Fan Tantrums: Have Them Below. (I know I will.)

January 21st, 2009 by | Tags: , , , , ,

I was reading a scans_daily post about a Wonder Woman story quite some time ago.  In the story a deranged Green Lantern was attempting to destroy a race which had slaughtered his people.  The discussion threads were pretty standard; lewd comments, art critique, Simone-worship, and snarking about the story.  In other words, all the reasons why people read scans_daily.

But one comment stood out.  A poster went off, just went off, about how this comic was another horrible smear on the name of the Green Lanterns, and how there seemed to be a sort of conspiracy dedicated to refusing to let the Green Lanterns be the noble, scrupulous guardians of the galaxy they used to be.

From what I remember, the comment was not received well.  The responses ranged from telling the commenter to relax because that wasn’t the intention of the story, to outright mockery of the fan’s rage.  Still, I think that that comment struck a chord, because is there a fan in the world who is sure that they won’t be next?  Who among us doesn’t have a few characters that, if they’re not handled in a way we approve of, will have us do the forum-post equivalent of biting the head off of a live chicken painting our faces with its blood?

What I’m saying is; batten down the hatches and don’t read any more if you don’t want to be spoiled for Robin #182.

See, everyone has a split personality when they read comics about their favorite characters.  One personality is reading for the story, and realizes that they may be a little too emotionally invested in a particular character.  Perhaps that personality even considers skipping the story if it looks like it might not end well.

The other side.  Well. 

Let’s say that there is a character in the Batbooks whom you like a great deal.  She created a new identity for herself, without falling into the bat or bat-legacy characters.  She was a refreshing change when compared to perfection of the bats.  She persevered in the face of defeat, and several demoralizing dressing-downs from Batman and other heroes she admired.

Most of all, she stuck in there, and you began to have great affection for her tenaciousness.  In a way, she reminded you of Hillary Clinton, insofar as you thought that if you, personally, stood in the way of  either of them getting what they wanted they would beat you limp and bloody, drag you by the hair to the edge of a fatal drop, and kick you over it.  And they’d do it with a song in their hearts, because there really is a deep satisfaction to be taken in a job well done.  (Note:  Please no political replies.  I’m not saying who I voted for.  I liked several of the candidates.  One of the candidates I liked was Senator Clinton, and that’s one of the the reasons why.)

So then she (the character) died, uselessly, pointlessly, painfully, and as the contrived result of her own failures.

But then she came back!  And she did it in a kind of a neat way; a way that made her reflect on her past mistakes, but realize she had some valuable skills and was willing to dedicate herself to her chosen cause.  She came back to Gotham with renewed dedication, and enough self-reliance to stand up to her former mentor.  It was cool, because after a long series of mistakes she finally came into her own.

Sadly, then things take a turn for the worse.  Her newfound self-reliance gives way to unquestioning submission to a man whose emotional games and insane schemes demoralized and killed her the last time around.  Seriously, if there is one person in the entire DCU who knows best that Batman’s plans rarely work out the way they’re intended, it’s her.  But she follows them, thinking, perhaps, “I know.  I’ll take out a hit on the one person I love and trust the most, because Batman said that that will make him stronger.  Wow.  The power-drill holes in my legs seem to randomly have opened up again.  That can’t possibly be a sign.”

And she keeps getting stupider and more reckless and deceitful and did I mention stupider?  It’s a word now.  Anyway, she keeps getting that way until she ends up in this issue right back where she started years ago.  Only instead of strong and determined she’s blubbering and defeated.

And also instead of getting a self-righteous speech which ends with a warning that she can’t be a hero anymore (because I guess there’s a license for that or something) from her ex-mentor, she’s getting it from her twerp of an ex-boyfriend who can barely go a friggin’ year without quitting the business (I checked the continuity) and also?   He’s doing that while wearing his ridiculous-ass Red Robin costume that makes him look giant designer condom cozy.  Yeah, Tim.  You’re really the authority on who’s a competent superhero.  Now shut your stupid face-hole and go back to getting your ass handed to you by nine-year-old Damian and the eighty-percent of the Teen Titans who turn out to be traitors.  God!

