitless glee. :)


  6. Look at the size of that thing! I could see picking up a copy for myself if it weren’t beyond what I can afford to pay for such things right now.

    Are we limited to one piece of trivia, or can I put down a couple of them? I’ve got a couple that I really like, but I can still pick one out of them if I have to.


  7. @Michael: You can do as many as you like, and I’ll pick my favorite.


  8. First, the original plans for Venom, where it was originally supposed to be worn by a woman who blamed Spider-Man for the death of her husband and kid in a car accident (which was axed because a female villain would supposedly not be a credible threat), and how the symbiote was suppose to move on from one host to another rather than sticking with one person for so long.

    Second, how Nightcrawler and Storm were originally designed for Legion of Superheroes at DC, but because they were rejected designs, Dave Cockrum then used them as X-Men instead.


  9. My favorite in-continuity meta-bit has to be from the Mark Waid run on the Fantastic Four where the team fight their way into heaven to save Ben. When they get there and meet God…he’s Jack Kirby.

    That’s awesome.


  10. What do the Martian Manhunter and Lois Lane have in common? They’ve both told people to commit suicide.

    (Yeah, I’m overseas, but an APO address is still US postal rates)


  11. My favorite bit of trivia is that the button trigger for Spider-Man’s web-shooters rest in his palm, but in a spot where he won’t accidentally trigger them while he’s making a fist.


  12. My favorite moment of continuity porn is the limited series Avengers Forever. I have read every Avengers story printed thanks to my obsession with comics and Marvel’s Essentials reprints, and let me tell you, some of the Avenger’s continuity makes the awkward silences at the Summers family reunion seem downright pleasant and enjoyable. Between Wanda’s two demon spawned children to Pym’s multiple personalities to Vision’s convoluted origins and emotions to the Council of Cross-Time Kangs (there were so many alternate Kangs, they had their own club!), the Avengers made my head hurt when I thought about how it all fit together. My head hurt a lot.

    But then came Avengers Forever, and Kurt Busiek did what no one wanted, what no one needed, and what no one expected: He took the existing stories, he wove them together where they needed to be joined, he cut them apart where they needed trimming, and he made all of those stories MAKE SENSE, and he didn’t use a giant reset button to do it. He simply did what I could not after years of trying: the man retold the stories as they were and laid them out in a manner where all these crazy disconnected ideas fell into place so perfectly, you’d swear it was a 30 year long story plotted out back in the sixties by Stan, and Jack, and the whole bullpen. It was twelve issues of sheer unadulterated continuity porn bliss. And, my God, was it good! I still pull it out and reread it every few months. And every time, EVERY TIME, I read it, I find some new little detail here and there that I missed the first 60 times I read it.

    My second favorite moment is also from a Busiek book, but I’m not sure if it was a Busiek plant or if Mark Bagley threw it in there for fun. Thunderbolts #1. We’re given a view of the Thunderbolts HQ, and at this point we don’t know the heroes are actually the Master of Evil in disguise. Techno (who is really the Fixer) is in his room, and following him around is a little robot servant. The EXACT same robot servant that followed around the Fixer when he was in the MoE! There it was! The big clue that only eagle eyed readers who knew their continuity would catch! It’s little things like that, the respect to what came before without being enslaved to it, that made me the giant comics fan I am today.


  13. My favorite continuity porn moment is as follows:

    Like Rolando, I am a huge Avengers fan. It was the first series I started collecting, one of the first comics I read, and I own just about every issue of every series with “Avengers” on it. And my favorite moment comes from that series.

    Smack dab in the middle of Roger Stern’s underrated run, in the midst of the Brotherhood of Evil storyline,issue #275, Cap is being held captive and Baron Zemo is trying to break him. He finds Cap’s triangular shield in his possessions and hands it to Mr. Hyde. Hyde crushes it in front of Cap. Cap says “I’ll remember this Zemo”

    Fast forward 15 years to Avengers, 3rd Series #57. This is the first issue of Geoff Johns’ run on the series. The Avengers are fighting Mr. Hyde. Hyde is taken down by The Vision doing his solidifying in the body thing and Cap’s shield thrown into his face. As Cap retrieves his shield, as an aside, he says “Couldn’t bend this shield, could you, Hyde?”

    When I read that, I squealed with glee! Obviously, Johns was referring to that scene in issue #275. I became an even bigger fan of Johns then.


  14. Hal Jordan does not appear in Crisis on Infinite Earths. (He is in the tie-in issues of Green Lantern that deal with it, but he doesn’t make an appearance in the miniseries proper.)


