Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: Comic Books That Were Cancelled Too Soon

August 1, 2018 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
The Defenders

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to check out 411mania’s Comic Book Review Roundtable, every Thursday! Read up on the best reviews and let us know what you’re reading as well. Click to read the latest Comic Book Review Roundtable! Tony Stark: Iron Man #2, Batman #51, and more!

Now, on with the show!

Last week we asked Is the DC Universe Streaming Service Worth It? Here’s what some of you had to say:

Adam: “While it is only $8 a month. (Probably $10 if Canada if its even available). These things are starting to add up. Netflix 15, Amazon prime 12, Crave 10, HBO 12, Sports 25, WWE 12, apple music 10 so thats $86/month And that’s just me personally I am sure some have more. Eventually we are going to hit a breaking point with all these streaming services and maybe people will just go back to cable for simplcity or be driven to illegal means”

Kevin McCarthy: “The thing that bothers me is the “rotating library of comics” because even without video Marvel’s service does everything published after 6 months. (I thing I said that right).

Where with DC you could be reading an older comic series and because its not “Titans Month” lost all that content you were getting into.

Plus I get the feeling all these shows are being planned and if this does not take off in the first 6 months things are getting cancelled.”

JP: “Living in Canada, it’s not going to be worth it as one of the telecom’s will purchase the rights and provide a stripped down version on a bundled cable package. Or the individual show rights will be purchased by individual channels for programming.”

Marty Confetti: “I’m very interested but the problem is that outside Young Justice, which I’m excited for, and Titans, which I’m not sold on yet, there isn’t much to see that I haven’t seen already.

I’m excited to see a Doom Patrol series but there’s no trailer so I’d be going in hoping for the best.

I’d be sold if they offered every digital comic they have but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.

I’ll just have to take a wait and see approach but I don’t think their service will last. It’s just too niche.”

SCGuy: “Probably but we’ll see how long! I want to want to see all of the shows but am immensely upset it will not be saving Gotham as it will soon offer Metropolis and Gotham will not crossover! IDK if it’s worth it for the long haul. I only have one subscription I pay for so I could keep it for Young Justice alone! I hope it’s as good as it can be!”

Cactus: “less than $7 a month and if you buy a year subscription now (prior to launch) you get three more months free so 15 months for basically $5 per month to get pretty much every DC cartoon ever, new series like Doom Patrol and Harley, and then brand new comics every week sounds like a hell of a deal to me. I mean shit, if you currently get just TWO ONGOING COMICS from DC every month, you’re already saving just from signing up for this right now. That’s crazy.

For me it will be great to watch some of the animated series I didn’t get to see as they aired, and I’ve been wanting a Doom Patrol series for YEARS, but I will also be able to read comics first guilt free (aka no piracy) to then decide if I want to support them by purchasing individual issues (compared to the classic system of buying the first three issues and then bailing if it sucks), which is more than enough of a bargain, imo

And hey, if they every decide to make another decent World of DC movie, it’ll be up there eventually as well”

To read last week’s column, CLICK HERE! As always, thanks for the input!

This week we ask…

Comic Books Cancelled Too Soon

The current state of comic books is an endless cycle of relaunches, cancellations, and new #1’s. Creative teams come with big ideas and then jump ship without rhyme or reason.

It can be difficult to get comfortable with a book knowing it might not be around in 6 months.

“When all the heroes are gone, who will fill their shoes?”

That was the tagline for a long forgotten and overlooked book called The Foot Soldiers. It started as a Dark Horse mini series in 1996, written by Jim Krueger and with art by Mike Oeming, it takes place in a world where traditional super-heroes once existed, but have since been killed by oppressive robotic beings who rule what’s now a totalitarian society. We’re introduced to some teenage troublemakers who find a superhero graveyard one day and an old man with a crutch chooses them and gives them a new destiny, one with superpowers. It got my interest pretty fast and I was hooked. The book moved over to Image and then…vanished. I’ve been able to piece together what’s out there and even read a few years ago that they were going to bring it back but have yet to see anything. Alas, it became another title on my list of books that I loved but were no more.

