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Why the '90s Were Terrible for Comics

Updated January 7, 2021 3.9k votes 729 voters 26.4k views15 items

List RulesVote up the series, people, and trends that made comics awful in the '90s.

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. 

  • 1

    The Variety of Variant Covers Reached a Villainous Volume

    Photo: Marvel

    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." 

    Agree or disagree?
  • 2

    Superman Red and Superman Blue Create a Comic Book Headache Just for You

    Photo: DC Comics

    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! 

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  • Photo: Marvel / Marvel

    Okay, so in the late '90s the Punisher was as edgy as edgy gets, but then he got even more edgy when he committed suicide after his mom made him clean his room or something. Moms are the worst. After his suicide, Frank Castle came back to life in the series Purgatory, but instead of just getting retconned like every other comic book character that dies in Marvel, he was turned into this magical avenging angel zombie thing who didn't remember who he was. There's no proof that Marvel was tying to cash in on the success of The Crow, but the more you compare the storylines, the more it seems like that's exactly like what they were trying to do. 

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  • If there are three things in comic books that never get old it's pocket universes, not committing to killing characters, and retconning everything. In 1996 Marvel tried to get some of that sweet Image Comics juice and they asked Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld to work on individual 12-part comics that would retell the stories of some major characters that had been killed by Onslaught. As you might guess, the characters became beefier, and more totally radical than ever before! And it was all thanks to Mr. Fantastic's son, who could transport people willy nilly to a pocket universe. When the Reborn experiment received a lukewarm reception, Marvel canned Liefeld, Lee bailed, and things went back to business as usual. 

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