Below you’ll find our reading selections for the year of 1997, 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!
1997 Comic Reading List
(Check out Patreon for Full List With Notes!)
|1997||Comic Book Title||Issues|
|1||Ka-Zar||#1 to #3|
|2||Deadpool / Daredevil/Deadpool Annual||#1 to #7 / #1 / #8 to #11|
|5||Thunderbolts||#1 to #4|
|6||Heroes for Hire||#1|
|7||Untold Tales of Spider-Man||#-1|
|8||Amazing Spider-Man||#427 to #428|
|9||Wolverine||#119 to #122|
|10||Hereos Reborn: The Return||#1 to #4|
Hero of the Year: Deadpool
Villain of the Year: Doctor Doom
Issue of the Year: Deadpool #11
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Writer of the Year: Kurt Busiek
Artist of the Year: Leinil Francis Yu
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1997 is part of the Dark Age for me. I had moved to Asia and could not buy comics. I have since filled in a few of the gaps, but there is nothing here I had ever wanted to read. So going in I had no real motivation. 96 and 95 had had things I was at least curious about, and 98 started or restarted a few books that I was into, but there is nothing in 97 that I felt I wanted to check out. Maybe I am just too old for a lot of this stuff…I found this week to be the lowest point for me. Even the Hulk couldn’t save it.
That being said, Kazar was decent. Not as good as his 1981-84 series, but it was a fair read. It might have been a great read, but Shana came across as a real twit, not at all like her earlier iterations.
Given that David was hampered by the whole Reborn thing, his Hulk issues were poor. I read somewhere that he even felt that he just couldn’t write the Hulk at this point. A pretty good run for him overall, 120 odd issues that I really enjoyed, then a year of crap. Oh well. He’s only got a year left, hopefully he can finish it well…
Deadpool had some good points, but I did not enjoy it nearly as much as others did. Just too many in a row, maybe. I get that it is supposed to be funny, but it almost felt like it should have a laugh track at times, like “here is where you’re supposed to laugh”. And I have a hard time getting past the whole lack of morals aspect. Take Punisher and Wolverine for example, they always were a little too free and loose with the killing for my taste, but at least they were always dictated by a moral code, however warped. I could never get into Punisher as a character on his own just because he was too far beyond what a hero should be. In essence he is just a serial killer with a cool custom.Wolverine, on the other hand, always had a sense of how bad he was. He knew that sometimes someone has to go over the line, so he took that responsibility upon himself so others would not have to. Like he knows that he is going to rot in “proverbial” hell, so be it. But Deadpool, both the character and the comic, thinks it is all a big joke. Keeping a prisoner. Killing for money. Not pleasant reading for me. By the time I got to issue 11 I was done and did not enjoy it at all.
I knew nothing of the Thunderbolts, really, it was completely off my radar. I had always assumed it was some sort of spin-off of Defalco’s Thor, so I just ignored it. As I read it I felt it was just another riff on the 90’s team book, ala Image. So I was surprised by the twist. It was alright, overall. It really is just another 90’s style team book, full of “kewl” characters whose look is far more important than story (American Citizen V’s shoulder armor is a joke) but at least there was an interesting spin on the otherwise typical fluff.
Heroes for hire was ok, but nothing new. More Marvel trying to get in on the “kewl” teams.
Untold Tales and Amazing were a waste of time. As was Bug. ‘Nuff Said.
Wolverine, however, was a real pleasant surprise. Not the best books ever, but still a good story. The story was rushed, and the hackney insertion of stuff into continuity was badly done (“ten years ago” seems a bad setting), but the art was fine and the story worked. I guess if I had been reading Wolvie consistently it would not seem so fresh. It is about 100 issues between stories I like from Wolverine: I enjoyed the Byrne/Wein run around 17-22, then kept buying while not liking up to about 75. And after that saw a smattering of issues that were uninspired. This was decent.
David Keith Hughes says
This year was fun, and was probably the peak of my fanboy era in the 90s. This was right before college and I was spending most of my money on comics every month. I read a lot in 1998 as well, but started to get into more DC and other publishers besides Marvel.
With that said
I love this year, but its a very interesting study in my opinion.
Reading though all these years you see the early 90s with all the tropes it brought, the kewl comics phase and the style that the image boys created. In many cases its almost painful.
