Cancelled Comics Commentary for ‏2004

January 2004

Alias #28 (Marvel): As someone who cannot stand the work of Brian Michael Bendis, the man who has since ruined the Avengers (see below), I really don't have much to say about this MAX series, which starred Jessica Jones, a former superheroine called Jewel who technically left that career to become a private eye instead. But the series was little more than a tepid excuse to write up a series with profane dialogue and other adult situations that in themselves do not a good story make.

The really annoying thing, however, is that since this time, Bendis forcibly made Jones part of the MCU proper, and retconned her into Luke Cage's background, and not very well, I'm afraid. After all, as you'll see below, what Bendis did to the Earth's Mightiest Heroes for at least 8 years is just the beginning of the problems that have been going on within that time, and the way Jones and Cage have been handled there too was not plausibly written in at all.

Mystic #43 (CrossGen): It’s a shame that this title came to an end, mostly due to CGE’s bankruptcy problems, though now that the company’s been bought by Cal Publishing, a Disney company affiliate, not only is it a relief that CGE’s been saved financially, there’s a chance that it could return in time.

The adventures of Giselle Villard, the beauty who became a wizard by accident, most powerful on her planet of Ciress, was quite a charmer, with its clever T&A spoof to begin with, and even some of the colorful cast members to go with it as well, including Skitter, the planet’s version of a dog, who, wouldn’t you know, could talk, and provided comedy relief!

It was certainly quite an enjoyable series that gave first writer Ron Marz the chance to prove his skills as a writer for real, after having done very mediocre work on Green Lantern’s 3rd volume for almost 7 years, and which I’ll be getting to down below as well.

Ruse #26 (CrossGen): Another CGE series that thankfully ended on a good note, this detective/fantasy series had some great moments too, but due to CG’s financial slumps, got put to an early end. The really good part was how the detective’s own assistant, Emma Cross, was the main focus, with her time-influencing abilities, and that was what really made it work.

February 2004

Crux #33 (CrossGen): While this was an interesting premise, earth in the far future where a race of Atlanteans reawakens after centuries of sleep, to find a post-apocalyptic planet with almost no other signs of remaining human life to await them, I can’t say that it was as long-ranging a concept as I’d probably wish it to be. Like Sojourn, it’s probably the kind of series that works best as a limited one. A handful of humanoids who included Tug, a telekinetic strongman, Verityn, a young boy who see all truths, and could make a good lie detector to boot, Capricia, a shape shifting girl, and a real hottie at that, Zephyre, metabolic girl intellectual, or, more precisely, a super-speedster, and another hottie too, Danik, keeper of secrets, and Galvan, master of electromagnetism, were the central cast members here, and were trying to defend the earth against the invading forces of the Negation (whose own title will be mentioned below), and even, get this, Terra Incognita, an intergalactic conglomerate trying to retake the globe for their own domineering purposes.

Overall, not bad for a futuristic adventure series, but to say the least, it's not that their series' premise was meant for a long-ranging/ongoing series, to say the least. Mark Waid wrote the first several issues, but left CG when they wouldn't accomodate to how he was comfortable in working, and then Chuck Dixon took over for the rest of the run. I can't say it was the most satisfying ending, but I will say that I'd very much appreciate if there could be a special conclusion published to this series that could really help complete it.

Gen13 #18 vol. 2 (DC/Wildstorm): An abortive attempt by Chris Claremont, who’s had very few successes outside of X-Men, this series featured foxy lady Caitlin Fairchild leading a new assembly of metahuman teenagers in a new group to fight crime, while being a vice principle of the school they were assigned to work at. The beginning issues had some potential (unless you include the “0” issue preceding them, which featured a story taking place around the days of 9-11, which, while far from the worst thing to take place in a fictional world while mixing in real life incidents, was still awfully superfluous), and some of the new characters were interesting, but the series lost its footing after several issues and bogged down.

The good news is that, in the last issue, the rest of the original cast members, Grunge, Freefall, Burnout, and Rainmaker, returned, and I guess you could say that Wildstorm left the opportunities open for them to return in the future in miniserials and such, and it’s possible that Caitlin may have tied the knot with one of her boyfriends in the finale, which, if so, does indeed make me smile. However, as of this writing, guess what? Wildstorm rebooted their entire universe of characters, Wildcats included, meaning in this case that they're starting all over again. And so, there has since come a volume of Gen13 that features the teen superdoers anew that's written by Gail Simone, but aside from the fact that I've been growing less encouraged with her work lately, I think she really flubbed what she was doing in the beginning with how some of the costumes worn by Caitlin are this time brought in for being attacked in some kind of "self-commentary". Which, now that I think of it, could partly explain why sales on the relaunched book have otherwise been pretty weak.

Meridian #44 (CrossGen): This is another title that may get another chance to shine under its new ownership, now that I’ve heard that they may intend to try it out as well again, along with Abadazad. In fact, I think it is!

Meridian was about a 16-year old girl who, not unlike say, Harry Potter, finds herself in possession of magical powers, just like Giselle above. And being the heiress to a kingdom on her own planet, that’s where she had to learn about the balance of power and how to combat evil while being a young ruler, and was lucky to have aides who could help teach her how to best utilize her strengths.

This too was another gem, for the younger crowd, that sadly didn’t get the attention it deserved when published around that time either. But under the new ownership, I think it’ll get its chance again.

March 2004

Punisher #7 vol. 3 (Marvel): If only I could say I enjoyed Frank Castle's Marvel Knights series more than I did. But Garth Ennis, who's not known to be fond of superheroes, not even Spidey or the Thing, ruined any chance I could have of being able to credit this MK volume for the character. The fifth issue contained some ugly political leanings, and while I can probably buy into black humor, even that part was squandered.

