It’s our third installment of backwards time travel through Marvel runs that could easily fit into an omnibus volume to help inspire your votes on the Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus Secret Ballot.
Today I’m taking a slightly different perspective than I did for 1998 to 2008 and 2008 to present. For those installments, I focused on runs I knew well or at least could recommend from context. However, when it comes to runs I’ve read, the 90s are pretty thoroughly covered over both by existing omnibuses and the current votes of the poll. Add to that how much of this period are covered by the end of runs from the 80s, that I’ve already mapped X-Men, and my temporary avoidance of exhaustively mapping Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, and the pickings wind up being pretty slim!
Thus, this list comes with a caveat – I’m not necessarily suggesting you run out and buy and read all of these runs right now. I mean, I own nearly all of them, and even having not read them cover to cover I can tell you that most of them are very 90s comic books.
However, they also represent under-collected material that’s relatively unknown to modern readers. While it might be more reasonable to see all of it covered with Epic Collections, I think it would be more expedient to see them collected in this format than to wait around for trade paperbacks.
Ready to dig deep into the extreme 1990s?
Silver Surfer (1987) by Ron Marz & Ron Lim (1992 – 1998)
Ron Marz and Ron Lim had an impressive run on Silver Surfer in the 90s that started once Jim Starlin relinquished his hold on the book just prior to Infinity Gauntlet. However, due to the plot threads of Infinity Gauntlet, it probably makes the most sense for an omnibus line collecting their run to start after that story resolves. That’s reinforced by a forthcoming Silver Surfer Epic that collects through #66. Later, the title was taken over by George Perez and then J.M. DeMatteis for a long, uninterrupted run of stories that have never seen collection to date.
As for the material that comes before this, I’ll talk about that tomorrow in the 80s! But, you can see how its currently collected in the Guide to Silver Surfer.
Silver Surfer Volume 3 AKA by Ron Marz & Ron Lim, Volume 1 – Collects Silver Surfer (1987) #67-85 & Annual 5-6, material from Incredible Hulk (1962) Annual 18, Namor, The Sub-Mariner (1990) Annual 2, and Doctor Strange, Sorceror Supreme (1988) Annual 2, Marvel Graphic Novel #71 – Silver Surfer: Homecoming OGN (1991), Silver Surfer/Warlock: Resurrection (1993) #1-4, Quasar #41-43, Secret Defenders (1993) #9-10, and material from Marvel Collector’s Edition (1992) #1, Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #112, and Marvel Swimsuit Special #2
Silver Surfer Volume 4 AKA by Ron Marz & Ron Lim, Volume 2 – Collects Silver Surfer (1987) #86-110 & Annual 7, Silver Surfer: Dangerous Artifacts one-shot, Thor (1966) #468-471, Warlock Chronicles (1993) #6-8, Warlock & The Infinity Watch (1992) #23-25, and material from Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #172-175, Marvel Holiday Special (1991) #1994/4
Silver Surfer Volume 5 AKA by George Perez & J.M. DeMatteis – Collects Silver Surfer (1987) #111-146 & Annual 8/1997, Silver Surfer/Thor Annual 1998, Silver Surfer: Dangerous Artifacts one-shot, Starmasters (1995) #1-3, Spider-Man Team-Up (1995) #2, X-Men Unlimited (1993) #13, and material from Cosmic Powers Unlimited (1995) #2-5, Marvel Holiday Special (1991) 1996, and Strange Tales Vol. 4 (1998) #1
While Venom didn’t have his own ongoing series until the 2000s, he practically had an ongoing series thanks to his never-ending string of mini-series in the 90s. Marvel makes sporadic stabs at collecting these in paperback, but Venom is a popular enough character that he could surely drive sales of an entire omnibus volume – especially if we ever get a standalone Venom film.
Marvel could go the route of collecting his every appearance as they did with Deadpool, but for now I’m restricting this to his first handful of appearances and then his own mini-series. While Venom has key early stories in Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #315-317, #330-333, & 344-347, these are all covered in recent Spider-Man omnibuses.
Venom also makes some key appearances in other comics like Iron Man and Darkhawk – plus, there’s the origin of the black symbiote suit! We’ll save that sort of close examination for a Venom Guide coming this summer.
