The Single Most Important Year in Superhero History Was 1986
Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson/Vulture
All week on Vulture, we’re examining ‘80s pop culture, and how it lives on today.
Only one superhero movie came out in 1986: Howard the Duck. Adapted from stories first published in Marvel Comics about an anthropomorphic duck making his way through the world of humankind, the film was a box-office disaster, barely scraping up the $37 million it cost to make. It was also a good metaphor for the state of American superhero fiction that year. The Superman film franchise was drying out and the average person still associated Batman with the goofy Adam West series from two decades earlier. Facing a collapse of mainstream interest, comic-book publishers had largely given up on selling issues at newsstands, opting instead to ghettoize their product in specialty shops. There was little reason to believe anyone outside of geekdom would take superhero comics seriously, either as art or as a source of intellectual property.
Yet exactly three decades later, here we are, living at the tail end of a calendar year where five superhero films have been released and nine superhero TV shows have aired. Taken together, 2016’s movies — Deadpool, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War, and Suicide Squad — have raked in upward of $4.1 billion, an amount greater than the GDP of 46 different nation-states, with Doctor Strange still to come. Superhero comics are, for better or worse, taken very seriously these days — and in many ways, their ubiquity, popularity, and success were made possible by the events of 1986. Though the larger world took little notice at the time, a series of revolutionary stories and creative decisions in the comics industry during that 12-month period took the concept of the superhero and matured it, reimagined it, deconstructed it, and turned it into a legitimate and lucrative art form. As veteran comics scribe Mark Waid once said, “In the world of superhero comics, the pivotal moment wasn’t a specific publication; it was a specific year: 1986.”
The shift in comics that year wasn’t limited to tights-and-capes titles: Most notably, Art Spiegelman published Maus, a Pulitzer Prize–winning graphic novel about his father’s Holocaust experiences, which convinced a generation of intellectuals that comics could be literature, and frustrated comic-shop owner Mike Richardson founded Dark Horse Comics, providing a platform for independent publishers that sought to tell stories in an array of genres. (Dark Horse would also eventually become a powerhouse at publishing work that was later adapted for film,* such as Sin City, 300, and Hellboy). But 1986’s legacy was cemented by products belonging to the super-set, in particular four introductions to the canon: The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the rise of the concept of the permanent crossover event. Between them, a significant portion of the modern entertainment landscape was shaped.
Two of those landmarks were pieces of creator-driven genius from the minds of men who’d grown up reading comics during hardscrabble childhoods on either side of the Atlantic. One was The Dark Knight Returns, written and penciled by Frank Miller; the other was Watchmen, written by Englishman Alan Moore. Dark Knight Returns is a titanic piece in and of itself, but it’s made all the more remarkable by the fact that Miller actually cranked out three hall-of-fame stories in 1986. Two were situated in Marvel’s Daredevil mythos: a lushly violent saga about the character’s murderous ex, Elektra, painted by one of the comics medium’s titans, Bill Sienkiewicz, called Elektra: Assassin; and a Daredevil story called Born Again, written by Miller and penciled by David Mazzucchelli. The latter showed its hero brawling his way through a New York City overrun with poverty, crime, and decay. Miller was obsessed with those themes at the time, having recently escaped Manhattan for Los Angeles in flight from the horrors of Koch-era NYC (“One Bernhard Goetz is enough,” he told The Comics Journal in 1985).
But for all the urban paranoia in Born Again, the book barely held a candle to the fears of TDKR. Batman had been a grim avenger of the night in his earliest stories, back in 1939 and 1940, but shortly after that his owners polished him up for mass-market palatability. He reached his sunny apogee in the high-camp Batman TV series in the ’60s, with Adam West’s campy depiction defining the character for millions. Batman’s tales took a bit of a darker turn in the 1970s under the stewardship of writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams, but none of his stories had been as bleak as TDKR, written and penciled by Miller.
In it, readers watched as an aged Bruce Wayne came out of retirement in a festering Gotham to scowl and monologue his way through an escalating series of battles: first against Two-Face, then the leader of a group of juvenile delinquents called the Mutants, then archrival the Joker, and finally — in a creative move no one had earnestly tried before — Superman. The epic was steeped in eventide blues and grays, and punctuated by delightful one-liners (a favorite: As Batsy cripples the Mutant chieftain, he growls, “You don’t get it boy, this isn’t a mudhole — it’s an operating table. And I’m the surgeon”). It was a massive success not only among geeks, but also mainstream readers and critics: Stephen King famously called it “probably the finest piece of comic art ever to be published in a popular edition.”
But what other creators found so magical and inspirational about the book was its brutality and cynicism. In the wake of TDKR’s release, a new phrase entered the nerd lexicon: “grim and gritty.” It became the operating principle for at least a decade’s worth of superhero stories, with publishers increasingly putting violent antiheroes in the spotlight: Venom, Spawn, the Punisher, the Darkness. Although Miller’s story was self-contained, the trajectory of Batman’s adventures changed, too: In 1993’s Knightfall story line, Bruce Wayne’s back was broken by a villain named Bane, leading to a vicious enforcer named Azrael briefly adopting the mantle of Batman. But while TDKR had been a densely crafted critique of a United States in freefall and a clever reclamation of its protagonist’s roots, its descendants were more often than not just stories about amorality and murder. It’s too often forgotten that Batman doesn’t actually kill anyone in TDKR, and in fact delivers an explicit condemnation of guns; it should also be noted that there are a lot of well-crafted comedy beats interspersed throughout the narrative.