All I can say is that Ennis, as far as I'm concerned, has singlehandedly wrecked what was once a pretty good character (well, up to a point anyway), by exploiting the MK tag for his own personal biases. And I ain't happy.

The reason this volume came to an end was because they decided to move the Punisher into the MAX line, where it's gotten no better as far as political content is concerned. I would rather not think about what other ridiculous malarky's been jammed into the Punisher to contradict his character from standpoint of loving his family. All I can say is that I am simply not impressed at all with how this is being handled lately, and now that I've heard Marvel's current COO Dan Buckley say that the MAX line won't be expanding into the mass vision his predecessor, Bill Jemas, envisioned it would, I should hope that'll be but one step to ending this volume of the Punisher as well.

Good night, Frank.

Snake Plissken Chronicles (CrossGen): I cannot offer an actual issue number for this one, since the issues were coded in something like letters and numbers together, though I can say that about 9 issues were published overall. If you’re familiar with that old 1981 movie by John Carpenter (whose name is mentioned on the covers) called Escape From New York, and even its followup from 1996, Escape From L.A, you’d probably know who the Snake Plissken character is. He was played by Kurt Russell, and the setting was at least ten years ahead of the film’s own production time, with the title convict/rebel/whatever he was on an assignment to rescue the president of the US, who’d fallen behind enemy lines in Manhattan, which in the future had become a maximum security prison. Seriously. In the sequel movie, it was an almost similar premise there too.

But aside from that, I can’t say that Snake’s a character who’s ever really interested me. The movie, such as it was at the time, was nothing much to speak about, and even less to write home on. Whether or not this particular book had anything great to offer is not within my range of interest in finding out, and so, as much as I love CG’s own products, I can’t say I’ll be missing this one, and it won’t bother me a bit if this doesn’t get revived when the buyout of CG helps to continue everything in time.

April 2004

Lady Death Medieval Tale #12 (CrossGen): This character’s been around for awhile, and was published here under the special Code 6 category of CG, but the financial collapse put it out of publication. I don’t know if it’ll return with them when revived under the new management, but we’ll see.

The Path #23 (CrossGen): This was an interesting samurai epic that I certainly hope will get its day again with the new ownership for CG, which is now Cal Publications. (Man, I must really be repeating myself on those points here, eh?)

Scion #43 (CrossGen): This was a very good fantasy epic, with still more appealing lead characters, and a cool couple to match, and I should hope that this too will return in time to being in the publication of comics. And it sure did feature a cool romance in it! Wow, isn't it great when they think about those things?

May 2004

Micronauts #3 vol. 4 (Devil's Due Publishing): one more attempt after Image's, seen in the 2003 files, to launch a series based on these famous toys-to-comics (the first comic based on computer games, by the way, was probably Swordquest, written by Roy Thomas and published by DC back in 1983), this was sadly the least successful, and was canceled very quickly, with some additional stories never getting published in the end. I have no idea if the Micronauts will ever find their way into the four color world again anytime in the future.

Namor #12 (Marvel): I can't help but wonder if former Marvel chairman Bill Jemas saw to it that his name on this book's "development" would be noticable so that it'd drive away anyone offended by his manipulations of Marvel's artistic outlook, which was so bad, it almost made Jim Shooter's misuse of their editorial during the 1980's look like a mere mishandling of stock papers.

But Shooter analogies aside, what must've doomed this series was the covers for starters, which almost looked like something from out of a porn movie, and the storyline, set in Sub-Mariner's younger years as the prince of Atlantis, was both embarrassingly bad and dispiriting to boot.

Sojourn #34 (CrossGen): I should certainly hope that this wonderful adventure series will get its chance to conclude in style, since look how it ended in the last issue for now, as I told in my review of it earlier.

The thing is, I really don’t understand as to why Greg Land pulled out of this when he didn’t have to, so that he could draw a series that never saw print, American Power, written by Chuck Dixon, and while I most certainly will say that the premise had some potential, in spite of how the cover probably was questionable, I still think it was a mistake for Land to do that. Though somehow, I can't say I'll be sorry if Ian Edington doesn't return as the writer for this series: thinking about it now, I can't say that his having killed off Kreeg, Arwyn's pet dog, if he did, was a good idea.

I can only hope that now that CrossGen’s been bought by a bigger owner, that things’ll get better even for this, and I guess in time they will, but at the same time, I do realize that I, and others, will have to be patient.

June 2004

Brath #14 (CrossGen): This title was set in a world that almost looked like the Roman empire. Whether or not it'll make a comeback in the future along with the rest of the CG books remains to be seen.

El Cazador #6 (CrossGen): It was certainly an intriguing story premise, about a pirate journey through the seas, with a female captain leading the trip, in another good step by CrossGen in presenting strong female leads in their books, and also another attempt of CG's to steer away from the Sigils they'd been bearing on their comic characters, but unfortunately, those dreadful economic get the idea.

I will have to say though that the lead character's being called Captain Sin was quite an oddity indeed though. As you could expect from a Chuck Dixon scripted book, this did a fine job with the action, and so to say the least, I do hope it'll have another chance at being published.

Elektra #35 Vol. 2 (Marvel): In all due honesty, I cannot understand what the whole purpose is to publish a series starring a character whose revival some argue was pointless if they can’t even give it any solid direction. Not that I have any real problem myself with whether Ms. Nachios is alive or dead, but this series couldn’t seem to decide if she should be a mere killer-for-hire or someone who’s got more dimension than just that. Greg Rucka was an ideal choice for writer when he did it here, but while he may have explored the idea of developing Elektra into more than just an assassin, he went and changed her right back to a more ordinary outlook when he left!

