Comics 411 5.14.14: Most Overrated Comic Book Storyline Edition
Posted by Steve Gustafson on 05.14.2014
Is Watchmen the most overrated comic storyline ever? Plus news and thoughts on The New 52: Futures End, what to expect from "The Death of Wolverine," reviews for Original Sin #1 and Green Arrow #31 and more!
Welcome back to the Comics 411! My name is Steve Gustafson and this is a corner of 411mania reserved for those interested in talking comics! As always, I want to thank everyone who took a few minutes to read and comment last week. Check out my Hollywood gossip (and anything else!) Hollywood 5 & 1 and my weekend movie recap The Big Screen Bulletin!
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Credit Playboy & Josh Ryan
I know this should run in the REVIEWS section but I wanted to give this indie comic some special love.
What I.F. #1
By Steve Gustafson
I get a couple of emails a week from people asking me to review or take a look at their comics. It's rare to read one and be knocked off your feet and What I.F. is that rarity. I.F. stands for Imaginary Friend and that is the focus of this wonderful tale. The story follows a unique creature that exists in our imagination and anyone who had an imaginary friend growing up will be drawn to this. It's a rich story that is ripe for a full series and, frankly, I'm surprised more haven't used this topic. Written by D.J. Strong with art by Jeramy HobbsWhat I.F. weaves a story about Jackson Leviathan, the imaginary friend of Penelope Xylophone. He reflects on their time together and we see and feel him coming to terms with their friendship, and his place in her life, coming to an end. What I.F. is a one and done so if you're looking for a simple yet enjoyable read that feeds the eyes and heart, you'll do well to visit cosmictimes.net now. It's the kind of story that stays with you long after you finish and I bet more than a few of us out there will reflect on that lost imaginary friend from our childhood.
I would love to see more from both D.J. Strong and Jeramy Hobbs. They work well together and this one shot was a perfect appetizer.
COVER VS COVER!
It's real simple, each week I'll take two covers and you vote on your favorite. Some weeks the covers will be random, some will be themed, some will be classic, and some will be ones you've never seem. Have fun with it.
Last week we two random covers. One had Ghost Rider and...a shark and the other had a masked Dr. Strange. Which one won?
The results came down to this:
Ghost Rider 54.82%
Dr. Strange 45.18%
Another week, another close match up. Looks like the shark was the deciding factor to boost Ghost Rider over Dr. Strange. Make your own "jumping the shark" joke here. This week is a simple, "Which one is cooler?" You got Spider-Man, back in black, and a jacked up Wolverine. Go!
Who has the greatest rivalry in comic books? I asked you and this is how you responded:
Batman and The Joker 57.27%
Professor X and Magneto 13.01%
Superman and Lex Luthor 9.57%
Reed Richards and Dr. Doom 4.59%
Wolverine and Sabretooth 4.46%
Spider-Man and Green Goblin 5.1%
Thor and Loki 2.55%
Captain American and Red Skull 1.91%
Green Lantern and Sinestro 1.53%
Another week where I was way off in predicting who would win. I knew Batman and Joker would be near the top but didn't expect them to take it by the huge margin they did! Another site did a poll and Superman/Lex Luthor took it handily.
Go2Sleep: "I voted for Prof. X vs. Magneto, because their rivalry is so much bigger than just the two men. It's about their ideologies and their beliefs of what roles mutants should play in society. Professor X is like the Martin Luther King to Magneto's Malcolm X. Just about every mutant is going to have to choose one path or the other."
Erik Vandermark: "Only one of these rivalries resulted in the love of the heroes life being thrown off a bridge."
K. Bett: "Joker beat robin to death and paralyzed batgirl. Sabertooth raped and killed Wolverines' great love, interrupted a wedding of his just to beat him and Shadow cat senseless. He also kidnapped Wolverines adopted daughter. He goes out of his way to ruin anything Wolverine might find peace with."
CMWolf: "Batman/Joker.....there IS no other close."
Megalomaniac: "I'm a little disappointed with the lack of voting for Spiderman/ Green Goblin. With everything that this rivalry involves(the Goblin being Spiderman's best friend's father, Goblin killing Gwen, Spiderman killing Goblin, and finally Harry taking over where his father left off) this feud is epic!"
