Cancelled Comics Commentary for 2001

January 2001

Nothing was cancelled this month, what a relief!

February 2001

Angel #16 (Dark Horse): Was it actually put to rest, this title that was based on the spinoff from TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Not exactly. What happened is that Joss Whedon had it discontinued so that then, he could write miniseries instead of an ongoing one.

Fine with me. I’ve never been a really big viewer of either series on TV, and I don’t watch enough television today to get the urge to try it out now. All I can say is: big deal.

Besides, the idea was already thought of the year before with J. Scott Campbell’s Danger Girl, since he himself couldn’t keep up with a monthly schedule, which for artists like him was a great idea, I must certainly say.

When we’re talking about things like that, it makes sense. When we’re talking about things like Buffy and Angel, it just doesn’t mean much to me.

Crimson #24 (DC/Wildstorm): A vampire tale written and drawn by Humberto Ramos. I won’t be sorry to see this go, since it was a pretty distastefully bloody item, made all the more so thanks to Ramos’ cartoony drawing style. After this concluded, what did he work on next? Another series almost like it called Out There, and it’s a good thing it may have only been a miniseries.

Hitman #60 (DC): I don’t know, how many series starring professional killers can be thought of? But this was one of them, and it starred a character named Tommy Monoghan, who, I might note, was introduced in the incredibly dumb and distasteful Bloodlines crossover, whose only reason for existence seemed to be in order to introduce a whole crowd of forgettable supporting characters, which include Argus, Anima, and Gunfire. (It also seemed to exist only for the purpose of showing all these large-sized alien invaders, who could even do things like disguise themselves as humans, either suck the spinal fluid out of their victims, or gore them to death. Yuck.)

It’s also very hard for me to buy into the notion that Tommy could’ve made guest appearances in the JLA, as he did in the 5th issue of JLA in 1997, without getting busted, and certainly not living in Gotham City alongside Batman without getting one – or both – of his trigger fingers broken. But when you look at what a sorry influence Marvel’s success with the Punisher had on the industry, you know that something like was bound to happen here too, not just in the independent division.

It seems that when this ended, it was planned that way by Ennis, since he’d concluded all of the plotlines he’d written, and, he’d killed off just about all the supporting characters!

Which is very similar to the Punisher, of course.

Hourman #25 (DC): It’s a shame this series was cancelled, since the “android searching for humanity” storyline is one that’s well worth telling, as it had been with the Vision-2, Red Tornado-2, and Star Trek’s Data. Tom Peyer did wonders with the character, employing plenty of humanity and humor. The writer obviously enjoyed what he was doing, something great to see in comics, just like Marv Wolfman and George Perez on The New Teen Titans during the 1980’s.

Plus, they managed to do it without resorting to rewriting the character’s Golden Age history. It’s just a shame the JSA series, which he later appeared in, doesn't age well.

March 2001

The Atomics #15 (AAA Pop): Frankly, I have no idea what this series was all about. Was it supposed to be a satire? Could be, given that Mike Allred was at the helm of this book.

The only thing I really know about it that the ending was deliberate, originally with the 16th issue, but combined together with this one as a double-sized finale.

The Dreaming #60 (DC/Vertigo): Writer Neil Gaiman was said to have written this as a continuation for the Sandman, albeit this time as something like The Sandman Presents. Or, like Dark Horse Presents, seeing that what was apparently being aimed for was something like an anthology containing even work by writers like Bill Willingham, Ed Brubaker, and Bryan Talbot. Alas, anthology series these days don’t seem to be working, which is a shame.

Geeksville #6 (Image): You know what this was meant to be about? Fanpeople! Us! Amazing, isn’t it? It got some Eisner nominations in its time, but sadly, it’s gone now. I really wish I could’ve gotten to know more about it.

Generation X #75 (Marvel): As is apparent by now, this was but one of a few mistakes made under the “Nu-Marvel” regime. In fact, it became apparent as to what was going to go wrong when in the final issues, they started drawing the characters wearing black outfits to resemble the X-Men movie’s uniforms, and I’ve already dismissed that movie as awkward, and I might as well point out that black leather of the sort featured in the movie are almost akin to what facists wore.