Venom: Beginnings, Vol. 1 – Collects Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #298-300, Uncanny Origins (1996) #7, Avengers: Deathtrap, The Vault (1991), Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #117-122, Spider-Man Special Edition: Trial Of Venom (1992), Venom: Lethal Protector (1993) #1-6, Venom: Funeral Pyre (1993) #1-3, Venom: Madness (1993) #1-3, Venom: Enemy Within (1994) #1-3, Incredible Hulk Vs. Venom (1994), Venom: Mace (1994) #1-3, Venom: Nights Of Vengeance (1994) #1-4, Venom: Separation Anxiety (1994) #1-4, Venom: Carnage Unleashed (1995) #1-4
Venom: Beginnings, Vol. 2 – Collects Venom: Sinner Takes All (1995) #1-5, Planet of the Symbiotes (in specials from Amazing Spider-Man (1963), Spider-Man (1990), Venom (2003), Spectacular Spider-Man (1988), and Web Of Spider-Man (1985)), Venom: Along Came A Spider (1996) #1-4, Venom: Hunted (1996) #1-4, Venom: Tooth & Claw (1996) #1-3, Venom: On Trial (1997) #1-3, Venom: License To Kill (1997) #1-3, Venom: Sign Of The Boss (1997) #1-2, Spider-Man: Venom Agenda (1998), Venom: Finale (1997) #1-3
Deathlok (1990) & Deathlok (1991)
Marvel started collecting this run in paperback around the time that Deathlok was the first superhero featured on its Agents of SHIELD TV show, but when sales weren’t strong they gave up and didn’t issue a second book. That probably doesn’t bode too well for our chances of an omnibus, but this run just makes so much sense as a single book! It’s a pity Marvel didn’t take that route to begin with. For more info (including which Deathlok is which), see the Guide to Deathlok.
Deathlok by Gregory Wright & Dwayne McDuffie – Collects Deathlok (1990) #1-4, Deathlok (1991) #1-34 & Annual 1-2, Marvel Comics Presents #62, Silver Sable and the Wild Pack #6-7, and Spider-Man: The Power of Terror #1-4
Darkhawk is a sort of underdog fan favorite of Marvel heroes, beloved by a lot of readers who enjoyed the wish fulfillment of summoning a powerful android to fight on their behalf. It was very on-trend for the early 90s, which saw the rise of Power Ranges. Darkhawk rarely made appearances outside of his own series, which was written entirely by Danny Fingeroth.
At 57 issues, the material is probably slightly too big to fit into a single book – although, Marvel did find a way to make it work for Deadpool!
Darkhawk by Danny Fingeroth, Volume 1 – Collects Darkhawk # 1-25 & Annual 1 and Sleepwalker # 17
Darkhawk by Danny Fingeroth, Volume 2 – Collects Darkhawk # 26-50 & Annual 2-3 and Avengers West Coast # 93-95
Yes, I know – it’s almost comedic to be suggesting a Sleepwalk omnibus.Have you ever even heard of this super-obscure Marvel hero?
Stick with me for a moment. Imagine a world where Marvel … you know, actually marketed these omnibuses not just to rabid fans of the original comics, but to people interested in picking up complete stories of intriguing characters by a single author.
Of course, all of Marvel’s present day runs are designed to be bite-sized 18-30 issue nuggets that fit easily into an omnibus, but in the 90s that wasn’t as common. And, even when you did stumble upon a short series, it was riddled with crossovers. Sleepwalker isn’t. Aside from single-issues run-ins with Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War (which are tie-ins, not direct crossovers), this is an entirely self-contained book. Given the price point of omnibuses, it will probably never happen, but I doubt Marvel would take the plunge on the 2-3 TPBs it would take to cover this series.
Sleepwalker by Bob Budiansky – Collects Sleepwalker (1991) #1-33 & Holiday Special, Quasar (1989) #27, Spider-Man (1990) #22, Darkhawk (1991) #19-20, and Secret Defenders (1993) #4-5
Realistically, this request isn’t aimed at Marvel, but at Dark Horse – who has the rights to reprint Conan material.