K. Bett: "It's obviously not the popular opinion based on the poll results, but I've always favored Wolverine vs Sabertooth because of the basic premise of it all. Wolverine doesn't fear the monster that is Sabertooth but the monster he sees in himself when he looks at Sabertooth.
Xavier vs Magneto and Richards vs Doom have a rivalry that always ends in a stalemate due to their mutual respect and friendship. It makes it interesting just not my favorite."
Kyatollah: "Honestly, I would say Batman vs. Joker if we hadn't gotten the same basic formula for decades, but still top 3. For me, the other two would have to be Xavier and Magneto and Spidey and Osborn. It seems that Charles and Erik(or Max if you prefer) can't stay off each other's radar because of their shared yet divergent passion for mutant advancement, and the Goblin legacy has cost Peter Parker more personally than anything since letting Ben Parker's killer get away."
W. Ryne Hall: "Batman and the Joker wins, but one thing to note about one of the others-Sabretooth was originally planned to be Wolverine's father, and if you look at their earliest encounters, it makes sense. Unfortunately, they ended up going a different route. Too bad. I think it would've been more interesting that way."
Pankakes: "Personally for me the first time I new that the bad guys and good guys could be friends was with Prof and Magneto. Joker/Batman, Cap/Red Skull Lex/Superman are all just good vs bad because that's what you need."
KipSmithers: "What about Galactus and Fashion Sense?"
Craig L: "DOOM and RICHARDS!!! or Prof. X and Magneto
Nothing else is close. Spidey/Goblin deserves some recognition, but what about Spidey and Doc Ock?"
Alex Crowder: "I'm not sure if it's true but I read that the X-men comics were based off the civil rights movement which makes sense. Xavier is like Martin Luther King Jr. and Magneto is like Malcom X. Despite that, I feel the best rivalry should exemplify good versus evil. That to me is Red Skull and Captain America. In some of the other rivalries, one may feel the villain is justified(specifically Magneto), but generally Red Skull always comes of as evil from what I've seen. On top of that, Red Skull is one of the most recognizable Captain America villains. Even non-comic fans recognize him but those other heroes have more recognizable villains unlike Captain America(the movies may start to change that though)."
APNelson: "I don't think this poll is going to be even close."
Good stuff and thanks again! This week's poll comes from something I'm about tot reveal. I never liked the Days of Future Past storyline. I've always felt it was overrated. Why? Because the good guys had lost in the future and decide to go back in time to change things in their favor. To me, that's not something heroes do. To me, they were no different from Kang the Conqueror. Now, the difference between overrated and not liking something is a matter of degrees. For the purpose of this poll, I'm taking some critical and audience darlings and presenting them to you. Which one is the MOST OVERRATED STORYLINE IN COMICS? NOTE: I'm playing devil's advocate in these write ups. Just because I'm pointing out some flaws doesn't mean I don't like them. Except Days of the Future Past. That gets my vote.
Days of Future Past
For reasons I gave above, this gets on the list. It deals with a dystopian future in which mutants are incarcerated in internment camps. An adult Kate Pryde transfers her mind into her younger self, the present-day Kitty Pryde, who brings the X-Men to prevent a fatal moment in history that triggers anti-mutant hysteria. The storyline was produced during the franchise's rise to popularity under the writer/artist team of Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin. Thanks to this storyline, this plot has been used and used and used numerous times, to varying success.
A multiple Eisner-winning title, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's miniseries took to task stripping Superman down to his essential elements. While many enjoyed this take, upon further inspection this isn't really so much a Superman story but a story about Superman's world and cast. It's been said that this reads like the Man of Steel is a supporting character in his own book, barely registering a personality. Quitely's art doesn't do Superman any favors and while this book is spoken of highly, it doesn't hold up upon inspection.
The Dark Knight Returns
Many consider this the best Batman story of all time. Another dystopian-future story, this time from the mind of Frank Miller. What could possibly be wrong with this story? Lack of centralized plot. If you follow it along, the Batman vs Superman fight is forced and sticks out as a climax to the storyarc. Also, Miller isn't telling a Batman story as much as he's telling a a "What If..." tale. While we are used to a "grim and gritty" Dark Knight today, back then, Batman was dark but never to that extent. In a way, Miller's twisted take on Batman derailed the character.
