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Friday, December 24, 2010

The Limp Arrow Awards For Worst Comics Of 2010

Originally I had entitled these end-of-year rant posts the "Humperdoozie ", after the inbred descendant of Christ from Preacher. However, I realized that might come across as though I equate crappy comics with developmental disabilities, and I don't want that. So I've changed the award name to something more specific and less offensive-- except to people who can't get it up because of nanite arm stump infection. Fortunately, none of them are coming forward any time soon.

Here's the best way I can express my opinion about the year's comics-- 2010 was the year when I stopped identifying myself as a superhero comic fan. I'd enjoyed a lot of the stuff from 2009, and I still enjoyed some things in 2010. But this was the year where I finally emancipated myself from specific allegiances, because I'd found other interests that filled the void. I've found franchise superhero comics largely an Ouroburos that somehow kept finding more of its tail upon which to nosh, and I don't know if it was just getting fed up with the directions of comics, or focusing my attention on other mediums that told the kinds of stories I actually wanted to see.

But let's put it this know how Mark Millar wrote his own afterword for Superior #1, saying about how comics fans needed new superhero characters to replace the tired constructs of the Golden and Silver Ages? Well, I found my new hero. His name is Solid Snake. :P

Anyway, onwards with the awards...

Worst Story Resolution: X-Men: Second Coming. After dragging the DeciMation out for five years, Marvel resolves it via living deus ex machina Hope Summers, whose Phoenix powers revive the mutant race with....five new mutants. That's equal to the amount of mutants killed in the crossover, significantly less than the amount of mutants killed since the DeciMation, and not even remotely worth the moral compromises Cyclops made in the name of chasing a messiah child without any evidence to support his faith. Yet now Cyclops is the hero, and everyone loves him, even though he's treated every mutant he wasn't sleeping with (re: every mutant except Emma and maybe Wolverine ) as expendable. Seeing Scott awarded the Medal of Honor by Captain America was especially jarring, since Cap wouldn't have stood for the shit Scott did, even in a wartime situation.

Worst New Direction: JMS' Superman. Walking through small towns trying to find the real America was corny when Green Lantern and Green Arrow did it in the 70's. But at least they were open to learning from their experience. Superman's just ditching his responsibilities to the entire world so he can slum it with mere mortals and feel better about himself. At best he's a politician going on a campaign trail to win his constituents' favor, and at worst he's an anthropologist fascinated by the behavior of us chimpanzees. Neither seems like a good use of his talents, and it's an especially jarring waste of a year's worth of comics.

Worst Move For Diversity Of Representation: DC Comics killing off the Ryan Choi Atom. Was Ray Palmer such an original and compelling personality that he had to return to the role at the cost of the new guy's life? What made him so much more " iconic " in that minor role, that he would have his competition eliminated by divine intervention...oh, wait, he's a white Silver Age character. And Ryan's a Chinese-American from the current generation. That explains it, and it's hardly the only example of the classic white guys taking back roles from their more diverse counterparts. At least in this case, people who enjoyed the All-New Atom comic/don't enjoy DC's current direction got a karmic bone by seeing the villain who killed Ryan sentenced to death by Snoo-Snoo.

Worst Comic About A Junkie Ex-Sideckick Who Cradles A Dead Cat During A Heroin Hallucination After Being Unable To Get It Up With The Supervillain Babymama Of His Dead Daughter Due To A Nanobot Infection In His Arm Stump: Rise of Arsenal. Okay, it didn't have too much competiton, but still, you can't make that shit up. At least, you couldn't until a professional writer DID.

Worst Trend: Identity Sub-Franchising. The Incredible Hulk has become The Incredible Hulks, with every character of his supporting cast now being a similar gamma-powered monster. Batman has become Batman Inc., franchising his identity built through a lifetime of suffering out to anyone who passes the job interview. Wolverine's gone from a solo X-Men spin-off to his own franchise, with a team book of is own and books for his clone daughter and evil son. There are two Captain Americas, a family of Flashes, and a Lantern Corps of every color. Has everyonejust given up on the idea that being a superhero can be inherently special? Or is it just

Limp Arrow 2010 Lifetime Unachievement Award: Mark Millar. See the above comment, except that his " new " concepts are a book about comic book fanboys playing at being heroes, a book about a Batman rip-off acting like a Joker rip-off, and a book about a Shazam rip-off. If you don't want to do the same old thing as everyone else, don't do the same old thing as everyone else! Filing off the serial numbers and adding a lot of swearing and "timely" pop culture references isn't good enough.


  1. Ugh, you just touched on one of my other superhero pet peeves, the notion of superhero "families".

    I don't like them for the same reason I didn't like all the Potential Slayers in the Buffy franchise-when the hero shares their heroic identity with a bunch of other people, I find that it cheapens their uniqueness and takes away what made them so special in the first place.

    I can accept something like an Evil Counterpart (Faith, Venom), a Distaff Counterpart (Spider-Woman), or even one sidekick (Robin), since all of these can explore how different people would fit into a similar identity. But Bruce Banner really doesn't stand out when he's got a bunch of other gamma-powered behemoths running around, Venom is just another face in the crowd of symbiotes, and if there are a bunch of Slayers, what makes Buffy so special?

    This isn't a new problem, either-I'm not very interested in Batman comics because I think that the Bat-Family has become so absurdly bloated over the years (Batman, Nightwing, Oracle, Damien, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, Orpheus, Catwoman, Tarantula, etc.). You could make them an official team and not really change anything, given how often they interact and how Bruce Wayne is at the nerve center of everything they all do.

    And good on you for calling Mark Millar on his bullshit. Of course you can find new superhero concepts to complement the Gold and Silver Age mainstays, but what most people seem to forget is that they already exist. Say what you will about 1990s Marvel, but the difference between now and then is that they were actively trying out new concepts with guys like Sleepwalker and Darkhawk, whereas today the market is flooded with multiple titles for a select few franchises. We have multiple Bat-Family books, multiple Deadpool books, and multiple Wolverine books.

    I honestly don't see anything in the concepts of most D-listers that prevents them from becoming legitimate stars in their own right. Grant Morrison did it with Animal Man, Greg Pak did it with Hercules, even guys like Booster Gold and Aquaman have gained a certain amount of street-cred ever since the writers cared to actually develop them, what with their being regular features on the Brave and the Bold cartoon.

    But no, apparently "families" are the big thing these days.

    And here I share Stan Lee's opinion on teen sidekicks...

  2. I'd call foul on Worst Trend for two points:

    -Most of the examples you cite didn't start in 2010; the Wolverine titles are the only ones I can think of that actually launched this year.

    -Frankly, I don't see it as that big of a problem; family books tend to be a cyclical trend. Remember when every Avenger had their own series, and even off-brand Avengers like War Machine and Thunderstrike not only had their own books, but often outsold their predecessors? I don't expect there to be so many Bat- Hulk- or Lantern- titles forever.

    But I definitely agree with Worst New Direction and Worst Move for Diversity.