Cancelled Comics Commentary
The Incredible Hulk #112 Vol. 3
(Marvel): Man, the Green Goliath just can't get a break, can he? Not
even from ridiculous crossovers and other stunts the editors may try
to foist upon him.
I think the adventures of Bruce Banner and his alter ego lost a lot
of quality after Peter David so stupidly ended his run on the series
with the death of Betty Banner in late 1998. As far as I know, it
may have had something to do with his own personal problems at the
time, and this was his way of taking out his anger over it. But
without Betty to serve as any kind of an anchor - as a reason for
Bruce to continue living - what good is what comes afterwards?
The relaunched volume that came afterwards (interesting note is how
it began adjective-less, but it was restored a year later), didn't
have much going for it, and the real low was surely when Bruce Jones
took over the writing for about 3 years, and wrote more than 20
issues that barely featured the Hulk, if at all. Instead, it was
some kind of spy intrigue that supposedly was meant to give Bruce
the spotlight, because "puny" Banner allegedly never got enough of
the attention his green-skinned alter ego did. Which I think is
silly. Of course, the main villain here was the decompressed
storytelling method, all designed for the age of trade paperbacks,
and going on for as long as it did, that's what really screwed
things up. As a result, Jones went on with this for way too much
time. No wonder he ended up getting a bad reception here. The series
briefly shifted to the now defunct Marvel Knights logo, but this
label has since been dropped, with Daredevil being the last to use it.
Peter David came back on afterwards for several more issues, but
apparently did not try to fix the big mistake he'd made the last
time he was writing. And after he left again, we got the crossover
crisis taking over. This first started when Mr. Fantastic sent the
Hulk off in a spacecraft to another planet circa House of M/Civil
War, followed by "Planet Hulk", where our jade giant ended up
marrying an alien woman on a planet where he'd won a gladiator
tournament (which sounds vaguely reminiscient of the far better
story line from the Bronze Age with Jarella). Predictably, this
would all go to waste as the planet was destroyed, and the Hulk
takes out his anger upon the Earth heroes, whom he blames for all
this happening, and it won't surprise me one bit if that's exactly
what Quesada and company had in mind - that the heroes be made to
look bad even if it's not their fault. The above took place in World
War Hulk, another of the crossovers they planned to take place
almost immediately one after the other. The main problem is how
these stories are not being created on their own independent terms,
or at least not tastefully.
Finally, this volume was brought to an end. Well, not exactly. The
Hulk was replaced in this particular volume by Hercules, and it was
even renamed - are you ready for this? - The Incredible Hercules! In other words, they
ripped off the gimmick Stan Lee and Roy Thomas used back in the late
Silver Age when they gave the green goliath his own book again that
continued off the numbering used for Tales to Astonish. (The Sub-Mariner, who'd also
shared the book, got his own solo series beginning with its own
numbering that ran during 1968-74.) Now in all due honesty, the
Marvel version of the Greek god of strength does have some
potential, but this book starring him hasn't lived up to it (not
surprising considering Quesada is the editor!), and its own sales
have since gone down as well. Unlike the old days, where it worked
well enough, this gimmick sure doesn't work well now.
And the Hulk himself got a new volume, which began with a story
written by the over-the-top Jeph Loeb involving a red-colored
protagonist who turned out to be none other than Thaddeus
"Thunderbolt" Ross himself! For heaven's sake, what's the use?
Wetworks #15 vol. 2
(Wildstorm/DC): the reboot of this series focusing on a covert ops
teams fighting the supernatural, which went the way of the dodo even
faster than the first series did.
Cable & Deadpool #50
(Marvel): Shortly after Grant Morrison left X-Men (which bore the
"new" in the title while he was there), and the colorful costumes
were restored, Nathan Summers and Wade Wilson, those two creations
drawn by the awful Rob Liefeld, were cast together in their own
combined series. Not that it ever amounted to anything much though.
I'm guessing however, that Marvel was hoping to do with them what
better writers of yore did with Power
Man and Iron Fist back in the day. Alas, no dice.
And even since then, things haven't exactly been rosy for the
X-world either. Certainly not since they too were swept into the
vortex that is Civil War.
Exiles #100 (Marvel): A
series that grouped together several X-Men from alternate realities,
who specialized in jumping among the various realities in time and
space trying to solve problems, some based on older X-Men stories.
