Close but Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars #8 takes it! Although I liked both covers and couldn't really decide which I liked more. This week I picked two covers that represented a funny time in the comic book industry. The Death of Superman and Bane breaking Batman's back. In 1992, "The Death of Superman" was the most talked about storyline and everyone was debating the details and the aftermath. In the story, Superman engages in battle with a seemingly unstoppable killing machine named Doomsday in the streets of Metropolis. At the fight's conclusion, both combatants apparently die from their wounds. The crossover depicted the world's reaction to Superman's death in "Funeral for a Friend," the emergence of four individuals believed to be the "new" Superman, and the eventual return of the original Superman in "Reign of the Supermen!". The storyline was an enormous success: the Superman titles gained international exposure, reaching to the top of the comics sales charts and selling out overnight. The event was widely covered by national and international news media. But all that glitters isn't gold. Many point to this storyline helping bring about a decline in the comic book industry. Once fans and "investors" realized their "collectible" issues were pretty much worthless and were not going to pay off, the speculative bubble of comic books as investments burst.
That next year, Batman endured the "Knightfall" storyline. The story takes place over approximately six months. Bruce Wayne/Batman suffers burnout and is systematically assaulted and crippled by a "super steroid"-enhanced genius named Bane. Wayne is replaced as Batman by an apprentice named Jean-Paul Valley, who becomes increasingly violent and unstable, tarnishing Batman's reputation. Eventually, Wayne is healed through paranormal means, and reclaims his role as Batman. Wayne realizes the cons of working in solitude, leading to the creation of the modern incarnation of the Batman family.
Two covers. Which one is more iconic to you?
The WORST X-Men EVER! That was the subject and poll question last week. It was extremely difficult to pair it down to 10 but here are the results:
John: "Adam X-Treme was the X-men's version of Poochie, I think he even died the same way. Flying back to his home planet of Xtremia doing Code Red and riding his skateboard....TO THE eXTREME"
The Boy Who Shot Wolves: "I'd say Wraith cause I can't help but imagine even Professor X giving up trying to bs his way into convincing Wraith that his mutation is a "gift" and just brainwash him into walking the opposite direction every time."
Crystal Shepard: "I'm saddened that Cypher is so highly ranked. While his power is pretty lame for a super hero (I wouldn't object to having it, though), the character was pretty well written. I even remembered he was Doug Ramsey, more than a quarter century after having read the relevant comics.
And the presentation doesn't help:
The original lame character, in my book. Cypher can read any language. That's his power.
The original lame character, in my book. Parents were killed by thugs. That's his power."
Wrestling Fan: "Shatterstar is just the Liefeldiest character ever made."
Jeremy Thomas: "Maggott, without question in my mind. Maggott was the clearest example of how creatively bereft Marvel was becoming with the X-Men in that era. I remember when I first saw him join the team and immediately thought "Yep, Marvel's officially scraped the bottom of the barrel of mutant powers."
Absolutely useless character."
Shadow: "I voted for one half of Douglock a character with a power so terrible they had to go to Reed Richards stretching levels to make him somewhat useful. The power to "read" body language? Ok guys make cannon fodder boy keep a spot on the team by any means. He should've joined shield translated language and stayed away om fights. Had he been written as a guy hiding his mutation and using it to make a living, it could have lea to good stories about how everyday non S-class mutants have to survive in the regular world.
Oh and did you just call Leifield Mojo?"
Brian: "Stacy X?"
G-Walla: "When my friends an I were in high school, we used to joke about us having lame mutant powers and being the X-Men B-Team. I could see 3D without 3D glasses, one of my friends could cut himself with an electric razor and my other friend had diabetes."
Gil: "Remember Generation X? Those kids had weird mutations. Maggot would have fit in with that group."
Carl Rood: "There should be a rule. No comics or characters should be named for whatever the popular word, phrase. or what's hot in pop culture of the day. They almost always end up embarassing. At absolute best, you get a cool character like Luke Cage wearing that yellow shirt and headband well into the 80's. Most of the time, you get Brother Voodoo and Adam-X. Of course after the 90's, the word Extreme should never be used for anything ever again."
Terry Lewis: "There's a few mutants here I either a) feel sorry for more than anything (Maggott) or b) can see their powers working better in a real world setting (Cypher)... except X-Treme - he WAS horrendous. Bit surprised haven't gone with a few more notable inclusions Steve.
