Archive for the the complete opposite of brilliance Category

Worst Comics Publisher Of 2010

Posted in 2010 in review, comic books, rant, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by vagabondsaint

So here I am, ready to announce my pick for 2010’s Worst Comics Publisher.

But first, the runner-up!

Runner-Up:  DC Comics

Oh, DC.  You had an excellent year coming and completely blew it to Hell.

The biweekly, six-issue miniseries Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne, heralding the time-travel adventures of Batman as he struggled back from the past (more on that in another column) was poised to be a huge hit.  It had a superstar writer in Grant Morrison, the return of a character everybody and their weird uncles loves, and a rotating team of fantastic artists.  How could you possibly blow that?

Oh yeah – it was plagued with delays so badly that a series that should have been out and done in three months instead took seven.  Even for that talent and character, people lost interest.  The delays threw it out of sync with companion books like Batman and Robin, and the release of the completely inconsequential Bruce Wayne: The Road Home one-shots before the final issue of ROBR just confused whoever was still paying attention.  And then, just to make it worse, you released the Time Masters: Vanishing Point miniseries, about the adventures of Rip Hunter, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and Superman as they searched the timestream for Batman. . .and it too was plagued with delays, which is death for a title that already starred characters no one really cared about.

That would be enough to make a bad year, but oh wait, there is more.

J. Michael Straczynski‘s run on Superman got people talking. . .for all the wrong reasons. It was arrogant, preachy, and heavy-handed to the point that the interludes, necessitated by health issues and Straczynski’s writing the much-better-received Superman: Earth One graphic novel, were liked much better.  While we’re talking about JMS, his changes to Wonder Woman’s costume went over like roadkill for dinner.  Don Kramer’s art couldn’t even save it.  Here’s hoping the next writer either changes it back or gives us a damn good reason for the change.

Other DC blunders?  Delays on The Flash (how does the Fastest Man Alive star in the Slowest Book On The Stands?), James Robinson turning the JLA into Teen Titans: The Grown-Up Years, replacing the all-ages Batman team-up series Batman: The Brave and the Bold with an all-new all-ages Batman team-up series called Batman: The Brave and the Bold (read that line again if you wish; I promise it won’t make any more sense the second time), letting Mark Guggenheim write JSA, and the Jonah Hex movie (which is nearly completely identical to Will Smith’s Wild Wild West movie.  Seriously.  The villains even plot to kill the same President, which makes me wonder what Garfield was up to that so many screenwriters want him dead).  The final nail in the coffin was their 100-page specials, which are just reprints of older comics.  Good for background info on some characters, but useless otherwise and, at $8 each, aren’t selling.  Just stop with the damn specials already, DC.

On the plus side, though, Paul Cornell is doing an excellent run on Action Comics right now.  And Grant Morrison’s Batman work has blown me away.

But, the saving grace for DC?

They listened to the fans.

When faced with rising costs, Marvel and DC both started hiking up prices from $2.99 to $3.99 per issue.  As long it was just a few series and miniseries, it wasn’t so bad.  But in the midst of a recession, fans took notice and starting dropping books.  When the unusually-large price increase started expanding to more regular series and virtually all miniseries in July, fans showed their displeasure by not buying comics.  In fact, industry-wide, there was a stunning 17% across-the-board sales drop in the month of August.  DC responded quickly, and favourably, by issuing a statement that they would drop prices back down to $2.99 in the new year, though, due to rising costs of their own, this would also mean dropping 2 pages per issue.  Hell, at least they listened and responded in a way that showed they understood the situation. (Marvel issued a similar “me too” statement 30 minutes later, but more on that in a minute.)

Despite all the errors and missteps, that single show of understanding kept DC from being the worst publisher of 2010.  No, that honour went to. . .

2010’s Worst Publisher of the Year: Marvel Comics

Oh, it was Marvel’s year, all right. . .Marvel’s year to suck.

Let’s start with over-saturation.  To help build the hype of an upcoming Deadpool movie, Marvel had Deadpool starring in four separate ongoing series this year (five, if you count Deadpool MAX) and at least 2 miniseries a month, plus guest appearances galore.  He appeared more than Spider-Man and Bruce Wayne, although he still came up short for the title of Most Overused Character (that title still belongs to Wolverine).  The once-beloved Merc With A Mouth became the Merc With Too Damn Many Books, and even the most hardcore fans were not willing to spend $20 a month on one non-bat-inspired character.  Sales plummeted, Deadpool lost popularity, and Ryan Reynolds, who was slated to star in the movie, instead signed a contract with DC to do more Green Lantern movies.  As of this writing, 2 of these books have been cancelled, which would have been great news approximately 20,000 dead trees ago, but now it’s too little, too late.

Speaking of cancellations, there were plenty of those, too. . .just on the wrong titles.  The well-liked series Atlas was cancelled for low sales after only five issues; the same for Thor: The Mighty Avenger.  Both books might have stood a chance had it not been for a sudden glut of comics titles on the shelf – a glut largely put there by. . .wait for it. . .Marvel Comics.

