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Thread: 90s comic books or "dark ages".

  1. #1
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    90s comic books or "dark ages".

    I know alot of comic fans cringe or scream out in terror at the mention "90s comics" but it wasn't all that bad. Sure some of the heroes done by Rob Liefield are a bunch of gary stu wannabe badass Arnold meets Hulk steroid junkie monstrosities, trying to be kewl (lol) with their hugeass guns about the size of their body nearly and badly drawn ladies who are skinny with huge knockers and backaches including some grimdark "Xtreme" stuff. Do you think some comics in the 90s took the wrong lessons from Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Heavy Metal Magazine and Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo etc.? as they thought the wrapper was the candy when Frank Miller (80s/90s) with Alan Moore, Akira and Heavy Metal Magazine actually beneath their grit and darkness had substance to them.

    Oh I remember the so-called 'Dark Age' of comics since i was born 35 years ago and grew up in the 80s which was the second bronze age while the 90s the "dark" age. It wasn't as DARK as everyone made it out to be, especially in comparison to the past decade and a half. I can come up with plenty of examples...but then I would get off the subject of this thread. At least the Superman of the 90's (whether he had a mullet or energy powers or whatever) STILL ACTED LIKE SUPERMAN, and Batman was jobbing to Luchadores and was far from the GOD THAT CAN BEAT ANYONE. Despite an era of antihero gary stus with guns nearly the size of their bodies and a bunch of Arnold meets Hulk wannabes pretending to be badass with guns that are like cannons the size of their bodies while they are cowards in disguise and darkness for the sake of it plus swimsuit covers done by that Rob Lindeolf who is bad at anatomy, besides Marvel and DC drew women better than skinny chicks with big knockers with bad backs like Rob did but with real curves based off actual models which are guilty pleasure covers (being the DC and Marvel swimsuit covers) you know even in Heavy Metal Magazine.

    i mean the "dark ages" of the 90's weren't all bad, some good stuff came out of it, bane is actually a good example there's a reason he's still popular not because he "broke the batman" but because they've developed him over the years he's even been a hero and worked WITH batman a number of times to break up drug rings. he's become something of an anti-hero. venom and the symbiote came from that same time period and he's still crazy popular hell even carnage is still popular for some reason even though he's boring as hell run of the mill psycho. There are some gems of the time like Hellboy, The Maxx, Maus, Sin City, 300, The Mask, Ghost in the Shell, Road to Perdition and some others.
    Last edited by HarryCanyon; February 6, 2016 at 06:10pm.
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    Heroic Warrior felgekarp's Avatar
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    Depends when you class the dark age as being, a lot seem to include the late 80s so you'd get stuff like Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns in there. I've not read a bad Sin City story, Hellboy, although I've stopped reading it in recent years, was good. We also got Kingdom Come and Marvels, which are two of my favourite big two stories ever.

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    wants these two demons Sir Reilly's Avatar
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    When talking about monthly superhero comic books, the early-mid 90s were pretty bad overall. Even the ones I collected back then and liked alot haven't aged very well, except for an occasional good issue (Amazing Spider-Man #400) or storyarc. They improved alot though, IMO, with Morisson's JLA run and Busiek doing wonders with many Marvel characters that had been written to death before (some literally).
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgekarp View Post
    Depends when you class the dark age as being, a lot seem to include the late 80s so you'd get stuff like Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns in there. I've not read a bad Sin City story, Hellboy, although I've stopped reading it in recent years, was good. We also got Kingdom Come and Marvels, which are two of my favourite big two stories ever.
    The 60s/early 70s were the silver age while the late 70s and 80s were the bronze age
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    I remember seeing the Lady Death animated movie and it was pretty good. Then I looked into the series and the movie was one of many plot reboots, because they constantly flip-flopped on the character being a hero out to stop demons or some villain out to conquer Earth. The Gen 13 movie was okay, nothing too special, but only obtainable as a bootleg because Disney owns the rights to the film and they didn't want to work with WB after Wildstorm was bought out. I recall the Gen 13 comics being awful though. Same with Danger Girl- it was a weak Charlie's Angels knockoff which mostly lifted its story off one of the Hellboy comic arcs.

    Vampirella got lumped in with them even though her creation predated them by decades but it was a prime chance to bring her back.

    The main selling point of many of those books was the widespread lack of the internet, being the 90s, when "adult" material was much harder for younger boys to get, so those skimpy outfits on the females was a huge draw for comics with no real substance. I know there was Tarot but that was just one comic that I'd wager a lot of shops didn't stock readily.

