May 22nd, 2009 by |

We all know the story.  Fan meets comic.  Fan loves comic.  Fan loses comic.

Not through cancellation!

As Emerson said, “Of all the ways to lose a comic, cancellation is the kindest.” 

Or something like that.

No.  Sometimes you lose a comic because the artist changes, or the writer changes, or there is some editorial futzing with it.

Sometimes though, one just falls out of love.  Sometimes a character that seemed fun or cool or exciting gets unbearable when the same flaws are brought to light again and again. 

Sometimes I start out singing the praises of a certain writer, and then something happens.  I have to say that they’re having a bad story arc.  Or some evil editor forced them to write a certain thing.  Then I say the book isn’t a good match.  Sometimes I love a certain storyline, but then come to realize that that storyline, that ‘fresh, new take’, that idea, is all they are capable of.  In the end, I have to admit that I’ve fallen out of love with the writing.

Or the artist.  Oh boy, how many times have seen some new artist’s work and loved it, only to look at the issue six months later and scream, “WHY are you drawing a line there?  There is no part of human anatomy that would make that line go there!  You’re just doing it to be ‘artistic.'”

I think it’s this gradual disenchantment that makes for the bitterest of comics fans.  If you think some idea is stupid, or have low expectations at the beginning, you develop a healthy detachment.  But when you start out loving something and have high hopes for it, only to see it mutate into something you’re embarrassed to read – that’ll make you post some angry rants on message boards.

So.  Post your tales of love and loss below.  Come on.  Get it all out.  Just . . . clean up, after.

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22 comments to “Disenchantment”

  1. Most recently, I’d have to say it was when She-Hulk’s writing duties went from Dan Slott to Peter David. It was disappointing on a lot of levels, because I respect both writers a lot. I thought the book was in good hands with David, but it was just too much of a tonal shift. Slott had She-Hulk be a lawyer dealing with clever cases, love triangles, a diverse cast of side characters I STILL remember, and adventures where she was messing with the time stream itself. It felt epic, respectful to continuity, and I cared about what happened.

    When Peter David took over She-Hulk was living in a trailer with a female skrull doing bounty hunting jobs. I was actually okay with the bounty hunting, and I knew David couldn’t just repeat what Slott did. The thing was, it just felt like She-Hulk was put into the slums when there was really no reason for her to be there, regardless of what happened to her cousin or tiffs with Tony Stark. I remember reading her fight a handsome alien over the lives of two campers in the middle of the woods when I just gave up. I just didn’t care anymore.

    I don’t think less of Peter David as a writer for it, and I believed him when he said he was rebuilding She-Hulk to bring her to great things, but it was just going too slow with too little of any pay offs. I really didn’t blame Marvel for canceling the series.

    Haha, my first “disenchantment” was reading Azzarello take over Batman for an arc after Loeb’s HUSH mega-arc, which were the first comics I ever read. I was going “What the hell? The art’s all gritty and everyone talks too much. This is horrible.” My, how opinions can change…

  2. New X-Men after Morrison left. So Xorn wasn’t Magneto after all? Do tell!

  3. Hi, just stumbled upon the site recently. Really enjoying it!

    My first major one was DV8, when Warren Ellis and the original art team left I was disappointed, then Tom Raney came along and they were the establishment and it was quite cool, big showdowns and whatnot. Then… Al Rio!!! WTF? It became an embarrasment, my geeky little heart done broke. I realise now, I’m still bitter after all these years even though it picked up in the last 2 issues. Funny that only the Warren Ellis issues have ever been released in trade format.

    More recently I’ve fallen out of love with new Avengers, finally giving up at #50 what I’d followed since just before Disassembled. It just didn’t grip me anymore, what with the constant crossover-induced status quo changes and the Tan art that just screams 90’s Top Cow. Alas, I’m done. It was good while it lasted.

    Another honorable mention is X Statix. I think they stopped it just before I really fell out of love, but you could tell (or that’s how it seemed to me) that their hearts weren’t in it after they backed down from the Princess Diana/Henrietta fiasco. I’d have loved to read the story that was intended. Ho Hum.

    I’ll go now before I start rambling on about every 90’s Wildstorm book, Azzarello’s Hellblazer and Feral Wolverine.

  4. “Teen Titans” going from fun and engaging to “Time for a new membership drive now that we’ve killed off all the previous members.”

