Marvel comics story

10: 1980

  
 
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MILLER
The eighties event was the take on Daredevil by Frank Miller. There is Before Miller and After Miller, not only for Daredevil but for comics generally. If Miller innovated in art, particulary in page organization, it's above all his scripts wich revolutioned comics. For the first time, characters got a genuine psychologic deepness uncomparable with the timid "humanization" introduced by Stan Lee in the sixties. With Stan Lee, we found out that super heroes should eat, cure their cold and pay their rent, like anybody. With Miller, we knew as much about their impulses and their motives as if we have been their psychoanalyst for twenty years.

Daredevil was divided between his Justice ideal and his love for the criminal Elektra. Never seen before! Bull's Eye wanted to kill Daredevil because this one had saved his life, that he considered a humiliation. That took us far enough from the mad scientist who wants to become master of the world because mad scientists want to become master of the world. Miller's masterpiece was the Kingpin. This minor character created by Lee and Romita in an old Spider-Man, the millionth Spider-Man foe intending to become master of the underworld, uterly forgoten, would be put by Miller in the first rank of Marvel bad ones. Machiavelic manipulator, managing everything without participate in anything, seting his foes against each other, he was in the same time a suffering man brought back to crime by a familial tragedy. He would become not only Daredevil's arch foe but Spider-Man's one. I don't see another two heroes' arch foe. Do you?

The series masterpiece was the issue with the murder of Elektra by Bull's Eye. The most of daring was next issue where Daredevil lost his marbles. Refusing to believe in Elektra's death, he made up a rocambolesc story of substitution and of machination.Just the kind of story, o irony, you can find anywhere in comics, when it needs to resucitate some dead hero. But this one shown the hero's flirt with insanity. It was not anymore Adam Warlock, half human creature, hero of a minor series, with whom they could have let Starlin toy. This time that was Daredevil, one of the Marvel temple pillars, a star for twenty years and above all the moral exemple par excellence, the Marvel's standard bearer of ethic and justice... who came to clobber puny ofenders to make them confirm a meaningless fantasy. No need to say that they gave meaning to this fantasy, resucitating Elektra (with Miller himself's complicity indeed). After the thousand and one returns of Galactus and the resurrection of Phenix, one little bit more or one little bit less... However, comics strips, even the most hopeless ones, would never be the same, since Miller opened the door.

 

 
The after Miller days best writer Ann Nocenti teamed up in 1986 with the today best artist John Romita Junior to give Daredevil back the greatness he received from Miller. And they succeeded one with typewriter, the other with pencill, the challenge to match the work of the master. Junior, son of this John Romita who drawn Captain America in 54 and above all Spider-Man in the sixties, had already drawn Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men. And progressively, imperceptibly his style had emerged from triteness and banality to unveil itself a little bit more at every new series he took up. With Daredevil, he reached his top. Then he took up the X-Men, Thor and above all Spider-Man.

 

 
If we should remember something else from this time, after the Miller thunderbolt, it is the
SECRET WARS.
This story wich put together all the Marvel super heroes would inaugurate the cross over era. The first meeting of two heroes brings us back to 1939 when Submariner met Human Torch, but this was not a cross over. A cross over is a story wich begins in one magazine and continues into another. The first cross over was in 1966: a battle betwen Submariner and Iron Man started in Tales of Suspens 79, 80 to end in Tales to Astonish 82. (Indeed DC was before, with the splendid team up Challengers - Doom Patrol, two months before this.) But untill 1983 the use of cross over had been rare and they were moderate: they involved only two titles and did not laste over one month. Secret Wars was the event: all super heroes were concerned and, specialy with Secret Wars II, the story lasted a long time. Marvel heroes were confronted with the creator of the universe. No. Don't say G... It would be blasphemous. Say the Beyounder. Take notice that Secret Wars preceded the famous Crisis on Infinite Earths of DC. What was, on the moment, an excellent idea would become a plague. For Marvel never could use anything without abusing of it. From the nineties, at every instant, there is a cross over, when not two. Every time thirty six series are involved. That obliges readers to buy them all, without consideration neither for the bounds of their buying power nor for the huge diference of style and generaly of quality between the tangled series arts. To improve it again, cross over sprawl across months and months and, when at last you see the end of one, it's just in time to learn that another one starts next month. The phenomenon seems to rarefy, by now. Could Marvel grow wiser? Time will tell. (P.S. Time has spoken. Marvel recently promised to avoid cross over and resurections.)