  15. I know I’m a geek because I get frustrated when Marvel writers talk about Noh-Varr, the new Captain Marvel in Dark Avengers, as if he’s just a regular old Kree Warrior. He’s not! He’s from an alternate universe race of Kree that are obviously way more badass.


  16. My absolute favorite comics of all time – not trivia, or “continuity porn” or other squee-inducing moments, but just an awesome run of a comic book – was Walt Simonson’s run on Thor (issues 337-382). It was simply outstanding; no further adjectives need to be applied to it. In that run were two particularly awesome issues: “First Blood, Last Man”, featuring the rescue of mortal souls from Hel and the last stand of The Executioner; and “Mjollnir’s Song”, the fight between Thor and Jormungandr that was presented as an epic Nordic poem with full-page and two-page spreads. Beautiful, stirring books, and they didn’t need a company-wide reboot or mandatory tie-ins to follow (in fact, Simonson’s run coincided with some Marvel-wide events, which he wisely and masterfully prevented from interfering with his narrative).


  17. There are so man, so I guess I will jsut go with a recent one. I loved the recent Millarverse works, most liekly jsut because they are so over the top and hilarious. And The way that the books were all brought together was great. Pulling 1985 main mutant into the F4 book as the overall villian was great, as well as having Old man Logan head back in time with the grandson of the hulk from the end of the old man Logan run. I thought they actually all came together well in that F4 run.

    Also…Doom going to the french Riviera back in the old Supervillian Team-up to see how the wealthy elite spend their time, only to hate on them for their idleness is right up there for one of my favorite hilarious moments.


  18. One of my favorite bits of Marvel continuity is when Dr. Doom teamed up with Luke Cage.

    “Where Angels Fear To Tread” was published in Hero for Hire #9 (1973), continues on from the previous issue, in which Luke Cage was hired to beat up a bunch of robots disguised as black dudes. His employer? Doctor Doom. Doom’s logic in choosing Cage: ” [I] needed a black, and I needed to hire him. Enter: Luke Cage.” I have no idea whether it was just in good taste to only have peopel of similar races (even if robots in disguise) beat on each other or Doom truly believed that the job could not be done unless he hired an African American, but his decision hinged on the rebel robots’ appearances and the fact that there were no black men in Latveria. Of course, Doom being Doom, decides to ditch and not pay Cage.

    And so #9 opens with Cage breaking into the Baxter Building, punching out the Thing and then demanding to borrow a rocketship from Mr. Fantastic to confront Doom in Latveria. Fortunately Ricahards agrees and hijinks continue. Luke Cage lands in the midst of yet another robot revolt, and joins in the rabble to break into Doomstadt. Cage’s confrontation with Doom as follows:

    Doom: “When my men reported a crazy black man in the Fantastic Four’s craft, I knew it had to be you!”

    Cage: “Where’s my money, honey?”

    Doom of course is baffled that Cage would fly across the world to dermand his payment which turns out was 200 US dollars. They proceed to fight, and wreck Doomstadt to a point where Doom’s armor is completely compromised. However, before Cage can keep the beatings coming, the leader of the robot revolt appears, intent on lasering Doom to death. Luke Cage refuses to facilitate Doom’s murder and smashes an entire balcony over the guy’s head. Doom then pays Cage and then wanders off to stop his robot revolt. Luke Cage gets his monies, and then he gets some honies.


  19. I was reading some of the old Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four comics on one of those big DVD collections Marvel put out. There was a story arc about a secretive group of scientists the FF came across. They were trying to create the ultimate being and I guess take over the world or something. This thing they were creating was encased in a cocoon until it was finished, and for the whole three issue arc, they were regularly increasing the tension regarding what this ultimate being was, exactly, and what it’s capable of.

    At the end of the arc, the monster was revealed, and it must have been an amazing letdown to anyone reading in the sixties, but I was certainly suprised. At the end, it was revealed it was just a guy with gold skin. Not a big deal then, a forgettable character in a forgettable story, except that the character was brought back a few years later as Adam Warlock and was the main character in the Infinity Gauntlet series. He always seemed to have a ’70s-Marvel aesthetic to him, even in the ’90s, and I’d never thought he was a Kirby design before.


  20. Just wondering… did I miss the announcement, or has a winner for this contest not been selected yet?


  21. @John O’Neill: I emailed the winner, but he didn’t get back to me until late last week. He should have the book tomorrow, so I’ll post about it then.