I begin with my traditional spoiler space picture of someone who has nothing to do with the topic at hand:

Alan Hale Sr. & Jr. (To quote Russell Johnson: "At one point, the two men looked almost exactly alike."

Issue #1 covers from the beginning of time to the birth of one James Howlett. Random thoughts:

  1. The art is tolerable, but not great. I would've put a better art team on a book like this, myself.
  2. The storyline is, essentially, Galactus and Franklin Richards sitting around at the end of time, shooting the breeze while waiting for the universe to end. Apparently, Galactus' energies will be the seed to create the next universe, which Franklin will survive into. (Is he going to become the next universe's "Galactus"? Anyway, Franklin asks Galactus to narrate the history of the universe to him, so he'll remeber it all in the next iteration of reality.
  3. The problem with this set-up is that it tends to go all over the place.  One minute they're talking about cosmic stuff, the next minute fairly mundane stuff.  Why would Galactus know or care about Sir Percy of Scandia or the Two-Gun Kid?
  4. Marvel cosmology is littered with "cosmic" characters, the vast majority or whom are not even infinitesimally interesting.
  5. The annotations at the back would be interesting, I suppose, if you were the sort of Hardcore Fanatical Completist who owns copies of every comic Marvel ever published and might therefore be liable to go look them up.

Next Time: Captain America! The Human Torch! Bucky! The Red Skull! Marvel Girl! Iron fist! Doctor Strange! Namora! Mystique?

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“1) Where do you keep these new treasury size books and how do you keep them safe?”

I keep them on a shelf. If you haven’t seen the new “treasury editions” (Marvel has released fpour or five of them so far), there not exactly like the ones from the ‘70s. The dimensions are roughly the same except they’re thicker (more pages). The paper stock is slick and the covers are kind of like vinyl with no dust jacket. Until this one, they have reprinted the FF and X-Men “Grand Design” stories, which had a unique, old-looking (yellowed) paper stock. I’m happy to say this TE was printed on appropriately shiny stock.

“2) Howard the Duck hasn't looked like Howard the Duck since Gene Colan stopped drawing him!”

…and I stopped buying him.

“I enjoyed the M2 Universe ‘Last Planet Standing’ miniseries…”

Oh, yeah. I read that. Don’t remember much about it, though.

Philip Portelli said:

2) Howard the Duck hasn't looked like Howard the Duck since Gene Colan stopped drawing him!

That's because the Walt Disney Company leaned on Marvel Comics to change Howard's appearance, and Marvel immediately caved.*

Contrary to widespread belief, Disney didn't sue, but it didn't have to. Disney provided Marvel with a model sheet delineating the specifications of Howard's new look, which included pants. (Bill Manto made that a story point in one of the black-and-white Howard the Duck issues. From CBR: "How Walt Disney Forced Howard the Duck to Wear Pants!")

* Here's the short version from CBR, although the images don't show (at least not for me; maybe they'll show for you): "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #121"  A more extensive version is here at MousePlanet (and the images do show): "The History of Howard the Duck, Part Two"

So I read the entire thing in TPB and I am unimpressed. For example it annoys me that instead of inserting the debut of Sentry and Jewel (Jennifer Jones) into Silver Age continuity Waid brings them in long after the Silver Age (as happened in the comics) and then mentions oh yeah, they turned up the first time years earlier.

Reading the annotations on the Siancong War makes me think Waid botched it as a solution. If the Swordsman and Wong Chu were involved in a revolution against French colonialism, that could hardly be any later than the early 1960s which makes them way too old to play a role in Iron Man and Hawkeye's origins (more immortals?). If the French were still fighting in Fantasy Indochina a couple of decades later, like the Siancong War itself that's a big history changer. I'd say the solution is to assume Wong Chu and Swordsman fought against some later tyrannical government though that kills the idea of Swordsman revolting against his own country's colonial government out of idealism.

It also feels uncomfortably like a fantasy retcon of our history in Vietnam — no ambiguity, we are unquestionably the good guys and the Siancong government are the villains.

I can't say that I've re-read The History of the Marvel Universe since its initial release, but I have just re-read this entire discussion. 

