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  1. #1
    Fighting Injustice on CBR SUPERECWFAN1's Avatar
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    Default Marvel Comics 1990's - "The Good , the Bad and the Ugly" Pt.1

    This will be a serious thread so Cronin you can relax. There won't be jokes or anything insane here.





    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. - A Tale of Two Cities


    Never has a quote summed up Marvel Comics in the 1990's era than this one above. There was darkness and there was light. There was spring and there was a hard long winter. Marvel was a company that was two different companies in this era. Under two different leaderships in a way. So lets start at the very start of the decade for Marvel . Which was starting very damn good for the company.


    The Todd McFarlane , Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld effect

    At the start of the 1990's Marvel had slowly drifted from strong writers at the helm of their monthly books to an artist driven direction. The ball started rolling when a young Todd McFarlane touched down on the Incredible Hulk . His style was so eye popping and fresh for that generation McFarlane was soon given Amazing Spider-Man. He also was allowed to revamp characters look wise as well. In one interview he detailed that for years Mary-Jane Watson was drawn to look like how Romita Sr. did her all those years ago. He injected the 80's staple of "big hair" and the rest was history.

    McFarlane also drew Peter Parker to do more than what prior artists had. The webbing itself got such great detail as Peter's moves as Spider-Man that it left fans in awe. The introduction of Venom ...was the next big deal for Todd McFarlane's new run on Amazing Spider-Man .After a 28 issue run , Marvel realized they had utter fucking gold on their hands and that fans would follow Todd to another title. They did and Spider-Man as a new solo title was promoted basically on his back as writer/artist.

    While McFarlane was setting the world on fire with Amazing Spider-Man , over with the X-Men ...2 guys named Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld was busy doing the same. Jim Lee had exploded on the scene much like Liefeld had and once on Uncanny X-Men , his profile went through the roof. Rob Liefeld's profile as well exploded on New Mutants once he came on. The long running title clearly needed a creative jolt and Liefeld was allowed to create characters like Deadpool , Cable and Shatterstar.

    Marvel in seeing that these 2 young guns were drawing fans to their work decided they needed their own books to make more money. New Mutants was cancelled and Liefeld's "X-Force" began . Jim Lee was given a new solo X-Men title that would launch to huge sales . Chris Claremont was brought on to help Jim Lee but clashes soon began . Because as great as Lee's art was and high selling ......he had late problems. Which irked the long time writer who complained to Bob Harras. Bob Harras had became the editor over the X-Men group of titles and had one goal...keep sales high for Marvel's new key franchises.

    Harras did what many would do in an industry where its "What have you done for me lately" and fired Claremont. Intent on keeping the golden goose (Jim Lee) happy. Marvel didn't wanna rock the boat and had these 3 guys and 4 others slowly coming along as well. Erik Larson , Marc Silvestri , Whilce Portacio and Jim Valentino were all becoming "hot artists" and given books to showcase themselves on.

    With such great sales generated by these guys , the simple fact was ....they weren't getting what they felt they should. This is where Marvel themselves got cocky and felt they had clearly gave these kids their shot. But not realizing the kids wanted to run the playground they were in. Not beg for scraps anymore. They would learn that lesson very hard in 1991.





    In 1991 , the 7 artists all came together and decided they wanted a bigger piece of the pie. Realizing they had made Marvel millions of dollars and hadn't really gotten what they should have ....McFarlane , Silvestri , Larson , Liefeld , Valentino , Lee and Portacio all made a demand to Marvel. They wanted creator ownership . Marvel reacted as Marvel would then and Terry Stewart who was publisher saw these guys and tried to barter with them. He offered them the Epic imprint and that they could run it.

    But the 7 guys saw this as nothing much at all worth staying for. So the 7 walked out and formed their own company days later...called Image Comics. It was a huge roll of the dice. They were the young punk kids who had suddenly decided they wanted to go on their own. With Image , the guys became the rockstars of the industry. This pissed off many at Marvel and the industry itself. Seeing the Image 7 as entitled brats who wanted too much , too soon . Either way within days Marvel's stock price took a hit and the company then faced recruiting newer artists to sell the comics.



    Too Much , too Soon


    Another negative aspect that hurt Marvel I breezed over was the creation of titles and spin-off books for characters. Marvel itself had 3 Spider-Man titles heading into 1990. 1 of them was the main selling title where the main stories took place in Amazing Spider-Man. The secondary title was Spectacular Spider-Man which was launched in the mid 1970's. And finally the 3rd Spider-Man title was "Web of Spider-Man" from the mid 1980's. The 4th title as I posted above was created just for Todd McFarlane to do.

