Cancelled Comics Commentary for 2008

January 2008

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.

February 2008

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 year's roundup.

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.

March 2008

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.

April 2008

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.

May 2008

Sorry, no input. In this day and age, you can't expect much else.

June 2008

G.I. 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 2005 files. 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 set 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 anyway.

July 2008

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.

August 2008

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 2004 files - 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.

September 2008

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?

October 2008

Catwoman #82 Vol. 2 (DC): The relaunched volume ends just as did the earlier one (you can read about that here), and 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 Feline Fatale.

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 veterans isn't.

November 2008

Perfectly blank.

December 2008

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 reserved.

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