Friday, March 9, 2012

Lining the Bird Cage

Doug: I'm guessing we could all come up with a very long list of comic books we flat-out wasted our money on during the 1990's and "double aughts". I'll nominate the whole "Heroes Reborn" and "Heroes Return" limited series, the entire X-Men universe after the eponymous second mag began, the second "Spider-Clone" saga, and on and on. It's kind of funny, because my drop-out point on all of the books I used to love generally centers on some sort of big event. Of particular disdain was the first issue of Fantastic Four Unlimited, which featured "a dynamic new art style from Herb Trimpe!" You can see the cover below; to be perfectly honest, the cover is not attributed to Trimpe, but his interiors are actually worse than what you see pictured. Rob Liefeld's art would have been a step up, if that gives you any idea of the magnitude of the egregiousness of the crime.

Doug: But, since we live in the past around here, let's focus on that era that is the Bronze Age. And for the purposes of our conversation today you can rail against stuff you bought off the spinners and/or as back issues much later. If you'd like to make an additional confession, you can discuss the depths of your addiction to completistism (that is a word I made up, but you all know what I mean). I finally kicked that habit, but it was quite difficult. A healthy dose of Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers ended up being my cure. What are the books and peripheries (magazines, treasuries, paperbacks, etc.) that you just wish you didn't own? Thanks for playing!


Redartz said...

Looking back, the isssues I found most painful were some of the late 70's/early 80's Amazing Spiderman. Some pretty lame villians kept popping up ( Big Wheel, Rocket Racer, White Dragon, Will O the Wisp), interrupting what was usually an enjoyable series. Then when Denny Oneil took over writing, the book hit another low for me. Surprising, since I generally liked his work; but it was a big lift when Roger Stern came on.

Much more recently, I deeply regret spending money on DC's Countdown and Infinite Crisis. Should have known better...

As for completion obsession, during my peak collecting years I was diligent about filling every hole. Most of my original books are long gone. Upon returning to the hobby about 10 years ago, I realized that completing those collections again would be impossible financially. Therefore, now I just pick up what looks good!

Inkstained Wretch said...

This is late in the Bronze Age, but I think it still qualifies: Marvel's The New Universe.

The concept was good - Launching a slew of new titles with their own new, interconnected continuity. In other words it would be like being around in the early Silver Age and being able to buy the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko stories that started everything. That was how it was sold to fans like me anyway. I dutifully bought most of the #1s that came out ... and discovered they mostly sucked.

Seriously, anybody remember "Kickers, Inc.", "Spitfire and the Troubleshooters", or "Marc Hazard: Merc"? Of course you don't. I felt really burned and apparently so did many other fans. The New Universe didn't last very long.

My "completistism" (I like that word Doug!) addiction is best emphasized by the fact that I have a complete collection of Roy Thomas's Young All-Stars. I loved his series All-Star Squadron and was disappointed when it was canceled after the Crisis.

The explanation for the new series was that Thomas would relaunch the original concept in the post-Crisis universe with new characters to replace the Golden Age Big Three (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) that had been (stupidly and arbitrarily, in my opinion) removed from continuity. Oh, and the heroes would all be teens too.

Thus we had a new series that, aside from being set in World War II, dropped the main concept of the original series which was to focus on DC's Golden Age heroes in favor of an umpteenth attempt to copy the New Teen Titans with some lame analogues for the Big Three.

I was such a fan of the original series that bought the entire run in the hopes that it would eventually become good. It never happened and I haven't re-read the issues since then.

david_b said...

I agree with Redartz on the onset of the lame Spidey villains, I believe the first Will O the Wisp issue was probably my last of ASM.

Hmmm, we've really covered a lot of these already over recent posts, and it's tough not to be tempted into calling out bad artists, since they're arguably someone's favorite.

I'd say my nominees would be:

- The entire West Coast Avengers series (post-limited series..), even with Byrne's tenure, suffered trite plotting that went nowhere, terrible art, destroyed the Vision (which perhaps can be argued was best way to lift him and Wanda out of what became their dull, suburban lifestyle, ruining both characters in the process..)

