Greetings from the Odinson,
Be sure to check out Part 1 HERE.
The Odinson’s 13 Most Noteworthy Calendar Years in Comics History
Part 2 of 2
1996: The Dark Age
- Something bad was brewing in the last decade of the 20th Century. A delusional speculator market rained down on the comic shops of the world. A diluted talent pool was producing less than stellar product. Hit or miss big ideas did what ideas do, some stick, some do not. All this and an oversaturation of the product led to a dark time for our beloved industry. The 1990s was definitely a decade of extreme highs and serious lows with the lowest of the lows culminating in the year 1996 – The Age of Big Guns and Big Pecs.
- Dark gun-toting characters like Hitman and Lobo became the order of the day and a reflection of the darker style of storytelling that was becoming more and more prominent. Iron Man was turned into a supervillain?! Perennial heroes like Aquaman took on darker tones and more aggressive attitudes. And, even What If..? tales took a turn toward the dark side.
- Due to plummeting sales, Marvel Comics handed over the keys of 4 major titles – Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Fantastic Four – to Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, yes two of the very same artists that had left them only a few years earlier to start Image Comics. They spearheaded Heroes Reborn, a reboot nobody asked for, nor, as far as I can tell, wanted.
- Peter Parker, the Spider-Man I had grown up with my whole life, was declared to be nothing but a clone and replaced by Ben Reilly as the real Spider-Man. This was a revelation that actually made the Odinson turn his back on comics for nearly 2 years! Looking back now, I realize how silly my reaction was, but alas, I was still naive enough to think the revelation was more than just a plot twist, and young enough to still get angry about such a thing.
- And, the year ended with Marvel Comics, The Giant of our industry, the flagship comic book company, filing for Bankruptcy.
- Plus, Superman had a mullet?!!! I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Odinson also supported the mullet back in the day, but that was in the late 1980s when such a hairstyle was in vogue. The Man of Steel was supporting the look nearly a decade after its relevance had long since waned. Talk about a character being out of touch.
- 1996 did, however, provide us with a seminal moment in Comics History – Marvel vs. DC!
1998: A Renaissance
- The Heroes Return campaign not only saw Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Marvel’s First Family returned to the Marvel Universe proper, it launched us into a decade long renaissance that saw some of the best comics in history emerge, and it all started in 1998.
- The Odinson will put Avengers by Kurt Busiek and George Perez and Captain America by Mark Waid and Dan Jurgens in the Pepsi Challenge against any runs that have come before or since.
- Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti were given free reign with a handful of characters and launched the Marvel Knights imprint. This led to Kevin Smith’s seminal Guardian Devil storyline and Christopher Priest helping to make Black Panther a true force to be reckoned with in the Marvel U.
- Not to be out done in 1998, DC Comics was in the midst of some highly experimental offerings like Superman Blue and Superman Red, and the Cataclysm epilogue Aftershock, which led into the epic No Man’s Land. Plus, Grant Morrison was smack dab right in the middle of his mind-blowing run on JLA.
- Sleeper hits like Danger Girl and Battle Chasers were introduced.
- And, Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer started running congruent to the seminal TV show and filled in gaps between episodes and seasons.
2005: 20 Years has led to This Moment
- 2005 saw the climax of what has become known as the Post-Crisis DCU, the continuity that ran from Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 up through Flashpoint in 2011.
- It all started in May’s Countdown to Infinite Crisis. The momentum built through the summer in several mini-series, storylines, and subplots including Planet Heist, Day of Vengeance, Lightning Strikes, The OMAC Project, Rann-Thanagar War, Truth or Dare, and Sacrifice.
- The super hero community was in shambles and under siege. The Trinity – Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman – were at odds. Magic was out of control and God’s Spirit of Vengeance, the Spectre, was running amuck. A secret Cabal of super villains was scheming from the shadows. And, the center of the universe had been drawn away from OA to a rift in time and space that became a harbinger of certain doom! And, it all collided within the pages of the masterpiece that is Infinite Crisis.
- Not only did Infinite Crisis wrap up all these dangling plots, and payoff just about every significant moment of the last 20 years leading up to it, including, but not limited to, Death in the Family, the Death of Superman, Emerald Twilight, and Identity Crisis, but it also put a nice bow tie on the Post-Crisis continuity of DC Comics.
- Meanwhile, over at Marvel, 2005 saw writer Ed Brubaker launch what would go on to become not just one of the best Captain America runs in Comics History, but one of the best runs in Comics History, period.
- Plus, the House of M event occurred and changed the landscape of the Marvel Universe in a major way, especially for the lives of mutants! In one harrowing moment, three little words – NO MORE MUTANTS – brought an entire race human beings to the verge of extinction.
2006: The Renaissance Reaches Its Climax
- 2006 may just be the apex of our beloved medium.
- The Renaissance that began back in 1998 climaxes with a surge of tales and moments that not only resonate to this day, but show just how amazing this medium can be when executed on a high level.
- 2006 saw the entire galaxy go to war in Annihilation, and from the ashes of this war rose the Guardians of the Galaxy as we know them today. The super hero community fractured and split right down the middle in Civil War. An entire race of people dealt with being brought to the brink of extinction in Decimation. And, the Jade Giant was exiled to deep space in Planet Hulk. Any one of these would be of noteworthy significance, but these amazing, influential, and epic tales all happened in the same year!
- Dark Horse launched Star Wars Legacy, to this day, one of the finest and most original tales set in the Star Wars Universe and something Disney and LucasFilm should adapt into a trilogy of movies.
- Plus, DC followed up their incredible 2005 with the innovative and pivotal yearlong event 52 Weeks.
- And, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti launched one of the finest runs in the modern era chronicling the adventures of one of the greatest antiheroes in history – Jonah Hex.
2011: A Paradox Ushers in the Age of the Reboot
- Like Crisis on Infinite Earths was back in 1985, Flashpoint was an epic universe-changing event that set the stage for the next evolution of DCU continuity. Enter: The New 52.
- The New 52 took the entire line of DC Comics, including Action Comics and Detective Comics, the two longest running comics series in continuity, and relaunched their entire line from #1. The entire DCU got a reboot.
- There were some things that were good about the New 52, exciting new ideas and storylines like the Superman/Wonder Woman Romance, The Court of Owls, and Forever Evil. And, there were some things that were not so good like unnecessarily overcomplicated costume designs, questionable timeline issues, and the unclear vision of what is cannon moving forward and what is not.
- Love it or hate it, The New 52 set the stage for the next 5 years of storytelling and also set the precedent for the plethora of reboots, relaunches, and retooling that were soon to follow all across the industry.
- Yes, I said 5 years, because unlike Crisis on Infinite Earths back in 1985 which set up 20 years of storytelling, The New 52 era got 5 years before the ejection lever was pulled and we got DC Universe Rebirth in 2016. And just over a year later, in 2017, we got Dark Nights Metal which has led into the current New Age of Heroes era.
- Plus, in 2011, Spider-Man replaced a member of the Fantastic Four who had perished. Spidey being a member of Marvel’s First Family is something we as fans have been teased with going all the way back to 1963 in the pages and on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #1!
There are most certainly many other moments, stories, and events in history that are of great significance and importance, but from January 1st to December 31st, these are the Odinson’s 13 calendar years that have had the most impact on Comics Books History.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell