Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the Marvel Chronology Project?
Okay, not so briefly, this time. Beginning in January 1976 and running through April 1982, George Olshevsky published the first edition of the Marvel Comics Index, comprising 12 volumes. In the mid-eighties, Marvel published their own series of the "Official Marvel Index," a total of five titles in two different formats, and written by Olshevsky. In the early nineties, Marvel again produced an index series, this time managed by Murray Ward. Unfortunately, sales on the titles didn't justify continuing the concept past the X-Men and Avengers.
Starting in January, 2009, a new Index is currently being published by Marvel. It is unknown how long this latest series will run, and how many titles/characters it will spotlight (although we hope it will continue for some time to come).
One of the most fascinating features of these indexes was "before and after" appearances of each character in each issue. They highlight the vast tapestry that Marvel's creators have woven out of the Marvel Universe over the course of over seventy years. The Marvel Chronology Project is an attempt to pick up where these indexes left off. We hope to answer the question: What is the "before and after" appearance for every significant character in every story of the Marvel Universe? And if you're one of those who thinks it can't be done, watch us.
Time after time, we're amazed at how "chronology" in the Marvel Universe "works." It clicks. Is that because there's someone chained up in Marvel's basement, working over a giant calendar on the wall, dictating which characters can appear in which books at what time? Is it blind luck? Or are we reading things in that just aren't there? Marvel isn't talking.
Anyway, this web site is intended as an information resource. If you want to read every story with your favorite character, in order by that character's perspective, this is the place to start.
Q. Is the Chronology Project affiliated with the current Index?
The MCP is independently operated, a separate entity from the Index. Having said that, several Directors here also serve as contributors to the Index. Both share the same goals of charting the appearances of Marvel characters. The MCP serves as a support to the Index when possible, and likewise, their publication serves as a guide for us.
Q. The Flying Banana appears in Ragin' Cajun #31. You don't list him. Why?
There are several questions you need to ask yourself first.
1. Was this a reprint of some other story? If yes, we should have the appearance listed in the book where the story was originally printed. We don't track reprints, since they have no impact on a character's chronology.
2. Was this appearance a flashback to some previous story, with no new information imparted (what the denizens of our Forum call a "rehashback")? If yes, we'll have the appearance listed where the flashback was originally told.
3. Was this really an appearance, as opposed to a dream sequence, a remembrance, or an apocryphal story? Many web pages elect to list these kinds of appearances, which is fine. But remember: we're the Marvel Chronology Project, not the Marvel Appearances Project.
If you've gone through these three questions, and still think this appearance deserves to be listed, then by all means, let us know.
Our most likely response will be either:
This is a non-canonical story, i.e., it didn't happen. A good example would be some of the giveaway books that Marvel published in the eighties, or the various titles based on the cartoon versions of the characters; or
This was an oversight. Thanks, and we'll update the web page as quickly as possible!
Q. My favorite character is Mr. Potato Head. Why isn't he listed?
Well, it might be because he's not a Marvel Universe character. Or it might be because we thought he wasn't very important. Chances are, if that last one is the reason, we'll change our mind and add him, just because you asked nicely.
Generally, heroes and villains with codenames are listed regardless of their importance. Characters who appear in more than one title are listed, regardless of their importance. Characters who only reveal their first names are not listed, regardless of their importance. The listing of characters who reveal both their first and last names is basically a judgment call. The questions we ask ourselves are: How likely is this character to appear in some other story? and: Is this character significant?
Q. What about Marvel titles set in other universes? What about titles set in the future? Will you have listings for those books?
Generally, our focus is on the "main" Marvel Universe, (that which Alan Moore dubbed "Earth-616"). Having said that, with travel to other alternate realities and timelines a constant story point of the Marvel Universe, we do make an effort to have listings for certain titles.
Follow-Up Q. How do you decide which alternate universes/timelines are included?
To be added to the Chronology Project, the title must meet our established criteria:
1. Must be an alternate Marvel owned universe/timeline with characters appearing in multiple titles, requiring a chronology.
2. Given #1, said universe/timeline has established itself as part of the larger Marvel Multiverse, either through contact with another esablished Marvel universe, or by making multiple appearances in or from a Marvel comic that explores the Marvel Multiverse, such as What If...? or Exiles.
