ClanDestine Week: Prologue

ClanDestine: A Prologue, in which I explain why I’m writing about The ClanDestine

I’m not one of those comic book bloggers who have a ‘thing’ in addition to their blogging about comic books, such as Neilalien and his love of Dr Strange, Mike Sterling and his love of Swamp Thing, or even Dorian and his love of Wildcat. (Or Chris Sims and his love of kicking people in the face.)

This blog isn’t themed around a belief that ClanDestine is the greatest comic book ever created. I do believe that it was one of the highlights of Marvel’s output in the ’90s and, given the promotional push and the time to find its audience, could have been a great run of a creator-based superhero comic book set in a mainstream universe (like James Robinson’s Starman or Garth Ennis’ Hitman).

Some history to set the scene. The early 1990s were a very strange time in the world of superhero comic books. Marvel, having been bought by Ron Perelman and its stock made public in 1991, was undergoing a massive overexpansion of its comic line in order to make money quickly. Over at DC, Superman had died and come back to life in 1992–93. Valiant, Malibu (with Ultraverse) and even Dark Horse (with Comics Greatest Worlds) were all creating superhero universes from scratch. After the insane numbers for Liefeld’s X-Force and Jim Lee’s X-Men in 1991, the hot artists form Image in 1992 with their own individual universes. The world of the comic book is undergoing a speculator-led boom that could never last but which didn’t stop people trying to make as much money as possible while they could.

At the same time, my comic book tastes are being refined during this tumultuous period. Having started life as an X-Men fan, I have kicked the habit (soon after Chris Claremont is kicked off the book he made the number one book in the industry). I still have a desire for well-written superheroes, but I have discovered other things: after reading Watchmen, I become aware of ‘proper’ comic books. I am reading Sandman, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Shade The Changing Man, and Hellblazer (which all become part of Vertigo in 1993). Hellboy (1993) and Sin City (1991) are part of my library. I even read Cerebus phone books. But this doesn’t mean I don’t read superhero comics anymore. For example, Alan Davis has just finished his 2-year run on Excalibur (#42–67), containing well-plotted, entertaining and fun science fiction-based stories. And now, he is being given his own creator-owned book, set firmly in the Marvel universe …I had been a big fan of Davis’ art for as long as I had been reading comic books (my collection of the non-Alan Moore run of Captain Britain with Davis art was extremely worn from excessive reading), so more work is very welcomed.

ClanDestine was and is a very enjoyable yet short-lived series that still bring joy. (I’m not the only one: Clandestine Chum Greg wrote a great piece on why you should own ClanDestine, and this piece from Dave Campbell about a single issue shows not only his appreciation but also that of the people who left comments about the post.) I thought it deserved a better shot that it was given so, when racking my brains for a title for this blog, a coalescence of ideas decided upon a title that might keep the memory alive; nothing more, and certainly not a tribute site. So, after threatening to post my thoughts on the original series for so long, I finally get round to it. In an ideal world, this would have come out the week of the release of the first issue of the second series, but life got in the way.

So, join me for a week of looking at the first series of ClanDestine and a review of the first issue of the second series. (And this will be a proper week, unlike, say, a Dave Campbell week.)

If you like your information official, Marvel provide a handy two-part history of The ClanDestine at their website here and here. If not, come back tomorrow as I talk about the ‘teaser’ story in Marvel Comics Presents, the ClanDestine Preview issue, and the first storyline; hopefully, it will be informative but in a more informal way and not too much starry-eyed Alan Davis worship.

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