The Ninjabot

Tyler’s Worst of Comics 2012

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm by Tyler Waterman

It’s that time of year where the holidays are wrapping up and the year is rapidly coming to a close. What better way to ignore the debt we’ve added to our credit cards and the inches we’ve added to our waists than to take a retrospective look back at the best and the worst this year had to offer in the world of comics, preferably in Top 5 format! Here are this year’s lowest points, what I consider…

Tyler’s Worst of Comics 2012

 

5. Rob Liefeld Leaves DC

liefeldOne of the best parts of being a fan of the comics industry is that the people who create the works that we love are absolutely celebrities, but don’t act like it. Unlike film and TV, comic creators almost never seem to let our adoration of them go to their heads. In fact, it often seems like the more successful they get, the greater their humble appreciation becomes for the success they’ve had, and that level of character really sets comics apart in the overall “entertainment industry.” It benefits all of us, because very rarely do we have to deal with prima donna nonsense seen with other celebs.

Except when it comes to Rob Liefeld.

Just like how success seems to breed humility in this industry, criticism apparently breeds unfathomable arrogance, at least when it comes to Liefeld. To be clear, I’m not even one of Liefeld’s typical haters; yes, I think his artwork leaves something to be desired more often than not, but the man managed to make himself one of the most prominent names in comics despite that. But regardless of skill or talent, they way he left DC comics this year was pathetic and inexcusable.

Quitting any job in a public way accomplishes nothing beyond revealing yourself to be unprofessional and immature. I won’t bother to repost anything specific he said here; the majority of the comments break down to little more than crude penis jokes and digs at artists with more talent than Rob has ever shown. He tried his hardest to make himself appear to be the valiant crusader that was being mistreated by his editors, but the more he tweeted, the clearer it became that he was simply impossible to work with.

The one silver lining was the industry’s reaction. While Liefeld fell all over himself to spit vitriol towards anyone he could, a veritable who’s who of industry giants were right there to defend the people he insulted and to confirm what we all were thinking: this wasn’t a man “outing” the problems of the industry, this was a man outing that he was actually the problem.

The moral of the story? Next time you’re upset about work, as “what would Rob Liefeld do?” Then do the exact opposite.

 

4. Angry Fan Reactions to Amazing Spider-Man #700

slottI love comics, guys. If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written for this site, or even just browsed my twitter account for a minute, it becomes pretty clear pretty quick that comics are my favorite thing around. Part of that is because many of these characters have been with me my whole life, and I’ve been following them for so long that it would be impossible not to feel an emotional connection with the stories and exploits they’ve endured.

That being said, I also never lose sight of the fact that what we’re talking about is comic books. It’s fantasy, it’s fiction, and it may be my favorite thing, but it will never be the most important thing. As much as we’d all love to keep our heads firmly buried in a fantasy world, the real world constantly beckons with actual problems and actual concerns, and for most of us, we can separate the two.

Not all of us, however. Just ask the folks the inundated Dan Slott’s social media accounts with actual death threats after word broke of the events in Amazing Spider-Man #700.

I could rant forever about this, but I honestly believe I don’t need to. What we’re discussing here is threatening the actual life of a person and his family because he “killed” a fictional character that we all know will probably be back within six months. If I need to explain why that’s wrong, it’s an explanation that will clearly be falling on deaf ears.

Stay classy, comic fans. For the most part, the folks who work in the industry are classy to us; try and return the favor, ok?

 

3. H’el on Earth

helonearthLove it or hate it, one can’t argue that the New 52 reboot was able to breathe new life into the vast majority of the characters in the DC Universe. Some of them didn’t need it (Batman, Green Lantern), some of them are experiencing success they’ve never seen before (Animal Man, Swamp Thing), and admittedly some are worse because of it (Green Arrow, Captain Atom), but at the end of the day the entire world is left feeling different and new.

For a while, this was also true of all the Super-books. Then, the first Super-crossover event H’el on Earth began, and just like that, we were back to business as usual.

When discussing writing Superman, many of the folks who’ve had such an honor say the same thing: it’s difficult to write creative stories about someone so powerful. Kryptonians (and even their half-clones) are insanely powerful, with few weaknesses. Figuring out a way to consistently create a challenge for the unchallengeable is no easy task, and unfortunately, H’el on Earth is following the tired old answer to that problem: throw another Kryptonian at them!

Every part of H’el on Earth is as generic as could be. Superboy gets beaten by H’el and is now riddled with self-doubt! Superman is doing what he can to fight him but is also torn because it’s another survivor! Supergirl has been bamboozled into loving H’el and is now working with him! If you feel like you’ve read this before, you have. Several times.

As much as it sounds like I am, I’m not knocking the individual efforts of everyone involved. The art has been fantastic in all three books since launch, and that hasn’t changed during this event. Up to H’el on Earth, the writing in each book was also great, and that hasn’t exactly changed either. But in this post-New 52 world, where so many things are fresh and new, the overwhelming generic-ness of this storyline is glaring, and I look forward to it ending so that each of these books can get back to the new trails they were blazing, instead of traveling down this beaten path again.

