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Cinescape's Top Ten Worst in Comics 2001
We review the ten terrible lowlights of the year in comic books
By Arnold T. Blumberg
December 26, 2001
Steve Englehart returns to the saga of the Celestial Madonna in AVENGERS: CELESTIAL QUEST #1.
© 2001 Marvel Characters Inc.
Over all, 2001 will be a year most of us will be glad to put in the past, but for the comic book industry, it wasn't all that bad. Marvel revitalized itself, the other companies churned out some top quality entertainment, and comic book films showed how much life there could be in cross-promotional efforts. While the best of comics will be covered in a separate feature coming up later this week, we're about to cover something a bit different here. You know how everyone always asks whether you want the good news or the bad news first? Well, in the interest of streamlining the process, we've decided to take the choice out of your hands and get all of the unpleasantness out of the way as soon as possible.
Stan Lee re-envisions the Green Lantern in another JUST IMAGINE... installment.
© 2001 DC Comics
No, it wasn't all peaches and cream in the comic book industry of 2001. There were some terrible low points as well. Before we delve into the highlights of the past year in our upcoming features, we now regretfully review some 2001 comic book moments that we'd rather forget:
#10) The Death of Aquaman (DC) A major event tossed in as a throwaway during the DC summer crossover, "Our Worlds At War" (see below). True, this is a character who has spent most of his career being maligned and ridiculed, but after his beard and harpoon makeover, he achieved some small measure of respect. Arthur deserved better, but fear not. We all know he'll be back, and DC has already said as much. Still, it was a cheap ploy.
The War Begins in MAN OF STEEL #115
© 2001 DC Comics
#9) THE AVENGERS: CELESTIAL QUEST
(Marvel) Even with original scribe Steve Englehart back to continue the tale of the Celestial Madonna, the series couldn't hope to recapture the good old days of sweeping cosmic epics. There's something missing in a lot of these "special event" miniseries these days. Perhaps the main problem is that if this were truly an important arc, it should probably have taken place in the core title itself rather than off to one side in a mini. Ah well, it wasn't good anyway.
#8) THE MUMMY: VALLEY OF THE GODS
(Chaos!) As if the disappointing film sequel wasn't bad enough...this one should have stayed buried in the crypt. The artwork was atrocious beyond measure, as was the production quality...and the story? Please. Just bury this along with the great kings of old and hope that no one has the audacity to dig it up again.
#7) FEAR EFFECT
(Top Cow) It's a comic book tie-in to a video game. Do we need another reason? OK, how about the art is terrible, the plot is nonexistent, bordering on offensive, and the entire affair is probably responsible for killing more brain cells than a stiff shot of vodka? Good enough?
Grant Morrison takes the FF into Marvel Knights territory with FANTASTIC FOUR 1234
© 2001 Marvel Characters Inc.
comics (Chaos!) The faithful waited for years to see Michael Myers stalk the pages of a comic; we should have waited a bit longer. While their heart was in the right place, Chaos! instead rewrote the legend (which has already taken quite a pummeling in the many film sequels), made a muddle of the entire Myers bloodline, and added nothing new to the story. The Curse of the Thorn upon them all.
#5) STAR TREK
comics (Wildstorm) Floundering for years after the franchise's departure from DC, where it enjoyed a glorious run in the '80s, STAR TREK
only made it back as far as DC's Wildstorm imprint when it was dropped by Marvel and Paramount Comics. That's why they still suck. DC knew how to handle the property, handing it off to stalwart scribes like Peter David and Howard Weinstein. Wildstorm, stuck with the VOYAGER
series as its primary flag-bearer (although they dip into all eras from Classic to DS9
), has such little quality material to build on, they can't make any headway. Time to end this particular trek and hope for another Borg invasion.
Cover art to VAMPI #10
© 2001 Harris Comics
#4) FANTASTIC FOUR 1234
Hardly a delightful way to celebrate the team's 40 year history. A misstep by the usually reliable Grant Morrison, this miniseries muddies the team's reputation with a dysfunctional deconstruction of each member. The artwork by Jae Lee is similarly murky, washing away detail and delight with dull, earth-toned sequences and disturbingly surreal interpretations of the classic characters. It's clobberin' time!
Cover art for Chaos! Comics' upcoming HALLOWEEN III: THE DEVIL'S EYES
© 2001 Chaos! Comics
(Anarchy Studios) Thank goodness the "real" Vampirella is back in style, courtesy of Mark Miller and Mike Mayhew. This manga-ized BLADE RUNNER
-esque variation by Kevin Lau is embarrassing, exploitative and execrable. Not at all the same character we know from her Warren and early Harris exploits, this new "Vampi" is a post-apocalyptic crusader labored with every cheap anime cliché imaginable. And just who is
this Lau guy, anyway?! When this title was introduced, he was featured on the cover as often as the lead character, wielding guns John Woo style and wearing leather and shades as if we were supposed to revere this ultimate comic creator bad-ass. Sheesh.
#2) "Our Worlds at War" crossover (DC) Never have so many given so much and entertained so little. Attempting to craft another cross-company epic with this alien invasion storyline that embroiled the entire DCU in a struggle for survival, the creators behind "Our Worlds at War" tried really hard, but this just didn't deliver. The aftermath of the event did result in the release of the eerily well-timed ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN
#596, which served as an unexpected but perfect tribute following the real-world terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. So perhaps for that reason alone, this crossover deserves a reprieve of sorts.
A lackluster reimagining of the Man of Steel from the "Man" himself, Stan Lee.
© 2001 DC Comics
#1) JUST IMAGINE...STAN LEE
one-shots (DC) Anticipated for so long, Stan Lee's versions of the core DC heroes were bound to disappoint at least some of the time, but so far, it's all been one big miscalculation. The entire project to date has been not so much an exciting Marvelized look at DC so much as some very predictable variations on a theme. Even Lee himself has admitted that he hasn't taken his versions of the characters nearly as far afield as he should have (retaining Superman's alien origins, for example). His scriptwriting isn't what it used to be, either, as he seems to spend more time filling captions with lame quips than focusing on the plot. Ah well, perhaps later installments will improve, bunky! 'Nuff said (oh wait, that's another gimmick series entirely...).