So.  At this point, the part of you that is emotionally invested in the character is so pissed off that your temples are pounding and your stomach is twisting and you could seriously crap your pants with rage and have to walk home all funny.  (Second Note:  I didn’t do that.  I just said I could have.  Do not read the end of crucial story arcs after eating a bran muffin.  Not even if you have a Subway gift card ((thanks, mom!)) and nothing else in the store looks good and the muffin has chocolate chips in it.)

My point is, this sort of character-inspired fan rage happens to the very best of us.  I should know.  And I invite everyone who has ever wept and wailed over one character or another to post below with your stories of woe.  Let the rending of clothes and tearing of hair begin.

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25 comments to “Fan Tantrums: Have Them Below. (I know I will.)”

  1. Two words: Teen Tony.

  2. Superman #22. The only comicbook I’ve ever done violence to.

    For those who haven’t read this book, it was the apex of the ‘Pocket Universe Saga’ that ran in the Superman titles a few years back. The Crisis on Infinite Earths had fixed DC continuity forever(ahem), and the DCU settled back into a universe where Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman debuted in and around 1986. Seems simple enough, right?

    Well, as it turns out, not exactly. Y’see, one of the titles to continue its storylines in the wake of the crisis was a book near and dear to fanboy hearts; The Legion of Super-Heroes, and amongts their members there was Clark Kent, aka Superboy, one of the Legion’s earliest recruits and their moral bedrock and inspiration. But in the wake of the Crisis it was decreed that Superman’s powers developed over a period of years and that he never was Superboy. Also, he was the sole survivor of Krypton, so adios Supergirl, Krypto, Beppo, and the remaining roster of the Legion of Super-Pets.

    A moment of silence for the Legion of Super-Pets. Thank you.

    So you see the paradox. How can Superman have just burst onto the scene if meanwhile, 1000 years in the future, Superboy is having adventures and battling cosmic evil alongside friends and colleagues and an entire federation of worlds that’s known of him for centuries as a legend and for years as an actual, factual hero? Cue the Deus Ex Machina.

    It turns out ‘Superboy’ was part of an elaborate scheme conjured up by a long time Legion villain, the Time Trapper. The Trapper used the eldritch cosmic energies created by the crisis to create a pocket universe wherein there was a planet Earth and a Krypton. This Earth was something of an idealized vision of the past (read any Superboy stories from the ’50s and you’ll have a rough idea of what we’re dealing with). Every time the Legion got in the time bubble to visit their hero Superboy, they were being diverted to this alternate past. The Superboy of their legends, was just that, a legend that had sprung up around the real Superman. The Trapper then held the destruction of the pocket universe over Superboy’s head to make him betray the Legion. Through some timely intervention by the ‘real’ Superman, Superboy came to his senses and freed his friends, fighting alongside them and having one last moment of heroism that saved not only his universe but 31st century Earth, but at the cost of his life.

    Confused yet? Strap in, it gets weirder.

    The pocket universe was a recreation of the Earth of the Silver Age, and as such it had much of the same tropes. In that universe there was a krypto, a Krypton. . .and a Phantom Zone. Within the Zone were housed some of the worst criminals imaginable, and after duping a well-intentioned version of Lex Luthor, they ran amuck on the pocket Earth, ultimately killing all life on the planet despite Lex’s creation of a ‘protomatter’ Supergirl and recruiting Superman to help them. In the end, only Superman and the depowered Kryptonian crimimals (thanks to some handy gold kryptonite. Superman post-crisis only had green to concern him with, whereas the pocket universe had the multicolored spectrum, the gold variant being able to strip a kryptonian of their powers permanently. I told you it got weirder). They rant and rave, swearing they’ll find a way to get their powers back and then find their way to Superman’s universe, where they’ll happily slaughter every living thing there as well.

