Tuesday, December 16, 2008

1994-1998 Top 25
#1 Sheeva (1995)
#2 R. Mika (1998)
#3 Green Lantern (1994)
#4 Stryker (1995)
#5 Dark Claw (1996)
#6 Thorion (1996)
#7 Lethal (1995)
#8 Akuma (1994)
#9 Zauriel (1997)
#10 Access (1996)
#11 Sakura (1996)
#12 Burnout (1994)
#13 Jin Kazama (1997)
#14 Rose (1995)
#15 Onslaught (1996)
#16 Quan Chi (1997)
#17 Lei Wulong (1995)
#18 Bryan Fury (1997)
#19 Yoshimitsu (1994)
#20 Vaporlock (1994)
#21 Super-Soldier (1996)
#22 Bucky (1996)
#23 Joystick (1995)
#24 Century (1994)
#25 Swordsman (1996)
We continue our look back across the last twenty-five years of comics.
If you're just joining us, flashback to 1984-1988 and 1989-1993!

Glancing the list of characters who debuted during these five years, you see the changing landscape of comics and certain video game properties. Though distant, the two mediums share a common concern for popular cultre, and arguably feed into each other as time goes. 1995's Mortal Kombat 3, relayed through debuting characters (such as Sheeva and Stryker), reflects prominently on the unmotivated violence that became prevelant in a period of "extremes."

Widely regarded as an era of (questionable) flash over substance, it is during the early/mid nineties that comics suffer a crash they have yet to truly recover from. The popularity of superheroes in cinema today spotlights the creative recovery sponsored by a renewed investment in writers in comics that came in the final years of the nineties, and has pushed development through the early 2000's. In spite of this creative improvement, sales figures in the millions are well and truly a thing of the past for American comic book superheroes.

Curiously, it is video games who reveal the most about their development in our list. The emergence of Tekken 3 marks the undeniable arrival of the series, while Street Fighter makes it's final contributions of note, and Mortal Kombat begins it's pop culture decline into mindless irrelevance. It is a shift in that medium that almost seems to forecast the changing tastes of consumers everywhere.

Gathered here is a time capsule of these five years, through previous features from the site.
On reflection, one can almost see the changing landscape of creative direction in comics, moving from the dated fragility of brightly coloured ninjas, to 1998's reinvestment in concept.

Mortal Kombat: Blood & Thunder #6 (December 1994)
"Mortal Mayhem" Marshall/Rolo

When Lt. Sonya Blade followed career criminal, Kano, onto a docking ship, she could have had no notion of the destiny she was about to fulfil. Unwittingly chosen to represent the realm of Earth, Sonya was to be ferried, along with Kano and other fighters on board, to an ancient tournament called Mortal Kombat!

Held once every generation; the sanctity of Mortal Kombat was intended to be Earth's saving grace by pitting their greatest warriors against the forces of Outworld in controlled one-on-one contests. Representing their evil emperor, Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung and Outworld's fighters need only win ten straight tournaments to be granted freedom to invade the Earth.

Shang Tsung's desire for victory led him to the mysteries of an ancient book of power called, the Tao te Zhan. This deviaton has corrupted the tournament in which Earth's final hopes dangle. Now, scattered across the realm of Outworld, the warriors of Earth wage their own personal battles in Mortal Kombat...

Green Lantern/Silver Surfer (December 1995)
"Unholy Alliances" Marz/Banks

The day begins as simple as it can for any cartoonist-slash-intergalactic lawman. Using his alien ring, Kyle Rayner stencils designs, when he is rocked without warning from his drawing table by an explosion! Thus, the Green Lantern charges his ring before flying to investigate!

As Kyle Rayner discovers the granite alien Terrax, he could not possibly conceive the interdimensional ballet occuring across space. In another world, a chrome warrior suffers a similar fate, happening upon a destructive warrior that appears to be more machine than super-man.

The truth can wait! As protector of truth, justice, and the space ways, Green Lantern must summon all his powers to defeat the cosmically charged Terrax.
Still inexperienced, Rayner may be facing the biggest challenge of his short career, but little does he know, the grand plot designs an ally in the wings!

Onslaught: X-Men #1 (August 1996)
"Traitor to the Cause" Lobdell/Waid/Kubert/Green

When the Juggernaut falls from the heavens to crash land in Hoboken, it begins the mystery of a new villain who will attack the X-Men at their most personal core. The entity called Onslaught contacts Grey in an effort to recruit her into his mission to destroy the divide between humans and mutants, but before she can submit, the Juggernaut reveals to her the true identity of the armored monster.

Having overcome the mutant forebarer Post; the X-Men find themselves summoned to Charles Xavier's headquarters when the search for an attacking Juggernaut is called off. Little do they realise the Juggernaut is trapped within the crimson gem of Cytorrak sitting on a desk right under their nose, and the true enemy that endangers all of them is right before them -- Professor X!

Thunderbolts #1 (April 1997)
"Justice..." Busiek/Bagley

Earth's mightiest heroes are dead: Killed saving Manhattan and humanity from the threat of the dreaded Onslaught!
In their stead they leave a gaping justice-shaped hole and a population of villains ready to take advantage of the power vacuum.

Then, as if from nowhere -- Justice like lightning!
Enter the Thunderbolts! A team of mysterious heroes with strange and fantastic powers, led by the courageous WWII inspired patriot, Citizen V.

The Thunderbolts represent a new wave of protectors, tackling threats like the Hulk and the Masters of Evil! Or do they? Though these mysterious heroes have manipulated the media to cement their success, what dark secrets lie beneath their colourful costumes and masks? Maybe the Wrecking Crew will find out!

Fantastic Four #2 (February 1998)
"Be it Ever so Humble..." Lobdell/Davis

After the battle with Onslaught, the world believed the Fantastic Four and Avengers had perished, but to the delight of the world, the heroes returned a year later to the world they had left behind.

Unfortunately for the Fantastic Four, life had moved on in their absence, and their base of operations had been liquidated and revamped as the headquarters for the new team of super heroes: The Thunderbolts.

In need of a home, Reed Richards moves his family to his storage facility on the highliy appropriate Pier 4, but even as he gives his loving wife a new tour of their base of operations - something sinister is lurking in the shadows. Peril waits not for the Fantastic Four, as the Invisible Woman finds herself targetted by a mysterious assassin from another world!

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