Comics : Marvel Catalog (October 1998)

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: A Word From Our Sponsor

This review was first published on: 2008.


Before Marvel Previews got started in 2003, our favorite publishing company used a number of other different methods to advertise its titles. This "Catalog" claims to have been published monthly, though I don't remember my comic dealer ever offering me a copy in an attempt to increase my spending habits.

I found this one sitting behind a dusty pile of 25c back issues underneath a table in my local comic store. I had ducked beneath the table for a perfectly innocent reason, which I finally persuaded the police to accept. And in apology for having dialed the cops in the first place, the comic store owner offered me this catalog for free, in some sort compensation.

Magazine size, paper cover, 48 pages.

In Detail...

Marvel Catalog (October 1998)
Oct 1998 : SM Cover
Summary: Spider-Man on Cover, Interview w/ John Byrne on Chapter One
Editor:  Bill Rosemann
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This "catalog" starts off with a promotional section, with focus reflecting the sins of the times. There's some solid push towards internet media. There's Marvel online chat schedules (exclusively available on AOL). There's excitement about the direction of CyberComics. Did they ever take off? I've never even read one. I like my comic books made of paper, the old fashioned way.

The Slingers are hot, with Spider-Man's role in Identity Crisis. Deadpool is also front and centre. But the headline is an interview with John Byrne, creator of the hotter-than-hot Spider-Man: Chapter One.

JB Quote on Chapter One: "This way [kids] can find out what precedes those [regular title] books without spending a thousand dollars on back issues."

Well, a thousand dollars would have to be very carefully spent to get you readable originals of AF #15, and ASM #1-100. But you have to say that rewriting the stories from scratch probably isn't the most cost effective way of providing a reprint of those tales!

Marvel Knights is, of course, also the other thing that's active. Spider-Girl is up to #3 at this time, part of the grand line up of three MC2 titles! The rest of the magazine, approximately two thirds of the content, is genuine catalog, with listings and cover art of the upcoming month's comics.

In General...

Well, this magazine is a fascinating reminder of how far we've come in ten years. Let's see...

  1. It was a time of superficial excess. Everything had variant covers.
  2. The internet was going to revolutionize books. We were on the brink of a major change from paper books to electronic media.
  3. The editors of Spider-Man were on a mission to simplify Spider-Man and start him again from the beginning, with a clean slate, so that twelve year old kids with a mere forty bucks per month to spend could jump onto the title and get the whole story without having to worry about the complexity of decades of back history.

Yeah, we've come a long way, baby.

Overall Rating...

It's a catalog. The colors are garish, the hype is shameless, and in hindsight many aspects are embarrassing to contemplate. Chapter One was one of several low points in that shameful decade.

But it is what it is, and I'll give it a nostalgic two and a half webs.