You could not have the 1990s comics scene without Image. Take that as you will.
Six promising, hotshot, highly in-demand artists on the cusp of defining the look and sensibility of a decade, and also Jim Valentino, left Marvel Comics in a huff with a dream and a crippling lack of bookkeeping skills. The result was Image, a company which simultaneously injected new life into the moribund comics industry of the late Eighties and injected game-changing new blood into the marketplace, plus again Jim Valentino also was there.
Image struggled to stick around, evolving eventually into one of the Grand Old Men of contemporary comics publishing, a much sought-after and desirable publisher whose lineup is often filled with prestigious books of great value. This was largely accomplished by everyone at Image hating each other, leaving their own company in a huff, and also possibly stealing some money, staff and just general stuff along the way, and then a bunch of old-time comics veterans came in and fixed it. (Cut to Jim Valentino rubbing his hands together, “Finally, it’s MY time to SHINE!”)
But genuinely, the Nineties were Image’s decade; the books were largely unreadable, no one knew how to draw, and everyone left anyway except McFarlane and Larsen, but it was nonetheless their game to lose.
While it sounds like an instruction shouted down a well by a paranoid serial killer, it was actually the instructions on the gimmick cover of Rob Liefeld’s Bloodstrike No.1, so same thing basically. A thermodynamic cover meant that any vigorously applied heat would cause streaks of blood to appear on the face of the book, which is also what would happen if you rubbed any comic cover too vigorously.
Being heat-activated, I’m assuming everyone put, in order, their (a) hands, (b) face and, providing one was available, (c) dick on it, just to see the results. I don’t judge, I merely observe.
Were there two figures which stood any higher in the esteem of man throughout the Nineties than Godzilla and Charles Barkley? Yes, literally hundreds of them, and yet the unlikely pairing captured the attention of a tremendous audience, if only for a few hours following the broadcast of their joint commercial endeavor. Taking synergy to a new level was the comic book adaptation of their commercial, which has pretty much got to be a first – and, thankfully, the last. I mean, I haven’t seen those hamsters from the KIA Soul commercials in a miniseries by Tim Vigil or nothing, perhaps I’m mistaken …
What even happened here? Fan-favorite artist Larry Stroman teamed up with writer Todd Johnson to create one of the industry’s still-rare minority-led books, but if it escaped the inexplicable backlash faced by Milestone it may have something to do with the fact that it was all hidden behind a unilluminating foil-embossed and black-cardstock cover and then it hopped companies every issue or so.
Tribe ends up being the story of the superheroes Blindspot, Front, Shift, Short Order, Hannibal, Steel Pulse, additional characters introduced in a trading card set, and an alleged additional 200 heroes all organized against the evil of an organization called Europan, which sounds like a solution to drive the drudgery out of everyday baking.
Tribe’s reach exceeded its grasp, and perhaps as an example of the Nineties’ trend of putting the cart before the horse, it had attempted to jumpstart a clothing line along with its comics – which, you’ll recall, jumped publishers every other issue. So that didn’t work out, is the takeaway.
Sue Storm’s always had a rough go of things, consistently being overlooked in the lineup behind the more dynamic Human Torch and Thing and second to her husband, who had the smarts to name the team after himself. When she finally did get her moment in the sun, it was because the Psycho Man turned her nutcakes and dressed her like a steering wheel cover impaled on the underside of a pair of soccer cleats.
Anything would’ve been better than Invisible Woman’s “Malice” costume, is a thing we might’ve said before seeing what she came up with on her own immediately afterwards. Claiming she “felt like a frump,” Sue Storm designed an outfit with belly window, cutout four over the tits, thigh-high boots with an extra band over them for some reason, and then what appeared to be a celluloid dickey. It’s a damn good thing she can turn invisible, or else she might die of embarrassment when she passes a mirror.