Cancelled Comics Commentary for 2005

January 2005

H-E-R-O #22 (DC): This was another take on an anthology series of yore that back in the day featured teenagers using some kind of device to turn themselves into a whole bunch of bizarre superhero-ish protagonists. But this newer rendition took it more adult, and under editors and publishers as bad as Dan DiDio, I wouldn't trust them to deliver anything even remotely appealing. Seeing how short a shelf life this had, it's clear not many others were interested.

February 2005

Emma Frost #18 (Marvel): I'm going to have to be honest here, but, as much as I wish I could be, I'm not much of a fan of the former(?) White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost, who at one point ran a school for mutants of her own and was a rival of the X-Men before reforming and becoming an ally to them and running the school for Generation X along with Banshee. But really, what bothers me is the forced pairing of her with Cyclops at the expense of Jean Grey. Sorry, I don't buy.

Yeah, the covers for this series, if you've seen them, sure look sexy, don't they? And yet, because they were clearly meant as some kind of shock value, that's apparently why it ultimately failed. Also, some people just aren't impressed with Greg Horn, who drew the covers, since really, they are devoid of any real emotion. Obviously though, he based his character design for Emma on Pamela Anderson, the Canadian Baywatch babe who later starred in her own TV series called V.I.P, which ran for about 4 years, also in syndication. Of course, Anderson really made herself look ridiculous later on, by taking on animal rights activities, which is trivial compared to human rights.

The series here was purportedly aimed at girls, telling about Emma's own background/childhood, but it wouldn't surprise me if, besides the covers that may have insulted some of the female crowd, that this series really didn't have much of a story to tell, if at all, and the cynicism of Joe Quesada and company no doubt overshadowed it. Hence, why must we be surprised that it turned out to be such a failure?

Street Fighter #14 vol. 1 (Image): based on none other than the cult video games that revolutionized one-on-one fighting in the computer world, I figure the presence of Chun Li would be the best thing you could check out a series like this for. Devil's Due later published another go as an ongoing 3 years afterwards.

March 2005

City of Heroes #12 (Blue King Studios): a comic based on a MMORPG for the internet, it was sold mostly as a promo for the game itself.

Marvel Age Spider-Man #20 (Marvel): this was one of the now House of Awful Ideas' attempt to put out a kid-friendly series, but, it apparently didn't go through well. I suspect the reason why it didn't was because they were concentrating more attention on their worthless Civil War crossover than on better stuff like this. But who knows? All I know is that these days, Marvel under Joe Quesada's editorial mandate is really scraping bottom, artistically and more or less financially too.

The Monolith #12 (DC): an abortive attempt to create a story centered around a Golem-like hero whose guided by a recovering drug addict named Alice Cohen, who inherits the house her grandmother left behind, where she first meets the gentle giant whom her grandma helped build decades ago. There was even one guest appearance featured in Hawkman at the time, since that episode was set in New York, where the main characters in this book reside. The worst part however, was that the book's 6th issue may have even included apologia for Islamofascism and depicted Muslims as victims of the usual stereotypical white antagonists, something leftist writers really seem to enjoy banging readers over the head with since 9-11. In that case, is it any wonder this series was such a failure?

Interestingly enough, in 2012, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, who penned the title giant and some of the cast members, managed to re-claim the rights back from DC, meaning that it's no longer connected in any way to them (however, they could not re-use any material featuring Batman, who turned up in a few pages, and presumably, the issue of Hawkman and the Battle for Bludhaven story where Monolith appeared won't be reprinted any time soon). It's just as well, since the political viewpoints they shoved into the book did not belong there.

Tomb Raider: The Series #50 (Image): Of all the series you could conceive based on licensed products, this was definitely one of the more successful, as even some of the miniseries published during the time it was on the market can attest.

The Tomb Raider video game, with its beautiful heroine Lara Croft, first debuted in 1996, an adventure game with a third person perspective, produced by a UK-based company called Eidos. Lara was a young archaeologist from Britain who boldly traveled in search of relics, and besides her ample bosom was also famous for arming herself primarily with twin handguns. It quickly became popular, and as expected, there was plenty of licensed merchandise to follow, including this very series written up by Top Cow Productions under the Image banner. The TR comics were first officially published in 1997, starting with miniseries and specials (which, if you ask me, is the most ideal way to test the field for whether an ongoing is worth it), with the first official one being a book featuring both Lara and Witchblade.

