Below you’ll find our reading selections for the year of 1995, 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!
1995 Comic Reading List
(Check out Patreon for Full List With Notes!)
|1995||Comic Book Title||Issues|
|1||Spider-Man: Clone Saga||Reading Order:|
|3||Untold Tales of Spider-Man||#1 to #4|
|4||StarJammers||#1 to #4|
|5||Wolverine & Gambit: Victims||#1 to #4|
|6||Skrull Kill Krew||#1 to #5|
|7||Captain America||#444 to #446|
|8||The Last Avengers Story||#1 to #2|
|9||Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe||#1|
|10||X-Men: Legion Quest||Reading Order:|
Hero of the Year: X-Men
Villain of the Year: Apocalypse
Issue of the Year: Amazing Spider-Man #400
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Writer of the Year: Peter David
Artist of the Year: Tim Sale
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Man, do I love Age of Apocalypse. Sure, it doesn’t all work perfectly (Generation Next in particular is muddled and unclear in the way that bad Claremont is), but it does incredible world-building for such a relatively limited series, and ends very well. I had read AOA a long time ago but without anywhere close to as many X-Men comics under my belt, and this time it was so much better since it really comes alive when you get all of the little references to the original characters. Evil Beast and pirate Mystique are particular stand-outs to me, but X-Universe is also great in its depiction of the broader Marvel universe in AOA and is filled with references for long-time Marvel fans.
While I wish it flowed a little more coherently (the reading order between the different issues is sometimes arbitrary and sometimes very important for continuity), I find AOA highly enjoyable and a terrific crossover event/limited series. It’s certainly thought-provoking if nothing else, and I tend to love series like this that swing for the fences even if everything doesn’t work perfectly.
Maybe it’s just me, but I am not really sure what Age is about…granted it’s been a busy week and I am only about 20 issues in, but what is the main plot?
Who is the main character?
Is it Scott Summers?
I view Magneto as the main character, although the event really does a nice job spreading the ball around to all the x-men in this reality. This is Magneto’s time to shine as leader of the X-Men, though, more fully adopting the legacy of Professor X than he did in the mid to late 80’s when Charlie is still adventuring off in space.
So, no new list for 1996 this week? Just keep going with the Age?
Yep, bonus week for Age of Apocalypse, we’ll pick up 1996 next week!
Dave, quick question. For the purposes of this reading club, should we read Twilight at this point, as most of it is comics from much later than 1995, and includes issues from series we haven’t begun yet, like Exiles? Dawn made sense as most of that was published during or close to 1995, but should we stop at Omega?
Yeah, I’d recommend stopping at Twilight, that’s a good call!
LOL at whoever wrote in Garth Ennis for their ’95 villain of the year, that got me pretty good.
Additionally… I may or may not have forgotten to update this week, and am in the process of a mildly belated segue to Age of Apocalypse week!
Well, I did it. I took the challenge and read the entirety of the Clone Saga. And….it was pretty good.
Moving on, Wolverine was…
– OK, I can’t just ignore the Clone Saga. I’m going to go against popular convention here and say that I was incredibly impressed by it, even if there are parts that are terrible (anything with the New Warriors or freaking Traveler) and even if there are very lame payoffs (Kaine’s reveal and death for one). I was stunned to find the majority of it very readable and even more or less coherent despite the story obviously going on much, much, much, much longer than it was supposed to. Ben continued to be a great character, and Mary Jane had an interesting character arc. Also, ASM 400 was truly incredible and moving, enough to be my Issue of the Year.
I think the Clone Saga benefits enormously from being able to binge-read it, as annoying cliffhangers disappear and you can quickly get to the next part if you’re unhappy with a arc. I’m not pretending that this is grade-A material or anything (especially with the artwork being pretty sub-par throughout, and DeFalco’s writing being noticeably weak), but it was much more manageable and entertaining than I thought it would be, and it’s just an incredible thing to have an 80-plus-part story exist.
– Wolverine was a victim of Marvel Unlimited’s formatting for me; it was barely readable, with panels being zoomed in on for no reason and pages being cut off. What I got out of it seemed interesting but not particularly special.
– I really disliked Untold Tales. It didn’t seem to add much of anything to Spidey’s character, and only served to have a couple of “clever” character references to later events. I was expecting much more given that it was Busiek. My big disappointment of the year given my expectations.
– StarJammers was notable mainly because it was written by Warren Ellis, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. I’m a big fan of Ellis’ work in general, especially Transmetropolitan, Hellblazer, and NextWave, so I was a little disappointed here. I think he didn’t quite get the smirking character tone he’s so good at right here, and therefore the story, while OK but never the best part of Ellis’ work, becomes too prominent.