"It annoys me that instead of inserting the debut of Sentry and Jewel (Jennifer Jones) into Silver Age continuity Waid brings them in long after the Silver Age"

You are apparently more vested in Sentry/Jewel continuity than I am. I would have been annoyed if he had done it any other way.

"Reading the annotations on the Siancong War makes me think Waid botched it as a solution."

I was initially "iffy" (see above), but now that I see how it's playing out [see The Marvels #1 through (so far) #10 by Kurt Busiek] I approve. Obviously, the stories originally set during the Viet Nam war can't have happened then, so Siancong provides a convenient backdrop on a sliding scale. 

When I read about the Siancong business, I had a visceral negative reaction I couldn't put into words. You just did, Fraser, so thank you! It does feel like a Vietnam whitewash, and changes that war into something longer than Afghanistan, and much more important -- which simply didn't happen in our world, which puts the Marvel characters at a major remove. Plus, it didn't happen in the actual Silver Age Marvel comic books, introducing a blatant contradiction to those books, and raising questions about the characters and media who were around in the '50s and '60s comics and retroactively ignored a major war. It just doesn't wash, and feels icky.

I also agree with your Swordsman remarks. It seems unlikely he was ever idealistic, given what we know about him (circus to Mandarin). I'm less concerned about the age thing, since nobody seems to age in the Marvel U. How long has Peter Parker been in his 20s? He's effectively immortal, as are they all.

I believe the hinted-at Sherlock Holmes connection is another bad fix, a "neat idea," to use Commander Benson's turn of phrase. I think it obvious Chris Claremont just lifted the name as an in-joke to Holmes fans, and that's all it should ever have been. They'd probably make the link clearer, but Marvel doesn't own the Holmes rights. They did something similar with Clive Reston in Master of Kung Fu, where the MI6 agent hinted that his father was James Bond and his grand-uncle was Holmes. But the connection couldn't be spelled out because Marvel didn't own the rights to those characters.

Of course, they wrote Fu Manchu into the Marvel Universe in that very strip, and when they lost the franchise, had to write him out again. I haven't checked -- when they reprint Master of Kung Fu, do they just change Fu Manchu's name to Zheng Zu in the lettering? Or do they skip the issues where he's name-checked? Are Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie also re-named?

As noted elsewhere, they just repeated that mistake with Conan the Barbarian in Savage Avengers. They'll have to rename him, too. Gonad the Ruffian, maybe, or Conan the O'Brien.

Anyway, I have skipped History of the Marvel Universe in all formats so far, and your post affirms my decision.

How about "Captain Cimmeria"?  Howard didn't invent the Cimmerians.  "When Captain Cimmeria swings his mighty sword...."

Captain Comics said:

As note elsewhere, they just repeated that mistake with Conan the Barbarian in Savage Avengers. They'll have to rename him, too. Gonad the Ruffian, maybe, or Conan the O'Brien.

Now I'll have that song in my head all day.

Holmes is public domain now, so that's not a problem.

To be clear, Waid didn't originate the Swordsman's Siancong connnection: it was some Avengers story that revealed he was a French official's son (possibly a descendant of WWI Crimson's Cavalier) who went native and sided with the revolutionaries, discovered they weren't any better and became bitterly cynical about virtue.

I agree Siancong is too big a retcon to swallow.

Captain Comics said:

When I read about the Siancong business, I had a visceral negative reaction I couldn't put into words. You just did, Fraser, so thank you! It does feel like a Vietnam whitewash, and changes that war into something longer than Afghanistan, and much more important -- which simply didn't happen in our world, which puts the Marvel characters at a major remove. Plus, it didn't happen in the actual Silver Age Marvel comic books, introducing a blatant contradiction to those books, and raising questions about the characters and media who were around in the '50s and '60s comics and retroactively ignored a major war. It just doesn't wash, and feels icky.

I also agree with your Swordsman remarks. It seems unlikely he was ever idealistic, given what we know about him (circus to Mandarin). I'm less concerned about the age thing, since nobody seems to age in the Marvel U. How long has Peter Parker been in his 20s? He's effectively immortal, as are they all.

