The Losers, Part 1
NOTE: This is a long one. Grab a beverage.
By popular demand of two whole people, I'm going to go ahead and do a list of the Ten Worst Comics of 2004. Ironically enough, The Losers is not on that list. It's a highly entertaining military-caper book that is always cleverly written, and you should be reading it. So before we get to the list, a couple things.
First, I'd like to clear up a misconception. You might think that with all the complaining I do about them, I don't like mainstream comics. That couldn't be further from the truth. I love mainstream comics. Love 'em! And unless your name is Scott Simmons, I probably love 'em more than you. In fact, there's not a one of us that works at the Dragon that doesn't love mainstream comics, if by mainstream you mean the ones published by the Big Two. Now that's not to say that we don't also love indies, because we do. I love superheroes, as I'm sure anyone in the Columbia Comic Book Club can attest. Someday, Phil will be sitting around and his grandchildren will walk up and go: "Grandpa... Do you remember where you were when Chris Sims flipped out about Wonder Woman?" I love comics, plain and simple.
I just don't like them when they're terrible. Which, unfortunately, a lot of them are. And when you love the medium so much, when you care about what comics are and what they can do, and how they can change the way you think, the bad ones hurt, and make you want to hurt back by belittling the hard work of a lot of assuredly nice folks. One of the things that most of these comics have in common (with the two obvious exceptions you'll see) is that they were all made by people whose work I used to really enjoy. So in addition to being disappointed, I feel betrayed. Also, and this is no shock to anyone, I think about comics a lot, and minor continuity issues bug me. Maybe it's nitpicking, but with a tiny, tiny amount of extra work on the writers' and editors' part, continuity issues could be easily cleared up. Otherwise, you're just getting shit wrong.
I also realize, that in doing this, I'm almost assuring the following scenario sometime down the line:
SIMS: So, I heard you were interested in my work?
QUESADA: Yes, yes, come in. Good scripts. A little rough around the edges, but nothing that can't be fixed with some very hard work. I think you'd be a great asset here at Marvel!
QUESADA: Oh, most definitely. Of course, that's what I thought before I did some research on the internet and found that in early 2005, you referred to my editorial style as a cross between an "infected monkey and a retarded child."
SIMS: Oh.. well, about that, it was all in good fun--
QUESADA: BENDISNINJAS! SEIZE HIM! Now, my fine fellow, we shall see how your screams sound when echoed through the House of Ideas!
Yeah, I'm not sure why Joe Quesada talks like a cross between Mr. Potter and Ming the Merciless in my fantasies either. Needless to say, this is all written in good fun. Please let me write comics.
It'll go as follows. Today I'll do numbers 10-7, the Frightful Four. Tomorrow, it'll be the rest, on down to the Worst Comic of 2004. The Sinister Six, if you will. I tried to keep it to one issue per comic, or else this would just be nine issues of Superman/Batman and Avengers 503. Also, this is by no means a definitive list. Even I can't read EVERYTHING, and I probably read stuff a lot worse than what I'm about to talk about. This is just the stuff that stuck with me.
And don't worry, just like my erotic fan fiction, this list will strive to be scientifically accurate. To determine which comics were truly the worst, I held them against the Gold Standard of Awful, Jim Balent's Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, a comic that pretty much revels in its vileness. If you ever find yourself with too much to live for, read an issue or two. It goes out of its way to be bad, and, needless to say, I love it. For it to make this list, it had to be worse than Tarot.
One more thing. This is my list. You will probably disagree with it. You are wrong, and probably an idiot. Regardless, I have no intention whatsoever of changing my mind. Oh, and there are spoilers contained. You've been warned.
On with the show!
10. JLA Secret Files 2004 - The only reason this isn't further down the list is because of the great Kurt Busiek/Ron Garney story and the profile page on the Ultramarines, and the Justice League Elite story was bad enough to drag it down this far. I'm also using this as a stand-in for the undeniably wretched JLE series, which I haven't read all the way through, thus disqualifying it. Joe Kelly wants to be Warren Ellis so bad I can taste it, and he's turned a good story about Superman's place in a market dominated by antiheroes into a godawful Authority ripoff minus the talent, charm, and artistry of that book. Bonus points for including noted senile has-been John Byrne drawing with his customary sharpie, a ludicrous plot, and a scene where the Flash, pining over his wife leaving him over in his own, much better, book, makes out with Vera Black.
9. Identity Crisis #7 - Okay, explain to me one more time what Jean Loring's motivation for killing Sue Dibny was? Oh, she wanted to get back with Ray. Well, that makes perfect sense. Hey, maybe she should've thought of that before she filed for divorce. Or maybe, considering how eager he was to jump back into bed with her (great, nipple-filled Rags Morales art notwithstanding), maybe she could've just GIVEN HIM A GODDAMN CALL AND ASKED HIM TO DINNER. "I never meant to kill her!" Yeah, that certainly explains the FLAMETHROWER you brought. That's a real nonlethal weapon there, sweetheart. Nevermind that she shouldn't have been able to use Ray's belt, or take the flamethrower with her, since it would begin to explode almost immediately, OR that she shouldn't know who Tim Drake is, it's just poorly written. It gets #9 because there's so much I actually liked about Identity Crisis outside the main plot.
8. Identity Disc #1 - The ongoing battle between Marvel and DC often leads to strange imitations. DC puts out the Witching, Marvel puts out the Witches the same week. DC puts Geoff Johns on four books so he can clean up old continuity, Marvel puts Bendis on six so he can ignore and ruin what little continuity they have left. DC releases a huge event comic called Identity Crisis, Marvel craps out this turd. Featuring a plot cribbed directly from The Usual Suspects (according to Tug, who is knowledgeable in such matters) and godawful Mike Deodato covers (Deodato is an enigma to me, his interiors are worlds better than his covers), this Rob Rodi joint features six villains that Bendis wasn't planning to inexplicably bring back from the dead that week getting a disc chock full o' superhero secret IDs for the mysterious Tristam Silver. Yeah, I'm sure S.H.I.E.L.D.* just keeps all that information laying around on a CD-R. I've said it before, Rob Rodi is a hit or miss writer, and he missed bigtime with this one.
7. SIX-WAY TIE! Brian Pulido's Lady Death, Brian Pulido's War Angel, Brian Pulido's Killer Gnomes, Brian Pulido's Gypsy, Brian Pulido's Unholy, Brian Pulido's Belladonna- I don't care if he HAS paid his dues, Pulido sucks, has sucked, and will continue to suck for the forseeable future. Conjugate "to suck" however you like, I guarantee he's done it. For reasons too complicated to get into, last summer I read every Evil Ernie comic we had in chronological order, and I still hold a grudge. For some reason (probably the same one that makes them think Jacen Burrows is a superstar artist and publishing Jungle Fantasy was a good idea), Avatar decided to plague humanity with more gems spilling from Brian's pen. Do not, under any circumstances, read them.
So that's the Frightful Four (well, nine, really). See why I broke it up into a two-parter? Tune in tomorrow when I get down to the REAL bad stuff.
*-The Strategic Hazard Intervention and Espionage Logistics Directorate! --Quizmaster Chris!