Cancelled Comics Commentary for 1998

January 1998

The Book of Fate #12 (DC): the continuation of the series starring Jared Stevens in the role of the wizard usually known as Doctor Fate, this didn't fare any better, and soon after it ended, Stevens was killed off when the JSA began a year later. In other words, they repeated the same errors made when Kent and Inza Nelson were slain a few years before too. Very sad.

February 1998


Ghost Rider #93 (Marvel): By far one of the most bizarre creations Marvel could come up with during the Bronze Age (initially inspired during the late 1960's by a horse-riding character they'd introduced in a western series) a crimefighter named Johnny Blaze who could turn into a creature that looked like it had a flaming skull, the series protagonist was the son of a champion motorcycle racer who'd developed a facination with the occult, who, desperate to save his stepfather, Crash Simpson, from dying of a rare blood disease, made a Faustian deal with the Marvel version of Mephisto to save him.

Wow. Now that's an amazing premise for starters, right? But only the beginning. Mephisto, coming to snatch Johnny's soul from him following a daredevil cycle stunt at the racetrack, told him he'd only agree to save his stepfather's life, nothing more. But before he could take possesion of Johnny's soul, Roxanne Simpson, Crash's daughter, came to the rescue, using a banishment spell that she'd read in one of the occult books Blaze was using, and while Mephisto was forced to leave without succeeding in taking Blaze's soul, he did manage to graft the essence of the demon Zarathos to Blaze's body. And Zarathos was an entity who attacked human souls, and in order to capture Zarathos, as he did many centuries ago, Mephisto stole the soul of an American Indian now known as Centurious. When Zarathos' attack on Centurious proved ineffective, the demon's followers lost faith in him, and Mephisto was then able to steal the living flames that was Zarathos' soul. Over the centuries Mephisto amused himself by placing the essence of Zarathos within various human hosts, with Johnny Blaze being the latest.

The effect was that Johnny had a seperate personality dwelling within him, that usually manifested itself at nighttime, or when there was danger and evil in the vicinity, turning Johnny into a skeletic creature, with the cycle part explaining the name here. He could usually control the composite form, but Zarathos later tried to take over and dominate him instead. Eventually, Johnny and Zarathos seperated and went their seperate ways, but later, when teenager Dan Ketch, who turned out to be a long-lost brother of Johnny's, discovered the Ghost Rider motorcycle, things came around again.

This ran for close to 8 years, but it never really caught on in the end. It later came back as a Marvel Knights miniseries, but that turned out to be pretty uneventful as well. It's a very bizarre concept alright, but not the cup of tea for everyone.

Ninjak #12 vol. 2 (Acclaim): another volume chronicling the adventures of the ninja spy who was really a British playboy named Colin King, but for reasons mentioned in the 1995 files, that's why this is something I'll pass upon. It may have stopped publication mostly due to the collapse the speculator market brought upon the comics world at the time, and the reasons I gave for avoiding it could certainly be why to give it a miss today.

Superboy and the Ravers #19 (DC): Wouldn't you know, the Boy of Steel got a spinoff co-starring a bunch of crimefighters vaguely reminicient of the Legion in the 30th century, in a team-up title of their own. They were called the Ravers, their members being part of the earth's meta-clique, and their purpose was to travel around the universe looking for places to party, in pure fun-filled fashion. The leader of the group was Kindred Marx, and, as Superboy found out, he ran this concept mostly in hopes of finding his would-be bride, Kindred Sol. Raves were something she enjoyed, and Marx hoped this would help to allure Sol's interests. The rest of the Ravers included Aura, a metahuman girl framed by her father for the murder of her mother, since he hated both of them for being metas, Hal-Life, a teenager who was first born in the 1950's who'd survived an alien spacecraft that crashed on and killed his family, but with alien ectoplasmic powers added to him, Hero, as he was called, whose background was fuzzy, but whose power was the use of an "Achilles vest" to create force shields with, Kaliber, a renegade Qwardian and the only Raver not from earth, and even, get this, Rex the Wonder Dog!

It certainly does sounds like a very funky concept for Superboy to co-star in. But, it didn't win the same success his own solo series did (my assumption is that Hero's being written out of PC lunacy as a closet case may have helped to doom it as a family-friendly title), and was put to an end after a year and a half. It's a shame, since it did seem to have some good assets of entertainment to find in it, most certainly Aura, who looked adorable with black-dyed-purple hair, and it was certainly a fun idea for them to party!