Then they leave. It seems that marvel is hurting at first then spends years trying to recover and recapture the early 90s vibe.
Around 96 it finally starts to die.
To me that first issue of Waid and Garney on Captain America signal the coming of a new age. There is the panel where cap in dead in his Cap Armor and then disappears. I cant think of a more telling way to kill off the Kewl era.
That’s when Waid, and Busick really start to make their marks. New artists like Mad, Yu, McGinnis etc start to really redefine marvel into a new style. Even guys like Kubert stop trying to copy Jim Lee and come into their own.
So comics are down in sales, I think this is about the time of the bankruptcy, but some new exciting things are starting to be created.
So what does Marvel do. They do a big early 90s style crossover. Kill all their core heroes besides the X titles, and bring Jim Lee and Rob Leifeld back.
At the time I was excited for the Heroes Reborn, but quickly soured. Captain America was terrible, the Avengers weren’t much better. Iron Man got boring. As I recall I read FF the longest but even then it just became a lot of rehash of classic stories, pretty art, no substance. Even then the art stopped quickly and they used filler artists.
Heroes Return did good at bringing them back, and Hulk was a nice teaser for those getting tired of the experiment. Otherwise nothing more to say about that.
Spider Man was suffering from clone Saga hangover, and Untold tales just didn’t seem important. However I will say that out of all the flashback titles that year, who would have thought this one would have such a lasting impact.
The good part is it opened Marvel up to some new titles. Heroes for Hire, Deadpool, Thunderbolts, Ka-Zarr, Bug, and Alpha Flight (though not on this list).
Heros for Hire was only decent, and Alpha Flight was about as good as any other series they had.
Ka-Zarr was a real surprise and really blew me away at the time. Event today it is good. Let me say this though, the digital format doesn’t transfer the amazing quality of the artwork nearly as good as ink and paper did. During that time they began some subtle computer enhancements and it really made the artwork pop.
Deadpool has never been my favorite character, and today I think he is a bit overused. None the less it cannot be denied that this series laid the foundation for everything that Deadpool would become over the next decade.
Thunderbolts was without question the highlight of this year. I remember reading the shock ending in 97 and being blown away. I continued to read the comic every month until Busick eventually left and even then I tried to continue it. Just a total triumph of creative storytelling and earned Busick my vote for writer of the year, barely beating out Waid. They also earned my vote for both hero and villians of the year.
Wolverine also redefined itself with this run and Yu was born to draw him, and easily earned my vote. Some of my favorite stories came during the bone claw years (minus feral wovie).
Overall 97 was one of my favorite years due to some of the great new creative direction that company was going, and really sealing the Image boys past away. It wasn’t much later when Joe Q and Jimmy P came in with their Knights line and eventual rise to Editor and Chief that would redefine and lead Marvel to the age it is in now.
I just realized that I forgot to mention Deadpool 11, which I probably should have made Issue of the Year for how insane it was to just throw Deadpool into a classic Spider-Man issue and see what would happen. It was a little long, but so audacious and fun.
No Name says
The panel of Al reacting to MJ dancing will probably go down as my favorite panel of all time next to hopey & maggie yelling black flag’s six pack in the library
Man was this a great year; such a dramatic contrast from 1996. Except for maybe Bug, Heroes for Hire, Hulk, and Amazing Spider-Man, all of which I thought were average, I really enjoyed, and in some cases loved, every issue. Let’s do this:
– Kazar was shockingly good. The artwork was great and it had a message about escaping materialism that was much deeper than I would have ever expected. Like BrandonH, I wish there were more of these issues in Marvel Unlimited.
– Deadpool was great; I enjoyed every issue, and laughed quite a lot throughout. I especially loved Blind Al, who makes quite an impression. I now understand why Deadpool is popular; he’s certainly the character whose stock has gone up the most for me since starting the Reading Club.
– I have to be honest and say that I barely remember Incredible Hulk even though I read it only a couple of days ago. I remember finding it OK, but nothing that stood out.
– Bug was a mixed bag for me. I found the story wacky to the point of being almost nonsensical, but the jumping around through all the hero origins and important Marvel events was a lot of fun. I also found the artwork to be OK but not great. Overall, I wouldn’t read another Bug issue if it was available, but it was a fun read.
