Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jofo's Top Ten: Worst Comic Books (That I've read)

I'll try not to be too predictable here, and yes they're all Marvel and DC books. (Spoilers)

Like most mediums, sequential art has its fair share of bile that makes the reader feel as if they've wasted both money, and precious hours of their lives on it. And while I'm usually a bit more forgiving with comics than I am with film and video games, I have my standards and expect them to met. The following list consists of several comics that I consider to be some of the worst in the industry, though I'm sure many will disagree due to opinions, tastes, and all that jazz. First up, a list of honorable mentions.

80% of all comics released in the 90s (100% of comics written/drawn by Rob Liefeld)

Extensive exposition on the how/why of these being bad is like ranting about how anchovies smell foul. It's practically common knowledge these days that the 90s were the pinnacle of the "Dark Age" of comics due to the laughably inept art, and the focus on EXTREEEEEEME action, and characters, especially over at Marvel with such "wonderful" story arcs like the Spider-Man: Clone Saga, or Onslaught. And while there are a few 90s series that were truly enjoyable like Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme (in my humble opinion) and even great like Grant Morrison's JLA run, it's hard to deny how terrible most of the content produced in that grungy decade were.

All-Star Batman & Robin

Yeah this is a badly written, sexist book with a delusional moron wearing the cape and cowl of everyone's favorite brooding superhero, but its one of the few examples of "so bad it's good" in comics. I acknowledge that it's really bad, but its entertaining enough to avoid actually making the list, plus Jim Lee's art in it is fantastic!.

Infinite Crisis

I know this book has quite few admirers, and it's often considered to be one of the iconic works from DC in the last few decades, and even I like some things about it, but the plot of Infinite Crisis is one of the most patronizing I've seen, mostly thanks to the main villain, Superboy-Prime. Basically Infinite Crisis was meant as a middle finger to anyone who didn't like the dark shift in tone the DCU took after Identity Crisis, and Superboy-Prime is "prime" evidence of that, with his constant ranting how the heroes in the DCU are too "dark, cruel, and unheroic" while he hypocritically murders a few hundred characters, it's a little hard to not see him as the DC writers' and editors' strawman for their critics. However what keeps it off the list is the fact that it lead to some truly great series like 52, Booster Gold's solo series, and the third Blue Beetle.

And now without further adieu, lets move on to my most hated comics.

10. Post-Civil War New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis

I'll admit that my reasons for hating this series is not necessarily due to it being bad all together, but when one's favorite superhero is being grossly mistreated it really is hard to be subjective. It already doesn't help that I am not a fan of Mr. Bendis due to his rather awkward dialogue writing and general inability to write non-street level characters well, but I didn't originally dislike this series, mostly because for a while it was the ONLY Avengers book available (thanks to a certain OTHER book on this list) and it had some decent stories starting out. And then after Civil War, we began a new chapter of the Avengers in which Doctor Strange is a prominent character, which you would think I would be excited about, right? WRONG!!!

Strange endured constant mistreatment from Bendis, being depicted as his powers weakening, making terrible decisions with the Illuminati that result in catastrophe, and being rather incompetent in matters he would normally solve in an instant, but the killing blow to Strange and mystical Marvel in general came post World War Hulk when Strange renounced the title of Sorcerer Supreme due to his use of Dark Magic and began to find a successor, which he found in Brother Voodoo, who took over the title...until he died not too long later battling the mad Vishanti member Agamotto who had apparently killed his two counterparts Oshtur and Hoggoth. With Agamotto defeated, the Vishanti and the Sorcerer Supreme position along with the artifacts associated with it ( the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto) vanished along with it, and were not touched upon until the end of Bendis' New Avengers run where it was hastily, and rather contrivedly restored to Strange to get the status quo back in order for Marvel NOW.

This created several rather gaping plot holes since there was no Sorcerer Supreme to prevent other worldly invasions from beings like Dormammu and Shuma-Gorath, and this plot-thread was just left dangling for quite a few years before being amateurishly resolved, and my favorite super-hero was reduced to a second-rate B-lister with barely any panel time that didn't involve him being humiliated. Fortunately it ended and Doctor Strange is once again the Sorcerer Supreme once again, and though he hasn't had any significant roles in Jonathon Hickman's current New Avengers run, at least he hasn't done anything stupid, like...sell his soul for power or anything like that.

