1989 Character Updates (1989)

The school year is winding down and summer vacation is on the horizon, so I am once again pulled back to 1988, my early days of discovering comic books and my fixation on the Gamer’s Handbook of the Marvel Universe for TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes RPG. The original set of four released in 1988, alphabetically listing a gigantic slice of characters from the Marvel universe, in alphabetical order, featuring full-color model sheets, on loose leaf paper for maximum convenience. You got histories, powers, the whole nine. And because the Marvel comics universe was alive, beginning in 1989, additional Character Update volumes saw release.

This is the first, and largest, of the Updates. The majority is new characters, most of them losers and second-rate villains who appeared in an issue or two, like Meteor Man. I love those folks best, probably. There is a little bit of catch-up, too, fitting in folks like Beta-Ray Bill and Prowler who didn’t make it into the primary reference. Some marquee debuts, too, like Venom and the X-Babies (lol).

Then there are the storyline updates. Hulk turned gray, Inferno was bedeviling the X-folks, Armor Wars was wrapping up. All these events and more needed to be accounted for in the RPG, and so they were. It’s this stuff that makes these books an unparalleled resource for the history of the Marvel universe at that moment in time.

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