‘Round about this time every year, we as a society become inundated with “top blah blah” lists from the previous year. It’s an annual tradition, and it’s enough to make me want to scream. Most of these lists – be they for movies, books, celebrities, comics, or whatever – trend toward the positive light. Sure, there are “worst-of” lists, but they’re usually just little-ass footnotes to their more positive, upbeat brethren.
And then there’s people like me, who like the snark of the “worst-of” lists. I revel in the schadenfreude comeuppance of professional idiots like Michael Bay or Rob Liefeld. And so it is with this spirit in mind that I jump on the top ten list bandwagon and bitch about the upcoming year’s ten things I’m least looking forward to. Enjoy.
10. Mark Millar’s ego. Okay, yes, he’s a legitimately talented dude. His Millarworld books have been, for the most part, pretty damn fun rides (noteworthy exception: Nemesis*), even if they aren’t the most, ah, thought-provoking books on the rack. But holy motherfucking GOD does this guy love himself. It seems that at every possible opportunity, he’s taking a moment to toot his own horn, brag about how yet another of his properties has been optioned by a movie studio before issue one has even been released, how he’s now creating the new 21st century Marvel Universe, etc. It’s been said he’s just being tongue-in-cheek, but I specifically remember a comment made some years back blaming the artists for all three of his books that were being released at that time for them being late. So, with that in mind, exactly how is it Frank Quitely’s fault that Jupiter’s Children has been perpetually late from its inception?** Dude needs to check himself with a quickness before I lose interest due to the man’s sheer pomposity.
9. Still No Wally West. Fans such as myself (and the ENTIRETY OF MY GENERATION) who grew up with Wally West as the Flash have been perpetually slapped in the face by DC since Barry Allen’s return in Final Crisis. Not only was he quickly relegated to being a second-string bit-player in the world of the newly-returned Silver Age Flash, but post-New 52, he’s utterly non-existent. This is of course made worse by the fact that Geoff Johns, who wrote so many memorable and definitive Wally stories in the early-to-mid-Aughts, has been a driving force in railroading Wally in favor of Barry’s “shoulda-stayed-respectfully-dead” ass. Oh sure, we got a mild tease by Dan Didio that Wally MIGHT return in 2013, but that was for naught. And there was early speculation that the hooded prisoner of the Crime Syndicate in Forever Evil is Wally, but that’s nothing more than hopes and dreams with zero substance. Thus far, there has been, sadly and predictably, no traction for Wally’s New 52 debut. Sure, we’ve only peered as far forward as April into the early solicits crystal ball, but at this point all we can do is keep our fingers crossed, as DC isn’t giving us JACK.
8. Bob Harras is Still EiC at DC. Look, say what you will about the Joe Quesada/Axel Alonzo era at Marvel. Yes, there has been an endless barrage of gimmicks, events, stunt deaths, and Spider-Ocks. But that doesn’t have ANYTHING on the total batshit-crazy, utterly schizophrenic madness that has gripped DC since the New 52 crushed our collective souls, hearts, and minds. Can Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, and Jim Lee all have stubby fingers pointed squarely at them in blame? Yes, yes, and yes. But let me be clear: the editor in chief is the guy who runs the day-to-day. And Bob Harras is nothing more than a yes-man goon with no balls or ideas of his own. It’s been noted that since he was given the EiC reins, there has been a massive influx of washed up, sad ’90s “talent:” Tom DeFalco. Ann Nocenti. Scott Lobdell. Howard Mackie. Was anyone, anywhere clamoring for these writers’ return? No. Why? Because they suck. Yet bringing them to the forefront of DC’s stable has been the sole contribution Harras has made on his own, because he’s otherwise too busy doing whatever DiDio, Lee, and Johns tells him. A timid, spineless EiC does not a strong company make. Ask anyone who remembers Marvel in the ’90s. Wait, who was the EiC then? Oh, that’s right. Harras.
7. Image Won’t St0p Putting Out Awesome Fucking Comics. Seriously, guys. Give it a rest! I can only buy so many books a month, but if you guys don’t stop putting out so many awesome fucking comics from creators I love, I can’t afford them all! Already in my sights this year: Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason LaTour, and MPH by Mark Millar. Your move, Eric Stephenson.
6. Hawkeye Isn’t Regaining Its Momentum Anytime Soon. Hawkeye was one of Marvel’s top three books, period. It was innovative, original, exciting, FUN, and in a nutshell unlike anything else from the House of Ideas. Matt Fraction brought a distinct indie flair to Clint Barton’s adventures, and along with David Aja’s art, it became one of the most critically-acclaimed books on the shelves. And then, inexplicably, or maybe because he was too busy getting his nipple pierced at an S&M club, Fraction lost all focus on the book. Period. It started after the death of supporting character Grills. From there we had the Pizza Dog issue, which was utterly amazing but taken as part of a whole failed to move the story forward. Then a two-parter flashback giving us the details of Clint and his brother Barney’s upbringing. Then the incredibly subpar annual focusing on Kate Bishop, then a lengthy publishing gap, THEN an entire issue where Clint mopes around after Grills’ funeral and THEN, BY FUCKERY, THEN AN ENTIRE ISSUE FOCUSING ON MORE OF KATE BISHOP’S INANE CALIFORNIA ADVENTURES. And then it was announced that every other issue of Hawkeye will rotate focus between Clint and Kate, further putting the brakes on any forward momentum the book once had. Sensing a pattern? I do: Matt Fraction’s lost pretty much all interest in Hawkeye. And hey, if he has, then well, it was fun while it lasted, right? But dude, move on and let some other talented writer try his hand at it, instead of drawing out what WAS a fantastic story.