    But this wasn't just a problem with hot artists who was selling massive amounts of comics for the company during that speculator boom , Marvel itself was launching as many spin-off books when a character got hot. A big case in point was the handling of the Punisher and Ghost Rider characters and books they were in.


    By the late 1980's , Frank Castle had became a huge selling character for Marvel. The gun toting , anti-hero had a mini-series that exploded sales wise. Marvel wisely saw the $$$ and turned the next miniseries halfway in , into a regular series. Fans were loving the character so much , Marvel saw even more $$ behind it and launched "Punisher : War Journal" with Jim Lee on art. That too exploded out of the gate and with plans for a movie starring Dolph Lundgren , Marvel started pushing the character like crazy.

    A 3rd solo title was launched in 1990 , plus a quarterly (Punisher Armory) and magazine within that time. This doesn't count the various one shots , mini-series and guest appearances for the character in other books. Either in 1990 or 1991 , Frank Castle showed up 36 times in other books during that year. Marvel itself saw no problem pushing the character so much . Not with a movie on the horizon .

    Of course the movie itself never got a wide release and by 1993 fans had grew tired of so much Frank Castle. Marvel itself tried to give the character a creative jolt with "Suicide Run" . Which would see ....Frank Castle seemingly die in an attempt to blow up a building full of Mafia honchos . Suddenly 2-3 new people spring up and decide to become the New Punisher. (I will get into why this didn't work)

    This big crossover didn't help and Marvel was left realizing they have over-exposed Frank Castle as a character after so many years. His popularity would never rebound to the level it once was at. Today the character still has issues supporting a monthly book.

    The same problem happened with Ghost Rider. Marvel launched a new Ghost Rider series in 1990 and saw huge sales for the character. Within a 2-3 year period Ghost Rider would get a spin-off book with Blaze. Then a team-up series with the character . Also the character would get various mini-series and guest appearances in other books. After so much over exposure , the character would see his solo book cancelled on short notice , without a real ending . (this would be resolved years later)


    This is only part #1 of this. In the next part I look at some decent things that started to happen for Marvel. As well as some events.
    "The story so far: As usual, Ginger and I are engaged in our quest to find out what the hell is going on and save humanity from my nemesis, some bastard who is presumably responsible." - Sir Digby Chicken Caesar.

  2. #2
    Nostalgia Fanwanker Pharozonk's Avatar
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    Interesting thread SuperE. I'm interested to see where you go with this.
    "In any time, there will always be a need for heroes." - the Time Trapper, Legion of Superheroes #61(1994)

    "What can I say? I guess I outgrew maturity.." - Bob Chipman

  3. #3
    Junior Member Neil Kapit's Avatar
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    " Of course the movie itself never got a wide release and by 1993 fans had grew tired of so much Frank Castle. Marvel itself tried to give the character a creative jolt with "Suicide Run" . Which would see ....Frank Castle seemingly die in an attempt to blow up a building full of Mafia honchos . Suddenly 2-3 new people spring up and decide to become the New Punisher. (I will get into why this didn't work) "

    We had a "Reign of the Punishers"?

  4. #4
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    ^After a fashion.

    Let's not forget the BIG "Ugly" going on behind the scenes, and the one that would ultimately see Marvel all but bankrupt: Ron Perlman's relentless flogging of the Marvel reputation and "money tree" to support his junk bond offerings, as explained in the book "Comic Wars".

    http://www.amazon.com/Comic-Wars-Mar.../dp/0785116060

    Most of the big problems that fans have been led to believe were caused by the EICs and Comics office (mega-crossovers, special covers, etc) were in fact FRONT office mandates to keep spiking sales to support the share price that was fueling all the bad bonds.

  5. #5
    Fighting Injustice on CBR SUPERECWFAN1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Kapit View Post
    " Of course the movie itself never got a wide release and by 1993 fans had grew tired of so much Frank Castle. Marvel itself tried to give the character a creative jolt with "Suicide Run" . Which would see ....Frank Castle seemingly die in an attempt to blow up a building full of Mafia honchos . Suddenly 2-3 new people spring up and decide to become the New Punisher. (I will get into why this didn't work) "

    We had a "Reign of the Punishers"?
    Suicide Run as I will discuss #2 and other events were pretty dumb and ill-timed.You will see that soon.
    "The story so far: As usual, Ginger and I are engaged in our quest to find out what the hell is going on and save humanity from my nemesis, some bastard who is presumably responsible." - Sir Digby Chicken Caesar.

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