But now, open your eyes wide and look through your binoculars backwards, because now you may spy with your little eye something beginning with "O": the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Deluxe Edition!:
Click once, then again, to OH GOLLY IT GOT REALLY REALLY BIG-size
Holy moly! That's one long muralthirty comic book covers wide! Now, I know what you're about to say, because if there's one thing that everybody knows about this cover, is that it wraps around on itself, featuring all the characters running in a completely circle. Well, as the Firesign Theatre once declared, everything you know is wrong! Take a look at the connected image...although #15 and #1 connect to each other, #6 and 7 don't. In fact, there's a good deal of white space behind all the "K" and "L" characters on the back of #7, including waaaaaay at the back, The Kingpin. He didn't get where he is today by rushing off all willy-nilly to find out what's going on, no sirree! Instead, he'll let every other hero and villain in the Marvel Universe do the dirty work for him., (Don't worry, Lockheed's keepin' an eye on him.) That means, of course, that the procession of racing 616ers begins on the front of issue 6. At the front of the group? The In-Betweener, Hydro-Man and Iceman. I dunno about you, but I sure as heck wouldn't follow them.
I still don't know what they're running to, but there's a good deal of fun to be found examining these characters closely. Trivia question: the members of which team appear in the line-up twice? (Highlight blank text for the answers!) A: The five original X-Men appear individually and also as a groupX-Factoron issue #15. Whose uniform was outdated even before the issue they appeared on was published? A: Cyclops, who wears an early design version of his new costume both on the cover and inside issue #2. Marvel admitted their mistake in a later issue. There's one character who appears on the wrong issue's cover. Putting him in the correct position would move him as far away in the alphabet as possible, but physically he'd only move a few feet back. Who is he? A: Arnim Zola, who's alphabetized under "A" rather than "Z." He's on the back of issue #1, but move him a few feet back behind the Abomination and he's in his correct place on the front of issue #15. Who appears on the most different issues? Mr. Fantastic, whose right leg is on the front of issue #7, his entire body across #8, and his right arm stretching through 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14...until at last his hand shows up on #15, yanking away the Wrecker's crowbar. Whose body and head doesn't appear at all? A: Stilt-Man: all you can see are his stilts on issue #12. And, what the heck is the Punisher shooting at? A: Looks like Shanna the She-Devil's rear end to me.
This, of course, wasn't the only OHOTMU whose covers form a mural, but it's certainly one of the most impressive. Out of date they may be, but the eighties editions of the Handbook are not only one of the best bargains in comics of all time (you could read these things for hours for a buck fifty a shot) but they were also incredibly fun...from cover to cover. To cover. To cover. To cover to cover to cover to cover to cover to cover to cover to cover to cover to cover.