I read too many damn comics. This fact was made all the more apparent two weeks ago when I got laid off from my part-time job (otherwise known as the job that lets me buy comics). While I couldn’t convince myself to drop any of my usual stuff last week, this week I was able to find four comics to add to my drop list. And quite frankly, I’m a bit surprised I was able to let these four go.
Grant Morrison sucks. He’s really just a lousy writer. I’m talking Hudlin-esque here. Yet for some reason I felt compelled to buy Final Crisis. It was supposed to be this massive crossover that changed the DC Universe. But this week I realized I just don’t like reading it, and things in the DCU aren’t going to make any less sense if I’m not following Final Crisis. In fact, Final Crisis is the reason things don’t make sense.
Over the short term, this might make a couple of the other books I read intolerable. Since I’m not following Secret Invasion, the fact that every frakking Marvel comic is about Skrulls right now is sort of pissing me off. Thankfully, FC is primarily contained to the mini-series and its spinoffs, so Catwoman-riding-a-dog won’t be showing up in Birds of Prey or anything.
X-Factor used to be one of the best comics out there. In fact, we here at Doomkopf called it the Most Underrated Series of 2006 and Jamie Madrox the Best Hero of 2006. But for about a year, this series has been pretty terrible.
The downward spiral of this series pretty clearly begins with its inclusion in the Messiah Complex crossover from last fall/winter. Layla Miller, the most interesting member of the cast, was left in the future as a result, and Wolfsbane had to leave the team because Marvel wanted all of the hunter types to be on the new X-Force. Then the book slogged through an uninspired Arcade arc before shipping the team off to Detroit in order to turn Darwin into a Latino character.
And while X-Factor has never had what one would call a “regular” art team, it got particularly irregular a few months ago when 90s X-Factor artist Larry Stroman brought his lack of talent back to the title. I can usually handle waiting through a rough patch in a series, but when the art is so terrible I don’t even want to look at the pages anymore, I just don’t see the point in continuing.
X-Men is another title that got a whole lot worse after Messiah Complex. Writer Mike Carey had made me enjoy the adjective-less X-Men for the first time in quite a while, despite the iffy art and the team roster filled with B-listers. But it may have been that cast of B-listers that actually made the book interesting.
Now, X-Men: The Legacy focuses on Professor X and his struggle to uncloud his cloudy memories after his death. Gambit, Rogue, Mr. Sinister and Sebastian Shaw are along for the ride. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was 1995 again (which happens to be the year I started buying X-Men every month). Revisiting bygone eras of the X-Men and injecting a little retconned mystery might seem like a good idea (does it really?) but in execution it’s been tragically boring.
The nail in the coffin is this week’s issue started a crossover with Wolverine: Origins, a series I have never read and have absolutely no desire to ever read. The last time I didn’t buy a monthly issue of X-Men (the only time the in the past 13 years, BTW) was when Peter Milligan’s X-Men crossed over with another series I had absolutely no desire to read, Reggie Hudlin’s Black Panther. I guess Marvel has finally figured out how to get me to stop reading the comic that got me started reading comics in the first place.
Thunderbolts is a series that’s always been near and dear to my heart. It has a particular significance to me, because it’s the first non-X-Men/non-Spider-Man title I ever remember buying. It’s also the first time I bought a comic based on the creators involved (Trinity’s Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley) instead of the characters. I can actually remember buying the first issue at Trade-a-Tape over a decade ago, and I barely remember my trip to the comic store from last Wednesday.
But this Thunderbolts is not the same Thunderbolts that I fell in love with under Busiek and Bagley, or the same Thunderbolts I followed under Fabian Nicenza, Patrick Zircher and Tom Grummett. While the title is called “Thunderbolts,” there’s really nothing left of the comic I once read.
The last time Marvel made the mistake of ditching a great concept for one that was “still about villains” (the ill-fated Fight Club ripoff), I waited it out. That one only lasted six months, though. This current incarnation is nearing the end of its second year (although you wouldn’t know it from the number of issues Warren Ellis managed to write), with no end in sight.
While a comic about a group of villains isn’t a bad idea (see: Secret Six), that’s not what Thunderbolts was ever about. Thunderbolts was about a group of villains that decided they’d rather be a group of heroes because it feels better to do good. And if that’s not what Thunderbolts is going to be about, then I don’t want to read it anymore.
And the Skrulls don’t help.