As the TR stories Image and Top Cow put out gained momentum, it figured they could eventually find the grounds on which to publish the ongoing as well, which debuted at the end of 1999, and chronicled Lara's further adventures in treasure seeking and even matching wits with crooked explorers and other bizarre monsters. There was even a bimonthly spinoff called Tomb Raider Journeys, which I wrote about briefly in the 2003 files. In all, this made for a great franchise over several years.

Top Cow wanted to revive it a few years after it ended but licensing issues have prevented it so far. Still, they did come up with a very good output that's a lot more solid than most of the efforts superhero comics feature today.

April 2005

Alpha Flight #12 Vol. 3 (Marvel): When this series was revived yet again, it seems that this time, they wanted to do write it as - are you ready for this? - satire! But alas, even there, it did not work out. Scott Lobdell, who may not have left comics entirely (in recent years, he's been working in movie scriptwriting), came back to write this abortive third attempt at the Canadian super-team, to no avail.

Speaking of Lobdell, let me note that he was the one who "outed" Northstar, the most irritatingly characterized member of the first group, in 1992, when he wrote about a year of the series, in a story titled "The Walking Wounded." And that could explain also why Jean-Paul Beubier (is his family name meant as a subtle insult?) was written in so jaw-droppingly a forced manner in "Eve of Destruction" in 2001. The way the earlier story in AF was written was pretty obnoxious as well. Even earlier, it seems that John Byrne, the launcher of the first series, had actually implied that Northstar was homosexual, and not only was that uncalled for even then, any more than it was for Rainmaker* of Gen13 to be a lesbian (okay, she's a bisexual, but you get the point), but that didn't justify Lobdell's hack job in 1992 either, something that the MSM really fawned over, if an article about it in the Boston Globe was any indication. (and they're owned by the same company as the New York Times. Go figure.)

If that wasn't bad enough, even Obsidian, son of Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern, was recently "outed" in the pages of the new Manhunter series. Let us be clear here that I do not approve of the "lifestyle" and do not consider it normal behavior either, and that even if it was being implied for several years before that, we did not need to find out that Todd Rice was homosexual either. (Why do I get the feeling that he's not even bisexual?) Knowing that Northstar's got a twin sister, just like Jade is Obsidian's twin sister, one can only wonder if this is DC's attempt to imitate what Marvel did in 1992.

And getting back to AF now, I can't say I'm disappointed to see this latest effort go down the toilet. Not that Lobdell has truly bothered me at all times as a writer, and his writing on X-Men during 1992-97, weak as it was, was far from really off-putting (unless we include the catastrophous "revelation" of Gambit's indirect connection to the Morlock massacre), but it seems that when it comes to matters involving AF and Northstar, that's where he really goes overboard. It's actually quite alarming that he does, and no proper attempt is made to restrain him. One has to figure that to depict AF in satirical form is actually quite stereotypical, knowing how iffy some depictions by US writers of Canadian figures can be, and that's probably one more reason why this didn't work.

* One difference that Rainmaker has though, is that unlike Northstar, she's not nasty in personality, which is a fortunate thing.

Batman: Gotham Knights #74 (DC): this was cancelled because, well, it was considered a superfluous entry in the Bat-franchise, which until then had been rather bloated. But if you ask me, this wasn't the title they should've canned back then. Rather, it was Legends of the Dark Knight that they should!

Because they so much wanted Detective Comics and Batman to be solo vehicles for the Masked Manhunter himself, that's why the also cancelled Shadow of the Bat (see 1999 files) and then this series were launched, as a series where the rest of the Gotham family could appear in team-ups with Bats, stuff like that. I own a pretty good 3-part storyline guesting the Huntress in it, that was meant to serve as a lead-in to her role in Birds of Prey at the time.

Why do I say that LOTDK is what should have been cancelled? Well, I guess it had what to do with that that series was otherwise just a self-contained series that didn't necessarily involved current happenings in the DCU. Actually, when you have a moral debacle like Identity Crisis going on, that's why it's actually something dreadful.

