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  1. #1
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default Did DC emerge from the '90s unscathed?

    The '90s is widely seen as a dark age where comics took a serious decline in quality with bad stories, bad art, and over saturation of the market that nearly killed the industry. The then-new Image Comics was seen as the main source, and Marvel (of which the Image founders originated) jumped on that train to keep "modern". There was also a whole bunch of other creator-owned stuff that flooded things, and eventually fell by the wayside. However, I heard DC was actually still doing well during this time and never compromised.

    The argument made is that while DC did have the "dark age" character types with Lobo and Azrael, however they were more of a commentary of them rather than a straight example. Many of their stories were still being written with the same level of quality as before, and in fact they had the Vertigo imprint that allowed for properly mature stories. The closest thing there was to them succumbing to the '90s era was when DC lost their second spot to Image, and they tried to make shocking stories to keep relevant, which is what gave us The Death of Superman and Knightfall... but those stories were still well-written and regarded as classics themselves. The whole "displaced by Image" thing eventually blew over anyways.

    Plus, on the media end, you have Batman: The Animated Series being seen as among the greatest and most influential works ever, and this led to Superman: The Animated series, and the DCAU, so that definitely kept them in the spotlight. Lois and Clark was also pretty big as well on the live-action front.

    Maybe there are bad stories of this era, but I think it's telling that Marvel had to declare bankruptcy and nearly died as a company, while DC remained just fine. It helps that DC had a stable home with Warner Bros., while Marvel had to hop between lesser companies, and it wasn't all the way until 2009 did they find their own home with Disney.

    In fact, come to think of it, a number of fan-favorite characters debuted in this "dark age" such as:
    • Superboy
    • Impulse
    • Harley Quinn (in BTAS)
    • Bane
    • Renee Montoya
    • Spoiler
    • Connor Hawke
    • Cyborg Superman
    • Doomsday
    • Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)
    • Parallax

    Heck, even the "dark age" archetypes Lobo and Azrael have their own large followings. Also, the Tim Drake version of Robin was huge, and he made his impact in the '90s after only debuting in the tail end of '89. That's definitely something.

    But I'm not quite as versed with DC stuff, and this is just what I've observed. Is it true that DC for the most part made it through the '90s dark age without any real losses?

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member Vordan's Avatar
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    For DC the 90s was one of their best eras. Kingdom Come, Morrison JLA, Waid Flash, etc. There was a ton of good stuff being put out by DC like Sandman and other Vertigo titles. The 90s bad rep was really mostly remembered for the excesses Marvel was committing which ended up leading to Marvel almost going bankrupt.

    That’s not to say there weren’t bad DC titles. WW has that whole losing the mantle to Artemis. Hal Jordan went nuts and his fans were mad as hell. Batman was acting like a jerk until Tim Drake showed up. But overall I don’t think DC did too bad at all during the 90s.

  3. #3
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    I think it was trading card and other investments that really did it for marvel rather than speculator crash.

    Speculators really killed the genuine indie us press that had been backbone of the comics shops in 70s and 80s as they were pushed off the shelves as marvel moved into their distribution and flooded the shelves.

    But i think marvel could have survived had it not been for crippling debt they had racked up trying to expand into other media.

  4. #4
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    For DC the 90s was one of their best eras. Kingdom Come, Morrison JLA, Waid Flash, etc. There was a ton of good stuff being put out by DC like Sandman and other Vertigo titles. The 90s bad rep was really mostly remembered for the excesses Marvel was committing which ended up leading to Marvel almost going bankrupt.

    That’s not to say there weren’t bad DC titles. WW has that whole losing the mantle to Artemis. Hal Jordan went nuts and his fans were mad as hell. Batman was acting like a jerk until Tim Drake showed up. But overall I don’t think DC did too bad at all during the 90s.
    That's a good point. Plus, it's not just Marvel, but Image was the hot new kid on the block and they dominated the market (as said, they displaced DC for a time, something no company has done since). Some of their titles were good, such as Spawn and Savage Dragon. Others, not so much, with Youngblood being the worst. WildStorm is a universe with potential, but looking at the early issues, it didn't find its footing until other creators signed on. The whole company was a mess, and they contributed heavily to the era's badness. They may be good now, as the best indie company, but not then.

    That said, I could argue that DC got its own dark age with the New 52 era. That embodied many hated elements of the dark age, from bad stories, art, characters getting derailed, and the whole continuity reset completely undoing Post-Crisis which didn't need to be undone. The continuity was fine, and it was only so Dan DiDio could get his nostalgia back for old stuff, at least I think, because I don't know why they felt the need for it.

    I know a lot of people didn't like that. It made the universe smaller by getting rid of the legacy characters from old and new. The Justice Society was gone, as were the previous Blue Beetles, Wally West, and the two Batgirls Cass and Steph, and that sucks because I actively enjoyed reading both of them and I really hated Barbara being shoehorned into being Batgirl again... it's like if Dick became Robin. It was also anti-marriage in general. And don't even get me started on the Teen Titans. Cyborg was shoehorned into being a Justice League founder, which reeked of tokenism since they were pretending he was an A-lister all the sudden when he never even had a title. Oh, and the WildStorm integration was awful, and that's a shame because DC integrated other companies like Fawcett, Charleton, and Milestone just fine yet they completely missed with WildStorm.

    So they may not have hit the dark age in the '90s, but they certainly did later on. I am of the opinion that Post-Crisis never should've been messed with.

  5. #5
    Incredible Member Adset's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    That's a good point. Plus, it's not just Marvel, but Image was the hot new kid on the block and they dominated the market (as said, they displaced DC for a time, something no company has done since). Some of their titles were good, such as Spawn and Savage Dragon. Others, not so much, with Youngblood being the worst. WildStorm is a universe with potential, but looking at the early issues, it didn't find its footing until other creators signed on. The whole company was a mess, and they contributed heavily to the era's badness. They may be good now, as the best indie company, but not then.

