Monday, January 28, 2013

Comic Series I Stayed With Too Long

I think a common complaint from long time comic readers is that at some point in time, they find themselves buying a comic series that they no longer enjoy. I hear this sentiment echoed on podcasts presently, and it has been true for me at several points in my history with comics. Here are a couple of examples of comic runs I continued with, but really should have dropped.

First up - from the Bronze Age: Marvel's Werewolf By Night

What happened was I was a huge fan of the Mike Ploog era of this series. I also have a soft spot for horror/adventure stories that feature characters that don't fall in the standard mold. So, initially, I found a lot to like with WBN. Ploog's stylistic storytelling approach was just a huge bonus.

Unfortunately, after Ploog left, I think the series started to stray from its creepy core. By the time Moon Knight showed up, I was pretty bored with the series and was just buying it out of habit.

But I hung in till the bitter end...

Looking back, I can excuse this by remembering that I was more of a completist when I was younger. Also, most Marvel and DC were less inclined to shift from their thematic axis as WBN had. Marvel Team Up at issue 98 was pretty much the same as any other Marvel Team Up prior to it. The gradual tone shift in stories sort of snuck up on me.

I took a break from most mainstream comics around this time, delving into more of the independent publishers that were cropping up (Comico, First and Dark Horse being the main ones I was reading at this time.) The one mainstream DC series I managed to follow during this time period was the Giffen/Levitz Legion of Superheroes. I dropped off a bit around the Late 80's (it was probably the continuity mess caused by Crisis on Infinite Earths which caused me to lose interest in the series.) However, when I heard about the premise of the 5 Years Later story line I jumped back in the game. It was just the thing for a lapsed DC fan like me.

Those first few years of the 5YL stories were amazing. I didn't always understand some of the references or know who the characters were, but my experience with the more mature stories in Independent comics had taught me not to worry about such things.

Alas, after a few years of stories where you reveal just how much everything has changed, you sort of run out of stuff to show changed, and end up with generic superhero stories. And the solution to this problem (introducing the SW6 batch of LSH Silver Age duplicates) was not way to solve the problem, imo.

Still, I hung in there with this series, buying all the issues right up until they decided to reboot the Legion with Zero Hour. After the Zero Hour reboot, the Legion has never really regained its prominence in the comics market. At one time, LSH was a huge seller, but countless attempts to reboot it back into relevance have just resulted in skeptical old school fans like myself and apathetic younger fans who are intimidated by the history of the series.

Finally, the most recent series I just couldn't stop buying was the 2000's era JLA. Like most comic fandom, I loved the Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's run on the book:

...but the series quickly lost steam after Morrison left (despite a few good stories by other writers.) I think the problem here was, Morrison was telling huge, fantastic stories that the JLA happened to appear in. Other writers tried to tell big stories with the JLA. They sort of begin the project with a handicap off the bat so to speak. I remember barely being able to get through some of the later storylines (Busiek's Crime Syndicate storyline being a real chore for me iirc.) By the time Byrne and Clairemont had a shot on the series, I was well and done. I remember liking their arc on principle but not on merit.

So, what about you? Have there been any series you just kept buying long after you stopped enjoying them?

- Jim


Trey said...

I would say Ultimate Spider-Man is a bit like that for me. It continues to be high quality, but it hasn't really been doing anything different from what it did before for a bit now.

West Coast Avengers was that way back in the day. In retrospect, I could have just left when Byrne took over, but I had to follow it all the way into Forceworks.

Reno said...

JLA was the one for me. I was getting bored with Morrison's run towards the end, but kept buying it. Then Waid came along and it was OK for a while, but then again my interest began to wane. I was mostly buying it for the Byrne and Garney art later on, but then dropped it (finally) when Derenick came on (no offense to Derenick, who's a good artist in his own right).

I think one of the reasons we stay on a title (aside from being completists) is the hope that it might get better again along the way. But, more often than not, it doesn't.

As for West Coast Avengers, I came on board when Byrne took over, but lost interest when they started Acts of Vengeance.

Jim Shelley said...

@Trey and @Reno - Like you, I really enjoyed West Coast Avengers but I dropped off the title after about 2 years (economic reasons mostly)

I've always wondered about Byrne's Run on the series. I liked his Fantastic Four and Man of Steel, but have never heard anything good about his WCA run. I should ask Pierre about it. He's the big Byrne fan around here...

JT said...

Fortunately, growing up on a VERY limited income made me buy my comics more carefully. If after two issues, I just wasn't crazy about it, I quit the book. Not long after Claremont left the X-Men I bailed from that book, dropping back in every so often to give it a try, but it never hooked me again the way it did in the Cockrum-Byrne-Claremont era. Plus, my friends and I read our comics, so we would pass around what we bought, allowing us all to read a broader range of comics.

Luke H said...

As a kid, Byrne's WCA run actually was my real introduction to the Avengers franchise; to this day I love that run. I'd really be curious to see you review the two trades that encompass his stint Jim.

A book I followed way too long was the original Excalibur after Davis left. That was my wake up call really that it's the creators that matter more than the characters or title. I remember having such confusion and questioning why I', still plunking down my newspaper route money each month for this title I SO wasn't enjoying.

I enjoyed this article Jim!


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