Near the end there was chaos. Pure artistic chaos! Gimmick covers galore! You like shiny foil? How about a Holofoil Die Cut Gatefold! Gimmick characters galore! You like Longshot? Add more swords, here’s Shatterstar! Add even more sharp things, here’s Adam X the X-Treme! You like deaths? How about broken backs? How about not dead but clones? The story no longer mattered as long as it was extreme and looked “cool”.
But it certainly changed.
Suddenly there were fewer stores to buy from. Fewer companies to choose from. Fewer comics in general. Fewer pouches and moderately less crosshatching.
There was more of things though. More writers with “sophisticated” foreign names like Morrison, Ennis, Millar, and ah, Bendis. More types of comics arose. Bones, Madmens, Hellboys which lead to Walking and Classes of the Dead and for a while the best League was extra gentle. New things sprang forth left and right.
We cared less about what the comic looked like and more about the story. Sure, we still had deaths and disassembles but we also had “count every grain of sand on this beach.” We slowly began to have more choices too. To you want your granddad’s Spider-Man weighed down by everything? Or do you want your own Spider-Man? And you can follow along as he is slowly beaten down by everything again. But for the first time. Until it ultimately kills him.
Then came “where are the drugs?” and “Bazinga”. And everything started to change again.
Now comic books were truly becoming legit in the mass public eye. They pretended to care about us for years after “I’m Batman!” but nothing compared to after “I am Iron Man.” Everyone wanted more comics and on top of that, comic book related things were turning up everywhere. TV, movies, video games, etc. had become inundated with 4 colored pamphlets influence. There were now more companies doing more different genres on comics than can easily be counted.
But once again things are a ‘changing. One cover a month is not enough to feed the hunger. Two covers a month is much “better”. Now you can choose your cover for nearly every comic you buy. Sometimes there are even 75 choices. No seriously. 75 different covers with the exact same interiors.
And boy oh boy, now that we are legitimized, we are privileged to even overpay just to get the newest cover of our liking. Or the newest character that might be featured downstream from the river. Or the newest foil cover. Wait? Foil? Like during the chaos? Ya know what’s even more groovy than foil? Neon inks, son. Neon. Ink. What about the story? Wait, you mean you don’t even read your comics. You put it into a protective cover so that it can never be looked at? No time to read comics, there’s a new Invincible season coming in November!
I like to think we are better prepared than ever to not fail victim once again to the shiny. That we live in arguably the greatest time period in comic book history.
There are so many varied genres, art styles, formats, and creators, that there truly must be something for everyone. From trading card covers to the deepest existential crisis that comes with wearing your underwear on the outside, you just have to look.