Below you’ll find our reading selections for the year of 1996, 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!
1996 Comic Reading List
(Check out Patreon for Full List With Notes!)
|1996||Comic Book Title||Issues|
|1||Captain America||#447 to #454|
|2||Thor||#491 to #494|
|4||Incredible Hulk||#436 to #440|
|5||Onslaught||Onslaught: X-Men #1, Uncanny X-Men #335, X-Men #55, Uncanny X-Men #336, Cable #35, Onslaught: Marvel Universe #1, Onslaught: Epilogue #1|
|6||Iron Man||#1 to #2|
|7||Fantastic Four||#1 to #2|
|8||Journey Into Mystery||#503 to #504|
|9||Captain America||#1 to #2|
|10||Avengers||#1 to #2|
Hero of the Year: X-Men
Villain of the Year: Onslaught
Issue of the Year: Onslaught: Marvel Universe #1
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Writer of the Year: Peter David
Artist of the Year: Joe Madureira
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I’ve gotten slack and fallen a few weeks behind, but I finally got onto reading Onslaught and then the five relaunches listed here.
Onslaught was .. OK. The premise was interesting enough, I like the way it hooks back to events more than two years earlier in Fatal Attractions. The execution was alright in the main books, although some of the looser tie-ins like Green Goblin and the Punisher probably could have been done without. The conclusion, though.. meh.. obviously done the way it was done to get the Avengers and Fantastic Four out of the main Marvel Universe, but it really did seem like quite a dumb and lame climax.
As for the relaunches.. if I’d been buying and reading them at the time, after two issues of each, the only one I would have MAYBE kept reading was the Fantastic Four. I thought it did a solid job of modernizing the origin story, also making the characters (particular Sue and Johnny Storm) more mature at the time they got their powers. Having S.H.I.E.L.D. and a traitor tied in for the start made it fit the rest of the universe. Art was nice.
Journey Into Mystery was a flaming turd on my doorstep. Just lame. Massive struggle to get through two issues.
Avengers was equally bad. Everything about the plot and characterization just seemed random, and the art was some of the ugliest garbage ever to disgrace a page.
Captain America was equally ugly, but I did have a glimmer of interest in what would happen next. Ballsy move to stick with the Nazis as antagonists despite re-originating a character from that era into the 90’s.
Iron Man, the one positive was that it pulled a number of other characters like Bruce Banner and Jennifer Walters and Leonard Samson into Stark’s story immediately. But it seemed super-rushed, and again, hideously ugly artwork.
All in all, I’d give Marvel a score of something like 2/10 for this Heroes Reborn experiment, and can confidently say it would have shrunk my standing order considerably if I’d been buying these titles at the time.
Quick follow-up. I finished the Heroes Reborn selections last night, and thought the Captain America and Journey into Mystery issues were OK, though it was more because of the pace and the artwork than because they were good Captain America and Thor issues. I was very underwhelmed by the Avengers issues. Still maintaining my 1996 is the worst year so far stance.
BrandonH, it’s amazing how different opinions can be, right? I really found Onslaught to be bad, but it’s interesting how divided people are about it. I think for me the event was a letdown because the build-up issues had some great moments (Beast vs. Dark Beast in particular was very memorable) and featured some interesting character development, and then the actual event just didn’t do much that was memorable for me(and also weirdly barely had Spidey in it despite his prominence in the Marvel universe).
I acknowledge that the novelty of having the X-Men and say the Fantastic Four was neat, but after a while, when there’s no real substance to the story beyond battling Onslaught and there are a bunch of weird narrative inconsistencies, I just started tuning out. Marvel Universe as a result was OK (certainly the best of any of the Onslaught issues) but overlong. But again, people are divided about it, and it’s great that we have differing opinions of it in the Reading Club.
I thought Waid’s Captain America work was solid in 1996. There are very few Cap issues that I love, so “solid” is doing pretty well.
Avengers #400 is okay, too.
I have the Complete Onslaught Epic in four volumes at home, and I read it every couple years or so. It is a great story, and I consider it to be the Crisis on Infinite Earths-type event that Marvel needed. For the Avengers characters, it is a fitting send-off and a way to start new adventures with the characters without being tied to past history.
The fact that Marvel completely screwed up the Heroes Reborn universe by giving those books to the people they did does not invalidate the accomplishments of the Onslaught event. Onslaught: Marvel Universe is a fantastic issue, and I will always love it.