We've gone here before. This is considered one of the greatest comic books of all time.The plot is meticulous and you'll find Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons at the top of their game. Who could ever find this overrated? First, at it's heart, this is a murder mystery. Moore takes it and layers and dumps story on top. The term "form over substance" works here as Moore keeps the audience on their toes with smoke and mirror storytelling tricks. Instead of a mystery, we are reading a forced deconstruction of superheroes that goes on weird tangents so Moore can relay his heavy handed Cold War message.
This might seem out of place, given the company it's in but it was a big seller for Marvel, fairly popular to fans, gained tons of mainstream media attention, is rumored to become a storyline in the Marvel movie universe, and gave us the Death of Captain America. To me, it's a example of everything wrong with "EVENT" storylines. Like I said, this was a huge event for Marvel. Like every other event, this suffers from not really accomplishing anything. In fact, you can blame Spider-Man's One More Day on this storyline screwing around with Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Also, it's depictions of Tony Stark/Iron Man never rang true to me.
OK, here's the choices. Vote and list your choice for MOST OVERRATED STORYLINE below!
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Original Sin #1
Someone has killed the one who watches and it's up to a team of Avengers plus a retired Nick Fury to find out who murdered him. Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato anchor an 8 issue limited series to find a killer and recover the missing artifacts including the Watcher's eyes.
The issue begins with very little fanfare or history. The Watcher is murdered in his moon base by a person or persons unknown. His all-seeing eyes are stolen, along with a wealth of technology and weapons. The Avengers are left with two prevailing questions - who killed the Watcher, and what sinister developments will come as a result of these thefts?
There are two things I really enjoyed right off the bat. One is the banter that begins the issue, in this case Cap, Wolverine and Nick Fury reminiscing about the best steak they ever had. It's a strong way to re-introduce Nick Fury and show the history between the players. The second thing is the oddball pairings such as mystically-powered Doctor Strange and the Punisher playing off each other. Hopefully there will be more interactions like this one.
The one action scene comes from Spider-Man and the Thing battling a not-so- Mindless One, one who isn't too happy about not being mindless any more. It eventually commits suicide in spectacular fashion with the Ultimate Nullifier leaving more questions for us to ponder.
In the final scene, we discover two people in the shadows. One of them may or may not be the trigger man, but it's clear they're involved somehow because they've got some of the Watcher's stolen tech, a host of other Mindless Ones and one of Uatu's eyes.
The artwork provided by Mike Deodato is appropriate for this storyline. Dark and shadowy figures litter the landscape and set the tone. We are going to some dark places people so be ready.
By the end of the first issue I was ready for more. At this point I can only speculate who the killer is but I am dying for more clues. Well done.
This is the final chapter in the Outsiders War story arc. The arc started with Oliver, with new ally Shado in tow, heading back to the island he was stranded on before he became a superhero. The Outsiders are a group of clans, each named for a weapon. Oliver's enemy here, Kimodo, is looking to unite the clans under his leadership and terrorize the world. He also has a young girl, Emiko, with him who he's lied to the entire time that she's his daughter. The reality is that Emiko is the daughter of Shado and Oliver's father Robert. Upon arriving on the island, Oliver and Shado run into the evil Shield clan and flee. It's there that Oliver is reunited with his dad, assumed dead, who reveals to him that everything from Oliver getting stranded to his eventually getting off the island to return home was set up by him to prepare Ollie for this conflict. After some arguing the men and Shado head off to face Kimodo and the Clans that have come under his leadership - the Shield, Fist, and Spear clans. They are joined in the fight by the Sword clan (led by Ollie's Justice League teammate Kitana) and the Axe clan. During the fight, Kimodo takes Emiko and tries to get away and is followed by Shado, Ollie, and Robert. In the ensuing fight, Robert is wounded bad.
That's where we pick up in issue #31. Ollie stops chasing Kimodo to care for his Dad, who dies from his wound after telling Ollie that he has to stop the Outsiders from launching their plan. As Kimodo tries to get away he sends Onyx, the leader of the fist clan, to hold off Kitana and the others. Kitana takes down several fist clan members before coming face to face with Onyx. While all this is going on, Shado tells Emiko the truth about who her parents really are. Emiko takes the news badly, and runs off to kill Kimodo herself. She finds Ollie and Kimodo in the middle of a knock, down drag out fight and takes advantage of the opportunity to put an arrow throw Kimodo's heart. Meanwhile, Kitana gets the better of Onyx before she flees the scene. With the conflict settled, Oliver is offered leadership of the remaining Outsider's clans. Angered by the events that have transpired, he tells everyone to kiss off and heads back home, where the next story arc is being set up.