Unlike those of DC, all Marvel heroes are grown up. An atempt to enlarge the characters gamut was launched in 1984 with Power Pack, that everybody has forgoten long ago. On the contrary of all their famous prédécessors, Superboy, Robin, Mary Marvel, Bucky and so, the Power bros and sis had a psychology conformed to their age. The fact that this series, very well made, couln't find an audience demonstrates that readers, even youngest ones, are reluctant to identify with children. Responsible teen agers like DC's New Teen Titans, of course, but children! Us? Did you realy look at us?

 

 
 

 
January 80First appearance of Kitty Pride in X-Men 129
February 80First appearance of Dazzler in X-Men 130
February 80Creation of She Hulk
July 80First appearance of Mocking Bird in Marvel Team Up 95
November 80Beginig of the series Moon Knight
November 80 introduction in super heroes' world of the western hero of the sixties
Ghost Rider (renamed Night Rider) in Ghost Rider 50
December 80Creation of (comic adaptaion) Doctor Who (Marvel Premiere 57)
January 81First appearance of Elektra in Daredevil 168
March 81Beginig of the series Dazzler
March 81First appearance of Cloak and Dagger Spectacular Spider-Man 64
August 81First appearance of Rogue in Avengers 210
April 82First appearance of the Team America in Captain America 269
June 82First appearance of Rachel (future new Phenix) in X-Men 158
July 82First appearance of Magik in X-Men 159
December 82First appearance of the newCaptain Marvel in Spider-Man Annual 16
March 83Creation of the New Mutants
May 83First appearance of the Morlocks in X-Men 169
June 83First appearance of Nomad in Captain America 294
July 83Rogue changes her side, joins the X-Men
August 83Beginig of the series Alpha Flight
October 83Beginig of the series Cloak and Dagger
January 84First appearance of Magma in New Mutants 11
Janvier84Beginig of the series Jack of Heart
February 84Mini series Elektra Assassin
April 84First appearance of the second Spiderwoman during Secret Wars
August 84First appearance of Warlock (No relation with Adam Warlock ex Him)
and of Cypher in New Mutants 18
August 84Creation of Power Pack
Septembr 84Creation of the West Coast Avengers
September 84Creation of the Transformers
November 84First appearance of Jeffries Madison in Alpha Flight 16
September 85Beginig of the series Squadron Supreme
September 85Creation of Longshot
January 86Creation of X Factor
January 86Beginig of the series Punisher
May 86First appearance of the second Ms Marvel in Thing 35
October 86First appearance of Meggan in New Mutants 44
Did you notice the sudden rain of heroins?

 

 

       

A quick flight over those last years.

In april 87, Todd McFarlane who had did Infinity Inc and Detective Comics for DC, got to Marvel. He took up Hulk and above all, one year after, Spider-Man. He would considerably change the latter's image with his beast-like and anatomically improbable positions. McFarlane -who ignores that?- has since participated to the foundation of Image and created the best seller Spawn. .

In 1992, the Marvel universe was duplicated with the 2099 series. During a few years you could follow in them the descendants or homologues in the future of characters as Spider-Man, the fantastic four and X-Men and also Ghost Rider or Doctor Doom

 
   
 
 
 

Detail from an illustration by Alex Ross



1994 was the year of Marvel greatest masterpiece, the mini series Marvels of Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. Everything was exceptional. The script, making us relive 40 years of Marvel comics history, the coming of Galactus, the death of Gwen and other events, through the eyes of a reporter strugling with daly, familial and professional problems.And the art, hyper-realistic paintings, wich generated a wave of imitations far less worthy.