I'd like to think this was better than it sounds, but when they did
a story where the Phoenix turns out to be the real Jean Grey, rather
than the cosmic lifeform it was revealed to be in 1985 in Fantastic
Four, that's where they lost me. Unlike other people, I don't think
much of the Phoenix story, which has only served to ruin the X-Men,
Jean Grey, and even other comics as the original story was ripped
off countless numbers of times since it was first published in 1979.
And we thought the Gwen Stacy syndrome was bad.
Eventually, this too lost audience (no doubt one of the reasons why
this wore down was because the unbearable Chuck Austen scripted
several issues), even when Tony Bedard became writer, and the next
thing you know, Marvel, in its constant efforts to placate Chris
Claremont, gave the writing job to him, leading to a relaunch as New
Exiles, with Psylocke briefly joining the cast. And that's something
that'll be discussed in the following
Incidentally, this is no relation to the Exiles series published by
the now defunct Malibu, which Marvel bought in the mid-90s, and
which even saw a crossover with a few of Marvel's own characters in
a 12-issue series called The All-New Exiles.
New X-Men #46 (Marvel): A
continuation of the brief New Mutants series from 2003-4, this may
have had better lighting effects (more to the point, it restored
spandex as costumes), but beyond that, it didn't have much else to
offer. What I do know is that Emma Frost comes off no better than
most other renditions of her since the year 2001.
Someday, the mutant academy will receive the long-denied justice it
deserves. But for now, it's not.
Deathblow #9 vol. 2
(Wildstorm/DC): pretty brief revival of the superhuman Navy Seal
operative who'd starred in the series listed in the 1996 files.
Like most of the other attemps to reboot the Wildstorm universe at
this time, it slipped into oblivion very fast.
Sorry, no input. In this day and age, you can't expect much else.
Joe: America's Elite #36 (Devils' Due Publishing): This
volume officially ended the original continuity that began with
Marvel's series running during 1982-94, and continued with the
series from Image and then Devil's Due in 2001, spoken about in the
At the end, the Cobra Commander was finally captured and imprisoned
for good. In this day and age, it's great to find something with
some kind of a happy ending.
Following this, a new continuity was launched as IDW Publishing took
over the license for the Joes, and writers like Chuck Dixon took up
the writing. It was around the time Paramount made a movie based on
this, and I guess I'd like to take a moment to say that it was a
tremendous disappointment, because the studio succumbed to political
correctness, removing the Real American Hero slogan from the
official advertising, and while it appeared in the movie, it was
more in the ways of an insult. And it became more of an
international force at America's expense.
After rumors surfaced that the Pit base would be set in Belgium,
Paramount went to such lengths to assure otherwise, and then, guess
what happened: it turned out the Pit base was
in Egypt! That's right, in a country that, as of now, is
steeped in Islamofascism. Needless to say, that was very insulting
of Paramount to fool everyone with something as PC-pandering as
that. That one of the Joes even wore a keffiyeh didn't help matters.
The movie wasn't even screened for mainstream critics, yet the
scoundrels at Paramount made quite an effort to use patriotism as
their last refuge, by giving special screenings to bloggers, and
even for army audiences, but there's a little problem with the
latter: no mention was made of whether the soldiers who were given
the advance screenings actually liked it or not. And when you don't
have any clear information of that, you know something's wrong. It
even made me hate black leather (plastic?) costumes, and it makes
little difference if it came at the end, those black outfits I saw
in some of the promos were ghastly enough, particularly the one
Snake Eyes wore.
I suppose the reason why I cited that whole matter is because it's a
shame that the latest volume of GI Joe had to be launched at such an
inconvenient time. We can only hope it won't be affected by the
movie, mainly because the comics are far better for consumption
Shadowpact #25 (DC): This
series grew out of the abominable Day of Vengeance miniseries
following Identity Crisis, and that's why I will have nothing to do
with it. And I don't care one bit if Bill Willingham is a
self-proclaimed conservative; if he's going to lend himself in any
way to something misogynist, and that includes fulfilling an
editorial mandate, then that ruins everything. I will not give any
accolades to a so-called writer who does something for a paycheck.
Most of the work he's done on DC's mainstream titles to date has
been just pure crap. Robin, for example, was a total botch job, not
helped by the awful work he did in relation to War Games/Crimes,
which has since luckily been disavowed.