March 1998

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #15 (Marvel): In 1996, Marvel aquired the rights to publishing Star Trek based comics from the now defunct Malibu Comics, which they took over (and took apart), and two years later, in all their financial strappings, they put the entire line they were working on to rest. This one, based on the first spinoff from the The Next Genration, was one of the first of what they were putting out at the time to bite the bullet that year, and I have to say, it's sad, given that, as mentioned in the files for 1996, the franchise is on a decline, and sadly so.

I know, I know, what goes up must come down sooner or later, but even so, it's just so depressing when some of the greatest of classics end up on the retirement shelf in the end.

Star Trek: Voyager #15 (Marvel): The second Trek comic from Marvel to get the axe, just like the above. Now that Capt. Janeway and her crew have found their way back to our galaxies since 2001, and the series on television has since ended, any such series in comics has now been rendered unnecassary.

April 1998


Ghost #36 vol. 1 (Dark Horse): first appearing in a special anthology called Comics Greatest World, the heroine here was the ghost of a reporter who'd been slain in an attempt to cover up a crime that had been committed. In a kind of nod to Superman and Supergirl, her weakness was jade, which hampered her ability to phase through objects properly. This is also one of the earliest series I know of that was oddly relaunched in another volume soon after cancellation, and from an indie company, no less. Why I have no idea, because I don't think relaunches are helping anymore in boosting sales and the book had already been successful enough when it first began.

Xero #12 (DC): This was some kind of a spy series written by Christopher Priest, but I know very little about it.

May 1998

No data, but no matter.

June 1998

Elektra #19 (Marvel): Before the Marvel Knights take on Daredevilís near-famous femme fatale, this version was tried out, which had her getting assistance from Doctor Strange in a few cases (not to mention he once astrally communicated with her while she was in the shower, heh). But while Elektra Nachios, I will be honest, is indeed an appealing lady, and the artwork for her on a coverscan like the one next to this writing is even sexier than how she's been drawn in the MK series if you ask me, this just didnít work out, and was cancelled after a year and a half.

Oh, and do you know why I find it sexier than most of Greg Horn's covers for the MK series? Because it look just like a comics character, and not like some painting in an art gallery or in a museum, that's why! Mind you, I'm not saying that Horn is a bad artist for good girl art, and the artwork for the MK series' covers is certainly a lot better than the ludicrous covers he drew for - gasp! - an ongoing series with White Queen Emma Frost of the X-Men, but with the exception of the Elektra covers he drew so far, most of his other cover drawings have almost nothing else to give them some meaning. They're vapid, to be honest, and in the case of Emma Frost, whom I'm becoming less impressed with as a character every day now, it's worthless.

I do know this though - I like Psylocke of the X-Men just as much as Elektra if we were to talk sexy brunettes with sexy ninja outfits in the MCU, thatís for sure.

Journey Into Mystery #521 (Marvel): With this issue, this series that began way back in the Shadow Age, the precursor to the Silver Age, officially came to a close. As mentioned in the files for cancelled titles from 1996, this had already changed its name to The Mighty Thor back in 1966, under which Marvel published it for 30 years, then, when they tried to do the Heroes Reborn stint, which was a disaster (and can be read about some more in the files for 1997 in this section), they cancelled it, in a manner of speaking, and reverted it back to JIM again for two more years.

Given how bad Heroes Reborn was, I can't tell you how glad I am that since then, the god of thunder is now back in the MCU as we know it following Heroes Return, and has since then returned to his crimefighting activities (and even ascended the throne of Odin in the kingdom of Asgard) once again. All's well that ends well...I think.

Magnus, Robot Fighter #18 (Acclaim): third attempt at an ongoing with this hero originally from Gold Key, and but due to how the market was tanking at the time, this had a very short shelf life.

Shadowman #20 Vol. 2 (Acclaim): this second series featured a different protagonist named Zero, of all things. It was much darker and more violent than its predecessor, which is mentioned in the 1995 files. Maybe that's why it eventually petered out.

