Cancelled Comics Commentary for 2010

January 2010

World of Warcraft #25 (Wildstorm): based on the popular RTS and MMORPG computer game produced by Blizzard Entertainment, this project, one of the last published under the Wildstorm imprint, featured both the Alliance and Horde characters usually seen in the game. Presumably it ended production because of the financial losses DC, as owner of Wildstorm, brought upon themselves, and a proposed graphic novel that was to be based on the game ended up canned as well. Back to the computer console, I guess.

February-March 2010

Nothing to declare.

April 2010

The Incredible Hercules #141 (Marvel): Starring the MCU version of the famous Greek deity of strength, it got launched out of one of the previous volumes of the Incredible Hulk (following issue #112), and while this might've been fine if it had been spun out of one of Marvel's anthology series of yore - like Stan Lee did when he continued the Hulk's numbering from Tales to Astonish in 1968, to launch it out of the numbering of a particular protagonist's own solo book seems dishonest at best. But this being the era of Joe Quesada (and now Axel Alonso), what could one expect?

Hercules made his first appearances in Thor's own adventures in the Silver Age, and has been depicted many times as a likable klutz, had at least 2 pretty good miniseries in the early 1980s and a memorable role in the Avengers back in the day, and if it weren't for the people in charge of Marvel at the time this was being done, the prospect of giving the great Herc his own ongoing series might've worked well. But alas, the discouraging editorial staff aside, this did not catch on with anybody and dropped off the top of the sales charts pretty fast. Hercules deserved much better.

Ms. Marvel #50 vol. 2 (Marvel): Carol Susan Jane Danvers' second starring book may have run longer than the 23 issues the earlier one did in the late 1970s, but it was still one of the biggest victims of Joe Quesada's atrocious company-wide crossovers like House of M and Civil War, exactly why, in sharp contrast to the original series that ran alongside Black Panther's own first series back in the day, it was just simply not worth bothering about. A grave pity too, because Ms. Marvel, who is one of my favorite lady protagonists in the MCU, had some real potential as a solo star, and they have to base much of the new book's existence on being part of crossovers, or invalidate it by launching it out of now notorious monstrosities like the Disassembled "event".

Carol Danvers first debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 in 1968, the creation of Roy Thomas and Gene Colan, first as a non-powered human and security director for a USAF base, who befriended Mar-Vell of the Kree, first meeting him in his earthly disguise as Dr. Walter Lawson. After being held hostage by an alien nemesis of Mar-Vell's named Yon-Rogg and being injured in an explosion of a Kree-built machine, she gained superhuman powers she's since been known to have courtesy of the same accident, and during 1977-79, that's when the initial series was launched, first written by Gerry Conway and then by Chris Claremont. She later joined the Avengers briefly, but it was that story in Avengers #200, subsequently wrapped up in Avengers Annual 1981, that alienated her from them for a time. Having first been exploited via mind-control by the son of Immortus, she later fell victim to Rogue, in her first appearance as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants when Mystique was running it, and was fortunate that Prof. Xavier was able to help build back 90 percent of her memories. But as mentioned, she was mad at the Avengers for taking Marcus' story at face value (and as noted here, this was a very well-written confrontation she made with the EMH), and alienated her from the Avengers for about a decade before she decided to return. During this time, when she with the X-Men, she gained another set of powers that led to her taking up the role of Binary, and joined the Starjammers for a few years, adventuring in space before returning. Over the following decade, she would make appearances here and there around the MCU, and it was with the reforming of the Avengers in 1997 that she began to return to more prominent status.

And unfortunately, as Brian Bendis and company at Marvel have since demonstrated, the potential to make her really click was wasted. They connected a lot of it, as mentioned, to the aforementioned crossovers, and given how it also spun out of that now notorious "event" story called Disassembled, that's one more reason why this series was not built upon legitimate grounds, nor did it have any real stand-alone writing. I recall how one of the stories even involved Carol ending up technically dead, all for the sake of replacing her with Moonstone! Carol subsequently came back, but it was already too late for any storytelling that's authentically centered around the real heroine as the book lost audience. The ending could only be considered a mercy.

