It’s well known that the 90s were a very strange time for comics. Bizarro plots, ridiculous artwork—some of the best “Comics are weird!” moments come from the decade. But these “cool-o-meters”, ripped from the pages of a year of Marvel comics, prove that not every wacky 90s moment came from the story pages of comics.
As brilliantly collected by Brian Cronin for Comic Book Resources’ Comics Should Be Good Archive, the Cool-O-Meters come from the Bulletin pages included in most of Marvel’s monthly comic series—an idea created by Editor Mark Gruenwald that charted the official Marvel opinion of what was hot (and what was not) between July 1991 and June 1992, when the Cool-O-Meters were retired... presumably because it was a goddamn weird idea.
So what did grand arbiters of coolness Marvel deem to be cool in the early 90s? Mainly Marvel comics, like Infinity Gauntlet or The Adventures of Captain America. But also, a whole bunch of bizarre things that had very little to do with comics. Cool in September 1991? Julia Roberts. In June 1992? Culottes. Merely middling, languishing in the endless grey morass betwixt uncoolness and coolness, include things like marrying millionaires (September ‘91), Soviet Dissolution (March ‘92), Dating against type (February ‘92), and The Flash TV show (July ‘91—it should be noted that in “dissing fellow pros in print” was deemed categorically as the uncoolest by Marvel in March the following year).
But none top the weirdest of all, the coolest thing around in January 1992, according to Marvel: Non-Sexual Harassment.
Better than Planet Hollywood. Better than Pre-Modern Art. Even better than the Marvel Year In Review! Holy shit. What are they even trying to say there!? God, comics were absurd. Are absurd. They never stopped, really. But I doubt you’d see many championing the coolness of Non-Sexual Harassment.
Also, spare a piteous thought for Squirrel Girl there, languishing near the bottom in uncoolness in the year of her debut. Suffice to say in 2015, she’s much better thought of. You can check out the complete collection of Cool-O-Meters at the link below.
[Via Comic Book Resources]