Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Tipping Point - Have You Ever Abandoned Your Favorite Character?

I have been something of a downer on this blog lately, lamenting the decision by DC Comics to have Supergirl become a member of the Red Lanterns. As someone who has loved Supergirl as a character because of her heroic convictions even as she is learning the ropes, I felt that this was simply a step backwards.

We have already had 2 years of Supergirl being isolated, angry, alone. We have seen flashes of her recognizing the need to move on, to readjust. We have occasionally seen her act the hero. And we had a new creative team vowing to make her likable again. And then this ... a blood spewing Red Lantern, filled only with rage.

Now I was asked if, because of this Red Lantern business, I was going to drop the book. Was this the tipping point that would make me jump ship? Was I going to drop Supergirl ... the title starring my favorite comic book character?

I won't say it didn't cross my mind briefly. But the answer is no. I wont be dropping the book. I have some trust in Tony Bedard. I am hoping this is some redemption story with Supergirl turning to the light in the end, shedding the Red Ring and becoming a hero. And I need to at least see where the story is going.

Don't get me wrong. I would love for this to be a 6-9 issue arc, get the angst all out there, and head back to the being the fiery optimistic young hero I believe Supergirl to be. But I am not dropping the book.

In fact this is the closest I have come to dropping a Supergirl book.

The last volume's first 2 years were something of a mess with a very angry Supergirl rave dancing while people are in danger, bemoaning being on Earth, smoking and sneaking into bars and teasing older men for staring at her 'S' while she wiggled her backside leaning over a pool table. That was bad enough.

But then writer Joe Kelly made things even more insane. Zor-El was delusional, thought the phantom zone had sent ghosts which possessed people, and sent Kara to Earth to kill Kal-El. But before that, we had a flashback where Kara and her father went to her high school and slaughtered the students as they were 'possessed'.

A gun-toting Kara killing her classmates? It was too much for me to take. This was insane. It was character suicide. And in a time of kids shooting up schools, it was idiotic to have the hero of the book do the same.

I think by this time news may have leaked that Kelly was off the book so I stuck around.

But I honestly thought about dropping the title ... me dropping a Supergirl book ... because the direction was all wrong.

In fact, in some ways, that arc spurred me to start this blog, a place to celebrate the character. 

I never batted an eye about the Earth Angel series by Peter David. It was clear from the first issue that book was going to be something special, even when I learned how despicable the Linda aspect of her was.

I had little initial interest in this '5 year later' Legion, a grimmer, darker book by description. It was clear with the end of the prior volume of LSH that the stories had become tired and hackneyed and the whole mythos needed a reboot.

I thought about not getting this book, sick of constant grim books, but gave it 'one arc' to grab me. Boy, did it ever. I loved it. I don't think many Legion fans did.

And so I open it up to everyone out there.

Have you ever thought about dropping a book starring your favorite character because the creative direction went somewhere you completely disagreed with and disliked?

Has anyone actually dropped the book starring the favorite character?

I would love to hear from anyone and everyone!


Count Drunkula said...

Four of my top five DC heroes are Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman and Black Canary.

I spent two years reading the abysmal New 52 version of BIRDS OF PREY just so I could review it on my Black Canary blog. Pretty much from issue #3 I knew the book had serious conceptual problems. By the end of the first year, I was convinced the writer and editor had no idea what they were doing. But I kept reading for the sake of reviewing. Even after a writing change, the quality of the scripts improved (slightly) but there is still a fundamental flaw with the book's core concept. So I dropped it last month. I have plenty of older, better Black Canary stories to review on the blog. I'm not going to spend money on a product I know I abhor just to trash it online.

One of the things that excited me about the news of the New 52 relaunch was I thought nobody could benefit from a total continuity-flushing reboot better than Hawkman. But the first issue of SAVAGE HAWKMAN was the most disappointing book in the initial launch (not the worst book, just the "most disappointing"). Tony Daniel's script failed to explain who Hawkman was, who Carter Hall was, why he turned into Hawkman, what his purpose as Hawkman was. He didn't even fly in the first issue--it's Hawkman and he didn't FLY! After reading two issues of that book, I campaigned for DC to cancel the book because I thought it was already irreparably damaged and the character could only function with yet another reboot.

