Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: Things We’re Tired of in Comic Books

December 26, 2018 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Marvel Avengers vs X-Men

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! Batman Annual #3, The Batman Who Laughs #1, and more!

Now, on with the show!

Last week we discussed Best Comic Book Villains of All Time!. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Adam: “Tommaso Ciampa”

Feather is Better: “Brian Michael Bendis”

Chad Kuhns: “The Joker. Any other villain is a distant second”

Earl Chatterton: “Magneto to me is not just the best comic villain of all time, but maybe the most interesting character in general. Although various writers have had him go too far with his actions a bunch of times, at the core he’s a sympathetic and tragic character. His experiences in the Holocaust, the murders of his loved ones, the treatment of his fellow mutants by humans…although you don’t approve of a lot of his actions, you get why he does it. It’s a powerful character. Always like when he joins the X-Men, like in the glory days of the 80s when he replaced Xavier as the head of the school.”

El Atomico: “Great column! My two cents:
I’ve said this after other columns, but I thought the Joker was a loser until Killing Joke, then I thought he was killer.
I didn’t really like Magneto all that much in the comics, but I love him (and Sir Ian McKellen’s portrayal of him) in the movies, totally badass
From the comics, I remember liking Dr. Doom, Green Goblin (and hobgoblin!) and the Serpent Society.
The Penguin is lame.”

Gil: “Apocalypse and Mr Sinister are my favorite villain. (Although I have no idea the last time I saw Sinister in a story!) Also, as a Hulk fan, I gotta put the Maestro on there. He needs a come back.

Also, I realize you and most people list classic villains. I get it. They stood the test of time. But maybe a good article is listing your favorite villains that were only created in the last 10 years or so.”

Bop: “Ig’nea from L.E.G.I.O.N. 89.
Master Darque from the 90s Shadow Man run.
Rafferty from Firearm
Deadshot from the 87 Squad
Captain Boomerang from the 87 Squad.
Jodie and TC from Preacher
Rawlins from Ennis’ Punisher Max run.
Barracuda from Ennis’ Punisher Max run.”

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

This week we discuss…

Things We’re Tired of in Comic Books!

I try to keep this column as a celebration of all things comic books. It’s only natural that in our love for them, we see some things from time to time that make us less than happy. Hey, we’re a passionate crowd. It’s natural. Comic book debates are what fuel message boards around the world. What I’m looking at this week are some comic book standards that need to take a break. First up is everyone’s favorite…Events.

How many times have we mentioned event fatigue is grinding down fans? Crisis on Infinite Earths, Legends, Millennium, Cosmic Odyssey, Invasion!, Armageddon 2001, War of the Gods, Eclipso: The Darkness Within, The Death and Return of Superman, Knightfall, Bloodlines, Trinity, Worlds Collide, Zero Hour, The Final Night, Genesis, DC One Million, Our Worlds at War, Silver Age, Identity Crisis, DC Comics Presents, Infinite Crisis, 52, World War III, Countdown to Final Crisis, Final Crisis, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, Flashpoint, Trinity War, Forever Evil, Contest of Champions, Secret Wars, Secret Wars II, Mutant Massacre, Fall of the Mutants, Evolutionary War, Inferno, Atlantis Attacks, Acts of Vengeance, X-Tinction Agenda, Muir Island Saga, The Infinity Gauntlet, Operation: Galactic Storm, Infinity War, X-Cutioner’s Song, Rise of the Midnight Sons, Infinity Crusade, Maximum Carnage, Fatal Attractions, Bloodties, Child’s Play, Phalanx Covenant, Starblast, Fall of the Hammer, Clone Saga, Legion Quest, Age of Apocalypse, Onslaught Saga, Heroes Reborn, Flashback, Operation: Zero Tolerance, The Hunt for Xavier, The Magneto War, Maximum Security, Apocalypse: The Twelve, X-Men: Eve of Destruction, Infinity Abyss, Avengers Disassembled, House of M, Civil War, Annihilation, World War Hulk, Annihilation Conquest, Messiah CompleX, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, War of Kings, Siege, The Thanos Imperative, Fear Itself, Avengers vs. X-Men, Age of Ultron, Infinity

i haven’t even gotten to the last 5 years worth of events. Just looking at the above, that’s a lot of events over the years. How much impact did these events have short-term and long-term? Each event seems to be a set-up for the next one and too often you have a couple issues that nothing seems to happen. Not only that, you often have to pick up individual issues of a particular book just to get an idea of what’s happening. Events are quickly losing their power and while they still give a quick boost to sales, diehard fans usually avoid the hype. That’s only going to grow more as both Marvel and DC will tie there cinematic universes and comic universes together and start mega-crossover events that retcon all we know and love. The day is coming.

Speaking of retcons, just because we’re used to them doesn’t make them any more likable. Hal Jordan’s Emerald Twilight, Teenage Iron Man, Spider-Man’s One More Day/Brand New Day, Identity Crisis..I could go on listing but we all have that retcon that’s like a thorn in our side. Can anyone tell me how many times Hawkman has been retconned? How about the X-Men? I get it though. Sometimes you have to fix bad writing. Too often they fix it with poor planning and even poorer writing. All one needs to do is to pick up the latest issue of Green Lantern to start the process of figuring out what DC is doing with Jordan.

What happens when a retcon doesn’t work? RELAUNCH! Why? Because everyone knows that when you relaunch, you’re able to slap a #1 on the cover and those sell! Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Thor, name just about any big name title and chances are they have a number of relaunches under their belt. New creative team? RELAUNCH! New direction? RELAUNCH! New costume? RELAUNCH!

If it’s not a relaunch then it’s an unnecessary spin-off or multiple books. Wolverine was the poster child of this trend back in the day. But we don’t have to look far (Deadpool, X-Men, Green Lantern) to see this practice is alive and well today.

Which leads into death in comics. The majority of readers know that when they announce a character is dying that really means that they are going away for a while but will be back. Eventually. Wolverine is a perfect example of this.

Let me cut in and say that I don’t denounce all of these items across the board. We do get some cool relaunches and spin-offs from time to time. Rare. But it happens.

The last thing I’m going to talk about it a touchy subject but it’s one that has to be listed. Comicsgate.

I loathe giving this attention and I feel it’s overblown in some ways but there exists a small segment of “fans” who live in this bizarre area. It’s no secret that comic books are adolescent fantasies magnified but in recent years it’s taken a turn to the dark side. Maybe it started when publishers realized that a female demographic existed and started marketing to them. Maybe as times changed and trolls grew more brazen on the internet, they needed someone to pick on. Who knows? The fact is, comicsgate has marred the comic book community.

We can go back and forth about the costumes our superheroes wear and how impractical they are. Especially on the women. We can talk about the movement to include more diversity in comic books. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. The problem is what lies beneath. As comic books enjoy a popularity in the mainstream world that they’ve never had before, some pretty large issues are bound to rise up.

I think everyone agrees diversity is good, especially when it’s natural and introduced with good stories and art. Forcing it by giving retconning an established character is lazy and weak storytelling.

At the end of the day, I’m a comic book fan. From helping me learn to read (seriously!) to giving me a respite and allowing me to meet some really cool people, comic books are awesome.

Still, what are you tired of seeing in comic books?

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