9. Avengers Vs X-Men

While a bit of an uncontroversial choice from me, I am surprised to not see this one on many other "worst comics" lists due to it grossly portraying several high-profile characters completely out of character for the sake of yet another superhero vs superhero romp, and blatantly ignoring several years worth of continuity. Basically, the Phoenix is returning to Earth to claim Hope Summers as its next avatar, much to the joy of Cyclops' faction of the X-Men due to her supposedly being the Mutant Messiah who will undo the events of the Scarlet Witch's No More Mutants spell. However this naturally doesn't sit well with the Avengers who see a gigantic, planet destroying Firebird heading their way that already put Nova into a coma, so they naturally head out to Utopia to put Hope Summers into protective custody. However, instead of discussing things like the rational characters they usually are, Captain America storms onto the island demanding Hope, while Cyclops, being a gibbering psychopath, blasts him and sparks a huge conflict that threatens to destroy the world.

As stated, the main problem with this series is the disgusting portrayal of both sides, in all honesty, the story seems like a rather one-sided attempt to make the Avengers look like the good guys due to the rather evil turn the X-Men take midway through the book, but they end up failing at even doing that since the Avengers  come off as bullying jerks who provoke the already desperate mutants into more radical action. And with it coming out the same Summer as The Avengers film, it really is hard to shake the idea that this book was meant purely to burn the X-Men due to Marvel not possessing the film rights to them, especially with the X-Men committing atrocities such as Namor destroying Wakanda with a tidal wave, Magik imprisoning captive Avengers and having her demon minions feed on them (my second favorite X-Man ladies and gentlemen...urgh), and the events of the end...WHEN CYCLOPS KILLS XAVIER! And to cap it all off, the ending is one of the dumbest I have yet to see in a Marvel event, but what keeps this one low on the list is that in the grand scheme of things, it didn't do too much lasting damage to the Marvel Universe, and in fact created several new story paths, but it still is one of my most hated comics due to its gross mischaracterization of practically everyone involved and blatant disregard for continuity regarding the Phoenix.

8.Identity Crisis

And we arrive out our first DC Comic on the list, and a more polarizing one given the number of people who actually quite like the book. While it indeed was the launch pad for many of the DC events to follow that were actually quite good like 52 and various others, I find this one to be an overly dark, and VERY mean-spirited book that I seldom ever look back on for anything but reference reasons due to it being a very unpleasant read.

 And it isn't just one incredibly dark moment that ruins the book, but SEVERAL, including the brutal murder of Sue Dibney, the pointless deaths of Firestorm, Jack Drake (Tim Drake's father), and Capt Boomerang, The Justice League lobotomizing Dr. Light, and then forcibly mind-wiping Batman to keep him from stopping them, and the head-scratching revelation of the "master-mind" behind it all, Jean Loring, who did EVERYTHING...just to get her ex-husband Ray Palmer (the Atom) back with her...when I'm sure a simple dinner invitation would have sufficed. But I haven't begun to mention the absolutely UNACCEPTABLY terrible moment that happens in this book...and that my friends is the revelation that Sue Dibney was previously raped by Dr. Light, which is ultimately used as a red herring in the mystery, therefore we have a woman who has been brutalized, raped, and stuffed into the refrigerator just because. I cannot contain just how much that disgusted me back when I read it, and it still bothers me to this day. However I rank this book low on the list because, like AvX  some good stories came out if it, including the excellent closure that Ralph got with his wife in 52, because lord knows we needed a happy ending to that.