Star Trek: Early Voyages #17 (Marvel): A prequel-like series chronicling the adventures of Captain Pike, the Starfleet captain first seen in the original series, whose first story was initially intended as a series pilot for the first one, but was never actually realized, and was instead written later as part of the series that did debut with Captain James Kirk, played of course by William Shatner. It's a shame, since it could've been an interesting chance to see even Kirk's predecessor in action.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #19 (Marvel): A series that focused on one of the most interesting parts of the world of Trekdom, this series was mainly about the academy where space cadets enrolling in the the program for training prospective future members of Starfleet. A most intriguing experiment indeed, that unfortunately ended due to Marvel's financial woes. Meaning, in other words, that we don't get to see anybody graduating from college, or any diplomas being given out to great students.

Star Trek Unlimited #10 (Marvel): This series featured stories starring both the old and the new crews of the original series and of The Next Generation. And another Marvel published Trek series to get the axe that month. Sigh. If there was to be a team-up of the old and new here, I'll bet it would've been a lot better than the Generations movie that was made in 1994.

WildC.A.T.S #50 (Wildstorm/Image): this was one of the first series launched under the Wildstorm imprint, and it chronicled the adventures of a superhero team comprised mostly of half-alien, half-human protagonists called Kherubim, who were enmeshed in a long war with an alien race called Daemonites. It was scripted mostly by writers like Chris Claremont, Alan Moore, and James Robinson, the latter whom I've already become very disillusioned with. There was also a brief revival that can be seen in the 2004 files.

X-O Manowar #21 vol. 2 (Acclaim): the reboot of this series used a different premise than the first volume did, featuring a modern scientist named Donovan Wylie who managed a suit of armor captured from nazi Germany during WW2, that was discovered to have been worn by a whole myriad of warriors throughout the ages. And this was a very tricky form of armor, since it could graft itself to a person's body. This was another product that also made its way into video games and had a co-starring role in the same medium with Iron Man.

July 1998

Challengers of the Unknown #18 vol. 2 (DC): An attempt to revive the classic adventure series penned by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, this volume, written by Steven Grant, had the team investigating the usual sci-fi and supernatural that menaced the earth.

Sadly, it just didn't catch on with readers, which is a shame. The series concept, which preceded Fantastic Four by about 4 years, was also one of the first ongoing at the time of the Silver Age to offer full-length adventures, even before Teen Titans as penned by Bob Haney would certainly take that approach.

It was revived as a miniseries years later in 1991, one of the first books written by Jeph Loeb, when he was first starting out in comics writing, in which they tried to do it as a satire, but was simply not successful in its attempt to reinvent their background, satirically or not, and was probably swept under the rug when Zero Hour took place.

There's been a miniseries since the cancellation of this second volume, written by Howard Chaykin, that's given the characters another try, but who knows if it'll ever be able to have the chance that the FF's now got again? What a shame that DC's series has to end up falling short of Marvel's.

Marvel Team-Up #11 vol. 2 (Marvel): An attempt to revive the classic series that usually starred Spider-Man alongside other notable characters in the MCU, this had some potential to it, and Tom Peyer was a good choice for writer, but fans didn't seem to take to it with the same enthusiasm as they did years before, and it never went anywhere in terms of sales.

Of course, while the old series that ran for 13 years did have it moments of fun, and not to worry, it wasn't entirely excluded to having Spider-Man as its main star character for others to team up with (having the April 1975 issue of the series at home, which teamed the Human Torch with Daimon Hellstrom, that can certainly attest to that), it did have its downsides too, since, as some readers argued, it didn't seem very consistant at all times with continuity as dealt with in various other series throughout the MCU (an early argument on continuity, and aside from being an admirable and understandable argument, it's shows that fans are alert to such things, and I'm proud whenever they do), and then of course, there was that awful 1974 issue by Gerry Conway called "The City Stealers!", which teamed Spidey with Hercules, and ran a ridiculous farce of an adventure in which an army of robots manned by an oddly timid mad-scientist type of character tried to make off with the whole of Manhattan and hold it for millions in ransom! And if you think that's silly, you haven't lived till you've seen Herc put the island back in position facing the wrong way! It's since been written off as a big fib once told by Herc, who's been known to boast more than a bit at times, and who does tend to be something of a loose cannon comedian too.