The one that takes the cake for me was Vulcan, the third Summer's brother. Not only was he part of the Deadly Genesis team disaster piece which got wiped out, but he seems very Mary Sue like his powers coming out of his butt and just doing nothing after so much build before. Not missed at all by me.
Dazzler I feel doesn't hold up whatsoever. Very much a character of it's time. The Xorn debacle also neutered Grant Morrison's original character and reveal somewhat post-New X-Men."
ETB757: "Hey now, I always liked Shatterstar! Maggott easily get my vote though."
Dan: "Tough not to vote for Maggott here but went with Lifeguard instead. Cypher's power isn't actually bad to have. It's just really bad to have if you're expected to go out into combat situations with other mutants that are blowing things up just by looking at them. If they would just let him sit back in the mansion doing tactical things and communications he'd have come in handy. And X-Treme was definitely originally intended to be the third Summers brothers the writers at the time even confirmed it later on in interviews and went so far as to have stories where he met with Jean who was alive at the time and Grandpa Summers when he saved his life and Jean noticed something when reading him but was ditched eventually and they went with Vulcan instead. And still laugh that Ink along with freaking Quill actually made it into the X-Men movies. Twice in Quill's case!"
Feather Wifflebottom: "Jubilation Lee and her power of fireworks"
Solomon Grundy: "Here is the deal, I feel bad saying this being Native American and there being so few good Native American superheroes...but Thunderbird has to be on the list.
I mean powers aside, he died after what...3 issues (Giant Size 1, X-men 94 & 95??)!!! Yeah I know he has been seen after, but 3 issues? That has to be a new record for bad (again powers aside)"
PadThai2: "Maggott and Shatterstar were awesome. Now Adam X-Treme I figured was just a parody as a kid..."
Travis Homewood: "Cypher was sadly the original lame xmen, however they redesigned him a bit recently when he was brought back during Necrosha. violence, body language, computer/binary language, he understands it all now. while he's no Cyclops or Wolverine, he has become actually useful."
Timber_wulff: "I can't vote for maggot, He was okay but the way they killed him before the whole transmode virus just really sucks. So I gotta support Maggot"
K. Bett: "I couldn't disagree more about lifeguard, her powers were a combination of Darwin and husk. She would adapt to what was going on around her, she had the name because she was introduced while working as a lifeguard.
maggots power sucked but his story was interesting and the character had legs. A young man that grew up dealing with apartheid. He wants to be a hero, but he's experienced some similar things that could have him follow magneto path, the same man that saved his life."
CyberVenom: "Those 2 covers rule! They are two pillars of my collection along with #300. I went with Secret Wars though.
I actually liked Magott quite a bit! Here's my 10:
10. Stacy X
8. No Girl
7. Gin Genie
4. Adam X the X-Treme
El Atomico: "Tough call on the Spidey covers. I voted Secret Wars, as I remember getting that issue while on vacation as a kid; I couldn't wait to get home and show it (off) to all my friends! For worst X-man, these guys all came along after I stopped following comics real closely, but I remember seeing Maggot in a "Lamest Superheroes Ever" feature in Maxim magazine and thinking it was pretty ridiculous."
lorddarias: "How did Fabio Medina (Goldballs) miss the list? I also propose a possible topic of something like this one which is x-men that started out lame but turned out decent or even pretty damn cool...Psylocke, Dazzler, Jubilee after she became a vampire, etc as examples...I voted Cypher, pretty useless..."
RipStamps: "Lol I still can't believe most of these "xmen" characters were created. So bad"
BoycottWWE: "I love Xmen, but there are just so many worthless ones out there. How about the eyeball kid from Wolverine and the Xmen???"
LJFCAT: "Looking through the Marvel wiki to see the ones I'm not familiar with, but I don't see how any can beat Choir. Three extra mouths? On her neck? That's not as superpower, that's a birth defect. Poor girl!
I actually thought Maggot was an interesting idea, but clearly I'm in the minority on this."
rogaine: "Shatterstar was cool."
Earl Chatterton: "Yeah, the X-universe has had some terrible characters. I'll give Cypher a pass because the character himself was very sympathetic and fit nicely in the New Mutants. His power was useless in a fight, but the character was a good one.
Have a soft spot for Kylun too because I loved Excalibur before it became just another X-Men book.
X-Treme represents everything that was wrong with 90s comics. I stopped reading around 94 or 95 because of all the terrible trends that had started, ranging from Liefield to the Spider Clone saga. Not that everything was bad, but things just stopped being fun around that time."