In any case, as far as I know, LOTDK has been canned now, and in time, I'll see if I can write about that too.

Human Target #21 (DC/Vertigo): The hero of this book, Christopher Chance, was a special agent who specialized in disguises and passed himself off as important people whose lives were being targeted by criminals, so that he could then use his skills to stop the thugs and assassins and find out just what their motive was. He first appeared in 1972 in a backup story in Action Comics written by Len Wein and drawn by Carmine Infantino, and since has made various appearances in suspense stories where he's gone on daring missions to help out innocent people. In 1992, there was even once a colossally awful, short-lived TV series based on this character that even showed signs of being rushed into production. That TV show is best forgotten.

This series attempted to put together an adult adventure for Chris Chance, as he continued with what he did best, and his various relations with the people he helped out. But, it ultimately came up short, and left the publishing schedule.

While we're on the subject, it's strange, but, these days, it seems to me as though the Vertigo line is slowly disappearing, as DC suddenly seems to consider it not worthwhile anymore. Possible? Only time will tell for sure.

Spectacular Spider-Man #27 Vol. 2 (Marvel): with the nigh-stereotypical artwork here by Humberto Ramos, and the debacle of Paul Jenkins' propaganda story that is "Countdown", that's why I'll shed no tears over this series' departure. Of course, it's just one in several dozen series that existed solely as a vanity vehicle for the writers who helmed them, if not the artists. In any case, I'd say that both Jenkins and Ramos are to blame for one of the weakest entries in the Spider-franchise, period. For what I have to say about that awful, insulting five-part arc they did, just one of quite a few padded slowpokers, I'll direct any visitors here to my comics blog where I talk about in a pretty lengthy fashion, as well as the letter exchange I had with Jenkins back in 2004. Other than that, it's just too painful to elaborate upon any further.

Towards the end of this series, Jenkins left and so did Ramos, and it became a vehicle in which to blabber ad nauseum about the atrocious hatchet job J. Michael Straczynski did over in Amazing Spider-Man, probably the only series in the Spider-franchise to run without an actual cancellation, a storyline that's hopefully since been forgotten. In fact, since then, JMS himself has left, possibly even before his own stories related to the Civil War crossover, yet another story motivated out of political bias, had been completed. I won't be missing him either. Nevertheless, I'd rather feature that cover with Spidey French-kissing that Gwen Clone than any of the awful covers that Ramos did! Believe me, it's better that way.

In fact, I don't think that Mark Buckingham, the writer who took the writing chores in the last few issues of this series, did any favors for the French either: the story takes place partly in France, and while the art may not have been stereotypical per se, the drawings of some of the French people and depiction of their personalities, was. If that's the case, then Marvel has added another cultural insult to their tally.

She-Hulk #12 Vol. 3 (Marvel): it's very unfortunate a writer as awful as Dan Slott turned out to be got the assignment to write this series, which was cancelled after a dozen issues as part of the "shakeup" for House of M, and the most grating thing of all is how, yes, they rebooted it with issue #1 of yet another volume. This particular volume was cancelled as part of their gearing up for their banal House of M crossover, and apparently that means that even Shulkie is so bound by editorial mandate of some sort that she can't have her own series running at the same time. Or something like that.

Jennifer Walters first made her debut in her own series on February 1980 in The Savage She-Hulk, which ran for about two years, and was created by Stan Lee with John Buscema as the first artist, and she may have also been the last star character he actually created on his resume of creations, in one of his rare writing efforts ever since he moved more into the role of editor-in-chief and publisher at Marvel in the early to mid-70s. He just wrote the first issue before handing the main writing chores over to David Anthony Kraft, who wrote the rest of the 25 issues published around that time. One of the reasons for her creation was so that Marvel could maintain a copyright and trademark security over potential spinoff franchises, in her case coming from none other than her cousin, Bruce Banner, alias the Hulk. She'd been shot at by the mafia, and with only Bruce around to serve as the best blood donor, he provided her with a transfusion, which turned her from a simple brown-haired girl into a tall, green-skinned hottie.