Nevertheless, multiple generations of moviegoers have lived in the especially dark shadow of Miller’s four-chapter saga. It was a major influence on the six Batman films: Tim Burton’s team took visual cues from it for Batman and Batman Returns; Christopher Nolan drew heavily from it for Batman Begins, The Dark Knight (naturally), and The Dark Knight Rises; Zack Snyder won’t shut up about how important it was for the creation of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which borrowed heavily from TDKR’s Batman versus Superman plot. Before Miller, the average American pictured Batman in his technicolor 1960s incarnation; after Miller, he’s been the angry bruiser who rakes in billions at the box office. We can’t escape. Thirty years later, The Dark Knight Returns is one of the two superhero books a non-geek is most likely to have on their shelf.
The other is Watchmen. Four years older than Miller, Alan Moore was already one of the most revolutionary writers to ever type a comic-book script as of 1986, having garnered fame for British works like Marvelman and V for Vendetta, and then for DC Comics’ Saga of the Swamp Thing. The opportunity for his magnum opus came when DC bought the rights to a set of once-popular superheroes from failing publisher Charlton, such as the Question, Captain Atom, and the Blue Beetle. Moore had a weird notion: What if he took these figures, still recognizable to a not-insignificant portion of the reading public, and really fucked them up? Rape, murder, social upheaval — wouldn’t these sorts of things happen both to and as a result of real-life costumed crime fighters? DC didn’t let him touch the actual Charlton characters, but gave him the green light to dream up some people loosely based on them.
Moore, penciler Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins got to work on a 12-issue story that Moore hoped would be “a superhero Moby-Dick; something that had that sort of weight, that sort of density,” as he put it in a 1988 interview. Mileage may vary on whether it’s Melville, but certainly Watchmen was more intricate and ambitious than just about anything that had preceded it in the medium. The story was presented with a staggering degree of visual complexity. The image on each cover was echoed in the first and last panels of the story within. One issue, focused on the character Rorschach, mirrored the panel layout of its first half with that of its second half; each book had Borges-like fictional documents as backmatter; and even the one-word title Watchmen had at least four different meanings. And yet, even if you were oblivious to all those subtleties, the narrative itself was still thrilling — and, to a surprising degree, grown-up.
Though primarily set in the mid-’80s, Watchmen took as its subject 50 years of American history and tragedy. A cynical superhero and Cold War assassin named the Comedian gets murdered and his erstwhile compatriots, in various groupings, set out to uncover what happened to him. Gradually, a secret plot is uncovered and the world is forever changed by a near-apocalyptic event. The book offered political commentary and a dramatis personae of super-folks with deeply human foibles: a tech genius who can’t get an erection unless he’s in costume, a playboy industrialist who flirts with sociopathy, a cosmic Übermensch who sees no point in wearing clothes, and so on. Even more so than The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen provided evidence that superhero fiction could aspire to rise above its pulpy, simplistic roots. Though Watchmen, as with TDKR, spawned lazy imitators — high-profile series like Marvel’s Civil War and DC’s Identity Crisis are examples of stories that used mental illness, political iconography, or sexual violence to lend cheap gravitas — it was in Moore’s book that a generation of readers saw the potential for tragic, understated reworkings of superhero archetypes.
Both Watchmen and TDKR were heavily cynical in tone and theme, reflecting their creators’ perspectives on society and culture at the time. But it was a different kind of cynicism, that of corporate streamlining and synergy, that drove the other two significant developments of 1986, ones that are all too familiar to modern superhero fans: the reboot and the crossover.
As of the mid-’80s, DC had a big problem: Its superhero universe was a mess. In fact, calling it a “universe” is a bit of a misnomer — what they had was what geeks refer to as a “multiverse.” DC had fallen into the habit of explaining away inconsistencies in continuity and characterization that had sprung up over five decades by saying such contradictions were the result of stories having taken place in alternate universes. Eventually, there were too many universes to follow, especially if you were a novice reader.
To address that problem, DC brass concocted a crazy gambit: They’d burn down the house and build it up again. And so, in 1985, the publisher introduced a massive story bearing the name Crisis on Infinite Earths, written by Marv Wolfman and penciled by George Pérez. It centered around a cosmic battle in which the heroes of the various alternate realities banded together to take down a cosmic supervillain. When the story came to its apocalyptic conclusion in 1986, the multiverse was destroyed; in its place, a single, streamlined universe was born. There, characters were relatively young, their backstories made sense, and the world around them felt fresh and modern.
The impact of Crisis was profound; Greg Berlanti, the producer behind five DC TV shows (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and the in-development Black Lightning) has said the story’s 1986 conclusion was what made him fall in love with superhero storytelling. The flagship story in the new universe was a Superman mini-series called The Man of Steel. Helmed by writer-artist John Byrne, it presented the story of a Superman who soared through the middle of the decade, still youthful and struggling to find his footing. (DC was merciful toward the classic conception of Superman and sent him off in one of the most beautiful Supes stories ever told: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, written by Moore and penciled by classic Superman artist Curt Swan, and also released in 1986.)
The swirl of events and stories created during and after Crisis remains the gold standard for so-called “reboots” — attempts by a superhero publisher to take its fractured (or failing) universe and reconcile it by telling a huge story that changes the fundamental aspects of its reality. Once again, we see a lasting legacy with oft-diminishing returns: DC had reboots or quasi-reboots in 1994 (Zero Hour), 2006 (Infinite Crisis), 2011 (Flashpoint), and this year (Rebirth). Marvel has been more sparing, preferring to operate with half-measures. A few characters were briefly rebooted in 1996 (Heroes Reborn); in 1999, the company established an imprint called Ultimate Marvel, in which their characters were young and unshackled by the burdens of overcomplicated continuity; and an event last year (Secret Wars) reset a few aspects of reality.
