Monday, November 17, 2008

Top 5 Ways DC Comics Failed Me This Year

I'd like to say up front that I've always been more of a DC guy than a Marvel guy. Though I've had my spurts of buying Ultimate Spider-Man, I spent years buying three or four books a month from DC and thoroughly enjoying it. My fondest comic book memories are from the summer and fall of '05, when my friends and I used to buy all the different threads in Countdown to Infinite Crisis and share them every Thursday over lunch, then spend the rest of the week trading theories and cracking jokes about B'wana Beast.

When I left for college, I thought I would be devastated over the lack of a comic shop anywhere near campus. I was sure I would need my mother to ship me my monthly comics or that I would go into severe withdrawl pains. But this entire calendar year, I've struggled to even care what's going on in the DC Universe. Below I list the reasons I think I've lost interest, linked to major failures by the DC editorial staff in 2008.

5. Green Lantern: Secret Origins - Green Lantern is my favorite book DC makes, by far. I'm a big fan of Kyle Rayner, but I like Hal, John and Guy, too, and Hal's GL book, written for the last four years by Geoff Johns, is probably the best run in the franchise's history. After being a little disappointed with last year's Sinestro Corps War, I'm still hopeful about the upcoming Blackest Night storyline, which should be absolutely epic, assuming this years-long buildup doesn't burn all the fuel up. But here's what drove me nuts about GL this year: Johns and his team spent 5 issues, nearly half the year, on a storyline called Secret Origins, which is a flashback storyline that basically rehashes the popular 1991 storyline by Gerard Jones. Like, it's basically the same story, with some cryptic foreshadowing for Blackest Night added in. It was remarkably pointless, and the series lost all momentum. I've never seen a book stall for time more obviously. Just give us the story we want, already. This is ridiculous.

4. The Return of Barry Allen - Thank you, DC Comics, for making meaningless. Just like you made Crisis on Infinite Earths meaningless. Just how you made A Death in the Family meaningless. Thank you so much for bringing back the last character left in comics whose death had any weight. I'm so tired of DC (and Marvel) resurrecting long-dead characters for shock value. It's long-since stopped being shocking, besides being shockingly stupid. Jason Todd's death was a vital moment in this history of Batman, and you had to bring him back for no reason at the same time Marvel brought back Cap's long-lost sidekick. Are they officially out of ideas?

3. Countdown to Final Crisis - I think enough has been said about what a disappointment Countdown was. A weekly comic for the sake of a weekly comic, Countdown had no cohesion and was horribly confusing. It was such a failure that Grant Morrison severed all ties to it when making his Final Crisis book.

2. Batman: R.I.P. - This is supposed to be "The Last Batman Story". Batman could very well die at the end of this storyline. Batman, arguably the greatest comic book character of all time. But could this book seem any less epic? Grant Morrison, though he has proven his creative genius in countless comics since the eighties, truely dropped the ball here. Morrison has Batman performing his final act hopped up on acid in a suit made from a tablecloth, making random references to stories from the Silver and Bronze ages and providing nearly no shocks or intriguing twists. Plus, precious little action. Then he reveals that Batman: R.I.P. is actually NOT the end of Batman, as it had been advertised all year, but that the real ending will be in Final Crisis, and that this is just the build-up. Which brings us to #1...

1. Final Crisis - 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths was a 12-issue crossover that completely changed the status quo for DC Comics forever. The long-awaited sequel came in 2005 with Infinite Crisis, which was epic, character-driven and action-packed. Just over a year later, it was revealed that there would be a third and final act in the Crisis line, Final Crisis, that would again change everything and would be penned by none other than the great Grant Morrison. Comic fandom cheered, hoping for the best. So far Final Crisis has been as slow, confusing, and un-shocking as Batman: R.I.P.. So far, everything major that has happened in the story was spoiled months earlier by solicitations and promotional material anyway. (If you're going to bring Barry Allen back in the last panel of your book as your shocker cliff-hanger ending, try not to put him on the cover of the book. It kind of spoils the surprise.) Despite the epic potential of the book and how much I wanted to like it, I've already stopped caring. I'm not even reading it anymore. And if it's supposed to set up the status quo for DC in the future, I can't overstate my disappointment.

(Sorry this post is a couple hours late. I've back-dated it to 11:59 so that it gets filed in the proper day.)


David L said...

2005 was the best year for the comic industry in decades. No question.
You forgot Uncle Ben. His death still has weight and he is pretty much the only character that will STAY dead.
I was at first disturbed by Bucky's revival but it was pulled off exceptionally well. I harbor no ill feelings. Jason Todd's revival was botched beyond belief.
The problem is that when Barry came back, I had to explain EVERYTHING Crisis for it to even make sense to anyone else.

Mike Pfeiffer said...

I think that your disappointment is more a result of not being able to be a constant reader than anything DC's done. I think it's been a pretty good year for them, and the latest issue of FC actually made me cry when I read it. I know you really haven't had the chance to buy or read anything this year, and that's the problem- you're really just reading solicits. They make everything sound shitty. Like everything you have to keep up with the work and let yourself get swept up in it for it to be really good.

As for Batman R.I.P., I'm waiting until the very last piece has fallen into place to judge. I think you're forgetting that this is what his ENTIRE RUN on batman has been leading up to, not just the last five-or-so issues. The Clown at Midnight is OFFICIALLY the new joker. Have you read this latest issue? I got chills.

I can't really disagree with being disappointed about Jason being dead, but that shit went down when we were in high school. You do realize that Barry's practically been back for years, right? Geoff's got him spending his whole last month in the 31st century time-traveling everywhere else, anyway. He shows up and helps out wally several times during geoff's run on The Flash. Though I'm a little bummed to see wally lose the limelight, it was the moment when Barry sees iris for the first time that sent me back into tears. Let's see what's up. And after all, it's comic books. If you don't like it, it'll change in like six issues.