While in her initial series, the stories were played fairly straight, it was decided early on to give her a more tongue-in-cheek personality, which is what she's often known for today (large, loud and lusty are her famous personality traits). And unlike her cousin Bruce, Jennifer grew to enjoy her She-Hulk form, and also maintained the same mind whenever she changed into her green-skinned form. So when she turned completely into the She-Hulk after awhile and couldn't change back for many years, she didn't mind a bit. A lawyer by day, she gave up her career for awhile as she became more inspired to be a superheroine, but eventually returned to it.

During the 1980s, she became a member of the Avengers and of the Fantastic Four, filling in for Ben Grimm during the time he was away on the Secret Wars planet, and even travelling across country for a year after a fallout with Reed Richards. In 1989, she got her own solo book again, The Sensational She-Hulk, with John Byrne writing, and quite often it was certainly played for laughs, what with the constant in-jokes about Shulkie and company knowing that they were in a comic book and Jennifer addressing the audience in various ways from within (the premiere issue had her telling everybody out there that "If you don't buy my book this time, I'm gonna come to your house and rip up all your X-Men.") It ran for about 4-5 years, and then she all but faded into the background for awhile before getting her own series again - this one - that makes the basis for this write-up here, of course.

And it's a shame that it had to fall victim - as it intially did - to Marvel's editorial mandates regarding House of M. Yes, it was later taken over by Peter David, who was at least better a writer than Slott, but it's a shame that they just had to do that reboot from issue #1 sort of thing, which we don't need anymore. Not to mention that we don't need any dumb, contrived, forced, and out-of-character crossovers any more either!

And now, on that note, I rest my case.

May 2005

Nothing on this month.

June 2005

Captain America and the Falcon #14 (Marvel): with some of the things I've discovered about this spinoff of the regular Cap series, reteaming him with Sam Wilson, who'd been his partner for about six years during the Bronze Age, I guess that's why (sigh) I just can't feel sorry to see this one fold. For example, as I learned via a contributor to Front Page Magazine the year before, it seems that there was a Bucky clone or something here who was depicted as supporting the war on terror. And unfortunately for the series, he was also depicted as insane. See, that's the problem with this series: it was written with an anti-war slant, and the writer, Christopher Priest, allowed his ultra-liberal political biases to flood into this (or, if you prefer, the editors did).

In fact, that seems to be the problem with a lot of entertainment these days, that the writers, many of whom are overwhelmingly identified with the left, allow their political positons to get in the way of their creativity considerably. Unless conservatives are allowed an equal share of the entrance to comics and other entertainment mediums, it could take ages to repair the damage already done.

As I once learned elsewhere, Christopher Priest is far from having had a real winning streak on any series he's been assigned to write or even edit, though it may have more to do with that Marvel and others for whom he worked wouldn't give him any genuine backing and promotion for his books. But if he's going to go overboard with ludicrous political leanings, I'd say that's one more reason why his books shouldn't have to garner a real following.

Doom Patrol #11 Vol. 4 (DC): a deservedly abortive attempt at "restarting" the classic team from the Silver Age that may have been more an excuse to give flagging writer/artist John Byrne something to make money off of. It really wasn't worth it, and it may have caused quite a bit of damage to continuity at DC within its very short existence (not that damaged continuity is such a surprise by now, that's for sure). It spun off from a JLA story that Chris Claremont co-wrote with Byrne in 2004, and not to hammer away with any criticism against the former, but really, it was quite unneccesary.

As of now, this big dud, to say the least, has pretty much been written off and hopefully forgotten, and it may be that DC has tried to write it off as having been a TV show based on the classic old group that was being produced for network television, probably filmed right within the JLA's own headquarters, I'll bet.

This was a decided insult to true fans of the DCU, not to mention fans of Gar Logan, aka Beast Boy and Changeling. Because of this, his exact background apparently couldn't be mentioned clearly at the time. Yes indeed, this was in some ways, if not all, a much different scenario than at Marvel, where whether they respect continuity and history or not, things are fairly different, even if they're all over the place. I suspect it stemmed from the same mentality that led to Identity Crisis, and I wouldn't be surprised if the theory wasn't that far off.

