The phrase "If you build it, they will come" never resonated for me more than this week: after printing what I had of the somewhat tepid response to my first call for titles you wish had never been cancelled last week, the amount of mail this week was extraordinary. (Thanks also to all those who wrote in - with varying degrees of politeness, ranging from blunt to "sorry to tell you this, but..." - to tell me that STARMAN was not cancelled and that it simply came to a natural end. As my students would no doubt say, "My bad.") Guess the topic just needed a push! Or maybe it was because I listed the topic so far down in the column. So, to avoid having a mail-less week this time around, I'll give you next week's topic here: with all sorts of characters getting their own titles in recent months, such as WARLOCK, JUBILEE, FIRESTORM, and so forth, it seems like there's no longer any character who still needs his or her own title. Or is there? For next week, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the one character who has yet to get his or her own series and whose adventures you'd be willing to read every month. Send these to me by 12 noon (CST) on Saturday, October 2, and your response may well appear in next week's column! How can you pass up a chance like that? And speaking of responses, here are the titles some of you wish had never been cancelled (including a few you wish would be):
Alexandra Erin reminds us of a time we'd all sooner forget, and a book which she hasn't forgotten: "Remember the summer that DC did that whole 'New Blood' crossover where all the annuals introduced a new metahuman whose powers were
Aaron Quanbeck writes in about a title I haven't thought of literally for a decade now: "One title that I wish was still around is SGT. ROCK. I have fond memories of reading about Sgt. Rock and the rest of Easy Company. It was a comic that was about war but in no way glamorized it. Instead, many of the stories dealt with the losses that came about as a result of war. Other times it was about soldiers just trying to survive and cope with the horrible situation they were placed in. There is just something about the character of Sgt. Rock that was so appealing, as well. Here is a guy that has to put forth a firm, stoic exterior so he can help his men make it through the war. The 'rock' in his name becomes what it has to be - hard and unflinching in the face of chaos. But all the readers knew that with each dog tag he had to collect that he left a bit of himself behind. And then there was the supporting cast: Bulldozer, Ice Cream Soldier, Little Sure Shot, Wildman, etc. Each one brought their own unique personality to the group so it wasn't just a group of faceless soldiers. And then there was the artwork by the amazing Joe Kubert. His art was way ahead of its time and made SGT. ROCK gritty and realistic. Anyone who read the recent graphic novel SGT. ROCK: ROCK IN A HARD PLACE knows what I'm talking about. Whether it was the early days when it was called OUR ARMY AT WAR, or when it was retitled to simply SGT. ROCK, it was a comic that I definitely wish was still being published today." It would be interesting to see how an honest-to-god war comic would do in today's market, Aaron, and whether there are any writers out there who could rein in their impulses to make commentary on our current political situation using Rock and Easy Company or, if they couldn't, whether they'd do it well. Personally, even though I dislike war comics intensely, I'd love to see someone give it a try. Hell, I wouldn't even mind a reprint of the old Marvel series THE 'NAM - seems like a perfect time for it, doesn't it?
Yotaru Vegeta (real name? pseudonym? You tell me) writes in more to tell us the series that should go rather than the ones that shouldn't have: "I think that all the X-MEN side teams like X-TREME and NEW should be gone. (Um... X-TREME is gone, isn't it? TBW). I mean, they're basically getting rid of them because NEW X-MEN are turning into the new New Mutants. It was just a ploy to pimp the franchise and it didn't work for me because team members jumped into any title at any time and it was just confusing. If they're going to make two X-men titles, they should go with Cyclops as one established leader and Storm as the leader of the other team. What I miss is the DEADPOOL series, and it met its fate because the character was screwed with and turned into Agent X, some dork with amnesia and too many friends. Hopefully after the Cable/Deadpool teamup, Deadpool will get his series back. I also miss GEN X and MECHANIX. MECHANIX had potential to be a cool idea for an extended series." Deadpool in his own series again? Why not? Every other damn character in the X-universe is getting a series nowadays...