Oliver's one time right hand man, Diggle (a comic version of the same character from the Arrow television show), has come back to Seattle to get back at Richard Dragon, a one time overlord with some seemingly super fighting abilities. As the issue wraps up, Diggle and Ollie's two computer whiz friends, Fyff and Naomi are confronted by Dragon and his crew. This issue was a great wrapup to an excellent storyline in the Green Arrow comic series. I recommend checking out issues #26 through #31 and reading the whole thing for yourself.
Future's End! According to the writers of The New 52: Futures End, they "organically" came up with the idea for the future war with Earth 2 that appears to drive much of what's coming in the DCU over the coming months. Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens told Newsarama that their creative team on Futures End is not only "setting some of the parameters" for what's coming in DC's next weekly, Earth 2: World's End, but they're also personally writing "a few" of the issues for DC's September "Five Years Later" event —including (but not limited to) Jurgens' return to Booster Gold. Here are some highlights from the interview:
On the attraction of writing about the future of the DC Universe: Jurgens: "Yes, it is a correct description, and that's certainly one of the things that attracted us to it, because obviously, when you're doing a weekly, if you're doing it concurrently with the DC Universe, set in the present, obviously that poses all sorts of logistical problems. So if you're dealing with five years from now, not only does that free you up in terms of the characters a bit, but it really frees you up in terms of the settings and environment. And that's absolutely what attracted us."
Giffen: "Yeah, keep in mind too that even though it's five years in the future (or in the case of issue #0, 35 years in the future), just because it's in the future doesn't mean it's our characters, so we can't just go through and really do everything we'd like, because we're still caretakers of these characters. But Dan's right. There's a lot of freedom. And the same thing attracted me to this project that attracted me to Justice League 3000 — if you're in the future, they don't mess with you that much."
On if this is a Batman Beyond story, with a supporting cast: Jurgens: "What you'll get down to is this — we have 47 issues. [Laughs.] There's plenty of story and plenty of pages to go around for everything. And what we've tried to explain is that you can take Terry McGinnis, for example, right now it looks like we have four very different story plotlines going. Eventually, these things will start to weave over and come together. So by the time it's all said and done with, yes, this will be a huge Terry McGinnis story. But along the way, he will interact with these other characters we're getting on stage as well. There does come the point where a lot of these characters really start to weave and overlap, and we'll trade them off here and there a bit, so it comes full circle."
Giffen: "And keep in mind, deep down in our heart of hearts where we live, Dan really thinks it's a Firestorm story and I really think it's a Grifter story. So, we'll get along alright."
On solicitations that Firestorm is going to get nailed for the murder of Green Arrow: Jurgens: "When people ask, why Firestorm? I come down to this in trying to explain it: When you deal with a world five years from now, we ask what are the changes someone goes through in five years? And when last we would have seen Firestorm, he was a high school student, happy-go-lucky lifestyle. And often, it's that age from, say, 17 to 22 for example, where you're a college senior, where you go through this incredible change.
So both these guys have gone through those changes — Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond — and this will be the story not only of them being accused for what would have happened to Green Arrow and the ramifications of that, but the ramifications between the two of them. And what do they do? And what have these guys become five years down the road?"
SALES! Thanks no doubt in large part to sales of Amazing Spider-Man #1 (reportedly around 700k units), Marvel helped flip the comic book sales script on a down first quarter of 2014, with April 2014's sales single-handedly wiping away the deficit to put 2014 sales up over 2013 through April. Amazing Spider-Man #1, with its many alternative covers (including covers exclusive to specific retailers), earned the top selling title of the month, followed by the preceding final issue of Superior Spider-Man. Hulk #1 and Original Sin #0 rounded out Marvel's four entries in the Top 10.
DC followed up with Batman #30 as their top seller in the #3 slot for the month. All four of the first month's issues of DC's Batman Eternal weekly series made the top 10, with issue #1 charting the highest at #4 for the month.