Overall, this one is a real curio at best, and while the Marvel Knights series does have a couple of high points, it sadly does not hold up well enough to maintain interest for a long range of time, which is why, in the end, this series, which was unfortunate enough to fall victim to publicity stunts, got discontinued.

Since it ended though, there has been published a much more interesting miniseries called Elektra: The Hand, focusing on her relations with the ninja clan in China that trained her and her former lover, Matt Murdock/Daredevil. Which reminds me that IMO, a miniseries is exactly what they should have done before, and not had to spend tons of money on something that even the writers themselves surprisingly seem to have little faith in.

Human Torch #12 vol 2 (Marvel): Wow, the once House of Ideas sure had a House of Cancelled Goods to offer this year, didn't they? This one, which slipped beneath the radar very fast, was a victim of superfluous use of manga-style penciling, which also took a toll on the newest volume of the Spectacular Spider-Man from 2003, which looks to be cancelled soon as well, as its assigned writer, Paul Jenkins, makes his departure, so they don't see any real need to continue without him.

Aside from the manga being a culprit in its failure here, and also the company's declining to promote it, this solo book for Johnny Storm, who may have had another volume even earlier, even the potential lack of proper continuity focus may have been what doomed this item. Which wouldn't surprise me if that was the case here.

Overall, I can't say then that I'm sorry to see it go. I just wish that Marvel would show some genuine willingness to promote and hire a good artist who doesn't specialize in manga-mimics to deal with it!

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang #5 (CrossGen): With this series, CG tried to enter the spy spoof genre, and had a really good premise to boot: it was James Bond presented as what he was: a cynical male chauvinist, while the female spy who teamed up with him was the one to get the more positive focus. Too bad it got cut short, of course, but with the new ownership, it could make a comeback in time again, and then we'll get more of the focus on the spies, with the female spy outdoing the male one as entertainingly as can be.

Negation War (CrossGen): I'm not sure about the exact number for this, but if there's anything I do know, it's that this title ended not simply as Negation, but with the word war added to it.

This was meant to be a kind of crossover in which I assume the Sigils would be all but done away with in the CrossGen universe, but just like Sojourn and even Kiss Kiss Bang Bang above, it got cut short when the company filed for Chapter 11 in bankruptcy.

I can't say that this ever appealed to me that much, due to the fact that it seemed to be about a race of world invaders from space. They certainly tried to antagonize the protagonists in Crux, but were luckily driven away. And then, they headed off into space again, as far as I know, for adventures that so far would not be finished. But again as always, with the new ownership, it's possible they'll be able to continue.

Though that doesn't neccasarily mean that I'll be interested specifically in Negation at that.

New Mutants #13 Vol. 2 (Marvel): this was an effort to revive the old series that ran during the 1980s. If we count Dazzler as a spinoff of the X-Men (after all, Alison Blaire did first appear in Uncanny X-Men in 1980), then The New Mutants could be regarded as the second. The characters who starred in this first appeared in Marvel Graphic Novel #4, and just like the main team, they too had quite a few amazing adventures of their own as commandos and such.

That older series later became X-Force in 1991 (and for more notes on that, see the 2002 files). It's a shame that later in the NM's run, Rob Liefeld, one of the most overrated writers/artists with an inexplicable following, had to do some of the storytelling here. Maybe that's what led to the demise of the first incarnation too.

As for this incarnation, wouldn't you know it, it ended becoming relaunched as - guess what - New X-Men soon afterwards! Fortunately, if anything, the aforementioned series that continued from where the second NM left off had nothing to do with Grant Morrison's own run on X-Men, which received the "New" semi-adjective when he was writing, and was dropped a few issues after he had left.

I have yet to see what the current NXM is like. I do hope it's more in tune with what really makes a Marvel comic book work, and doesn't descend into trendiness and PC-dom.

Route 666 #22 (CrossGen): This just isn’t something that I’m particularly interested in discussing, since, while it’s not as if every horror series bothers me, it’s not as if I’m really disappointed to see them go either. And that’s pretty much the case with this one, much as I do like the works of CrossGen.

Way of the Rat #24 (CrossGen): A tongue-in-cheek samurai/ninja adventure, this had some good fun to it, but was also undone by CG’s financial collapse.

It’ll probably get its chance again in time though, including its goofy narrator in Po-Po, whose jokes here were quite amusing.

X-Treme X-Men #46 (Marvel): Ending as the team here returns to the X-Mansion in Westchester County, NY. Which is just as well, since this was not much of a series to begin with.

The thing that really did it in for me, and this was early on, was Psylocke’s being killed off just for the sake of it, and of shock, in the second-third issue. After that, guess who came in for more of the run? Gambit, which would be fine if they hadn't brought him in as simply a replacement, and if they'd repaired his characterization as well, but alas. And aside from all that, it was just so routine, it wasn’t even interesting on a real level.

I don’t really have a problem with nobody acting realistically, if they don’t. What I do have a problem with is if they can’t even be interesting. That no character development was given for Rogue didn't help matters.

Okay, there were some good parts to it, and anything that involved Kitty Pryde is bound to be great, but it was still very run of the mill nevertheless.

Now that they've since returned tp their own turf, I'd like to think that things'll be perking up, but as now, not really is anything working to that effect.

July 2004

Nope, nothing to declare for this month either.

August 2004

Hawkeye #8 (Marvel): Of all the cancellations to be made, this irony was was that this series wasn't very well written, though at the same time, that it was made to suit the needs of “Avengers Disasssembled”, in which Clint Barton was seemingly killed off, was troubling. And what a shame too, given that he was one of my favorite characters as well. No, don’t worry, I wouldn’t assume for even a second that he was literally dead (and besides, in comics, death is a revolving door), but even so, the whole notion of doing the deed in the first place is what really ticks me off, and in fact, death is not even what I read comics for in the first place. Nor should it be.