Still, there were some good points to it as well: the premiere issue, written in March 1972 by Roy Thomas, introduced Misty Knight in a cameo appearance, and when teaming Spidey with the Human Torch, as the first issue also did, there were some good episodes to find there too.

This volume, while it did begin with Spidey in its first issue, did have its moments without resorting to our friendly, neighborhood wall-crawler, such as in some issues here that starred Sub-Mariner alongside either the Thing or Iron Man, which certainly was a good move on the part of the writers, so not to overexpose Spidey too much. What a shame then that it never got the attention it could've used.

(For the record, Marvel Two-in-One, also published in the 1970's, was another anthology series that starred the ever lovin' blue eyed Thing of the FF. That too was definitely fun.)

Since then however, there's come another volume, written by Robert Kirkman, and which'll hopefully do better. And the third volume, even more ideally, didn't start with anything involving Spidey.

Sovereign Seven #36 (DC): This was a creator-controlled concept written by Chris Claremont, and drawn by Dwayne Turner. The basic premise was about a bunch of aliens exiled to Earth, where they battled with various villains menacing the planet while working out of a cafeteria that borrows an element or two from the old Doctor Who series: the cafe looks bigger on the inside than on the outside, and it even served as a portal to other dimensions.

The members of the team were Cascade, Network, Finale, Rampart, Reflex, Cruiser and Indigo. There was one problem though: the series used the Islamic religion as a superficial plot device in its presentation of Rampart as the prince of an Islamic society. This character was seen as attractive to several local girls. Given that in Sura 4:23-24 of the Quran, it says, ďForbidden to you are ... married women, except those whom you own as slavesĒ, that's why I find this superficial presentation of the Religion of Peace ludicrous.

Maybe Claremont realized this, which is why later on, Rampart was dropped from the series and in his place arose the more ideal choice of Power Girl. The series went on a little longer and was then cancelled with the 36th issue, and as it ended, it was revealed that the whole story had been written by two women living in the DCU, which was how they thought to ensure that this was all a creator-owned property and would not affect the DCU in any way. And that's how it went at the time.

I really don't know if we're likely to see much creator-owned properties from Claremont again in the forseeable future, given how his career has been flagging of late, and there's no telling if we'll ever see Sovereign Seven again either.

Star Trek: Untold Voyages #5 (Marvel): The last of Marvel's Trek comics to get the axe that year, this was set between events that took place - get this - the first movie of Trek from 1979 (The Motion Picture), and the second one from 1982 (The Wrath of Khan)! And I guess you could say that it had the distinction of being the shortest-lived one of all the ongoings that were published around then. Great. Another potentially interesting idea besides Early Voyages to bite the bullet due to financial woes.

Steel #52 (DC): John Henry Irons, the Afro-American crimefighter who built a suit of armor not unlike Tony Stark/Iron Man over at Marvel, was one of a few characters introduced during 1993, at the time the Death and Return of Superman storyline went to press that lasted a year. He was an almost family kind of guy, who became a crimefighter around the time of Dan Jurgens's Death of Superman story, working as Metropolis' resident superhero until the Man of Tomorrow was thankfully saved from death and returned to his duties as the DCU's leading superhero, and one difference that John had from Iron Man was that he carried a high-tech hammer as a weapon with him. But while he proved interesting enough as a character to get as far as toplining his own series, he couldn't handle it for long, and his series was eventually cancelled. I suspect that one of the things that did it in was a truly awful hack movie from 1997 "based" on the character, but which actually did more a disservice to Steel than a favor.

Since then, he's appeared on occasion in Superman's and the JLA's own books, ditto his neice Natasha, and they've both been a very welcome presence as supporting characters in the Man of Steel's world. And now that Natasha's got her own suit of armor with which to battle crime, well...here's to hoping she'll make a career out of it in the coming future!

Teen Titans #24 (DC): Before the version that was set to come out in 2003 courtesy of overrated writer Geoff Johns, but after the New Titans had ended some time before, there was this installment of the now classic teen to young adult series in the DCU, and it was here that characters like Argent, whose powers are almost reminicient of the Green Lantern's, were introduced. Unfortunately, the problem with this version was that it was probably too politically correct in that the characters here talked too much like moronic and self-important clowns, the same kind I may have known in some of my own schools. And if so, that could probably explain why nobody overall cared for this incarnation.

