10. Replacing Spider-Girl with….Spider-Girl
So this one is a personal gripe, but that’s also why it comes in at number ten. After twelve amazing years, Tom DeFalco’s run of Spider-Girl came to an end. While that alone is enough to not give thanks, Marvel decided to rub salt in the wound by renaming Arana so that she could be the new Spider-Girl. This coming after they stripped away all of her powers in rather unceremonious fashions, and now she’s……what? A random Latina girl that used to have an original powerset and now swings around on a grappling hook? Yes, I’ve heard that the first issue was generally well received, but the whole situation is just odd to me. You bury a long lasting and well received female character, something Marvel doesn’t have a lot of, and replace her with a character that hasn’t taken off despite several years of attempts, and then nerf down the powers down to literally nothing so you can have someone more ‘relatable’. I dunno, the whole situation just doesn’t work for me.
9. Overexposure of Deadpool
If there’s a week without a Deadpool appearance then it almost feels like someone at Marvel isn’t doing their job. Whether it be one of his many ongoing monthly titles, or one of his mini-series, or being on X-Force, or even Deadpool Appreciation Month where everything had a Deadpool cover. He’s everywhere, and it’s obnoxious. It makes me miss the Wolverine overexposure from a few years ago, because at least Wolverine made sense in his roles. Deadpool is being milked for the sake of it, and from the sales figures I’ve seen he’s not even breaking the top fifty. Hell, Marvel is resorting to promotions like “Which Deadpool book do we cancel?” to boost sales, which is actually really funny since Rob Liefeld does art for one of the books and was already pretty sure it was canned.
8. Zemo’s heel turn
I read Thunderbolts, I read New Thunderbolts, I even read Zemo: Born Better. I’m a Zemo fan, and while I can see why he’d make for a great villain, he spent the better part of a decade being built up to be something more than both hero and villain. He was Zemo, he had his own version of right and wrong, but he lived up to his own ideals. He stopped being a villain in the classical sense and realized worlds about himself and just what he could do. He could do bad things for good reasons, he was setting out to save the world even if his methods were extreme. He had depth, he had conflict, and he was interesting. So why is he now a generic “I hate and screw with Captain America” villain? I mean, he pops up out of nowhere and leaks Winter Soldier info to the press. Five years ago that would have been beneath Zemo, even with his hatred for Captain America firmly in place, Zemo became the kind of character who would take greater joy in knowing that the people preferred him to the Captain then he would in killing him. Because he was better than him, and he didn’t need to draw blood to prove that. Now, apparently, he does.
7. Greg Land is still a go-to artist
I generally try to be at least somewhat nice when it comes to what I say about a person, and while it’s not uncommon for me to wonder why someone needs work, or to say someone is incompetent generally it’s just out of general frustration, and I’m not totally serious. Generally. These people aren’t Greg Land, whose ability to trace and retrace and reuse his own photocopied art bothers me pretty much everytime I see it. His art is void of emotion, it’s a bunch of models being photo referenced. The fact that he’s one of their favorite cover artists is even more annoying because he just reuses the same figure with different costumes. At first I didn’t mind, but after a few years I’d just rather see something that feels original gracing the covers of the books I buy, and not a guy recycling his own copied piece for the fortieth time.
What in the blue hell was this shit and who clamored for it? Daredevil gets infected with Parallax and goes evil? What the fuck? And now he’s free from his Parallax infestation and is on the road trying to find redemption, while a recently blasphemized Black Panther fills in for him in Hell’s Kitchen. Congrats Marvel, you’ve reassured my in my decision to not read Daredevil regularly.
5. Whatever happened to Marvel Animation?
This year I picked up three out of the four DC Animated DVD releases, happily I might add. At the same time, I picked up the only Marvel Animated DVD release this year, Planet Hulk. Looking at the master list, I have six of Marvel’s seven releases over the five years they’ve been doing it. In the three years DC has been at it, I own eight of their ten releases. Let that sit on your brain for a second. Marvel has been doing it longer, but DC has the content. Sure, Marvel has two cartoons in the works for TV (Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is currently airing and awesome, and Ultimate Spider-Man is due next fall….though DC is airing Young Justice now which had a great pilot), but with the Disney backing, and the sheer wealth of characters and stories….why haven’t they done more animated releases? You get more freedom with those then you do with actual theatrical movies….and it should be two different departments that have nothing to do with each other and wouldn’t hold each other back. So there’s really….is there an excuse?