At a time when I wasn't reading many DC comics, one of the books I looked forward to the most was Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman. She's always been my second favorite character at DC and I thought Rucka's take was right in line with my feelings about the character. Then after INFINITE CRISIS, they replaced Rucka with Allen Heinberg. I jumped off after three issues, when they gave her a Clark Kent-style secret identity and did everything they could to make her She-Superman. Thankfully, I left sparing myself the next year or two that it took to finish his six issues, as well as Jody Piccoult's turn and the "Amazons Attack" thing. I came back when Gail Simone started.

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman was my favorite book of the New 52. But when they decided to spend an entire year revisiting Batman's origin, I tapped out. Everything about the New 52 stresses the importance of the present and spitting on history and continuity. Devoting a year to an origin tale that everyone has already seen done to death made the book irrelevant. (Oh, if only there was another place to read about Batman!!!)

So, yeah, I've dropped the books starring four of my favorite DC characters (three of them during the New 52 era).

Thomas Hayes said...

I haven't had a chance to drop any comics yet, I'm still new to this hobby. But I can think of two occasions where my favourite TV franchises have put me off to the point I stopped watching them completely.

Most recently that was Doctor Who, earlier last year. After too many episodes where the Doctor acts manically (as he always does), his new companion got no fleshing-out of her character and the plots started to increasingly make no sense, I was done. After 8 years of following that show! They dragged me back for the 50th anniversary special, which actually turned out decent, but the Christmas episode was so dumb that I'm not holding out much hope for a long haul with that one.

But my real hardcore fandom was always Star Trek. I was a Trekkie since I was watching The Next Generation with my Dad at age five, and kept it up through DS9 and Voyager as well as enjoying the original series and the films. But after Season 1 and half of Season 2 of Enterprise, I couldn't be bothered anymore. Nothing was happening, the characters were flat and unlikeable, half the plots were retreads of older episodes, and the actual unique premise of that series - Earth's first long-distance exploration mission, 100 years before the original series - was being completely squandered. I just completely tapped out, first time in over a decade I didn't watch Star Trek.

In that case, the show did get better for Seasons 3 and 4 and I was persuaded to return, however the damage had been done - the first two years had damaged the viewing audience beyond repair as millions of viewers came to the same point, and S4 was the last season for Enterprise and Star Trek on TV in general, with no more Trek until the Abrams reboot four years later.

snell said...

I have often dropped books for characters I very much liked--recent years have seen me go Superman-less at various times--but my absolute favorites? Nope. I've stuck with the Fantastic Four through think and (sometimes very) thin. It does help that the most gosh-awful run is usually followed by one of the great ones. And none have ever reached the depths of what is being done to Supergirl...

FWIW, I *loved* the Legion's 5YL. It was in a grim setting, to be sure, but the book was about overcoming that grimness, not celebrating it, and using our love for the characters to build the suspense over what had happened to many of them. DC should have used this as a model to relaunch their universe, not the reboot they gave us...

Martin Gray said...

Oh, I've dropped off favourite characters a few times, such as when Azzarello was writing Superman, Loeb and McGuinness doing the Superman Shield/Batman symbol book, the Avengers due to Bendis, Wonder Woman currently.

And Supergirl for an issue of H'el.

I'm all for it, really, why give publishers the wrong message by giving them money, while tormenting yourself. You can always catch up online.

Mind, I say this as someone who read all the JMS issues of Superman - eurghh, but I just couldn't look away.

Anonymous said...

No, I never dropped a book starring my favorite character. However, before Supergirl I never read anything where the entire universe changes from time to time.

The first Supergirl that got and kept my attention was Kara In-Ze. For a moment I thought her a sociopath, where was all the pain she should be feeling, but then I remembered it's a cartoon for kids so I let it go and enjoyed the character.

What made me a fan was that issue with Deadman. That is still my favorite Supergirl moment. Yet even that Kara gave off a sociopath vibe. I needed to see her in pain, suffering and aimless before finding her calling, her purpose and becoming someone who would give that speech to Deadman and mean every word of it. The previous version finally delivered. I guess I'm one of the few who liked rave dancing Supergirl, a Supergirl trapped in her own darkness trying to reject the world around her and then finally something inside her screams "no I don't want this, I want to help".

