So Sayeth the Odinson: 1996-1998: A Timeline of a Pivotal Period in American Comics History: Part 3.1: 1998

Greetings from the Odinson,

The late ‘90s was a pivotal moment in history for the comic book medium.  The industry, thanks in no small part to the bottom falling out on an unprecedented speculator boom, both creatively and financially was in flux. 

1996 was a low point in Comics History with Marvel facing an uncertain financial future and DC Comics becoming creatively stagnant (except for the brilliant outlier, Kingdom Come, of course).  But in 1997, things began to turn around.  Marvel began experimenting with some fresh new ideas like The Thunderbolts and DC launched one of the best superhero franchises of All-Time with Grant Morrison’s JLA.

Be sure to check out Part 1: 1996 (HERE), Part 2.1: 1997 (HERE), and Part 2.2: 1997 (HERE).

What would happen in 1998 and what would it mean for the future of American Comic Books?

1996-1998: A Timeline of a Pivotal Period in American Comics History

Part 3.1: 1998 (January-June)

January

Heroes Return: Fantastic Four sees Marvel’s First Family make their triumphant return to the 616 after a year in exile in the Heroes Reborn Universe

Heroes Return: Captain America brings the excellent creative team Mark Waid and Ron Garney back to the pages of the Sentinel of Liberty to launch one of the Odinson’s favorite Cap runs of All-Time.

Dark Horse brings Sergio Aragones’ hilarious Groo the Wanderer into the fold.

JLA Year One is the World’s Greatest Super Heroes getting the Year One treatment complete with Post-Crisis retcons.

In Pop Culture:

January 8th, World Championship Wrestling fires another shot across the bow of the S.S.WWF when they launch WCW Thunder.

January 21st, Resident Evil 2 crawled out of the grave and proved that sequels can be as scary and fun as the original.

January 23, Phantoms adapted Dean Koontz novel and as Jay once excitedly proclaimed, “Affleck is the bomb in Phantoms!”

January 30th, Deep Rising brought good ole fashion monster movie schlock back to the movies with a bang, complete with gloriously bad late-90s CGI. 

February

Heroes Return: Iron Man sees Tony Stark back in the 616 but not just any Tony Stark, the original.  The whole evil Stark and teenage Stark pre-Heroes Reborn nonsense blessedly abandoned. 

Heroes Return: Avengers sees Kurt Busiek and the GREAT George Perez launch pound-for-pound the best run in Avengers history with the largest Assemble of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes ever seen!

Superman Red and Blue makes its first appearance since the Pre-Crisis days of Superman #162 and Superman Spectacular.  It is a concept DC would revisit once again during the Rebirth era.

The final issue of Ghost Rider, one of the biggest hits of the early 90s, hit the stands and leaves fans with a cliffhanger that would not be resolved for nearly a decade when Ghost Rider #94 was finally released.

Sam Kieth’s surreal, existential masterpiece The Maxx ends.

What If? #105 is the 1st appearance of Spider-Girl.  Not only is she the daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane, but “Mayday” Parker would soon get her very own series and continuity called MC2 which explores the future of the Marvel Universe.

In Pop Culture:

February 3rd, Pearl Jam releases their fifth studio album, Yield.  In the Odinson’s humble opinion, this was the 90’s seminal band at the peak of their musical powers.

February 6th, The Replacement Killers hit theatres making Chow Yun-Fat an international super star.

February 7th, the highly underrated Silver Surfer animated series debuted on Fox Kids.

February 13th, The Wedding Singer starring Adam Sandler was released and to this day may be the single best love letter to the greatness that was the ‘80s.

February 27th, Dark City, a macabre, mind-bending noir sci-fi thriller, was released a full year before The Matrix was having audiences ponder the constructs of control and free will.

March

A Cataclysm rocks Gotham City and launches a two-year story arc that includes AfterShock, Road to No Man’s Land, and No Man’s Land.  It’s a Bat Epic on a scale and scope that rival’s even the Knightfall Saga.

The B.P.R.D.’s resident aquatic hero, Abe Sapien, gets his first solo adventure in the pages of Drums of the Dead.

In Pop Culture:

March 6th, The Big Lebowski was released, and a beloved cult classic was born.

March 17th, Batman and Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero is a Batman: The Animated Series chapter that was too big for the small screen, so it was released in theatres.

March 27th, the 1978 classic musical Grease was re-released in theatres.

March 29th, Stone Cold Steve Austin became the world champion when he defeated Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV in a match refed by Iron Mike Tyson!

March 31st, StarCraft was released, and a worldwide phenomenon was born!

April

Joe Madureira’s Battle Chasers was released with gorgeous artwork and loveable characters.  Fans are still waiting to this day for the Mad One to come back and finish this stunning fantasy.

In Pop Culture:

April 3rd, Lost in Space is a highly underrated movie adaptation of the classic TV series and a frequent lazy Sunday afternoon guilty pleasure for the Odinson.

On April 13th, WCW Monday Nitro’s 84 straight weeks of beating WWF’s Monday Night RAW comes to an end as the WWF wins the ratings war for the first time since June 6th, 1996.  The Monday Night War just got RAW!

May

Identity Crisis sees Spider-Man wanted by the law forcing Peter Parker to adopt not one but four new identities to save the day.

In Pop Culture:

May 14th, Seinfeld, one of the funniest shows in television history comes to an end.

May 20th, a new American Godzilla movie hit theatres and other than a great cover of a David Bowie song by the Wallflowers, thrilled nobody.

May 22nd, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas chronicles the bizarre, drug-fueled adventures of journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson.

May 29th, Almost Heroes along with Dirty Work, released a few weeks later, were the last onscreen performances of the great Chris Farley released posthumously after his untimely passing six months earlier. 

June

Journey into Mystery, one of Marvel’s longest running comic series turns its final page. 

In Pop Culture:

June 6th, Sex and the City debuted on HBO and became a pop culture phenomenon.

June 12th, Can’t Hardly Wait launched a renaissance for the teen comedy the likes of which had not been seen in cinemas since the Golden Age of John Hughes. 

June 19th, two pop culture giants Disney’s Mulan and The X-Files duked it out this weekend for box office supremacy.

Be sure to tune in next week when we conclude our series on three of the most pivotal years in modern comics history with 1998: July-December and discuss the impact these three years had on the comics industry moving forward.

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

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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