Clint Barton, alias Hawkeye, was an orphan when he first began, who’d led a rather unhappy life with his older brother as workers in a circus company when growing up. His mentor, that being the now deceased Swordsman, turned out to be an embezzler, and Clint got angry when he found out, especially when the man turned against him and tried to kill him by making him fall from a tightrope when fleeing from him. He later on found another mentor who, while he too turned out to be a jerk, if not an outright criminal himself, taught him how to master the art of archery, and Clint certainly was up to teaching himself how to master the bow and arrow too.

It was after having been mistaken for a crook that he became a member of the Avengers, becoming part of what was then called the “Kooky Quartet”, of Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and himself, and even fell in love with the Black Widow, Natasha Romanov, who’s been a longtime ally of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes since then. And, similar to Green Arrow, he too is portrayed as the kind of character who’s had his own share of moral flaws, though of course, the difference is that he was created with them. You could practically see them in him whenever he would take up the alternate guise of Giant-Man, offered to him by Hank Pym, who’d been experimenting on growth serums as much he had with shrinking serums.

He’d had himself a miniseries, if anything, before, and he’s almost always been interesting wherever he’s been featured. He even served as a leader for the Thunderbolts during their 1997-2003 run.

Now, he had a chance to shine in a series written by Fabian Nicieza, also the writer of Thunderbolts, and the next thing you know, they pull out the carpet from beneath our feet, and leave us without it. All because Disassembled/Distasteful must be the norm for now, in a story that insultingly framed Scarlet Witch as insane and attacking her own teammates out of said insanity (see more below). And to top it all off, who do the EMH hand her over to for recuperation but Magneto, rather than to Prof. Xavier direct. Yeah, of course Magneto does put her in the tutelage of Xavier soon afterwards, but what writer Brian Michael Bendis did was still stupefyingly ridiculous. Hawkeye was sent up into what must’ve been a spaceship wind tunnel where he seemingly exploded. Fortunately, as was later, and quite obviously, revealed, yes, ol' Clint survived.

But this short-lived series didn't, and incredibly, it seems that there's good reason why it didn't. It was slow-moving, and suffered from a few problems that plagued Spider-Man as well: that it seemed more interested in depicting the hero out of costume than in it. And, to make matters worse, it even featured a ludicrious plot involving some crooks who, as Clint discovered, slaughtered a whole village in Vietnam. I suspect this was written, mandatory or otherwise, out of rock-bottom leftism. If it was, then it deserved to fail.

Stormwatch: Team Achilles #23 (DC/Wildstorm): Cancelled,* and with good reason. The latest incarnation of this title, which first appeared in 1993, served as little more than an anti-war diatribe by the writer, Micah Ian Wright, who was exposed just a few months before by the Washington Post as a fraud: he claimed to have once served in the US Army Ranger division during the raid on Panama in 1989, and said that his experiences there ended up turning him into a peacenik. In a lot of the interviews he gave in the past few years, he kept playing up that part there.

Wright supposedly apologized for his stupid lies, but it's not enough, and at the same time, I would personally think that DC/Wildstorm owes an apology for allowing him to use their properties as a means to express his own personal biases, something that's become a very sad staple for many comic book writers in recent years. Not to mention that, as far as anti-war sentiments are concerned, they're going to have to cut out all this needless forcing of political biases, both open and subtle, down the throats of the readers too! (See below for a few more examples of books that pulled those kind of stupid stunts.)

Oh, and for the record, while we're on the subject, here's a few more links to blogger's thoughts on Mr. Wright as well:
Mudville Gazette
Jim Treacher
A Small Victory
One Good Move
Pushing Forward

As for Stormwatch itself, it's not a title I've ever been interested in, and after this whole debacle, I can't say I ever will be.

* There was supposed to have been a 24th issue, but in the wake of Wright's scandal, it was cancelled too, and never published.

September 2004

The Authority #14 vol. 2 (Wildstorm/DC): if the first volume wasn't bad enough, this sure was, with the team taking over America in the most leftist manner possible. And it went through quite a bit of trouble with the DC editorial too, though I honestly don't know why, given how leftist they've proven themselves to be.

Captain Marvel #28 vol 2 (Marvel): Well, I figured they'd let it come to an end, though I must say, in all due honesty, I just don't care anymore. But then neither do I approve of the publicity stunt tactics that took place behind this relaunch of the volume that "ended" in 2002, when Bill Jemas and writer Peter David agreed to a marathon (well actually, David did, since, if Jemas was in charge, why should he have to?) on both this and Jemas' larky dud, Marville. I'm not going to go too much into detail here, as it can be read about in the 2002 files, though I will have to say that, while Rick Jones is a likable character, and so is Genis-Vell, they both deserve far better than the treatment they got with this series.

Thanos #12 (Marvel): They never even gave this an actual chance. Jim Starlin, who may be the creator of the facinating interegalactic warlord with blue skin, began the first six issues, with the talented Al Milgrom doing the penciling, but was then taken off the title and replaced with Keith Giffen, who, while a talented writer indeed, having tossed off Justice League International in its time with relish, wasn't given much of a chance either, and the book was cancelled almost as quickly as it begun.

A real shame too, since the idea of starring Thanos as a narrator in this series had a lot going for it, considering it starred a character who's de-facto a crook, and a notable adversary of the Silver Surfer. You have only to wonder, from what's told in here: is the "Mad Titan" going to consider turning over a new leaf and reforming? If anything, he certainly seemed to be considering purpose for himself in the galaxy. And they were good questions all, but all left unanswered by TPTB. But that's exactly the problem these days when you've got an industry that's been cancelling series left and right...and even relaunches them in hopes of turning big profit percentages that way too.