One can accept that when a company does a crossover, there are going to be extraneous tie-ins and such.  Marvel took this waaaaaaaaay too far in 2010.  It would have been acceptable if there had been a company-wide crossover, but, in addition to that crossover (Siege, which was terrible), there were also line-specific crossovers, like X-Men: Second Coming (which was actually good), X-Men: Curse of the Mutants (vampires are overdone, kids, let it go already), Shadowland (about Daredevil becoming master of the Hand ninja clan and taking over NYC; also, it sucked), and all of the 4 new Avengers-themed books, released to replace the previous 4 Avengers books that ended with Siege.  Each crossover had its own spin-offs and miniseries, very very few of which were readable and very few of which had any effect on the crossover story or the characters in them.  In addition to all that, of course, Marvel was also releasing the “Women of Marvel” one-shots, a new Strange Tales miniseries (which was worth reading), a slew of miniseries starring minor or new characters, and other useless pablum.

In short, in a time of belt-tightening and stretched dollars, Marvel Comics threw books at you like they’d forgotten that comics are a luxury item.

And Marvel appeared to recognize this mistake when they announced, 30 minutes after DC’s price-drop announcement, that they too would be dropping prices for 2011.

But, see, what they meant to say, and clarified in a later press release, was that they wouldn’t be putting out any new ongoing titles for $3.99.  They wouldn’t be dropping prices so much as they would be keeping them stable.  Same difference, right?  Well, not really, but okay. . .fair enough. . .oh, except that miniseries and specials are exempt from that rule, so those will be priced at $3.99.  And there will be a metric shitload more of them.  Hell, right now, Captain America, who’s barely interesting enough for one book, has two miniseries going. Thor, whose second ongoing was cancelled, has at least three going.  Spider-Man just ended one and I think has more on the way, in addition to the miniseries starring his nemesis Norman Osborn.  Basically, Marvel’s made it clear that there will be fewer ongoing series and more specials and miniseries coming your way in 2011 – an end-run around looking like they give a fuck about the stressed wallets of the fans.

 

A special message to you, the fans, from Marvel Comics.

Marvel, too, was plagued with delays this year; the final issue of Siege came out after series and specials that chronicled events that happened in that final issue.  Of course, said events were nearly immediately forgotten about, but whatever.  It’s not like Siege was worth remembering.

On top of all that, Iron Man and Reed Richards still have not been arrested and tried for the negligent homicide of Black Goliath.  This still pisses me off.

Oh, and Siege.

And Shadowland, which made me quit reading Daredevil.

Plus, The Sentry: Fallen Sun.

And the X-Men fighting vampires at the same time as the Ultimate Avengers.

And Marc Guggenheim writing, well, anything.

So there you have it, folks:  Marvel Comics, the Worst Comics Publisher of 2010.  Take a bow, Marvel!

 

Or, you know, don't. Just keep giving us the finger. Jerk.

VS – 1.9.10

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Worst Comics of 2010

Posted in 2010 in review, comic books, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2011 by vagabondsaint

So once again, because I am horribly lazy, I’m taking ComicsAlliance’s list of the worst comics of 2010 and added my comments on them.  Luckily, I read most of them this year, so I can comment on them.

5.  VAGINAPOCALYPSE TIE — Titans: Villains for Hire and Nemesis #3

I read Titans: VfH and hated it.  The needless death of Ryan Choi, who was breathing new life into the tired costume of The Atom, really pissed me off.  Worse than that, though, was the death-by-burning-vagina of a child molester.  I’m thinking he had it coming, but still, a character who burns people to death with her vagina?  Come on DC, I know it’s a comic book, but really?  I would love to have been at that meeting.

WRITER: Okay, I got it, it’ll make the book dark and edgy for not for kids.

EDITOR: Hang on, I gotta finish this bottle of Mad Dog first.  Alright, Whatcha got?

WRITER: It’s a woman named Cinder, who has flame powers, but get this: she burns a guy to death with her vagina.

EDITOR:  Love it!

WRITER:  Really?

EDITOR:  I meant the Mad Dog, but your idea is good too, all three of you.

This is the only way I can imagine this idea being approved.

Having given up on Mark Millar some time ago, I didn’t read Nemesis.  That choice has now been validated.

4. JLA: Cry for Justice

This JLA-spinoff miniseries was just terrible.  James Robinson had a stellar run on Starman (ha!), but following it with this dreck made me wonder about his sanity. This did not bode well for his JLA run either, which goes down in history as the first book to make me miss Dwayne McDuffie’s writing.  At least the art was good.

The theory behind this team splitting off to become more pro-active, more aggressive, and chasing down the villains before they become threats, is fresh and new. . .for 1990.  Since then, there’s been Force Works, Fantastic Force, hell, even Justice League Task Force, and numerous other eminently forgettable books.  It’s been done before, it’s been done terribly before.  Cry For Justice made me cry for a better writer.  Even the “shock ending” of Green Arrow killing the villain (Prometheus, who had blown up most of GA’s hometown, blew off his adopted son’s arm, and killed his granddaughter) has been done before, in Mike Grell’s much-better Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.

The art was good and was the best reason to buy the book.  Other than that, there’s nothing to see here people, please move along.

3. The Sentry: Fallen Sun

I’m just going to say this right now:  the Siege crossover was, by and large, completely f’in terrible.  I hated it.  It didn’t live up to the hype, didn’t even come close, and didn’t resolve all the issues it promised to resolve.  Some of the 83 bajillion spin-offs were good, but not many.

