Comics : Marvel: The Year in Review 1991

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This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

The "Marvel: The Year in Review" titles are written rather tongue-in-cheek, from the point of view of those living in the Marvel Universe.

In Detail...

Marvel: The Year in Review 1991
Year 1991 : SM Article
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Editor:  Bobbie Chase
Writer:  Bob Washington, Carl Karl, Claudia Christiantomo, Dan Cuddy, Dan Slott, David Wohl, Dwight Jon Zimmerman, Evan Skolnick, Fabian Nicieza, Glenn Herdling, Janet Van Dyne, Jean Saykwa, John Lewandowski, John Rozum, Kevn Kobasic, Matthew Morra, Pat Garrahy, Paula Foye, Richard Ashford, Rob Tokar, Sarra Mossoff, Suzanne Gaffney, Tom Daning, Wayne Worcestershire
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Review

The 1991 edition of this magazine features a more "leisure magazine" feel, compared to the "Times Magazine" feel of Marvel: The Year in Review 1989. I have to say that right from the index page, the magazine feels a little less slick and sophisticated.

That's not helped by the fact that the first page of content is actually a letters page, with real fans writing in to say how much they loved the previous years issue. While that's all very nice, it does kind of break the magic spell a little. We're trying to keep up an illusion here, guys!

But we're soon into the articles. Features on Wonder Man (his struggle for respect), Ghost Rider (is he back in circulation), the new Avengers lineup, and the X-Force mutant line-up changes. Then there's "who is the new Weapon Omega", Corporate News with articles on Cybertek Systems, and Stark Enterprises, and the rise and fall of Wilson Fisk's media network.

There's an interview with Greg Salinger, former Foolkiller, an article on Spider-Man's battle with Morbius, featuring artwork of the battle. An entire two-page section of "Death and Resurrections", an "International" section, a "Weekly World Enquirer" section featuring some of the less credible stories of the year.

A "Loose Lips" gossip section check out some of the year's super-romance action for four pages, then a "Mirror Images" section picks out some of the looks that are getting recycled - the Owl looks a lot like Wolverine. Johnny Blaze looks a lot like Nomad, Feral looks like Wolfsbane, etc.

Professor X is voted man of the year. Can bald be sexy? Sleepwalker gets a page, the new Thor does too. The Janet Van Dyne, aka The Wasp picks out the ten best and ten worst dressed for the year. Mary Jane Watson is back in favor as number three on the best-dressed women list.

Darkhawk gets a page, Nomad does too. Wilson Fisk's recent fall from grace gets a two-page treatment. Then the "critics corner" gives a savage write-up of the real-world Captain America movie. And quite justly... I think it was a serious contender for the worst commercial movie of all time. There's a fake X-Force book, and Nightcat (who?) has a fake album released.

There's two pages of Classified, and a final one-page X-Force fashion review.

In General...

Sadly, the magic seems to have drained out of this concept. While the Marvel: The Year in Review 1989 was hip, witty, clever, clean and consistent, this year's offering has moved away from "ironic, clever in-joke," and stepped back far to close to "marketing vehicle". The over-commercial poison which saturated Marvel in the early nineties seems to have soaked all the way through into this offering, leaving it stale and dull.

Even the advertisements are not as funny or clever as last year, the jokes are forced, and the artwork is comic-booky, rather than magazine-ish. In fact the artwork throughout the entire issue has that over-saturated, sketchy and unfinished feel that was all the rage at the time, but which looks jaded and shallow in hindsight.

There are way too many writers and contributors listed in the credits. It's pretty clear that the success of the earlier issues went to the heads of the creators, and that the much-hyped but under-achieving crop of super-heroes of the era got far more of a promo push than they ever really deserved. Everybody jumped on board, and the result is messy and overexcited.

Spider-Man gets mention in the one page of coverage with Morbius. Even then, the whole tongue-in-cheek "written as if it was real" style is infused with just enough marketing-hype to destroy the whole special feel of the story. Worse, the art accompanying the feature is taken from the story. It would have been better to have mocked up a grainy photo, or some other art which could feasibly have been taken during the battle. Instead, we get a traditional Todd McFarlane close-up, which is completely out of sync with the idea that this is a "real" magazine.

Overall Rating...

I guess it was always too good to last. Clever and inspired is replaced by clunky and insipid. The web rating plummets accordingly to a sub-par two webs.