    After some soul-searching, Superman decides to act as that world’s judge, jury, and executioner, exposing the criminals to green kryptonite and having them die in slow, painful agony. The end.

    Now, a little about me. I love Superman. He is my favorite superhero character, the archetype of the entire genre, the originator and the innovator. He’s a character whose adventures I’ve thrilled to, whose moral example served as a template for my personal development and a character I’ve always thought was boss since I first leaned to read via the Fisher Price read-along book SUPERMAN: FROM KRYPTON TO METROPOLIS. The Richard Donner films, the Bruce Timm animated series, you name it, I love it.

    And then John Byrne had Superman kill. For the first time, I pulled away from the character of Superman, someone I’d known all my life, and looked upon him as a stranger. It was like trying to have a robot on classic Star Trek explain love. Smoke was damn near pouring out of my ears as I grappled with it.

    Superman’s a good guy. Good guys don’t kill.

    But Superman just killed those guys.

    But Superman’s a good guy.

    But he killed them.

    But he’s Superman.


    I’d finished the book while waiting for my Dad at his office. I calmly and reasonably walked to the office paper shredder and deposited the offending article. And I did what anyone does in the face of such a paradox; I ignored it for the sake of my continued sanity. Thankfully the powers that be at DC followed suit and it’s since been lost in the reboot/retcon shuffle.

    I’ve developed a bit of a sense of humor about it in the years since, but at the time I was livid pissed. Yes, an arguement can be made that sometimes there are some truly evil mofos that need to be dealt with in the most severe manner possible, but if I want that kind of catharsis I’ll read The Authority. The sun rises in the west and sets in the east, the classic trilogy is better than the prequels, the sky is blue, and Superman doesn’t kill. End of story.


  3. Excel Excel (first name Excel, last name Excel) from the Excel Saga manga. This amnesia arc had made pretty much any part of the book with her in it now painful to read.

    But I do have enough faith in the writer to assume there will be a massive pay-off later. But for now my mantra is “Per-se-ver-ance!”

  4. After reading Countdown to Infinite Crisis, wherein one of my favorite characters was murdered by another favorite, due to some incredibly shitty writing, I tolerated it. When I realized the events I had just read were not a story, but a big advertisement for some other stories, I tolerated it. When I read Dan Didio’s condescending, sneering essay in the back of the issue about how this Frankenstein’s monster of a comic book, assembled by various writers and artists that had never even previously touched the characters it so cavalierly shit on, would lead into the next big round of terrible event stories, I tore the book in half and hurled it into the trash in disgust.

    I also sent Sean McKeever an extremely nerd-ragey letter when he killed Fever from John Arcudi’s Doom Patrol. You want to write Teen Titans into the ground and shit out the literary abortion that is Terror Titans? Go for it, I’m not paying your bills. But don’t feed good, underutilized characters into the meatgrinder for no reason, you unbelievable hack.

  5. I haven’t had fanboy rage in a while, and I mean like the times I’d peek into Chuck Austen’s run on Action Comics and see Superman quoting Hilary Duff, or the realization that he was ripping off Judd Winick’s leftover scripts in Exiles. Most of the time, I can get my rage on with reality television, mostly with Bunim-Murray programming and crap finales from The Amazing Race and Survivor.

    Let’s see…fanboy rage…hmmmmm. Well, there was the finale of Green Lantern: Circle Of Fire, which made Kyle Rayner look like a putz, and was only redeemed when Winick used the elements to good use in “Power Of Ion” arc. There was the time I was in the library, after a major dental procedure, killing time while my family was off eating Mexican food that I couldn’t have, reading about the end of Valiant and/or the death of Quantum & Woody. I made the mistake of peeking through JLA: Superpower, which doubled as John Arcudi whacking Kyle in the face every 3-5 pages. Oh, and the last five issues of The All-New Atom, which I covered here.

    I can’t think of anything else. That’s probably for the best. And I did like that WW arc, if only to see a Khund chick wearing a “Darkseid Says Relax” t-shirt.

