UNOFFICIAL CHRONOLOGY TO THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
CHAPTER 1: THE DISTANT PAST
CHAPTER 2: DAWN OF HUMANKIND
CHAPTER 3: DAWN OF MODERN HUMAN CIVILIZATION
CHAPTER 4: THE MIDDLE AGES
CHAPTER 5: AGE OF DISCOVERY
CHAPTER 6: 1884 - 1939
CHAPTER 7: BEGINNING OF WORLD WAR II
CHAPTER 8: END OF WORLD WAR II
CHAPTER 9: POST WORLD WAR II - 1956
CHAPTER 10: 1958 - 1980
CHAPTER 11: PRE-FANTASTIC FOUR #1, PART I
CHAPTER 12: PRE-FANTASTIC FOUR #1, PART II
CHAPTER 13: PRE-FANTASTIC FOUR #1, PART III
CHAPTER 14: PRE-FANTASTIC FOUR #1, PART IV
Welcome to the Third Edition of the Unofficial Chronology Of The Marvel Universe. The UCOTMU is a project I began in early 1997 when I started thinking about doing a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for the rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup. With the vast history and continuity which Marvel Comics has provided over the past 60 years, I thought it would be a lot easier to inform those with questions with a short little time-line which would help give some answers. However this quickly grew beyond my ability to control. When I first started I wanted brief summaries of the major events that had occurred in Marvel's past pre-Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #1. However my studies made me realize exactly how much had happened and there wasn't much I came across that I considered unimportant. Since the posting of the first UCOTMU I have come across several comics, both new and old, that I felt contained material that should be included as well. I have received plenty of positive feedback, everyone that replied seemed to like it, and all the criticism I received was very helpful. With people's suggestions and answers the UCOTMU has continued to be expanded and added upon, to make it better, more accurate and larger than before. Thus the chronology has grown until it developed into the monster it is today.
All the information presented, unless otherwise noted, I have gathered from the OHOTMU (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe,) 2nd edition #1-20 and the OHOTMU Update '89 #1-8. Other references are from other comics, historical and contemporary accounts, or scientific theory, and will be noted as such. However just because I note a particular source besides the OHOTMU for a reference does not mean that I didn't also use the Handbook in connection with that source.
Even a great reference guide like the Handbook is filled with slight errors. In some cases the information within the guide contradicts itself. For example, it is commonly believed that the Kree created the Inhumans twenty-five thousand years ago. But the OHOTMU lists the Eternal colony on Titan as being founded almost seven hundred and fifty thousand years ago. Since the two events are closely related, there is obviously some error here. Since the date of the Inhumans creation is regarded as more factual and standard more so than that of the date of Titan's founding, I ignored the seven hundred and fifty thousand date as being erroneous. Another example is that of Attilan and the Inhumans. The Attilan entry states that the city was founded after the sinking of Atlantis, while the Inhumans entry states that it was founded four thousand years before. I decided to use the latter reference, assuming that the writers of the guide discovered their mistake and corrected themselves.
One problem I experienced in writing the UCOTMU is that a lot of events have no specific date set for when they occurred. One example is the creation of the Subterraneans. All I know is that the first ones were created centuries after the Great Cataclysm. The first recorded sighting of them by a surface man was by Tyrannus in the A.D. 500's. That's about a sixteen thousand year gap in which somewhere the Subterraneans were created. Another example was when the Lemurian Emperor Naga first took possession of the Serpent Crown. Although I have not come across a specific date as to when he first donned it, I took my best guess and threw it in anyway. In such cases when I was unsure of the date but still included the event I listed the time of that occurrence as being based on speculation. Also, events that occurred in other dimensions are extremely difficult to date, as the concept of time and calendars differ from one dimension to the next. Some dimensions are timeless, in others time moves at an accelerated rate. The only way to judge when extradimensional events took place and include them accurately in the UCOTMU is if they interact with that of an event from Earth's past. In such cases that there is no reference to Earthly events I decided not to include these at all.
Most of this chronology follows a sequential order, beginning with the end of the previous universe right up until the A.D. 1980's. However the final parts of this chronology are different. In Marvel comics there is a phenomenon called "Marvel Time" which essentially means that for every four or five "real" years, only about one year has passed within the comic books for the Marvel characters. Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #1 may have been published in 1961, but less than a decade and a half has passed for those characters since they received their powers. Basically, they exist today, and know they gained their powers about eleven years ago, not thirty-nine. Thus it is difficult to date certain events which have been referred to which occurred "fifteen or more years ago." For example, Johnny Storm was approximately seventeen years old when he hitched a ride on the rocket that would change him into the Human Torch. Since Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #1 came out in 1961, this would put his birth date around 1944. However, now it's 2000, and Johnny Storm is still only in his late twenties! According to "Marvel Time," the Fantastic Four got their powers about eleven years ago, thus the Human Torch's birth date would now seem to be circa early 1970's. But this was more than ten years after the release of Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #1! You can see how it might start to get confusing. Anyway, I could put his birth date in the official chronology as occurring circa early A.D. 1970's, but unfortunately in a few years this would be out of date, as real time keeps marching along yet "Marvel Time" drags its feet. So I created separate chapters in this chronology. If certain events were not recorded as having occurred on a specific date but instead listed as having occurred "twenty years ago," I decided not to place that entry in the late 1970's or early 1980's but instead as having occurred "circa 9 years pre-Fantastic Four #1." These "Pre-FF #1" chapters contain events which overlap with that of the rest of the chronology, which starts with the earliest known date right up to the 1980's, shortly before the events in Fantastic Four (vol.