DC’s superheroes didn’t have much time to relax in their post-Crisis world, though. The dust had barely settled before another crossover event called Legends began in the autumn of 1986, one that was remarkable simply for being another crossover so soon after the completion of the previous one. Prior to the mid-’80s, stories of that scale simply didn’t happen in superhero comics, much less happen every few months. That changed thanks to a standoffish man named Jim Shooter. He’d been Marvel’s editor-in-chief since 1978 and, in 1984, he’d spearheaded the first major crossover, a mega-tale called Secret Wars. It was a sales sensation, and Shooter wasted no time in launching a sequel, Secret Wars II, in 1985, right alongside DC’s Crisis. Another Marvel crossover event came in 1986, one called Mutant Massacre.
Though that latter story remains a fun read to this day, its significance isn’t in its content, but rather in its very existence. When Mutant Massacre was a success, Shooter decreed that every year would offer at least one crossover event. He was ousted a few months later, but his approach remained. Whether by coincidence or imitation, DC reached the same conclusion in 1986 by following Crisis with Legends. The era of the permanent crossover cycle had begun. It was a brilliant, if somewhat craven, strategy, since a crossover meant that readers of any individual series involved in the larger story had to purchase issues of the other books, too.
Marvel and DC have stuck to the rhythm ever since, with varying degrees of creative success. Sometimes, a big tale can create a thrillingly epic scope. For example, last year’s Marvel event, the confusingly named Secret Wars (which was loosely inspired by the original one, but still wholly separate) was fascinating. This year’s outing, Civil War II, has been a disappointment. Fans speak regularly of “event fatigue,” but the fact remains that these projects juice sales. That philosophy has carried over to Marvel and DC’s film output, which has become fixated on the notion of regular crossover events. The 2012 The Avengers, 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War, and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War and Justice League — these are all stories whose excitement and profitability are built on the idea that they bring individual franchises together into a frenzied melee. The crossover machine is more productive today than it’s ever been before.
The same can be said about the general superhero economy across its many franchises and mediums. You can’t attribute all of that success to 1986, but the game certainly changed that year. The genre’s single most lucrative character, Batman, is largely the Batman readers met in The Dark Knight Returns. His travails and those of his fellow crime fighters are sketched out by writers and directors who have pulled neuroses, moral quandaries, and perversions first plumbed in Watchmen. The executives who oversee the crossover-laden cinematic universes keep them streamlined (or at least attempt to do so) with aspirations of Crisis-like precision. Much of the playbook was written in 1986, and its instructions are being duly followed.
In a sense, those epochal developments resulted from a kind of maturity cycle for the superhero ecosystem. Every 20 years or so, a generation of creators builds on the comics they read in their childhoods. The genre experienced its first peak in the 1940s, it took a great leap forward in the 1960s, and the writers and artists of the 1980s were uniquely situated to advance their beloved medium to new levels of credibility and viability. Twenty years after that, the next generation of creators, weaned on Watchmen, TDKR, and the rest, penetrated the world of film as writers, directors, and executives, kicking off the superhero boom of the aughts that continues to this day. Comics scribe Brian K. Vaughan told me a few months ago that, over the years, he’s seen a curious development: Early in his career, when he met with producers, they had no respect for comics — but their interns did. As time went on, he’d go to more meetings and those interns would be junior executives; eventually, they were powerful enough to give green lights.
That’s as good an explanation as any for why superheroes swooped in and took over Hollywood in the past decade and a half. The executives, screenwriters, directors, and ticket buyers of today have a tremendous respect for the characters that rose to prominence in the darker, crazier caped-crusader comics of the ’80s. Zack Snyder, Kevin Feige, newly minted DC Films co-chief Geoff Johns — they were gobbling those stories up in that period. Batman v Superman wouldn’t exist without TDKR. Captain America: Civil War wouldn’t exist without the crossover event philosophy. The Berlantiverse of superhero shows wouldn’t exist without Crisis and its aftermath. And so on, and so on. Superheroes as we know them have been around for nearly 80 years, but the superhero landscape most familiar to billions of consumers, which continues to swirl around us, was born, screaming and wide-eyed, in the four-color pages of 1986.
*This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Dark Horse Comics was not directly involved in the film adaptations of 300 or Sin City.
Top 50 Marvel Comics Of 1986
January 13, 2017
[ Note: Marvel’s 1980’s cover price variant window “closes” in this year, with 8/1986 being the final month before the window closed ]
To repeat the caveat I gave on the main 1980’s page [which has links to see other years within the decade], the list you are about to see involves no judgment or pricing data, but rather simply ranks the universe of Marvel comics published in 1986 by how many copies have passed through CGC’s doors to date — that’s it!
This exercise should tease out a very interesting list of “key” or otherwise interesting Marvel comics from 1986 but not necessarily an all-encompassing list (if very few copies were created for a given key, that restricted supply could keep the count of CGC submissions low). So without further ado, here below is a list of the top 50 most-submitted Marvel comics from 1986 (census numbers are as of year-end 2016). [Also see: top 50 D.C. comics of 1986; allkey comics from 1986 ].
More Top Comic Books of 1986
Also see: top 50 D.C. comics of 1986, more key comic books of 1986 outside of Marvel and DC, all key comics from 1986, or jump to this list of important comics from the 1980s. Or explore Lists of Key Comic Books by Year. Or jump to my blog’s home page.
Happy Collecting! 🙂
1986 in comics
Notable events of 1986 in comics. See also List of years in comics.
Events and publications
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, a four-issue limited series written and drawn by Frank Miller and published by DC Comics, debuts. It reintroduces Batman to the general public as the psychologically dark character of his original 1930s conception, and helps to usher in an era of "grim and gritty" superheroes from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s.