October 2004

The Darkness #24 vol. 2 (Image/Top Cow): clearly, relaunches aren't having much impact anymore, certainly not for indie comics like this one, which didn't last long at the time.

Green Lantern #181 Vol. 3 (DC): So just in time to be followed up with by Green Lantern: Rebirth, featuring the legendary Hal Jordan’s return to life (but tragically, with references to the repellent Identity Crisis forced in), GL’s third volume, starring Kyle Rayner comes to an end, and with a really big whimper.

Regarding Kyle as a lead character: I'm not saying I dislike him, far from that. What I do dislike was what DC and editor Kevin Dooley did to Hal Jordan in early 1994, turning him into a mass murderer after making him a drunk driver in 1991's Emerald Dawn, in a story known today as Emerald Twilight where he slaughtered thousands of GL Corps members. And while Kyle can't be faulted for not being interesting as a character - indeed, that's the writer's fault - the stories he was put through weren't very interesting or inspiring, and I know that Green Arrow’s Connor Hawke was treated with more respect as a character than he was.

It was after Hal Jordan, in DC’s now notorious excuse for a crossover, Zero Hour, was turned further into a villain and killed off (and even beforehand, had his background badly damaged in the Emerald Dawn miniseries) that Kyle Rayner entered the fray. Granted, part of the idea was to introduce a new, younger GL who might appeal to the younger crowd still reading comics now, but what served to his disadvantage was that, in sharp contrast to Flash’s Wally West, he was totally brand new, and didn’t have a long and established history as a character in the DCU, nor was he related to any of the other established folks in the DCU or even a god-child or a family friend. And unlike Wally, he didn’t have the same sense of humor, nor any really meaty qualities that could make him the kind of character the audience could identify with.

But where DC – and even writer Ron Marz – really got themselves into a pothole with Kyle’s development was in how:

A] They made him the only Green Lantern in the galaxy, not including Alan Scott, who changed his codename to Sentinel, and Guy Gardner, who never actually took up a really serious codename, and his solo book from 1992-1996…well, that you already know. But other than that, like I said, Kyle was the only GL in the galaxy. Yes, really. And do I need to point out that it ruined the whole family aspect that worked well for the Emerald Gladiator in the Silver Age? As if that weren't enough, his "origin" was with a surviving Guardian named Ganthet giving him the last remaining power ring just because he was the best choice Ganthet could find in a jiffy, while Kyle was dithering around outside a bar. It's as tedious as it sounds.

B] They tried, in a very forced manner, to give Kyle motivation, by having his girlfriend Alexandra deWitt murdered by choking and stuffed mangled in a refridgerator by Major Force, in the now most notorious kitchen-based scene that became a leading example of brutality against women in the excellent Women in Refridgerators website, created to protest the overabundance of violence against women in comics in 1999. And guess what? Kyle didn’t even try to put Major Force to death himself, because they had to resort to the tired old gimmick of a superhero feeling that it would make him as bad as the villain himself, when it could be just as interesting and bold an experiment to see if it’s possible for a superhero to resort to killing a supervillain to avenge the death of a loved one. Instead, the one to put Force to death, or to at least try, was Guy Gardner, for whom it could certainly make sense that he would be willing to do it, mainly because Force killed Arisia later on. But hey, what about the idea of a flawed leading superhero too at that? If it’s to be thought of that way, of course. In fact, when Marz was writing, Kyle was such a cypher, he didn't even make any challenging bold steps. No wonder I myself wisely decided to avoid reading much of the run.

C] When getting Kyle a new, more regular girlfriend, they resorted to some easy choices: first Donna Troy, and then Alan Scott’s sexy green-skinned daughter Jade, alias Jennifer-Lynn Hayden, the drool-inducer of Infinity Inc. Unfortunately, in her case, if she was meant to be love interest, she was not very well conveyed at that, and when Judd Winick took over the writing for 2-3 years, he practically made her into a bimbo with how she opined on some of the things that Kyle dealt with, such as the forced entry of the teenaged protagonist Terry Berg into the mix, and do I need to point out that that was one of the most one-sided depictions of a gay character in comics ever? (And it's still probably nothing compared to the focus Winick's been giving to Jade's unhappy childhood, abused by a manager at the orphanage she first lived in, over in the Outsiders during late 2004. I don't even want to get started on that.) It went so far as to stereotype one of both of Terry’s parents, who blamed his lifestyle rather than the hoodlums who assaulted the poor boy in the 2002 storyline in which Kyle become Ion, some kind of god-like figure for a day, and yet fails to save what Winick must’ve been concocting as his own version of Doiby Dickles and Tom Kalmaku. Let’s be clear here, shall we? There no need to mimic the formula of yore just like that. Another reason why Jade became the girlfriend is because Marz was barred by editor Kevin Dooley from creating a new one himself; he could only turn to using an already existing cast member/superheroine, which strongly signals the disturbing editorial mandate that's plagued Green Lantern for many years.

And then, to show as to how much he really cared about even the supporting character, Winick has Kyle head off into space for awhile, feeling guilty over what he’d done by smashing up the thugs who’d committed the assault, when here, surely Terry would’ve have needed him at the hospital to so he wouldn’t be alone, since his parents, to say the least, do pretty much that? Right, go figure. John Stewart filled in for two issues as GL on earth during Kyle’s travel in space, but this was ignored soon afterwards, appallingly enough, given that John is a favorite character of mine, and comes across as far more interesting than Kyle ever has.

Under Winick, Green Lantern actually became even less interesting than ever, and it almost makes me giggle at how all the knee-jerk members of establishment went and said that for the first time since Kyle made the scene, he’d become interesting. Forget it, Charlie, you’re not even close.