But let’s leave that aside for now and deal with the series itself. What made it work out in general was that unlike the now washed up direction of the other books, such as the flagship ones, this one took a more optimistic viewpoint, and it was by far also one of Scott Lobdell’s better efforts as a writer, even though by now, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever get to write these sort of books again. The kids acted like kids, and Emma Frost and Banshee’s relationship was handled well, and at first anyway, she wasn’t written in the ludicrously slutty manner she was when Grant Morrison took up writing the X-Men. Plus, the series had a good balance of going between the action and the character relations. It was nowhere near Marv Wolfman’s work on the Titans over at DC, but it was still pretty straightforward.

Which is just why the PC advocates at Marvel sought to turn it into just another angst-ridden, teeth-gnashing affair, with Warren Ellis becoming the writer (with the “Counter-X” storyline), to make matters worse, considering how he’s gone badly off the rails with anti-Americanist (and even anti-Israelist) viewpoints with books he’s been writing for Vertigo, such as Global Frequency. Oh, now don’t get me wrong, he did do some good – or just okay – work a decade ago, but now, as far as I’m concerned, he’s lost it, in both talent and opinion.

With Ellis’ method of scripting, I’ll have to admit, it’s almost a good thing it got axed…except for the fact that Marvel’s royal hack extraodinaire Chuck Austen took to abusing the characters even more. The really devastating thing about the X-Men is how it appears that they are Marvel’s most astonishingly abused franchise, neglected by its editors, and it makes little difference who’s writing, they can write as poorly – not to mention contemptuously – as they want, regardless of whether the readers accept it or not.

And as long as anyone continues to buy it no matter how bad they are, the expectation of fixing them remains little.

X-Man #75 (Marvel): After all this time, I’ve come to the conclusion that cancelling this series wasn’t such a bad thing after all, even though I once thought to myself that it was better than such a series as Cable, now also cancelled, more or less. More on which anon.

Nate Grey, the hero of this tepid X-book, if I’ve got this accurate enough, was the son – or the alternate timeline version of Cable from the Age of Apocalypse storyline – who survived that tepid story to live in our own regular world, and I think he may have de-facto been the son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, but who’s paying enough attention now? And his worst archnemesis was said to become Stryfe, who’s a genetic clone of Cable, just like Nate himself is. And a whole bunch of other mumbo-jumbo that would be too complicated to explain.

Simply put, that’s why X-Man was cancelled, and frankly, as of now, I don't care.

April 2001

Deadenders #16 (DC/Vertigo): One of those “dystopic future” titles, this was a product of Ed Brubaker, one that most people didn’t seem to comprehend, and so, it dropped in sales and ended.

Legends of the DC Universe #41 (DC): The last issue of the anthology series starring characters past and present. And given that, other than such a product as Japan’s Shonen Jump and France/Belgium's Spirou, anthology titles don’t do so well in today’s market, that’s what led to the downfall of this series.

‘Tis a pity, since this enabled Denny O’Neil to establish more of a foundation for the Green Lantern/Green Arrow run he wrote so well when he took over Hal Jordan’s title during the 1970’s, in a special 3-part story he did for issues #7-9 of this series. And there was even a Crisis on Infinite Earths flashback story here that featured a “rainbow coalition” Justice League that’ll probably never be seen again (and providing second Flash Barry Allen one last run across the finish line). And there was even a 4-part story for the Spectre, #33-36, that enabled the series with Hal Jordan taking over the role to be set up and launched (but even that got cancelled, just like every other Spectre series to date).

It’s something that I’ll miss, since now, a potentially great place to write stories for Ray Palmer/The Atom, in example, could’ve been right in this very book! (And I have a two-part story from this series with him in my possesions.) Then again, aren't we lucky to have miniseries? So fortunately, they can do such things over there!

Mutant X #32 (Marvel): Well here’s a series I certainly won’t be missing, and its axing couldn’t have been more welcome.

Yet another convoluted alternate world series, this being in which the X-Men – and even some of the other Marvel superheroes – were mostly villains, and Magneto ran the team, and Havok/Alex Summers, the brother of Cyclops, when he flew into the space/timecraft that a banal character named Greystone was piloting, got accidentally blasted into this dimension, where, if my info is correct, he assumed the body/existance of Cyclops’ alternate dimension counterpart. Or did he?

And for a series where they said there would some surprises, it was anything but that. Maybe if it hadn’t been for all the time-based stories already done with the X-books, then it might’ve been that, but it wouldn’t have been any more interesting.