  6. I’m pretty sure if anyone messed with Booster Gold, I’d have to stab someone.

  7. I kicked a baby after reading Watchmen.

  8. I wanted to punch a man when I saw Static’s entire role in Terror Titans come down to “be brainwashed, be not brainwashed, be tazered.”

    Yes, I know that he might still show up in the last two issues, but I don’t give a shit, I keep hoping he’s free now.

  9. Not to make light of your rage, Esther, but I laughed at a few parts, especially when you rip Robin a new piehole.

    I don’t think I was bugged by the death of Bart Allen so much as how William Messer-Loebs and Todd DeZago butchered him. I’m not throwing in Geoff Johns in that group, because Bart had to evolve beyond comic relief in team situations. And why the hell is a DeZago arc — “Mercury Falling” — going to be collected as a TPB? By my estimate, out of about twenty or so issues from the Waid/Ramos run (minus art and writing fill-ins), only nine issues have been reprinted: the first six issues as “Reckless Youth,” the “Speed Kills” chapters, and the Impulse/Zatanna “team-up” in an upcoming [i]Brave And The Bold[/i] collection. I know Bart will return, so his “death” was more of a facepalm thing for me.

  10. Every comic I used to regularly read has had everything I liked about them chipped away until I couldn’t read them anymore. Exiles was a big one. It was my favorite comic at one point because it was basically What if …? with a over-arching story. At about the point of World Tour is when I started to lose interest. I think it was the New Universe stuff. By the time the team was Longshot, Blink, a Proteus-posessed Morph, Psylocke, Spider-Man 2099, and the only good Sabertooth ever, I was done.

    The same thing happened to Outsiders except in happened in two collections where they have a crossover with Checkmate which led to Batman taking control. I never thought I could hate a book that had both Metamorpho and Martian Manhunter in it, but I was wrong.

  11. I don’t think I ever have, to be honest. This may be due to the fact that I just never cared about “continuity”. I tend to view a single story or run as it’s own story and judge it on its own merits. So for me, a character can never be betrayed or ruined by a writer, just poorly written in that story. And if further writers continue to write the character badly, then I just take solace in quality past stories of the character if there are any.

  12. New fucking Warriors. ’nuff said…

  13. The bit when Batgirl went from being a fun comic book about a ninja stabbing people’s faces off with her foot and became some wangst-marathon like someone had thought “Lone Wolf and Cub is a great martial-arts themed comic – and what’s the best thing about it? The millions and millions of words, or the bits where he’s so fucking awsome people die just by being in the same panel?” and for some reason decided to go with the former when choosing a new direction for the pint-sized monosyllabic face-destroying killing machine who’s one bad day away from throttling Robin’s whining neck until his eyes pop out of his bastard face.

    And Darkhawk – in theory a character made of murder and awsome: for some reason relegated to a supporting character in The Loners, where he sat around all day talking about his feelings with recovering alcoholics. Except instead of alcohol, what everyone in the room was actually trying to quit was having awsome adventures that made 12 year-old kids go “fuckin’ A!”, but for some reason were apparantly less interesting than people sitting around a room talking instead of going out and punching Ultron until his stupid robot face came off – which is what I want to see in a comic with people with ludicrously huge tits wearing brightly-coloured body condoms.
    What kind of addiction is Awsomeholicism, anyway? You can never have too much awsome. To suggest otherwise is insanity.

    Never shat myself in anger, all the same. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong.

  14. Without wishing to sound like a broken record, Hal Jordan.

    Yes, Emerald Twilight sufferred from some crappy execution, but I wasn’t 100% against the notion of Hal becoming a supervillain. The notion of the great hero’s fall from grace is something that comes up time and time again in fiction.

    Sweeping it under the carpet because some creators seem to have a hatred of any character created after 1986 and having the rest of the DCU act like everything’s ok really just annoys me.