Which is a shame, since here, Ray "the Atom" Palmer, could've had a great chance to shine. In all due honesty though, the premise of reverting him back to his teen years did not work well, because it tied in with Zero Hour and the demonization of Hal Jordan, so unless they avoided all mention, you know something could be wrong there.

X-Factor #149 (Marvel): When this first began, it was mostly a title in which the original five X-Men could take the spotlight, with Peter David helming the book in its early years. Then, a few years later, when they began to frequent the two main flagship books again, it became a title in which a couple other characters, some interesting, others not, could be the stars, such as Cyclopsí own brother Havok and even Polaris, whoíd often been his ladyfriend many times.

I kind of wish itíd stayed instead of what was to follow, the truly unreadable Mutant X, yet another parallel world of X-related subjects. In this case, a dystopic alternate world in with its own parallel versions of several of the X-Men we know in the regular universe (well, so to speak, if you take a look at how theyíve been trying to render them as unrecognizable as possible in recent years, supposedly to cash in on the movie and make them more recognizable to moviegoers, whom, it should be noted, did not take to the comics so well following the sequel, X2), who were de-facto evil by contrast and led by none other than Magneto. They did return as a miniseries more recently in 2002, albeit a forgettable one, and I canít say I warmed so much to that. So much for trying.

August 1998

Adventures in the DC Universe #19 (DC): Itís a pity this went away, as it was a pretty fun anthology book, sort of like DC Presents in the pre-Crisis era, which shared a bit in common with Marvel Team-Up in that it usually co-starred Superman alongside some other notable characters in the DCU. And in the case of this series, it was also done along the lines of the Superman and Batman Adventures books, which may be based on the television serials. Heck, itís a concept that Iíd be eager to see tried out more often in team-up format, so I hope itíll come back again sometime.

Daredevil #380 vol. 1 (Marvel): With this issue, the first volume ended, and so began volume 2, in the Marvel Knights series. What I donít find enjoyable about the shift to the later imprint is that it had Kevin Smith, whom Iíve long since written off as pretentious and superfluous as a writer, (though not as much as Judd Winick) and there were a few things in there that turned me off, such as the murder of Karen Page, Matt Murdockís former secretary, whoíd been much maligned as a character over the years (sheíd become a drug addict and even a porn star, among other bad characterizations that were thought of for her), and then Smith goes and takes the easy way out by having Bullseye do her in, I think by knocking DD down and then grabbing one of his billy clubs and beating her to death with it. That Joe Quesada, whom in blunt honesty Iím not fond of for his misuse of Marvelís characters these days (most notoriously, Captain America), was the artist here didnít help matters.

And it hasn't improved one bit under the writing "talents" of Brian Michael Bendis, one of the worst in his fields in recent years next to the overrated Ed Brubaker, the former who crafted a pretentious story where Matt Murdock's secret identity was seemingly revealed, and that they would do something as awful as terminating Karen like they did when Kevin Smith was helming the MK volume was too much for me to bear, ditto his overbearing style of writing. Still, I canít say heís been making waves ever since his fallout on the Black Cat miniseries of 2002, which may never be finished (even Quesada had the decency to admit that hiring him was mistake), so maybe my misgivings arenít all that important.

That said, it's regrettable Hornhead's suffered as badly as virtually every other Marvel hero ever since Bill Jemas and then Joe Quesada sowed the seeds of the company's undoing ever since they got their feet in the door.

Essential Vertigo: Swamp Thing #24 (DC): Black and white it was, how clever.

Excalibur #125 (Marvel): It ran ten years, was first led by Captain Britain and then by Nightcrawler, and had plenty of fans, but finally, it ran out of steam. An X-Men spinoff set in the UK, it featured some pretty wacky tales using a British-style sense of humor. One of the things I dug about the debut issue, say, was that Kitty Pryde looked like such a foxy lady in that martial arts robe and tight ballet pants of hers. Colossus also joined the cast here later on, and it had quite a following for quite some time, but, when Chris Claremont and Alan Davis left, Scott Lobdell entered and brought it down to mediocrity for at least a year. Afterwards, Warren Ellis took over, and it improved a bit, but never regained the same energy it had during the first half of its run.

I liked some of what was in store here, but, as I said, it's the first half where things really worked out. Excalibur came back as a mini a few years later too, but unfortunately, it was during a time when Marvel was on the decline.