  5. The responses about Frank Miller’s career will hopefully be EPIC.

    Loners jumped the shark for me with almost incredible speed. They appeared first in Runaways as spoof versions of their original personalities (Darkhawk was a super-angry man rather than a confused kid, Ricochet was a fading starlet poseur, the smart one from Power Pack was an idiot, the reactionary Turbo was a shallow control freak), and I thought that while not as witty or entertaining as the NextWave format the team was emulating, the use of teen heroes who were now all in their twenties and thirties after becoming sad reflections of what they once were was an amusing conceit, especially alongside the “I quit superheroing forever!” plotline that absolutely no-one believed would stick, Runaways writer BKV even discarding it in the space of one panel without a second thought. Sure, their new personalities were slight and inconsequential, but seeing old characters from my youth in a fun adventure was a real blast and I was on board for more.
    Then they actually got their own series. The covers that homaged 1980s teen comedies gave the welcome impression that we were getting more of the same, even if none of the characters actually WERE teen characters created in the 1980s, and then… well, basically someone thought it was a good idea to do the series as a straight-faced sequence of emo whining with roughly five million words on each page, confusing artwork that fluffed action sequences (which would start arbitrarily), random character motivations that changed from issue to issue, bizarrely pointless and out-of-nowhere female-slashing, and strangest of all, we’re supposed to root for a guy in his late twenties who spends all his time chasing a minor and actually does sleep with another teenage girl during the course of the series – hey, if I wanted to see that, I’d read Gunsmith Cats. No jokes, no humour of any kind, no self-awareness, no FUN, the characters bore no resemblance to what appeared in their own series or what appeared in Runaways so neither older or newer fans were being targeted – I have absolutely no idea who the book was supposed to be aimed at, but it really wasn’t me.
    I lost so much goodwill for the characters it’s untrue, and actually had to be talked into reading Ascension (which features Darkhawk), I was that turned off seeing anything featuring the cast members of Loners ever again.

    I should say in all fairness that Ascension is a hoot so far, though. It has little bits of mid-90s Marvel UK in there, but more in the trappings, rather than the aimless planet-hopping that sank that branch of the House of Ideas. It’s a good read for fans of the superhero cosmic.

  6. Warren Ellis leaving Excalibur and Walt Simonson leaving Fantastic Four are two that still hurt, since their replacements backpedaled over everything they did.

  7. Generation X, Chris Bachelo, He was on from the beginning to issue 25 then he got promoted to X-Men. Problem was while his art evolved into a more cartoony manga style that fit great with Generation x, it just looked stupid on X-men. Also whoever replaced him was a pale imitator, it was just wrong

  8. Joe Kelly leaving Deadpool. It took the character FOREVER to be handled correctly after he left the book, despite some solid moments from Simone, Niceza and Priest. Way’s stuff isn’t too bad, but Kelly’s still the definitive Deadpool writer IMO.

  9. * Captain Britain & MI: 13

    * Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider

    * Wolverine: Old Man Logan

    * Morrison & Quitely’s Superman

    * Morrison’s Batman

    * Final Crisis

    …these are all the trades I plan on getting in the future. All of them contained runs, easy to read by themselves. After that, it’s feasible that I’ll be done with mainstream comics forever. Unless Multiversity piques my interest.

  10. Two most recent examples:

    -Bruce Jones takes over writing duties on Checkmate. If anything’s been proven as of late, it’s that Jones has ideas for stories, but feels it’s best to wedge them into pre-existing narratives, even when it doesn’t make sense. Which is why Checkmate quickly went from a comic about a team of superpowered operatives to the tale of a wounded soldier gaining animal-shapeshifting powers and his girlfriend who knows he’s still alive for… some reason.

    -Rick Remender takes over The All-New Atom. It’s like the editors saw Simone leaving and Ray Allen returning and said, “Okay, how can we kill this quickly?” Answer: strip out all the humor, skew the characterization, and throw in gratuitous violence. Y’know, for kids!

  11. What Justin said. When I worked on an entry for The-ISB’s recap contest, I devoted a panel to my outrage. Is it wrong that I like my portrayal of poor Panda? I got the idea from a similar entry from two years earlier.

  12. Not so much a specific comic, although that’s happened, but the works of Bendis in general.

    At first I thought that Avengers Disassembled was just an unfortunate misstep. He wrote things afterward that were enjoyable. I even picked up the first New Avengers trade and it was better than Disassembled. However, it wasn’t very interesting, either, and I didn’t find myself compelled to keep reading.

    Over the years, I found Ultimate Spider-man and Powers to be the Bendis titles I wanted him to read. A common refrain among my friends was “Dammit, Bendis! Stop writing Avengers so you can get Powers done.” My occasional forays into his 616 books didn’t have me impressed.

    And now I’ve gotten to the point where I have a rule of thumb: if a Marvel book involves the Avengers at all, it’s going to suck. This isn’t ENTIRELY Bendis’ fault, as he didn’t write Civil War, but he’s got a large part in it.

    Quite recently, I read the most recent Powers and the last few Ultimate Spider-Man volumes. They were all underwhelming. The latest USM volume was terrible, actually. The latest Powers volume really feels like the series is over. Or should be.