4. Rising prices
Marvel loves to “test the market” with higher prices. Though I’m not sure if it still counts as testing the market when the majority of your books are listed at the higher price and have been for a while. I think at that point it’s called making up excuses for raising prices without blaming the economy. I also think it’s fucking ridiculous that they do that with mini-series and then pump them out the way that they do. I could understand a mini like Captain America Reborn, Siege, or Widowmaker. These are events with actual importance that tie into other titles. Captain America: Man Out Of Time, on the other hand, would sell better at $2.99. You know what $3.99 an issue for a Mark Waid written Captain America mini means to me? It means I’m buying it in trade for less than the cost of the individual issues. This is just one example of the countless Marvel gives us every month. It’s a rough economy for everyone, I get that, but if DC is claiming to be looking for a way to keep prices down, and their prices are staying down, and yours just keep inflating….then just come out and admit that you’re jacking up prices.
3. Ed Brubaker on auto-pilot
I’m a big Ed Brubaker fan, and I mean, it’s hard to not be after a lot of the awesome material he’s turned in. Unfortunately, this year was not him at his best. Captain America Rebirth never really found its footing before ending, and then Captain America since then has just been a sea of meh. The worst part is that it’s not even a bad book, it’s still good, i’t just….boring. At this point he’s coming on his sixth year of writing Captain America, and while it doesn’t feel as if he’s out of stories, just that he doesn’t have the same drive that made the earlier issues so exciting. The book has begun to reach phoned-in levels, and I would even welcome a straight up bad issue if it meant a break from the flow the book has been in. Then we’ve got Secret Avengers which took him more or less dropping the Avengers out of the book in favor of background stories on espionage and secret societies in order to give the book a hook. It almost feels like he’s lost some of the passion and it’s manifesting itself in his books missing that little bit of it factor to make them phenomenal again.
2. Bendis on Avengers
I felt bad for a moment writing this, as the most recent issues of New Avengers and Avengers were both among the better issues he’s done so far, but unfortunately he’s been living out of his element for a little while now. Bendis is to Marvel what Johns is to DC, the difference is that while Johns has Green Lantern, he doesn’t have Corps or Emerald Warriors. In the case of Bendis I’m honestly surprised he isn’t writing Secret Avengers to go with New and Avengers. He has a monopoly on the line, and while there are times when he can get you to not mind it with book quality, with books like New Avengers, the primary Avengers title is just a mess. Bendis excels at writing character driven pieces, not balls to the wall superhero action, so the fact that Marvel keeps banking on him to do it just grows more and more baffling by the year. His first arc on Avengers was a non-sensical time loop starring Kang and Ultron for the sake of the fakes that both are big name Avengers villains, it took him six issues and a DVD tie in to….put everyone back where they started the first issue at. You want to use Bendis right? Character stories, crime, noir, hell, even romance. Look at Powers, Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man, and the last volume of New Avengers. The man definitely has his niche. It’s just not the Avengers. It’s time for some fresh blood to take the reigns.
1. The Ultimate line
I did a podcast on this a few months ago, and it contained most of my “What the hell is the point of this shit?!” rant, so I’m going to cut my big boy short because of it. Though I do need to mention that the Ultimate Doom mini features Reed Richards as the greatest enemy of the Ultimate Universe, and this fact was spoiled in solicits. The line has no real direction, and it honestly feels like Marvel is trying anything and everything to bolster fan interest in the line. The Death of Spider-Man featuring Mark Bagley? Mark Millar writing Ultimate Avengers? Loeb on New Ultimate and Ultimate X (do either even come out?)? Ultimate Thor by Jon Hickman, Ultimate Cap by Jason Aaron. The Ultimate Enemy trilogy by Bendis? They keep trying, but it’s long past the point of it really mattering. The fun is over, the love is gone, and the promise of a nice streamlined Marvel universe that’s easily accessible to new readers went away sometime around Ultimate Spider-Man #100. Reed Richards is your new uber bad guy, and you’re screaming about how killing Spider-Man will change everything. You know what would change everything? Throwing in the towel and saying it was nice while it lasted.
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Tags: Andy Diggle, Avengers, Baron Zemo, Brian Michael Bendis, Captain America, Daredevil, Ed Brubaker, Greg Land, Marvel Animated, new avengers, Paul Tobin, Secret Avengers, Shadowland, spider-girl, The Gold Standard, Tom DeFalco, Top 10 List, Ultimate Comics