Now, with Avengers vs. X-Men on the horizon, we can only expect yet more of the potential-wasting for many protagonists, Carol included.

May 2010

Spider-Woman #7 vol. 3 (Marvel): another starring series for Jessica Drew, the first official lady to take the role of Spider-Woman back in the day, but with Brian Bendis as the writer, I can't feel sorry this got canned so quickly. It's shameful he practically dominated the whole Avengers franchise for as long as he did, and that includes just about all work Marvel published of Spider-Woman at the time. The low point was when, a year after this ended, Bendis wrote a story in Avengers where Jessica was captured and held hostage while naked (!) by the Wizard, the supercrook who led the Frightful Four. If that's how Bendis is going to treat the babes of Marvel, then that's one more reason why nobody need waste time on his writing, and by that time, most people had indeed lost interest in his work.

S.W.O.R.D #5 (Marvel): the title is acronym for Sentient World Observation and Response Department, and was a series about a counterterrorism unit assigned to deal with extraterrestrial menaces. It may have first appeared in Astonishing X-Men by the overrated Joss Whedon (if he's going to write an intro to the abominable Identity Crisis from DC, as he did when it was formatted for publication in trades, then that's actually putting it lightly about him), and made for one really short-lived series later on; these days, it's actually difficult for me to ascertain if some really brief ongoings are just that and not miniseries. The unit was supposed to be working in cooperation with S.H.I.E.L.D, but Nick Fury, as part of some of the dumbest things the people holding Marvel hostage could think of doing today, was written leaving the agency he's famous for managing, and relations between the 2 outfits faltered. The head of S.W.O.R.D was Abigail Brand.

And with the way things are going now at Marvel and DC, who can both give some ongoing series about as much of a chance as network TV is willing to give some short-lived TV series, I guess it can't be too surprising this went down pretty quickly.

June 2010

Green Arrow #32 (DC): until the 29th issue, this had been titled Green Arrow and Black Canary, but thanks to some of the worst story turns they've taken, like with the repellant Cry for Justice series, the couple broke up, and the latter turned against the former, because she and a couple of other Justice Leaguers opposed Ollie's gunning down Prometheus as punishment for annihilating Star City! As though it weren't bad enough that the miniseries seemed to exist only for killing off Lian Harper (and even the Three Dimwits, those comedy relief characters seen in the Golden Age Flash tales), they add insult to injury by making it look as though the League was more concerned about what Green Arrow did to the supervillain than what the supervillain did to Star City! Identity Crisis clearly had one of the worst influences on DC's output.

Even before this, the series wasn't amounting to much. Judd Winick wrote an absurd story where Connor Hawke underwent a ridiculous injury that led to his taking up an entirely different fighting style, and no more archery. And during this time, there was even a near-wedding for Ollie and Dinah that ended disastrously and was not worth the paper it was printed on. I'd say this was asking for a cancellation, though there'd be one more volume after this before the horrid Flashpoint crossover set in.

The Punisher #16 (Marvel): as a product of the Civil War embarrassment, this was one of the worst returns to "form" for decent vigilante creation. I think what's really ruined Frank Castle over the years was liberal dislike for vigilantism, one of the reasons why even a superhero like Spider-Man - in whose pages the Punisher first appeared back in 1974 - has been destroyed as well. I remember one moonbat writer for Scripps-Howard who once implied that depicting the Punisher as a lunatic per se was the way to handle the character. I must vehemently disagree, at least if the criminals Frank Castle's blown away were depicted as cold-blooded murderers. If they were to be characterized as such, and the Punisher were to terminate them on those grounds, then the stories with Frank would certainly be palatable. (I do recall a letter column telling that in one old issue, the Punisher did spare some shoplifters, and I will concur that if it's only simple robbers in focus, then of course Frank should most definitely NOT be depicted killing those type of crooks.)