Follow-Up Q. How do you decide which licensed characters/titles are included?
We only list characters which are part of Marvel's canon. This can include some licensed characters/titles (like Micronauts), but the criteria for determining whether these are part of the Marvel Universe are stricter. They must:
Follow-Up Q. What about intercompany crossovers, like Marvel vs. DC, or Avengers/JLA?
When the Marvel Universe crosses over with another publisher's universe, it must be presented as two separate universes crossing, not existing in the same universe, to qualify for a listing (Avengers/JLA being a good example of this). In such a case, we'll list only the Marvel characters, as we're the MARVEL Chronology Project.
Follow-Up Q. But what about Clark Kent and Lois Lane? You list them, but they're not owned by Marvel.
Occasionally, you'll see cameos by characters like these in Marvel's comics - but these aren't the versions that appear monthly in DC Comics. These are in-jokes, Marvel Universe versions of the DC characters. We still track these, like we would any other character (and sometimes, these cameos mount up, over time).
Q. What does ASM (or fill in the blank) stand for?
See the Key.
Q. Which titles/issues still need to be added to the MCP?
See the Checklist.
Q. Your site is...well...scary. Just exactly how many comic books do you have?
My insurance agent gets kind of nervous when I talk about that, but here goes. With the exception of the western comics, I have virtually every Marvel Universe story published since 1961. I really don't say that to brag, because I suspect a number of people reading this wouldn't be particularly impressed by that. I mention it to point out that I have some basis of authority for putting the MCP together.
Q. Why is your site so slow?
Frankly, this one leaves me scratching my head. Every time I get a letter like this, I take a moment to spin off to various comics-related sites, comparing their download time to mine. Speed is relative, and my experience has been that I'm getting a pretty good response time from the MCP, relative to other sites. The graphics on the web page are extremely limited, in a deliberate attempt to cut the download time. If you think the site is slow, then maybe it's because there's a lot of information here. Other than that, I really don't know what to tell you.
Q. Can I post your Red Warthog chronology on my web page?
Yes, provided some basic conditions are met:
Q. How often do you update the MCP?
While there is not a steady schedule, new batches of titles are added as time permits (see the Updates pages). Comics reviewed in the Issue Analysis forum get added to the MCP with the following priority: Titles/issues set in the past (which are usually easier to place) will be added first, followed eventually by contemporary comics (as the "present day" of the Marvel Universe slowly becomes the past).
As far as listings already in the MCP, if there is a formatting error, please report it to the Bug Reports forum, and it'll be corrected immediately.
If there is a chronology mistake in an existing listing, please post about it on the Forum. WELL-EXPRESSED corrections to existing chronologies are made after plenty of opportunity is given for open debate.
Q. I sent you an email a couple of weeks ago, but never got a response. How come?
I try to respond to every email that I receive, but there are some exceptions. Here are the most common ones.
If you were rude, or in any way abusive, your letter will be dumped without a second thought.
Maybe something got fried on the internet, and I never received your message. Please try again.
Make sure the "Reply To" field on your web browser has your correct address. Many times, I respond to correspondent's email, only to have my reply bounced back to me as undeliverable. *shrug*
Q. My little Johnny clicked on one of your links and was taken to a web page that had some dirty pictures on it. What are you gonna do about it?
First, understand that we have no control over the content of any web page, other than our own.
Having said that, we recognize that the Marvel Chronology Project may be of interest to both minors and adults. We do not knowingly link to sites with adult material. If you believe you've discovered an inappropriate link, let us know, and we'll investigate the matter.
Q. Why do you have so many Golden Age appearances listed for characters like the Patriot and Miss America? I thought the Golden Age stories weren't canon, unless Marvel specifically brought them in.
In the letter column for Invaders #32, no less an authority than Roy Thomas seemed to say just that. In the letter column for Invaders #36, "Angry Al Schroeder III" had this to say, in part:
Let me say first that there are a few stories that must be thrown out, ones that violate continuity or common sense. But such stories are few and far between.
In his response, Thomas clarified his (and presumably Marvel's) position thusly:
For, though perhaps he never stated this as clearly as he could have, Roy does not feel that all 1940's and 1950's pre-Marvel adventures of Cap and Company are invalid.
That's the policy we'll try to follow.
