The beautiful world of comic books was almost totally destroyed in the '90s when a mass of unrelated and terrible ideas all hit the comic book industry at once. The comic books that ruined comics as a whole in the '90s weren’t all from Marvel, DC, or Image; each company did its fair share of damage and leaned into a smattering of stupid trends that got worse before they got better. Things like ultra-manly dudes who couldn’t be stopped no matter what, and bodacious ammo packs were the fashion of the day.
There weren’t just a million terrible trends on display in the final decade of the 20th century, but a few people who also ruined comics in the '90s were operating at peak awful. It’s only in hindsight that comic book fans realized that the '90s managed to make most of the properties that they love unrecognizable and embarrassing. Dress yourself in infinite ammo packs and get on your space chopper you bastiches, because it’s time to take a trip through the many things that made comics suck in the '90s.
Vote up the series, people, and trends that made comics awful in the '90s, and if there was something you hated about comics in the greatest decade of human existence, scream about it in the comments.
The Variety of Variant Covers Reached a Villainous Volume
For a brief period in the '90s there was an idea that you could make a killing off of buying and reselling comic books. Probably because uber nerds like Nicolas Cage were dropping millions of dollars on the first issue of Action Comics. Well, the comic books of the '90s weren't exactly the first appearance of Superman, but they did have different covers for the same book, some of them even had hologram trading cards glued to the front! In an attempt to sell multiple copies of the same issue to rubes who thought they could resell those same copies, Marvel and DC (but especially Marvel) basically said, "We heard you liked variant covers so we took a variant cover and put a variant cover on your variant cover."
For better or for worse, Rob Liefeld defined what comic books looked like in the '90s. His style of super-jacked men and women with an innumerable amount of ammo pouches took over the comic book world when he turned X-Factor into the wildest group of superheroes known to man. While there is a vocal minority of Liefeldians out there, most comic book lovers and a lot of people in the comic community feel like Liefeld set the superhero genre back by a couple of decades.
Writer/illustrator Barry Windsor-Smith tore Liefeld apart in an interview with The Comics Journal, "Rob Liefeld has nothing to offer. It’s as plain as bacon on your plate. He has nothing to offer. He cannot draw. He can’t write. He is a young boy almost, I would expect, whose culture is bubble gum wrappers, Saturday morning cartoons, Marvel Comics; that’s his culture."
Can Anyone Explain the Clone Saga?
Yikes. What a weird time to be getting into Spider-Man. For most comic book fans who were coming of age in the '90s, the clone saga was their first-hand experience of how miserable it can be to follow a character that you love through hell or high water. Marvel tortured Spider-Man readers from 1994 to 1996 with a convoluted storyline that continuously asked if Peter Parker was the true Spider-Man. A few writers of the series have even gone on the record as saying that they barely knew what was happening during the run of the saga.
Superman Red and Superman Blue Create a Comic Book Headache Just for You
In 1998, believing that they had exhausted all of their dumb ideas for Superman, DC proved that their well of idiocy will never run dry. You know how Superman is this overpowered character and nothing can stop him? Well take that kernel of truth and apply it to a story where DC was trying to prove the opposite. Essentially, the editors at DC split up Superman after his "energy-based powers" became too strong, making him a danger to everyone around him. Superman Red and Superman Blue were each different parts of Clark's personality, one who thought things out, and the other preferred to fight his way out of every situation. How are you not asleep already? When DC finally decided to shoot this lame horse of a story, they just wished it away into the cornfield as if it never happened. Thanks for wasting our time DC!