5. Actually, Matt Fraction Seems To Be (Almost) Done At Marvel Entirely. So let’s see: Hawkeye‘s turned into a lame duck, he ditched Fantastic Four and FF early, and he abandoned Inhuman before the first issue even shipped. Which means that, as far as I know, Matt Fraction has ZERO Marvel work on his slate in 2014, leaving him with only Sex Criminals to spend his time with. But that might not be a bad thing: as talented a writer as he is, Fraction’s output at Marvel over the past six years has been hit or miss at best: for every run on Uncanny X-Men, there’s been a Fear Itself. For every Hawkeye, there’s been a Fantastic Four. So yes, I’ll miss him and his distinct style at Marvel if indeed he is leaving the company, but if Sex Criminals is any indication of what he can do when the gloves (and editorial shackles) are off, then bring it on. (And hey, leaving the Big 2 has worked out pretty well for Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, whose respective books Velvet and Lazarus are two of the strongest books of the year.)
4. Event Comics Are Still Going To Rule. No sooner had Trinity War ended, and DC jumped immediately into Forever Evil. And just as soon as Infinity wound down its gauntlet, Marvel announced an unnamed “death of the Watcher” event starting in March. Yes sir, event comics aren’t just annual moneymakers anymore, they’re an integral part of the lifeblood of the comics industry. And for all the bitching and moaning fans do online about event fatigue, they continue to gobble them up anyway for fear of missing out on whatever the big happening is that everyone will be analyzing to death the next day.*** And no doubt DC already has something cooking that will stem from Forever Evil in addition to the weekly Forever’s End nonsense starting in May. Like ’em, love ’em, or masturbate screaming their name: event comics aren’t going away anytime in the near future.
3. Scott Snyder’s Going To Keep Taking a Dump on Batman. Once upon a time, it was enough to simply tell a straightforward Batman story of some sort. “Shit, the Joker’s got some Joker fish! Gotta stop ‘im!” “Shit, Bane broke my back and I’ve gotta put a mentally-deranged dude I barely know with religious delusions in the Bat-suit!” And so on and so forth. Now? Scott Snyder’s idea of a “good” Batman story is to turn every single arc he writes into an event comic in and of itself. The Court of Owls nonsense. The “Death of the Family” debacle. And now he’s managed to turn Batman’s origin into a year-long (at least!) slog that’s gone so far as to cross over into COMPLETELY unrelated books such as Flash and Green Arrow! Remember when Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli wrote “Batman: Year One” and it was four issues, straightforward, and completely fucking definitive? Yeah, you can chuck all that noise out the window, because Scott Snyder’s milking this golden cow for all it’s worth. Pathetic. And even more pathetic? It’s selling like crazy. Get a clue, fanboys.
2. The Numbers Game Isn’t Going Away. I’ve bitched and moaned before about the continuous stream of reboots and renumberings that have plagued the comics industry in the last few years, so I’m not going to rehash what’s already been said. It’s insulting to the history of certain titles and characters to so callously renumber comics that have been around for over seventy years, but the prevailing mentality is that that no longer matters. Catering to new readers and audiences does, and instead of simply WRITING GOOD STORIES AND LETTING THE READERS COME, the Big 2 have decided to focus solely on the short-term effect of putting a big fat “1” on a cover. In fact, Marvel has now gone so far as to confusingly put a huge-ass #1 in the upper corners of some of their All-New Marvel Now titles WITHOUT actually renumbering the title. Hey, was that issue of Avengers last week #1, or #24.NOW? (Don’t answer. Both answers are stupid.) A shift in direction or a changing of the creative guard is all it takes to slap a new #1 on the cover of a long-standing title, just to temporarily goose sales. All this truly indicates is that he beancounters have taken over again, just as they did in the ’90s, which is bad news indeed for us all.
1. Spider-Ock Is Still A Thing. Peter Parker’s still “dead.” Dr. Octopus is still driving around in his body. And Superior Spider-Man is still one of Marvel’s top-rated books, meaning they’re going to keep dragging this thing out as long as humanly possible. Has it reached Clone Saga-levels of disastrousness? No, but in a way it’s almost as bad. Yeah, there’s some scuttlebutt that this upcoming “Goblin Nation” arc will be the finale of Otto’s misadventures as Spidey, and only and idiot would believe that Peter won’t be back SOMEday, but the very fact that this story ever happened at all is incredibly vexing. When even Stan Lee is poo-pooing something Marvel’s doing, BE VERY, VERY AFRAID.
Keep Readin’ Those Funnybooks!
*Fucking hell, did that SUCK. Millar at his “look at me, look at me, I’m SO FUCKING CLEVER” worst.
**Okay, bad example, because Quitely’s every bit as bad as Millar at maintaining a regular schedule that isn’t insulting to fans with its tardiness.
***Yeah, yeah, I did in fact read Infinity. It turned out to be all right, but the fact of the matter is that I couldn’t read Avengers or New Avengers— both of which I’ve been subbed to for years–without it.