Sunday, 1 November 2009

70 Years of Marvel - 1995

Some new looks last longer than others. In 1995, Dr Strange changed from his Jason King look (one which pre-dated Jason King by several years) to this rather stylish persona. This was the tail end of a run on Strange by David Quinn, which had seen the good doctor lose the title of Sorcerer Supreme, become split into three seperate people, and fall out with most of his friends - who would presumably have warned him off adopting such a terrible look. By the end of the year, Quinn was out, and Warren Ellis was in, briefly, to restore Strange to his classic look. This wouldn't be enough to save the book from cancellation. Strange fans are still waiting for him to get another shot at headlining his own book.

1995 also saw the Spider-books dominated by the Clone Saga, with Peter Parker "revealed" to be a clone, and Ben Reilly "revealed" to be the real Peter Parker. By year's end, the saga had outlived its usefulness, but as long as sales remained good, the clone story would drag on. Fans of the original Spider-Man could still get their fix of him, but only in flashback tales, such as the Untold Tales of Spider-Man, a lovely little book from Kurt Busiek, which filled in gaps in Spider-Man's first couple of years.

The X-Books took a four month break this year, with the Age of Apocalypse displacing the "real" universe. A neat concept, showing a world in which Professor X had died, and the consequent changes to the world. Unfortunately, as with all neat ideas, it's a well which successive writers have gone back to, again and again. The AoA was responsible for the introduction of Nate Grey, a parallel version of the character with the most confusing backstory ever, just to make things a bit more opaque.

Finally, this was also the year in which Nick Fury was really, truly, incontravertrally, killed off. Not a dream, not an imaginary story, not a clone, and absolutely, definitely, not a robot duplicate. Gone for good. Or, at least, until 1998, when editorial fiat demanded he be brought back to life. And their clever explanation for this resurrection: he was never dead, it was a robot duplicate. God bless the revolving door of death, and the boundless ability of comics readers to accept this sort of nonsense.

In the real world, the Manic Street Preachers lost their muse. The millions of pounds they would make in the next few years may have softened the blow. In Oklahoma, Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building, killing 168 people. And OJ Simpson was definitely not guilty of murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend.

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