The “shocking spectacle” in issue #1 of thousands of people being killed during a battle between an Asgardian God and super-villains was exposed for a cheap plot device pretty quickly, as once it’s established as the flimsy excuse that Norman Osborn gives to invade Asgard, it’s never referenced again. A huge tragedy is forgotten about so fast that it seems like it never really happened.  In fact, just about all of this series is inconsequential.  The two major changes to the status quo, Norman Osborn’s fall from post-Secret Invasion grace and the death of the Sentry, actually do have some consequences, kind of.

One of those consequences, sadly, was the publication of The Sentry: Fallen Sun.

The Sentry, for those unfamiliar with the character, was created in 2000, following a marketing ploy that labelled the character as a “forgotten” Stan Lee character from the 1960s.  He was basically an overpowered Superman knock-off with crippling mental issues and an evil alternate personality, which explained why he wasn’t just wiping out villains left and right.

Anyway, this complete throwaway character finally died in the “shocking” anti-climax of Siege.  In its aftermath followed this memorial issue, Fallen Sun, which was actually worse than Siege.  The retconning of the Sentry into Marvel history was terribly, as everyone shared poignant moments that never happened.  And he was somehow immune to Rogue’s powers, so she slept with him?  What the fuck, Marvel?  Shouldn’t that have come up a little sooner than a throwaway scene in a throwaway comic about a throwaway character?

To sum it up, this book made me wish I was reading Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose instead.  At least that book is hilarious in its terrible-ness; The Sentry: Fallen Sun is a memorial book that’s sad for all the wrong reasons.

2. Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal

JLA: Cry For Justice was the gift that kept on giving.  Like herpes.  The infection of CFJ gave us the blisters that were Rise of Arsenal.  It’s an attempt to make a B-level character more prominent, and it succeeds. . .just not the way that the editors intended.

Remember when I said the Green Arrow’s adopted son and sidekick Roy Harper got his arm blasted off in CFJ?  This is his adventures dealing with the loss of his natural arm and the gaining of a new prosthetic one, as arms are rather important to someone whose entire gimmick is shooting arrows at people.  To make things even worse, it was Roy’s daughter that Prometheus killed in CFJ, so he’s dealing with that too.

How does he deal?

By returning to the heroin habit that made him and Green Arrow relevant back in the 70s, trying to have sex with the same villainess that was the mother of his daughter and failing because he’s impotent, and hallucinating that a dead cat is his daughter and beating up a bunch of homeless guys that he thought were threatening it, and finally getting his ass kicked by his former teammate Dick Grayson, who used to be Robin but is now a friend-ass-kicking Batman.

You know, there’s a lot of potential for a deeply moving, serious story in the scenario I just described.  Said potential is left completely ignored, however, in favour of shock value, horrible dialogue, and cheap dramatic tricks.  Make no mistake, this is four issues of hilariously awful comics that could have been great, thought-provoking comics.

But hey, it’s like I always said:  if you can’t laugh at an impotent junkie beating up homeless people, then what can you laugh at?

1. Superman: Grounded

Oh, Straczynski.  I had such high hopes for you on Superman.  Superman takes a walking tour of America to get back in touch with the country?  Soooooooooooo much potential in that!

And you blew it.

Instead of learning, Superman seems to be trying to teach.  He spouts overly-worded monologues on simple moral points, he flies people into the stratosphere for asking simple questions, the bad guys he does deign to fight are overly ethnic. . .was this written by Republicans?

The one part of this I really liked is the last Straczynski issue, in which he states that one doesn’t have to be a superhero to stop child abuse, one only needs “a pair of eyes, a voice, a phone. . .and ten cents worth of compassion.”  While I agree with the anti-child abuse sentiment and that any normal person can and should act to prevent it, Superman’s description means that people with only one eye, mutes, and those too poor to afford phones are completely useless in the fight against child abuse, which is not the case at all.  Way to discount the handicapped and the poor, Superjerk.

The issue after that was one that I really liked, and I thought that maybe the series was finally picking up. . .until I checked the cover and saw that it was written by G. Willow Wilson, who creator-owned book Air bored me to tears, but she did a good job with Superman’s supporting cast.

Anyway, Straczynski’s off the book now, so here’s hoping it picks up in 2011.

Next up: eh, I haven’t really decided yet.

VS – 1.7.10

Adventures In Shoddy Editing, Part One

Posted in comic books, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2010 by vagabondsaint

Being semi-literate comic books fans as we are, G (the other guy that works at the same shop I do) and I have noticed a recent rash spate epidemic of instances of shoddy editing in comic books.  He decided it would be a good idea if we scanned the mistakes and put them up on the internet, something I should have instantly recognized as corporate-speak for “you’re going to put them up on the internet.”  (For future reference: whenever anyone you know that works in a corporate environment tells you that “we” need to do something, they really mean and fully intend for you to do something.)