Long story short I like this Red Lantern twist. As for the reds I think their rage got corrupted by hatred somewhere down the line and retribution became revenge. I hope they get over it.


William Wade II said...

I have never dropped a book that I can think of. Maybe a miniseries but for the main titles, call it my OCD to have everything the character is in or just needing to read everything, I keep going. Like you I hope that the bad story or writing rights itself and there is a big payoff revealing that not everything written was a waste of time. Sometimes they succeed others they fail.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I've dropped books and picked them up again, I'm sure a lot of people do that. I dropped BIRDS OF PREY after two issues of the nu52. I've ourchased every BATGIRL comic starring Barbara Gordon, even the NIGHTWING annual, but not a single issue in the nu52.

Back before the nu 52...Swamp Thing and Animal Man when they went under the Vertigo imprint. I did enjoy the 5YL Legion and, unlike a lot of people, I've not been disappointed with any of the reboots...not counting (sigh) the nu52.

Chris Barnes said...

I've never dropped a book due to a single story arc. I am a monthly subscriber to Batman and Nightwing and while I am loving everything Snyder and Capullo are bringing to Batman, The Nightwing book I feel has suffered alternately from art or writing. I was about to drop it when I heard at Fan expo in August that Nightwing was going to a book to really keep reading. It has been worth it so far.

iopy said...

I will start buying book because of creators, subject, or the character involved, and any of those when poorly done can cause me to lose my enthusiasm for the book. But the character is one of the main factors for keeping me involved in a book even during the occasional creative low spots, the sort of thing every book goes through. If the art is poor, or the writing mediocre, but the character is consistent and well written I’ll stick with the book to see if things will improve. But if the character is being mishandled, used as little more than a prop for the development of other characters, or is simply a series of tropes and stereotypes with no development or character arc I will wind up dropping the book. Great artwork won’t do it. Fantastic stories won’t do it, if the narrative doesn’t include that character.

That’s especially true when it’s a favorite character of mine, because it’s not the name of the character or the uniform they wear that makes them a favorite. It they’re a stranger, if their actions seem meaningless and irrational, if none of the traits that drew me to the character are there then it’s not the character I came to read.

A favorite character becomes that for me because of who they are, not what uniform they wear.

I’ve been having that problem with Supergirl since Mike Johnson left, I don’t have any idea who this person is or why I should read a book about her. It’s why I don’t read Azzarelo’s Wonder Woman anymore, even though I’m told it’s a very good book. I don’t want to read about a Diana who is so violent, it misses the point of the character who was supposed to represent peace to another civilization. I don’t want to read a book where the only female characters that weren’t specifically created by the new writer have been either eliminated or been turned into man-hating rapists who kill their children if they’re the wrong gender. I don’t want to read a Wonder Woman who doesn’t have a mother anymore, but instead has been given a father so she can have all the usual daddy issues DC wants every female character to have.

So Wonder Woman was dropped, a favorite character of mine, because she’s been changed into a version I find repulsive and a bit insulting. I’m on the verge with Supergirl as well because she’s been little more than a dumb chick for the last year, hysterical and credulous and just a bit stupid. Favorite characters, but no longer favorites because they’re no longer the character I enjoyed. Instead I’ll go read DeConnick’s Captain Marvel, or Phil Folio’s Agatha Heterodyne, or even see what Katniss Everdeen is doing. And boy do I miss Princess Diana. I hope I don’t have to start missing Kara Zor-El.

Chris Smith said...

I dropped DC comics all together due to recent controversies. I been reading mainly marvel but at whole I don't care for marvel. I only read the books of creators I like attached to characters I like. My fav hero from Marvel is Daredevil luckily his book is good.

reservoirdogs said...

The worst Superman comic ever.

Anj said...

I want to thank everybody for responding. This has been a great discussion!

Anj said...

Count -

It sounds like the New 52 was rough on you.

I am impressed that you dropped BoP. I also collected BoP starting with Gail Simone's first run. Like you I collected BoP when the New 52 started. But I dropped it much earlier than you.

