Climbing To New Lows
... that she was Roy Harper's greatest lay. How do you like them apples, female readers?
Wonder Woman: Lantern of Love. - Blackest Night:Wonder Woman#2 provided the rarest of rarities: a Greg Rucka clunker. True, Greg was saddled with the ill-conceived Star Sapphire WW plotline by Geoff Johns. (Anyone even vaguely familiar with Wonder Woman could see that Diana is tailor-made for the Compassion slot, but, see, she's a girl, so let's stick her with the Love role instead, and we'll give the Compassion ring to "The Incredible Shrinking Jack Bauer".) But Rucka actually made things worse. Apparently, the thought of killing Cassie, Donna, or even HER OWN MOTHER wasn't enough to snap Diana out of Black Lanterndom, but the thought of tongue-kissing Batman was. Huh? Even Nicola Scott couldn't save this one.
Titans: Villains For Hire Special aka "Minority In A Matchbox" - Let's see if I have this right: There are 3 Flashes, 2 Wildcats, God knows how many Green Lanterns, and now a growing army of Batmen, but you're telling me that the DC Universe isn't big enough for 2 Atoms? Give me a fucking break. The only lasting impact this story had was to alienate readers and inspire the term "Minorities In Matchboxes". Also, here's a tip for all you artists out there: When you're drawing a comic detailing the killing of a popular Asian character, at least take the time to get his nationality right.
Tora's an ice goddess. Oh, wait, no she's not! - Imagine if some current DC writer and editor decided that Bruce Wayne wasn't actually a millionaire's son whose parents were killed by a mugger in Crime Alley, but rather a New Jersey postal worker's son who accidentally killed his parents while playing with his father's gun. Or that Superman was really an Earthling who actually got his powers by accidentally eating radioactive paste. Then you can see how fans of Tora "Ice" Olafsdottir felt when Judd Winick revealed in Justice League: Generation Lost#12 that her ice goddess origin was just a lie to hide her real background: that she was a mutant in a family of thieves. In an incredibly bad case of false advertising, editor Brian Cunningham claimed that Winick provided Ice with "a credible and tragic origin that does not negate what we already know". Only one word of that was true: Tragic.
And speaking of JL: Generation Lost.. - Winick had already alienated me back in Generation Lost#10 when Max Lord tried to convey that Batman was a magnet for trouble by comparing Bats to "a naked broad walking into a room full of rapists". Stay classy, Judd.
Sentry did WHAT, now? - I'll confess: It's true that DC had a particularly egregious year, but part of the reason the bulk of the lowlights were DC's is that I follow their line more closely than Marvel's nowadays. Lest you think I'm unfairly singling out DC and indulging in behavior I once condemned, I will demonstrate how Marvel had several low points this year, too. The Sentry: Fallen Sun funeral issue was a giant retroactive Mary Sue fest, but the worst retcon was revealed here:
Yep, that's right, Sentry did it with Rogue. The one X-character for whom involuntary altruistic celibacy has been almost her entire deal. Except, according to writer Paul Jenkins, for his pet character. The only way this could have been redeemed was if Jenkins had used the "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" scenario suggested by Your Obedient Serpent as a twist ending. No such luck. The only differences between this story and bad fanfiction is that at least with bad fanfic a) the writer is not getting paid and b) we're not stuck with it as canon.
Also, the Scott Summers I know and love would have answered the Torch's questions with "That's none of your damn business, mister!"
Spider-Man: One (Excruciatingly Long) Moment In Time - "One More Day" alienated many Spidey fans with one of the worst demonstrations of editorial ego I'd ever seen, and the post-"OMD" Spidey books have been full of peaks and valleys. One of the deepest valleys came in 2010 when Joe Quesada decided to reopen the "OMD" wound with "One Moment In Time", which detailed why Peter and MJ didn't get married in the new continuity. "OMIT" made the real reason abundantly clear: Because Marvel's Editor-In-Chief is an idiot, that's why.