Then, as Winick was leaving, to deal with Green Arrow in this case, and even with the latest incarnation of the Outsiders, so he and Ben Raab went and did another Green Lantern/Green Arrow crossover with the since returned Oliver Queen, and it was by far one of the stupidest, most pointless excuses for a crossover between two titles ever seen. Ollie at one point insults Kyle for no apparent reason other than to show that Winick and Raab together have nothing but contempt for the character, whatever achievements Winick made prior to that notwithstanding, and Kyle gets angry at Ollie, and aside from all that, the aliens-plot-to-conquer-earth storyline was nothing special to speak of, and was throughly predictable.

Raab’s writing on the book after that didn’t improve matters. The part about restoring the planet of Oa and the Guardians of the Galaxy to their rightful place in the DCU was squandered by having Kyle betrayed and forced to retreat back to earth. This was where Ron Marz returned to complete the run, but wow, what a tedious ending it was! Jade cheats on him, with a man who once cheated on her(!), and Kyle starts getting nasty, leading her to slap him on the face and the breakup between the two of them, and then, when Kyle sees that John Stewart’s won over the JLA with his own skills, he feels unneeded anymore.

Wow. Some way to send the character out in loss. But the really fatal flaw at the end was two-pronged, so to speak: Kyle, while thinking of quitting, goes to visit his mother’s house, and lo and behold, Major Force is back, and seemingly put his mother to death in a scene similar to the one in 1996 involving Kyle’s gal-pal.

I can’t tell you how tasteless I find that whole notion of repeating, even ostensibly, of that distasteful scene from the first time it happened. Especially given that the CCA label was still on it, and it took until 2011 for DC to drop it. But at the time, they still used it, no matter how silly it made them look. And while Force may not have actually put Mrs. Rayner to death (he claimed in the anti-climactic showdown that it was just a mannequin), that didn’t – and doesn’t – counteract the bad taste the issue before the last left behind. And the scene in the final issue, with Kyle actually giving Force his power ring, even if only briefly, was simply unbelievable. Namely, because it totally insults what came before, that being Kyle’s girlfriend, and come to think of it, even his own mother! It’s as if the writers/editors were implying that the girlfriend and mother meant nothing, which is totally false, and downright offensive.

The finale ends with Kyle knocking Major Force's severed but still active head into deep space while sealed in an energy bubble, and then he goes off into space himself as well(!). Gee, how many absurd endings can you get? Not only does it avoid any hard choices for the superhero in spite of everything, or even trying to set up a genuine supporting cast, something a lot of comics seem to lack these days, it even has him leaving the earth without even checking in on his mother or bidding her goodbye.

I can't say I'll be missing Kyle as the star of GL (I hardly read much of his run anyway), yet the really terrible thing is how, thanks to Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns, I can't celebrate the return of Hal Jordan either (as mentioned above, the Identity Crisis references and connections really ruin everything, plus quite a bit of the violence the 4th volume following this happens to contain). I do know that it's a tragic shame that DC alienated fans with Emerald Twilight and the execution of Alexandra, and then kept atop a high tree for nearly a decade. Why, even if Hal hadn't been thrown under a tank, the horrific slaughter of Alex would be enough to get me to avoid the series like the plague, certainly by the standards I go by today. Someday, this is going to be recalled as a classic case of desperation for 15 minutes of fame.

But it gets even worse...

In January 2017, it was reported that Gerard Jones, who began the 3rd volume and wrote it for about 47 issues and at least one annual until 1993, was arrested for possession of child porn on his home computer hardware devices and uploading it to Youtube, and he committed a felony similar to what the now disgraced artist Justiniano was jailed for. More reports said he was suspected of committing child rape in Britain. I was absolutely horrified, disgusted and devastated when I read about this, because, to be sure, a lot of the people campaigning for Hal Jordan's resurrection felt editor Kevin Dooley was unfair to Jones, including the people who published the H.E.A.T campaign advertisement in Wizard back in the late 90s, and now, over 2 decades later, we have to find out Jones was practically asking to get blacklisted. Even if he only lost his moral compass a decade or so before the scandal, it's still very embarrassing, and now, even if it's possible to separate the art from the artist, one could conclude that the whole 3rd volume's been destroyed by Jones' atrocities.

It's a terrible shame, because, even if I'm not impressed with Emerald Dawn, which he'd been one of the writers for, I thought his stories in this series did have some good character drama, and now look what's happened; he's effectively tainted the work of a lot of other contributors. Do I need to note even the Wonder Man series he wrote at the time for Marvel has been embarrassed by his felonies too? Guess not.

Sometimes, it's just stupefying how projects that look decent can wind up being tarnished by people who have no sense of responsibility.

Legion #38 (DC): Another volume of the cult favorite, Legion of Super-Heroes, this one having been written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, is put to rest on the shelf, to make way for yet another volume, which'll be written by Mark Waid.

It's kind of a pity that once again, any title, from the big two or elsewhere, has to put up with this kind absurdity, especially when taking into consideration that this volume was pretty good, and sadly underrated. What made this really work was that Abnett and Lanning understood and respected the more optimistic approach that made it work so well in the past incarnations, presenting the Legion as beacons of hope, and IMO, Waid should've simply been allowed to take over from where his predecessors left off.

But not to worry, I have faith in even what Waid'll turn out in the next coming volume, and given that it's the only DC title/franchise that's really set in the far future, that's why it should be a cinch to pull it off well.

X-Statix #26 (Marvel): With this issue, Peter Milligan's satirical take on the group, featuring what I think began as a series featuring the mutants as more accepted by society, but there's just one little thing: it was more or less geared as an adult title, and was soon moved into the Marvel Knights line as well. Maybe it was about a group whose status is more of being accepted and being celebrities than most of the other mutants, but it also appears to have been dark in its own scope.