Richard Dragon #12 Vol. 2 (DC): I hadn't paid full attention at the time to all the details surrounding this redo of one of the best martial-arts comics DC did in the mid-70s, but from what I can tell now, it looks like the attempt to reboot/retcon the Doom Patrol wasn't the only attempt to foist a history-damaging retcon upon the audience. What this book attempted to do was to reboot the whole history of one of the most important trainers of some of DC's most notable vigilante characters in the DCU, such as the Question, the Huntress, and even Barbara Gordon when she was paralyzed by the Joker in Batman: the Killing Joke. Before I elaborate further on that, let me first turn to telling who and what Richard Dragon was.

The title martial-artist was first created by Denny O'Neil in a novel in 1974, and adapted to comic book form (as Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter) a year later, with Denny editing the series. While it only ran two years and 18 bimonthly issues, it was still one of the best of its genre in comics, telling about a reformed thief in Japan who became a prominent martial arts student, and went on to become an adviser to various other people who could use some good assistance. Ben Turner, who later became the Bronze Tiger, first appeared in this series, as did Sandra Wu-San, better known in many places as Lady Shiva.

As I said, Richard was an adviser and trainer for a couple of other notable crimefighters as well, such as Vic Sage, the Question, and also the Huntress, and even taught Babs Gordon how to stick-fight after she was crippled by the Joker. And that's why he's one of the most important parts of DC.

And that's also why this attempt to reboot his whole background was decidedly a collosal insult to the intellect. Dragon was rewriteen as a bullied school kid who enrolled in a karate dojo to better himself (so much for the Kung Fu experience!), and not only that, this time it's Lady Shiva who, besides being his lover, also becomes his instructor! Which totally contradicts the initial conflict they had when they first began in the mid-70s, when the corrupt businessman Guano Cravat tried to frame Dragon for the murder of Shiva's sister Carolyn, until Dragon could prove his innocence to her and then offered his help in becoming her trainer, though she later turned mostly to crime as a way of financing any further studies for herself in the perfection of her skills. Much as I respect Chuck Dixon more than some of today's other writers, this was still pretty tacky that he went along with this foolish reboot, and I'm not sorry if it didn't work out. It's to be hoped that since then, this has been put on the scrap heap where it belongs.

If DC has ever tried to "Marvelize" its universe, this could show that what they've really been trying to do is to disrespect and disregard continuity in almost the same way that Marvel has recently. Or, put another way, they seem to have been influenced by recent Marvel tactics, that being the character destruction and rendering of their casts almost completely unrecognizable. It's something that's got to cease, and until they can be convinced to knock it off, that's why the argument against their lack of respect has got to continue.

July 2005

Excalibur #14 (Marvel): I wish I could say more for this brief revival of the old series that ran from 1988 to 1998, but as far as I can tell, it was intentionally brief, and had something to do with the House of M crossover that place at about that time. And on that, one would have to say that it was otherwise an appalling affair.

Outside of HoM, this item was fairly okay, and if you ask me, Magneto was lucky to be alive and well after what Grant Morrison did to his character in the "New X-Men". Yeah, he was depicted as being rather cuddly in his relations with Charles Xavier here, as the team helped to clean up the horrific mess shown on Genosha. But it was simply dreadful when Scarlet Witch had to be dragged into all this, as she was in one of the issues. Since then, the matter of her supposedly going berserk has been revealed as really the meddling of her brother Quicksilver, and she's been depicted recently as having lost her memory of being Scarlet Witch, yet knows that she's Wanda Maximoff in "New Avengers #26".

But having noted that, I'm going to have to point out that there is really little else to recommend about Brian Bendis' story in the Avengers issue I mentioned from December 2006, which is just filler that's intended to convince the audience to shut up and let him get on with the show. Sure, the idea in and of itself of Wanda and Clint Barton (Hawkeye) making love is something we'd all like to see and enjoy, but that issue, from what I can tell, is just rock-bottom pretentiousness. One more reason why, if the Earth's Mightiest Heroes are ever to be repaired, then that's why we can't be taken in by Bendis' silly little "product".

August 2005

Rogue #12 (Marvel): Well, this, to be quite honest, was a real shame to see go down the cancellation drain. The beautiful mutant, as she came to be in her developments since her debut in Avengers Annual #10 in 1981, did deserve a series of her own, which is definitely more than can be said for her onetime lover, Gambit, whose second shot at a series will be spoken about below.