They should’ve found another dead horse to kick. This book is one, if any, that I can garuntee will be forgotten in the future eons to come, and by the time of DC One Million, I can assure everyone that it won’t have survived the test of time or memory by then.

Rumble Girls: Silkie Warrior Tansie #7 (Image): I’m not sure, was this a satirical title? I’m not sure, but I know that writer/artist Lea Hernandez went on after it ended to work with the great Gail Simone on Killer Princesses at Oni Press. And that one is certainly a satirical title, and I’m pleased that she got that great job there.

May 2001

Catwoman #94 (DC): Oh, it was only temporary, that Selena Kyle’s own series was cancelled, and then relaunched, with Ed Brubaker taking over the writing, and making it into a more detective-like series, not unlike the series the Feline Fatale first began in, Batman’s Detective Comics and also the sans-adjective Batman.

Catwoman’s been various things in her now 60-plus year history, but, if anything, she’s been one of those “walk the fence between good and evil” kind of characters, and if there’s anyone who can do it the best it’s her, thanks to her skills. And yes, she’s been a “bad girl” kind of character. One who could steal but who avoided killing, mostly due to her own hellish childhood when growing up, and who could help out innocent people being targeted by the more scummy criminals of Gotham City, both common and costumed, mainly the women of the city.

The thing that did this first volume in was when they had Selena coming out of prison in one of the stories a short time before its cancellation with a persona that was willing to carry a gun. And that’s what angered me too, like various other Catwoman fans, that they were trying to turn her into yet another one of those kind of characters you’d see at Image in the early 90’s. So DC put an end to this book, and started it anew, this time as more of noir-ish series, and with Selena as more of a Robin Hood-ish character than before, and as more of a heroine for the castaways of Gotham that before too.

Well anyway, it’s a good direction they’ve taken up, and successful too, so I’m glad that Selena got out of that jam from the previous volume little the worse for wear in her own personality.

June 2001

Starman #80 (DC): This series ended, because writer James Robinson said that he’d wrapped up the storylines for Jack Knight’s character had been completed.

Truth be told, I'd say it hadn't. When I think about this book in retrospect today, I think it was one of the most overrated books of its time (by the mid-2000s, it mostly went out of print, suggesting I'm not the only one thinks that).

Following this Starman would make appearances in the JSA for a short time, but IMHO, it was hardly worth the effort.

July 2001

X-Men: The Hidden Years #22 (Marvel): They claimed it was because of low sales that this was being put to an end, but from what I can gather by now, it appears that Nu-Marvel’s regime with Bill Jemas, now off the main board of directors, may have been hiding behind sales deficits to justify their cancellation of it, because it didn’t suit their PC viewpoints.

The series was meant to fill in the years between late 1970 to 1975, when the X-Men series had been all but cancelled (there’s almost never anything as a cancelled series, if you know what I mean when it comes to things like this), and what was refreshing about this was that it took on a fun filled atmosphere, unlike the bleakness that became commonplace in the X-books during the 80’s and even today. And John Byrne did a surprisingly good job at connecting with some of the parts of Marvel history that relate to what was written about here, including storylines from Fantastic Four, Captain America, Incredible Hulk and Avengers from around that time, and it could be said that this was politcally incorrect, one more clue to its cancellation.

And just how does anyone know that this didn’t appeal to anyone other than older readers who were already familiar with the X-world? That’s right, inquiring minds would very much like to know. Instead, we get a train wreck with New X-Men, written by Grant Morrison, and a plane crash with Uncanny X-Men, written by Chuck Austen, the industry’s newest hack. Isn’t it wonderful how the PC crowd ends up taking over these once great titles? Go figure.

August 2001

The Darkness #40 vol. 1 (Image/Top Cow): the premise: a primal force that's been around since before humanity, with the other being the Angulus, which had its own titles published infrequently. It first appeared in a Witchblade story, and was created by Marc Silvestri and Garth Ennis, the latter whose presence honestly discourages me from reading this today. Most peculiar was how this was cancelled only to be relaunched soon after.

September 2001

Marvel Knights #15 (Marvel): Frankly, this is a line, as it became, that as of now, doesn't really amount to much. Marvel, desperate as they were to launch a line that could serve as the perfect place for them to tell stories that were more adult in nature, but alas, also more juvenile in tone, put Daredevil under the MK label starting in 1998, and Elektra and the Punisher 3 years later, but other than that, most of the books to have gone under this line, to say nothing of this now cancelled anthology, are nothing to write home about.