I believe the hinted-at Sherlock Holmes connection is another bad fix, a "neat idea," to use Commander Benson's turn of phrase. I think it obvious Chris Claremont just lifted the name as an in-joke to Holmes fans, and that's all it should ever have been. They'd probably make the link clearer, but Marvel doesn't own the Holmes rights. They did something similar with Clive Reston in Master of Kung Fu, where the MI6 agent hinted that his father was James Bond and his grand-uncle was Holmes. But the connection couldn't be spelled out because Marvel didn't own the rights to those characters.

Of course, they wrote Fu Manchu into the Marvel Universe in that very strip, and when they lost the franchise, had to write him out again. I haven't checked -- when they reprint Master of Kung Fu, do they just change Fu Manchu's name to Zheng Zu in the lettering? Or do they skip the issues where he's name-checked? Are Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie also re-named?

As noted elsewhere, they just repeated that mistake with Conan the Barbarian in Savage Avengers. They'll have to rename him, too. Gonad the Ruffian, maybe, or Conan the O'Brien.

Anyway, I have skipped History of the Marvel Universe in all formats so far, and your post affirms my decision.

Just to be pedantic, a few of the later Holmes stories are still under copyright until 2023.

Fraser Sherman said:

Holmes is public domain now, so that's not a problem.

The Baron said:

How about "Captain Cimmeria"?  Howard didn't invent the Cimmerians.

Off topic but still sorta relevant:

When I was reading Conan for the first time in, I dunno, 8th or 9th grade, I was impressed that Robert E. Howard's Hyborian world echoed our own so well without obviously aping it. Many of the state names -- Koth, Punt, Khitai, etc. -- were ancient words for many of today's corresponding countries. And, of course, if you drop a sea into, I dunno, Shem, and call it "Mediterranean," you would in fact have today's map of Eurasia/Africa.

Red Sonja falls into this as well. She was a Hyrkanian from the the far side of the Vilayet Sea, which corresponds to a Hyrcanian from the southeast of the Caspian Sea in today's world. (The Caspian Sea is located more or less where the Hyborian Vilayet is, only smaller, and "Vilayet" is a Turkish word, because in the Hyborian Age the Caspian, aka Vilayet, extended into modern-day Turkey. And Hyricanians are an ancient tribe near the Caspian today.)

Cimmeria was actually an outlier that didn't fit the modern world; actual ancient Cimmeria was in the Caucasus, not near Denmark, as REH placed it.

What really impressed me about this was not only the scholarship in a pre-Internet age to find all these terms and apply them more or less accurately, but also the breadth of Howard's knowledge. "Shem" is Hebrew, "Hyperborean" is ancient Greek, "Stygia" refers to the Greco-Roman River Styx, "Punt" is Arabic, and so forth. I was super impressed as a lad that not only did REH take the time to ground his fictional ancient history in actual ancient history, but that he leaped from academic silo to academic silo to find his archaic terms. As a bookish lad, I was excited to realize that every word I didn't know on the Hyborian map had a history that I could learn.

But recently, I was having a conversation with my wife about the word Khitai, which I was using in a short story that will never see print, and mentioned that it was an ancient word for China. She said, "Wait, wasn't that in the Conan movie?" I said yes, and told her about all the other Hyborian words that had a basis in actual history.

Remember how that impressed me? My wife's response was, "Oh, so he stole it all."

And you know, she was right, too.

You are quite correct. But Holmes, Watson and all the characters introduced prior to that are public domain, despite the Doyle Estate's best efforts.

Fraser Sherman said:

Holmes is public domain now, so that's not a problem.

To be clear, Waid didn't originate the Swordsman's Siancong connnection: it was some Avengers story that revealed he was a French official's son (possibly a descendant of WWI Crimson's Cavalier) who went native and sided with the revolutionaries, discovered they weren't any better and became bitterly cynical about virtue.

I agree Siancong is too big a retcon to swallow.