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    Heroic Warrior felgekarp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarryCanyon View Post
    The 60s/early 70s were the silver age while the late 70s and 80s were the bronze age
    I was under the impression that the bronze age finished in the mid 80s, the silver age includes the late 50s as it, officially or unofficially, started with the appearance of Barry Allen. Regardless there's still some good stuff in the 90s.

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    I miss the 90's

    People can complain all they want, but the books weren't THAT dark or gritty. They were on the road to where we are today... but the 90's were still tolerable. We complained about the holo-covers... but they actually looked pretty cool. We complained about the price jumps... but they were cheaper then they are now.

    One of the key things about the 90's... is that it was time the company would take chances. New characters got books all their own with zero established followers ahead of time. Darkhawk, sleepwalker, a whole new ghost rider... Books that now days would never be approved, got years worth of stories.

    It was really a great time.

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    Personally, I liked many of the '90s story lines in the comics. There were a number of great comics that came out in that period. Guess I enjoyed the dark story lines. The Death of Superman arc for example was quite dark, but at the same time it was one of the best portrayals of the character I have seen in a while.
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgekarp View Post
    I was under the impression that the bronze age finished in the mid 80s, the silver age includes the late 50s as it, officially or unofficially, started with the appearance of Barry Allen. Regardless there's still some good stuff in the 90s.
    In the 90's, there was no bronze age.

    We had Golden age, Silver age, and modern age. 'Silver age' pretty much died with Crisis on infinite earth. Then we had 'whole new' Superman and Green Lantern characters.

  10. #10
    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    I think the 90's comics are better than today's books. 90's produced alot of glut from startup comic companies and overexposed alot of major characters.

    The problem was that everyone emulated the successful creators to the point of excess. Everyone wanted to be the X-Men. Even the Avengers and Fantastic Four sported the team jackets and pouches for awhile. Cable wasn't the problem; everyone copying him was. Lady Death wasn't the problem; everyone trying to be the next Lady Death was. The X-Men weren't the problem...etc.

    In the 90's, we actually got new characters who weren't lesser versions of the originals. While we DID get some characters who were lesser versions of the originals, they showed fans why the original was loved in the first place.
    Nowadays the lesser characters is an attempt by the market to be more diverse. The creators aren't making all new characters because they are saving the best ideas for themselves. That's why we don't have Gambits, Venoms, Deadpools, Bishops, Cables and the like.

    People hate the 90's art, but today's art seems boring and pedestrian by comparison.

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    Quote Originally Posted by diosoth View Post
    The Gen 13 movie was okay, nothing too special, but only obtainable as a bootleg because Disney owns the rights to the film and they didn't want to work with WB after Wildstorm was bought out. I recall the Gen 13 comics being awful though.
    I loved Gen13 when it was a five part mini-series about a government organization experimenting on teenagers. When Gen 13 became on ongoing series, it became Wildstorm's superhero version of "The Real World" and the plot about them running from the government organization was pushed to the background. Crazy enough, a cast member of The Real World was editing that book.

    Same with Danger Girl- it was a weak Charlie's Angels knockoff which mostly lifted its story off one of the Hellboy comic arcs.
    I liked Danger Girl. It was a fun hodge-podge of James Bond, Charlies Angels and G.I. Joe. Agent Zero and Assassin X are Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Deuce is Sean Connery. The villains even had twins like Tomax and Xamot.

    The main selling point of many of those books was the widespread lack of the internet, being the 90s, when "adult" material was much harder for younger boys to get, so those skimpy outfits on the females was a huge draw for comics with no real substance. I know there was Tarot but that was just one comic that I'd wager a lot of shops didn't stock readily.
    I don't think Bad Girl books were a substitute for porn. I think strong and sexy femme fatales were popular as the multi-pouched, gun-wielding heroes. And everyone wanted one of their own.

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    Every era has it's problems, both it's ups and downs. A lot of comics haven't aged well, I was picking up some of the best of Spider-man trades. Some of the dialogue read like it was translated from another language, or sounded like Lyrics from Gangam Style.

    As was pointed out the problem people had was they were following the trend created by Moore and Miller, but they didn't have the same soul or depth those stories had. Just like today, they are too focused on six issue story arcs. There was good stuff back then and a bunch of crud. Of course sometimes rose tinted glasses.

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    I think 90s era comics get a bad rap because people tend to generalize the entire decade by overemphasizing the negatives, or even the perceived negatives. Sometimes people make it seem like the 90s was nothing but pouches, holofoil covers, scantily clad women, and Rob Liefield drawing pictures of people inexplicably facing forward and sideways at the same time. Honestly, I don't feel that accurately characterizes my experience with the 90s then or even in retrospect. Ok, I admit I do like an occasional holofoil cover, but I still think that's better than 50 million variants of practically ever single issue that gets printed today.