Let's keep the WORST list love going with...
WORST JUSTICE LEAGUE MEMBER
The Justice League represents the best of the best from the DC Universe. Superman. Batman. Wonder Woman. Green Lantern. Flash. The cream of the crop. Fun Fact: In their first twenty-three years, the original founding seven-member team expanded to nine new members only.Talk about an exclusive club to get into. But no matter how great the group, you're bound to have a few...questionable members.
Like the X-Men poll last week, I'll give my 10, you vote, and then let me know who I missed below in the comments. It should be noted that I had a VERY DIFFICULT TIME cutting this to just 10. I was stuck at 20 for a while.
Poor Vibe. Whenever embarrassing Justice League members are brought up, his name is first on the list. Paco Ramon's career as Vibe began shortly after Aquaman disbanded the original Justice League. When Paco heard that a new Justice League was forming in his own hometown of Detroit (yes, really), he decided to give up his position as the leader of a local street gang, Los Lobos, to join up. His power to emit powerful vibratory shock waves must have been a big hit in the gang. His costume was hard on the eyes and he's attached to the most unpopular version of the Justice League. Fun story about Vibe: Artist George Pérez took exception to the Vibe character. In a 1985 interview with Heidi MacDonald, he stated, "I have a certain bigotry towards Vibe...I sincerely say he's the one character who turned me off the JLA. If nothing else, every character that was introduced was an ethnic stereotype." His dislike of the character was bad that in JLA/Avengers crossover in which every member of both teams were depicted at least once, Vibe's cameo was merely of his legs as he fell off panel. Ouch.
Mystek started as a villain in an issue of The Ray. She was a Korean woman named Seong who posed as a man, and her costume was sculpted to hide that fact. Her powers: Flight and energy manipulation powers. Pretty general but impressive enough that Mystek was approached by the Martian Manhunter to join the Justice League Task Force. She hung around for a few issues before being killed off in a not-so-coo way. The team went on a mission to outer space. Seems the spaceship escape pod they were in was a little too small for the claustrophobic Mystek and she went into a panic, blasting her way into open space. She quickly died in one of the most oddest Justice League comic book deaths ever. A fun story about Mystek: She was originally created by writer Christopher Priest to be a creator-owned character, set to star in her own miniseries. The plan was for her to be in Justice League Task Force to introduce the character to a larger audience and create name recognition. Not a bad plan. Things took a bad turn when the miniseries fell through and Priest chose to kill Mystek off. Mystek, we hardly knew yee.
I'll go on record and say I kinda liked Super Chief's look. It was different. A new (yes, there were others) Super-Chief was introduced in 52 Week 22. A young Native American veteran and ex-con named Jon Standing Bear traveled to Metropolis and saves a young girl named Sierra from sexual assault by throwing the offender through the window of a bus. There was some family drama at the funeral of his estranged father and word that Jon had been neglecting his heritage and obligations. Jon's grandfather charges him with the duty of becoming Super-Chief. He ends up joining the effort by Firestorm to found a new Justice League of America and dies during their first mission. Or does he? Turns out he ended up in an otherworldly location. An elder named Flying Stag, the original Super-Chief, stated that Jon is no longer among the living and repossesses the amulet. Flying Stag admonishes Jon's ignorance of the price that must be paid for magic. Upset over his failures, Jon disappears into a vortex of clouds. What's up with comic books and American Indians dying on their first big mission? (SEE: Thunderbird)
The Wonder Twins (Zan and Jayna)
The less said about this pair, the better. Yes, these are the same Wonder Twins from the Super Friends Saturday morning cartoons from many of our childhoods. They kept the same power they had in the television show. In 1996, the twins were introduced into post-Crisis DC continuity in the series Extreme Justice as escaped slaves of an alien overlord. Unable to speak English, they inadvertently attack some civilians and the Justice League. During their fight with the JLA, Zan becomes an ice golem, a water monster, and a demonic-looking whirlpool, while Jayna becomes a griffin, a werewolf, and a sea serpent. The pair are later emancipated by the Justice League and join Captain Atom's team. It was a poor attempt at fan nostalgia and the pair has faded away. Thankfully.
Godiva first appeared in the Super Friends comic book and she's been graced with the super power of super…hair. Yes, she can lengthen her long hair and cause it to take any shape as well as harden. She has been seen to do such things as change her hair to wings and fly, and harden her hair into a battering ram. She can also make her hair transparent. Wow. Since the relaunch into the new 52 she has been chosen as a member of Justice League International. She seems to know that she's not a capable League member. It's been shown that she's not certain why she has been chosen for membership nor even what she can do for the team as she is not a prominent superhero.