Brian Compton writes in less about the cancellation of a single title and more about the "cancellation" of an entire company: "Can we count cancellations stemming from the bankruptcy of a company? If so, I would lament the better part of the Crossgen line. I
Bryant Williams has the same problem that I have in limiting my wish list to one or two titles: "I was a huge fan of the original NEW WARRIORS. I've heard the series may get a second chance with a new premise similar to that of X-STATIX, but it doesn't really intrigue me the way the original premise of the NEW WARRIORS did. Other titles that I think were cancelled too soon are DAMAGE, H.E.R.O., THE LEGION, STARMAN (both series), JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA (first series), BLACK PANTHER, and STEEL." I think you'll find a lot of people mirroring your thoughts on some of these, particularly the BLACK PANTHER series though I had completely forgotten that one got the chop!
Lawrence Chew writes, "I know this is a late reply, but I just read the column and wanted to say that the one series that I can't believe wasn't mentioned! The series I wish never ended is SANDMAN. Neil Gaiman is by far my favorite author, and the amazing detail, history and mythos he built around those characters, as well as the incredibly literate and well-crafted stories he wrote for them, just made it a fantastic read. I came to the series well after it ended, and I wanted more. By the time I had the 10th volume TPB in my hands I was afraid to read it, because I knew that as soon as I was finished there'd be no more to look forward to. It really was an opus and I guess all good things have to end. Sure, there was THE DREAMING, but it wasn't Neil Gaiman, and it's not quite the same. On the same note, I know it's still a ways off, but 100 BULLETS will only last 100 issues (we're already halfway through) and the way it's going right now, I don't ever want it to end." Amen to that, Lawrence. Actually, I probably would have mentioned SANDMAN except that in the case of that series, I figured that it followed the pattern that I erroneously didn't attribute to STARMAN: that there was a beginning, middle, and end. (Watch the e-mail deluge if I'm wrong about that one...) I'm sure you've already read it, but may I suggest the ENDLESS NIGHTS graphic novel which recently won an Eisner Award? It's not a whole new series of SANDMAN, true, but it should curb your hunger for new material for a little while.
David Turner presents us with an interesting list: "I have some thoughts on what should be cancelled and what should still be here:
"SLINGERS. Ok, it started with the hokey premise of Peter Parker's alternate identities given new life. But it was a spiritual brother to the everyman given extraordinary abilities. I was so into it, that a letter that I wrote was published in issue 2. And it was the first I saw of Crisscross's art, who went to CAPTAIN MARVEL (a favourite of mine also), and the new FIRESTORM.
"GREEN LANTERN QUARTERLY. I'm a big fan of the Corps and of Alan Moore's back-up tales. It allowed not only for alien perspectives on the ring but also gave a place for all the humans who used the green. Perhaps DC needs to rediscover this if there will be more than one GL after the return of Hal.
"As what shouldn't be on the stands right now, all I can think of is ALPHA FLIGHT. I'm a Canadian, so I was willing to pick up the first issue. I haven't bought an issue since. I admit I glanced through an issue to make sure they didn't kill the old team. But it plays with silly comic clichés [in the same way] MARVILLE did. [Judging from] all ads for it, Marvel has set it as a humour comic (and they misspelled Gretzky's name, a cardinal sin). Say what you will about Byrne, at least they were a serious team. These guys civilized Wolverine! My comic shop dealer hates it too, but he says that people still order it. Marvel seems to be US-centric about who are the best heroes. I would like to see a Canadian handle them as a legitimate team." I couldn't agree more about this last one, David, and I think it's telling that, in all the months I've been slagging off on this title, I've gotten exactly one letter in its defense, telling me that I shouldn't base my opinion on the first issue (same as you did) and that I should pick up another issue and give it another chance. I did and it still sucked Wendigo ass.