And while I collect Wonder Woman more often than I don't collect her, I also dropped the Heinberg/Picoult era. Wasn't working. I loved Rucka's run.

Anj said...

Snell -

I can imagine that there have been some lean years with the FF. It is a book I have rarely ever read (most I collected was back in the Wolfman/Pollard era ... showing my age).

And you are right about the 5YL Legion. It was a grimier universe. But everyone feared the Legion reforming because they would be a light for people to rally around. And a powerless Rokk leading the team and staring down Mordru remains a favorite moment for me.

Anj said...

Mart -

I am really impressed that you can skip an issue in a title you collect.

I understand the need to 'vote with your dollars'. I will admit it is tough for me because there have been years without Supergirl around.

Maybe the question is 'is it better to have a bad book of your fave character on the stand? Or no book at all?'


Anj said...

Eki -

You are true that the last incarnation did deliver. Mostly because she did at some point say 'enough ... I want to help.'

The problem is I fear that this Supergirl wouldn't get there. If we have years of her being a 'sociopath' ... well that isn't Supergirl.

Anj said...

Wayne -

It sounds like you have a love for Babs and a lot of books with her in it.

How tough was it to stay away from the New 52 version??

Anj said...

William -

My guess is that comic publishers count on that OCD (something I freely admit I have) to keep books going.

But in this era of instant gratification, I don't know how well that will hold up.

Anj said...

Chris Smith -

Can you talk about some of the rougher times of Daredevil?

I loved the Brubaker run. But after that things became too dark so I left.

I love the Waid version!

Did you ever consider dropping it?

Count Drunkula said...

My biggest problem with the New 52 was I feel like they suckered me. I bought in entirely from the announcement; I thought a line-wide revamp was a great idea and I bought every first issue.

I won't dwell on every problem I have with the current DC. I'll just say my disappointment was made even harsher because of my expectations.

Thomas Hayes said...

@Count Drunkula: Wow... All 52 of them? That's a lot of comics!

It does seem like there was not much thought given to how the reboot would be executed, now that I can read about it two years on. So many flawed concepts and so many missed opportunities.

What's the specific issue with Birds of Prey? Is it just not workable without Oracle or Huntress? Would a Black Canary solo have made more sense?

Anonymous said...

Frankly I think I am well past the point where I should drop this book, DC is fairly screaming at me to stop buying it and please stop liking the character for which they clearly have malignant plans. Probably at some point in 2014 I'll "take the hint" and dispense with reading SG it will hurt when it happens, but DC WILL NOT listen and clearly believes in the face of all evidence that will enough nastiness they can somehow sire a young, expanding aud with money to burn...
I wish them the joy of this fantasy.


Anj said...

That’s especially true when it’s a favorite character of mine, because it’s not the name of the character or the uniform they wear that makes them a favorite. It they’re a stranger, if their actions seem meaningless and irrational, if none of the traits that drew me to the character are there then it’s not the character I came to read.

A favorite character becomes that for me because of who they are, not what uniform they wear.

It's so true iopy.

Whether it is Kupperberg's hot pants, or David's white tshirt, or Gates belly shirt, or even David's Fallen Angel - it was the truth of the character that mattered.

Those are all variations of a character that remained true to the core concept (although Fallen Angel was very dark at times).

This Supergirl hasn't shown me that core enough for me to feel comfortable.

Anonymous said...

I've dropped titles featuring characters I love when they've gone obviously wrong in the writing department.

Gotham City Sirens - the first half of this series was fantastic, then writing changed hands and it completely fell apart, ending in such an awful way that I was happy the New 52 wiped the events from continuity.

Wonder Woman - dropped immediately when JMS took over at the end of the previous volume. I knew it would be a disaster. I'm sticking with the current book simply because it's better than Odyssey.

Batwoman - dropped recently after the big JL Williams fiasco. I will return to this when then annual appears to complete the unfinished arc.

"Adjectiveless" X-Men - I dropped the previous volume when Jubilee was swapped out for Pixie. Came back to the current volume since Jubilee is back, front and centre :)

I dropped all X-Men books when Emma took over Jean's place. Over the past few years I've only bought issues featuring Jubilee.