7.Avengers Disassembled

Hoo boy, now we're really getting into the bad with this one! If the Avengers would have been as popular back when this comic came out as they are now, then I can guarantee that Disassembled would have never seen the light of day, as the book existed to destroy Marvel's first super-team in a cruel fashion. The Avengers Mansion is attacked by a suicide bomber resulting in the death of Scott Lang (the second Ant-Man) and Tony Stark starts mysteriously acting drunk at a critical UN meeting thus making a fool of himself and the Avengers in front of the whole world. These event are just the beginning of a really bad day for the Avengers that only gets worse when more attacks out of no where claim the lives of both the Vision and Hawkeye and cause the UN to withdraw all support for the Avengers and cost Tony Stark his government position. And the mastermind behind it all is none other than long-time Avenger, Wanda Maximoff AKA The Scarlet Witch, who has inexplicably gone insane over the loss of her twin sons and decided to attack her friends and husband because...ummmm...because tragedy, and controversy sells!

Also written by Bendis, Disassembled has the usual Bendis-speak issues, plus all the really dark, and rather pointless deaths of three fan-favorite characters, and the gross mis-characterization of The Scarlet Witch who had previously accepted the loss of her children, which all goes back to show Bendis' inability to write (and possible hatred of) characters with powers beyond street-level. And this book had some really nasty effects on the Marvel Universe that eventually lead to the reviled events House of M, Decimation, and of course, Avengers vs X-Men. However we eventually recovered from this event, and the Avengers have reassembled and are likely to stay that way for quite a while, so in conclusion, this one is really bad, and its effects rippled through the Marvel Universe for many years after, but is now fortunately over...UNLIKE the next book on the list.


Often considered to be DC's equivalent to House of M, Flashpoint is the tale of an alternate universe taking over the main continuity for a limited time, and is told from the perspective of one hero who remembers the old universe and must fight to restore it, and the effects of which mold the main universe for several future stories. However, unlike House of M, Flashpoint is responsible for one of the most controversial and hated events in comic book history, DC's NEW 52!
Barry Allen (The Flash) wakes up one day in a world where his mother is still alive, he isn't married to Iris and his powers aren't working, Cyborg is the leader of the Justice League, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are waging war for control of the world, and Batman is a murderous vigilante who uses guns and has no regard for human life. After recreating the accident that empowered him, and confronting the villain seemingly behind it all, Barry learns the horrible truth that HE created this new world when he used his powers to go back in time and rescue his mother, desperate to fix it, Barry attempts to correct the issue with the time-stream...but unwittingly causes even more damage to the restored universe in the process, thus begins The New 52.

Flashpoint is essentially nothing more than a bad Elseworlds story that served as a reset button for the DC Universe, and thus we have the current controversy that is DC comics at the time of this entry's posting, with its cluster-mess of what is and isn't in continuity anymore, and several slaps in the faces of the fans with its "new" portrayals of fan favorite characters. On its own, Flashpoint would be nothing more than just another bad event comic, but with it being the springboard for the New 52, this book will go down in infamy for ruining the DC Universe and giving rise to terrible books SUCH AS...

5.Scott Lobdell's ENTIRE Teen Titans run.

In the early 1980s to the mid 90s, there were two books that frequently fought for dominance among the comic-reading public. X-Men of course, and Marv Wolfman and George Perez's the New Teen Titans. The Teen Titans is a team with a legacy the rivals even that of the Justice League, with many iconic moments and stories such as The Judas Contract, and the The Terror of Trigon that are still considered classics today, and were even adapted into story arcs for the mid 2000s Teen Titans animated series, and while the team had its ups and downs in other books and incarnations, it was still one of the beloved superhero teams in comic history So naturally when the New 52 happened, DC had to pitch that legacy into the trash in favor of a rebooted team that undermines everything the original team stood for.

Tim Drake (Red Robin, AKA Sir not-the-third-Robin-anymore-because-DiDio-said-so) is hunting down a secret organization that is kidnapping super-powered teens and using them for unknown purposes, to assist him in his take-down Tim recruits several other meta-humans such as Wonder-Girl, Bunker, Kid Flash, Skitter, and Solstice into a team he calls The Titans. Along the way they battle this secret organization and eventually a figure from Wonder Girl's past, and even the demon Trigon who has sent his daughter Raven to infiltrate the team. Each and every one of these stories was stupid, badly written, and detrimental to the characters.

