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While it's difficult to take any of the events of Secret Wars
- that is, the destruction of Marvel's entire continuity - with any serious conviction until the series ends and we learn the new post-relaunch status quo, one thing that seems a pretty safe bet is that the Ultimate Universe experiment is finally, fifteen years after it began, coming to an end. Of course, we've been here at least twice before - both Ultimatum
were pitched as events that were going to bring things to an close - but it really does all feel rather more final this time, particularly with the confirmation that Miles Morales is going to join the regular Marvel U.
And so it seems as good a time as any to look back over the past decade-and-a-half of revamped, alternate-universe Marvel stories. And to do so in as much punishing detail as possible, by examining the merits of every single
ongoing and mini series published under the imprint.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, as Jane Austen once said, that comics in the 1990s were shit. Just Google "90s comics
" and you'll find a plethora of articles with titles like 10 Reasons Why Comics Sucked During The 90s
, Why I Fear The 90s Revival Happening
, The 10 Most Asinine 1990s Characters
and Reasons the 90s Almost Killed Comics
. Some of them even get the apostrophe in the right place.
While many of the criticisms offered by this kind of article are more than valid, it's long seemed to us to be somewhat unfair that the entire decade gets written off as filled with excessive, gimmick-driven, pouch-laden dross. It could just be that we started reading superhero comics ourselves (mostly) in the '90s, or it could be that there were genuinely some absolutely terrific comics produced in that decade amid whatever fiasco Rob Liefeld was involved with that week. Even putting aside the obvious likes of Sandman
, if you look specifically within superhero comics you can find things that are capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the preceding late '80s age that draws so much acclaim.
So to prove this, we've come up with a list of ten superhero comics that all began publication in the '90s (and ended it, if not within the decade, then close enough to the end of it) that we think are genuine, un-ironic, bona fide classics.
Over the 70s and throughout the 80s, Uncanny X-Men went from being a bi-monthly series pulled back from the brink of cancellation, to being the best-selling title in the industry, responsible for a growing number of spin-offs. This culminated in 1991 when, at the height of the book's fame, Chris Claremont and his artistic collaborator, Jim Lee, launched a second volume of the series simply titled "X-Men", which sold 8.1 million copies. Admittedly it had 5 covers, but even so. We shall not see its like again. And this period is currently Comixology's big sale. Time to buy some comics.
It's been a while, but there's finally another Comixology sale that requires a little guidance. This time, it's X-Men, Volume 3
, the series that was eventually revealed to be an X-Men Team-Up title, though by the time people realised that it stopped being one. There are a few arcs here, and - advance warning - most of them are not great. Nothing is flatly incompetent, so if you like the premise enough to spend money you probably won't be disappointed, but at the same time it's hard to defend it against accusations that it's 41 issues of filler. Definitely not a proud era in the X-Men's history. Still, here's our guide to what worked and what didn't.
It's not easy to come up with a good name for a superhero team when all of the good ones are taken (and by "all of the good ones" we basically mean the Justice League and the Avengers, and even they
aren't that good). So we have some measure of sympathy for the teams who just have slightly rubbish or bland names. But there are bad names, and there are names that just don't seem to mean anything whatsoever
- or worse, are flat out inaccurate in their description of the team. Here, then, is a rundown of our favourite pieces of nonsensical superhero business card fodder...
In a year where we've already seen the ninth Avengers picture from Marvel Studios, the fifth Spider-Man film from Sony and the seventh X-Men movie from Fox, it's almost hard to remember what the movie industry looked like before big-ticket superhero films dominated the charts. Fifteen years ago, even the most optimistic comic fan would have guessed where things would end up.
Today's Marvel Monday sale is once again X-Men themed, and this time it's the 1960s X-Men
that's going up for grabs! Starting in 1966, this version of the X-Men ran until 1970 when it no longer sold well enough to justify new stories and began running reprints instead. Don't let that put you off, though - there's some good material in here, and we've picked out the best.
Following the X-Men movie adaptation we looked at a little while ago, Marvel's first big movie/comic cross-promotion ever also produced a number of tie-ins and specials set in the X-Men movieverse. Today, we're looking at one particular oddity: a full-length one-shot comic called "X-Men: The Movie Special" which was made available with the starter pack for the short-lived (and I mean REALLY short-lived) X-Men Collectable Card Game, produced by Wizards of the Coast.
I've been trying to do a full buyer's guide for the AoA, and to be honest, between work and the complexity of the story, it's too much to do in the time I've got. This crossover is a real sprawler. So instead, here's the truncated version so you at least know what to buy. Get in quick, the sale's about to end!
It's not common for the two halves of Panel Beats to disagree hugely on a particular topic - but it does happen, and when it does, we like to thrash it out in a big old argument for everyone to see. Such is the case with the X-Men: Days of Future Past
movie, which we've now both seen, and which we have... well, divergent opinions of, would be a mild way of putting it. What follows, then, is one of our patented Seb and James Email-O-Chats, in which we each express our respective opinions while simultaneously resisting the urge to reach out through the screen and slap each other around the face.
abound, naturally, so don't follow the jump unless you've seen the film.