Below you’ll find our reading selections for the year of 1992, and once we’re finished reading, I’ll post the winners for hero, villain, issue, artist, and writer.
Feel free to discuss the comics and any related thoughts below in the comments!
1992 Comic Reading List
(Check out Patreon for Full List With Notes!)
|1992||Comic Book Title||Issues|
|1||Avengers: Galactic Storm||Reading Order (Click Sheet Above)|
|2||Iron Man||#282 to #287|
|3||Amazing Spider-Man||#361 to #363|
|4||Captain America||#402 to #407|
|5||The Punisher: War Zone||#1 to #6|
|6||Infinity War||#1 to #6|
|7||Incredible Hulk||#397 to #400|
|8||Spider-Man 2099||#1 to #2, #3|
|9||Hulk: Future Imperfect||#1 to #2|
|10||X-Cutioner’s Song||Reading Order (Click Sheet Above)|
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Yet another year where I found nothing truly bad, but also, with a couple of notable exceptions, nothing truly great either. I somehow don’t mind the early 90s “kewl” style as much as others here, but there’s no doubt that it has a negative impact on the storytelling in some issues (or at least the fight scenes) and in some cases the artwork as well. Let’s go through the list:
– Avengers Galactic Storm was solid and I think had some bold ideas and outcomes (not trivial when an entire species basically gets wiped out), but it did feel incredibly long, and I wasn’t in love with the artwork throughout. However, I have to say that I was impressed by how consistent it was from a crossover perspective, with every issue clearly flowing into the next and a clear order to read them in with the part number displayed right below the title. I very much appreciated this compared to some other sprawling crossovers we’ve read, and it looks like this is the style moving forward with crossovers for now.
– War Machine! This was fun. Not particularly deep or anything, and I guess this is an example of the “kewl” style creating constant action figure-like battles and scenes, but I think for this particular story, it worked well.
– Carnage was incredible and one of my highlights for the year. He’s a truly terrifying villain, and I think maybe the most ruthless villain we’ve seen yet in the sense that he just kills indiscriminately. I’m not really understanding Venom’s code of honor that makes him want to work with Spidey, but it makes for an interesting dynamic. Good stuff.
– I was pleasantly surprised by all aspects of War Zone. I didn’t love it at first, and I do think the story for the first couple of issues is a bit muddled, but I thought Romita’s artwork was really striking, and eventually when they get to the island things get intense really fast. I’ve found from this Reading Club that I really like the Punisher quite a lot, so my enjoyment of the character may be making War Zone better in my mind than it really is.
– Infinity War was great because it’s Starlin and Lim, who for me can pretty much do no wrong, but it’s probably my least favorite of the Infinity series so far. It’s short, seems like it started because of a very strange technicality (Warlock unleashing Magus when he released all the evil from himself is fine, but then does that mean his good just went to waste somewhere?), and really seems more like an excuse to get Thanos back in the bigger picture. The doppelgangers, while cool at first, don’t really make an impact in the end. I dunno, I enjoyed it but I think it suffers from being part of a saga that has some of the best content in all of Marvel and not quite living up to those standards.
– There was a LOT of Peter David this year, and you won’t find me complaining. Ghosts of the Past was wild, with Marlo’s death (and again, an incredibly terrifying and murderous villain/serial killer) and Rick trying to ally with the Leader to bring her back. This was much headier than most of what we read this year, yet still felt like the Hulk. Great stuff.
– Spider-Man 2099 is new to me, and I mostly enjoyed it. It’s a little hard to give an opinion at this point, since it was just a short origin story, and the universe seems much more expansive than what’s shown here, but it was fine. It’s interesting to do a riff on Spidey’s character (O’Hara is brilliant but also kind of a paranoid jerk) and also make his powers slightly different. Also it seems quite notable to have a Latino play Spider-Man.
– Future Imperfect is my pick for Issue of the Year. I freaking loved this, and think it’s David writing at his best. Tragic, epic, thought-provoking, perfectly paced, and terrific artwork. It enhances the Hulk’s character while also creating an incredible new villain in the Maestro. It was just a great read from start to finish.
– X-Cutioner’s Song was….meh. Stryfe makes a strong impression, but this is where the 90s “kewl” style has a big and not good impact on the storytelling. The artwork is over the top and the story is way too long and complicated without much depth. There are some good ideas here, but a lot of it is muddled. Also, Unlimited didn’t have the X-Factor comics, so it felt like there were some important parts missing. I actually enjoyed the Omega Red and Bishop bonus comics that we read more than X-Cutioner’s Song.
– In terms of the bonus comics, Thor was intriguing for sure, and felt like a set up for something big down the line. Cage I think wins for the most dialogue in one page so far (that first issue was absurdly exposition-heavy), and doesn’t make a strong first impression, but I got into it after the first four or so issues and really enjoyed it by the end.
I think this was a fascinating year from an editorial and style perspective. In some arcs, like Iron Man, things are starting to feel more modern, with way fewer thought bubbles and more streamlined action, while in other cases stories are needlessly complex and wordy. It’ll be interesting to see what happens as the 90’s progresses. Onto 1993!
Definitely think you’re on to something with Iron Man feeling more modern. I’ve been impressed with the Len Kaminski run. A lot of people told me I was giving that short shrift when I published my Iron Man reading order, and now I think they were right!
Love these Carnage issues as well, especially the pre-Ultimate Spider-Man Mark Bagley Spidey art. When I think of Carnage, this is what I see. Also, if I ever reach a point where Carnage writing “Carnage Rules” in blood on a wall doesn’t lead to gleeful laughter, somebody take away my M.M.M.S card!
I think I am going to have a hard time going through the early nineties books…the over the top “kwel” style, the cross-hatching, and the fan boy-ish stories.