    Quote Originally Posted by wyldman121 View Post
    Just like today, they are too focused on six issue story arcs.
    As a Marvel reader (at the time), the great thing about the 90s was that I still felt like I was actually reading an ongoing comic book. There was a cohesiveness to books that just seemed to die around the turn of the century. Bad costume designs, artists, and characters can come and go in a comic and I accept that. However, this paradigm shift of ADHD story telling with continuity-damning, unconnected, acid trip story arcs stapled together end to end eventually soured me on ever buying a new comic from the company.

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    Heroic Warrior felgekarp's Avatar
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    Preacher started in the mid 90s as well, that was the first comic that made me see there was more to comics than guys wearing capes shooting laser beams out of their eyes.

  15. #15
    Angast's #1 fan Bonehead's Avatar
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    I wouldn't consider the 90's "dark" but I would call that time "mediocre" overall.

    Don't get me wrong there were some really great books released in the 90's but at the same time there was lots of garbage as well. The problem was that a lot of good books got overlooked cause the market was just so flooded with so many books at the time.

    The worse thing the 90's did was create a whole new fan base that was exposed to too much sub par product. That in turn, created a fan base that thought this sub par product was "good" or "acceptable." Those fans eventually became the main customers over time and now those fans just don't realize the difference between good and bad books. Lots of these "90's fans" are the same people who are now working on the current books and it shows. That's one reason why current books just aren't as good as they were 30 years ago. They don't know any better.

    Quote Originally Posted by MegaGearMax View Post

    In the 90's, we actually got new characters who weren't lesser versions of the originals. While we DID get some characters who were lesser versions of the originals, they showed fans why the original was loved in the first place.
    Nowadays the lesser characters is an attempt by the market to be more diverse. The creators aren't making all new characters because they are saving the best ideas for themselves. That's why we don't have Gambits, Venoms, Deadpools, Bishops, Cables and the like.
    The originality we had in the 90's and even 80's isn't around any more. IMO that's due to the lack of talented writers. Nowadays, everything is written in committees cause there is so many crossovers and "big events." Writers are now just given an outline they have to follow to make their books fit into the overall ongoing story.



    Quote Originally Posted by Sword2Blanket View Post
    I think 90s era comics get a bad rap because people tend to generalize the entire decade by overemphasizing the negatives, or even the perceived negatives. Sometimes people make it seem like the 90s was nothing but pouches, holofoil covers, scantily clad women, and Rob Liefield drawing pictures of people inexplicably facing forward and sideways at the same time. Honestly, I don't feel that accurately characterizes my experience with the 90s then or even in retrospect. Ok, I admit I do like an occasional holofoil cover, but I still think that's better than 50 million variants of practically ever single issue that gets printed today.
    I agree...although I wouldn't call those negatives as "perceived" cause they actually were negatives. Unfortunately, those negatives were so bad and hurt the entire market so badly that the positive stuff out of that era are often overlooked.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sword2Blanket View Post
    As a Marvel reader (at the time), the great thing about the 90s was that I still felt like I was actually reading an ongoing comic book. There was a cohesiveness to books that just seemed to die around the turn of the century. Bad costume designs, artists, and characters can come and go in a comic and I accept that. However, this paradigm shift of ADHD story telling with continuity-damning, unconnected, acid trip story arcs stapled together end to end eventually soured me on ever buying a new comic from the company.
    That's not a 90's thing. Books released in the 80's to heck...even the 60's were all like that. That's something that almost every book had back before this new storytelling method that the newer books use came along.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonehead View Post
    That's not a 90's thing. Books released in the 80's to heck...even the 60's were all like that. That's something that almost every book had back before this new storytelling method that the newer books use came along.
    Oh, absolutely. I just meant that tradition did carry on throughout the 90s, and it may have been the last time that great tradition was alive and well (as far as Marvel goes anyway).

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    Drinking Innocence TheDeviot's Avatar
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    I think when most people think "90's comics" or "The dark age of comics" what they really mean is early Image comics, and the many, many, MANY comics from mainstream, and small biz
    companies chasing their well, image. And those books DID have a lot of blood, sex, gore, for the sake of blood, sex, gore. Most of it in the range of PG-13 mind you. But there was a lot of
    flash, and no substance. There's a reason so much of it ends up on Lewis Lovhaug's Atopthefourthwall internet show. A lot of it really was pretty bad. I can still remember being in High School
    in those days. The movement did bring in a lot of new readers, and as someone else said, they became a big chunk of the audience. These people loved these comics, or at least these themes.
    So a lot of the industry chased it for obvious business reasons. Sometimes it lead to surprisingly good things like the major events in Superman, and Batman. Other times it lead to terrible things
    like The Clone Saga, or Onslaught.