I am baffled at how long this book survived, with the amount of backlash it received it is a shock that it took 30 issues before its cancellation. This entire series is a huge slap in the face to fans of the Titans given how DC decided that unlike the Justice League which had already existed for 5 years, The Titans had never existed at any point during the reboot, and gave us this watered down version with several terrible arcs, obnoxious characters, and some of the worst writing of the New 52...and that is saying quite a lot.

4.Ultimates 3

I was never particularly a fan of the Ultimate Universe, due to already having several years of the regular universe's continuity logged away in my brain, and plus I don't like a good chunk of the Ultimate versions of my favorite characters, however I will concede and say Ultimates 1 was... occasionally entertaining, despite all the painfully unfunny pop-culture references, Ultimates 2 was very...meh, but oh my, Ultimates 3 was pure unadulterated FAILURE.
This book should be the textbook definition of convoluted, there are so many head-scratching moments in this book that I can't even begin to go in-depth about it for fear of this list running on for too long. Basically the Scarlet Witch is murdered, and the Ultimates try to find out who did it, only to find out it was a robot that fell in love with Wanda, but got mad because she was already dating her own brother Quicksilver, so it shot her with a DNA specific bullet and killed her, thus causing the Brotherhood of Mutants to storm Stark's mansion to get her body back, and as it all turns out this was planned by Doctor Doom to get Magneto to wage war on humanity so he can swoop in a and rule over all.

...yeah, its that bad. This was the comic that really exposed Jeph Loeb as a washed writer inable to put together a coherent story, as well as a showcase for some truly terrible art. To be brief, its one of the worst written stories I have ever read and really wish I could get back every moment I spent reading it, and trying to decipher its labyrinthine plot!

3. Spider-Man: Sins Past

We all know the tragedy of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker's first (and arguably only) true love, she was one of the first major beloved supporting characters in the Marvel Universe to be killed in a rather brutal fashion when the Green Goblin dropped her off the Brooklyn bridge and Peter caught her too late to prevent a fatal injury. However this wasn't the worst thing to happen to poor Miss Stacy, as several decades later, a far more horrifying story was in the making.

In a story arc called Sins Past it was revealed that Gwen Stacy had sex with Norman Osborn and bore his children...his radioactive, fast aging children...do I need to even explain just how terrible this story is! Despite it's short length and otherwise unremarkable nature, this was one of the most reviled stories in Spider-Man's extensive history along with the Clone Sage...UNTIL!!

2. Spider-Man: One More Day
..THIS CAME OUT!!! This piece of TRASH is perhaps one of the most hated, critically panned comics to ever see a printing. Anyone who knows me also knows of my intense hatred for this book, as I am known to immediately burst into a bitter rant at the mere mention of the title, and given the book's infamy, most other comic fans are eager to join me. For the few who do not know the horrors of One More Day, allow me to enlighten you, and possibly ruin any liking for Spider-Man that you have my dear reader.

Aunt May has been shot and is clinging to life (AGAIN) in a coma as a result of Peter STUPIDLY revealing his identity to the world as a result of...the next entry on this list... and Peter is desperately seeking help from the all the great scientists, medical doctors, and magic-users in the Marvel universe to save her, all of which are unable to help, despite having helped with other far worse injuries in the past. However in his desperation, he is confronted by Mephisto, who offers Peter the assistance of his demonic magic to save May, in exchange for something other than his soul, something so personal to Peter that the loss of it will (according to Mephisto) result in the loss of his soul later down the line anyway...his marriage to Mary-Jane. So naturally, with the very mantra of Spider-Man being "with great power comes great responsiblity" you'd naturally think Spidey would tell Mephisto to go back to the hell from whence he came right?....WRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG! Peter is eventually convinced by the demonic liar to give up his marriage to undo his greatest mistake, instead of taking responsibility and moving on. In short, Peter has irredeemably failed his Uncle Ben, in addition to ruining Mary-Jane's life as well...all to extend the life of an ancient woman...who told Peter to let her go anyway...where do I begin.

