Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Top Ten Worst DC Comics of 2017

Another year has gone by.

Surprisingly enough, I don't consider this year as bad as the last one to be honest. I know that last year I was in a down mood because of many of the bad things that happened in 2016 but fortunately things have been much brighter in 2017. Some of the best books continued to be good and many others were released that were even better. 2017 has certainly been a quite splendid time to be a comic fan due to the multiple enjoyable stories that we've experienced.

On the other hand, some things never change.

One would think that at this point companies learned that they shouldn't put as much sh*t as they do but if this industry has taught me anything is that old mistakes keep being repeated. Sadly, many of the worst books from 2016 also continued their path towards this year for reasons that I can barely comprehend. Some of the worst books from last year became even worse in 2017, some books that I actually thought could be saved didn't make it and didn't make it in the most horrific way possible. Hell, not even some of the best books from 2016 were as good as during that year (But I will talk about that in their respective lists)

If there's a recurring theme that you will see in the current list is parallels to what happened last year. Some books became bad, others became terrible, others became irredeemable and made me wish for a desperate change one way or another, one that I seriously hope at least occurs in 2018.

And let's just say that I'm going to start this list in the worst way possible indeed.

10. Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman.


*sigh* How did we end-up here?

Yes, I warned you that there were going to be parallels with the lists from last year but I bet you didn't expect one of the best books from 2016 in the same spot of the worst segment right?

But there's a justifiable and easy explanation for this change: Rucka's Wonder Woman simply got worse.

As you mght recall, last year I mentioned that the run was very good but it suffered from a few issues like heavy-handed themes and the fact that Rucka kept ignoring Brian Azzarello's contributions to the mythos and replaced them with his own, and let's be honest, much inferior creations.

I could talk about several aspects that I disliked in Rucka's second year but let's just mention some of the major ones.

For one, Cheetah was presented as a complete waste of an archenemy spot by portraying Barbara Minerva as a pretty pathetic woman who constantly jumped from side to side and barely had any agenda on her own. In fact she kept being manipulated by other villains who were way smarter than her and that made her look very weak in terms of character to the point that I hope that somebody fixes her in the future. This is a far cry from the classic strong and intelligent nemesis that Wonder Woman deserves. Rebirth Cheetah is just a victim and almost offensively so.

Second, I could also talk about Steve Trevor and how he's also an incredibly weak character on his own. He barely has any personality, hell, he barely has ANY REASON TO EXIST that is not related to Wonder Woman. Yes, you could say: "Oh, but this is Diana's title and he's playing the archetype of the female romantic interest to showcase how silly it is" and I would say: "NO! F*CK THAT!". Female romantic interests haven't been this weak for decades now, in fact, some of the most popular like Lois Lane and Catwoman currently have pretty relevant roles in the books of their lovers while emphasizing how strong they are as characters (Despite  thatI have my own issues with Batman's book, more about that later). This wouldn't be so bad if I haven't seen the potential of Steve early on the New 52 when he was written by Geoff Johns or even in Wonder Woman's recent movie where he's portrayed as an actual human being with motivations and personality that go beyond pining over Diana.

Third, let's talk about the unresolved plot-points that Rucka left at the end where he made Etta angsty due that she blames Diana for Cheetah's condition while also making Diana stay away from her people... which goes completely against the whole idea of this run since it was supposed to bring back the classic mythos to the series and this makes me realize that Rucka pretty much called Azzarello's run a lie for nothing. NOTHING!

See? This run gets worse and worse whenever I think about it and makes me wish that I would have put it higher but believe me, there are bigger things to hate.

9. Hope Larson's Batgirl.


This actually doesn't make me so angry as much as it bores me to death and if you know me that can irritate me even more depending on my mood.

Larson's Batgirl didn't start particularly great. I mean, it had decent characterization and a few interesting ideas but the stories and direction were so mediocre that I already forgot what happened there (and I think even the writer did considering that none of the ideas she introduced during her first arc were mentioned ever again).

However, things went completely downhill once that Barbara returned to Burnside since it seemed like Larson tried to capture some of the charm that made the Stewart/Fletcher/Tarr's run so lovable by not recognizing anything of it. Larson's writing simply doesn't have enough personality or creativity to evoke the same exciting feeling that run offered which is especially clear during each storyarc which suffers from plots that keep being repeated constantly in every issue and characters who are not compelling enough and sadly tend to be the focus of such arcs.

Oh, but that's by far not the most terrible thing about this run. Larson actually tries to deliver social commentary which is as profound as what you can find in a single Tweet. Treating Transgender people in patronizing ways, mentioning how Millenials don't really complaint so much and pushing every male douchebag stereotype in a villain so ridiculous that can't escape the image of a caricature. Larson just follows every trend possible, says as little as she can about it and just leaves it and you know what's saddest part of this? That she doesn't even let the characters she's talking about try to resolve their own problems, she just talks about them and then they just abandon the whole plot where they barely appear again (If they even appear. Seriously, that Millenial line was so dumb and out of place that makes me wonder its point and I'm a Millenial).

