Flashback was an event that hit 25 comics published in July 1997, replacing a standard-numbered issue with one numbered “Minus 1.” Each issue featured Stan Lee on the first page, introducing the issue, and told origin or “young” stories of the star(s) of the comic.

They didn’t make significant retcons. The point of the event was…I’m not sure. The books didn’t sell well. But as a nerd, I enjoyed them.

I’m capsule-reviewing them here.

Alpha Flight -1

Events usualy don’t make bad comics good. This was not an exception. Grade: F

Amazing Spider-Man -1

Peter Parker reading Timely Comics and fantasizing about being a super hero. As part of his daydreaming, he comes up with the concept of a wrist-blaster that looks a lot like his web shooters.

We also saw the early days of Kingpin and the letters page had the original header from early Amazing Spider-Man, when it was titled, “The Spider’s Web.”

Grade: C

Cable -1

Cable -1 actually has some importance–it shows him arriving in our timeline for the first time, and waking up Apocalypse. It gets its own post here.

Daredevil -1

Matt Murdock starts college and fights a mugging. Art is by Gene Colan, one of the great DD artists.

Grade: B

Deadpool #-1

Stan Lee introduces Wade Wilson–pre-Deadpool–as the “merc without mirth.” This is a fully serious origin story, with Wade dating pre-Copycat Vanessa Carlysle, getting diagnosed with cancer, and leaving her to be a part of the Weapon X Program.

We also see the law firm of Landau, Luckman & Lake involved in younger Wade and Vanessa’s lives. She worked for them, and helped steer Wade into Weapon X.

Grade B-

Elektra -1

Elektra meets Stick as a youth, and it’s confirmed that he trained her.

Also, there’s this:

Solid “C+” issue.

Excalibur -1

This issue took us back to Kurt’s early days in the carnival, involving the Szardos siblings and Belasco. Grade: C.

Generation X -1

This Flashback Entry might be the best of the lot–which is about to be expected, given the high quality of this series overall, month to month.

I love the use of a VCR tape to introduce it. And Stan Lee doing cosplay as Chamber.

That’s just cool.

The story of this issue connected to the main storyline in the book, as Dark Beast (from the Apocalypse timeline) kidnaps Emma from the past (before she became White Queen), and Banshee rescues her.

Grade: A-

Ghost Rider -1

This issue takes us back to Johnny Blaze and his mommy, still alive, who becomes Ghost Rider briefly and who talks about her ancestor, Noble Kale, also being a Zarathos host. It is explained that Noble Kale’s original deal with Mephisto cursed the entire Kale/Blaze bloodline. And in the end, we see Naomi’s motorcycle infused with the Medallion of Power which, of course, is what leads to the rebirth of a new, non-Zarathos Ghost Rider in the body of Danny Ketch.

It’s nice to see Javier Saltares back on the art, and this is probably the most significant of all the Flashback issues. Most of the Flashbacks didn’t reveal very much, but this one did.

Grade: B+

Incredible Hulk -1

Another pretty significant issue: Peter David and Adam Kubert reveal that Bruce Banner killed his father while they were visiting the grave of Bruce’s mother. Stan Lee does the corny/funny faming sequence, which honestly undercuts the seriousness of a story that’s really about domestic violence. Grade: C+

Journey Into Mystery -1

This one is just a “Tale of Asgard” written by Tom DeFalco so…No. Not good. Grade: D

Ka-Zar -1

A look at young Kevin Punder’s earliest days in the Savage Land, watching his father die and learning the lay of the land. The story parallels to his brother, Parnival, who doesn’t know his father was killed. Instead, he believes he was abandoned–and his corrupted by people around him.

Grade: A

Peter Parker, Spider-Man -1

Exporing the early days of Norman Osborn experimenting with Goblin serum, as well as a cop story about Captain Stacy and some other things. I really like the idea of focusing on a villain and an old supporting character. Grade: C.

Sensational Spider-Man -1

Peter and Uncle Ben, together, in a nightmare manufactured by Nightmare. Grade: C-.

Silver Surfer -1

Instead of going back to Norrin Radd’s early days, we see Silver Surfer’s early days as Galactus’ herald, where he met up with The Other. The Other are an alien race. We see them kidnap and do experiments on a woman named Henrietta Rose.

In the end, Silver Surfer’s memory of the meeting was wiped.

Unlike other Flashback stories, this one introduces a new villain who will become part of an extended story arc in Silver Surfer’s comic.

Spectacular Spider-Man -1

A story about Flash Thompson as a kid. Grade: C.

Thunderbolts -1

This issue has its own post, here.

Uncanny X-Men -1

An old tale of the Trask family, as Rachel Summers goes back in time to try to stop the creation of the Sentinels.

The amount of time travel and past/future changes in the X-titles makes me dizzy, annoyed, and confused. Not loving more of it.

Grade: D+

Untold Tales of Spider-Man -1

John Romita Senior returns, with Roger Stern. Two of Spider-Man’s greatest creators. Sadly, it’s a story about Peter Parker’s parents serving as secret agents. Wolverine is in it, too. Two great creators have a misfire.

There is a fun Hembeck backup, though.

Grade: D.

Venom -1

Covered here.

Wolverine -1

Nick Fury, Carol Danvers, Logan and Sabretooth in the Savage Land. Grade: C+.

X-Factor -1

Havok’s early days as an orphan being “raised” by Mister Sinister. Grade: C

There were also issues of What If? and X-Man, which are not in the 616 and not covered here.

X-Men -1

Last but not least, Xavier and Magneto right before X-Men #1. Grade: C

So, how was the event overall? Well, it didn’t make any ongoing series worse, and it actually made a few of them better. So, despite low sales numbers, I think that artistically Flashback was a success.

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