I love comic books – honestly, love them. I’ve purchased so many trade paperbacks that there are piles of the things next to all the major seating areas of my flat. Last week, someone came into fix my boiler; I wonder if he questioned why there was a hardcover copy of Alan Moore’s seminal ‘Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?’ lying on the floor in front of it, on top of a pile of pants. Still, to balance it all out, I like to moan about them a bit, as everyone does when it comes to comic books. Here’s five storylines that we really could have done without:
A shame, this one, since I love JMS’s run on Amazing Spider-Man overall. While I actually thought the quality of storytelling was really good in Sins Past as always, the notion that Peter’s deceased love, Gwen Stacy, had twins with Norman Osborn was farcical. There’s nothing like treading on treasured Silver Age storylines to piss everyone off.
There’s no storyline that better embodies the nonsense of Nineties comic books than The Clone Saga, Marvel’s ridiculous attempt to change everything you know and love about Spider-Man. Peter slapping Mary Jane about? Ben Reilly? The story got out of control, as twists layered on top of twists and the majority of the readership got up in arms about the nonsense on display.
Who really thought Bruce Wayne was going to stay dead for more than a year, couple of years tops? The cycle of comic book character deaths and revivals mean that the weight of a storyline like Batman RIP was drastically reduced by its very existence. I didn’t hear that Batman was dead and go, “Oh no! I have to read this!” My reaction was simply, “So when are they bringing him back?”
Playing with the fundamentals of the Spider-Man continuity – weren’t lessons learned from The Clone Saga, as to how the readership accepts these changes? JMS spent years crafting great Amazing Spider-Man stories without the need to reset Peter and MJ’s relationship – all One More Day did was annoy the people who make Spider-Man as popular as he is. Again.
Restarting a franchise that was, in itself, a reboot? Utterly pointless. These types of events comics, which toss characters out of the pram and do nothing but test the faith of the readership in the name of selling a few more copies, are exactly why readers become alienated by the medium. The Ultimate line was one of Marvel’s best creations ever – so why do this? Let’s not pull any punches. Ultimatum is one of the worst mainstream comics published in the past 20 years, a stupid toys-out-of-the-pram killing spree devoid of any narrative merit packed with atrocious dialogue and dumb twists. The covers are pretty good, though.
Funny thing is, even though I did roll my eyes at every one of the above storylines, I still recommend reading them – they’re the perfect illustration of how the monthly difficulties of comic book craft, demands of the readership and limitless possibilities of the medium can result in things not going quite to plan. I considered putting the Under The Red Hood storyline from Batman, which saw Jason Todd revived from the dead; problem is, I actually think that’s an interesting read and Judd Winick did a decent job with a tough subject.
Feel free to weigh in with your own choices below. Do time bullets get your goat? How about multiple universes? Sound off!