Oh, that whole "Yellowjacket" thing? Just a PR stunt. - Marvel and retcons simply do not mix. Especially if Brian "Chaos Magic is bullshit" Bendis is involved. From New Avengers#7:
I'll let Mr. Brian Snell explain all the problems with that here. Suffice to say, it was bad enough to rate a mention.
War of the Supermen aka Worst Reset EVER aka 2 years of Superman Comics buying down the drain. - When then-Action Comics scribe Geoff Johns wrote "The Brainiac Saga" back in 2008, it was the springboard of the "New Krypton" storyline which reintroduced such silver-age elements as a newly-enlarged Kandor, Supergirl's parents Zor-El and Alura, and the crimefighting team of Nightwing and Flamebird. There were also new elements such as the Kryptonian military force Red Shard and Kal-El bete noire Commander Gor. On top of that, there was an interesting characterization of General Zod and his relationship with Kal-El, as well as fascinating mother-daughter bonding between Kara and Alura.
Now how much of that is still standing today? Zip. Nada. Nothing. That's in large part due to 2010's "War of the Supermen" miniseries, which should have been called "Death, Death, Death", because that was the sole method used to resolve nearly all the plotlines. New Krypton? Dead. Red Shard? Dead. Flamebird? Dead. Supergirl's parents? Now both dead. Chris Kent? De-aged and shunted off to the Phantom Zone. Ditto Mon-El. And Zod? Turns out all the past year's complex characterization was just a lie, because he's really just eeeevil. And also shunted off into the Zone.
What a waste! What a complete failure of imagination! The worst part? The storyline that followed, the one that all the resetting was done in service to, was the launching of....
Grounded aka "Douchy Superman Walking" J. Michael Straczynski took over the Superman and Wonder Woman books mid-year. His current WW arc, if taken strictly as a temporary "House Of M" type story, doesn't make it onto my list because, Don Kramer art aside, it doesn't really qualify as either bad or good. It's just....there. Meh.
No such luck on the "Grounded" arc. This was another bad rehash of a 39-year-old Denny O'Neil GL/GA idea, this time "Hard Traveling Heroes" (shoehorning Supes into both the Hal and Ollie slots), mixed liberally with Elliot S! Maggin's "Must There Be A Superman?" from the same year.
The trouble with shoehorning, though, is that sometimes it just doesn't fit. Reconnecting with the needs of humanity is fine if it's Hal Jordan, but Supes is a guy with super-senses. He can hear dust settle on the moon. He can hover over Metropolis and scan everything in East St. Louis or Belfast. Remember those Dan Jurgens stories where Supes was listening in to what people thought of him? Plus, as Clark he has access to media stories from all around the world. Reconnect with humanity? You can't GET more connected than this guy.
Here's another problem: Imagine you're Superman. You're feeling the guilt of not being to save New Krypton, and also not being able or available enough to save everyone on Earth, particularly the husband of the woman in Superman#700. So you'd be looking for ways to save more people, right? How does this "Walk Across America" accomplish that? If anything, it seems horribly inefficient. In issue#703, JMS addresses the idea that, by making his presence so public, Supes runs the risk of the bad guys striking where they know he is. That may be true, but JMS fails to grasp the much greater opposite problem: that the bad guys will be striking in places where they know he isn't. The fear Superman strikes in the heart of criminals stems from the fact that he could potentially show up anywhere and anytime and take them out. If you see him on TV walking at regular pace through Philadelphia, and you're hundreds or thousands of miles away, you might not feel the same sense of dread.
But while the fundamental concept of "Grounded" was flawed, the execution was much, much worse. Here's a scene from Superman#701:
Here's an idea: Instead of just flying off, how about flying the old guy to a hospital, you jackass?
Here's one from the same issue that's even worse. Superman has just confronted some local drug dealers and set all their stashes on fire. Here, he wishes to communicate to the gang that he'll keep setting their stashes on fire every few weeks until they leave. What does he do? Does he stick around and deliver his ultimatum to to the head thug? Does he pull aside a random gangbanger and give him the message?