  

 

 

From the end of the 90's, Marvel seems to undergo a growing up desease. Marvel characters accumulated forty years of continuity and their publishers seem sitting on a crazy weathercock between young readers lost in the maze and old ones nostalgic of a lost style. The crisis started in 1994 with the first attempt to make Spider-Man grow younger by replacing him with ... himself. That was the clone saga, an "overstory" wich lasted several years along. We learnt in it that him that we took -and who took himself- for Spider-Man from 1975 was but an impostor, a clone more exactly. Then, there was two Spider-Man, the one of 62-75 and 95 on and the 76-94 one. Readers didn't appreciate. So, Marvel got back in 96. In the end, Spider-Man has always been Spider-Man, the clone was the other, the clone dies and let's forget about that.

 

 
In the same state of mind, in 96 Marvel went in a strange adventure, leaving some of their most popular series into the hands of an independant studio. It was the Heroes Reborn experiment whom the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America were the guinea pigs. Isolated from Marvel production, those characters were transported in some parallele universe where they got another identity, another past, a new life. Again, readers didn't apreciate. Again Marvel had got to get back and as triumphally as they had announced their rebirth, they soon announced the Heroes Return.



In 1998, with the ltd series Chapter One, not discouraged by their first failure, Marvel tryed again to make Spider-Man younger, in an apparently less radical way. They made John Byrne rewrite and redraw the series very first issues. So the young readers would be at home in the comic.The result was the worst crime of comics history. Byrne sweeped at once forty years of continuity. The "new former" issues are, on purpose, full with contradictions with the old ones. Those laters are now incompatible with today series, wich yet still claim to be their continuation. Byrne had already done the same to Superman and DC seems to regret it today.


While giving up, this way, the old readers universe, the company fondle them by giving them presents with fragrance of yesterday. As the 1 and half issue or Untold Tales and such Lost Years, where we learn what happened to our heroes, Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man, in the good old time, wich was not told then. The ltd series Sentry stars a character suposed, the story says, being created by Stan Lee before the Fantastic Four (1961) but never being used in this time. Another good experiment, the Flashback operation. In July 97, all Marvel publications contained, instead of an ordinary issue, a story involving the hero before the first issueof his adventures. Series relating heroes' past are more and more numerous: X-Men Children of the Atom, Yellow Daredevil, Professor X and the X-Men... The whole Marvel universe has even been recreated (call it alternative reality or parallel universe), in such series as Earth X or Universe X. Speaking of parallel universes, two of them struck each other in 1997 with the mini-series cross over DC vs Marvel published by both companies whose all heroes meet each other.





Alternative reality, parallel universe... It's in this way, at the end, that Marvel maybe found the ultimate solution, with the series Ultimate Spiderman and X-Men. Those all new series are published in the same time than the old ones and they star the same characters. Only they are not the same ones. Their story begins today. Brand new heroes with forty years of fame, who could ask for more?

 

 

 
Quickly, the big events after I made this site.

__ Progressive extension of the ultimate universe to the whole Marvel. world.
__ Adaptation movies X-Men, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk, Fantastic four, Ghost Rider, Punisher
__ 2006 Cross over Civil War.
__2007 Death of Captain America

 

 

 
With this page, our journey in Marvel comics history ends. You may either come back to the home page, to see again one of the former pages, or discover my other sites :
Air Palombia, a journey with interactive itinerary through comics imaginary countries. Some countries well known by Marvel fans and some others not, unless they know european bandes dessinees.
Or the great comic books cover gallery, a more than thousand french and US various comics.
Your favorite Marvel hero as desktop wallpapers (Or Buffy, Superman, Tintin... over fifty items).
And if you don't think about comics 24h a day you may cast an eye on scientific and historical enigmas.
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All pictures on this page are © Marvel characters inc. All characters mentioned are ® Marvel characters inc. All rights reserved. (Challengers of the Unknown, Detective Comics, Doom Patrol, Superman, Infinity Inc, New Teen Titans, Robin, Superboy, Mary Marvel are ® DC; Spawn is ® Todd McFarlane productions inc. All rights reserved.) The page itself and the text inside it are © Gerard Courtial 2000, All rights reserved.