Friday, July 07, 2017

A Trip Down A Trail of Bad Purchasing Decisions

Due to the holiday, my comics didn't arrive in the mail until today. Meaning I'm not prepared to do reviews, so a different idea. We've all had series we ultimately dropped, that looking back we should have dropped even earlier. It doesn't happen as often for me these days. Mostly because Marvel cancels books so fast that by the time I'm considering dropping a title, it's already gone.

So I'm going to look at some titles I dropped in the past, and then when I should have dropped them. This may be a recurring series, we'll see. I'm going to start as far back as I can recall and work gradually forward. Feel free to share any series from your own experience in the comments.

JLA: I started buying the book during Mark Waid and Bryan Hitch's "Queen of Fables" story arc, probably because there was a lot of buzz from the just concluded "Tower of Babel" story (aka, the one where Ra al'Ghul uses Batman's own secret plans to take down the League). I stuck with it until around #110, in the middle of some story involving the Qwardians and the Crime Syndicate of America from the anti-matter universe. I had no idea what the hell was going on. Probably dropped around #113 or a couple issues earlier.

In retrospect, I should have dropped the book sometime back during Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke's run. Maybe after the story where Martian Manhunter overcomes his weakness to fire (with DIRE CONSEQUENCES). That would be roughly issue #88, but that means I would have stuck it out through that Axis Amerika story, so maybe I'd be better off jumping ship before that, so #79.

How many issues too late - 23 at minimum, possibly as much as 34. Although the book was double-shipping for a little while there.

Uncanny X-Men: Started with Joe Casey's run, probably #396, stuck through the entirety of Chuck Austen's run, into the return of Claremont and Alan Davis. Stupidly enough, it was being introduced to X-23 (wearing the costume of the character Fang from the Shi'ar Imperial Guard for some reason in-story) that drove me off. Oh boy, a girl with a couple of Wolverine's claws, past Calvin said while rolling his eyes.

Well, I also remember wondering what the hell the X-Men were doing being part of the XSE, which was a thing they introduced to the status quo at the time, considering that was part of the mutant-hunting organization Bishop had worked for in his hellish time. But the X-23 thing really seemed to be the straw. I think because with Austen, I had kept thinking he'd either leave and Casey would come back, or they'd get back to the plots Casey had been writing eventually. I didn't keep track of creative team changes to the extent I do these days. Claremont and Davis brought this whole new status quo with them, which seemed to be a clear signal there wasn't going to be any going back to Casey's stuff.

So that's. . . Jesus, did I really buy the book all the way up to #450? It didn't seem like it was that long. Smart play would have been to jump off when Casey and Sean Phillips did, so #409. Austen's first story, which brought in the Juggernaut, wasn't terrible, but why take chances?

How many issues too many - 41. That's gonna be tough to beat.

Sensational Spider-Man: Originally was titled Marvel Knights Spider-Man, switched to Sensational after The Other storyline, and with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Angel Medina taking over the book from Reginald Hudlin and Pat Lee, I think. I couldn't tolerate Medina's art, and the book hadn't been doing it for me for awhile, so it was dropped at #25.

The book started with a Mark Millar/Terry Dodson 12-issue story, which as Millar-written things go, I found good then, almost tolerable now. There are parts of it I like, the Black Cat getting to play a prominent supporting role being one, but there's also Millar trying too hard as usual to introduce some big reveal. I didn't end up keeping any of the series in my collection, so I could have skipped it entirely. Failing that, I definitely didn't need to stick around for Hudlin's run.

How many issues too many - 13 at minimum, 25 maximum.

Wolverine: This was the second ongoing Logan by that title, the first had concluded after about 190 issues. It started with Greg Rucka/Darick Robertson, then went to Millar and Romita Jr., and eventually wound up in Daniel Way's hands. I dropped it after some particularly boring story where Logan remembers Winter Soldier took some kid of his we never knew Logan had (and neither did he, prior to House of M), and goes after him for revenge. Of course it accomplishes nothing, nobody dies, whoop-de-doo. I wasn't interested in the traipsing through Logan's past, so I dropped the book. And then dumbly picked up the first issue of Wolverine Origins before realizing it was what I was trying to get away from.

I think #39 was the last issue I bought, didn't even stick around for the conclusion of the story.  Enemy of the State and Agent of SHIELD had a certain action movie appeal to them. A Mark Millar written story approximating the dumb summer blockbuster feel? The hell you say. So maybe I could have stuck until #31. But I probably would have been fine dropping after issue #12. Rucka's last storyline is one I didn't even remember until I looked back over the series online.

How many issues too many - 27 maximum, 6 minimum.

New Avengers: I can't even remember why exactly I bought this. I guess because I was buying Avengers when it was canceled, and then this was the only Avengers book on the stands. Hard to believe these days, I know. And I probably figured Bendis could write Spider-Man OK, so it would work out. In theory, I still liked the core of the team he put together (Spidey, Cage, Spider-Woman, Captain America, Iron Man). In practice, well. . .