- Watchmen, a twelve-issue limited series written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons and published by DC Comics, debuts. To date, Watchmen remains the only graphic novel to win a Hugo Award, and is also the only graphic novel to appear on Time's 2005 list of "the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present."
- The first volume of Maus, written and drawn by Art Spiegelman debuts. Maus is a biography, presented in comics form, of Spiegelman's father, Vladek Spiegelman, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. Spiegelman was awarded a 1992 Pulitzer Prize Special Award for Maus shortly after its completion in 1991.
- A plethora of new independent publishers enter the comics arena, including ACE Comics, Adventure Publications, Apple Comics, Crystal Publications, Dark Horse Comics, Eternity Comics, Fantagor Press, Gladstone Comics, Malibu Comics, Pied Piper Comics, Silverwolf Comics, Slave Labor Graphics, Solson Publications, and Spotlight Comics. Conversely, Lodestone Comics, New Sirius Productions, and Sirius Comics all go out of business.
- The Man of Steel, a six-issue comic booklimited series written and penciled by John Byrne, inked by Dick Giordano and published by DC Comics, debuts. The mini-series is designed to revamp the Superman mythos, using the history-altering effects of Crisis on Infinite Earths as an explanation for numerous changes to previous continuity.
- The "Born Again" story arc runs in Marvel Comics' Daredevil (issues #227 to #233), written by Frank Miller and drawn by David Mazzucchelli.
- The "Mutant Massacre" crossover storyline runs through Marvel Comics in the fall. It primarily involves the superhero teams the X-Men, X-Factor, and the New Mutants. Power Pack, Thor, and Daredevil cross over for an issue in their own titles.
- Captain Confederacy, created by Will Shetterly and Vince Stone, debuts, published by SteelDragon Press. It will run 12 issues.
- DC publishes Heroes Against Hunger starring Superman and Batman, an all-star benefit book for African famine relief and recovery.
- Marvel Super Special, with issue #41, about Howard the Duck, is cancelled by Marvel Comics.
- André Franquin and Jean-François Moyersoen establish Marsu Productions.
- Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins' Watchmen is first published.
- "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?," a two-part Superman story, appears in Superman #423 and Action Comics #583. Written by Alan Moore, with art by Curt Swan, George Pérez, and Kurt Schaffenberger; published by DC Comics.
- DC suspends publication of Superman; in 1987 the title relaunches as The Adventures of Superman (continuing the numbering of Superman).
- DC suspends publication of Action Comics (until January 1987) to allow for the publication of John Byrne's The Man of Steel limited series and Byrne's revamp of the Superman character/franchise.
- With issue #97, DC cancels DC Comics Presents.
- Power Man and Iron Fist, with issue #125, is cancelled by Marvel.
- September 27: Warlord, with issue #627, is merged with Victor (D.C. Thomson).
- October 4:
- October 18: The Dutch comics store Lambiek in Amsterdam opens their art gallery. The first exhibition centers around the comics magazine RAW. In the following years the store will host several other exhibitions, inviting national and international comics artists over to exhibit their drawings and sign their work. It will make the store internationally famous in comics circles.
- Marvel Comics launches the New Universe, an imprint created in celebration of Marvel's 25th anniversary. Comics published by New Universe are in a distinctly separate world, fully divorced from the mainstream continuity of the Marvel Universe, consisting of its own continuing characters and stories in a more realistic setting. The New Universe's first titles are Spitfire and The Troubleshooters and Star Brand.
- Batman #400: 68-page anniversary issue, "Resurrection Night," by Doug Moench and an all-star roster of artists, including Bill Sienkiewicz, John Byrne, George Pérez, Art Adams, and Brian Bolland. (DC Comics)
- November 3: Ralph Dunagin and Dana Summers' The Middletons makes its debut.
- Hergé's widow, Fanny Rodwell, disestablishes Studio Hergé and replaces it a year later by the Hergé Foundation, aka Moulinsart.
- Marvel's New Universe imprint launches six more titles: D.P. 7, Justice, Kickers, Inc., Mark Hazzard: Merc, Nightmask, and Psi-Force.
- DC Comics begins publishing "Legends," a crossover storyline that runs through a six-issue, self-titled limited series and various other DC titles published (22 chapters in all) in 1986 and 1987.
- January 6: George Sixta, American comics artist (Dick Draper, Foreign Correspondent, Rivets), dies at age 74.
- January 10: Marvin Bradley, American comics artist (Rex Morgan, M.D.), passes away at the age of 72.
- January 11: Kazuo Kamimura, Japanese manga artist (Lady Snowblood), dies at the age of 45 from a pharynx tumor.
- January 15: Alfred Bestall, British comics artist (continued Rupert Bear), dies at age 93.
- January 23: Frank Grundeen, American animator and comics artist (continued the Donald Duck newspaper comic strip), dies at age 74.
- January 28: Allen Saunders, American journalist, writer and comics writer (Steve Roper and Mike Nomad, Mary Worth, Kerry Drake), dies at age 86.
- February 21: Derek Chittock, aka Droc, aka Lucian, British art critic, painter and cartoonist (Bennie, Barley Bottom), dies at age 64.
- February 22: Ernest Shaw, British comics artist (The Gay Goblins, Mr. and Mrs. Dillwater, Dr. Gnome of Gnomansland, The Dingbats), dies at the age of 95.
- March 4: Maurice Julhès, French illustrator and comics artist (Monsieur Lezognard), dies at age 89.
- March 19: Stephen P. Dowling, British comics artist (Garth, Ruggles, Belinda), passes away at the age of 82, coincidentally his birthday.
- Specific date unknown: Unk White, Australian comics artist, illustrator and painter (Freckles), dies at age 85 or 86.