The Ultimate Universe is as close as we have gotten to a pure reboot, and it started out pretty well. As our group will perhaps see, Ultimatum, cynicism, brutality, and the existence of the regular 616 universe lead to the marginalization and ruin of that universe over time.
Onslaught: X-Men #1 is another standout issue from the event. A person could read just the X-Men and Marvel Universe issues and get a decent understanding of what went down, possibly with a little help from wikipedia.
This is officially my least favorite year that we’ve read. I’m not even going to do my usual issue by issue breakdown, partly because I haven’t finished Heroes Reborn yet (what I’ve read so far hasn’t been inspiring) but also because I legitimately didn’t enjoy a single assigned comic outside of maybe The Hulk, and even that was I think the weakest David Hulk run that we’ve read so far. Claude really hit the nail on the head with his observations; I agree with all of them.
I unfortunately did tackle Onslaught, and was more disappointed by it than by anything else we’ve read all year. I actually enjoyed the various Road to Onslaught issues quite a bit for some reason, but the actual Onslaught event is such a mess, with characters like Dark Beast and Havok being set up for big things and then being dropped with no explanation, Xavier suddenly appearing to Franklin as himself in Onslaught’s lair out of nowhere, some issues clearly meant to follow one another and some issues with arbitrary placement, Onslaught basically sitting around and gathering power the whole time and being incredibly boring, and then the whole event just ends with everyone dying for a vague reason, making Onslaught officially the most powerful villain they’ve ever faced? Yeesh.
Also, I don’t know what people were talking about with plot twists and cheap shocks in that Amazon review Claude posted; there sure was nothing shocking or unexpected that happened that I could see. Twists and shocks in Clone Saga, for better or worse? Yes. Onslaught, not at all.
Fingers crossed that Marvel will recover for next week, as this was just a painful week of comics. Onto 1997, thank goodness!
It’s not so much that it was awful…ok, Leifeld’s Capt. America and Avengers was more than awful, it was insulting. But it was just so mediocre. The “new” FF and Iron Man were weak. Avengers 400 was a waste of paper. Thor was boring. It was all just so blah.
The Captain America by Waid was ok, but really not his best work. The characterization of Cap was off, and Agent Carter just didn’t ring true.
The high point for me was, of course, the Hulk. The art was passable, but the writing was almost as good as always. Mr. David gets my writer vote this year. Not sure how the other picks are going to pan out
Full disclosure: I have not looked at Onslaught. Ok, I looked at it and am not sure if this is for me. Age of Apocalypse was a let down, not a MAJOR let down, but not nearly as good as I was led to believe. And most people I have talked to said that Onslaught was not as good, so…
I may get to some tonight, but there are about 6 issue of the Hulk from 1996 that look far more appealing.
No Name says
Ugh this year is awful. At least 94 had Marvels.
You’re really going to do it, aren’t you…you’re going to make me read more Rob Liefeld comics. You’re a cruel cruel man Dave.
On a more serious note: I have the Complete Onslaught Epic (a friend bought ’em for me a couple years back as a Christmas gift) and I wonder if it is really worth it.
Nobody said this would be easy 🙂
I’m actually tackling the FULL onslaught epic for myself the first time now too. I’ve read the preludes and what’s available in MU, which have their moments. My personal take – and this may change – is I like Age of Apocalypse a lot more in full.
So Dave, do you think purchasing all of Onslaught is worth it? It’s about 45 on Comixology/Kindle right now. I’m OK with doing that, but is it important enough historically to warrant four months of MU? Will reading just what’s on MU make any sense?
I saw this review on Amazon:
“I grew up in the 80’s/90’s. I was in Elementary school when the X-Men cartoon first aired. To me and my generation, that was our X-Men. We bought the toys, watched the show, read comics like “X-Cutioner’s Song” and loved every minute of it. I think Onslaught marks the end of our era. “Fatal Attractions” was the highpoint, and “Onslaught” was the swan song. There was a lot that I remember and liked about this story. For my generation, Onslaught is a quiet classic.
However, for those who grew up in the 60’s/70’s, Onslaught is one of those moments that burns them. They can’t stand the bizarre, ridiculous plot twists, and cheap shocks. From an unbiased standpoint, I can see their point. This is not the X-Men they grew up with. This is not their style. It was our style.”
Does not bode well for Onslaught…