Thursday, 5 November 2009

In The Interest Of Balance

In case anyone feels I was unfair in claiming that my favourite book of the past 12 years was also the most important debut of 1997, here's a quick rundown of the other continuing books which had their debut in that year...

Steve Seagle was tapped to bring back Alpha Flight, a book that had limped along for a decade before being put to sleep in 1994. Mostly a conspiracy book, with Alpha working for the sinister forces of Department H, the book lasted 20 issues before dying off again.

A bit player in the X-Books since the early 90s, Maverick was given his own book, so that those who wanted to read the adventures of a mutant spy with a terminal disease, could do so. Since it lasted all of a dozen issues, I'm guessing Marvel overestimated the popularity of the character.

If T-Bolts was my favourite book of 1997, Heroes For Hire came a close second at times. Obstensibly a reunion for Power Man and Iron Fist, this book, devised by Roger Stern and delivered by John Ostrander, felt at times more like a reboot of the Defenders. The heroes didn't do a lot of work for hire, and there was that rotating team that Defenders fans were so familiar with. Unfortunately, although it was a good concept, it didn't catch on, and was canned after 19 issues.

Never one to let an old idea die, Marvel have resurrected MTU a few times now, but this was the first attempt, itself spinning out of a quarterly Spider-Man Team-Up book. Written by Tom Peyer, who's mostly worked for DC over the years, this was another one which barely made a dozen issues.

Another book from Peyer, Quicksilver featured the mutant speedster in one of his more heroic moments, working for the High Evolutionary and fighting against such foes as Maximus the Mad and Exodus, and was axed after 13 issues, after a team-up with the equally doomed Heroes For Hire.

Having been turfed off Captain America in the Heroes Reborn event, Mark Waid could have had his pick of characters to write. Bizarrely, he chose Ka-Zar, a second-stringer since 1965, and who, despite Waid's best efforts, would remain a second-stringer well after the 20 issues of this title.

Yeah, ok, you got me. They can't all be losers, and by any definition, Deadpool's been a big success, to the extent that, as of 2009, he stars in two ongoing titles, and he's probably the second most overexposed mutant out there. But in 1997, no-one really expected Joe Kelly's stab at an ongoing book for the Merc-With-A-Mouth to make it big. And, to be honest, I'm still astonished at the longevity of what is basically a one-dimensional character. Go figure.

So there you go. Seven books launched in the same year as Thunderbolts, of which one can be classed as a success. T-Bolts doesn't seem so lame now, does it?

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