- April 2: Jack Manning, American comics artist and animator (Disney comics, Looney Tunes comics, Hanna-Barbera comics), dies at age 65.
- April 7: Don Moore, American comics writer (scripted Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim), passes away at age 81.
- April 16: John Churchill Chase, American comics artist and historian (Louisiana Purchase, We The People), dies at age 80 or 81.
- April 22: Dick Moores, American comics artist and animator (Jim Hardy, Scamp, worked on Dick Tracy, Disney comics, continued Gasoline Alley), dies at age 75.
- April: Stefano Tamburini, Italian comics writer (RanXerox) dies from a drug overdose at the age of 40 or 41.
- May 15: Virginia Krausmann, American comics artist (continued Annibelle, Marianne), dies at age 73.
- June 21: Gaston Martineau, aka Aldé, French journalist, writer and comics artist (Mistouflet), dies at age 61.
- June 23:
- Lex Metz, Dutch illustrator and comics artist (De Kabouterboekjes, Pukkel en de Blauwe Ogen van Jan Beilder), dies at age 73.
- Bela Szepes, Hungarian swimmer, skier, journalist sculptor and comics artist, dies at age 82. 
- August 10: Marie Hjuler, Danish illustrator and comic artist (Lone og Lille Lasse), passes away at age 91. 
- October 4: Mike Butterworth, British comics writer (Wulf the Briton, The Trigan Empire, Storm), passes away at age 62.
- October 10: Frank O'Neal, American comics artist (Short Ribs), dies at age 64.
- October 11: David Hand, American animator and film director (Walt Disney Company, Gaumont), dies at age 86.
- October 22: Bert Hill, British comics artist (Charlie Chuckle, Barnacle Ben, the Breezy Buccaneer, Freddie Freewheel the Tramp Cyclist, Sammy Spry, Frolics in the Far West, Tommy Trot the Tudor Tramp, Harry Coe, P.C. Copperclock the Desert Cop, Willie Scribble the Pavement Artist, Lil and Lena), dies at age 84.
- November 19: Klaus Nordling, Finnish-American comics artist (Thin Man), dies at age 86.
- November 23: Norman Maurer, American comics artist, animator, screenwriter, film producer and animated film producer (Mighty Mouse comics, celebrity comics about The Three Stooges), dies at age 60 from cancer.
- November 23: Frank Smith, American animator and comics artist (continued the Donald Duck newspaper comic, made Hanna-Barbera comics and a comic strip based on W.C. Fields), passes away at the age of 78.
- November 24: Al Smith, American comics artist (continued Mutt and Jeff) and founder of Al Smith Feature Service, dies at age 84.
- November 27: Colin Dawkins, American comics writer (EC Comics), dies at age 64.
- December 6: August Lenox, American painter and comics artist (Walt Disney's True Life Adventure Comics), dies at age 77 or 78.
- December 19: Frank Sels, Belgian comics artist (Zilverpijl (aka Silbertpfeil), assisted Willy Vandersteen and Karel Verschuere), commits suicide at age 44. 
- December 24: Gardner Fox, American comics writer (The Flash, Hawkman, The Justice League), dies at age 75.
- Specific date in December unknown: Paul Frehm, American comics artist (continued Ripley's Believe It or Not!), dies at age 82. 
Specific date unknown
- Joaquin Blázquez, Spanish comics artist, painter and sculptor dies at age 39 or 40. 
- Les Callan, Canadian cartoonist and comics artist (Monty and Johnny), dies at age 80 or 81.
- Joe Certa, American comics artist (Martian Manhunter, Zook, continued Joe Palooka), dies at age 66 or 67.
- Edgardo Dell'Acqua, Italian comics artist (Gim Toro), passes away at age 63 or 64.
- Renaat Demoen, Belgian comics artist and illustrator (Zonneland), dies at the age of 71 or 72.
- Zvonimir Furtinger, Croatian comics writer (Herlock Sholmes), dies at age 83 or 84.
- Ed Kressy, American comics artist (comics based on The Lone Ranger), dies at age 84.
- Bernard Segal, American painter and comics artist (Honey and Hank aka Elsworth), dies at age 78 or 79.