In the 90s, it was really cool to name characters Blood. I think at some point I created a character called BloodBlood but that's beside the point. Let's take a look at this guy. Bloodwynd first appeared in 1992, and was the descendant of a group of African-American slaves owned by a cruel slave owner by the name of Jacob Whitney. These slaves, at some point in the pre-Civil War past, performed an ancient African ritual to create a mystical Blood Gem, with which they then killed their master. The Gem was passed down among the slaves' descendants, and bestowed magical powers on the person who wore it. There's a catch! This gem contained a microscopic world, where Jacob Whitney's spirit had become incarnate as the demon Rott. Over the years Rott grew stronger, as the Gem absorbed the darker side of each wearer's soul.
I'll stop right here. When you think of superhero origins, the best ones are those that keep it simple. Bloodwynd's is already a mess. That should tell you something. What's worse, when Bloodwynd first appeared, he wasn't even Bloodwynd, he was the Martian Manhunter in disguise as Bloodwynd, while the real one was still trapped inside of the gem. That's enough. I'll just go on to the next person.
Introduced as one of the Justice League Detroit (them again!), Gypsy has the ability to camouflage herself into her surroundings via illusion casting powers that also, apparently, allow her to project images into people's minds. Got that? After the team split, she later went on to find her family murdered by Despero, forcing her back into superhero life as member of the Conglomerate, Justice League Task Force, and Birds of Prey. With all the teams and attention she's gotten, you'd think they could have gotten her a better name.
Faith joined the team as a last minute replacement for Batman during "The Obsidian Age" storyarc. Not sure how that equals out. Faith boasted powers that were psychokinetic and telepathic in nature, with an ability to "create an aura of trust and confidence within the people around her, allowing a group to work together easily." So she has the power of teamwork. She was originally meant to be a mysterious character, whose true back story would be slowly revealed over time. Just one catch. No one cared. Once Joe Kelley left the title, so did Faith. While she's among the worst of the Justice League, she'd do well in the pro team sports.
Hugh Dawkins is a born metahuman with the ability to turn into a supernaturally large and intelligent Tasmanian Devil, in a fashion similar to a werewolf. There's a joke rumor going around that Hugh's mother was a were-Tasmanian Devil who raised him in a Tasmanian Devil cult, which gave him a Tasmanian Devil amulet after selling his soul to a Tasmanian Devil and injecting him with a radioactive Tasmanian Devil musk from a race of alien Tasmanian Devils which gave him his powers. Not sure where to go with that. Also, while Hugh is a pacifist, his alter ego of the Tasmanian Devil is aggressive and bestial. Recently, he was skinned by the villain Prometheus. But have no fear. He's alive and still kicking.
She made her debut coming to Earth looking to mate with Superman and only joined the Justice League in a futile attempt to seduce him. That didn't work so she joined the Superman Revenge Squad. Seriously.
Do YOU want to be a reviewer for COMICS 411? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how! If we can get enough people doing a weekly review on a consistent basis, I would love to spin it off into it's own column. One step closer to getting a Comic Book section back at 411mania! Take it away, RobF!
Original Sin #7
Original Sin is in the home stretch but it seems like we are no closer to the end of the story. Its haphazard pacing and plodding narrative have caused this series to stall. Can Jason Aaron and Co. bring it all together?
One of the frustrating parts of Original Sin has been the lack of focus on Dr. Midas and his group. At times, it's not clear why they're even a part of this conflict at all. He keeps appearing and disappearing and even at this late stage we don't know what his end game is. He has taken a backseat to the series main villain; Nick Fury. If Midas is a necessary story element, why hasn't he been developed more?
What is also missing is what was the selling point of the series: the mismashed character pairings. These characters are just standing around, the snappy dialogue is gone replaced by petty bickering. And Aaron's emphasis on making Dr. Strange the voice of good and reason among the group completely contradicts the Strange appearing in Jonathan Hickman's New Avengers.
If Original Sin fizzles out Mike Deodato can hold his head high as his art has been consistently great. His panel layouts during the action scenes have been keeping this series going.
If Original Sin was a six issue series rather than eight it may be much better. What started off strong has sputtered at the end, a victim of the dreaded need-to-stretch-the-plot-to-make-the-issue-limit. And now there is one issue left to tie it all up. Good luck.