Jack Kirbyís Fourth World #20 (DC): Not having ever read this, I would assume it was similar in some respects to Isaac Asimovís sci-fi magazine that was named after him. Actually, it was a continuation of the New Gods series from the year before. Unfortunately, the writer assigned here was none other than John Byrne, and given what a retcon hack he's become as of late, that's one more reason apparently why this didn't last for long. It's kind of a pity, but that's what comes from when companies make questionable choices of who to assign as writer. And in Byrne's case, given that he's now fairly unpopular as a writer, let alone an artist, it's really no surprise.

Major Bummer #15 (DC): A satire of superheroes, this too never made the cut with readers, and it was probably done in by some really snide writing that may have offended the more literal minded fans, perhaps rightfully so. Oh well. Whoís the Boss, anyone?

Wetworks #43 (Wildstorm/Image): starring a covert-ops military force that combated the supernatural. It was initially to begin as a 3-part miniseries but plans soon changed to make it an ongoing.

September 1998

Amazing Spider-Man #441 (Marvel): They ďrelaunchedĒ this at the time that relaunching was in vogue for Marvelís staff. The good news? Since then, five years later, they decided to return it to its original numbering, starting with issue #500, after the Fantastic Four gets that kind of treatment.

Which, I might add, is a real relief. It was getting to be very grating how they were shamelessly relaunching all those books endlessly, with the possible exception of a few X-books, which, being what they are, are therefore apparently an exception to the rule at biased Marvel. Besides, this act of theirs back in 1998 didnít really change anything, certainly not with the infamous Howard Mackie as the writer (although even with the iffy J. Michael Straczynski as the writer, not much changed even afterwards).

Peter Parker: Spider-Man #98 (Marvel): This continued from the sans-adjective Spider-Man title of the early 1990's. Like Amazing, it was relaunched in a secondary volume. Unlike Amazing, however, it wasnít planned on being restored to regular numbering, as was thought in 2003. Rather, it got cancelled, to make way for a revival of The Spectacular Spider-Man. Heh.

Quicksilver #13 (Marvel): I do like Pietro Maximoff-Lensherr, but in spite of being an appealing character despite some of the misgivings heís had towards non-mutants in years gone by (his character's moral flaw), he just doesnít have the ability to carry a title on his own, which is sort of like the case with X-Men cast members like Gambit and Bishop.

I am curious to know: whyíd they want to give him a title instead of his sexy twin sister Wanda, known to many as the Scarlet Witch? Considering how she can make the guys drool with her unmatchable sex appeal, I canít see how it couldnít be possible to give her a title of some sort where she could have the main spotlight (and she did have a miniseries in the early 90s). Once again, Marvel missed the boat for cashing in on a femme fatale with great potential.

Sensational Spider-Man #33 (Marvel): I think this one only ran two and half years, making it probably the shortest ongoing Spider-book at the time. Coincidence?

Spectacular Spider-Man #263 (Marvel): See above.

Spider-Man Unlimited #22 (Marvel): Yet another one dropped around that time.

Stormwatch #11 vol. 2 (Wildstorm/Image): one of the earliest relaunches of its sort I know of in the modern age that comes soon after a previous volume did, and came out after the previous volume ended, and around the time 4 of Marvel's titles spoken about in the 1997 files had been canceled and then relaunched as part of the ill-advised Heroes Reborn, all of which were returned to the MCU proper in this particular year. And since, as mentioned before, this had one of the most otherwise embarrassing premises from a political perspective, that's why I simply couldn't care less about this second volume of Stormwatch either. And I definitely couldn't care about the really big embarrassment spoken about in the 2004 files.

The X-Files #41 (Topps): based on the TV sci-fi thriller series of the same name, this was one of at least a handful of comics the Topps trading card and pastry company tried to publish during the 1990s, but never got very far with. And to be bluntly honest, since the series itself was basically a platform for telling horror stories, a genre I'm not very fond of - certainly not if it lacks intelligence - then I can't say I'd be missing this time and money-wasting bungler of a comic.

October 1998

Blade #3 (Marvel): A miniseries that was prepared to cash in on the movie at the time (something Marvelís flubbed endlessly since then), it got cancelled before the fourth issue came out, which may have been solicited, but never appeared. It was probably due to Marv Wolfmanís lawsuit for his proper share, since he created the character back in 1973 in Tomb of Dracula, but I canít be sure.