Exhibitions and shows
- April 11–13: 2nd Annual Victoria International Cartoon Festival (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada)
- May 31–June 1: Birmingham Comic Art Show (Motorcycle Museum, NEC, Birmingham, England) — presentation of the Eagle Awards
- July 4–6: Chicago Comicon (Ramada O'Hare Hotel, Rosemont, Illinois) — 5,000 attendees; official guests: Stan Lee (guest of honor), George Pérez (special guest), Doug Wildey
- July 4–6: Dallas Fantasy Fair I (Dallas Marriott Park Central, Dallas, Texas) — guests include Dave Stevens, Gary Groth,Pat Broderick, Will Eisner, Mike Gustovich, Burne Hogarth, Gil Kane, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, William Messner-Loebs, Frank Miller, Jean Giraud, Doug Moench, Richard Pini, Dave Sim, Donald Simpson, Alex Toth, Doug Wildey, Neal Barrett, Jr., David A. Cherry, Carole Nelson Douglas, George R.R. Martin, Ardath Mayhar, Warren Norwood, Frederik Pohl, Kay Reynolds, Fred Saberhagen, Lewis Shiner, John Steakley, Howard Waldrop, Jack Williamson, Philip José Farmer, Roger Zelazny
- July 19–20: Creation Philadelphia (Centre Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) — guests include John Romita, Jr. and Archie Goodwin
- July 31–August 3: San Diego Comic-Con (Convention and Performing Arts Center and Hotel San Diego, California) — 6,500 attendees; official guests: Poul Anderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Greg Evans, Stan Lee, Dale Messick, Frank Miller, Moebius, Mart Nodell, Harvey Pekar, Jim Valentino, and Doug Wildey
- August 2–4: Atlanta Fantasy Fair (Omni Hotel and Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia) — 5,000 attendees; comics guests include Chris Claremont, Denny O'Neil, Stan Lee, Ralph Bakshi, Matt Feazell, Kelly Freas, Dave Gibbons, Greg Hildebrandt, Jim Starlin, John Romita, Sr., Boris Vallejo, and Bob Burden; science fiction/fantasy writers include Robert Asprin, John Varley, Brad Strickland, and Diane Duane; media guests include Carl Macek, Don Kennedy, and Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games
- August 9–10: Creation Los Angeles (Hyatt Hotel, Los Angeles, California) — guests include John Romita, Jr. and Terry Austin
- August 9–10:King Kon (Dearborn Civic Center, Dearborn, MI): guests include Ron Frenz, Al Milgrom, William Messner-Loebs, and Max Allan Collins; participating publishers include Marvel, DC, Arrow Comics, Stabur Graphics, and Vortex Comics; c. 2,500 attendees
- August 22–23: Comix Fair (Brookhollow Marriott, Houston, Texas) — guests include Gary Groth, Gil Kane, Joe Pumilia, Jeff Millar, Bill Hinds, and Doug Potter
- August 23–24: Creation Manhattan (Roosevelt Hotel, New York City) — special tribute to Marvel Comics' 25th anniversary; guests include Stan Lee and Jim Shooter
- August 23–24: Creation San Francisco (Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, San Francisco, California)
- September 6–7: Creation Washington, D.C. (Marriott Twin Bridges Hotel, Arlington, Virginia)
- September 20–21: Creation New Jersey (Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick, New Jersey)
- September 20–21: UKCAC (University of London Union, Malet Street, London, England) — guests include Bill Marks, Seth Motter, Dean Motter, David Lloyd, Frank Miller, Lynn Varley, Steve Leialoha, Lew Stringer, Glen Fabry, Gil Kane, John Bolton, Karen Berger, Alan Moore, Jenette Kahn, Dave Gibbons, Kevin O'Neill, Brett Ewins, Carl Potts, Alan Grant, Barry Windsor-Smith, Bryan Talbot, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Claremont
- November 8–9: Mid-Ohio Con (Richland County Fairgrounds, Mansfield, Ohio) — guests of honor: Frank Miller, John Byrne,Stephen R. Bissette, John Totleben, and Bill Sienkiewicz
- November 14–16: Dallas Fantasy Fair II (Dallas Marriott Park Central, Dallas, Texas) — celebration of the 25th anniversary of Marvel Comics; guests include Stan Lee
Presented in 1987 for comics published in 1986:
- Best Single Issue: "Apocalypse," Daredevil #227, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Marvel Comics)
- Best Continuing Series: Swamp Thing, by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben (DC Comics)
- Best Black & White Series: Love and Rockets by Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
- Best Finite Series: Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez (DC)
- Best New Series: Miracleman, by Alan Moore and various artists (Eclipse Comics)
- Best Graphic Album: The Rocketeer, by Dave Stevens (Eclipse)
- Best Artist: Steve Rude, for Nexus (First Comics)
- Best Writer: Alan Moore, for Swamp Thing (DC)
- Best Writer/Artist (single or team): Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, for Daredevil (Marvel)
- Best Art Team: George Pérez and Jerry Ordway, for Crisis On Infinite Earths (DC)
First issues by title
- Release: August. Writer/Artist: Barbara Slate.
- Release: June. Writer: Len Wein. Artists: Paris Cullins and Bruce Patterson.
- Release: February. Writer/Artist: Dan Jurgens.
- Release: May. Writer: Doug Moench. Artist: Jim Baikie.
- Release: August. Writer: Tony Isabella. Artists: Richard Howell and Don Heck.
- Release: January. Writer: Bob Rozakis. Artist: Stephen DeStefano.
- Release: April. Editor: Roy Thomas.
Teen Titans Spotlight
- Release: August. Writer: Marv Wolfman. Artists: Denys Cowan and Dick Giordano.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (4 issues)
- Release: February. Writer/Artist: Frank Miller.
Cosmic Boy (4 issues)
- Release: December. Writer: Paul Levitz. Artists: Keith Giffen, Ernie Colón, and Bob Smith.
The Legend of Wonder Woman
- Release: May. Writers: Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek. Artist: Trina Robbins.
Legends (6 issues)
- Release: November. Writers: John Ostrander and Len Wein. Artists: John Byrne and Karl Kesel.
- Release: February. Writers: Keith Giffen and Mindy Newell. Artist: Ernie Colón.
Lords of the Ultra-Realm
- Release: June. Writer: Doug Moench. Artist: Pat Broderick.
The Man of Steel (6 issues)
- Release: July. Writer/Artist: John Byrne.
Watchmen (12 issues)
- Release: September. Writer: Alan Moore. Artist: Dave Gibbons.
Les Femmes en Blanc (32 volumes)
- Artist: Philippe Bercovici. Writer: Raoul Cauvin.
- Release: October
- Release: September. Editor: Ann Nocenti.
G.I. Joe Special Missions
- Release: October. Writer: Larry Hama. Artist: Herb Trimpe.
Master of the Universe
- Release: May by Star Comics. Writer: Mike Carlin. Artists: Ron Wilson and Dennis Janke.
- Release: December. Writer: Doug Murray. Artist: Michael Golden and Armando Gil.
Spider-Man and Zoids
- Release: March by Marvel UK. Writer: Ian Rimmer. Artist: Kev Hopgood.