Shadowpact's cast may have featured a talking monkey magician, but
so what? If they're going to taint the DCU as badly as they have
with the stench of Identity Crisis, then I will not waste my time on
this series starring mages.
Marvel Comics Presents #12 vol. 2 (Marvel): an unsuccessful
attempt to revive the notable anthology from the late 80s-mid 90s,
the main problem here was Quesada's poor editorial directions
foisted upon the characters cast in this book.
Runaways #30 vol. 2
(Marvel): the second take on this concept - more can be found in the
- ran longer and was relatively more successful, but Marvel's
incompetence in marketing pamphlet comics like these ultimately let
to its getting washed up on the beach.
The All-New Atom #25 (DC):
Another of DC's forced moves into diversity was deservedly cancelled
with this one. The worst thing about this book is that it ultimately
spat on its predecessor, Ray Palmer, and his ex-wife Jean Loring,
perpetuating the character assassination that's been inflicted upon
them for several years now. The book attempted to set up a
protagonist named Ryan Choi who's main "claim" to fame was that he
was Chinese, but if the editors were going to do it all at Ray and
Jean's expense, then it's completely invalidated. Actually, the book
did contain a bit male stereotyping (at one point, he's climbing up
a ladder and accidentally slips and hurts himself in the private
parts), so even if it hadn't messed with them, it'd still be blowing
it in another way.
At the end, they probably understood that, which is why it was
written that Ryan Choi had his whole life contrived in a plot by
both the featured dean of Ivy University and a would-be girlfriend
of his, and as told by Ray, he'd never corresponded with Ryan. And
yet, they still went out of their way to spit upon Ray, insulting
him even at the finale. No wonder I'm glad I've had nothing to do
with this junk.
When will the Silver Age Atom and everything to do with him be
repaired? And when will positive storytelling return, and even apply
to Ray Palmer's world as well? Who knows?
Catwoman #82 Vol. 2 (DC):
The relaunched volume ends just as did the earlier one (you can read
about that here),
not on a good note. We're told that Zatanna and the Justice League
were responsible for influencing Selina Kyle to go straight, which
contradicts continuity, and most definitely cheapens a lot of
character development for Selina. So not only did we have to bear
witness to the horrible case of Identity Crisis, now that stupidity
had to leak its way into books like Catwoman's as well! How stupid.
But what else can you expect from a company that's been throwing
away its potential? Following "One Year Later", we learn that
Selina's had a baby, possibly with detective Slam Bradley, and a
young protege of hers named Holly has been taking up the role of the
Predictably, this element was soon terminated, as Selina returned to
her costumed life. It may not have been a good idea to begin with,
but nor did it end that way. And the series ultimately ended quite
flat as a pancake. I don't forsee it being relaunched any time soon.
They really have worn out Selina's popularity as a solo book star.
Infinity Inc #12 Vol. 2
(DC): An insult to everything the original series stood for. This
had nothing actual to do with the series from the mid-80s starring
some of the younger generation of heroes connected with the Justice
Society of America, but rather, an absurd bunch of imposters and
poseurs who may have been gathered together by Lex Luthor.
Ah, so now I see where the idea came from for Norman Osborn to form
Dark Avengers following Marvel's dreadful Civil War crossover! Well,
maybe not, but it's surprising how, if this is correct, it brings
that to mind so well. Anyway, this series is probably the
shortest-lived of DC's dumb ideas post-Identity/Infinite Crisis, and
I'm glad it's over. But the misuse of the real team of Infinity
Checkmate #31 Vol. 2 (DC):
this series, which takes its title from another espionage series
published by DC during 1988-91, spun out of Infinite Crisis, all the
more reason why I won't shed any tears over its demise. It was
written by Greg Rucka, who has since proven himself another of DC's
most reliably knee-jerk frauds, and featured storylines whose main
problem is that they remained too shackled to the superhero world to
be truly effective.
Interestingly enough, this also featured a character named Jonah
McCarthy (who was killed off during the run), who'd previously
appeared in Wonder Woman
when Rucka was helming that too. What troubles me about this
character's name is that it sounds like an amalgamation of 2
conservative writers - Jonah Goldberg and Andrew C. McCarthy of
National Review - and one can only wonder if Rucka intended that as
a stealth assault on the conservative movement.
Copyright Avi Green. All rights