Just as an aside, another problem with "Marvel Time" is that occasionally it leaves the real world behind. Certain events and origins were originally tied into real world events, such as the Fantastic Four's desire to be the first to the moon, or Tony Stark building his first set of armor in Korea. However because of this "one year passes in Marvel comics for every three to five real years" thing origins occasionally have to be changed or altered to make them contemporary. Now the Fantastic Four's rocket trip was an attempt to break the speed of light! This doesn't mean that the original story didn't happen as mentioned, it just means that in order to keep stories contemporary certain details or topical references have to be slightly altered in their retelling.
One minor dilemma I encountered in researching the chronology is references to non-Earthly events, i.e. events that have taken place in the past but not on Earth. The Shi'ar war against the Mephistoids and Thanos' origin were told by aliens or non-Earthly residents to other non-Earthers. Should I assume that when they mention the passage of time they are speaking using Earth references, or their own? When Mentor told the Silver Surfer that Thanos had spent 80 years roaming the galaxy before returning to Titan did he mean Earth years or Titan/Saturn years? I decided to assume that whatever process that allows us to understand such beings translates their references to English, but this is speculation on my part.
One way that this Chronology may disappoint the reader is that I have not adequately detailed many non-Marvel characters that have played roles in the Marvel universe. Characters from legend, historical figures, and those owned by other companies are not given complete coverage. Odysseus, Merlin, Adolph Hitler, and dozens of other historical and legendary characters have had tremendous impact upon events in the Marvel Universe. However I decided that such figures are given enough coverage in other sources, and decided to detail only how their actions have affected Marvel characters and events in the Marvel universe. I decided to do the same thing with characters from other companies, such as Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage, King Kull, and Solomon Kane. One of the main reasons they, and also Red Sonya, are not adequately covered in the UCOTMU is because I know so little about them. I have read stories about those characters but have not yet come across any issue of a Marvel comic which gives full origins and histories of their lives. Not being owned by Marvel, they were not given complete coverage in the OHOTMU. The Hyborian characters probably won't be included in a future edition of the UCOTMU until I track down The Handbook of the Conan Universe #1. Another way this Chronology may disappoint is the lack of coverage given to most of the Timely and Atlas characters. Again the main reason is my ignorance of them because of the scarcity of coverage given to them in the OHOTMU.
Another way that this Chronology may disappoint is the lack of coverage of super-villains. Although in the Pre-FF chapters I have tried to fully cover the lives of the major Marvel heroes before FF #1, there is a lack of attention given to the villains. The only villains I do cover in the Pre-FF chapters are those that have had some interaction with the lives of the heroes before FF #1. Well, except the Kingpin, but he's just too cool. My main reason for doing so was to not get completely bogged down in details. If I included all the villains as well as heroes, then I feel the UCOTMU would be excessively long. However you the reader have the final say. What do you think? Should I include the villains as well?
As I've mentioned, this chronology covers almost everything from the end of the previous universe right up until Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #1. Although a chronology covering the events since Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #1 is possible, I decided to use that as my cut-off date. The reason being is that a chronology covering everything from Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #1 to the present would probably be five times longer and take five times as long for me to write. You never know, one day I might attempt it, but I can't see it happening soon!
Special thanks go out to the select few denizens of the rac.mu and rac.xb (rec.arts.comics.x-books) newsgroups who were knowledgeable enough to help me when I was stumped on certain questions while I was writing the first edition of the UCOTMU. You know who you are. (I don't, I forgot your names. Sorry!) Honorable mentions go to Jeanne Burch, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Rob Hansen, Rivka Jacots, Gary Johnson, Sean Kleefeld, Johan Lundstrom, Keith Martin, Paul O'Brien, Lee Seitz, Jim Smith, StAkAr, Tilman Stieve, Neil Talmadge, Andrew Theisen, Alan Travis, and Lance Visser. These guys helped me out after reading the first and second editions and helped answer a lot of questions and gave valuable suggestions. Thanks also go out to Tom Breevort and Kurt Busiek. In non-UCOTMU related posts to the rac.mu newsgroup these guys have given information that I was unaware of but decided to include in the Chronology. And special thanks to Jess Nevins, not only for all the valuable suggestions and comments but also for giving the UCOTMU a home. And of course, the Chronology would have been impossible without the fine talents of the many other writers and creators who have worked for Marvel over the years and provided for us the details of the Marvel universe's past. It would be impossible for me to mention them all, or to detail how all of them have contributed to Marvel continuity, so all I can say is that you are all appreciated, respected, and admired. Keep up the excellent work!
This project has been a labor of love for me. I learned a lot researching and writing it, and greatly expanded my knowledge of the Marvel universe. I hope it does the same for you.
And to get this business out of the way: This is an "Unofficial" Chronology of the Marvel Universe. All prominent characters featured in this Chronology are trademarks of the MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP, INC.
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