When Rogue, whose real name may not have been revealed to date (as of this writing, I certainly don't know it), first premiered in the aforementioned Avengers book, where she was first depicted as a crook under the leadership/influence of Mystique. She'd assaulted Ms. Marvel when she was living in San Francisco, where she'd moved to shortly after having come back from Limbo after she was freed from the influence of Immortus, who'd mind-controlled her into becoming his love slave. Mystique and Rogue were going to use the superpowers she'd siphoned off from Carol Danvers -- and even Captain America and Thor -- for the purpose of breaking the rest of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants out of the maximum security prison where they'd been incarcerated following their foiled attempt to assassinate Sen. Robert Kelly in the famous Days of Future Past storyline a year earlier in Uncanny X-Men. This breakout attempt was also foiled by the Avengers and Spider-Woman, who'd tripped to New York City to investigate what happened to Carol, while Charles Xavier helped restore Carol's memories at the hospital back in San Francisco. Rogue got away, but along with Mystique would try to pull a few more crimes, including some attacks on the X-Men themselves, before finally deciding to reject the crooked path she was taking, and turned to Xavier to ask if he would take her under his wing. He agreed, but it didn't pass without great controversy amongst the other X-Men: Storm was ready to quit, while Wolverine, in a nasty outburst only he could emote, threatened to carve Rogue's heart out. Xavier was able to calm everyone down, and about a year after Rogue joined, she proved herself worthy and began to gain their trust.

Unfortunately, Chris Claremont then had to stumble in developments by later creating Gambit, and when pairing her up with him, this resulted in turning her into something like putty in Remy LeBeau's cynical hands. It's not that pairing her up with a "bad boy" couldn't work, but Gambit was so poorly conceived and later on had some terrible developments added on, that this was one more reason why the relation became otherwise implausible, his power of getting people to "like him" notwithstanding. More recently, I think Rogue and Gambit broke up, and if so, that's a good thing.

I think one of the best things about Rogue that's never truly been explored is her potential as a comedic, tongue-in-cheek character. I mean, there are so many funny things that could be done in her career as a crimefighter/superheroine that alas, have never been truly explored, all because the writers and editors are not giving her proper range beyond her power-draining mutant power. For example, she could round up baddies robbing the bank and then pepper them with kisses! She could work as a custodian to a petty crook being held as a material witness by the police and then he could try to escape and she'd keep bringing him back, all the while playing super-cute with him until he finally succumbs to her charms and they begin to boogie and have a fun time making out in between stopping the real baddies who are trying to menace him. And, let's not forget that, just like a few other comic book women, she could look great taking a bath or a shower. Those kind of hilarious things, IMO, are what could and should be done with Rogue - explore her comedic potential. But so far, they're not doing it.

Maybe, with the right kind of campaign, it would be possible to get Marvel to go ahead and try out of the kind of direction I'm proposing here, and would very much like to see, in more than just fanfics.

September 2005

Nope, nothing for this month either.

October 2005

Gambit #12 Vol. 2 (Marvel): Clearly, Marvel didn't learn from their previous "venture" with the "ragin' Cajun", did they? Nope, apparently not. The previous series, which can be found in the 2000 files, was a deserved failure, and this version was even less successful. There really isn't much creativity to be found in dealing with Remy LeBeau, so I have no idea exactly what the writers and editors hoped to achieve with this. And they don't seem to have done much to repair him as a character either.

In all the time since this volume was published, Rogue, whose own short-lived series is spoken about above, may have broken up with him. Not that this bothers me, what really does is the aforementioned bad writing and characterization of the Ragin' Cajun. Though I do wonder if Gambit and Rogue would work better when not depicted as a couple. I once found out that it may have been because of just 4 fan letters Marvel recieved back in the early 90s that thought the two of them would make a great couple simply because they're both from the deep south. Well, that might be okay, but then good writing should have accompanied it, yet didn't. And who knows if it ever will?

November 2005

The Darkness #24 vol. 2 (Top Cow/Image): and so endeth the second volume of this oddball series, which did have something of a sense of humor when it began, but probably didn't fare as well in this rendition.

December 2005

Nothing available for this period of the year. Oh well. It's been so wearisome thanks to all the crossovers and political correctness involved, I just can't get too enthused about it.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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