- Batman Family, the backup stories were occasionally interesting, but the Heck art was insufferable. Jeez, the money I spent just for a few decent Batgirl covers..

- 70's Teen Titans revival (ok, must I REALLY discuss this..??)

- ..oh, and I'll add the post-Wolfman/Perez New Titans here, immediately nose-diving into depressing tripe.

- The 'Al Milgrom/Bob Hall' Avengers stint, the 'white elephant in the room' for all you true believer completists hoping to complete your Avengers collection. I'm so thankful to the current Avengers cartoon for FINALLY reviving Hank Pym on so many fronts, sticking a tongue out at the whole Pym 'mental illness' stigma once and for all.

Doug said...

Count me among anyone who did not get even one ounce of enjoyment from the 2nd Vision/Scarlet Witch mini-series. But I bought the whole stinkin' thing...


david_b said...

Ah, one caveat to my post..:

The column was about issues we actually bought/collected back in the day...

Except for a dozen or so issues of each I mentioned, I by no means accumulated the entire line.

Somehow, I was smart enough to realize it was going nowhere very quickly and diverted my meager funds elsewhere.

Doug said...

How about Nova once Carmine Infantino took over the art chores? Why did I keep buying that?


Inkstained Wretch said...

I am in the minority on this, but I actually liked Infantino's art on Nova. I think the stylistic tricks he used to convey Flash's super-speed worked well when depcting Nova flying.

Doug said...

RE Nova --

I should clarify that not only was the art not working for me (Carmine in the late '70's falls into the "past his prime" category -- I did enjoy his Silver Age Flash and Batman), but the whole Yellow Claw storyline was meh...


Dougie said...

I liked that quirky take on VizhWitch in Suburbia! I'm in a minority.
In the Bronze Age, I read several poor DC attempts to "do" Marvel:
Claw,Freedom Fighters and Karate Kid to name three.

In the late Bronze age, I read my friend's run of Defenders/New Defenders with a kind of horrified fascination. It seemed to be rehashed hippy ideas played out by C-list characters. Then of course it happened all over again in JLI,Dr. Fate and other late-80s titles.

Edo Bosnar said...

Team America. I dutifully followed this series, buying all 12 issues, and then as now I'm not really sure why: I had no real interest in motorcycles nor racing, while the stories were generally uninteresting (not even Mantlo could save this one) and the art was pretty bland (a changing roster of pencillers, almost always inked by Colletta).
By the way david_b, I generally agree with your assessment of Batman Family, I also bought it on and off, lured in by the cover art. However, the last 3-4 issues were fantastic: really good Batman stories, usually drawn by Michael Golden, and some really outstanding back-ups featuring Man Bat and Huntress among others, also with awesome art (by Aparo, Staton, etc.).

dbutler16 said...

I love the title of this post.
Anyway, I think that virtually everything Marvel came up with in the 90's was garbage. They've gotten a bit better lately. I'd line the bird cage with just about every 90's Marvel comic with somebody toting a gun on the cover. Almost all of the X-spinoffs, especially X-Force and Cable. The FF had some bad stretches in the middle 500's. The 1996 Avengers series, also. Most of all, I'd line the bird cage with any Avengers related stuff written by Bendis. I’ve never read Identity Crisis, but it sounds pretty bad, as well.

david_b said...

dbutler16, TOTALLY agreed on the 90s Marvel output. Just a waste of paper, all those gimmicks. Some pretty covers, but nothing of substance. The only thing to perk my interest was a return of the Swordsman (well, sort of..).

Edo, thanks for your comments on BF.., will have to pick some up. I just have a couple of of the first dozen issues I have to post up on eBay someday soon for a few bucks.

Rip Jagger said...

I have boxes full of stuff I had to have to finish off this set or that collection. It's a disease is what it is!

If it was a mainline Marvel book I bought it during the 70's and the 80's and even into the 90's. I have tons of them, then I focused on a few team books and ultimately like someone else said, it was the change in the Avengers which finally got me to send it all up and focus just on trades and whatnot.

I'm a completist now too, but for Charlton stuff. It's a disease like I said.

