The 10 Best Things About DC Comics From The 1990s

The ’90s were a tumultuous time for the comics industry. The industry grew in leaps and bounds, then the speculator market came in, almost killing the whole thing. Marvel and Image were putting out style over substance comics, but DC went another way. While they often chased the trends as hard as Marvel did, DC embraced writer-driven comics that redefined a lot of their older heroes in new ways for the ’90s.

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They found great success with this approach as the decade went on. While DC made its share of mistakes, it also created some amazing comics that are the best of the decade.

10 The Vertigo Imprint Gave Creators A Place For Ideas That Were Outside Of The Superhero Norm

Alan Moore’s success started what would be called DC’s British Invasion, as UK creators like Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, and so many more came to the publisher. This led to a glut of successful titles that defied the superhero norms and would eventually lead to the Vertigo imprint. books like The Sandman, Doom Patrol, Hellblazer, and Swamp Thing went to Vertigo, making it the home of horror.

On top of that, Vertigo was the home of creator-owned books like The Invisibles, Preacher, and so many more. Vertigo served up books that defied expectations and gave fans things that superhero comics couldn’t.

9 The Death Of Superman, Reign Of The Supermen, and The Return of Superman Revitalized The Man Of Steel

Death of Superman Reign of Superman

Superman made a huge splash in the post-Crisis ’80s, but things had petered off a bit by the early ’90s. At the yearly Superman summit, writer/artist Jerry Ordway threw out the same idea he did every year — kill Superman. This time, editor Mike Carlin took it seriously, and it led to The Death Of Superman, a sales phenomenon that made national headlines.

After this, The Reign Of The Supermen brought in four replacement characters, and The Return Of Superman brought back the iconic hero. Fans loved the three stories, and their success spurred DC to do the same with other characters in their line, replacing them with newer versions while also introducing characters to the Superman mythos that would play a big role in the future.

8 Hitman Was Garth Ennis Mayhem In The DC Universe

Writer Garth Ennis made his name on hellblazer and The Demon. In the latter book, he introduced Tommy Monaghan, a hitman with telepathic powers. DC eventually gave the character his own book, Hitman. The Demon artist John McCrea joined Ennis, and the two chronicled the adventures of the titular character and the lives of his supporting cast.

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Hitman was Garth Ennis doing a straight-up superhero book in the DCU, or as straight of a superhero book as Ennis could do, and it was brilliant. McCrea’s art brought the book to life wonderfully. Violent, funny, and often poignant, it was one of the best books on the stands.

7 The Legion Of Superheroes Had The Most Success They Had In Years

1990s Legion of Superheroes

The Legion of Superheroes was one of DC’s most venerable teams, their large roster of 30th-century teen heroes having amazing adventures and fighting terrible villains. Crisis On Infinite Earths nuked large portions of their origin by de-canonizing Superboy and Supergirl, and the team puttered along until Zero Hour when DC rebooted the team.

Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning were given carte blanche with the team and launched two books, Legion Of Superheroes and Legionnaires. The Legion reboot proved to be a huge success with readers and was one of the last times that the Legion felt vital and was popular.

6 Peter David’s Aquaman Made Aquaman Cool Again

Aquaman is one of the greatest aquatic heroes in comics, but an entire generation grew up watching him be useless on Super Friends. This colored fan perceives him negatively. Writer Peter David was brought on to revitalize the Aquaman mythos with the Atlantis Chronicles before launching a new Aquaman ongoing, leading to great things for the character.

In the second issue, villain Charybdis stuck Aquaman’s hand in a pond full of piranhas, and hook-hand Aquaman was born. David refocused on Aquaman as king of Atlantis and his foremost warrior, and it paid off. David’s Aquaman, often drawn by artist Jim Calafiore, is one of the best DC books of the ’90s.

5 The Birds Of Prey Debuted

The Birds of Prey are one of DC’s best team concepts. debuting in showcase ’96 before starring in several one-shots and getting their own ongoing in 1999, the team was initially a vehicle for Oracle and Black Canary, with Huntress eventually joining up. Created by writer Chuck Dixon, fans were in love with the group almost from the beginning.

The Birds of Prey was something of a minor phenomenon for its time. It was a team fronted completely by women heroes that didn’t play into the Bad Girl, oversexualized trend of ’90s women in comics. It was just a great team with excellent characters and plots, and fans loved it.

4 Kyle Rayner Made Green Lantern Cool Again

Like many other heroes of DC’s Silver Age, Hal Jordan’s popularity had drastically declined by the ’90s. DC decided to replace him in the classic “Emerald Twilight” story, which saw a despondent Hal destroy the Green Lantern Corps in a bid for the power to recreate the destroyed Coast City. This led to the debut of Kyle Rayner.

Kyle Rayner took over as Green Lantern and quickly gained the love of fans. Writer Ron Marz and artist Daryl Banks revitalized Green Lantern and made the whole concept cool again. Kyle is now considered one of the best Green Lanterns.

3 Kingdom Come Is One Of The ’90s Best Comics Regardless Of Company

kingdom come is an undisputed masterpiece. Written by Mark Waid with art by Alex Ross, it took readers into a DC future where the heroes had won, with supervillains a thing of the past. The old guard had retired and left behind a violent new breed of hero, fighting amongst themselves. After a tragedy, Superman returns to a clean house, but plans are brewing to end it all.

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kingdom come was an answer to the violent, “extreme” heroes of the ’90s. It was all about heroism and did a fantastic job of capturing just how great the DC Universe was without chasing the fads and trends. It remains one of the best books of the ’90s.

two Mark Waid’s The Flash Made Wally West The Best Flash Ever

Wally West is widely considered the best Flash, but that probably never would have happened without writer Mark Waid. Wally’s solo book was languishing when Waid took over, but after “The Return Of Barry Allen” with artist Greg LaRocque, the comic took off. Waid’s run has become one of the definitive Flash runs and cemented Wally West’s legend.

Working with artists like La Rocque, the late great Mike Wieringo, and more, Waid introduced readers to the Speed ​​Force and fleshed out Wally as a character, proving that he was a greater hero than his uncle Barry. Flash was always one of the best superhero books on the stands in the ’90s.

1 Grant Morrison Saved The Justice League With JLA

panel from jla new world order

Grant Morrison is one of DC’s most prolific writers, with multiple fan favorite runs and plenty of books that could be considered as best of all time. In the ’90s, they had made a name for themselves on Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth, Animal Man, and Doom Patrol, as well as creator-owned Vertigo books like The Invisibles and Kill Your Boyfriend.

The Justice League had a rough go of the ’90s, and Morrison pitched a back-to-basics approach to the team, bringing back the Big Seven League of the early Silver Age and telling action-packed stories. Joined by artist Howard Porter, Morrison’s JLA was a superhero masterpiece, catapulting the Justice League back to the top of the sales charts and further cementing Morrison’s legacy as one of DC’s greatest writers.

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