    In Image comics there was a mix of really, really, good, and really, really, bad. For every Spawn or Maxx we got a Youngblood, Pitt, or Supreme. (Though Supreme was redeemed years later.)

    The other big thing people forget about was the speculator boom. Everyone bought marketing about #1st issues hook line, and sinker. Marketing, and price guides like Wizard, all but promised
    you were going to be able to get rich quick by flipping #1's. Much like today is happening in action figures, amiibos, and physical video game collecting. Only it was much worse back then.
    EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE was buying two or three issues of any given book anyway. Then companies started with the variant covers, gimmicks, and other stuff. When they started doing
    "Issue #0", and "Issue # 1/2" That's when things began to implode.

    People come out of a superhero movie these days, and wonder why people don't have stores the size of Barnes & Noble devoted to comics anymore, this is partially why. When I was 15 there were
    about 4 comic book stores in my area. If I want to buy a trade, or a comic now, I have to go to a town 20 min away, or a major CT city 30-45min away.

    I'm still kind of glad it happened insofar as a lot of people stopped mocking others for liking superheroes, and it showed superhero fans that comics could tell other kinds of stories
    which was evidenced through a lot of the independent companies, and Marvel/DC premium labels. But publishers, and store owners couldn't recognize a bunch of fads converging at the same time either
    so there was a lot of bad that happened too.
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    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDeviot View Post
    I think when most people think "90's comics" or "The dark age of comics" what they really mean is early Image comics, and the many, many, MANY comics from mainstream, and small biz
    companies chasing their well, image. And those books DID have a lot of blood, sex, gore, for the sake of blood, sex, gore. Most of it in the range of PG-13 mind you. But there was a lot of
    flash, and no substance. There's a reason so much of it ends up on Lewis Lovhaug's Atopthefourthwall internet show. A lot of it really was pretty bad. I can still remember being in High School
    in those days. The movement did bring in a lot of new readers, and as someone else said, they became a big chunk of the audience. These people loved these comics, or at least these themes.
    Or they think of Rob Liefeld specifically.

    The Image Exodus and Wizard inspired so many young fans to make their own characters and get published. In the small press books, you could see the obvious influence from the Image creators. With Image and the small press, these creators had more freedom than the mainstream Marvel or DC books.

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDeviot View Post
    The other big thing people forget about was the speculator boom. Everyone bought marketing about #1st issues hook line, and sinker. Marketing, and price guides like Wizard, all but promised
    you were going to be able to get rich quick by flipping #1's. Much like today is happening in action figures, amiibos, and physical video game collecting. Only it was much worse back then.
    EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE was buying two or three issues of any given book anyway. Then companies started with the variant covers, gimmicks, and other stuff. When they started doing
    "Issue #0", and "Issue # 1/2" That's when things began to implode.
    That still happens now though. It's on a smaller quieter scale... but it's still here. Just think about how many times a book has been relaunched. From the 60's to the 90's we had ONE Amazing Spider-man, Daredevil, Captain America series going continuously. Since then we're on what? Vol 4 of Daredevil? Vol 3 of Spider-man? Books come and go and get renumbered so often for the express reason that number ones sell better then number 2s.

    Varients? I've actually seen more varients now days then I did in the 90's. Robin would come out with 4 covers of similar value. One MAY be a little rarer then the rest... but not much rarer. they all ended up on the same shelf and you'd pick the ones you want.

    Now???

    Amazing Spider-man#1 came out with at least 7 covers. I've seen company wide pushes of Action figure covers, lego covers, cosplay covers... Things that had no bearing whatsoever on the book inside, and now there's a built in rarity. It's something like a comic store owner buys 50 copies and gets one variant... which immediately ends up on ebay.

    So yeah, This hasn't changed, and really only gotten worse. I'd rather have the old holo-foil anyday compared to the stuff they do nowdays.

  20. #20
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    I do think the 90s had decent female characters- they just got the character depth lost behind the fact 90% of those females wore what amounted to bikinis. And normally I wouldn't complain about the tiny outfits(because even half the cast of She-Ra was often showing heavy cleavage, yet no one ever griped about that), but there were also so many of those characters that they started becoming clones of each other, and any books they had were outshadowed by the swimsuit specials- which wasn't helped any when artists like Liefield just can't draw decent human bodies even if you put a gun to their head.