William McCaffrey goes out on a limb with his list while echoing a few of David's thoughts: "Not sure how popular my choices will be, but here I go nonetheless. First off, I have to say that CODENAME: KNOCKOUT was a guilty pleasure of mine that I was sad to see go. The updated goofy 70's super-spy flavor of the comic made it amusing as all heck, and the writing actually wasn't bad either. I guess too many people got hung up on the 'Cheesecake' aspect of the book and wrote it off. Another lamented title was SPIDER-MAN 2099. Okay, so maybe most of the other 2099 stunk worse than a hunk of ass in the mid-day sun, but Peter David's work on this was great! The futuristic updating of the Spidey story was handled nicely, his powers logically explained, and villains you just couldn't help but like. It also killed me that I had figured out that the character 'Net Profit' was actually John 'Justice' Tensen (from the New Universe book of the same name) two issues before it was revealed, and I was anxious to see where he'd go with that... Then cancellation! Add to this list Epic's COYOTE (I swear they promised that would be back someday), the publisher-hopping but still great DREADSTAR, and Starlin's 'Mini-that-I-wished-they-continued' SPACEKNIGHTS. A great updating of an old 80's concept, both in terms of writing and visual homages. (Fantastic art! Wish they made them into toys!) Speaking of 80's... Is the new MICRONAUTS series dead again? I'm losing track..." Good question, William could someone let me know? I've lost contact with those folks, believe it or not...
William continues, "As for books that should be cancelled... I apologize to Niel Gaiman, but the current incarnation of BOOKS OF MAGIC is just making me insane. I know he just came up with the concept and isn't actually writing it, but still... I get a headache trying to follow the story and art, and while I do understand what's going on, the way it's handled just rubs me the wrong way for some reason. Like I have to work too hard to follow the story. Never mind them making Tim Hunter into a stoner punk. And as much as I like cheese-fests, I really tried to like ALPHA FLIGHT, but the more I read it, the more it seemed like pressurized-can cheese substitute. And I apologize to its fans, but SPAWN just seems to be treading water, or at least it did when I gave up on it. For such a long-running series, its main character hasn't shown much by way of growth. But boy, he sure makes some great-looking toys, even if they do fall apart in a stiff breeze."
Mick Ryan's response is short and to the point: "GUN THEORY in the Epic line was cancelled at No. 2 of 4. Annoying as it was very well written and illustrated." Even more annoying to cancel a mini halfway through, I imagine...
Someone named "Tsar" sends in the following response: "One book that never should have been
Finally, Mark Farrington is opening up a whole can of worms with his response, but it's one that I eventually want to follow up on with you folks. Let's wait a few weeks for the dust to settle first, though! "A title that I strongly feel should not be canceled," he writes, "is the current GREEN LANTERN series. I know this is a heated topic, but I will try to discuss this both rationally and impartially. Having been born in '82, I grew up on the Super Friends and Silver Age DC/Marvel, and as a result, I am all too familiar with Hal Jordan. And while he is definitely a respectable character, his story came to end. Unfortunately, it failed to do so in the minds of some fans, which resulted in the creation of H.E.A.T. (Hal's Emerald Advancement Team, to those not in the know. And no, I'm dead serious. TBW). To satiate H.E.A.T's rabid hunger, DC brought back Hal as the Spectre. Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner continued to develop and become the Green Lantern in the eyes of many fans. Anyway, this is beside the point. While I love Kyle, bringing Hal back is an incredibly aggravating step backwards for DC. I would be much happier if they killed Kyle off and replaced him with someone new. Atl east that way, we'd see further development of the DCU as opposed to the stifled growth that we seem to be witnessing now. Hal Jordan's 'turn to the dark side' made him a much more interesting and multi-dimensional character. It seems like such a waste to simply undo all of this. Both Hal Jordan and Barry Allen have had better stories told about them after their deaths than while they were alive. (And [while] I am an incredibly big fan of The Flash mythos, my love for those characters has only increased because Barry Allen has stayed dead. Not including his recent and foreshadowed cameos.) Ironically, I am quite pleased with Ollie's return and the success of the GREEN ARROW series, but all in all, I feel that canceling a current series and replacing it with the predecessor of the current series is annoying to say the least. Yes, I'm aware that this trend of bringing back Silver Age characters is not going to go away with one letter, but here's hoping that it's a start."