I dropped the book at issue #20, after the lousy "Collective" story, just before Civil War tie-ins commenced. It would have been better never to buy it at all. There are sporadic pieces in there I liked, but they're scattered among a lot of other junk.

How many issues too many - 20. Let's hear it for blogging about each issue, which helps confront me with the realization I'm not enjoying titles more directly!

Robin: Issue #85, as I was drawn in by the combination of the "Batman Dies!" blurb on the cover, plus the image of an uncertain-looking Robin inside the Joker's head. The book went from Chuck Dixon/Pete Woods, to Woods and Jon Lewis, to Bill Willingham and a slew of artists (mostly Scott McDaniel) to eventually Adam Beechen and Freddie Williams II. Which was when we got the delightful story about Cassandra Cain being crazy and evil. Dropped at #152.

Looking back, it's a bit tricky. The simplest answer would be to drop the book when Willingham took over. There was some initial promise there, but it got buried under a lot of decisions that were out of his hands, like Spoiler's death in War Games, and the death of Jack Drake in Identity Crisis. On the other hand, it was because I was buying the book that I started buying Batgirl, because of a crossover between the two titles. If I drop the book with Willingham, I miss out on Cassandra Cain's series. There's always the chance I come back around to it later, like I have all sorts of other series, but there's no guarantees. So, either #120 or #133 for final issue.

How many issues too many - 18 a minimum, 31 maximum.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man - Bought right from the start because heaven forbid I not buy all Spider-Man books. It opened with parts of "The Other", and I dropped it at #8 when it seemed like they'd introduced an alternate universe version of Uncle Ben who was murdering people. That was a bridge too far, apparently.

Turned out to be a version of the Chameleon from an alternate universe. Or was it a Mysterio? I forget. Smart play would have been not picking it up at all. There were some good issues in there - there's a two-parter where Spidey gets roped into fighting this mysterious luchador being pursued by his own specialized hunter - but there wasn't anything essential.

How many issues too many - 8! Woo, progress! Let's hear it for getting angry about silly things! Impatience won out for once.

Teen Titans - This was the Geoff Johns-written book, combining parts of the Wolfman/Perez Titans with the crew from Young Justice. I started buying it somewhere between #11 and 14. I had #11 for sure, but I'm not positive I bought the next couple of issues. I stuck with it through Identity Crisis fallout, Infinite Crisis tie-ins, and gave up a couple of stories into One Year Later, issue #41. No one on the team liked each other or seemed to want to be there, so why the hell should I keep buying?

Dropping it after #20, the issue that deals with Tim Drake trying not to deal with his father's death, would have been a sound decision. The next story is the one that introduces Speedy (Mia Dearden version) onto the team, but also brings in not-magically lobotomized Dr. Light. Then after that comes a story where Luthor controls Superboy, and man, I have always thought making Superboy's human genetic material come from Lex Luthor was just stupid. It's trying to be too cute, or too obvious with some metaphor. I know, not a surprise coming from Geoff Johns.

How many issues too many - 21. Hmm, so much for progress.

That carries us up through 2006, which seems like a decent place to stop for now. Looking at it, there is just that inertia that's hard to fight against. A story is real good, but I stick through to the end to see if it picks up. It doesn't, but here's another story, maybe they'll do better this time. The potential is there, I'm sure of it. I've liked what the book was doing before, or liked the character before, why can't they just do more stuff like the stuff I liked? Or in the moment, reading the issue, I'm into it, and it's only afterward, going back and looking at it that I shake my head and wonder what I was thinking. Although sometimes the writer or artist does something in the story that prompts that response. Using Teen Titans as an example, Johns teased this mysterious blue arrow Roy Harper left for Mia. What could it be? Turns out to be a Phantom Zone Arrow he stole from the Fortress of Solitude on a tour Superman gave, which she tries using against Superboy-Prime. And it works - for about two panels. All that build-up for that.

Where was I? it feels easy to just drift along, buying the book I was always buying. Before I know it, I've got a crapload of comics I never want to read again, that I have to find someplace to donate or otherwise unload them. Still happens now, though not as often. Sometimes even with my back issue hunts. I try something, it turns out to be a dud. Just one of those things.

Anyway, like I said, if you've got a story of a title you stuck with too long, share it in the comments. I'm not going to point and laugh. I mean, you've seen some of the dreck I bought, I've no high ground.


SallyP said...

I feel your pain.

I think most readers have the same realization eventually... the desperate hope that perhaps NEXT month, the book with the characters that you love will somehow... Not Suck. I have gotten slot pickier lately, which is why my pull pile is a heck of a lot smaller. The fact that bookshop cost a small fortune doesn't help either.

CalvinPitt said...

The price increases certainly make cutting books loose a lot easier. A comic that's a buck a month was a heck of a lot easier to justify giving a second (or third, or 34th) chance than a $4 book.