The ’90s comic industry is often derived as the time of style over substance. While there is a lot of truth to this, as superstar artists ruled the roost and the speculator bubble made gimmick covers the name of the game, there’s also a lot of great stuff from that time. While Marvel was often on the wrong end of the quality spectrum, chasing trends that actively damaged comics as a whole and leading to the company’s bankruptcy, there was still a lot of good things from Marvel in the ’90s.
’90s Marvel laid the seeds for a lot of what readers love about the publisher right now. The ’90s were better than the detractors let on.
10 The Kubert Brothers’ Rise Gave Marvel New Superstar Artists
The Image Seven leaving Marvel took away the publisher’s greatest artists at a time when art was what sold Marvel’s books. Stepping into the gap was a new generation of artists led by Andy and Adam Kubert. Sons of industry legend Joe Kubert, Andy took over X Men, the best-selling book in the industry, and Adam was put on Wolverines.
The two became Marvel’s biggest artists, with Andy working on books like Ka-Tsar and Captain America and Adam penciling The IncredibleHulk, X Men, and Uncanny X-Men. They became two of the biggest artists in the industry and both are helping to teach the next generation of artists themselves at The Kubert School.
9 Marvel Knights Revitalized Multiple Marvel Franchises
1998 was a magic year for Marvel. The publisher was back on track creatively and had survived bankruptcy. However, there were still books that needed fixing and that’s what the Marvel Knights imprint did. Run by the founders of Event Comics, artist Joe Quesada and inker Jimmy Palmiotti, Marvel Knights was given Daredevil, Black Panther, The Inhumans, and The Punisher.
Daredevil was the flagship title, written by director Kevin Smith with art by Quesada and Palmiotti. Black Panther teamed writer Christopher Priest with artist Mark Texeira, The Inhumans was a twelve-issue series by writer Paul Jenkins and artist Jae Lee, and The Punisher was a new take by writers Tom Sniegkowski and Christopher Golden with art by Bernie Wrightson. all but The Punisher were successful, and the line presaged the future of Marvel.
8 1997’s The Mighty Thor Brought The God Of Thunder Back To Basics
Thor in the ’90s wasn’t exactly good until 1997’s The Mighty Thor #1, by writer Dan Jurgens and artist John Romita Jr. Jurgens literally took things back to basics, bonding Thor to paramedic Jake Olson, harkening back to the Sliver Age with Dr. Donald Blake. John Romita Jr.’s pencils invoked those of Kirby and the writer/artist team played up the sci-fi/mythology angle of the past. Jurgens and Romita Jr. were on the book until 1999 and they gave fans some of the best Thor stories in years.
7 Marvels Reminded People Of The Glory Of Marvel’s Beginnings
So much of ’90s comics was about breaking with the past and embracing the new, that the Silver Age beginnings of Marvel were derived by many fans. marvels, by writer Kurt Busiek and artist Alex Ross, proved how wrong they were. following Daily Bugle photographer Phil Seldon through the Golden and Silver Age of the Marvel Universe, it was a beautiful retelling of Marvel history.
Busiek proved to be an amazing writer and Ross’s realistic painted art truly captured the grandeur of the early Marvel Universe. marvels has stood the test of time and is still one of the greatest Marvel comics ever.
6 The Age Of Apocalypse Showed Readers An All-New, All-Different X-Men
The Age of Apocalypse is one of the most beloved stories of the ’90s. Running through two bookend issues, nine four-issue miniseries, and two quarterly issues, it was set up by “The Legion Quest” storyline, which saw Xavier’s son Legion go back in time to kill Magneto but accidentally kill his father instead. This led to Apocalypse taking over the US and Magneto founding the X-Men to fight him.
The Age of Apocalypse could have easily been a failure but fans loved it and still do. It’s one of the best alternate universe stories in comics. Marvel has tried to copy its success since but always failed; The AoA is often imitated but never duplicated.
5 X-Men #1 Changed The Mutants Forever And Introduced The Blue And Gold Teams
X Men #1, by writer Chris Claremont and artist Jim Lee, is the best-selling comic ever, selling eight million copies. That alone makes it a milestone, but it also introduced the Blue and Gold Teams to the X-Men, splitting the massive roster and creating the most recognizable incarnation of the X-Men in ages. It’s aged surprisingly well and is still one of the X-Men’s gold standards.
Beyond all of that, it’s just a really good comic. Claremont and Lee were always a great team and X-Men #1-3 are one of their finest times as a team, telling the most iconic Magneto story of the ’90s. It was also Claremont’s last hurrah with the mutants until 2000 and is considered a stone-cold classic.
4 Infinity Gauntlet Changed Pop Culture Forever
By now, nearly everyone on Earth knows who Thanos is and what the Infinity Gauntlet is. All that started with 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet #1, by writer Jim Starlin and artists George Perez and Ron Lim. Still considered one of the greatest event books of all time, infinity gauntlet made Thanos a big name again and gave readers an action-packed spectacle.
It was also Marvel’s first foray into the big summer event story in a while, something that would become a staple of the publisher in the future. infinity gauntlet set the course for the MCU and is one of the crown jewels of ’90s Marvel.
3 Mark Waid And Ron Garney Made Captain America Great Again
Captain America in the ’90s wasn’t doing so hot until writer Mark Waid and artist Ron Garney came on board the book with “Operation: Rebirth”. Taking Marvel’s most inspirational hero in a more classic direction, the two garnered critical and reader acclaim but were blindsided by Heroes Reborn. After that ended, the two returned to the book.
Garney eventually left the book and Andy Kubert came on, keeping up the high standards of art. Waid was the perfect writer for Captain America, mixing the old and new expertly. Waid, Garney, and Kubert were able to make Captain America popular again in the extreme ’90s by embracing the classics.
two Larry Hama’s Wolverine Run Is A High Point For The Character
Larry Hama wrote Wolverines starting with issue #31 and stayed on the book until #118, a long run that defined Wolverine for the ’90s. Working with artists like Marc Silvestri, Mark Texeira, Adam Kubert, Val Semeiks, Leinil Yu, and many more. Hama’s run included some of the best Wolverine stories, ones that changed the character forever.
Hama heralded Wolverine through the beginning of the bone claw years, dealing with an entirely new status quo in the mutant’s life and finding a way to mine it for interesting stories. Hama’s Wolverine is one of the best ever, a man who never stopped fighting, even against himself. He was doing things in Wolverines that made it one of Marvel’s must read titles throughout the ’90s.
one Kurt Busiek And George Perez’s The Avengers Created The Best Avengers Stories In Decades
Much like many other classic Marvel characters not related to the X-Men, the Avengers didn’t have a good go of the ’90s. Marvel trend chased with avengers for most of the ’90s and their book was among the worst of Heroes Reborn, which is saying something. However, Marvel made it right when they brought writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Perez on avengers relaunched in 1998.
Busiek and Perez created amazing Avengers stories, ones that every fan of the team should read. Their run is easily the best Marvel comic run of the ’90s, taking the publisher’s greatest heroes and giving readers their best adventures, including the best Ultron story ever, “Ultron Unlimited”.
NEXT: 10 Marvel Comics With Game-Changing Reveals
10 Marvel Characters Who Got More Popular After Appearing In The MCU
About The Author