That said, yes, I do want to call attention to these mistakes because, as IBM’s James Mathewson points out here, the value of editors in the literary world seems to be declining in the face of cost-cutting expenditures.  This would be a bad idea.  Having worked as an editor for a small publisher, I can honestly say that we need editors more than ever, to maintain cohesion and language as schools lose funding.  I learned a lot of my vocabulary from books when I was growing up (and still mispronounce words that I’ve never actually heard anyone say yet); the value of books for extending the vocabulary and literacy of both children and adults has not lessened at all since I was a boy and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

The worst offender in the comics world? Far and away, it’s Marvel Comics.  The House of (Bad) Ideas is swiftly becoming the House of Bad Editing, as seen in this example from Heralds #2:

And sddenly, Marvel editors forgot how to use spellcheck. I have to remember, though, that nobody’s perfect. . .

X-Men vol. 83bajillion #1

. . .not even with mutant editing powers.

Spellcheck, to be fair, can be a huge pain in the ass that slows down the entire publishing process by upwards of 6 minutes a day.  So let’s hear it for those editors who, despite the enormous pressures they face, still use it!

New Avengers vol.2 #1

The conversation continues as follows:

Dr. Strange: Our word?

HellStrom: Yes.  They’re invading our word.

Dr. Strange: Our word?

HellStrom: To your mother.  Yes.

The invasion's first casualty. Yo Vanilla, RIP.

Don’t worry, true believers; we’ll get through this together. . .

Prince of Power #2

. . .or maybe not.

You know, perhaps we’re all just better off without. . .without. . .without something. . .I can’t remember what we’re better off without.  Frank Castle, do you remember?

PunisherMax #9

You heard the Punisher, kids: stay indoors!  We’re better off without out!

I think I hear DC editors snickering in the back. . .why are you guys laughing?  Look at these two mistakes from Justice League: Generation Lost #1:

"I just beat your ass with a pipe. I don't have to use the right words."

Give the DC editors credit for at least using spellcheck, even if they didn’t bother to make sure that the words were the proper choices.

The award (at least for this episode) for Worst Editorial Mistake goes to, you guessed it, Marvel Comics, for this mistake on the cover of Marvel Zombies #5:

While I’m sure that Mr. van Lante was thrilled to finally see his name on the cover of  a comic, I’m sure that Fred van Lente, who actually wrote the book, was less than amused.  Hopefully they spelled his name right on the checks.

Till next time, Excelsifore!

VS – 8.2.10

The Worst Comics Of The Last Decade(?)

Posted in comic books, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2009 by vagabondsaint

My new favourite website Comics Alliance has posted their list of the 15 worst comics of the past decade.  Me being who I am (a lazy writer), I thought I would weigh in on their choices and give my own opinions of the books they selected.  You might find it helpful to click that link, read their take, and then read mine, because they go into more detail on the comics and I’m too lazy to recap all that.

15.  Marville (2002)

I am a completist; if I start a miniseries, and can tolerably accept the first issue, I’ll give it a fair shot to get better or draw me in further.  After all, Marville was only a six-issue miniseries, so why not give it a chance?

I dropped it after the second issue.

That’s really all I need to say about it.

14.  Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001 – 2002)

I love The Dark Knight Returns.  It stands as one of my absolute favourite graphic novels ever.  It gets even better if one forgets this craptastic sequel ever existed.

Dark Knight Strikes Again is proof that Frank Miller, who wrote The Dark Knight Returns (among other landmark works such as Batman: Year One and Daredevil: Born Again) no longer gives a fuck.  The art was terrible, the dialogue was sub-sub-sub-par, the action was just plain ick, the plot was thinner than the paper it was printed on, I didn’t link to it just to spare you from knowing more about it than you absolutely have to. . .I could go on, but there are space limitations to consider, not to mention sanity considerations.  I don’t know how anyone, from Miller to the colorist to the editor to the mailroom clerks, thought publishing this festival of flying fecal matter was a good idea.  Adam West could have written a better Batman.  Adam West was a better Batman.

13.  Tarot, Witch Of The Black Rose (Entire Decade and counting)

Confession time:  I own a few issues of this title.  When it started, writer/artist Jim Balent was just fresh off his 77-issue Catwoman run, and as an artist, I liked him.  Sure, his women were a little on the physically-improbable side, but his linework was clean and he had good attention to detail.  The first few issues of Tarot were the same art style, and I liked that he’d actually done research into pagan rituals and Wiccan theology and used it in the book.  He also interviewed a “real” witch and put the interview in the issues, along with the Broadsword Girls, fans who sent in pictures of themselves and were published in the issues.  (Hey, some of them were pretty good-looking.)

Then something changed.

Balent went from improbable women to flat-out impossible women.  Tarot and the rest of the cast seemed to wear fewer and fewer clothes with each issue.  I like long-legged, busty women as much as the next six guys combined, but women with legs long enough to serve as emergency runways and breasts bigger than Guinness-listed watermelons are just ridiculous – so much so that I ended up dropping the title for no other reason than that Balent’s drawing hand appeared to have been taken over by his pubescent fantasies.

There was a lot of possibility for good story-telling, education on magic and Wicca, and a strong positive female lead, but – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – the boobs just got in the way.

Just too much boob. . .and I can't believe I wrote that.