Image had the best selling graphic novel of the month, Matt Fraction'sSex Criminals Volume 1, and Image, in fact, had the four best selling graphic novels of the month and seven of the Top 10. Even more remarkably, only one of those titles (#10) was a Walking Dead collection.
Amazing Spider-Man #1 certainly was the big influence on April's Market Share, putting Marvel easily out in front of their chief rival with 39.27% dollar share to compared to DC's 23.65% and 41.15% unit share compared to DC's 27.24%. Image continues to stake new ground around the double-digits in Market Share.
The Amazing effect put the first positive spin of the sales year compared to 2013. Comic book sales were up 17.37% compared to a year ago and combined with a strong trade sales month - 16.78% over April, 2013 (thanks Image Comics ) - overall sales were up 17.18% in dollars versus last April. That 17.18% gain wiped out the overall deficit accumulated in January through March and sales through April are now up 1.04% year-to-date over 2013. The April 2014 Market Share, Comparative Sales Data, andNew Titles Shippedcharts, along with Top 10 Comic Books and Top 10 Graphic Novels charts follow below.
X-Men! DC's Arrow television series showrunner Marc Guggenheim ha plans for his summer break: X-Men! The longtime writer for comics and film is returning to Marvel to write the all-female X-Men title beginning with this summer's #18. Guggenheim, who has written for Marvel in the past on titles such as Amazing X-Men and Wolverine, is coming back and has big plans for the "major leagues" heroes he has with this team and the history he's building on. He did an interview recently and here are some highlights:
On balancing Arrow and preparing for the X-Men: "Full disclosure: I'm currently only signed on for four issues. If people want more, I'll happily do more. To really answer your question, I love comics and I love writing them; it's easy to find the time to do the things you love. While I do have a lot of different projects, they most always take place at separate times. It's a natural tendency to think everything is written at the same time, but it's deceptive; a lot of things I've written were spread out over a long course of time, so I go from writing a movie to Arrow and then to writing a comic. I've learned outlining is my friend; it makes scriptwriting go faster, and you know, I don't have to spend as much time when it comes to the actual writing since it's all planned out."
On writing a all female team: "One of the things I really love about the X-Men and that side of the Marvel Universe is the fact that all of the female characters are really strong. They've all been written over the years, starting with Chris Claremont, without thinking of them as "women characters" but as just characters. One of the great things about X-Men, as Brian has done, is pull together a roster of women and you almost don't even notice that they all happen to be female when you read it. As a result, it doesn't feel like a gimmick. If these characters weren't so strong and 3-dimensional, it might feel like a gimmick – but here it's not."
Wolverine! Writer Paul Cornell has pushed Wolverine to his limits by stripping him of his healing factor and putting him in a position where has to go bad to do good. In June, the final countdown to Wolverine's death begins in the 3 Months To Die arc of Wolverine, culminating with September's five-part Death of Wolverine series. Cornell spoke to Newsarama and here are the highlights:
On where Wolverine is storywise and the use of Madripoor: "A certain object that Sabretooth is also looking for, and Sabretooth now basically owns the island, so Logan and his people are going to have to be very stealthy..I love how it became a repository for everything mad and exotic, a kind of summation of foreign parts. I've made it madder than ever, with geography and even speech breaking down, as a result of various science fictional things that have happened there. It's harder to find anything with all that going on, even if you're meant to be in charge of the place. There's one thing I'd like to mention, because I think it demonstrates my attitude towards continuity. When the art came in, I was asked if I wanted to correct Logan's tuxedo from black to white, but I said not to bother. I'm aware Patch always wore white, but as far as I'm concerned, Logan's got limited time and resources, and there's no reason his Patch identity couldn't wear anything he wanted to. To change it to white would just be doing continuity without thought, rather than following reality. I'm sure people will still call it an 'error', but if it doesn't harm the story, I don't care."
On not writing the Death of Wolverine: " I'm pleased to be finishing my 25-issue story about Wolverine in the way it was intended, without having to bend it out of shape because my bosses decided to kill him. I'm pleased to work for people who let me do that. This story leads into the event in a way which lets both breathe, a natural way, and I think both stories benefit from the separation. I did have a go at killing him, but my heart wasn't really in it, because it changed the theme of my story so much. Like various people have said, I regard this as just business as usual, and nothing to worry about. I think readers will enjoy finishing my complete story knowing they've read something organic and whole. Which makes it sound like a potato."