Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking Back at the "O*'s" - The 5 Worst Stories of the Decade

Since we are officially closing out the first decade of the 21st century, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect back over the next few posts on what we've had happen. There have been some winners, and oh boy have there been some stinkers. Let's start this off by looking at the 5 worst storylines of the decade:

1 - Spider Man - "One More Day"

I know I've picked on this storyline a number of times already, but I'm not alone in my hatred of it. In four issues, Marvel decided to completely change the character of its core hero. He wasn't this superhero/husband...he was just this stupid little selfish boy child.

The man gladly without hesitation sacrifices his super-model wife who has stood by him unceasingly through the whole "Civil War" fiasco and numerous other attempts on his and her life. And why does he do it? Well, that would be just to save his Aunt May, who has already died and returned several times before.

Many people (myself included) thought this was just a stunt and that Marvel wouldn't be so stupid as to stab their faithful readers in the back like that, but they did. Twenty years of comic continuity wiped out in a few pages. Stupid beyond compare.

2 - DC - Final Crisis

DC has nailed up the word "crisis" so much that Marvel doesn't even bother touching it in any of their titles. When DC announced a "Final" crisis, we were all so excited and thought it would be something amazing. Then someone forgot to keep Grant Morrison sober long enough to write the thing and we get a storyline so convoluted no one can understand more than two pages at a time.

I have no idea what he was smoking, popping, or drinking when he came up with this, but they should have included free samples with each issue. Even when you buy the collected edition, you have no idea what's going on.

The incredible thing is that it had a 52-issue lead-in called "Countdown to Final Crisis" meant to prepare the way for the story...but then Morrison completely ignored the series and just jump-started the storyline where he wanted. Then we had "Death of the New Gods", in which all the new gods died...and then Morrison killed them again in this series in a different way. More on Countdown in a minute...

3 - Batman - "R.I.P."

So you want to ride the "Captain America's Dead" wave and kill your own flagship hero? How do you do that? Well, if you're DC you give it to the man who brought you the tripe that is "Final Crisis".

After successfully killing Batman in "Final Crisis", Morrison did it again in "Batman: R.I.P."--but in a different way. Yes, the man who wrote both series killed the same character in two different ways.

While this could have been an iconic moment filled with great moments, instead this was another Grant Morrison twisted storyline that you had to have a Master's Degree in obscure comic book moments to fully appreciate (or understand). Why was he a purple/yellow/red Batman? Why did the villain look like Bruce Wayne (hasn't Hush already pulled that little trick?)? What in the world was going on?

Rather than take this to the same storytelling level of Marvel's death of Captain America, we ended up with a hero death that wasn't worth telling.

4. - Marvel - Secret Invasion's "Mighty Avengers" and "New Avengers" era

While Secret Invasion may have been a good story (not the best, but good), Marvel felt the need to do some massive backstory explanations to let you see where it all came from and what had been going on behind the scenes. Rather than put out another mini-series, or even condense it all into one or two issues, Marvel took both Avengers series hostage and filled each month with story after story of things you really didn't have to know.

The problems were everywhere. Many of the covers had nothing to do with the characters or stories inside. Most of the stories were told in one issue, ending in a cliffhanger that wasn't resolved. The vast majority of the stories were interesting moments that could have been condensed to one-page flashbacks in the main title. It was nothing more than months of "filler". If they didn't want to progress the titles, they should have suspended them until the Invasion was over. As it was, subscribers like myself ended up with issues we've read once and thrown away.

5. - DC - Countdown
When DC put out "52", it was a fairly cool concept and was an interesting story. It has its moments and showcased some great otherwise-unnoticed characters like Question and Booster Gold. DC's follow-up was a little gem called "Countdown to Final Crisis". It had the potential to be awesome, but instead died a slow, painful death.

Look at the moments we had in this storyline: the death of Karate Kid, the birth of Red Robin (Jason Todd), and multiple trips throughout the Elseworlds to revisit some of the better stories from then. 

Unfortunately, immediately after this series ended, DC erased every bit of continuity from it. Jason Todd's trip from angry vigilante to Red Robin was, in a word, "epic". They had found a way to get him into the suit and give him a reason to be a hero...and then as soon as  it was over they took him out of the suit and turned him back into Red Hood. And I'm not even mentioning how Darksied suddenly goes from this story to Final Crisis.

Next week, we look at the best the first ten years had to offer us! Feel free to sound off below of any suggestions or changes to this list or the next one you'd make.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas!

No major posts this week. I just wanted to wish a very special "Merry Christmas!" to all our readers! Hope you get every cool comic book, toy, or heroic "whatever" that you wished for!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lousy Leaders

There are those guys who can lead their team through anything and bring them out alive and winning. But for every Captain America out there, there are those leaders who have no reason to be in charge of anything but always are. Here are a number of leaders we don't think we'd ever follow:


The on-again, off-again leader of the X-Men has never done anything noteworthy in his years of service. And yet, somehow, he always seems to end up the leader of whatever X-team he's on.

