Comics Daily Awards 2008 : The Hall of Shame

31st December 2008 | by | No Comments

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In our final set of awards, we put on our Bastard Hats, set aside our Yuletide cheer, and dole out some much-deserved kickings to the comics that have caused us personal offence this year.

Every year has its peaks and troughs. After a few days of celebrating the highs, today we’re going to commiserate the lows. One thing we at Comics Daily have never done is be meek about our opinions. We rave about the good and relentlessly mock the bad, but we always try to be constructive at the same time. Let us never be accused of excessive negativity, though – after all, we think all our negativity is entirely proportional. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like it when comics fans rant about what they don’t like, stop reading now, and come back tomorrow when we’ll be spotlighting our “hopes for 2009” in the final awards instalment. Everyone else, read on, and prepare to see us get particularly, er, constructive…

The Todd MacFarlane Award for Economic Hardship: Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes

No-one has publicly shouldered the blame for Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes, but at a time when people have been vocally concerned about the rising price of comics during a global recession, the last thing Marvel needed to release was this – the utter poster-child for rip-off comics. Two issues, a mere 16 pages of story in each, both priced at $3.99. Despite being solicited as 48-page comics with four 8-page stories each, the issues arrived containing only two, padded out with script extract to make them into 32-page comics. Both issues omitted literally half of the content promised when orders were placed, but that could’ve been forgiven were the price not the one part of the solicitation that did arrive as promised. If Marvel’s plan was to find the point where even X-Men completists balked at the idea of buying a series, then well done – they found it. [JHu]

The 1602 Award For Damp Squibs: Millar & Hitch on Fantastic Four

The Ultimates team reuniting to tell yet another big massive expansive superhero story, using the original pioneers of four-colour adventure and discovery? Where do I sign up? Sadly, after an admittedly enjoyable start, this rapidly settled down into… well, just another Fantastic Four story. Hitch’s work was typically lovely, but the “weird version of the Defenders from the future” story just felt rather more routine than it was supposed to, and after launching in a blaze of publicity, it’s quite notable that nobody’s really talked about the series for months. It’s far from a terrible comic, it’s just not one that screams out from the shelves any more. The fault of the creators, or a sign that there really isn’t anyone out there that can make the FF interesting? [SP]

The Dark Knight Strikes Again Award for Mainstream Schedule Failure: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

A two-month delay in publication isn’t the sort of disastrous slip which would normally deserve comment, but the editorial pages of Buffy have been at pains to trumpet the book’s arrival on time every month, so it’s only right that their failure to deliver is commented upon. The arrival of the book’s weakest storyline took the situation from bad to worse, and the horribly sub-par art that Karl Moline eventually rushed out compromised matters yet again. The return of Fray was supposed to be an event for the title, but like Mark Miller’s Old Man Logan, it just ended up subordinating a popular book to a far lesser known one. [JHa]

herbie fully loaded dvdrip The Damon Lindelof Award for Biggest Momentum Killer: Divided We Stand

The Messiah Complex crossover brought a level of industry focus to the entire X-line that it hadn’t enjoyed in years. Finally embracing the titles’ relations, the books were sparking off each other magnificently, and the future for the mutants was awaited with bated breath. The perfect time to put the entire franchise on ice for five issues until Uncanny #500, then? It’s a credit to the writers involved that the Manifest Destiny set-up has managed to recover interest, but the decision to tread water for a few months remains an utter absurdity. [JHa]

The Frank Miller Award For Regressive Gender Politics : Jeph Loeb

Let’s be honest, there are a whole bunch of things we could pick on Loeb for this year (and we have, in fact, at length). Rather than retreading old ground, though, there’s one particular aspect of his recent work that’s struck me as particularly uncomfortable – and that’s his increasingly bordering-on-sociopathic treatment of his female characters. The warning signs were there with Ultimates 3, in which every woman was either (a) ineffectual, (b) eye candy or (c) ineffectual eye candy – but if you were feeling charitable, you could put that down to the wider problem of simply not knowing what to do with the characters put in front of him. Far more alarming has been the story running in recent issues of Hulk, in which, having already had “Rulk” (sigh) kick the crap out of She-Hulk once, Loeb has had Jen spend the last few issues running around gathering increasing numbers of female heroes in an attempt to take him down – and been beaten every time. And we’re not just talking beaten, here – we’re talking tied up, strangled, patronised, leered at, humiliated – before the most recent issue in which a group including Ororo Monroe, Jessica Drew and Sue Storm was utterly outsmarted by the simple act of lying down and pretending to be unconscious. These adolescent “power over women” fantasies were made all the more galling by happening in the same week as the release of Ultimatum #2, an issue that featured a completely gratuitous full-page splash of the Wasp having her intestines gorily eaten by the Blob – an act which itself means that Loeb has now killed off every female Ultimates member in the space of a year. You might say that there have been far worse crimes-against-comics perpetrated by “writing’s Rob Liefeld” over the past year, but in my book, there’s been none more distasteful. [SP]

The “3D Glasses! Only $1.50! Really Work!” Award For Brass-Necked False Advertising : Trinity

Having sat through a year-long series without Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman that got away with it because it was really good, and another year-long series without Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman that didn’t get away with it because it was bloody awful, we were all looking forward to DC finally making use of their “Big Three” characters in one of these weekly-maxi-series malarkeys – not least because it seemed like the perfect vehicle for Mark Bagley’s much-heralded arrival at the company. So what’s gone wrong? Well, it hasn’t helped that Trinity has been interminably, insomnia-killingly dull – but that might even have been forgiveable if it had actually, you know, lived up to its title (and all its pre-publicity). Instead, a significant chunk of the story so far (its entire middle third, in fact) has centred around a world without Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Okay, so it’s been used to comment on just why the world needs them, but that’s not the point – because when you spend three dollars a week on a series with those three characters’ logos on the front, you expect them to actually appear. It’s certainly not the absolute disaster that Countdown was, but in failing to live up to its promise, it’s not winning many friends, and it may just herald the end of DC’s “annual weekly comic” experiment. [SP]

The Lucian of Samosata Award For Offense to Glycon : Absolute Black Dossier

There’s barely a comics fan alive that wouldn’t step over their own mother to get their hands on one of DC’s “Absolute” editions, but this year the company managed to demonstrate that not even that can be guaranteed anymore, as personal grudges allegedly spilled onto the shelves in the form of the Absolute Black Dossier. The original Black Dossier was a fantastic graphic novel/sourcebook from the LoEG team of Moore and O’Neill, so fans eagerly awaited the release of the oversized Absolute edition. The waiting, however, didn’t pay off. Seemingly upset with Moore’s decision to publish future League stories through Top Shelf, DC found no trouble scaling back the Dossier’s re-release. When it arrived, it was missing the scriptbook that accompanied previous Absolute LoEG editions, the promised vinyl single had vanished, and the special paper stock (integral to the reading experience) was omitted. All this for $99, the same price as other Absolute volumes with more than double the pagecount. Fans were justifiably livid, the credibility of the Absolute brand took a hit, and one can only imagine how Moore, with his legendary temper, took the news. Whatever circumstances led to the release of the Absolute Black Dossier in its current form, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could’ve been pleased with the results. [JHu]