In part one I looked back at television, music and video gaming in the nineties. We laughed, we cried and we refused to accept nineties fashion as a dark period in humanity’s history. Now, it’s time to reminisce over another three key entertainment areas from the noughties: comic books, films and trading cards.
Everyone Dies and Comes Back to Life
While the eighties was praised as pivotal era for comic books, birthing books such as Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, the nineties was simply weird and marred with strange decisions. Comic sales dwindled so publishers went nuts creating special covers and other fancy things to pique interest—but it was the storyline choices that really boggled the mind.
First, Superman was killed off in The Death of Superman. I remember seeing the news story on TV and wondering if the world had gone mad, because HOW DARE THEY KILL SUPERMAN? X-Men’s Professor X ended up as another major casualty—but in his case, his death actually led to the brilliant Age of Apocalypse story arc. Obviously, none of these deaths lasted and began a Days of Our Lives trend in comics where characters get killed off only to return months later (showing off a stylish mullet in some cases). Moral of the story: don’t cry because no one stays dead in comic books.
One of the biggest comic book events of the nineties was the Marvel versus DC clash, which pitted our favourite heroes and villains against each other in a shared world. The trading card collection, in particular, was a huge hit on the school grounds and the crossover series got everyone talking (and fighting) about the results. This event led to the short-lived 24-issue Amalgam Comics, where Marvel and DC characters were merged into a single character. Who’ll ever forget Spider-Boy (Spider-Man and Superboy), Dark Claw (Wolverine and Batman) and Iron Lantern (Iron Man and Green Lantern)? If you have any of these comics, please get in touch so we can geek out together.
Masters of Trade
Speaking of trading cards, they were the currency of school kids in the nineties since pocket money only went so far. If you were one of the lucky ones to receive a Marvel Masterpieces’ Mirage Card, you could fetch a month or two’s tuck money from other children to just even look at it. Alternatively, you could become a pioneer of business by carefully placing your duplicate cards back in the foil packaging, gluing it closed and reselling them at school like I did.
As with anything else, companies jumped on the trading card bandwagon and gave us a lot of rubbish as well. For example, wrestling trading cards—these were so poorly made and didn’t even have the correct information about the wrestlers on the back. Oddly, they’d also choose pictures where wrestlers showed off notable boners in their tights. Why they sold these to kids I’ll never know…
The Cinema Experience
Prior to now where we require a small home loan to buy a movie ticket, small Coke and popcorn, the cinema experience was an affordable extravaganza. Going to watch Jurassic Park on opening weekend was special, with the theatre decorated in dinosaur décor and even our parents agreeing it was a worthwhile venture away from home. Films really did feel bigger on the big screen and the blockbuster was an actual blockbuster in those days.
Also, video rentals boomed in the nineties. Who remembers picking up the Spider-Man VHS films from the seventies and all the old Richie Rich and Casper cartoons from their local video store? Taking your time to go through the store and choose your movie(s) was the highlight of any kid’s day. The stores were always packed on Friday nights, Saturdays, Sundays, and school holidays, so you’d have to make sure you had backup video store just in case all the new releases were booked out. In the nineties, VHS was our babysitter and we loved it.