Chase #9 (DC): It was almost like a low-budget movie, but a good one, that starred a smart female character named Cameron Chase, an agent for a government agency for superhuman affairs whose power was the ability the dampen those of other superhumans. She'd first appeared in Batman #550, and the series in focus here was basically an espionage tale dealing with her exploits in tracking down superhuman criminals. But it never got anywhere with readers, and was was cancelled very shortly afterwards.

Creeper #11 (DC): This, on the other hand, is decidedly best forgotten.

Green Arrow #137 (DC): I donít know if it was because Connor Hawke, illegitimate son of Oliver Queen, didnít prove interesting to readers, or because Kevin Smith, who launched the succeeding volume, led to Oliver Queen's return, but with this issue, the series, which began in 1988 as one of DC's "New Format" titles, and bore a mature readers note for at least the first 60 issues, came to a close. And Ollie Queen, who'd gone MIA for about five years since his seemingly being lost in a plane crash, came back a short while afterwards, whereas Connor all but went back to his life in the monestary he lived in. Well, not for long. He did come around again to working in crimefighting, though of course, he's not the main player as of today. In recent times, he's also made appearances in the new Batgirl's solo book, and of course has spent time meeting his bowslinging dad again.

As far as the Emerald Archer's own series goes, not bad, but when looked upon by todayís standards, I think it can be said that Mike Grell may have jumped the gun simultanouesly for this book. His Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters was fairly questionable in how it set up its premise, an excuse not just to turn Ollie into a raging samurai, but also to make Dinah Lance more ďdrivenĒ. Unfortunately, it canít be by losing a loved relative that a woman can become more driven and devoted to crimefighting; in the eyes of people like Grell, nooooo, it just has to be via assault and battery, which Grell for the past several years seems to be putting far too much of an emphasis on. At least Chuck Dixon, who's aces better than he is at being a suspense writer, pulled off a must better job with relish when he took over the book, following Grell's five year run.

It was later relaunched as a volume 2 with Kevin Smith writing it, but he left after 10 issues proving very little in the ways of talent, I kid you not. His later successor, Brad Meltzer, wasn't much better than him (and the Archer's Quest story arc he wrote is said to be fairly overrated), and then, alas, he was likewise replaced by Judd Winick, and I canít say itís been much of anything since then either, certainly not with that stereotypical dialogue that he wrote for the story in which Ollie and Green Lantern number three Kyle Rayner teamed up in summer of 2003.

Marvel Universe #7 (Marvel): The most interesting thing about this book was how it used a rotating concept in the creative teams for it, and had old pro Roger Stern as one of the leading supervisors for it. It was meant to explore unwritten periods of history in MCU. You could say that it consisted of two story arcs, and the latter had a really good one that gave characters with smaller recognition like Ulysses Bloodstone (whom, if memory serves me right, is alias Klaw, one of the villains from the Fantastic Four whoís also been an enemy of Black Panther), and also Dr. Druid (also sometimes known as Dr. Droom, and guess what that sounds like, eh?) a chance to take the spotlight and shine. There was also a new female character from Wakanda introduced in this series, an explanation of the Golden Age Hurricaneís background (he was Makkari, a member of the Eternals), and it even expanded upon the Mole Manís origins!

Strange Tales #4 (Marvel): This was intended to be an answer to DCís own Vertigo line, but thereís a problem: you see, most of the Vertigo line consists of books that are creator owned (including possibly Neil Gaimanís own Sandman series), and second, the top brass at Marvel chickened out, obligating the writers to do it according to the now abandoned Comics Code Authority (Marvel being the first to do it). The muddled artwork didnít help matters either. Not that it really matters to me. At least Werewolf by Night mightíve made for a good story or two. Or, better yet, forget it.

Speaking of any attempts to emulate Vertigo, if at all, Marvel launched the MAX line 3 years later, and the results, which include such monstrosities as the Fury miniseries and even the Cage mini, are anything but impressive. For all the shock-value tactics that were used in these so-called masterpieces, itís been nothing more than a mere exercise in futility. For which reason I will not be buying such crap even if I win the lottery, which I never have, and doubtless never will (I never played it, so is it any wonder I wonít win it? Go figure.)

