RUN: Marvel Comics Index:
issues (1-14; some issues have A+B; various
editions updated more than once) (various publishers, not Marvel); original run 197_; final? run 1981.
Official Marvel Index to Marvel Team-Up 6 issues 1986; to the Amazing Spider-Man 9 issues 1985; to the Avengers 7+6 issues 1987-88/1994-95, to the Fantastic Four 12 issues 1985-86; to the X-Men 7+5 issues 1986-87/1994
KEY CREATORS: George Olshevsky (pre-1990s); Murray Ward (1990s) (writers)
OUTLINE: Chronologies, data, and, except for the earliest indices, synopses
STANDOUT/DUD ISSUES: None Really
OVERALL: The original (unofficial) series published by Olshevsky himself is an interesting curiousity piece but a bit lacking, since he doesn't mention what happens in a particular issue. On the other hand, he does cover a (then) complete run of a given series in a single volume, and most volumes have more than one series covered. Many, such as Hulk, have never been indexed in the Official series.
Once he takes over the official series, he really gets thorough. The comments are more detailed than before, and his synopses are extremely thorough. So thorough in fact that if you want to avoid the scripting in a particular comic (maybe you find Lee's jokes too painful to read, or cringe at any 1960s dialogue), you can read the synopses and never miss a thing.
His Avengers and X-Men volumes are a bit disappointing compared to the other. Despite the prestige format and larger page count, you actually get fewer synopses per issue and the thoroughness of the synopses are reduced slightly. Full page cover reproductions and in some places larger type account for this
Murray Ward's synopses are sparser still when he updates the Avengers and X-Men indices, but I still enjoyed them. These issues use a decent shorthand to get as much info on a page regarding chronology as possible,
and with usually two issues per page for 32 pages, a lot of ground is covered quickly. I still might have liked a slightly longer synopsis, but it gives you enough to know what the story's about and for the most part
tries to give you as much indexing in a small package as possible.
RECOMMENDED OR NOT? Some people might find the original indices useful in some ways as references, but keep in mind that much of the chronology is outdated and it doesn't make for an engaging read. Overall, not
recommended, but if you really must have info on a title and there isn't anything better, it'll do.
The Official indices are all recommended, most of all the standard format 1980s ones and least of all the prestige format versions
CONTINUITY NOTES: In all incarnations, flashbacks and explaining away stories might outdate some of the chronological analysis not long after, but as a rough guide it's fun to track the paths of the characters.