    I also read Fire, one of his earliest works. And I struck by how much more energy it had. Unpolished, sure, but compelling in a way his more recent books have lost.

    It was a nice run for a number of years, but I’m Bendissed out.

  13. Reggie Hudlin’s run on Black Panther. The only bright spot since Priest has been Jason Aaron’s Secret Invasion story.

  14. Everything Grant Morrison did with the X-men after the end of the Cassandra Nova/Shi’ar arc. Up to that point, everything was hitting just right for me. Just enough of the classic aspects of the team with the right kind of new stuff thrown in to keep things fresh. Junkie Magneto, the X-Corps nonsense, Fantomex, turning the Phoenix into a Captain Britain/Green Lantern hodge-podge, Sublime, etc., everything that came after just reeked of “I’ve got a butt-load of ideas and have to get them all in there” or “Bad idea? Won’t work? I’m Grant Morrison, bitch!”. Here Comes Tomorrow was fun-ish, but not enough to make up for junk like Return to Weapon X. The Hellfire Club becoming a strip club alone was enough for me. Up to that point, I’d enjoyed the few things of his that I’d read, and ever since it’s been 50-50 at best.

  15. Johns’ run on Justice Society of America was just incredible in that it caused me to think in whole new ways about comics, namely in ways that made me realize that Geoff Johns fucking sucks.

    Return to Weapon X was awesome because it had the scene with Wolverine and Cyclops trying to outdrink each other in the Hellfire Club. That needed to be mentioned.

  16. Joss Whedon replacing Brian K. Vaughn on Runaways.

    There was obvious things about Whedon’s arc that didn’t work: He introduced too many characters. He rushed them through a very busy story. He used time travel poorly. What drove me away from the book was the voice of the characters, which somehow went from the Runaways I adored to stock second-string Whedon characters in about an issue and a half. Everybody except Molly spoke using the same voice. Also, there was a certain tight but jarring shift in the bickering between castmates, where in stead of it occuring because of previous drama, it seemed thrown in specifically to create drama.

    I like a lot of Whedon’s work, but Runaways went from my favorite book to completely inconsequential in six issues. I don’t even miss it.

  17. Squadron Supreme after JMS. It was self-contained universe where JMS had a fresh take on those loveable, calcified icons. He walks from the book in the middle of an arc, okay, we’ll always have Paris. Unfortunately he returns to co-write the horrible Ultimate Power, which failed on every level. Jeph Loeb and Greg Land, no good could come of that. Chaykin.

    Starman was a wonderful series overall, but could have gotten to the finish line sooner. Tony Harris knew when to jump.

    And yes, Black Panther after Priest.

    Authority after Ellis and Millar.

  18. Millar: I went from thinking his run on “The Authority” and “Ultimates” was the greatest thing ever, to rereading it after a couple of months and realizing it was nothing but a Bay movie as comics. Haven’t liked anything of his since…

    Bendis: I found him first in “Powers” and fell hard. Then as he concentrated more and more on his Marvel books I grew to dislike his writing quirks and dialogue tics. Though after rereading “Jinx” and “Goldfish” at least his being known as a writer keeps him from trying to draw his own books anymore…

  19. “Generation X, Chris Bachelo, He was on from the beginning to issue 25 then he got promoted to X-Men. Problem was while his art evolved into a more cartoony manga style that fit great with Generation x, it just looked stupid on X-men. Also whoever replaced him was a pale imitator, it was just wrong”

    I’d have to agree. I loved that last Bachalo arc, with James Robinson writing. That was pretty much a last hurrah for Generation X, before it became mediocre-to-awful for the remainder of its life.

    A related ‘loved it then hated it’ thing was the character, Chamber. When he was introduced, I thought he was super-awesome. Grumpy Brit teen with an explodey face and a leather jacket? Hooray! A big part of his appeal (well, most of his appeal) came from how Bachalo drew him, so now that he is some sort of vessel for Apocalypse, who uses technology to fire off musical notes or something? I don’t care about him at all.

    Life sure is tough, when you’re the only fan of Chamber in the worrrrllllddddd.

  20. I think mine would be the current volume of Madman. I’ve always loved this book, which blended a crazy pop-art action aesthetic with kooky philosophical meanderings. The new series launches and its the exit of pop art action, and lets go to eleven with the philosophical meanderings.

    Part of the problem is his wife’s coloring work, which completely changes the feel of the world in which the book takes place, but Allred is really starting to take himself and his grasp on metaphysics too seriously. I can deal with fun comics by writers of faith; comics ON faith that are not Preacher are NOT fun comics.

  21. Shade. Kathy died in ‘Season in Hell’. One of the best dpeictions of loss and grief….just fucking brilliant. Bachalo leaves, series continues, shark is jumped, I depart.

  22. @Thomas: Totally agree with you.