– I flat out LOVED Thunderbolts, mainly because I, believe it or not, had no idea about the plot twist and was legitimately shocked when it happened. Such a good writing job on that first issue. Even in the limited amount of issues that were available, there was a ton of character development, and I thought the artwork was solid. Thumbs way up for this one. Busiek easily got Writer of the Year for me for this.
– Heroes for Hire felt old-fashioned to me, and not in a good way. I don’t have much to say about this except that it was weird reading this and watching Luke Cage at the same time.
– Untold Tales of Spider-Man was much better than I was expecting, considering I pretty much hated the other issues we’ve read from this series. I enjoyed the old-school art style and that this was legitimately a story we hadn’t heard before, unlike the other Untold Tales of Spider-Man issues we read. I also loved the ending, sappy as it was. Good stuff.
– Amazing Spider-Man was OK, but yawn, Dr. Octopus is resurrected. I dunno, I found this middiing at best. I also don’t remember much about it even though I read it even more recently than Incredible Hulk.
– I absolutely loved Wolverine and gave Yu Artist of the Year for it. It created such a strong atmosphere over the course of four issues, and while I thought the climactic scene was too far-fetched, it still worked fine. Another thumbs way up for this.
– Heroes Reborn was another one that I wasn’t expecting much from after the lameness of the other Heroes Reborn issues we read, but man did this deliver. I almost gave David my Writer of the Year for pulling this off so well, and I did end up giving Franklin my Hero of the Year for standing up to the Celestials and saving two universes! I also deeply loved the very sci-fi and Marvel Cosmic ending to this. Yet another thumbs way up to this.
Overall, a year with some average issues and a lot of really excellent issues. Tough to complain. Looking forward to 1998 and Marvel Knights!
No Name says
I usually don’t like Deadpool but issue#11 is a laugh, especially considering for us it was just 1971 a few months ago.
I thought Deadpool #11 was pretty funny .. until I got to the end of it, saw the reprint of Spider-Man #47, and realized how close a “retelling” it was. And then it became REALLY funny! Best slice of Deadpool I’ve seen, and worthy of the Issue of the Year award.
Ka-Zar: This was a lot better than I expected. I usually do not like Ka-Zar or Savage Land stories, but this one really works. The two-page spreads are gorgeous, and the lettering was way above average for a 1990’s story. I voted Andy Kubert for artist of the year. While I don’t think Shanna was all the way in the right, it is better to err on the side of protecting your children. Of the issues the group read, Ka-Zar #1 was my favorite. Probably the highest praise I can give these issues is that I wish more of them were on Marvel Unlimited.
Deadpool: These are all pretty good stories. My favorite characters here for Deadpool to interact with are Siryn and Blind Al. I did not find any character or group too heroic this year, so I voted for Blind Al as Hero of the Year.
Hulk: I did not like the art or story here at all. Sorry.
Bug: Annihilus had the best bad-guy appearance this year. Bug is fun to read, even if this story is pretty average. My favorite part of the issue were the two board game pages.
Thunderbolts: For me, the twist ending is overhyped, but that could be because I never got to experience it as a twist. I like what Busiek does with these four issues. Even knowing what is going to happen, the character work provides a solid foundation for enjoyable stories. Busiek is my writer of the year.
Heroes for Hire, Amazing Spider-Man: These both suffered from the worst tropes of 1990’s comics. The low point was the random colored, bolded words from Delilah. All of these people have done better work, so please do not judge the creators too harshly.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man: I am not a fan of this series in general, but this flashback is an okay standalone issue. It’s worth reading the Stan Lee first page at the least.
Heroes Reborn: The Return: The heroes needed to get back, and Peter David and Salvador Larroca do a capable job. This miniseries is just kind of there for me.
Honorable mentions go to Uncanny X-Men #344 and #350. Uncanny X-Men #350 is a big issue for Gambit, Rogue, and Mr. Sinister, and it has some long-reaching impact, so it may be worth a look.
I’m all in on a Blind Al candidacy for Hero of the Year. This is the year for it!
Its awfully quiet in here this week…
Part of that on my end (aside from staying up all night watching the Cubs and feeling generally exhausted…) is Marvel Unlimited driving me INSANE with requests to update password. Anybody else here dealing with similar?
Plus, ’97 is the last bit of ‘homework’ before we really get to modern Marvel Knights. Good times are coming!