This story is offensive to me on so many levels. that even as I type this blog entry, I am quivering with rage; mostly because, this story is a shocking example of one of the worst epidemics in the comic book industry, instances of higher-ups using their positions to force the actual writers to tell the stories that THEY want, as opposed to letting the writer do their job. And the culprit behind this atrocity is non-other than Marvel's former editor-in-chief Joe Quesada. You see, Joe Quesada woke up one morning and decided to himself "hmm I don't like Peter being married, therefore the public doesn't like Peter being married" so he forced J Michael Straczynski to write this abomination, and then booted him off the book afterward for publicly declaring his own distaste for One More Day. And while Quesada is now safely far away from any possible writing position, the damage has been done, and will likely not be undone until Quesada is no longer with Marvel (in other words, don't wait up).

You know, when I was little kid, Spider-Man was the first superhero I learned of, and lead to me being interested in comics to begin with, and though Doctor Strange, Captain America, and Batman eventually eclipsed Spidey on my favorite superheroes list, he was still a big role-model to me, due to his fairly relate-able status as an every-man, and the mantra that he lived by, "with great power comes great responsibility". And as I grew up, do did Spider-Man, he got married, he became a teacher, and though he wasn't my favorite superhero I still felt a sense of connection with him. But then it all came crashing down when issue four of One More Day hit the shelves, when Peter not only consorted with one of the purest embodiments of evil in the Marvel Universe, but proceeded to violate the very mantra he supposedly lived by in one of the worst possible ways. From that moment on Peter became nothing more than an immature monster to me, one who only cares about himself and wiping out his own mistakes by whatever means necessary. In conclusion, I am ashamed of having EVER been a fan of Spider-Man thanks to this comic, I have not purchased or cared about a single Spider-Man story since this tripe, no mater how good it supposedly it is, and will not care until the day this abomination has been wiped out, but until then SPIDER-MAN IS DEAD TO ME! And after all this ranting, I bet you're asking yourself, "what could Josh possibly find to be worse than this", oh believe, while this story was character ruining, at least it was localized to just one popular character as opposed to tainting an entire UNIVERSE like the comic that led into One More Day, and the next entry on this list.

1. Civil War
...I hate this comic...I hate EVERYTHING about it, it's underlying message, its portrayal of the Marvel Universe, the writer, EVERYTHING. This is one of the nastiest, most horrifyingly mean spirited books I have ever had the displeasure of glancing at! To this day, the mere presence of Mark Millar's name on a book is more than enough to get me to immediately skip over it, and even be tempted to violently destroy it. This book SINGLE HANDEDLY lead to the ruination of several characters, the constant string of Superhero vs Superhero stories, and the downfall of the Marvel Universe for me, thus driving me into the arms of DC, until I was promptly chased back to a much better Marvel a few months ago by the New 52.

A confrontation between the New Warriors, and an explosive villain results in the vaporization of several hundred civilians (including children), thus causing the US Government to rush out the Superhuman Registration Act, a draconian bit of legislation that will force any individual with superhuman abilities and powers to register their identity with the US Government, cease all vigilante acts and fall under federal mandate, or else they'll be imprisoned in an inter-dimensional prison (constructed by everyone's favorite stretchy douche-bag Reed Richards) with no trial. And in his own little ultimate act of hypocrisy, Tony Stark is assigned a high position in SHIELD, and is tasked with taking down Captain America and his underground resistance who rightfully oppose mandatory registration. But sadly it is all for naught when Iron Man's side ends up winning, and causing the death of several heroes including Captain America, and Goliath, as well as the unlawful imprisonment of many individuals...yayyyyyy.

What makes this book the most hated book on my list despite not having as much to say about it as it's predecessor, is Mark Millar's implication that the pro-registration side were the good guys...NO...no they were NOT! In short, this book is little more than pure, unadulterated HATRED for Superhero comics, all bundled together in a collected volume. Millar is a man whose writing style reflects nothing but cynicism and a hateful attitude towards the medium as whole despite being a comic writer. For many years after this book, the Marvel Universe (while it had one or two books worth reading) was a barren wasteland of contempt for its own properties; and while One More Day may have worse writing behind it, at least it was localized to just Spider-Man, this book however trashed the entire Marvel Universe and THAT is why it is my most hated comic of all time!

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