Millennium Comics is an NAL-based publisher of comic books, mostly in the Superhero format. They are one of the oldest and most successful such in the world, their mainline characters uniquely famous the world over.
Founded in 1933, Millennium Comics began as "New Millennium Comics" and was one of over a dozen publishers in the field. At this time, superhero comics were very short, simple in design, and any given magazine usually featured at least three stories starring different costumed adventurers. Crossovers in which two or more characters from different storylines did happen, but rarely.
During the Second Great War, superheroes became allies in the fight against the Holy Roman Empire. A certain maturity sometimes became evident in the stories at this time, along with the introduction of super-powered "teams". The first of these was the Alliance of Power in 1942.
But following the war, superhero sales went into a serious decline. Several publishers went out of business. The reason for this is sometimes posited that readers had become both tired of the excessive violence of the format (after a full decade of war) coupled with a growing sophistication as more young people were receiving better educations, including exposure to genuinely fine literature. Another theory holds that the sudden lack of a overwhelming foe (as organized crime and then Prussia) made the genre seem out of touch.
In the late 1950s a new editorial staff took over at New Millennium. They decided to try and revitalize their industry. Changing their name, they produced a series of best-selling titles centered around various new (or reissued) heroes. All the new heroes had slightly greater complexity, tended to be outsiders in some way, and operated out of a fictional metropolis called Millennium City (which was pretty clearly a turbo-charged version of New Amsterdam). Tweaking old characters and putting them in a common setting, even having them fight each others' foes were innovations that others in the superhero comics trade soon scrambled to emulate. Over time, the mutual nature of their backgrounds became more and more integral to the books and genre. Many pointed out that the "alienated" nature of the Millennium City super-heroes actually was a forerunner of the Anti-Snorist Movement. Certainly the teens of the 1970s and 80s had grown up reading these very same adventures.
While Millennium reigned supreme for decades, the growth of Chicago Press with their darker sensibilities began to offer real competition by the 1980s and 1990s. For this reason, the traditional characters of the older line began to undergo re-imaginings and changes. This proved a controversial move among fans, although overall the impact has been increased sales. Even the villains began to be re-vamped as in the Coalition of Evil storylines, in which many of the older, more outrageous costumed criminals were eliminated from the shared universe of the comics. Sexuality began to be explored, much to the horror of some groups, and the villains became far more complex characters. At the same time, at least partially in an attempt to lighten the mood, some fairly silly superheroes and villains were sprinkled in the midst, culminating in the Justice Club of America title.
The "Big Five" heroes of Millennium were and are (in order of appearance):
- Stingray - A brilliant Afroe scientist who builds a fantastic super-submersible, which he then uses to battle the imperial designs of the undersea empire of Atlantis. In general his comic book has been about the struggle for personal liberty.
- Vixen - A female cat burglar who falls in love with a police detective, changes her ways, then goes after her former associates when the dectective is murdered. (There was a popular t.v. series about this character starring Gloria Dawson) Her comic book usually explores the idea of moral redemption.
- Captain Silver - The son of an archeologist, Oswald Lambert found a ring in an ancient temple. He eventually learned the ring was a weapon used by the lone rebel among a tyranical Order of sorcerors who used their rings to enslave others. The ring bestowed invisibility, superspeed, the ability to fly and to move things by the power of the mind alone. However, it would only do one of these things at at time and using it was exhausting. The comic book series tends to focus on issues of maturity.
- Mentor, The Synthetic Man! - An automaton from an alien world, this super strong being is found inside a meteor (actually a spaceship) by a retired police scientist who manages to repair him. Mentor is a thousand times smarter than the brightest human being, is pretty close to invulnerable. His only physical weakness is the need to "power up," but a more subtle one is his machine nature. His stories often focus on the difficult relationship between logic and emotion.
- Doc Gabriel - The accidental creation of Doc Satan, a handsome super-villain who tried to make evil copies of superheroes but accidently created a good copy of himself. Doc Gabriel, apart from being a genius, is also superhumanly strong and durable, but is also deformed with chalk-white skin and green hair. More than any other of the "Big Five", the books of Doc Gabriel focus on issues of alienation and prejudice.
By 1970 the comic book superhero was undergoing a true renaissance. In 1971 the "top five" became the core of a team called the Legion of Light (formed in opposition to a vast alliance of supervillains called the Coalition of Evil, founded by Doc Satan). In 1979 another superhero group was developed called the Sisters of Justice, but it petered out by 1990. It was re-invented into a new format in 2002 and has been selling well.
In the 1990s and early 2000s a series of new characters were introduced. None yet have achieved status of the "Big Five" but some have proven popular, such as:
- The Gentleman
- Mr. Nightmare, a lone avenger who longs to terrify criminals, glimpsed in the shadows. In real life, his name is Dr. Ichobod Brent, former juvenile delinquent who is now a psychiatrist working with the victims of violent crime.
- Nemesis, a brilliant cripple who has super-strength and agility providing he continues to receive injections of a special serum called "vigorex."
Likewise new supervillains were introduced, the most successful of which have been:
- Madame Miracle, absolute monarch of the fictional nation of Pacifica, mystically imbued with the power of all that nation's natives past and future. In effect, she's the most powerful individual on Earth and sees it as her duty to perfect human society -- even against the will of those humans who make it up.
- Journeyman is a gadgeteer from the future, determined to take advantage of what he regards as primitives beneath his notice. Interestingly, he is an admirer of the SNOR and wears a variation of their sigil in his costume.
- Gargoyle MacQueen, a brilliant organized crime figure with rocky skin, super strength and horns (among other bizarre details). No explanation for his appearance and powers has ever been given but his criminal empire is pervasive.
Beginning in 2009, Millennium began a new twelve-issue "miniseries epic" titled 'The Gehenna Hour.
Millennium City is at the center of the stories published by MC. Although loosely based on New Amsterdam, this particular metropolis has various unique aspects. For one thing, it is surrounded by countless islands, many of whom contain various and sundry secrets (lairs of pirates, private medical laboratories, secret military installations, etc.) For another, much has been made in the comic books of two areas--Old Downtown (with older buildings, many with gargoyles and displaying beaux arts and deco influences) and New Oldtown (a revitalized section largely rebuilt since the late 1980s). A detail repeated over and over is that each of the two downtowns has three of the world's ten tallest skyscrapers.
The city is also home to a wide variety of neighborhoods (including "Little Xliponia" and "Tejas-Town"), the famous Lysander Watkins Bridge, three huge amusement parks (one of which--Blissworld--is shut down), a world-famous medical hospital, at least two major aerodromes, large docking facilities, several different underground and above-ground train systems, and the largest public library in the world.
In flavor, Millennium City has been described as "New Amsterdam but with the mystery of Castreleon, the furor of Rome, the intrigue of Berlin and the sophistication of New Orleans." It apparently lies somewhere on the northeast coast of the NAL, far enough north to regularly get snow during the winter but south enough to endure furacanoes from time to time. Over time, some comic writers have implied that it is located somewhere in either New Castreleon or Oxbridge, with the occasional suggestion of a location in Kent.
Other comic books published by Millennium included:
- Thrilling Tales From The Stars originally featuring the Martian Marvel.
- Justice Club of America a humorous look at the genre launched in 2001.
For further information, check out: http://millennium.macvillage.net/index.html