– Wolverine and Gambit: Victims was maybe not the most involving story of all time, but I’ll never complain about Tim Sale artwork. An interesting precursor to their later Batman and of course Marvel Colors work. Notable but nowhere near my favorite work from the two of them.
– Skrull Kill Krew I weirdly loved, despite not being a big Grant Morrison fan. I can see why the excessive violence would turn people off, but it’s typical Morrison to do counter-culture stuff and use violence as a commentary on society, so I was more or less expecting it and thought it was pretty well-handled here. I was surprised at how funny I found this to be, and certainly a weird and different idea.
– Captain America was nuts. I hate to say this, but I don’t remember a ton of the details other than Red Skull and Cap weirdly working together. I found it intriguing for sure.
– Last Avengers Story was great, probably my favorite arc of the year. I just found the whole thing beautifully handled, with haunting and unusual artwork and some great thoughts on what it means to be a superhero (my line of the decade so far is “Heroes have morals. Villains have work ethic.”). My only complaint, and this is super minor, is that I found the “twist” ending to be not surprising in the least. Still, David does great work again.
– Punisher was pretty rough bordering on terrible. His whole arc in the book doesn’t make much sense at all (like he just goes crazier than normal when his family is killed?), and the narrative is pretty dull. Also not the best artwork. It was maybe worth exploring as an alternate universe, but not really sure what the overall point was.
– Legion Quest was excellent. I’ve read Age of Apocalypse before (and love it, so looking forward to re-reading next week), but never read Legion Quest before. A really well-handled and intense story, and it made me look that much more forward to Noah Hawley’s Legion show.
1995 was a strange year. Obviously it was dominated by the Clone Saga, and looking at my feelings about the issues, I think there were more misses than hits for me, but in general, I found the year had a lot of experimentation and some really strong material, so it was good in my book (definitely a rebound from 1994). Onto 1996!
The Clone Saga approval rating around here is pretty amazing. And I agree! I expected, much, much worse. If you had told me before we started that Ben Reilly would win a hero of the year, I’d have laughed, but here we are.
Clone Saga: Amazing Spider-Man #400 is the jewel in this group and can be read separately from the rest of the story. Aunt May is definitely used well in later stories, so I don’t feel too bad that this was retconned. That said, this story of her death is extremely moving and a triumph of comic writing.
The only other arc I read was Web of Death. I would give that one two stars, but I love Peter’s reaction in Amazing Spider-Man #398 to being told that he is going to be a father. It rivals the scene where Charlie Brown finally hits a home run for sheer jubilation in artistic form.
I tried to read Wolverine #90, but it is messed up on Marvel Unlimited. Any double-page spread is split into two pages, and the sideways pages so loved in the 1990’s are still sideways on the monitor. Maybe the MU app does it better. I notified customer service of the problem, so this might get corrected someday.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man: I have trouble with the concept of this series. It is possible to tell good stories that are either stand-alone or explain away errors or discrepancies with the original stories. However, I would rather have a new story in the present or a framing device that shows how the flashback story is currently relevant. It seems like nothing that happens in Untold Tales makes a big impact or is exceptional.
Captain America: Waid’s writing is very good, and #444 would be 4 stars instead of 3 if the lettering were not so awful.
The Last Avengers Story is okay.
Legion Quest: The X-Men and Cable issues are excellent, and the Uncanny X-Men issues are not so great.
I skipped the StarJammers, Wolverine/Gambit, Skrull Kill Krew, and Punisher stories based on concept and who was writing them. StarJammers is the one I would be most likely to read, as Ellis sometimes has some cool ideas.
This might get picked up in a future year, but I will mention it here in its year of publication. Read Uncanny X-Men #322. It is a fantastic prelude to the Onslaught event.
No Name says
Can we vote Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe as worst cover art ever?
No Name says
And now that I’ve read what comes after the cover I want to vote it the worst comic of all time. Good lord.
It’s true, parts are not all that bad. Individual issues, like the one where both Spiders go against a terrorist group but don’t know the other is there, are decent. The whole Mary Jane arch is interesting. And the result of the Aunt May sub-plot made a lot of sense.
It’s just the implications of the whole story are frustrating and the amount of over the top story arches are off putting.
