Movies & TV / Columns

What is the Most Overrated Comic Book Storyline? 

January 6, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last week we asked ‘Will ‘Infinite Frontier’ Launch the Next Era of the DC Universe?” Here’s what some of you had to say:

Wheeljack84 “All I will say is this. I thought New 52 was utter trash, and so was Heroes in Crisis.”

duh: “I feel like all of these new reboots/refreshes like Rebirth, Infinite Frontier, Doomsday Clock, Generations, etc are just DC trying to undo how damaging the New 52 was. My biggest issue with the new 52 wasn’t what they took away, but the inconsistency of it. Like Batman keeps all of his mythos and Superman’s disappears but not all of it because there are some popular stories we still want to reference but they may have happened slightly differently. They also made concepts more confusing when the stated goal was to attract new readers (look at Superboy’s New 52 origin). Now they’re calling it a refresh and trying to get out stuff that was supposed to be published for a different reboot (5G) which just shows how disorganized they are and lacking in vision”

BillyBlaze: “It will until it wont anymore, I really digged DC Rebirth, The Button, and Doomsday Clock”
The Man With The Plan: “There are no new era’s anymore, just marketing and PR business cycles”

Benjamin Kellog: “I never thought I’d see the day where “familiar and stable” would be the best-case scenario in a superhero universe, but after all the corporate staff shuffling and real-world circumstances that put a serious damper on DC’s 2020 output, I’m genuinely looking forward to a more grounded, “let’s just do some good stories” approach in 2021. Williamson is the perfect guy for the framing story; his Flash run was the most consistently great, entertaining, and innovative part of the DCU not (that didn’t have the word Metal in the title, anyway), and Wondy and the Spectre being two quite mystical characters sound like ideal hosts to the many doorways to adventure. The rest of the line sounds like it’ll be generally good, and it’s nice to see DC go with a smaller yet more concise set of stories. At the very least, Action and Detective haven’t been canceled, so the company’s foundations are still somewhat important.”

D-Unit: “At this point, these re-launches/freshes/boots don’t do anything for me. As long as they’re good stories, I’ll read them, but I don’t get excited about these “New eras” anymore”

So many great comments! Big thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!

This week we ask…

What is the Most Overrated Comic Book Storyline?

Let me start this off by saying that I’ve never liked the ‘Days of Future Past’ storyline. I never connected with it and hearing so many gush over it and Marvel use it as such a central part of X-Men legend didn’t sit right with me. Why? Because the good guys had lost in the future and make the decision to go back in time to change things in their favor. To me, that’s not something heroes do. To me, they were no different from Kang the Conqueror. It was an OK story but not as great, to me, as everyone makes it out to be. 

Now, the difference between overrated and not liking something is a matter of degrees. For the purpose of this column, I’m taking some critical and audience darlings and presenting them to you. I’m not looking for storylines that were considered bad from the start. The books below are some of the more regular ones that pop up in discussion.

Starting with my example, Days of Future Past. For reasons I gave above, this gets on the list. It deals with a dystopian future in which mutants are incarcerated in internment camps. An adult Kate Pryde transfers her mind into her younger self, the present-day Kitty Pryde, who brings the X-Men to prevent a fatal moment in history that triggers anti-mutant hysteria. The storyline was produced during the franchise’s rise to popularity under the writer/artist team of Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin. Thanks to this storyline, this plot has been used and used and used numerous times, to varying success. While it’s a pivotal moment in X-history, it’s overlooked that the X-Men lost for a reason and need another chance to win. 

Next is All-Star Superman. A multiple Eisner-winning title, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s miniseries took to task stripping Superman down to his essential elements. While many enjoyed this take, upon further inspection this isn’t really so much a Superman story but a story about Superman’s world and cast. It’s been said that this reads like the Man of Steel is a supporting character in his own book, barely registering a personality. Quitely’s art doesn’t do Superman any favors and while this book is spoken of highly, it doesn’t hold up upon inspection.

I know most will consider this a travesty, let’s talk about The Dark Knight Returns. Many consider this the best Batman story of all time. Another dystopian-future story, this time from the mind of Frank Miller. What could possibly be wrong with this story? Lack of centralized plot. If you follow it along, the Batman vs Superman fight is forced and sticks out as a climax to the storyarc. Also, Miller isn’t telling a Batman story as much as he’s telling a “What If…” tale. While we are used to a “grim and gritty” Dark Knight today, back then, Batman was dark but never to that extent. In a way, Miller’s twisted take on Batman derailed the character.

Let’s talk about Watchmen. We’ve gone here before. This is considered one of the greatest comic books of all time.The plot is meticulous and you’ll find Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons at the top of their game. Who could ever find this overrated? First, at it’s heart, this is a murder mystery. Moore takes it and layers and dumps story on top. The term “form over substance” works here as Moore keeps the audience on their toes with smoke and mirror storytelling tricks. Instead of a mystery, we are reading a forced deconstruction of superheroes that goes on weird tangents so Moore can relay his heavy handed Cold War message.

Moving on, Civil War might seem out of place, given the company it’s in but it was a big seller for Marvel, fairly popular to fans, gained tons of mainstream media attention, became a storyline in the Marvel movie universe, and gave us the Death of Captain America storyline. To me, it’s an example of everything wrong with “EVENT” storylines. Like I said, this was a huge event for Marvel. Like every other event, this suffers from not really accomplishing anything. In fact, you can blame Spider-Man’s One More Day on this storyline screwing around with Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Also, it’s depictions of Tony Stark/Iron Man never rang true to me.

OK, to be fair, do I really, REALLY think these storylines are overrated? Outside of Days of Future Past, not really. But I had to throw some out there to get the ball rolling. Now it’s your turn. 

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!