Which is something ALL comic fans have to deal with. Finding a comic book that they love and then lose it to a number of reasons. Poor sales, trouble with the creative team, poor distribution, and even fickle publishers. Sometimes we don’t get an explanation. Before the internet, titles would just disappear, with nary a second thought given to what happened. Back in the 1960s. the X-Men lagged in sales behind Marvel’s other comic franchises and Marvel stopped producing new stories with issue #66, later reprinting a number of the older comics as issues #67–93. Just imagine what could have been if that title was given another chance. It’s not a stretch to say that Marvel would be a very different line. That would be a pretty cool “What if?” to explore. (This is a joke and I have to mark it as such because some of you would take it serious and leave a comment questioning my sanity)

Each of us has a book (or 20), that we can talk about. I’m going to go down a few that stick out to me, in no order of importance. Take the Legion of Super-Heroes. The team has undergone two major reboots during its publication. The original version was replaced with a new rebooted version following the events of “Zero Hour” in 1994 and another rebooted team was introduced in 2004. A fourth version of the team, nearly identical to the original version, was introduced in 2007, which is considered the the Post-Infinite Crisis age. The New 52 brought the Legion back but it was gone by August 2013.

The book has been cancelled and relaunched more than I care to remember. The reasons are varied. From DC saying the Legion’s continuity is too confusing to fans getting bogged down by the numerous storylines. The Legion always worked for me when it stuck to keeping it simple. From the original stories and Paul Levitz era to “Five Years Later”, it all worked for me. Some may say that I’m reaching and the Legion has had plenty of time and stories to keep me happy. But it’s not around now, so that’s too soon for me.

When I think of comics that are launched and fizzled, Marvel’s The Defenders is a title that seems to get a relaunch every few years but they never seem to take. The most recent one that came out last year was based on the Netflix series and featured Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

There was a 2011-2012 book that was helmed by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson. The good part? It was really, really good. The bad part? No one bought it. Or talked about it. Going back in the team’s history, the team’s original incarnation was intriguing. You had Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Namor, and, eventually, the Silver Surfer. What a group and it led to some “out there” stories. The group had a rotating line-up from 1972 until 1986 but the team never had lasting popularity when compared to The Avengers, Fantastic Four, and the X-Men. Still, any team that can boast Valkyrie, Nighthawk, Hellcat, the Gargoyle, Beast, the Son of Satan and Luke Cage is fine by me and should still be around.

Do you remember DC’s Resurrection Man? AMAZING concept! The character has the power of self-resurrection, and with each resurrection he gains a different superpower that correlates with his death. He’s been given a few tries but never found the sales to stick around. I’ll avoid any “resurrection” jokes. Along the same lines, in 2012, DC gave the Dial H for Hero book a go with Dial H. Another cool concept about a mysterious dial that enables an ordinary person to become a superhero for a short time, by selecting the letters H-E-R-O in order. Each time it is used, the dial causes its possessor to become a superhero with a different name, costume, and powers. Dial H was on my must read list but it suffered from mis-marketing and was cancelled after 18 issues. Some books are too ahead of their time, it seems.

The Incredible Hercules was a just a really fun and humorous read for me. It garnered tons of praise from fans and critics but somehow got lost in the mix. The same could be said for Agents of Atlas and S.W.O.R.D.. Both were mis-marketed and overshadowed by the core Marvel line and crossovers. It’s a shame because they both were creative and would have been a nice expansion to the Marvel universe. Grant Morrison’s Aztek: The Ultimate Man. I’m pretty sure I own all 10 issues of this ridiculously awesome series. Why did it get cancelled? I believe it was low sales from fan apathy. Shame, as Aztek could have been a fresh addition to the DC.

I’ll end with Empire. Originally published in 2000 by Gorilla Comics, a company formed by Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek and several others, but the company folded after only two issues were produced. Empire jumped over to DC Comics in 2003–2004, the already published two comic books were collected in a #0 and then the rest of the story was told over six issues. Back in April, it was reported that the rights to the series had reverted back to Waid and the series would return under Waid’s Thrillbent comics platform. This is another book that could have been huge IF it found a consistent publishing schedule. Supervillain Golgoth, who has defeated all superheroes and conquered the world, but must now contend with internal power struggles. The comic whet your whistle enough that you saw the potential but never found it’s stride. Every so often you’ll see rumors of its return but it feels like a missed opportunity.

Those are just a few from me. We all have that comic that “could have been…”. Cancelled, forgotten, or never pursued, we miss them the same. What’s yours?

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!