Thoughts on 1992:
(Good Grief, Three Major Cross-Over Events in One Year! Is sleep even on your mind Dave?)
Galactic Storm looks like a rehash of the Kree-Skrull war and other inter-planetary conflicts that we have seen in the Avengers before. Rather than give us a new take on the idea it seems to be just a rerun of the old with a lot more tie-ins. I think could have been a good story if it had been pared down by about 6 issues. A lot of it just seemed like excuses to have costumed bad guys fight with the Avengers. And stronger editorial direction would have made it much better. Iron Man did not seem at all in character, and what was that “pulling rank” thing all about?!? And I was kinda peeved by the way the Scarlet Witch dealt with Rick Jones, calling him a “teenager”…seems to me they should be about the same age, as she was a teen when she was first in the Brotherhood. If anything, Rick may be older, and has at least as much experience between his time with Hulk, Cap, ROM and Mar-vell. Further, there seemed to be a lack of continuity between some of the main plot points. One issue has a team of Avengers working things out with the Imperial Guard, the next they are fighting again. Then a big reveal of a Skrull spy, the next it is forgotten. In then end “nothing will be the same”, but come next issue of Captain America it’s as if nothing happened.
I do not see any point in reading the Captain America Werewolf story. Of all the great stories that Gruenwald crafted about the Star Spangled Avenger, this has to be near the bottom of the list. Made all the more pointless coming on the heels of the Galactic Storm.
Same can be said of Executioners Song. Piles of new mutants that are designed to look cool, but do not have the depth or substance that Claremont brought before. He didn’t just introduce a new character because the artist was trying to draw someone cool, the characters were plot motivated. Now the plot seems to take a back seat to the set pictures.
On the other hand, The Hulk is exploring issues of power and responsibility with a fresh angle. The new Hulk has more power than any other hero, and he has brains now too. So it takes a new angle to look at age old ideas. I think far more of his stories should be included. “War and Pieces” from issue 390-92 does a far better job of examining War and its repercussions in 3 books than Galactic Storm did in 20. And 393 was such a great examination of the repercussions of the creation of the Hulk. Of the stories in the last year, the ones from 397-400 are notable in terms of social significance, looking at death in comics, especially well done as the point of view is Rick. A fun read, though. And the stories they lead to PeterDavid’s work at this time is so superior to the other Avengers related books it is not even funny. And what more can be said about Future Imperfect, boy howdy what a read. Even though I’ve read it a dozen times, it’s still a hoot. The art is bang on, and the story has had such an impact, Writer, Artist, Hero, Villain and Issue of the year without a doubt. (if you have the time and means, pick up the sequel “What Savage Beast”, great novel…though it may fall under 1995…)
On that note, X-Factor is also exploring an aspect of the X-universe that has been around for the last half dozen years or so: the government sectioned team. We’ve seen Freedom Force kicking around the X-books for a while, and have some insight into Mystique and her crew, but now we have a whole book dedicated to exploring the idea, so we are getting to look at that sort of team from a different point of view.
And Starlin is revisiting his cosmic heroes with a maturity that is adding something to what he did back in the 70s. He has progressed as a writer, and at the same time the Marvel universe, especially the cosmic aspect, has also matured, so we have a new take on a story that was great the first time around. I think the Gautlet was better than the War, but the War was still a good read, kinda like the original Captain Marvel Stories lead into the Warlock Stories back in the 70s.
Haha in the spirit of early 90’s, “I never sleep, cuz sleep is the cousin of death!” (But yeah, the massive reading orders are requiring a bit more choose your own adventure – I have to supply in full for posterity).
I really enjoyed Cap Wolf. I did not expect to. I was disappointed when the Big Bad wasn’t Dracula, though, I got really excited when I thought it might be. I think I’m just a sucker for ridiculous “hero turned into animal” stories, I’ll always love Frog Thor too.
Not to bias the voting, but I’m really hoping Peter David takes home a much deserved writer of the year this year. I’ve always liked his writing, but he’s really a breath of fresh air during this time period, and I feel like his Hulk has actually somehow become underrated over the years.
Agree with Starlin and Infinity, I had forgotten how extensively War continued his Warlock comics from the 70’s. Never a bad time for me.
Sometimes, I wish the 1990’s could get a do-over with current style. Infinity War and X-Cutioner’s Song have some fascinating ideas, but they are both done with the over-the-top 1990’s “kewl” style.
The event that does work well is Operation: Galactic Storm. Every issue got three stars from me, which may not sound too impressive, but that sort of consistency is difficult to achieve. I was always interested in where the story would go, and it made good use of its characters. I probably will not revisit this story in isolation, but I will include it in any large-scale Marvel re-read.
Amazing Spider-Man was decent this year. My two favorite issues of the year were not on the list, but they provided most of my voting basis. Spectacular Spider-Man #189, which has the story “The Osborn Legacy,” is a chilling tale and holds up very well. I also really like Amazing Spider-Man #365. There is an interesting write-up about that issue here, although it is more of a comparison of Marvel’s 1992 style to the modern approach taken by the company.
Issue: Spectacular Spider-Man #189
Writer: David Michelinie
Artist: Sal Buscema
I like this idea – to de-90s some of the concepts. Messiah War kind of does that to X-Cutioners Song, and in my book its one of the 2000s most underrated x-stories.
I’m completely irrational when it comes to Starlins cosmic comics, but I’ve always liked Infinity War. A Starlin written Warlock/Thanos and Doom and Kangs hilarious internal threats go a long way.
Galactic Storm is shockingly consistent and so neatly put together! Also an idea that would be used to great affect in the 2000s Marvel cosmic run.
I need to check out that issue of spectacular as well! We’ll be revisiting the osbornes in 1993.