Also used to refuse to buy anything featuring Zatanna because of what she did to Catwoman in the pre-New 52 universe.

Oh, almost forgot - dropped Batgirl when Barbara came back. I think that one was the most upsetting of all. Stephanie Brown was AWESOME and her final issue, where lots of "what-could-have-been" splash pages were shown right at the end was a very sad thing to see.

I won't drop Supergirl though. She's just too wacky at the moment. :D

Anonymous said...

I don't think her core has been compromised. This Supergirl has always helped and shown willingness to help. It is still her first response to those in need.

Her unpleasant behavior is understandable and natural when one considers her circumstances. She lost everything, she's grieving, her body isn't working like she's used to and she can't get a moment to reflect and figure out her purpose in life. And I think only a few months passed since she woke up to this whirlwind of events and painful revelations.

I have no doubt this Supergirl is going to be the hero everyone wants her to be.


ealperin said...

DCnU Supergirl & Wonder Woman. From Pre-DCnU era Cass Cain Batgirl when she crossed over into Supergirl with those Red Sun Lightsaber things BEFORE the DCnU & after showed up in the Wonderful Peter David Supergirl series.

ealperin said...

Added bonus, Dropped SG as soon as H'El showed up. Brought up bad memories of Powerboy (a.k.a. A jerk with Superpowers)

Anj said...

Thanks for the continued discussion.

Eki - I think there are times when this Supergirl has helped immediately, even as recently as I'Noxia. But she seems more annoyed by having to do it and isolated from everything. That doesn't sound like the SG I know.

Anon, ealperin, and others - I am not surprised to hear about the Batgirl decisions. The change from Oracle back to Batgirl, the dropping of both Cass Cain and Steph Brown ... that must be a tough character to follow.

I am also not surprised to hear Wonder Woman on so many of these lists. Azzarello's take is very different. But JMS' was awful. And I thought the Picoult stuff was dismal. I dropped the JMS and Picoult book after one issue.

Thanks so much for the discussion!

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound like the SG I know either, but of course she is annoyed and isolated. She was uprooted from her life, she doesn't feel that she belongs anywhere, she has no purpose and things keep happening to her. The metaphorical rug got pulled from under her feet and she's falling. We can't complain because her fall lacks grace.

If I had to complain i would say that DC has been stretching this fall for to long. It has been 26 issues and no end in sight.


Count Drunkula said...

@Thomas Hayes - The specific issue with Birds of Prey is many, many issues. Probably the biggest problem, though, is a lack of purpose for either the comic or the characters.

After 26 issues, they have never established why Dinah put this team together, what their mission is, what their status quo looks/acts like, what they're supposed to accomplish, how they get involved in crime fighting or adventures that aren't precipitated by a betrayal or personal attack against them.

A Black Canary solo title MIGHT have worked better if they had approached it like either A) a street-level private eye detective story like Marvel's ALIAS, or B) a kung fu martial arts story like IMMORTAL IRON FIST. Instead, what we have is four or five characters with no discernible reason for being together picking up the scraps that Batman leaves behind.

LJ-90 said...

I didn0t meant to, but I dropped all the Superman titles with the reboot. At first I read Action and Superman, but then...I just lost interest. Now, I only read Smallville, Ultimate Spider-Man and indies.

Anj said...

Count - you are right about the rudderless feel to BoP.

LJ - I highly recommend Pak/Kuder Action if you want to try again.

Marc Burkhardt said...

Hey Anj! Sorry it took me so long to get to your post, but the comments by yourself and your readers were definitely worth the wait.

Sad to say, I have decades worth of dropped characters behind me. The most notable are:

Superman right after the Byrne revamp. Bronze Age Superman was one of my favorite characters and I never could get fully on board subsequent incarnations.

Spider-Man during the Clone Saga.

Batman during War Games

Wonder Woman right after Perez revamp. I'm the guy who missed classic Diana Prince.

Supergirl during that stupid story where she was living on New Krypton with her deranged mother. Derailed good ideas by Gates & Igle, I thought.

Anj said...

Thanks for the post!

Surprised to hear about WW drop post-Perez!

And yes, New Krypton did put a damper on what Gates/Igle were trying to do. But they picked it up after that ended!