Greetings from the Odinson,
The over 80 years of the History of the DC Universe can be partitioned into several distinct eras – Pre-Crisis DCU (1938-1985), Post-Crisis DCU (1986-2011), The New 52 (2011-2016), Rebirth (2016-2021), and Infinite Frontier (2021-Present). Marvel Comics has been around in one form or another for nearly just as long and the Odinson asked himself, well, what are the distinct eras of Marvel History? So far I have identified the first three eras – Timely Wartime Heroes (1939-1949), the Atlas Era (1950-1963), and the Marvel Age (1961-1995). See Part 1 (HERE).
This week, the Odinson will continue by taking a look at two more distinct eras that bridge the gap from the Marvel Age to now.
The Epochs of Marvel: Part 2 of 3
This was a turbulent, strange time for Marvel Comics. The company’s real-world financial woes and uncertain future at this time were reflected in their comics. Within the continuity of the Marvel Universe, in the aftermath of the harrowing Onslaught campaign, the world was left lurching in uncertainty as the greatest heroes of the Marvel U the Avengers and Fantastic Four perished in the final battle to stop the villain’s reign of terror. At least, that is what everybody thought. More on that in a moment.
The X-Men, Hulk, and Spider-Man were still alive. Unfortunately, none of them have had the best reputation in the court of public opinion. So, of course the mutant heroes were blamed for the demise of Marvel’s champions by the public. A rudderless Hulk, devoid of Banner’s influence once again became a hunted fugitive. And Spidey was still dealing with being a Clone. So, in the absence of their greatest heroes, who would heed the call to arms?
North of the border, Department H reinstates Alpha Flight and Canada’s premiere super team assembles with some familiar faces and new recruits. Daredevil picks up some of the slack by taking on Avengers, Spider-Man, and X-Men villains. Deadpool begins his journey toward becoming a household name. Hercules tries to wrangle the directionless Hulk and give him a purpose which leads to the Heroes for Hire upping their game and expanding their roster. But the most startling debut of all is the Thunderbolts. This enigmatic team of unknowns strikes like lightning taking on the Hulk and aiming to replace Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. But these new super heroes have a dark secret that could change the course of Marvel History.
Meanwhile, we discover that the Avengers and Fantastic Four actually survived their showdown with Onslaught. Franklin Richards, the son of Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman, used his unparalleled, and mostly untapped, cosmic powers to create a pocket dimension where Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Marvel’s First Family were Reborn. For one year the lives of Captain America, Iron Man, the Avengers, and Fantastic Four were rebooted and their origins played out in startling, different ways. That is until the Celestials, alerted by Franklin’s display of unearthly power, intervened and brought this little project to an end. Thus, the stage was set for the Heroes Return!
Bruce Banner was reunited and combined with the Hulk. Peter Parker was the one true Spider-Man again. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the rest of the Avengers, and Fantastic Four were back in the 616 and mightier than ever and embarking on some the best and greatest adventures of their lives. For several years all was right in the world and nothing seemed able to stop this train.
That is until Avengers Disassemble.
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were humiliated, besieged, and ultimately humbled with many of them K.I.A., including Hawkeye and Thor, and the worst part about it is it was all caused by one of their own. Wolverine became an Enemy of the State and Jean Grey died (again). But all hope was not lost.
As one era came to a close, a new one was about to begin.
In the few years leading up to House of M, a New Avengers team rose from the ashes of the old, and Emma Frost and Cyclops assembled a more proactive team of Astonishing X-Men. Since they both had connections to the problem, these two mega powers joined forces to address the elephant in the room – what was to be done about the unstable Scarlet Witch? This led to the House of M, a reality-altering caper that ended when Wanda Maximoff uttered three simple words that would change the Marvel Universe forever – “No more mutants.”
Wanda’s chaos spell decimated mutantkind and brought them to the precipice of extinction. 198 – that is the number of mutants left in the world. The years following House of M sent Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Children of the Atom off on two different yet strangely parallel paths and ultimately on an inevitable collision course.
Pre-House of M Timeline
Marvel Heroes post-House of M Timeline
X-Men Post-House of M Timeline
Marvel Cosmic Post-House of M Timeline
2007-2008 – Annihilation Conquest
And the Post-House of M era comes to a fiery climax with the death of a prominent hero, the fall from grace of another prominent hero, and a war between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Children of the Atom in the pages of 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men.
And I didn’t even mention highly experimental and imaginative projects that ran during this timeline like the Ultimate Universe, Marvel Zombies, and Newuniversal or character revivals like Moon Knight, Spider-Woman, and the Punisher, or new additions like Red Hulk and the Runaways, or world-changing character-arcs for heroes like the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Daredevil and Spider-Man.
I could never do this era of Marvel History justice in the small amount of space allotted here, but trust me, true believer, follow the course of those timelines above and thou shalt enjoy what is undoubtedly one of the best seven-year runs not just in Marvel History, but in all of Comics History. It should also be noted that it was during this stellar run at the House of Ideas that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was launched.
The Post-House of M era of the Marvel Universe was truly a Renaissance Age.
It was an intense journey with grand ideas and well executed premises where one major event organically led right into the next. It was really quite an astonishing time, and a wonderful time to be a Marvel fan.
This subject has grown bigger than the Odinson anticipated. So, it has been expanded to a third part. Join me next week as I bring it home and discover the eras of Marvel History that bring us to the present day.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: For past entries of the So Sayeth the Odinson blog, over a decade’s worth of comic book and pop culture articles and reviews, click HERE. Also, be sure to check out my novels The Survivors and Autumn Dawn, which were inspired by 1980s horror – HERE and HERE.