In Drawing Crazy Patterns, I spotlight at least five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Note that these lists are inherently not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I’ll be nice and toss in a sixth). So no instance is “missing” if it is not listed. It’s just one of the five examples that I chose. Today, we look at some times that comic book imprints start blowing doing apocalyptic stuff when the imprint is nearing the end of the line.
Reader Alvaro M. wrote in to suggest this one, and it’s one that I have been thinking about doing for years (I even did a quick archive search to see if I maybe DID do it and just forgot – but nope!) because it really is one of those hilarious things that always keeps popping up.
In any event, here’s the thing in a nutshell. You launch an imprint, a separate universe from your normal comic book universe. It starts with promise but, over time, it sort of falters a bit. However, it occurs to you, “Wait, this is a side universe. This isn’t the ‘main’ universe, why do I have to play by the normal rules of what you do with a universe? We could do ANYthing with this universe.” That is a totally logical reaction. And what is the sort of thing that you think to do when you realize that you can do ANYthing? Well, it’s typically to destroy stuff, right? One of the things about the DC and Marvel Universes is that, generally speaking, you can get away with a whole lot, but you have to keep the universe itself intact, you know? Even the exceptions, like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Secret Wars, aren’t really exceptions, because they essentially leave things back to normal at the end of the story (just altered).
With imprints, though, you can really just go nuts.
THE NEW UNIVERSE
The initial set-up with the New Universe was “what if the world outside your window suddenly had super heroes in it?” In other words, the idea was that it would be just like our world, only with superheroes thrown into it. The big problem with the New Universe is that it seemed like too many of the creators were looking at it as if it had to REMAIN “just like the world outside your window,” so everything was mostly restrained and, to a lot of fans, a bit mundane.
So when John Byrne returned to Marvel, he joined up with the New Universe to try a bold idea to throw the whole line of comics out of whack. The idea was that in Star Brand #12 (by Byrne and Tom Palmer), Ken, the dude with the Star brand, decides to get rid of it. He was going to do it on the moon, but then he worried that he might be too far away, so he instead did it over his home city of Pittsburgh. Well, it went horribly wrong…
This was followed by a one-shot called The Pitt by Byrne, Mark Gruenwald and Sal Buscema, where see the after-effects of Pittsburgh being annihilated into a giant crater…
Obviously, everything devolves into chaos, but it was too late to save the New Universe, so it instead all ended in a miniseries called The War.
Things here really started when, about two and a half years into the existence of the Marvel 2099 future imprint, Doom decides that the only way to stop the evil Corporation that is taking over the world is for him to conquer the United States…
But things REALLY got bad when the Corporation fought back and won by using “Captain America” as their figurehead in their successful return to power in the United States, at which point they then began to hunt down all superheroes in the appropriately named 2099: Apocalypse #1 (by Warren Ellis, Mark Buckingham and Kev Sutherland).
First, here is them destroying the White House…
Then them hunting down and executing Punisher 2099 on live television…
The rest of the issue is them killing off other characters, before turning on the journalists who kept broadcasting the murders on live television to show what the new government was doing…
Then the Phalanx show up, which causes worldwide flooding and things go down hill from there. They actually tried to keep the story going in a book called 2099: World of Tomorrow, which combined all the canceled titles into one book, but that did not last long.
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