Sandman Mystery Theatre #32 was the closing chapter of the Hourman arc. This was another fine storyline in an excellent series. It was great the way various JSAers were bought into this series. I had come to Sandman Mystery Theatre a year or so late, but had managed to pick up the entire run on the cheap via back issue bins as they were selling for well below cover price. I bought this series religiously until cancellation, and continue to miss it dearly.
Earlier in the decade, I had started delve into the world of non-Big Two publishers (although I never got into the likes of Image, Valiant or Acclaim etc...). By this time, Dark Horse had taken over the Madman title (under the Legend imprint) and it was one of my very favourites series at the time. I couldn't really explain why it worked, but it was certainly unlike anything I had ever see up to that point. It was both new and retro and the character designs were amazing. The publishing schedule drove me crazy and I eventually fell off the bandwagon.
The was the time of the 'Year One' annuals at DC. I recall that these books were very pricey, but that many of them were quite good. The Scarecrow origin in the Batman Annual was very strong, and I retelling of the Green Arrow origin was quite good. I'm not the world's biggest Superman fan, but the outer space adventure from Action Comics Annual #7 struck a chord with me, as I often find the building of the Superman mythos to be more intriguing that the man himself. If memory serves, this was also the only year for a Spectre Annual during the Ostrander run.
Kurt Busiek's Astro City #4 was the 2nd Astro City book that I ever bought, and I was completely hooked. I had grown up on superheroes, but this series made everything new again. I really liked the way he built a universe from the ground up, but at the same time dropped the reader right into the middle of the action. It allowed us to learn about this world as it was happening, allowing for some of the blanks to be filled immediately while we'd have to wait patiently for other details. Over time, frustration over the publishing schedule got the better of me, and I drifted away from Astro City. I still have a lot of fondness for it - mainly because it made me feel like a kid again without insulting my intelligence.
Power of Shazam was also another series I was loving big time. It was a really fresh take on the residents of Fawcett City. I was now at the point in my comic book enjoyment where I didn't really care where characters and stories fit into continuity (Zero Hour burst that bubble for me), and I was only concerned with enjoyable stories. I don't recall issue #9 being a real standout, but I was loving the reintroduction of Captain Nazi and I've always loved the design of Black Adam. Jerry Ordway was obviously having a blast on this series, and it is unfortunate that not enough fans went along for the ride.
So - what did I miss that month? You may have noticed that there wasn't a single Marvel title. Looking at Marvel's schedule that month, I can understand why. The only book I regret not buying was Waid's Captain America - the rest looks like junk. There was plenty of great DC and Vertigo stuff I missed. I was not reading Starman, or the Invisibles or Sandman or Hellblazer... well, you get the point. It would have taken a millionaire to keep up with all of the great stuff DC put out back then. Marvel wasn't even in the same league.