Probably the best of this line would have to have been Chuck Dixon's series here, which served to tell stories involving a couple of Marvel's "street smart" characters, as I like to call them myself, which include DD, Black Widow, Punisher, Power Man and Iron Fist, and also Cloak and Dagger.

But that was at a time when respect for continuity at Marvel was more stable, and now, under editor Axel Alonso, who's in charge of this line, it's mostly pretty tame, and, as he puts it, it supposedly appeals to those who think "outside the box", and, if so, are supposedly "more progressive", according to him.

Not only do I not accept this absurd notion of Alonso's, I must also point out the disrespect it shows for Marvel's devoted fans. And now, sadly, he and Marvel have pretty much snubbed fandom by shoving the Hulk into this very iffy line, in their sorry quest to avoid the would-be burden of continuity.

That was probably also one of the reasons why the Marvel Knights anthology series got axed, even though anthology titles haven't done well in today's market. True, it did get relaunched(!) a couple months later, only to be axed again, but that's something I'll have to attend to in the next installment I make of this section of my website.

Until then, let me point out that the MK line, as far as I have discerned, is iffy at best, if not worthless, and most of it is not worth the bother, especially not the MK version of Captain America, which became unreadable very quickly. And I'm not going to be looking forward to seeing the Incredible Hulk in this line either, nor Iron Man if that too is headed for this line.

October 2001

Nothing for this month either. Grumble grumble.

November 2001

Martian Manhunter #36 (DC): Ranking right next to Green Lantern as one of DC's most shabbily treated superheroes, we have J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. And just one more testimony to how it's not easy being green in comics, or in real life for that matter (yep, even I don't find life so easy myself).

Martian Manhunter first debuted at the end of what's called the Shadow Age of comics (1950-55), in a backup story published in an issue of Detective Comics, as an alien scientist who'd been accidentally transported to earth by another scientist working on communications with other worlds, but before he could figure out how to help tranport J'onn back to his homeworld, the human scientist passed away of a heart attack. Unable to figure out how to return to his own planet, J'onn realized that he'd have to get used to starting a new life on earth. With his power of being able to shape-shift, he soon took up a human guise, posing as John Jones, a human detective (at that time, it was so fast, the way he got the job). He also had telepathic powers as well, and when the Justice League of America was founded, he couldn't have found a better place to be a part of, and that was where, while he may not have become the biggest character in all the DCU, he certainly managed to gain popularity as a supporting character, and succeeding writers were able to expand upon his character and role, in the DCU and the League, later leading to a miniseries published in 1988 starring the alien superhero. And, while he later found ways to be able to return to his home planet, he decided to remain on earth and continue his career there as a superhero.

Later, tragedy struck, when his home planet was destroyed, and so, as of today, like Superman, he is an orphan of a deceased planet, working to right wrongs on good ol' planet earth.

In 1998, he got his own series, which was better than expected for a series starring a "third tier" character in the DCU. And John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake were a great choice for the writing/drawing team. But alas, this was just one of those series that DC simply wouldn't support to the fullest, and so, it ended up on the intergalactic scrap pile.

It's too bad that one of DC's best supporting characters didn't get the attention he deserved. But at least we'll always be able to continue reading about him in books like the JLA.

December 2001

Swamp Thing #20 volume 3 (DC/Vertigo): This series, which focused mainly on the daughter of the male Swampy and Abigail Arcane, that being Tefe Holland, had some potential to it storywise, but alas, it just didn't manage to regenerate the same buzz with readers that came when the second volume was in publication.

Like her mother, Tefe was drawn with mostly white colored hair, as a touch of the bizarre, and, like her dad, she too has powers almost similar to his, and also a similar outlook, though because she herself is a half-human, half-plant creature, so the story takes more or less a different viewpoint this time around. And Swampy here was in the role of her mentor.

Unfortunately, while the writer, Brian Vaughan, may have had some interesting ideas, it just didn't manage to recreate the same buzz as Tefe's dad had during his second series' long run (spoken about in the 1996 files), and was cancelled with the 20th issue.

Since then though, there's been yet another series that's come out from Vertigo, which may give focus to both dad and daughter. Even that hasn't been very successful, and was cancelled about a year and a half after it was published.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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