Young Heroes in Love #17 (DC): Itís a shame that this didnít find an audience, a humor title about young heroes in Spandex and their love affairs. I don't know if it bore any connection to Young Justice, which began soon afterwards, but it certainly had some of the cleverest story titles for an age in which few like the ones seen in the Golden and Silver Ages are ever used (would you believe, say, a title such as "Your lips! Your eyes! Your nuclear breath vision!" Now there's a good one for starters). What a great idea that sadly never succeeded.

Important note: Chase, Creeper, Green Arrow and Young Heroes in Love all actually ended with an issue of DC 1,000,000 the month after the official series volume did, but they don't appear on this list.

November 1998

Silver Surfer #146 (Marvel): I heard once that it was going to be another victim of Marvelís relaunching mania, but it never even happened that way, it just got cancelled then, and fairly quietly too at that, and it sat on the shelf like that for almost five years. Pity, because Norrin Radd was a favorite character of mine. The former herald of the warlord Galactus, first seen in the pages of Fantastic Four in the mid-1960's, who turned against the being who gave him immense powers and used them for good instead of bad, deserved far better than to have his own title dumped like that at the time.

Silver Surfer recently returned in a new series in 2003, but it appears that sadly, it may be an even less worthy event, and didn't seem to be burning up the charts or the discussions across the webs either.

Spirit: The New Adventures #8 (Kitchen Sink): I think this was a more recent take on Will Eisnerís classic comic strip character, Dennis Colt/The Spirit, an anthology by several top writers that was pretty good stuff. A real pity it got canned, since it was, as Iíve heard, quite a gem.

What IfÖ? #114 (Marvel): If this was cancelled, they sure did it very quietly at that. This was the now House of Horrors's own anthology title, first tried out in 1977 by Roy Thomas and later revived in 1989, going much longer that time around, and while I may have only read two issues of it myself (around 1996), there were a few good ideas abound.

(The most astounding thing about this whole concept though, is that a few of the ideas, such as the one exploring what if Elektra hadn't died, have since then come true in a manner of speaking!)

Whatís really maddening about this book getting canned though, is that now that itís gone, Marvel, instead of putting all the anti-patriotic, defiant of superheroics, contemptuous-of-core-fans stories theyíve been forcing into their books since post-9-11, does exactly that with, alas, their own mainline books. Hey, wait a minute, what am I saying? I wouldnít go for that kind of stuff even if it was just in there, not even I were paid to read it. I better start thinking better than that.

If there was anything good about What IfÖ?, itís that it did help lead to the Spider-Girl title that, as of this writing, is the only survivor of Marvelís futuristic M2 line, the second after 2099.

December 1998

House of Secrets #25 volume 2 (DC): In all due honesty, do we really need to have another go at this horror/thriller series of yore? Yeah, I know that it was where the Swamp Thing first got his recognition, but still, I think in all due honesty, it's time to put the whole thing to bed.

So simply put, this one won't be missed.

Ka-Zar #20 (Marvel): A title that succeeded only due to the teaming of Mark Waid and Adam Kubert, and when they left, so did the readers. It starred a Tarzan-ish character, whose name almost reminices that classic character of Edgar Rice-Burroghs, who debuted as early as 1936, almost the same time as Lee Falk's Phantom, in pulp novels published by Martin Goodman, later to become the main founder of Marvel Comics' template, Timely, during 1938-39, and the protagonist then was known as David Rand. Ka-Zar appeared for a time as one of the featured strips in Marvel Mystery Comics, then was largely forgotten until the Silver Age, when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought him back in with X-Men #10 in 1965, and also gave him a few revisions, such as now being named Kevin Plunder, the relative of a British aristocrat, and a resident of the Savage Land, in contrast to earlier, when he'd been simply a resident of Africa. He also made appearances in Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Astonishing Tales, and got his first shots at a solo book during the Bronze Age. Not only that, he even got his own version of Sheena to accompany him, Shanna the She-Devil! The two jungle citizens married in 1984.

Alas, jungle adventures of the Tarzan variety, like the western, seem to have largely gone the way of the dodo these days, and if it hadn't been for Waid at the time he was notable, this probably would've sunk out of sight faster than it did.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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