Unfortunately, leftist notions of how to depict a vigilante and a superhero for that matter, have prevailed badly of late, and it's led to Frank Castle being rendered ever more unrecognizable from what he used to be. I read an op-ed on National Review telling how some left-wing movie critics cannot stand the notion of vigilantism, and wouldn't be surprised if this mentality leaked over into the mindsets of leftist comics writers very badly. Here, Matt Fraction was the writer turning him into a tool for leftism in his own way. I think the most offensive thing about the storytelling here is that one story depicted Frank "paying tribute" to Captain America by wearing a duplicate costume. If the idea there was to shame the image by having him kill criminals while in the guise of a hero who usually avoided killing following his thawing out after many years in suspended animation in an iceberg after WW2, then honestly, there's something very wrongheaded going on there.

July 2010

Zero input.

August 2010

The Brave & the Bold #35 vol. 2 (DC): An attempt to revive the older series that ran from 1955-1983, which began as an anthology series mostly for superheroes (the Justice League of America's first adventure took place in its pages), and in the late 1960s became more of a Batman and fill-in-the-blank adventure (a foreshadowing to how Marvel Two-in-One did the same with the Thing/Ben Grimm), and you could say it served as the perfect spot for Batman to appear in a more sci-fi oriented story than what his 2 flagship series featured. After its cancellation, the Outsiders took over from where it left off.

Unfortunately, with people like Dan DiDio at the helm during the time this was published, that's one reason why this was doomed to failure. Another is that J. Michael Stracynski came aboard after Mark Waid left (and Waid has really gone downhill since 2009, even writing stories belittling heroism, as his Irredeemable series from Boom Studios can attest), and wrote some stories featuring at least 2 superheroes once published by Archie Comics that ran the gauntlet of more leftist political soapboxing.

And with that, this new would-be attempt at an anthology series soon slipped into obscurity, becoming just another cog in a circuit that's since burned out.

September 2010

Ex-Machina #50 (Wildstorm/DC): a political drama about Mitchell Hundred, a superdoer who gets elected mayor of New York City following his actions on 9-11. And because writer Brian Vaughan's leanings are so leftist, that's why I don't think I'd be in such a rush to check this one out, because of how this particular position appears to be what the comic goes by too. A real shame.

The Warlord #16 vol. 3 (DC): This series, which put Mike Grell back at the writing helm many years after he'd left Travis Morgan's stories behind, restored some of the continuity that Bruce Jones trashed in the previous volume listed in the 2007 files. But really sad, it followed a pattern I am honestly weary of now: Travis was killed towards the end of this series at the hands of his own son Joseph, who'd been brainwashed by Deimos. And soon afterwards, guess what happens? Joseph becomes the new Warlord. They had to rub out Travis just to do that?

Okay, it was Grell who created Morgan to begin with, and I suppose it's only fair if he wants to end the character that way too. But even so, that Grell followed practically the same pattern that's been taking up the bulk of many superhero baton-pass-ons is simply sad. And now, with the pseudo-talents now in charge of DC having rebooted much of the DCU for still more publicity stunts, this has all probably been obliterated regardless.

October 2010

Blank slate. Mostly because mainstream comics and indie comics alike have been getting worse and worse with each following year, and so there's not much to find or comment on.

November 2010

Conan the Cimmerian #25 (Dark Horse): another take on the warrior of Robert E. Howard coming from a company that pretty much seems quite good at obtaining the rights to producing series like these.

Web of Spider-Man #12 vol. 2 (Marvel): after Joe Quesada forcibly split up the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson-Parker in 2007, it should come as no surprise if this spinoff didn't make the grade.

December 2010

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #22 (DC): I think this was based on one of the animated cartoons Warner Brothers was producing at the time. And the sad thing is that their kiddie lines, while better in some ways than the flagship material, still aren't given very inspiring treatment nor very convincing marketing.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #21 (DC): this take on the Big Red Cheese was definitely part of the "Johnny DC" line, which was aimed more at younger crowds. But as the short shelf life tells, they never really made any serious effort to market it more widely and it certainly didn't draw much interest.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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