- Release: December. Writer: Peter B. Gillis. Artist: Brent Anderson.
- Release: February. Writer: Bob Layton. Artist: Jackson Guice.
- Release: November. Writer: Mark Gruenwald. Artists: Paul Ryan and Romeo Tanghal.
- Release: November. Writer: Archie Goodwin. Artists: Geof Isherwood, Joe DelBeato, and Jack Fury.
- Release: November. Writer: Tom DeFalco. Artists: Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema.
Mark Hazzard: Merc
- Release: November. Writer: Peter David. Artist: Gray Morrow.
- Release: November. Writer: Archie Goodwin. Artists: Tony Salmons and Bret Blevins.
- Release: November. Writer: Steve Perry. Artists: Mark Texeira and Kyle Baker.
Spitfire and The Troubleshooters
- Release: October. Writers: Eliot R. Brown, John Morelli, and Gerry Conway. Artists: Herb Trimpe, Joe Sinnott, and Tom Morgan.
- Release: October. Writer: Jim Shooter. Artists: John Romita, Jr. and Al Williamson.
Dakota North (5 issues)
- Release: November. Writer: Martha Thomases. Artist: Tony Salmons.
Elektra: Assassin (8 issues)
- Release: August by Epic Comics. Writer: Frank Miller. Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz.
The Punisher (5 issues)
- Release: January. Writer: Steven Grant. Artists: Mike Zeck and John Beatty.
Steelgrip Starkey (6 issues)
- Release: July by Epic Comics. Writer/Artist: Alan Weiss. Inker: James Sherman.
Dark Horse Presents
- Release: July by Dark Horse Comics. Editor: Randy Stradley.
- Release: by IPC Media. Editor: Pat Mills.
- Release: October by Sergio Bonelli Editore. Writer: Tiziano Sclavi.
- Release: May by First Comics. Writer: John Ostrander. Artist: Doug Rice.
Elric: The Weird of the White Wolf
- Release: October by First Comics. Writer: Roy Thomas. Artists: Michael T. Gilbert and George Freeman.
- Release: June by Blackthorne Publishing. Writer/Artist: Dwayne Ferguson.
- Release: June by Comico. Editor: Diana Schutz
- Release: February by ¡Ka-Boom! Estudio. Writer/Artist: Oscar González Loyo.
- Release: by Strawberry Jam Comics. Writer: Derek McCulloch. Artist: Simon Tristam.
Omaha the Cat Dancer
- Release: October by Kitchen Sink Press. Writer/Artist: Reed Waller.
The Puma Blues
- Release: October by Aardvark One International. Writer: Stephen Murphy. Artist: Michael Zulli.
- Release: October by Solson Publications: Writer: Monroe Arnold. Artists: Dick Ayers and Rich Buckler.
- Release: June by Slave Labor Graphics: Writer: Dan Vado. Artists: Dan Buck and Mark Buck.
- Release: December by Vortex Comics. Cartoonist: Chester Brown
Rip in Time
- Release: by Fantagor Press. Writer: Bruce Jones. Artist: Richard Corben.
Initial appearances by character name
- Bad Samaritan, in The Outsiders #03, (January)
- Booster Gold, in Booster Gold #01 (February)
- Brimstone, in Legends #01 (November)
- Duke of Oil, in The Outsiders #06 (April)
- Film Freak, in Batman #395 (May)
- Hybrid, in New Teen Titans #24 (October)
- Carrie Kelley, in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #01 (February)
- Kilowog, in Green Lantern Corps # 201 (June)
- Prometheus, in New Teen Titans #24 (October)
- Skeets, in Booster Gold #1 (February)
- Sodam Yat, in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #02 (December)
- Amanda Waller, in Legends #01 in (November)
- Vigilante (Dave Winston), in Vigilante #28 (April)
- Vic Sage in Blue Beetle #04 (September)
- Crimebusters, in Watchmen #02 (October)
- Minutemen, in Watchmen #02 (October)
- Magpie in The Man of Steel #03 (November)
- Michelle Carter in Booster Gold #06 (July)
- Ranx the Sentient City in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #02 (December)
- Icemaiden in Infinity Inc. #32 (November)
- Kelex in The Man of Steel #01 (October)
- Twister in New Teen Titans #26 (December)
- Captain Triumph in History of the DC Universe #01
- Owlwoman in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (March)
- Apocalypse, in X-Factor #5 (June)
- Berzerker, in X-Factor #11 (December)
- Eddie Brock, in Web of Spider-Man #18 (September )
- Chance, in Web of Spider-Man #15 (June)
- Rusty Collins, in X-Factor #1 (February)
- Dakota North, in Dakota North #1 (June)
- Foreigner, in Web of Spider-Man #15 (June)
- Cameron Hodge, in X-Factor #1 (February)
- Artie Maddicks, in X-Factor #2 (March)
- Marauders, in Uncanny X-Men #210 (October)
- Mayhem, in Cloak and Dagger Vol. 2 #5 (March)
- Nuke, in Daredevil #232 (May)
- Persuasion, in Alpha Flight #41 (December)
- Prism, in X-Factor #10 (November)
- Sinister Syndicate, in The Amazing Spider-Man #280 (September)
- Skids, in X-Factor vol. #7 (August)
- Solo, in Web of Spider-Man #19 (October)
- Time Variance Authority, in Thor vol. 1 #372 (October)
- Tollbooth, in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #51 (September)
- U.S. Agent, in Captain America #323 (November)
- ^ abManning, Matthew K. (2010). "1980s". In Dolan, Hannah (ed.). DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 218. ISBN .