I know exactly where I stand on this issue, Mark it's ridiculous to cancel a title completely and start up a new volume simply because the main character changes but I know that others have far, far stronger views about this one. If you'd like to write in ahead of time on this one, folks, feel free I think this would be a good topic to address in two weeks' time, if anyone's up for it! Thanks, Mark!
OK, folks - if you have any thoughts on those characters who still need their own series, or you want to get started on the whole Kyle Rayner/Hal Jordan debate ahead of time, send them to me via the web site contact address here or e-mail me directly. Responses to the first topic should be in by by 12 noon (CST) on Saturday, October 2, whereas you have until the following Saturday, same time, for the Green Lantern topic. And just a reminder - please use CAPS when giving the title of a series you want to mention. I do the HTML coding on this column every week, and having the titles in caps already makes my life much easier. Finally, as always, don't forget our discussion boards! In the meantime, here's this week's listings:
Only one title for the kids this week, folks but it happens to be TEEN TITANS GO! #11 ($2.25), and you know how much that love that!
Y'know, I wouldn't have minded them bringing back AMAZING FANTASY after 40-odd years absence if it had been more of the weird anthology title it was before a certain wall-crawler débuted in the last issue and if the current web-crawler in that book didn't have such a silly new costume. Oh, well. Anyway, issue #4 goes for $2.99 this week.
Speaking of that certain wall-crawler, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #512 ($2.25) answers the question of just who those two crazy kids are that have been kicking Peter's ass. What will MJ reveal to her hubby? Whose kids are they? And how did Peter ever do a hottie like Gwen Stacy and never sleep with her even once? Find out the answers to these questions well, all except for that last one this week!
Finally - finally! - "War Games" comes to an end in BATMAN #632 ($2.25). But if you just can't wait another week to get some non-crossover Bat-books, then you could pick up the BATMAN: HONG KONG softcover for $17.95, or you could pick up Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME #1 (Of 6, $3.50), which ties in with the events of THE LONG HALLOWEEN (still available this week). Yeah, I know, that sounds suspiciously like a crossover, but it's not. Not really. Oh, hell, maybe it is...
And another great series comes to an end not that we ever had any choice in the matter this time... CAPER #12 (Of 12, $2.95) hits the stands today.
Loeb and Sale are at it again or rather, they were at it when back when they first collaborated in the THE CHALLENGERS OF UNKNOWN MUST DIE trade paperback for $19.95. Definitely worth a peek while you're waiting for that Chaykin thing by the same name to end...
How does the revelation of Daredevil's identity affect the rest of the Marvel Universe? Find out in the oversized DAREDEVIL #65 ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL (at the oversized price of $3.99), as just about every damn artist who's ever had anything to do with the series (and just as many who haven't) attempt to answer the question. It's an excellent way to spend that four bucks you saved not buying the AVENGERS #500 DIRECTOR'S CUT, at any rate.
From Dark Horse comes two titles with something for everyone: the ALIENS VS PREDATOR: THRILL OF THE HUNT trade paperback for $6.95 (better than the movie, even?), and SUPER MANGA BLAST! #45 for $5.99.
No one wrote in to mention DOOM PATROL as one of those series that should be canceled, so maybe I should cut it some slack this week that, and I can't think of anything funny to say about it. ("And this is different how, Tony?" Oh, gee, thanks.) Issue #4 goes for $2.50, if you're so inclined.
Elektra continues talking to the... no, that's far too obvious a joke. Skip it. ELEKTRA: THE HAND #2 (Of 5) is out this week for $2.99, and it's supposed to change the Marvel Universe...forever. But then, isn't everything meant to do that nowadays?
Y'know, it occurs to me that, since GAMBIT #2 ($2.99) is actually set here in New Orleans, where I live, it might just behoove me to swallow my gorge at reading yet another X-title and to go pick up a copy. Someone write in and tell me why I shouldn't. Please!