Captain Comics said:

When I read about the Siancong business, I had a visceral negative reaction I couldn't put into words. You just did, Fraser, so thank you! It does feel like a Vietnam whitewash, and changes that war into something longer than Afghanistan, and much more important -- which simply didn't happen in our world, which puts the Marvel characters at a major remove. Plus, it didn't happen in the actual Silver Age Marvel comic books, introducing a blatant contradiction to those books, and raising questions about the characters and media who were around in the '50s and '60s comics and retroactively ignored a major war. It just doesn't wash, and feels icky.

I also agree with your Swordsman remarks. It seems unlikely he was ever idealistic, given what we know about him (circus to Mandarin). I'm less concerned about the age thing, since nobody seems to age in the Marvel U. How long has Peter Parker been in his 20s? He's effectively immortal, as are they all.

I believe the hinted-at Sherlock Holmes connection is another bad fix, a "neat idea," to use Commander Benson's turn of phrase. I think it obvious Chris Claremont just lifted the name as an in-joke to Holmes fans, and that's all it should ever have been. They'd probably make the link clearer, but Marvel doesn't own the Holmes rights. They did something similar with Clive Reston in Master of Kung Fu, where the MI6 agent hinted that his father was James Bond and his grand-uncle was Holmes. But the connection couldn't be spelled out because Marvel didn't own the rights to those characters.

Of course, they wrote Fu Manchu into the Marvel Universe in that very strip, and when they lost the franchise, had to write him out again. I haven't checked -- when they reprint Master of Kung Fu, do they just change Fu Manchu's name to Zheng Zu in the lettering? Or do they skip the issues where he's name-checked? Are Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie also re-named?

As noted elsewhere, they just repeated that mistake with Conan the Barbarian in Savage Avengers. They'll have to rename him, too. Gonad the Ruffian, maybe, or Conan the O'Brien.

Anyway, I have skipped History of the Marvel Universe in all formats so far, and your post affirms my decision.

Reading about Howard, I've come to appreciate how much work he put in, despite his efforts to imply he was just tossing it off.

Captain Comics said:

The Baron said:

How about "Captain Cimmeria"?  Howard didn't invent the Cimmerians.

Off topic but still sorta relevant:

When I was reading Conan for the first time in, I dunno, 8th or 9th grade, I was impressed that Robert E. Howard's Hyborian world echoed our own so well without obviously aping it. Many of the state names -- Koth, Punt, Khitai, etc. -- were ancient words for many of today's corresponding countries. And, of course, if you drop a sea into, I dunno, Shem, and call it "Mediterranean," you would in fact have today's map of Eurasia/Africa.

Red Sonja falls into this as well. She was a Hyrkanian from the the far side of the Vilayet Sea, which corresponds to a Hyrcanian from the southeast of the Caspian Sea in today's world. (The Caspian Sea is located more or less where the Hyborian Vilayet is, only smaller, and "Vilayet" is a Turkish word, because in the Hyborian Age the Caspian, aka Vilayet, extended into modern-day Turkey. And Hyricanians are an ancient tribe near the Caspian today.)

Cimmeria was actually an outlier that didn't fit the modern world; actual ancient Cimmeria was in the Caucasus, not near Denmark, as REH placed it.

What really impressed me about this was not only the scholarship in a pre-Internet age to find all these terms and apply them more or less accurately, but also the breadth of Howard's knowledge. "Shem" is Hebrew, "Hyperborean" is ancient Greek, "Stygia" refers to the Greco-Roman River Styx, "Punt" is Arabic, and so forth. I was super impressed as a lad that not only did REH take the time to ground his fictional ancient history in actual ancient history, but that he leaped from academic silo to academic silo to find his archaic terms. As a bookish lad, I was excited to realize that every word I didn't know on the Hyborian map had a history that I could learn.

But recently, I was having a conversation with my wife about the word Khitai, which I was using in a short story that will never see print, and mentioned that it was an ancient word for China. She said, "Wait, wasn't that in the Conan movie?" I said yes, and told her about all the other Hyborian words that had a basis in actual history.

Remember how that impressed me? My wife's response was, "Oh, so he stole it all."

And you know, she was right, too.

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