Timeline Tuesday: April
Taking a look back at ten, twenty-five, fifty and even seventy-five years of April comicbook anniversaries!
HOMECOMING! The final story arc of the Kyle Rayner/Green Lantern era begins! Co-creator Ron Marz returned to write the “final chapter” of the character he introduced right after the controversial “Emerald Twilight” story back in 1994. I had dropped off of the title somewhere around issue #106, but this arc, beginning with issue #176, and the concurrent news that Hal Jordan was slated to return under the helm of Geoff Johns, was enough to bring me back in hardcore. Unlike a very vocal group of GL-readers, I enjoyed the Kyle Rayner era for what it was. And no one could really know what was in store for us once Jordan returned. “Homecoming” was a quiet end – and we probably thought at the time Kyle would be killed off – but he wasn’t. A move that was very considerate to those readers that regarded Kyle as their Green Lantern.
MILLAR! Fresh off of completing the first Ultimates volume, Mark Millar kicks off 12 issues of Marvel Knights Spider-Man. It’s a big sprawling story, most likely an answer to Batman’s “Hush”, that ends with a slight revamp of the Scorpion. Artwork is by the Dodsons and Frank Cho on fill-ins. While at the time it felt like a Spider-Man story with weight, it had very little, from what I can recall, in the way of a ripple effect once it was all completed. Still, if you enjoy high stakes Spider-Man stories with all of his supporting cast and villains, this is a decent one-off read that requires very little homework.
FOR TOMORROW! Also a followup to “Hush”, Superman #204 kicks off the 12-issue “For Tomorrow” arc by Brian Azzarello, Jim Lee and company. Unlike “Hush”, this story was more of a slow-build character study that led to an all out confrontation with yet another version of General Zod. Overall, it probably wasn’t the best story for Jim Lee’s style – and the first six issues are decent enough – but it eventually fizzled more than sparked. There are a few seeds planted that will have some echo during the buildup to Infinite Crisis though. We’re getting closer and closer to one of DC’s best eras.
OTHER: Chris Claremont’s X-Treme X-Men ends with issue #46. I quite enjoyed the first 20+ issues of this run; the first issues of the final two DC Focus titles are released, Kinetic and Touch; It’s a Bird… by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen is released through Vertigo.
TROIA! After 24 years or so of being Wonder Girl, Donna Troy takes on the identity of Troia all under an homage cover by George Perez based on the Nick Cardy cover to Teen Titans vol.1 #23 that showcased the first appearance of her new red jumpsuit look. The Troia look and identity first appears in New Titans #55 after the five part “Who is Wonder Girl?” arc that removed the “Teen” from the “New Teen Titans” title. It was meant as a way to distance her from being “Wonder Woman’s sister” since this was post-Crisis. All of the sidekicks were growing up one way or another. By this point in Titans history, Robin has been Nightwing for about five years and Kid Flash has been Flash for about three (eventually Speedy will become Arsenal and Aqualad Tempest). One by own the original fab five Teen Titans would receive new identities, most of which would stick. The Troia identity, however, never really caught on. And while the new origin she received at the time worked, the concept didn’t find much play beyond her time with the Titans. For now, it felt different at the very least – and Donna Troy was always Donna Troy under the guidance of Wolfman and Perez.
NTH MAN! Every now and then during these Timeline posts I find a comic that is totally foreign to me (such as with Solarman in the September post). I don’t know every comic that was published, but DC and Marvel in the ’80s is my go to decade. So Nth Man – the Ultimate Ninja, in all of its Chuck Norris meets American Ninja glory, is a nice new find. Not to be confused with the character that appeared in Marvel Two-In-One, this version wasn’t part of the Marvel Universe. If you’re a Larry Hama completist (with art by Ron Wagner) check it out. I’m curious to see how truly ’80s this comic could be as a read.
VOL.3! Hawk and the new Dove star in their new ongoing series that would run for 28 issues. Spinning out from the post-Crisis 5-issue mini-series (with art by Rob Liefeld), the writing team of Barbara and Karl Kesel would continue to explore their relationship and their new connection to the Lords of Order and Chaos. Dawn Granger, the new Dove, would go on to find a place within the DCUniverse all the way through Blackest Night and Brightest Day. Considering their loose connection to the Titans at this time, I’m surprised I have yet to collect this series.
OTHER: Detective Comics hits issue #600; George Perez does work in Action Comics Annual #2 which would kick off Perez’s Action run returning Superman to Earth from his space exile; Secret Origins Annual #3 features an all Teen Titans/Nightwing tale exploring their 25 year history.
TOGETHER! Brave and the Bold #54 features the first team-up of Kid-Flash, Aqualad and Robin, the group of sidekicks that will be named the Teen Titans in their second gathering a year later. The Teen Titans, and all of their various groupings (through good and bad), continue to be one of my favorite comics concepts.
GREEN GOBLIN! The villain that would become Spider-Man’s greatest foe has his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #14. Not only does the character influence the comic character’s life, but the comic itself. Steve Ditko wanted the character’s identity to be an unknown. Stan Lee wanted someone close to Peter Parker. Eventually Ditko would leave the book and, as history has shown us, Green Goblin would later be revealed as Norman Osborn.
THE BATMAN! Most of my notes and research prior to this post put Detective Comics #27’s ship date sometime in April. When Warner Bros. released their plans for celebrating Batman’s 75th Anniversary, they pinpointed the release date as March 30th, 1939. Since my March Timeline post was already completed, I’m including his 75th Anniversary here in April’s – it’s only a few days off. And the rest, as they say, is history…
SANDMAN! Not to be overshadowed, Wesley Dodds/Sandman is also celebrating 75 years in comics with his first published appearance in New York World’s Fair Comics.
OTHER: Honorary JSA member Ma Hunkel makes her first appearance in All-American Comics #3.