As a footnote, it's worth mentioning some guy named Busiek followed up with a letter in Invaders #40, contending that the Golden Age stories must take a "second-place priority" to Marvel Universe stories post-FF 1. I don't believe that contradicts the policy stated by Thomas.
Q. I don't want to waste time analyzing a book that's not canon. Is there any kind of list of books that the Project has already determined are outside of continuity?
Understand that, for our purposes, "not canon" simply means that the title doesn't qualify for listings in the Project. For instance, a book composed entirely of dream sequences, although strictly speaking, might be considered by Marvel fans at large, as "canon," there remains nothing for us to list, and so, the title ends up here, on the Non-Canon List.
We'll start with this:
Follow-Up Q. How do you determine that a book isn't canon?
The rule of thumb follows a two-step process. In general, a book is canon unless (a) Marvel says it isn't; or (b) it can't be.
Follow-Up Q. But what does that mean?
It's really not difficult. Ask yourself this question: "Has Marvel editorial told us the book is not canon? Yes or No?" If this answer is Yes, Stop. Do not go any further. The book is not canon. If the answer is No, then ask yourself, "Is it possible for the book to be canon? Can this story be placed in each character's chronology?" If the answer is No, Stop. Do not go any further. The book is not canon. If the answer is Yes, then the book is generally considered to be canon. There are special circumstances, such as crossover books, and licensed material, that require that further tests be passed (see above), but these are rare.
Q. I think I'm ready to take the plunge. I want to contribute an issue analysis to the Forum, but I'm not sure just how to go about it. Can you give me some pointers?
You should be prepared to list every character who makes an actual appearance in the story. Dreams and photos/portraits of characters are usually not appearances (see above for why we don't count dreams, and below for how we treat photos). If there is any indication, either through character dialog, captions, or footnotes, of when this story occurs in relation to other stories, this should be noted. If there is no such indication, you should draw a reasonable conclusion, if possible, of when this story occurs, especially if characters from other titles appear in this story. If a flashback occurs, list every character who appears in the flashback, and attempt to place this flashback in its proper chronological place. Give a brief synopsis of events in the flashback. If more than one flashback occurs, treat each flashback separately, assigning a number to each flashback, and giving a page/panel # over which the flashback spreads. You should have a basic understanding of the concept of "behind-the-scenes" appearances (for more information, see the Key). If a character only appears behind the scenes, that should be noted. If the story contains a revelation to a previous story (Example 1: the current story reveals that the villain was behind the scenes in a previous story; Example 2: the current story reveals that the villain was pretending to be someone else in a previous story), this should be explained. We would appreciate a brief synopsis of the events of the main story, but that is not required, at least at this point.
As an example, Director Kevin Wasser has provided a sample analysis of the second story of Daredevil vol. 2 #20:
DD2 20/2: (this stands for DD, vol. 2, issue 20, second story)
Published: July, 2001 (This will give reference so people can find out what other stories were published around that time).
Written By Stan Lee, Drawn by Gene Colan (This can sometimes be helpful in telling if it's part of an overall arc that needs to be taken into consideration, or if it's just a oneshot by a fill in writer/artist)
Appearances: Spider-Man, Daredevil (Lets us know which characters appeared)
Brief Syopsis: (This is optional at this time, *as noted by the Administrator*)
In this case, since it's brief: Spidey and DD are in costume in a bar, living it up. They go outside and bust up some hooligans and go there seperate ways.
References: (This lets us know when this story takes place)
A broad example of references: Going by publication date, and since DD is wearing his mask in the bar, and no one is talking like they know who DD is, I'd say this goes before DD's secret identity gets revealed to the press.
Also, since the main story in DD2 20 is the start of a new story arc which runs uninterrupted over the next few issues, and the second story can go anywhere, why not just drop the second story as having happened before the Main story?
Flashback sequence (If this story had a flashback, you would have needed to do the following sections again, as pertaining to the flashback):
1. Appearances in Flashback
Q.Do you include photographs in the chronologies?
Photos are taken on a case by case basis. A generic family photo is unplaceable, and really amounts to nothing more than a prop or a decoration, and can be ignored. On the other hand, a photo which shows a specific event which we haven't previously seen is another matter, and should be listed, and treated the same as a flashback.
The image of Uatu on this page is trademarked Marvel Characters, and used without permission.