I’ve left the Clone Saga issues for the end, and have just wrapped up the Web of Life/Death arcs. Honestly. They’re not that bad. There has been so much worse lately. While other lines have been getting “darker” by being more violent, and adding more machismo these stories delve into the dark psyches of the characters. “Am I only this mask?” It’s not particularly groundbreaking but it’s interesting.
Also, my Peter Parker died in ASM 249 when he showed up at a pool party wearing cut-off shorts and an ANIMAL belly T.
Well, I did it. Made it all the way through the Clone Saga. (long week-end in my part of the world)
I had to approach it this way: it is not really my Spider-Man.
I also had time to re-watch two of the Hobbit films this weekend. When i first saw them they really disappointing me. Even offended me. But I caught a few minutes on a movie channel and for some reason wanted to see them again. So I watched them, this time I did not go in expecting to the The Hobbit….I just watched to see an action movie that was based loosely on the Hobbit, and it worked.
The same worked for the Clone Saga. This is not the Spidey I grew up with…he was laid to rest somewhere in Maximum Carnage. So I was able to get through it.
I really cannot recommend reading it, except for purely academic reasons. There is very little good to say about it. From start to finish the writing was poor. Tom Defalco should not be writing comics. I understand he inherited a mantle that was handed down from Stan Lee to Len Wein to Marv Wolfman to Jim Shooter. Giants of the art form, and maybe he felt compelled to try and live up to their work, but he really should not be writing comics. Just gotta forgive him.
And the art was not really much better. Bill Sienkiewicz really should not be inking Sal Buscema. The smattering of John Romita art helped, as did Mark Bagley…but his art is still rough.
And the editing was the worst. Inconsistencies, character voice, timeline, etc, were really bad. One character, the third Perter Parker (that’s right, third) wanders out of Warrens lab. Ends up in New York and over series of issues gets kicked around. Numerous plot threads go on around him, including one that lasts about a week (Aunt May in hospital) but his narration says his only been out in the world for 24 hours. Just poor.
I read through about 2250 pages of comic, and I think the whole thing could have been done in about 450.
Have you read “The Life Of Reilly”? It’s a 35 part column written by a couple of the Spider-Man editorial team about the whole affair. Absolutely fascinating. I haven’t read the Clone Saga but I devoured The Life Of Reilly, and now feel that I can skip the comics. 🙂
It’s archived at http://lifeofreillyarchives.blogspot.com.au/
No Name says
This is a great read. Thanks for the heads-up!
I’m also enjoying reading the behind-the-scenes stories about the Clone Saga. Thanks for linking us to it.
No Name says
Oooooo we get our first Loeb/Sale! At the very least I’m 99% sure who’s getting my vote for artist of the year
Patrick M. says
I don’t think I have the heart to read Clone Saga, but I’m getting really excited for Age of Apocalypse. I’ve always heard great things about it, and have just never gotten around to reading it, but now I finally will!
I had no idea that Loeb and Sale had done that Wolverine/Gambit mini. Have loved all their other work together…looking forward to giving that a try.
I’m confused by the Legion Quest/Age of Apocalypse notes. The entire event was definitely published in 1995, so how can it be done next time (1996)?
I should clarify! Next week will be entirely dedicated to Age of Apocalypse so 1) those who want to read have time 2) I can get feedback on the reading order. We’ll jump ahead to 1996 the first week of Oct.
Steve G says
I’ve decided that Clone Saga won’t be read by this guy this week. I simply haven’t got the time.
Was Wolverine broken for anyone else?
Way way back I had the seeds of the Clone Saga as I had been buying all the Spidey books. I stopped most but continued with ASM up to issue 200, then just couldn’t stomach it anymore.
Then about 7 years back, when my son was born, I found a reading list and put together all the pertinent issues to give it a read. I had been enjoying the Joseph Michael Straczynski stories and felt is was time to try the Clone Saga again. I made it all the way through, but it was rough going.
In the interim I got copies of the ‘Spider-Man – The Complete Clone Saga Epic, books 1-5’. I’m reading through those now and it somehow seems far more palatable. It puts the “Spider-Man: The Lost Years” stories right up front. Amazing Romita art, just amazing. And the stories are better than I had expected.
I am flipping through the really crappy Terry Kavanagh stuff quickly and focusing more on the better stories by DeMatteis and it has been pretty good.
Once the Jackel shows up again at the end of book 2 things deteriorated pretty quick, but I am going on with book 3 now to see if it continues.
Steve G says
Its not even that I don’t want to read it at some point, but I’m still trying to read through all of Secret Wars.
Having a job and other commitments, such a a girlfriend that I want to spend time with, cuts down on comic reading time!