Speaking of dark, with overrated miniseries like Identity Crisis littering up the industry, I will have to say in simple detail, that I am very extremely tired of this whole peculiar obsession with such an angle, and it goes without saying that that is exactly why comics have been slumping so badly as they have these days. Not to mention that virtually every attempt by DC to "Marvelize" their universe has backfired sooner or later, and IC is no exception.

And somehow, I do wonder if even series like X-Statix have backfired on Marvel for the same reasons. Could be.

And if so, then that could be one of, if not the only reasons, why this series was cancelled in the end.

WildC.A.T.S 3.0 #24 (Wildstorm/DC): This was an attempt to revive the series spoken about earlier in the 1998 files, and it was probably ended as part of the plan to do a hardcore reboot of the whole Wildstorm universe line the following year.

November 2004

Avengers Finale (Marvel): So this is their little game, eh? Kill off, or at least seem to kill off, a handful of Avengers and their allies (Vision, Agnes Harkness, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, in example), and have the culprit be an insane Scarlet Witch! Gee, haven’t we enough problems already with Identity Crisis having framed Jean Loring as a murderess who took the life of Sue Dibny? Sure, IC is much worse in its depiction of women, but even this mess, which noone asked for, is just as insulting, as this article from Silver Bullet Comics points out.

If it hadn’t been done as a marketing/publicity ploy, which is what Identity Crisis also turned out to be, I’m sure I’d be delighted as anything to see Spider-Man have a go at being an Avenger again, ditto to see Spider-Woman in the team as well. But Wolverine? When you see them going as far as that, you know it’s just dumping the regular team of EMH for a more commercial one. What was done was to have the regular team get mad and break up, and when it came to Scarlet Witch, the team handed her over to – are you ready? – her own biological father, Magneto! While he may not be a true villain at the moment, that they should actually be willing to give her to him, even if he did send her afterwards to spend some time with Prof. Xavier instead, was simply stretching the boundaries of disbelief way too far. That’s what’s called giving up and defeat, and it goes without saying that they didn’t even do anything genuine to restrain Wanda themselves, rather, it was Dr. Strange who came in help stop her madness.

So now the regular team is broken up, and Wanda is currently residing with the X-Men circa Genosha, in a coma apparently, all for the sake of just another comics series taking place with a new volume being launched at that. And it’s all penned by Brian Bendis, who, as one website put it, may have singlehandedly launched the whole current custom of padding out storylines for trade paperbacks, which Marvel declared its official policy and forced a lot of writers to comply with lest they be fired.

As much as I would like to check out some of the members featured in the new volume, which continues from where the previous one left off (this last issue would be #504, to say the least), I am simply not up to it. In fact, sometimes I can’t help but feel that a lot of Marvel books are impenetrable today, even more so than some people seem to perceive DC as being. But really, there is no difference when it comes to either company in terms of anything good or bad they do, and this is no exception.

Runaways #18 vol. 1 (Marvel): a rather odd series about a bunch of teens who discover their parents are members of a cultist crime syndicate called the Pride, and after they witness the parents sacrifice a girl in a witchcraft ceremony, they flee in horror, and form a group that goes back to gather technological/sorcery resources their parents kept which they use to defeat them. From there, they make an effort to continue battling criminals who might try to restart the Pride gang.

It was admittedly unusual in the sense that this wasn't your typical team of teens - they weren't depicted as superheroes per se - but it never really caught on seriously, even though it was revived a couple months later in another volume. It even involved time travel elements and magic (Gertrude Yorkes' parents were originally from 1907!), and there was at least one protagonist, Xavin, who was the son of Skrulls and had the ability to duplicate the Fantastic Four's powers just like the Super-Skrull! But there were also some elements that don't appeal to me, so maybe this isn't exactly something to get worked up about.

December 2004

Captain America #32 vol 4 (Marvel): And it couldn't have come to a close sooner. The good news though, is that it ended okay, in the regular MCU! But until the thankfully good storyline by Robert Kirkman that brought this otherwise repugnant volume to a close, this was really the pits. Seldom have I seen a classic character like Steve Rogers being misused in such a jaw-crashingly hateful manner, for the sake of politically driven storylines on the one hand, and storylines meant to insult the character as a ladies man on the other.

By the one, I mean when the first story arc, titled "The New Deal" in trades, pulled a "blame the victims/America" stunt, and it's all detailed in here, in this column I wrote on August 27 of 2004, and also in Michael Medved's column for National Review (and let's not forget the even bigger item available from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies). By the other, I mean a storyline circa issue 15, wherein Cap meets a mermaid, and it's implied that love is a bad thing. Do I need to say any more, other than that, if it's written by Chuck Austen, that should be definite sign that something is terribly wrong? Please.

Issues 20-27 were written by none other than Robert Morales, the "never heard of him" writer who also penned the prior monstrosity called The Truth: Red, White and Black, another anti-American, anti-War propaganda machine by the band of Chomskyites who were running Marvel at the time. And while I am glad that this was written off at the end of his run as taking place in an alternate dimension, the whole scenario in that last "alternate world Cap" story shut me off when it featured - I kid you not - Steve restoring the World Trade Center through time travel! It's so slapdash and stultifying, I think I'm gonna need some aspirin. Sorry, but I'd rather they just declare the whole run until then a Mopee, like they did in the old days, and toss it out altogether.

The last story arc, which enabled me to give a huge sigh of relief, had the Steve we know back in the regular MCU again, and meeting what appears to be old gal-pal Diamondback, and together they worked to bring down the Red Skull, who was hatching another evil plot of his again. Phew! A good, simple comic book suspense story to really help make things entertaining again. Bravo, Robert Kirkman!

