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The Order FAQThe Site FAQThe Marvel FAQ
1:  What is Marvel Comics?
What is now Marvel Comics was originally founded by Martin Goodman as Timely Comics. The first comic published by Timely, Marvel Comics #1, would later serve as the inspiration for the company's current name. Timely Comics starred several characters, many now forgotten, and a few that have stood the test of time, such as the Sub-Mariner, Captain America, Bucky, and the original Human Torch. Timely folded in 1950 and was picked up by Atlas Comics, which attempted to bring back some of the company's big super-hero names. Atlas, however, was not long for this world and closed in 1957.
In 1961 Marvel Comics launched with Fantastic Four #1, the brainchild of Stan Lee, marking the begning of the Marvel Universe. After Fantastic Four, the team at Marvel began rolling out various new titles featuring original characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men, as well as characters revived from the old Timely days. This laid the foundation for what would become the Marvel Universe and marked the birth of a cultural icon.
2:  What is the gold/silver/bronze/modern age of comics?
While there is ongoing debate over industry wide standards for marking the start and end dates of these periods, the generally accepted markers for Marvel Comics are as follows:
    The Golden Age – Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939)
The Golden Age marked the early development of the super-hero genre with characters such as Captain America, Namor The Sub-Mariner, and others.
    The Silver Age – Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)
The Silver Age saw an emphasis on character development and realism in characterization. In addition, Marvel strove to appeal to a more mature audience through the incorporation of more sophisticated content and themes as well as addressing myriad social issues. This period saw the premier of many of Marvel’s most recognized characters, such as Spider-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men, and many more.
The Bronze Age – Amazing Spider-Man #122 (Jul. 1973)
Darker and grittier in both style and content, the Bronze Age approached topics that had previously been considered taboo, such as drug use and alcoholism. Building on the foundation established in the Silver Age, Marvel’s comics began to further explore socially and politically significant issues.
The Modern Age – Secret Wars #1-12 (May 1984)
Continuing to the present day, the Modern Age of comics has been largely defined by a focus on industry trends and marketing gimmicks. This includes the rise of promotional events and crossovers, and the heavy saturation of titles for popular characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men. The rise of direct-market sales and independent comic publishers also played an important role in the development of the modern comics industry.
3:  What is Marvel Time (AKA Marvel Sliding Time Scale)?
The mainstream Marvel Universe employs a sliding time-scale that controls the passage of time within Earth-616 in relation to the passage of time in the real world. The result of this is that characters age little over the years while the world they inhabit adapts in real time to reflect our own. The purpose of this is to maintain the status quo of a character over time rather than having them grow old. This process has progressed over the years, with the first several years of Marvel continuity moving more or less in real time followed by increasing deceleration beginning around 1970.
4:  What is a Story Arc/Crossover/Event?
A Story Arc is a story that spans more than one issue of a comic. A Crossover is a story arc that spans more than one issue through two or more titles. An Event is a broad story arc that is composed of multiple smaller arcs and crossovers, often with ramifications for the Marvel Universe as a whole.
5:  What is Continuity?
Continuity is the practice of maintaining the details of a character’s history and characteristics over time. With multiple writers and artists working on a character or title through the years, carefully maintaining continuity is essential to ensuring the integrity of a character’s story. Retroactive Continuity (RetCon) is the practice of updating, adjusting, or altering the details of a character’s history for creative or practical reasons. This can range from the introduction of a never before mentioned sibling to the erasure of huge portions of a character’s history.
6:  What is an Imprint?
Over the years Marvel has used various alternative publishing brands, known as Imprints, designed to reach different niche and regional markets. Some examples include Curtis Magazines, Epic, Marvel Knights, and MAX, which were designed for mature audiences, Marvel UK, which was created to tap into the British market, or Tsunami, which was aimed at Manga readers. Whether or not a title is considered in continuity varies by title rather than Imprint.
7:  What is The Marvel Method?
Pioneered by Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the Marvel Method is an alternative style of collaboration between the writer and artist in the creation of a comic book. Rather than write a panel-by-panel outline for the artist to follow, Lee would produce a one or two sentence synopsis of the story. The artist would then fill in all the details and action on his own, with Lee adding dialogue and narration to the finished art. This method gave the artist more creative control over the characters, and was an essential component in the development of Marvel Comics' identity at the time.
8:  What is Earth-616?
Earth-616 is the designation for the Mainstream Marvel Universe within the broader Multiverse. The concept of the Marvel Universe grew out of Stan Lee’s desire that his various characters inhabit the same fictional world. Within this world, which was intended to mirror our own, these heroes and villains would freely interact and the actions of one could have a significant impact on the lives and world of the others. Over time, through the maintenance of continuity and the input of hundreds of writers and artists, this mythology has grown to incorporate thousands of diverse characters and concepts.
9:  What is The Marvel Multiverse?
Earth-616 is one of many universes that combine to make up the Marvel Multiverse. These various universes are comprised of alternate realities, dimensions, and time-lines that feature their own versions of many of the characters that are part of Earth-616. While some of these universes are standalone concepts, many of them interact to varying degrees with each other and Earth-616. As such, it is not unusual for a character from an alternate universe to appear in Earth-616, or for an Earth-616 character to spend time in an alternate universe. Nearly all of these universes will have a designation that is “Earth” followed by a set of numbers. The other Marvel Earths are:
Earth-1191: The Forever Yesterday universe where Bishop and the X.S.E originated from..
Earth-1298: Mutant X.
Earth-1610: Ultimate Universe.
Earth-1815: Zero Tolerance Universe.
Earth-2149: Zombieverse.
Earth-238: Also called Crooked World where Mad Jim Jaspers managed to get superheroes outlawed..
Earth-295: Age of Apocalypse.
Earth-31916: Squadron Supreme (Ultimate) Universe.
Earth-4040: Breeze Barton Universe.
Earth-522: The Universe of Captain England (From the Captain Britain Corps).
Earth-55921: Antonio Stark In-Continuity Fiction Universe.
Earth-616: Main Marvel Universe.
Earth-6212: Fifth Dimension.
Earth-6297: Zarkko Tomorrow Man Alternate Future.
Earth-6311: Other Earth.
Earth-68091: Cerebrus Run Alternate Future.
Earth-689: Scarlet Centurion Divergent Timeline.
Earth-691: Guardians of the Galaxy Alternate Future.
Earth-712: Squadron Supreme Universe.
Earth-721: Earth-A (Alternate Fantastic Four).
Earth-7484: Deathlok (Luther Manning) Timeline.
Earth-7712: A What If? universe where the FF gained different powers and Dr. Doom had an alternate path..
Earth-772: A What If? universe where Spider-Man joined the FF early in his career..
Earth-791: Classic Star Lord.
Earth-80234: Paradox Reality.
Earth-811: Days of Future Past.
Earth-8212: A What If? universe where Reed Richards and Ben Grimm properly shielded their ship and did not get powers..
Earth-8410: 2020 AD Universe.
Earth-8649: Jean Grey Trial Universe.
Earth-8657: Alt. Kang Temporal Univese.
Earth-8710: Dargo Ktor is Thor.
Earth-8720: Alternate Days of Future Past.
Earth-8810: Black Celestial Time Bubble.
Earth-90110: A universe where the Vision takes control of the world[appost]s computer and creates a [quote]Golden Age[quote]. Includes the creation of the Cosmic Avengers..
Earth-901237: Dominant Alpha Flight Universe.
Earth-9250: A What If? universe where Wolverine becomes the lord of the vampires..
Earth-9260: A What If? universe where Seth managed to conquer Asgard..
Earth-99315: Valarie Richards Timeline.
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