    That said, I could argue that DC got its own dark age with the New 52 era. That embodied many hated elements of the dark age, from bad stories, art, characters getting derailed, and the whole continuity reset completely undoing Post-Crisis which didn't need to be undone. The continuity was fine, and it was only so Dan DiDio could get his nostalgia back for old stuff, at least I think, because I don't know why they felt the need for it.

    I know a lot of people didn't like that. It made the universe smaller by getting rid of the legacy characters from old and new. The Justice Society was gone, as were the previous Blue Beetles, Wally West, and the two Batgirls Cass and Steph, and that sucks because I actively enjoyed reading both of them and I really hated Barbara being shoehorned into being Batgirl again... it's like if Dick became Robin. It was also anti-marriage in general. And don't even get me started on the Teen Titans. Cyborg was shoehorned into being a Justice League founder, which reeked of tokenism since they were pretending he was an A-lister all the sudden when he never even had a title. Oh, and the WildStorm integration was awful, and that's a shame because DC integrated other companies like Fawcett, Charleton, and Milestone just fine yet they completely missed with WildStorm.

    So they may not have hit the dark age in the '90s, but they certainly did later on. I am of the opinion that Post-Crisis never should've been messed with.
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  6. #6
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    I dont understand the question.

    I see the 90ies as best DC Era.

    I have more problems with the CURRENT DC COMICS than with them.

    I liked Roy with Lian,Superboy.....

  7. #7
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Masterff View Post
    I dont understand the question.

    I see the 90ies as best DC Era.

    I have more problems with the CURRENT DC COMICS than with them.

    I liked Roy with Lian,Superboy.....
    The '90s wasn't a bad era for DC but it was for comics in general, and I was wondering how true it was the '90s DC was just fine.

  8. #8
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    Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps got trashed. There was that Monarch business too.

  9. #9
    Incredible Member Vampire Savior's Avatar
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    In terms of business, DC was really getting its ass handed to it in the 90s. The Superman books were really strong, Batman's books were strong, and JLA was strong, but otherwise...a lot of basically mid level stuff. Marvel was stomping them, and Image passed DC by as well. Had DC not had a parent company, which already tells us that something went way wrong some time beforehand, the company could have possibly ended up in dire straights like Marvel, though DC probably wasn't managed near as badly as Marvel was. That said, I do think DC had some great comics in the 90s. That's basically when Superman was at his peak, in my opinion. That triangle era is awesome! He hasn't been near as good since. Batman had Moench, Alan Grant, and Dixon doing some great work, Flash had Waid, and the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern era was pretty great before it wore out its welcome/

  10. #10
    Astonishing Member Jekyll's Avatar
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    90s DC was my favorite DC. Great stories, creative teams, and characters. It was light years beyond the mess we have now.
    AKA FlashFreak
    Favorite Characters:
    DC: The Flash (Jay & Wally), The Atom (Ray Palmer) , Jack Knight, Stargirl, & Shazam!.
    MARVEL: Daredevil, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, & Ant-Man (Scott Lang).

    Current Pulls: Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man, Venom, Immortal Hulk, Guardians of The Galaxy, Ghost Rider, Flash Forward, Justice League, & Shazam!

  11. #11
    It sucks to be right BohemiaDrinker's Avatar
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    Early 90's DC had a lot of Image-like stuff. I'd argue the whole Armaggedon 2001 thing leaned heavily to that side. Stuff like the Team Titans and Justice League Task Force and all.

    Zero Hour, ironically, I'd say was what put a stop to it.

    Now, mid to late 90's DC is great, possibly the best DC ever depending on your mileage. A lot of it has to do with Flash working trough the mud mostly unscathed and informing the tone of the larger DCU back then (as the Flash often does).
    ConnEr Kent flies. ConnOr Hawke has a bow. Batman's kid is named DamiAn.

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  12. #12
    Ultimate Member Lee Stone's Avatar
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    The '90s killed DC for me.
    With Knightfall, Death of Superman, Zero Hour, the soft reboots of virtually everything that started post-Crisis and the hard reboot of Legion.
    The DCU I watched grow post-Crisis had come to an end by '92-'94.

    On the flipside, with all the superhero comics shifting directions, dropping creators and shedding their skins in the '90s, DC introduced Vertigo at just the right time. With me in a flux and dipping into everything outside of DC to find replacements for the books I had long been reading, Vertigo gave me something else to try out. And its '90s offerings were much in line with my tastes at the time.
    Vertigo was probably the best thing that happened to DC in the '90s.
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  13. #13
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    Two of my favorite runs came out of the
    90s Chuck Dixon's Nightwing and Birds of Prey series. Both of which made me a lifelong fan of both of these properties.

  14. #14
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    Marvel had a number of books to rival anything vertigo had before they closed the line down.

    Early 90s they had some great artists too - Ron Lim, walt simonson etc.

    It was only a bit later in the decade when they really started to flood market with books and went chasing people who werent even opening the books that the wheels really came off but early 90s marvel had some very nice looking books and a lot of experimental work too.

  15. #15
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    I liked a lot of things that came out of DC Comics 1990s:

    Death and return of Superman
    Kingdom Come
    Batman: The Long Halloween
    Mark Waid's on Flash
    Chuck Dixon on Nightwing and Birds of Prey
    JSA by James Robinson/David Goyer/Geoff Johns
    Peter David on Aquaman
    JLA and Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison
    Sandman

    Of course, I hated, hated, hated what they did to Hal Jordan and Donna Troy

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