It’s a widely accepted truth that there was a lot of crap published back in the wild speculator fueled boom (and subsequent crash) of the 90′s. You only have to visit your comic retailer’s 25-cent boxes to see examples of those trendy-at-the-time, but desperately awful books.
Many of us in the hobby turn our nose up at those years with open disdain for the work produced. But not all of us.
I bear a secret shame, you see. I’m particularly fond of a number of books that were published then. Over the next few days, I will be sharing some of those sparkling gems with you.
The Milestone Comics imprint published through DC was the groundbreaking endeavor of an enterprising group of African-American comic professionals. These pioneers (Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, and others) believed that minorities were grossly under-represented in the American comics mainstream.
McDuffie discusses the idea behind Milestone on his site:
“If you do a black character or a female character or an Asian character, then they aren’t just that character. They represent that race or that sex, and they can’t be interesting because everything they do has to represent an entire block of people. You know, Superman isn’t all white people and neither is Lex Luthor. We knew we had to present a range of characters within each ethnic group, which means that we couldn’t do just one book. We had to do a series of books and we had to present a view of the world that’s wider than the world we’ve seen before.”
And that unique world view comes through all the different titles that Milestone published. The company published more than six different titles over the course of four years. My favorite was Icon.
To the casual reader, Icon appears to be the story of the hero Icon – who at first glance appears to be a black Superman. He is an alien, crash-landing to Earth as a baby in a jettisoned lifepod from a dying spaceship. Known to the world as Augustus Freeman IV, he is a successful businessman while in secret he bears powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. And the book’s not about him.
The book is actually the tale of Rocket, Icon’s teenage girl sidekick. Who just happens to be pregnant. She’s the one who convinces Freeman to become a more public hero, an Icon to the people of the Milestone universe.
I love these books. They’re original, edgy, and tell wonderful stories.
I miss them.
It’s been more than ten years since we’ve seen a new Icon adventure. When DC told us there were 52 Earths in the multi-verse, I immediately wondered… is one of those Milestone? Are Rocket and Icon still out there?
One can only hope.