 

2. Minimum Carnage

mincarnDuring the 90’s, symbiotes were the coolest thing to happen to Spider-Man since Goblins. They were everywhere, they knew all of Peter’s moves and weaknesses, and they often caused more damage than any of his other villains. A few decades later, symbiotes are still a Marvel universe favorite, but predominantly through the adventures of Flash Thompson as the newest iteration of Venom. Most of the other symbiotes have become little more than answers to Marvel trivia questions.

While most of those forgotten symbiotes have been forgotten for a reason, there was one that has generally been missed: Carnage. Once thought killed by the Sentry, Carnage was revealed to have been alive the whole time (that’s comics!) is the 2011 miniseries Carnage. Not only did these series bring back a classic Spider-Man villain, but it also revitalized what had otherwise been a pretty one-dimensional character. Carnage has always been about causing his namesake and little else. While this series didn’t inherently change that, it reminded us that there aren’t many characters that enjoy killing or are quite as good at it as Carnage is.

The follow-up miniseries, Carnage USA, was even better. The devastation Carnage caused was horrible, taking an entire small town hostage with brutal effect. Even better, it finally introduced Carnage to the new Venom, with all the appropriate fanfare. So when that ended and Minimum Carnage was teased, it seemed like the apex for the re-establishing of Carnage as a villain. As a crossover event and not just a mini, it looked for sure to be the epic Carnage tale they’d made us all want.

What we got wasn’t what we thought.

Minimum Carnage was a mess. The plot was almost nonsensical, involving Carnage being lured into the Microverse to assist a “diabolical leader” named Radu in his quest to lead all the evil doers there under his banner. Already we have the major flaw; you’re telling me this guy had access to all this information about the villains outside the Microverse, and the one he chose to help him was a homicidal maniac with the most established history of betrayal and mindless murder in the Marvel Universe? Combine that with incredibly awkward interactions between the Scarlet Spider and Venom, asinine moments where the Venom symbiote freaks out for no reason other than “sweet now we can fill a book with Scarlet fighting Venom without needing a real reason,” and the lamest support heroes ever from the Microverse, and the magic of Carnage and Carnage USA is forgotten.

Minimum Carnage was supposed to be the culmination of the effort to reestablish Carnage as the epic Marvel villain he could be; instead, it just reminded us that maybe he’s better off sticking to the occasional miniseries.

 

1. Poorly Advertised Major Storylines

The two titles I’m about to discuss here are two of the best things I read all year. The art was fantastic, the writing was amazing, and they’re also two of the most significant storylines to have ever been told in the Marvel Universe.

So why are two of the best books I read this year appearing on my Worst Of list? It’s not because of the books themselves. It’s because buried in these two books are some of the most important revelations there have ever been revealed in the Marvel U, and Marvel did almost nothing to make sure you read them.

ATCCdef

The first title was Defenders. I previously did what I could to try and spread the word about this book, but unfortunately my efforts weren’t enough to prevent this book from getting cancelled. However, before the book ended, it singlehandedly explained exactly why Earth is significant, why superheroes exist, what they’re here to protect us from, and who established this system in the first place. You know, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. After all, it’s only the entire basis for the world we’ve been reading about for decades!

Yet no one read it, because no advertising at all for this book indicated that it was anything more than a throwaway team book of little import, while it was actually dealing with exposing the core of the entire Marvel U. I also can’t help but feel like Defenders would still be running if more people knew how significant the story truly was, so not only is this major news unread, but a great book is gone that probably didn’t need to be.

The second offender is even worse. The vast majority of comic fans read AvX, the massive crossover event of the summer that dealt primarily with the effect of Scarlet Witch’s monumental “no more mutants” moment at the end of House of M that devastated an entire race of people and fundamentally changed the entire Marvel U for the nearly ten years. It’s probably one of the most famous moments in Marvel history.

So what if I told you it was actually Doctor Doom’s plan the entire time? You’d probably tell me I was crazy, that couldn’t possibly be true, that that would fundamentally change everything we’ve believed about the Marvel U for a decade.And I would tell you to go read Avengers: Children’s Crusade, and once you read it, you’d be stunned that Marvel never told you to do the same.

Make no mistake; if you like any comic where the title starts with an “X” or includes the word “Avengers,” this is the most important thing you could possibly read. This is a phrase that gets overused in comics, but this series changes everything. Everything we believed about House of M, about Wanda Maximoff, about Magneto, and about Doom is wrong, and this book will tell you this. It also unquestionably serves as essential reading before diving into AvX.

Yet despite this massive significance, Marvel did nothing to convey it. I thought if nothing else that it would be strongly pushed as AvX began, but there was nothing.

I don’t know if it’s a Marvel policy to keep these gems quiet. They may even view it as a reward to those of us who read these books, like we get to be in on this information because we chose to find it, and a part of me won’t deny I like the “I know something you don’t know” thrill of having been fortunate enough to have read these. But the fact is, there is information contained in these books about this world that we all love that shouldn’t be secret, because this info is honestly too important to not be everywhere.

Creative teams put their hearts and souls into delivering us some of the biggest revelations in Marvel history this year, and Marvel did almost nothing to make sure we saw their efforts. Hopefully in the future this practice stops, both for the benefit of storylines, and for the benefit of those who work on them.

Do you think Tyler is crazy nutso? Follow him on Twitter @BatmanIncVP and let him know how you feel.

    Sharing the Legacy on Flickr

    See all photos

    Tweets