Rip Off

humanbelly said...

Oh golly, like someone said, there've been quite a few re-hashed already in the not-too-distant past, but---

From a "why-did-I-keep-on-buying-this-until-it-ended" perspective:

Good old Werewolf by Night once Mike Ploog left and the art chores were handed over (for MONTHS & MONTHS & MONTHS!) to the ginormously ill-matched, aging-veteran team of Don Perlin & Vince Colletta. Perlin's figures couldn't have been flatter and stiffer if they'd literally been paper-doll cutouts (always beneficial to a visually flowing, organic creature like a werewolf), and Colletta's inks were in full mud-floe by this time. The stories were HORRIBLY slow in the telling (although there was a particularly cool re-curring villain called Dr. Glitternight), and tended to force the Werewolf into scenarios that he wasn't particularly appropriate for. A four of five issue spooky haunted mansion epic comes to mind.
And then, no store in my town carried the next-to-last issue (with Iron Man)-- and I missed it. And sure enough, as soon as I was able to start tracking down back issues with my own money, THAT ISSUE was on my first list (along with Hulk #115).

Skull the Slayer was also kind of a waste of time-- although the art wasn't bad at all. Just hopelessly uncentered in what the heck it was about during its very brief run.

How about that Godzilla book that Marvel kept producing long past its shelf-life?

Oh man, and much later, the weekly Marvel Comics Presents had about 3 serious misfires for every "good" serial it produced. In fact, Weapon X (Barry Smith) and the gruesome Black Panther stories are the only two that have stuck with me at all.


Anonymous said...

The LCS owner once gave me a copy of Eternals #1 (Kirby's original 1976 series) for free. He had boxes and boxes of them. He explained that he had ordered more than usual when it first came out, expecting high demand. Hey, it was the first issue of a new comic by Jack Kirby. IIRC, Machine Man and Devil Dinosaur were disappointments, too. The moral is that there is never a guarantee that a comic will be a success, either artistically or financially.

William said...

Books I read waaay past their expiration dates were:

The X-Men - That book just flat out depressed me sometimes, but I kept buying it. I can't even remember my breaking point. Somewhere around the time Wolverine got his Adamantium sucked out I think.

The Fantastic Four - I liked Byrne's run so much, that after he left, I just couldn't let it go. I finally had enough when the Thing "mutated" further into one of the "Herculoids" and then there was this female Thing who called herself Ms. Marvel??... Whaaa? What's going on?? The Thing has lady parts! Aaahhhgg! My eyes! My eyes!

Amazing Spider-Man - This was the hardest of all to let go of. I stuck by Spidey through thick and thin. Through ill-conceived marriages, maximum Carnages, Clone Sagas, magic spiders, Gwen the ho-bag, disassembled Avengers and Brand New Days. But I finally reached my breaking point somewhere around the time Spidey started dressing like "Tron". I got out just in time too, because shortly after that he joined yet another super team "The Fantastic Fortune Foundation" or some such garbage. I could see the writing on the wall. One gimmicky story after another was all that was in store for me if I kept on reading the book. ("Spider Island" anyone?). So, I finally quit giving Marvel my money for the privilege of watching them ruin my favorite character.

dbutler16 said...

humanbelly mentioned Skull the Slayer. I recently read a two part strory with him in Marvel Two-in-One (which for a while seemed to be a place to tie up loose ends in cancelled comics)and it certainly did not make me want to run out and buy the Skull the Slayer series. The characters seemed a bit haclneyed, though modern people in a land that time forgot is sort of a cool hook.

Matthew Bradley said...

Joint winners: TEAM AMERICA (thanks for letting me know I wasn't the only one, Edo!) and U.S. 1.



Honorable mention: ETERNALS, most of GHOST RIDER (certainly after the first few years), almost all of SPIDERWOMAN (outside the Claremont issues; ditto POWER MAN AND IRON FIST).

But why not simply "completism"?

Doug said...

Matthew Bradley --

"Completism" is a state of hopeful being, a pursuit toward filling out a run of a particular story or title.

"Completistism" is a flat-out illness that most often affects one's thought processes, and wallet.


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