12. Chuck Austen’s X-Men Run (2002-2004)

In general, I like Chuck Austen’s writing.  His run on Elektra was a decent segue between Bendis and Robert Rodi (whatever happened to that guy, anyway?), and his black-and-white, weekly U.S. War Machine miniseries (which he also illustrated) was pretty kickass.  However, I have to admit, I didn’t read his X-Men run because I’d given up on the X-Men two years before.  All I knew about it came from a mention in Twisted Toyfare Theatre of She-Hulk sleeping with Juggernaut, and that was enough to kill any curiosity I might have had about it (said mention is the source of the classic line “Once you go Juggernaut, it’s physically impossible to go back”).  Thanks to Comics Alliance, not only do I not have to read the run to know it was absolutely God-awful, but I can sleep easy knowing that Chuck Austen will probably never be allowed to touch major super heroes ever again.  He’s apparently at his best with second-tier characters, so let’s leave him there, eh?

11.  Ultimate Adventures (2002-2004)

Missed it completely.  Pretty happy about that now.

10.  Trouble (2003)

Didn’t read it at all.  If I’d known Mark Millar was writing it, I might have given it a chance, but the cover kept me away from it.  Wondering why?  Here’s the cover:

That’s the cover of Trouble #1.  Here’s what it looked like to me:

To be honest, from looking at the cover, I was scared that this was Marvel’s attempt to enter the Disney-and-Japanese-dominated sexy-schoolgirl-that-really-actually-is-a-schoolgirl market.  And so I gave Trouble a pass.

9. Identity Crisis (2004)

I liked Identity Crisis, for some of the same reasons that CA doesn’t like it:  the father-son issues and tragedies, the gender-roles explorations,  the murderer that comes from a completely unexpected (for the heroes) direction – all of these things added up to making it a worthwhile read for me.  What happened to the murderer afterward was a bit of a letdown, but I think overall this book was a good, humanizing look at DC’s main characters, who are too often simply archetypes without enough dimension.  The plot lines left dangling are resolved in other titles, as was most likely intended, and overall you’re left realizing that, even with the best of intentions, sometimes even heroes will do bad things.

8.  Spider-Man: Sins Past (2004-2005)

You know, I liked J. Michael Straczynski.  His Spider-Man run, up to that point, had been excellent, Rising Stars was a brilliant look at how powers affect both the people that have them and those around them that don’t, Midnight Nation was excellent, etc, etc. . .

And then came Sins Past.

And I could only wonder, and scream, why?  Why, Marvel, why, Straczynski, why, why, in the name of all that is good and holy, WHY?

This was the comic book equivalent of Final Fantasy XII‘s battle with Yiazmat, who has 50 million hit points and takes anywhere from 8-12 hours to defeat:  you’re left wondering why the creators of this normally-pleasant entertainment suddenly felt a need to punish you for existing.  Except that in FFXIII, at least you get good equipment and a metric shitload of experience for beating Yiazmat.  Finishing Sins Past just leaves you feeling empty, dejected, and optically violated.

7.  Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do (2002, 2005-2006)

By 2002 I’d already learned to avoid anything written by Kevin Smith (yes, Jay and Silent Bob Kevin Smith).  While his Daredevil and Green Arrow stories were pretty good, the word “deadline” seemed to not exist in his world, making him a bad match for anyone who lacks patience (i.e., me).  Given that this six-issue miniseries took him three years to finish, and sucked horribly to boot, I contend that avoiding Kevin Smith is still a damn good idea.

6. Countdown (2007-2008)

Here are the basic ideas behind Countdown:

1. Take some of DC’s second- and third-tier characters and write stories about their roles in the universe-at-large in a semi-real-time format.

2.  Have these characters explore the deep, dark, unexplored corners of the DC Universe and provide lead-in for the next big crossover.

3.  Do this all in the pages of a year-long, weekly comic, with different teams of writers and artists.

Did it work?

Hell yes it worked, and it was awesome – when it was called 52.

52, for my non-comics-fans out there, was the yearly miniseries that preceded Countdown, and focused on a year in the DC Universe without Superman, Wonder Woman, or Batman (lost his powers, killed a guy, and just really needed a frigging break, respectively).  52 was good.  It proved a weekly comic could be done successfully, without having a single issue late or delayed, and could be financially successful.

But if 52 was a platter of delicious burritos stuffed with organic beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and a zesty sauce, Countdown and its tie-ins were the explosive, messy, stinky post-digestion aftermath.

52 was largely self-contained, except for the four-issue spinoff miniseries World War IIICountdown had bits and pieces all over the place, in a host of completely-unnecessary-and-only-tangentially-related spinoffs and “tie-in” miniseries.    That said, Countdown did still have some good parts, enough to make it fairly readable, and enough to draw you in to Final Crisis. . .

. . .except that Final Crisis bore little resemblance to the events of Countdown, and in fact, as CA says, outright contradicted it in some places.  I don’t know what sort of struggles and conflicts were going on between Grant Morrison and the DC editorial board about continuity between the two series, but I know this:  everyone that read Countdown for a leg up on Final Crisis lost.  People who bought the completely extraneous miniseries and one-shots from Countdown lost even worse.

But those battles were nothing compared to the battles over. . .

5.  One More Day (2007-2008)

As the tagline for One More Day asked, “what would you do. . .for one more day?”

If you answered “write a craptacular end to a pretty good 8-year Spider-Man run,” congratulations! You are Joseph Michael Straczynski.