Jean Grey has died how many times under his watch? How about Thunderbird, Banshee, Colossus, and Kitty Pryde over the years. Yet when it's time to pass the leadership mantle, folks are scrambling to follow this guy.

Only Wolverine has ever really given him grief over his leadership (though Storm took control of the group for a brief time). It's sad to think the beserker rage guy has more sense than most of the other mutants in the Marvel U. Thankfully, they killed him off in the final X-Men movie (albeit offscreen). I think it's about the nicest thing anyone says about that movie, for some reason.

Jack (from Lost)

Holy cow! If you want to make the right decision on this island, then just find out what Jack wants to do and then do the exact opposite. While he might have started out strong, every single decision he's made in recent years has done nothing but gone wrong.

Trust Naomi and the freighter folk? Trust Ben Linus, then distrust him, then trust him, then don't? The list goes on and on. It's safe to say that if the story were real, it would be incredibly easy to figure out who should be left to go fishing with Jin while everyone else figured out what to do.

By the way, I realize Lost isn't a comic book, but comic fans everywhere seem to appreciate the intricate time-traveling storyline.

The Red Skull

Give me one scheme this guy has tried to pull off that's actually worked over the years! Decades of trying to kill Captain America and yes, he finally pulls that off...but then he doesn't because Steve Rogers is back again.

Can you imagine how it must be for him to recruit people? "Yes, we are hiring and I know our record isn't that good...but this time I promise you we are going to take down that wretched super hero! Captain America? No, I'm afraid I've given up on that one. Now we're specifically targeting Captain Carrot and his Zoo Crew! They will pay, American swine!"


Look, I love this character and think he's got a really cool costume, but let's be honest about his record with the Defenders. He was leader for 70+ issues, and in that time he alone was kidnapped and held hostage by some supervillain or another over a dozen times!

That is no exaggeration. At one point, he even had his brain swapped out for five issues where he showed up in the book, but was really a bad guy leading the team. And while "Defender for a Day" was an incredibly cool storyline, the mere fact that dozens of heroes (and a few villains) could show up and call themselves Defenders without the leader's consent shows a definite lack of leadership potential. You think a few heroes would have shown up at Avengers Mansion and called themselves Avengers while Captain America was in charge? Nope.

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Powers? No Problem!

For every mutant, alien jewel, radioactive spider, cosmic experiment powered hero out there, there are those who have nothing more going for them than just their nerves of steel and a few cool gadgets. Here are some "normal" guys who can still hold their own against the big guys.


Just pick your incarnation of this one. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson both are great at what they do. Nothing more than extreme athletic ability and more nifty toys than James Bond, and these guys are ready to stand their own against tough villains like Solomon Grundy, Darkseid, and more.

I guess you could count his "you can hit me even at point blank range" ability as an actual power, but for the most part he's pretty much just a normal guy who's been extremely lucky.

Oh, and let us never forget he can beat Superman down whenever he feels like it.


Yes, at one point he was Goliath and had super powers, but for now he's back to being plain on Clint Barton. When he was Hawkeye, he had no super powers other than incredible archery skills.

Now that he's become Ronin, he's shown a sudden ability to use anything as a weapon and be incredibly good at it. I don't remember him being an expert martial artist before, but I guess he is now.

Even though he doesn't have any super-soldier serum in him, he was even considered by Tony Stark as a replacement Captain America. I, for one, am glad he turned that one down.


Jose Delgado appeared about 20 years ago in a Superman comic book. He disappeared for a while but recently was brought back in the weekly "Trinity" series from DC Comics last year.

He doesn't have any super powers, but just like the others on this list he's made it just fine without them. Operating mostly out of Metropolis, Gangbuster has one of the cooler costumes out there.

He did end up crippled at one point from a fight, but he's back now and ready to go.


He's dead now, but Frank Castle made it for years with nothing more going for him than a burning desire for revenge and about a million bullets.

Here's the guy who's taken on just about every hero AND villain in the Marvel universe. He's never backed down from anything, and played a key role in the Civil War and in World War Hulk.

Unfortunately, somebody at Marvel got the stupid idea that killing him off and bringing him back as a zombie would sell books. They've tried this before and it didn't work, but they just didn't learn. Bring back Frank Castle!

Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu

In the 70's, this guy was popular! Of couse, so was Bruce Lee and Kung Fu movies in particular. The son of Fu Manchu himself, Shang Chi is an expert martial artist and yet isn't cocky about it.

He recently made a return in Heroes for Hire, but it's his series in the 70's that we remember him for. It was 70's camp at its best with secret agents, angry Chinese bad guys, and villains that have pretty much disappeared from continuity. Still, the artwork was cool (even if some of the covers were blatant rip-offs of Bruce Lee posters) and the stories stayed fairly consistent.

The biggest thing going for him was the fact that he didn't kill his enemies that often. For the most part, he'd beat them down and move on. If his stories came out today, I have a feeling he'd make Quentin Tarrantino blush.

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