GREEN LANTERN #181 ($2.25) is the last issue of this incarnation of this series. No kidding. The last one. I imagine the only reason that K.E.A.T. (Kyle's Emerald Advancement Team) hasn't immediately sprung into being is because it's such a bad acronym... How about K.I.N.G. (Kyle Is Needed Green)? Nah...
Is everyone enjoying GUARDIANS? I wish I were I haven't found a single copy, and Marvel hasn't sent me one. (Come to think of it, they don't send me anything. Poopy.) Anyway, issue #4 is out this week for $2.99, and I probably won't find that, either. Grumble, grumble...
If you're looking for something a bit more European in flavor this week, you're in luck DC Humanoids this week is releasing not only the BEAST TRILOGY: CHAPTERS 1 & 2 trade paperback for $14.95 but also METAL HURLANT (not HEAVY METAL, FYI) #13 for $3.95. Break open a bottle of Riesling and dig in...
From Image this week comes the latest issue of that series that spawned those incredible weather-proof toys, SPAWN #138 ($2.50). At least it didn't spawn a full movie franchise, so count your blessings...
In the last chapter of "Pain of the Gods" in JLA #106 ($2.25), the League must confront the fact that not everything they do is perceived as good. If the JLA editors had come to the same conclusion before hiring Claremont and Byrne, or launching JLE, of course, we might have been spared some god-awful pain ourselves...
What, another anniversary issue? Yup, and this one's the biggie: the MARVEL 65TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL for $4.99. It presents the first battle between the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner as chronicled way back in MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #8 and #9, and if you like Marvel's Golden Age then, as that jailbird Martha Stewart would say, that's a good thing!
And speaking of the Marvel Knights line, the MARVEL KNIGHTS SPIDER-MAN VOL 1: DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN trade paperback is out this week for $9.99. Kudos to anyone who can name the fictional character whose book title this rips off...
Someone wrote in this week to suggest that X-FORCE should be a MAX title. Doesn't that mean it would have to be well-written and well-conceived first? Anyway, the well-written and well-conceived DOCTOR SPECTRUM #2 (Of 6, $2.99) is out, and yes, he would qualify as a character who should get his own book, if you liked the first two issues.
And now, from Marvel's Useless But Expensive Books Department... the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE: DAREDEVIL/ELEKTRA 2004 is out for $3.50. (Hmm. Maybe that's why they don't send me comp copies... Maybe I should say something nice about the next Marvel title on the list and something bad about the next DC title... OK, let's try it...)
Looking for the one book you need to buy this week? Then look no further than POWERLESS #4 (Of 6, $2.99)! (Wow, and I didn't even have to lie about that!)
Surprising that no one mentioned RICHARD DRAGON as a but of a lame duck title above, either...but issue #5 is still coming out this week for $2.50, whether you like (and read) it or not. (Huh. Didn't have to bend the truth there, either...)
We're just over a year into SILVER SURFER, and we still don't know how it fits in with the rest of the Marvel Universe. Will issue #13 ($2.99) reveal the answer to this mystery? Oh, probably not. (Damn. So much for the comps...)
The story of all those vanished humans is about to be upended again in SUPERMAN #209 ($2.50). Almost makes you wish Brian Azzarello would write 100 issues of this series, too, doesn't it?
Before becoming JMS's protégé on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN - or was it at the same time? Fiona Avery wrote the Wildstorm miniseries that's collected in the THUNDERCATS: HAMMER HAND'S REVENGE trade paperback for $14.95. Talk about career moves! (And yes, yes, before the angry letters start pouring in, I know she wrote WITCHBLADE as well...but let me have some fun here...)
It went by so fast that you missed it if you blinked, but the four-issue Marvel miniseries WITCHES is now in trade paperback for $9.99. Wow, that's almost two bucks cheaper than buying the issues separately! Can't pass that up, can you?
And finally, very little to get X-static about this week (hey, that series is gone now, so I can use that pun if I want to), as there's only the WOLVERINE/PUNISHER VOL 1 trade paperback for $13.99 and X-MEN #162($2.25) to get excited about. If one is so inclined, that is.
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