Two of the following three comics have fold-outs, but not the one you’d expect.

§ January 3rd, 2024 § Filed under 1990s Sins § 14 Comments

A couple of quick things to cover before I get into the main course here. First, don’t forget to give me your 2024 comic industry predictions! I’ll start covering the 2023 predictions soon, so consider yourself forewarned.

Second, JohnJ asks if I remember the adults-only comics anthology XXXenophile by Phil Foglio and a bunch of his pals. Yes, as a Foglio fan (wherefore art thou Buck Godot?) I certainly picked these up, though they tend to run a tad naughtier than the comics I prefer to peruse. But, it’s all in good fun, and it did have one of the greatest and possibly not-politically-correct covers of all time:

Anyway, I haven’t looked at these in a while, so maybe it’s time to let ’em go at the shop. (But you’ll have to pry my copies of the What’s New with Phil and Dixie collections from my cold, dead Bag of Holding.)

Anyway, let’s get jump back into your suggestions for Most 1990s Comics:

Existentialman brings up a title that’s near and dear to my heart, Force Works from 1994:

…featuring a superhero team based in my old stomping grounds of Ventura, CA:

Not sure where in Ventura you’d find the giant waterfall, but there you are. Of course the most notable thing about this series was the ungainly foldout pasted to the front cover of the first issue. Here, have a video showing you what we had to deal with:

Not sure how many “mint” copies exist, even if the fold-out remained intact, if only because gluing that thing to the front cover did it no favors.

I’ve read very little of the actual series, but a glance-through certainly has it look to me like being very much of its time, dark, gritty and serious, with that 1990s look that’s hard for me to describe, exactly, but you know it when you see it. Not sure which of my spurious “categories” I’d apply to this. Personally, I’d just put it under “Gimmick” because that first issue cover is all I really remember about this series (aside from the comic’s setting). Maaaaybe under “Kewl Style?” But I think a “Kewl Style” implies a measure of deliberate pandering via approximation of a modern style, and frankly I think this was entirely earnest. Maybe someone more familiar with the title can clue me in.

Next up is the infamous Snark Shark with his excellent suggestion of the equally infamous Shadowhawk.

Now, I will always love Jim Valentino because of normalman, which remains one my all-time favorite comics. In fact, I just picked up the normalman Omnibus to have all that stuff together (though Max the Magnificent still remains out in the cold).

That’s a long way of saying, because of normalman, I tried out his later material when he starting doing Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel, and later his creator-owned Shadowhawk from Image. Aaaaand…it wasn’t for me, sorry. But Shadowhawk did seem very much a ’90s book, what with several issues of the first couple of mini-series featuring gimmick covers (the one pictured above had a perforated fold-out that could be popped open to reveal Mr. S. Hawk’s secret identity).

It was topical (the main character had AIDS), it was (as I recall) very violent, and it had those gimmick covers. And being written and drawn by a founder of Image Comics just by default gives it that extra bit of ’90s ooomph. I’m not sure what “category” it would fall under…I don’t want to hit the “Gimmick” one too often, but I’m not sure “Topical” exactly fits either. Maybe just being “First Wave Image” is enough.

• • •

Okay, we’re almost done here. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Friday!

14 Responses to “Two of the following three comics have fold-outs, but not the one you’d expect.”

  • Chris Gumprich says:

    I too bought SHADOWHAWK because of Valentino’s normalman – I even added it to my pull list.

    The only reason I bought issue 2 was because the comic shop wouldn’t let me cancel my order.

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Every time I see Phil (though it hasn’t been for a few years!) I ask him when XXXenophile is coming back. First he said when Bush was out of office, then he said once his kids are older. Now? Who knows? (I’ll probably see him at Emerald City Comicon in March, I suppose I could see what his excuse is now….)

  • Chris V says:

    Oh, I’d say half of the Cherry Poptart covers have that XXXenophile cover beat for “most politically incorrect” comic cover.

    Ah, there it is: Force Works #1-my pick for most ‘90s comic.
    Having a comic book which required instructions to figure out how to manipulate the cover was, I think, the point where the comic companies realized that they had taken things as far as possible. I consider Force Works #1 a turning point for the comic industry.
    I wasn’t buying Marvel Comics at the time Force Works #1 was released, so I missed seeing it on the stands when it was released. I remember my first time coming across the comic as a back-issue. I told the store owner, “It looks like your copy of Force Works #1’s cover is cut.” He had to explain to me how the gimmick cover worked. It was a surreal moment in time.
    Force Works, as a series, actually wasn’t terrible. It was written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. It was a far cry from the type of work
    they’d do on a book like Guardians of the Galaxy, but it certainly wasn’t the worst writing I’d see on an early-1990s comic. Probably the worst aspect, and most ‘90s element, of the series (outside the title) was that the series kept getting interrupted by crossovers. I gave up on buying back-issues of the book due to not wanting to bother with the interruptions. The series isn’t great, by any means, but there are elements to the plots which seem very much more British rather than something which belonged as part of the Marvel Universe. That makes it stand out compared to a lot of the generic “kewl” ‘90s dreck being pushed out by the Big Two.

  • Chris V says:

    As far as Shadowhawk, it does have the one-shot written by Alan Moore going for it.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    I vote for Faust for some of the most politically incorrect covers of all time…even still, Tim Vigil is an amazing artist.

    @Cassandra Miller

    It would be cool to find out from Phil if there is any chance of him doing another Angel & The Ape and/or Inferior 5 mini- series for DC.

  • Thom H. says:

    I get that Century is “enigmatic,” but he looks like he’s dislocating his own shoulders on the Force Works cover. Also, what exactly is happening with his hair? Is it draped over one of the guys he’s fighting? Mysterious.

    While we’re at it: people’s open hands are generally about as large as their faces, so is Shadowhawk’s baby handing him his helmet on that cover?

  • BRR says:

    I’ll guess Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Force Works”

    Who the hell builds their HQ right over a waterfall?

    “Ventura, CA”

    *”Ventura Highway” by America starts playing*

    “ungainly foldout pasted to the front cover of the first issue”

    I now have that, and is, indeed, neat and not in NM.


    Thankyew! It IS the most Image of all of Image!

    Coming in Second is the 1963 series NEVER being finished. Coming in third is Deathmate Black appearing MONTHS after the rest of them. And Fourth is anything to do with Rob Leifield.

    “very violent”

    Oh, yeah. He broke the backs of criminals, leaving the paralyzed and in the hospital. Even I think that’s too violent, and I like the Punisher.

    “The only reason I bought issue 2”

    Issue 2 was the first I bought- and last, until I bought 1 or 2 out of the cheap section out of morbid curiosity.

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Sean–I suspect that question would get me a “DC? Hire me again?” and derisive laughter. ;-)

  • Pal Cully says:

    I’ve got that Godzilla cover kicking around in the archives. Funny stuff.

  • Allan Hoffman says:

    XXXenophile was one of the only adult comics that had happy people having fun having sex.

  • Matthew Murray says:

    Snark Shark: Can’t forget Image United never finishing either.

  • Tom W says:

    @ Chris V

    I’ve stumbled into trying to get a print copy of most of everything Alan Moore’s written – I didn’t mean to but I’ve got most of it so I may as well – and I still haven’t got that Shadowhawk story. It’s just not particularly good so the motivation isn’t there…

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Can’t forget Image United never finishing either.”

    I completely did forget!