Going into One More Day, we find Peter Parker in the worst situation he’s even been in:  he’s on the run from the government as a result of opposing the Superhuman Registration Act, his secret identity is publicly known because he revealed it while supporting the Superhuman Registration Act, and Aunt May is dying from an assassin’s bullet meant for him.  (Here’s a hint: if you’re septuagenarian with bad reflexes and your nephew is a wanted fugitive with many, many, enemies on both sides of the law, for fuck’s sake don’t stand near any windows with him.)

It’s pretty well known that Straczynski and Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada argued about not only how to end the run but also about Straczynski’s previous entry on this list.  It’s also known that Straczynski wanted a different ending to One More Day, so Quesada either rewrote the issue himself or had someone else do it.  Whatever the case, let’s play it where it lies.

No one can help Aunt May.  Tony Stark can’t do anything, Doctor Strange is helpless, and Peter’s out of time and options.  Along comes Mephisto, the Devil of the Marvel Universe, and offers a deal:  he’ll save Aunt May’s life and make Peter’s identity a secret again if Peter Parker will kill a virgin and bring the soul to him.  With no other choice to save his aunt’s life, Peter embarks on a desperate quest to find a virgin in New York City, and. . .oh, wait, that’s the way I would have written the story.  By the way, my version is much better than what was actually written.

The Mephisto part was true, but instead of  a virgin’s soul (knowing there’s no way Peter could find one in New York in time), he wants Peter’s marriage to Mary Jane.  In effect, to save the life of one old woman (who’s already died at least once before, been kidnapped by Spidey’s villains several times, and came close to marrying Doctor Octopus), Peter must give up his marriage to super-hottie Mary Jane, thereby erasing her from his life and shoving 20 years of comic book history into a hole, setting it on fire, and burying it with raw sewage.  Mary Jane and Peter both whine about this for an issue and a half and then confront Mephisto, where one of them finds the intestinal fortitude to put an end to this horrific history-molesting storyline.

What’s the decision?

When the next storyline starts, Aunt May is old, alive, and unshot, and Mary Jane and Straczynski were nowhere to be seen. (To be fair, the current ret-conned version of history is that Mary Jane and Peter had been “a couple” but not married.)

4.  Ultimates 3 (2007-2008)

Remember what I said before about Countdown being the messy aftermath of 52‘s delicious burrito-fest?  Well, Ultimates 3 is the same thing to Ultimates 1 & 2. I have no idea what sort of blunt force trauma caused Jeph Loeb, the writer of the wonderful Superman For All Seasons and The Long Halloween to write this dreck, though I do wonder if personal traumas led to him temporarily losing his writing edge.  No joke there; I just hope he recovers soon.

Luckily, Ultimates 3 did not last the full 13 issues that its predecessors did, as it lead directly into an Ultimate-universe-spanning crossover that would. . .oh.  Oh no.  Oh God no.

3.  Ultimatum (2008-2009)

Ultimates 3 was not the end of Jeph Loeb’s determined attempt to destroy the universe that Bendis built.  Here’s the basic plot:  Mutant villain is angry about how mutants are treated, unleashes tidal waves and numerous natural disasters to punish humanity.  Numerous heroes are killed.  Remaining heroes band together to defeat villain.

That should have taken maybe two issues, at best.  It only took four when The Authority did it, and they had to evacuate the entire planet first.

But not Ultimatum. Oh, no.  The destruction of the Ultimate universe apparently deserves much more attention than that.

Instead, we are treated to five issues of the actual miniseries and at least a dozen issues of tie-ins featuring heroes running around trying to figure out what’s going on, heroes getting killed in gruesome ways, heroes getting angry, and heroes generally being useless.  (In what has to have been her worst year ever, the Wasp was eaten by the Blob in the Ultimate universe and then killed by Skrulls in the regular Marvel universe in a three-month span.)  Magneto kills Professor Xavier, Dormammu kills Doctor Strange, a tidal wave kills Captain America (he comes back, though), Thor sacrifices himself to save Valkyrie, and, in the final battle, Magneto appears to kill Wolverine.  Just in case you thought it was finally safe to be a superhero after all that, Cyclops is shot and killed by an unknown assassin in the denouement.

Jeph Loeb went on an unholy rampage through the Ultimate universe, and all we got was a crappy story.

2.  Image United (2009)

Haven’t read it.  Still waiting for Darker Image #2.

1.  Mark Trail (2009)

Who reads newspapers anymore?

That said, I didn’t read this stretch of Mark Trail, but my God. . .this deserves the title that CA has bestowed upon it.

How in the fuck does, in the 21st century, a storyline about a controlling, abusive husband who is so insanely jealous of his wife giving affection to anything else that he shoots her pet deer end with the abuse victim fucking apologizing to the abuser? Seriously, what the fuck?  I know that the writer and artist of Mark Trail was born in 1924, but holy hell, Mark doesn’t tell his wife to take off her shoes and get back in the kitchen, does he?  Or go out and try to keep minorities from voting?  Fuck no.

The rest of the stories on this list were just bad stories.  This one, though, is a fucking crime against domestic violence victims everywhere.

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Agree?  Disagree?  I have a comments section for a reason. . .