Meanwhile, the newest volume, written Ed Brubaker, has already premiered on the stands, and is proving to be another sigh of relief as well, mainly due to its wisely avoiding politically driven and even self-loathing storylines. Sometimes, I'll have to admit, that while there are some forms of human interest stories I'd like to see Captain America dealing with, it's a relief that they wisely steer clear of anything that could run the gamut to being slapdash instead.

Iron Man #89 volume 3 (Marvel): Wow, look what appallingly went out with a whimper, in connection with Avengers Disassembled, being cancelled - and relaunched - at about the same time.

Tony Stark deserved far better than this. Come to think of it, that very argument could easily apply to Shell-Head's own series ever since Kurt Busiek left the book after 25 issues in 2 years and hacks like Joe Quesada and Frank Tieri took over, ditto Mike Grell, who was fired from the series just shortly after having begun. It wasn't just the questionable way in which the writer depicted a woman of de-facto Muslim background from a Chechnyan-like country as the love interest here, but also the fact that said love interest later assaulted Pepper Potts in a heavy-handed subplot, which later led to Tony, of all things, publicly unmasking his secret ID in the most weakest of ways! (He was saving a child's pet dog from being run over by a car at a party being held by Rumiko Fujikawa. The rushed way it was done was simply unbelivable.) A very sad shame, since Grell was once a decent writer, and here went and insulted intellects with a leftist leaning. It perked up a bit when Robin Laws took over, but got into a quagmire again when John Jackson Miller, said to be the editor of Comics Buyer's Guide, came on board, and, as with quite a few other Marvel books published during the Jemas tenure, and even afterwards, lapsed into overly-politicized storylines, such as one that took place around Iraq, with Tony becoming, of all things, the US secretary of defense! And the problem with what Miller wrote was that it embarrassingly screwed up in its depiction of a Kurdish woman who wanted revenge against the country that oppressed her (she's insane! What else is new?). And in order to try and prevent Tony from going after her and stopping her, she wrecked the armor he'd brought with him, but instead of trying to find another way of stopping her without it, he gives up! (Well okay, temporarily maybe, but who's caring?) It's not the superpowers that make one a hero, but rather, the person who wields them, plus their dedication and devotion to crimefighting. As if it weren't enough that, when Grell was writing, the son of the Mandarin was shown fighting IM without the power rings his father used to great effect when he was Shell-Head's main archnemesis.

In fact, when Grell was doing the scripts here, the nadir was probably the aforementioned part where Ayisha, the woman whom Tony had met in the Chechnyan-like country, terminated a pregnancy that Pepper Potts was revealed to have had(!) when assaulting her to get at Tony for his refusal to help her commit suicide. I know that Grell once did it before in Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, but to repeat it here was not only stale at worst, it was downright insulting, and had little to no impact. Worse, it now strikes me as a most disturbing precursor to the botch job done in DC's financially successful but artistically bankrupt debacle of a miniseries, Identity Crisis, when the so-called New York Times best-seller novelist Brad Meltzer used the same hack trick when killing off Sue Dibny, and then went even further by showing her being raped by Dr. Light in retrospect (interestingly enough, in subsequent interviews following the first two issues, such as this one, he didn't even mention the rape when talking about the miniseries. Some way of committing oneself to a serious subject). It's already been spoken about on this website too, in a trio of columns I've written, one, two and three.

Honestly, I just don't get it why Marvel is selling out, more or less, on what was once one of their best franchises, and turning it into scrap metal. The new fourth volume was scripted for starters by Warren Ellis, not a good way to start off a series, and yet oddly enough, he only scripted the first 6 issues before leaving, and giving way to another writer instead! That seems to be a big problem with a lot of Marvel books these days, whether it be the previous volume of Captain America discussed above, or even Avengers as well. If they don't find not only a writer who can write at least 4-5 years worth of stories, and a decent writer with no overly political slant to boot, that would be a very welcome thing indeed.

But for now, perhaps with Quesada as EIC, who can tell when any of these crucial steps will be taken?

Silver Surfer #14 Vol. 3 (Marvel): This sure didn't get much fanfare or attention when it was running, but then, if the news I heard about it is correct, that they devolved Norrin Radd into a villain, then I sure can't say I'm gonna miss this one. And judging by sales and discussion now, not many others did either.

If it's some really good Silver Surfer stories you want, that's why it's better to read the series that first ran in the late 1960s, and also the one from 1986-1998, which is mentioned in the 1998 files here. This recent one seems to be a victim of many of the things that have gone wrong with Marvel in the past couple of years.

Thor #85 vol. 2 (Marvel): This ended the series relaunched following the end of the dreadful Heroes Reborn storyline, and the while the demise of the Norse gods in this finale didn't last, it's still as galling as ever that they would resort to such an idea.

Dan Jurgens (and Kurt Busiek) brought the thunder god back and gave him a new secret identity: specifically, through the influence of a being called Marnot, he took over the form of a paramedic named Jake Olson who'd been killed during a battle with the Destroyer, and this led to situations where he had to work things out with Olson's girlfriend and her daughter, who was disapproving of him because of how he'd run off and gotten mixed up in clashes with some of Thor's most notable enemies, leaving her all but abandoned. As a result, Thor decided he couldn't keep after the woman and left her for a time.

Olson was eventually revived and the two were separated, and when Odin died during this run (which may unfortunately have been for publicity stunt sake), Thor took over as Asgard's ruler.

Alas, Quesada and company couldn't allow even that to stand, so with Avengers: Disassembled taking place, they canceled this series and at the end, Thor and a couple of his co-stars like Sif and Volstagg were killed. Yes, they've since been revived, but as I have argued quite often, I simply cannot stand anymore when even these limbo-land deaths take place in comics.

All in all, what really makes this a very sad affair is that when this volume began, it was a very well written book, and look what's happened since - they threw it all out the window.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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