  15. Yes, having Parallax be an overgrown yellow cootie did leave a bad taste in my mouth. Or as Chris Sims called it last night, “[i][A] giant yellow space bug [that] lived in his head and outwitted God.[/i]” Italics are his, brackets are from me. I mean, it’s nice that the Corps has evolved past “Hal and 3,599 guys with the same power” that lead to Kyle’s run, and I’m happy Kyle isn’t dead . . . but Hal? Screw him. He’s a reminder that if hundreds of thousands of fans whine long and hard enough, they eventually get their way.

    LurkerWithout . . . could you elaborate? Are we talking about their deaths and the whole Penance thing?

  16. And I keep forgetting that brackets and HTML don’t mix here. Sorry, Esther.

  17. Nightwing OYL. What the hell was that.

  18. @Munch: I kind of was absolutely flailing over the CONCEPT of Countdown. I mean, two of the chars are my favs (Jason Todd and Kyle Rayner) and the third char’s a chick and really, DC does NOT need to keep killing off girls when we just got Steph back. Telling me “ONE OF THEM WILL DIE” did not work for me. At all.

    And I totally join in the fan rage over what’s happening to Steph. Tim had BETTER meant that last sentence as her now ‘qualifying’ for the Robin costume again (even though really, hi, not HIS call to make). But I also have a fair deal of flailing over what’s going with Jason. I mean, seriously, JAY. Came back from the dead, hatched a plot to make Batman choose between him and the Joker’s life — then went off to New York and GREW TENTACLES? What the hell? And let’s not even talk about him being in jail during Batman R.I.P. As if any jail could hold a Bat boy.

  19. See, I’ve been on the other end of this specturm since Spoiler came back- I mean seriously someone you love fake there own death right in the middle of what had to be the worst 2 (in comics) year run of any major character ever: Father, Stepmom, girlfried, girl at school, best friend, other best friend, entire city- oh and now his non-superhero best friend has cancer (even Black Adam during 52 didn’t have his crap spread out over a period of time where basically everytime he finished grieving he’d lose someone else)- and the guy welcomes him back with open arms- then that same person basically betrays you (seriously, according to everything we’ve seen so far Spoiler went far beyond what Batman wanted) and ochestrates basically you own personal “Knightfall” which results in two kids being killed, frankly if she didn’t get yelled at Tim would have been insane.

  20. Oh, and for pure fanboy rage moments- Civil War Frontline #11- Yeah, Tony Stark commited insider trading, started a war could have become a massive killfest, and basically acted like my own personal worst thoughts about Cheney- but, he’s the hero see because the personification of American Ideals doesn’t know about Myspace.

  21. @Jason: Pretty much everything New Warriors since Civil War. Using them as the sacrificial goat for the story-line, turnign Speedball into Penance (though I think the character ended up being written well by Ellis and Gage) to trying to read Grevioux god-awful relaunch. Hell, I think a book about a group of M-Day ex-mutants using super-tech to keep on being heroes to be pretty awesome. But that book was TERRIBLE. And thats leaving aside Vance and Angela’s break-up which still baffles me…


    At least Rich gets to still be cool and bad-ass…

  22. Ugh, any story with Nightcrawler in a priest collar, yeah. Or anyone else, now that I think about it.

  23. I will cut someone over Tim Drake [and I almost did over 182 and freaking Steph – he had every right to tell her off!] If Rip Hunter doesn’t turn out to be Booster and Ted’s secret child, I might lose it. Every time I try to read the Invisibles. I secretly want to punch people who don’t like Jason Todd, but I keep that to myself. Oh, and anytime I see Damien. Especially if he’s trying to kill Tim. Someone wrote me a story where Jason gave Tim Damien’s head for Christmas, and they’ve been my favorite person ever since.

    I’m actually just kind of insane.

  24. Also: Marvel screwing the Young Avengers over for the Runaways.

  25. One More Brand New Civil War Sins Past Day

    [Not to mention the other]

    Marvel and me are obviously not on speaking terms