- ^"AwardWeb: Hugo Award Winners"Archived 2014-02-09 at the Wayback Machine - Watchmen listed as a winner of the Hugo Award (retrieved 20 April 2006)
- ^"Time Magazine - ALL-TIME 100 Novels" – A synopsis describing Watchmen (retrieved 14 April 2006)
- ^Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 221: "In the six-issue miniseries entitled [The] Man of Steel, the mammoth task of remaking Superman fell to popular writer/artist John Byrne...The result was an overwhelming success, popular with fans both old and new."
- ^Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 219: "Plotted by Jim Starlin, with dramatic designs by Bernie Wrightson...Heroes Against Hunger featured nearly every popular DC creator of the time."
- ^"Marten Toonder". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^Rovin, Jeff (1991). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cartoon Animals. Prentice Hall Press. pp. 195-196. ISBN . Retrieved 8 April 2020.
- ^"Vlaanderen. Jaargang 35 · dbnl". DBNL. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^Holtz, Allan (2012). American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. p. 112. ISBN .
- ^"Leidse Courant | 2 juli 1986 | pagina 8". Historische Kranten, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^Watchmen (DC, 1986 series) at the Grand Comics Database.
- ^Grossey, Ronald (20 December 2013). Bob de Moor: De klare lijn en de golven; een biografie. ISBN .
- ^"The History of Lambiek (1986-1989)".
- ^Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 221: "Batman celebrated the 400th issue of his self-titled comic with a blockbuster featuring dozens of famous comic book creators and nearly as many infamous villains. Written by Doug Moench, with an introduction by novelist Stephen King...[it was] drawn by George Pérez, Bill Sienkiewicz, Arthur Adams, Joe Kubert, Brian Bolland, and others."
- ^"Ralph Dunagin". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Dana Summers". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Moulinsart | Tintin". Apr 30, 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-04-30. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 221 "DC's next big crossover showcased John Byrne's pencils on all six of the miniseries' issues. Entitled Legends, this new limited series was plotted by writer John Ostrander and scripted by Len Wein...By the series' end, the stage was set for several new ongoing titles, including...the Suicide Squad, as well as the Justice League."
- ^"George Sixta". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Marvin Bradley". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2017-01-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- ^"Kazuo Kamimura". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Alfred Bestall". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Frank Grundeen". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Derek Chittock". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Ernest Shaw". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Maurice Julhès". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Stephen P. Dowling". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Unk White". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Jack Manning". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"John Chase". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Dick Moores". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Virginia Krausmann". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Aldé". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Lex Metz". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Bela Szepes". lambiek.net. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
- ^"Floyd Gottfredson". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Marie Hjuler". lambiek.net. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
- ^"Edd Ashe". lambiek.net. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
- ^"Frank O'Neal". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Bert Hill (I)". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Klaus Nordling". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Norman Maurer". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Frank Smith". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Al Smith". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^Comic Book Database: Colin Dawkins
- ^"August Lenox". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Frank Sels". lambiek.net. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
- ^"Gardner Fox". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Paul Frehm". lambiek.net. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
- ^"Joaquin Blázquez". lambiek.net. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
- ^"Les Callan". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Joe Certa". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Edgardo Dell'Acqua". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
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- ^"Bernard Segal". lambiek.net. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^K.F. "Art Spiegelman's Maus to be Collected in Book Form," The Comics Journal #110 (Aug. 1986), p. 18.
- ^"English Eagle Awards Announced," The Comics Journal #110 (Aug. 1986), p. 18.
- ^Kavvadias, Tasia. "Just For Comic Books, Zam 5,000 Congregate," Chicago Tribune (08 July 1986), p. 3.
- ^Groth, Gary. "Unmasking the Rocketeer" (Dave Stevens interview), The Comics Journal #117 (Sept. 1987), pp. 68.
- ^ abcdef"Comic Book Conventions 1986," Star Brand #2 (Nov. 1986), p. 18.
- ^ abDetroit Free Press (August 7, 1986), p. 178.
- ^"Fooling Around," Detroit Free Press (August 5, 1986), p. 16.
- ^"Con Reports: King Kon Strikes Again!," CBGXtra.com (Aug. 22, 2008). Archived at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Accessed Feb. 18, 2016.
- ^"Comix Fair features cartoonists," Houston Chronicle (21 Aug 1986), p. 7.
- ^"The Lively Arts," Columbus Dispatch (November 3, 1986).
- ^"Events," Texas Monthly (Nov. 1986), p. 38.
- ^"Who's Who bio". www.bailsprojects.com. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^"Who's Who bio". www.bailsprojects.com. Retrieved Jul 31, 2020.
- ^Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 218: "The DC Universe gained one of its most peculiar stars in the first issue of writer/artist Dan Jurgens' Booster Gold series."
It helped a little. With my peripheral vision, I noticed that Zhenya was looking at me attentively. She was waiting for my actions. What should I do.
Comics 1986 marvel
A cut on his chest. Hush, hush, dear - she whispered, smiling. Wind - the gray lad speaks more and more quietly, Rain - the lucid mischief hides his face among the drops. The fact that the victim. Reached the peak of pleasure before her infuriated the girl.Marvel Especial - Formatinhos - Completo... Editora Abril - 1986 a 1990.
I tasted her moisture again. She went to the chest again and pulled out a gag in the form of a red ball with a leather fastener. She put it in my mouth and buttoned it on the back of my head. I began to greedily swallow the juice of her underwear.
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While my mother swam around, stroking my knees until we met face to face. I put my hands on both breasts, and she kissed me quickly, right on the lips. She had no makeup on at all, or I could not notice it even from such a close distance. I had no idea how beautiful and graceful her eyebrows are.
Even without makeup, she looked great, even younger.