VS – 12.27.09

Quick Shots

Posted in brilliance, economics, legal system, politics, randoma, reproductive health, the complete opposite of brilliance, war with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Some insight into my blog-writing process:  every day, I read the Huffington Post, New York Times, and various other internet news sources looking for interesting things to write about.  Once I find something, I bookmark it in a folder called “blog ideas,” to look into later or do more research about – or totally ignore.  Of the things that I find, maybe 20% of them actually do get written about here; for others, I lose interest, the moment’s urgency passes, I just don’t have enough to say on the topic to justify a full entry, or I just never get around to the actual writing part. (I do have a life, and it sometimes gets in the way.)  Sometimes I just don’t know what to say.

Now that my list has grown way too bloody long, I’ve decided to share some of the things I didn’t write about before.  However, since there are so many, I’ll have to limit my comments on each item to just one or two lines and let you read the links.

Basically, this is my bookmark clearing-house.  Ready, set. . .go!

1. Missouri coffee drinkers share the hot, steaming cup of love!

2. Smarter than the average bear?  Maybe.  Smarter than a top-of-the-line bear-proof canister? Definitely!

3. When this guy says he’s “gotta see a man about a horse,” call the police.

4. You know the real estate market is rough when people get violent over Monopoly properties. . .

5. It’s not just Alaska’s problem:  rape victims in many places often have to foot the bill for examinations and rape kits.

6. Something to keep in mind next time you call someone a slut. . .or are called one yourself.

7. When you’re tripping balls, every bush is on fire and can talk – so was Moses just high?

8. Conservative think-tank (they can think?) Heritage Foundation calls a bill pushing for harsher child-rape penalties “overcriminalization.” People, I beg you, do not trust Republicans around your children.

9.  Yes, Dear Canada, America is, in fact, on crack.

10. The Chinese have better political sensibilities than we do; they trust sex workers more than politicians.

11. Proof that God has a sense of humour: A British actor in a swine flu prevention commercial came down with – wait for it – swine flu.

12. What you’ve always suspected is true:  your brain really is working against you. As is the CIA.

13. If you only click one of these links, for the love of all that’s good and holy, make it this one about how and why conservative are always wrong. . .with historical evidence to back it up.  Brilliant!

14. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and the Photoshop of the photo editor.

15. I don’t know how to fix the obesity problem in this country, but I’m pretty sure that this is the wrong tactic.

16. Looks like freedom of speech only goes so far. . .

17. Why is John McCain the only Republican willing to stand up to conservative nutjobs? There’s gotta be more somewhere. . .

18. When a machete- and gun-wielding convicted killer gets better health care than his surviving victim, something is well and truly fucked up in this country.

19. Who’s really out to kill Grandma? It ain’t who you’d think.

20. “In recognition of your service to this country, we’re going to take away your child custody rights. Thank you!”

21. Welcome to Tennessee, where you can carry guns in bars, parks, and – wait a second, maybe not so much the parks.

22. “‘Round these here parts, you start wavin’ a picture of  Obama with a Hitler ‘stache, you can ‘spect a asswhuppin from an old Armenian man, and that’s how it should be.”

23. If you’re in a POW camp, Monopoly is a great, fun way to pass the time – or, you know, help you break out.

24. So, that high-tech phone you’ve got?  Chances are, if it gets stolen, its makers would rather force you to buy a new one than help you get it back.  The bastards.

25. Last but certainly not least, some sexual assault prevention tips that are guaranteed to work!

Whew!

VS – 09.22.09

The Good, The Bad, and The F***ing Bizarre #3: A Frank, A Flora, A Phallic Fallacy

Posted in brilliance, media failure, politics, randoma, rant, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by vagabondsaint

The Good:  Barney Speaks Frankly

You know how elected officials always have to be respectful and gentle with their constituents, no matter what level of insanity or inanity is currently issuing from said constituent’s mouth like a tidal wave of crazy?  Well, that behaviour has been tested quite a bit in the recent town hall meetings on the healthcare debate.  No one wants to be seen as making light of their constituent’s concerns, no matter how baseless, derogatory, or outright ludicrous those concerns are, right?

Right!

For everyone except Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank.

For those of us that have been wishing our elected representatives would stand up to the whackos showing up and town hall meetings and loudly displaying their ignorance, Barney Frank’s recent town hall was a godsend.  Check out how he handles a woman who calls the health care reform bills “a Nazi policy” (because the Nazis were all about making sure everyone had affordable health care).

Thank you, Barney Frank!  We need people to stand up to these ridiculous claims and assertions coming from the right, someone willing to call a spade a spade and show how baseless and inane these scare tactics are!

Barney Frank is my hero right now.

The Bad: Giant Rat-Eating Plant Discovered

You read that correctly:  a plant big enough to eat rats has been discovered.  Even more frightening, it’s been named after David Attenborough!

This is bad in several ways.

One, if plants have gotten big enough to eat rodents, how long do we have before they get big enough to eat people?  Clearly the plants are on a mission to stop killing humans through allergies and pretty-looking poisonous plants and just go for outright eating us!  The plants must be stopped, now, before it’s too late!

Stop the plants before anyone other than Rick Moranis suffers!

Stop the plants before anyone other than Rick Moranis suffers!