They have yet to touch any of this stuff, which is some of the only un-collected Conan still in existence. While they certainly will get to it in their trusty, comprehensive paperback line sooner or later, they could also knock it all out in a single omnibus volume. Visit the Guide to Conan to see Dark Horse’s impressive line-up of collections up to this point.
Conan The Savage – Collects Conan (1995) #1-11, Conan the Savage (1995) #1-10, Conan the Barbarian (1997) #1-3, Conan the Barbarian: The Usurper (1997) #1-3, Conan: Lord of the Spiders (1998) #1-3, Conan the Barbarian: River of Blood (1998) #1-3, Conan: Return of Styrm (1998) #1-3, Conan: Scarlet Sword (1998) #1-3, Conan the Barbarian: Death Covered In Gold (1999) #1-3, Conan the Barbarian: Flame and the Fiend (2000) #1-3
Blade: The Vampire-Hunter (1994 and on)
Given the mega-popularity of Marvel’s trilogy of Blade movies, it’s odd that their signature vampire-hunter has never had his own lengthy series or classic collection. While it would be tempting to star from 1992’s Nightstalkers, that book was part of three rather complex crossovers with other Ghost Rider family books. If we simple pick up Blade after that series, we can capture just about every canonical appearance he makes within an 11-year period in a single omnibus.
Blade: The Vampire Hunter – Collects Blade: The Vampire-Hunter (1994) #1-10, Marvel: Shadows & Light (1997) #1, Blade [One-Shot] (1998) #1, Marvel Team-Up (1997) #7, Blade: Sins of the Father (1998) #1, Blade (1998) #1-3, Marvel Team-Up (1997) #7, Peter Parker: Spider-Man (1999) #7-8, Blade: Vampire Hunter (1999) #1-6 & ½, Blade (2002) #1-6, Tomb of Dracula (2004) #1-4, Blade: Nightstalking (2005), and material from Midnight Sons Unlimited #7-8 and The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Marvel Knights (2005) #1
Alpha Flight (1997)
While the Avengers and Fantastic Four were away from the Marvel Universe in 1996 and 1997 Marvel actually put effort into launching several new heroes and teams to take their place. Most of these titles ran for just 20 or so issues and collect satisfyingly complete runs into tidy, smallish omnibuses.
Alpha Flight had its first relaunch as a part of these new titles, and while this title isn’t a widely-beloved classic like the original, it does benefit from having X-Men writer Steven Seagle penning the entire series. It also spun off Big Hero 6, who wound up getting their own Walt Disney film completely separate from the Marvel Universe.
Patrons can check out how this fits into the wider scope of Alpha Flight series in the Guide to Alpha Flight.
Alpha Flight & Big Hero 6 by Steven Seagle – Collects Alpha Flight (1997) #-1, 1-16, Alpha Flight/Inhumans Annual 1998, Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1-3, and Alpha Flight #17-20.
Heroes for Hire (1997)
This run was just collected by Marvel in a paid of handy trade paperbacks, but if Luke Cage and Iron Fist persist in their popularity on Netflix this is one of their relatively few historic team-up titles after a potential two omnibus set of their original 1981 title. See Luke Cage for those existing paperbacks
Luke Cage & Iron Fist: The Heroes Hire – Collects Spider-Man Unlimited #13, Marvel Fanfare Vol. 2 #6, Heroes For Hire (1997) #1-19 & Annual, and Quicksilver #11-12
Marvel occasionally attempts to resurrect their Tarzan clone into a new series, and this sprint by Mark Waid with a few finishing authors (including Christopher Priest) was one of the most readable – and, improbably, included a plot by Thanos just prior to his action in Infinity Abyss!
The Waid portion of this run was collected into a pair of relatively obscure paperbacks, but the final portion has never before been reprinted.
Ka-Zar by Mark Waid and Christopher Priest – Material from Tales of the Marvel Universe #1, Sensational Spider-Man (1996) #13-15, Hulk #454, Ka-Zar of the Savage Land (1987), Ka-Zar #1-3, -1 AKA Sibling Rivalry, #4-7, Annual 1997, and 8-20