5 Weirdly Specific Trends From When Comic Books Were Insane

#2. Marvel Attempts to Branch Out into Music

Marvel Comics

Take a moment to appreciate the fact that there was a comic about one-hit wonder and shitty dad Billy Ray Cyrus taking on Cherokee ghosts and time traveling with Merlin to the Dark Ages to slay a dragon:

Marvel Comics
So is it like a rule of music comics that everyone in them must sport ridiculous hair?

In 1994, Marvel turned their attention to popular music with the launch of their Marvel Music imprint, intended to turn musicians into comic heroes. Sounds good! So what '90s rockers turned up to have superpowered adventures? Why, that would be artists like Bob Marley (who had been dead for over a decade at that point) and the over-the-hill Rolling Stones. The Marvel Music line even tried to include actual music with their books by publishing a comic titled Break the Chain featuring rapper KRS-One. The comic came complete with an audio cassette to accompany the story with KRS-One's hip-hop stylings and a hefty (for a single, new comic) price tag of $7.

Marvel Comics

Marvel then tried to expand their hip-hop appeal by featuring the blink-and-you-miss-them 1990s rap group Onyx. Although published in 1995, the comic takes place in 1999, where New York City has since been reduced to an Escape from New York-level wasteland and Onyx still performs sold-out shows despite everything being in short supply:

Marvel Comics
It ends with them all dying and going to hell.

#1. Comics Went Clone Crazy in the '90s

DC Comics

Clones are a fairly common science fiction trope -- Judge Dredd is a clone, and so is famed badass Boba Fett. Even Captain Picard had his own genetic spare made in Star Trek: Nemesis. But in the 1990s, comic books went fucking cuckoo for clones, which quickly became a go-to plot device by writers that seemed to come up once an issue. Lex Luthor gets cancer because he constantly wears a radioactive Kryptonite ring? Just have him place his mind in a young clone of himself posing as his own illegitimate son.

DC Comics
And give him a silly hairdo, because it's the '90s.

The Flash's sidekick, Impulse, had a clone that became his archenemy taking up the name Inertia. And while Superman was dead or in a death-like coma or whatever, there was not one but two clones of him running around Metropolis to pick up the slack. One of them was the creatively named Cyborg Superman, who was a clone of the Man of Steel with cybernetic parts and the mind of mad scientist Hank Henshaw; the other was Superboy, a human/Kryptonian hybrid created from Superman's and Luthor's DNA. Yes, Lex Luthor and Superman have a canonical baby together in the comics.

DC Comics
Who dressed like a tool.

Meanwhile, in the Marvel universe, X-Men villain Magneto and Cyclops' son from the future, Cable, both had their own clones running around in the 1990s. However, the most infamous use of Marvel clones goes to Spider-Man's Clone Saga, a storyline that is fondly remembered and reviled simultaneously by the same audience, making it the drunken virginity loss of comics. The Clone Saga was an attempt to shake up Spider-Man comics and possibly even replace Peter Parker with his clone Ben Reilly, under the pretense that Peter Parker was actually the clone and Ben Reilly was the real Spider-Man, because fuck 30 years of comic book history, right?

The runaway sales success of the story led Marvel to extend its run from the originally planned six months to over two fucking years and a whole boatload of Spider-Man clones that were introduced throughout the storyline in all shapes and sizes. A clone of Peter Parker's deceased girlfriend Gwen Stacy also surfaced to forestall the story even further.

Marvel Comics
Only one of the characters on this page is not a clone, but even Marvel wasn't really sure which one it was.

By the end of the story, the nearly half-dozen Spider-Man clones are dead or on the run, and Peter Parker is revealed to actually have been the true Spider-Man all along. Or was he?

Sam Stone is a pop culture Encyclopedia Brown who lives and works in the Washington, D.C., area. Follow him on Twitter or on his blog.

Related Reading: Comic books can actually invent some pretty cool things when they aren't busy being insane. Donald Duck invented Minecraft. If you prefer your cartoons to be truly loony, check out these Indian comics, including one with a murder-happy Superman. We've also collected the most blatant attempts to brainwash kids with comics.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!