The second thing that is really scary about this is that the plant was named after Sir David Attenborough.  While those of us who know who Attenborough is know him as the soft-voiced narrator of a bajillion nature shows and a harmless, endlessly curious naturalist, the decision to name a carnivorous plant after him makes me wonder: what do the botanists know about Attenborough that the rest of us don’t? Clearly there’s some rodent-sized skeletons in his closet!  The world needs to know the truth about Sir David Attenborough!  Is he on the side of the carnivorous plants?  Is he even now preparing England for their invasion?  Has he been seduced to the green side by Poison Ivy?

Sometimes treason is completely understandable.

Sometimes treason is completely understandable.

Whatever Attenborough’s hiding, we need to know!

The F***ing Bizarre: Professional Dick Fears For His Own

I’ve read this article several times, looking for the punchline.  Either I haven’t found it or the humour is just so subtle that I can’t see it.

Rush Limbaugh and Jay-Z having a “beef”?  President Obama is coming to cut your penis?  Rush Limbaugh being on anyone’s balls without crushing them beyond repair?

It’s just. . .I can’t make jokes about this.  It makes too many jokes about itself.  Just read the article, seriously.

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Thanks for the reading this installment!  Be here next time when things get even stranger!

VS – 8.26.09

The Good, The Bad, And The F***ing Bizarre #2: Of Groped Mice, Angry Men, Anti-Racist Geckos And Kiddy-Porn-Lovin’ Cats

Posted in evil cats, media failure, politics, randoma, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Welcome to the next installment of The Good, The Bad, and The F***ing Bizarre!

The Good: Geico Saves A Bunch Of Money

Geico Insurance announced today that it would be saving itself a bunch of money by no longer advertising on Glenn Beck’s short bus to Crazytown FOX News show!

Not looking at Glenn Beck

Not looking at Glenn Beck

Mr. Beck claimed last week on long walk off a short, insane pier Fox And Friends that President Obama is a “racist,” with a “deep-seated hatred of white people, or white culture.”  He, of course, offered no evidence to back up this claim, unless one considers the deep, abiding love and respect that Obama has for his late Caucasian mother and grandparents to be indicative of a secret hatred for them.

Don’t bother re-reading that.  It won’t make any more sense the second time.

Beck later came 3 steps back down the nutjob ladder clarified his statement by saying that he never said that Obama doesn’t like white people, only that he hates them, and that Obama “has a problem.”  Somebody has a problem, and it has something to do with a lack of a dictionary.

The walk-back didn’t do enough to appease, well, any thinking person, leading to several petitions and movements calling on advertisers to stop supporting Beck’s crazy-tinged hate speech show by pulling advertising.  Geico responded to one of these, emailing ColorOfChange to notify them that they had pulled their advertising as of August 4.  Men’s Wearhouse and Sargento have likewise announced that they have pulled their advertising from the idiot parade Beck’s show.

So, let’s here it for advertisers finally taking some responsibility for the content of the shows they sponsor, eh?  I think that’s pretty good!

The Bad: Health Care Reform Town Hall Protests

I’m all for civil discourse, and we should all have the right to question our elected officials and get answers from them.  It’s a free exercise of the First Amendment, to voice our concerns.  That’s part of what America is all about, right?

So what’s my problem with the people who are protesting at town halls?

Well, aside from their being so ignorant as to not know that Medicare is socialized medicine run by the government, their stated tactics of being loud, disruptive, and shouting whenever anyone, including the elected officials, tries to speak are the complete opposite of what the First Amendment stands for.  They are denying the same rights they claim to be exercising to others, which is about as unpatriotic as one can get.  Your rights do not include to right to trample on someone else’s rights.

I’m not going to say more about than that these protests are a bad thing, for both the health care debate in particular and America in general.  If you’re wondering why I say that, just wait until one of these Astroturf protests comes to serious blows and people start getting hurt or killed.  It’s coming, I promise.

The F***ing Bizarre: Bizarre Games Of Cats And Mice

Two very strange things for this one.

The first,and a great thanks to my best friend for bringing this to my attention, is the Florida man arrested for possession of child pornography, after police found over 1,000 such images on his personal computer.  This is, so far, remarkable only for the ongoing exploitative debacle that is the stain in humanity’s underwear commonly known as child pornography.

Where it gets interesting is the man’s excuse for the pornography being on his computer:  his cat did it.

I swear, I am not making that up.

The man claims that his cat downloaded the images by “jumping on the keyboard” when he left the room.

Any time that you think your cat hates you, just remember:  it hasn’t yet tried to frame you for a crime that will get you shanked in the prison yard.

Yet.

The second item of note is again from Florida, but involves a man getting too friendly with a mouse. . .specifically, Minnie Mouse.

A 60-year-old Pennsylvania man has been convicted of misdemeanor battery for groping Minnie Mouse, or rather, a woman in a Minnie Mouse costume, at Walt Disney World in Orlando. According to the accosted woman, she “had to do everything possible” to keep his hands away from her chests.  You know, there’s just so many jokes that could be made here, but out of respect for what was no doubt a traumatizing experience for that poor lady, I’ll refrain.

I do believe I have said before that furries are harmless.  Let me amend that:  most furries are harmless.

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That’s it for this installment. . .till next time, please try to avoid watching Glenn Beck, being an idiotic ass at a town hall meeting, being framed for a serious felony by your cat, and feeling up anybody in an anthropomorphic animal costume!

I’ll see the ones of you that manage to do all of that next time!

VS – 8.11.09