    One positive though was that the toy companies of the time had to step up their game, in part because Todd McFarlane was so disappointed by the existing companies that he started his own to up the standards. Shame Todd cut back his own standards heavily, and eventually went nuts. Retconning Spawn into being an amnesiac wife beater was probably dumber than the time they said Swamp Thing wasn't really Alec Holland.

    But I often forget a promising company that got lost to time- Valiant. After Jim Shooter was booted from Marvel, taking blame for a lot of the company's faults that he wasn't responsible for, he created his own company and got the licenses to a few old Gold Key characters to go with it. There was a massive early crossover story to unite all the titles into one universe, and another major company crossover with Image. Then the shareholders threw Shooter out because they felt they knew better- they didn't, and eventually Valiant folded.

    Their assets were bought out by video game publisher Acclaim- already a company known mostly for mediocre to awful games since the NES days. They started a comic division and mostly rebooted all the Valiant titles, but really the licenses did let them make the Turok series, and the lesser-known but still incredible overlooked classic Shadow Man. But I guess a few decent-selling games didn't help Acclaim much, because they eventually hired Shooter to do Unity 2000, his chance to wrap up the Valiant franchise his way. Even that didn't help Acclaim, they shut down the comic division shortly after and in a few years the whole company tanked, selling off their gaming library, selling the name and logo to a shovelware company, Gold Key regaining the rights to their titles(which had the side effect of making most of the Valiant back-catalog worthless because now the old books can't be reprinted since those characters were integral) and eventually Shooter got back the rights to books he was cheated out of long ago and started his own company, rebooting fresh many of the old Valiant titles.

    It also led to the Valiant-based games getting mired in legal red tape for years. Turok eventually found a new company to make a new game, as well as making an updated version of the original for PC, but that's handled through Turok's current owners, not Valiant. Shadow Man's PC version, the best of the 4 ports, is on Steam now. But there are other games we'll probably not see out again because they were console-exclusive(Shadow Man's sequel only had a shot via PSN since it was PS2 only) or their rights are wrapped up(the Iron Man crossover game I'd imagine would be a nightmare to get back out).

  21. #21
    No more OT Dice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDeviot View Post

    The other big thing people forget about was the speculator boom. Everyone bought marketing about #1st issues hook line, and sinker. Marketing, and price guides like Wizard, all but promised
    you were going to be able to get rich quick by flipping #1's. Much like today is happening in action figures, amiibos, and physical video game collecting. Only it was much worse back then.
    EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE was buying two or three issues of any given book anyway. Then companies started with the variant covers, gimmicks, and other stuff. When they started doing
    "Issue #0", and "Issue # 1/2" That's when things began to implode.
    this was the only negative I remember.

    For me the 90's started a comic boom. We had two shops pop up that were solely comics shops which was unheard of in my area.

    Todd MacFarlane's Spider-man art was so freaking good... Jim Lee on X-men was also great...Liefield had his own style that you could tell was rushed (or copied) but it had a "look" that people enjoyed. His X-factor vs Juggernaut (with Spidey crossover) was one of my favorites. And he gave us Deadpool. You have to forgive him for the crappy artwork when you get a Deadpool.

    Mark Texeira's heavy inks are what drew me to Ghost Rider which quickly became one of my favorite comics.

    We also got Batman vs Judge Dredd and the Predator specials! Sabertooth, Venom, and Juggernaut (my number 2 team on Marvel vs Capcom btw) all got their own limited series.

    It wasn't all good but for me it was the height of comic popularity in my opinion until the newest movies.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dice View Post
    this was the only negative I remember.

    For me the 90's started a comic boom. We had two shops pop up that were solely comics shops which was unheard of in my area.

    Todd MacFarlane's Spider-man art was so freaking good... Jim Lee on X-men was also great...Liefield had his own style that you could tell was rushed (or copied) but it had a "look" that people enjoyed. His X-factor vs Juggernaut (with Spidey crossover) was one of my favorites. And he gave us Deadpool. You have to forgive him for the crappy artwork when you get a Deadpool.

    Mark Texeira's heavy inks are what drew me to Ghost Rider which quickly became one of my favorite comics.

    We also got Batman vs Judge Dredd and the Predator specials! Sabertooth, Venom, and Juggernaut (my number 2 team on Marvel vs Capcom btw) all got their own limited series.

    It wasn't all good but for me it was the height of comic popularity in my opinion until the newest movies.
    Don't forget Batman Vs Predator and Superman Vs Aliens which were cool crossover comics.
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