For being immensily mediocre and trying to hide such mediocrity by trying to appear relevant, is a miracle that this series has lasted as much as it did.

But is hardly the worst offender in that category.

8. Marguerite Bennett/James Tynion IV's Batwoman.

Oh boy, speaking of mediocrity, see what I just remembered.

I must say that I'm a huge fan of Batwoman, I love Kate's background and personality, I love that she has a natural connection to the supernatural and that gives her a prettydistinctive theme among the rest of the Batfamily, I love everything about her and apparently Marguerite Bennett does too since she has mentioned several times that she's a big fan and has given Kate a major role in her Bombshell series.

Then why the hell did she decide to feature her in one of the most BORING books that I've seen?!

I'm not lying when I say that anyone who read the first arc of the Rebirth Batwoman book wasted their time and money since is one of the most underwhelming opening stories that I've seen and definitely one of the worst ways to start a series. The beginning of new title, especially one featuring a lesser-known character like Batwoman, should be exciting, deliver a strong premise and future and give the readers a reason to come back for more.

But of course that didn't happen. The book focused on an insignificant island called "Corana"? (Or something like that, I didn't even bother to remember). An island that was so dull and presented such unremarkable new characters and were only created to have a vague and uninteresting connection to Kate and somehow the writer decided that they actualy deserved 5 frikking issues on them! This is especially bad because the story wasn't even intriguing, it was just an underwhelming exploration of a world that wasn't really worth exploring.

I have complained in the past that I was tired of the flashbacks to Kate's origin but if this is the alternative then bring all those memories with her sister back.

Marguerite Bennett has never been a great writer, at her best she's merely decent and at her worst, well, here it is.

Then again, I can hardly throw all the blame on her since James Tynion IV was also credited for this story and speaking of the devil:

7. James Tynion IV's Detective Comics.


Do you know what's funny about this title? That I actually was planning to add it in my Top Ten Best List from last year.

Yes, James Tynion IV's first storyarc actually showed a lot of promise due to the solid characterization and strong team dynamics that demonstrated the potential of a team consisting of Batman characters. Everything looked hopeful.

Then Tim Drake "died" and everything went to hell.

This is especially clear in Stephanie Brown who suddenly got a complete change of character going completely depressed and confrontational to the whole group because of the dead of his boyfriend which presented some of the most infuriating and terrible moments from the entire series. Fans of the fun version of Steph from Bryan Q. Miller's Batgirl heavily disliked this portrayal and consider it one of the worst that the character has ever received (and that includes me).

You know what's the most awful and borderline offensive thing about this? Is that once that Tim "came back to life" (and of course he did), Steph once again had a change of heart willing to help the team once again which creates a pretty problematic case of "a woman can only be happy when she has her man at her side". Is simply denigrating from every angle.

And that's without touching the plots because if you know something about Tynion is that that's by far his weakest point. The guy is decent enough when he writes one-shots and little stories but his issues are really obvious once that he handles big arcs because of multiple uninteresting segments happening, that at times even go against characterization, and delivering such anticlimactic endings that ruins all the promise that this series initially had.

This book has the "disappointment" word all over it and believe me, that's not the first time that you're going to heard that here. Case in point:

6. Keith Giffen's Blue Beetle.

I REALLY should have seen this coming after Justice League 3001. Hell, I even mentioned in my Top Ten Worst List from last year but this series started so fun that I wanted to have hope.

That clearly didn't pay off.

Giffen committed pretty much all of his classic mistakes here. While the series started with an energetic and entertaining feel, the book quickly devolved into a bunch of uninspired stories that went too long for their own good and barely offered any satisfying conclusion to compensate the amount of time that it was wasted on them. Not only that but many of the plot-points that Giffen created here barely received any resolution and again, I really should have seen that coming.

But what really made me hate this was the ending and God, what an ending!

Let's start with the most stupid thing that could have happened: Giffen decided to give a conclusion to Justice League 3001 in the final issue of his run.

You can start figuring out what went wrong there.

Yes, fans of the title like myself complained about how JL3001 didn't receive a proper resolution for all the plot-points that it had but we wanted to get an ending in that same series! Not forcing one into Blue Beetle for not apparent reason! I mean, Giffen did use characters from JL3001 like Teri and Batgirl but I thought that he would spend more time developing such direction to actually warrant the inclusion of the proper JL3001 but obviously he didn't, Giffen is terrible distributing time and both Teri and Batgirl ended-up basically like unimportant supporting characters.

And you know what's even funnier? That Justice League 3001 didn't even receive a proper ending in the last chapter of Blue Beetle!

No, the war in that alternate future is still going, Jaime's involvement barely contributed to anything and if that story didn't receive a proper ending you better believe that Blue Beetle's own story didn't either.

Jaime's own conflicts barely had any closure, he just went on like nothing happened. Oh, and La Dama, classic Blue Beetle villain and Brenda's aunt, turned out to be Morgaine Le Fey who came back to the past from the JL3001 in a confusing and useless twist just because Giffen wanted to create some sort of connection between the two books to justify his direction. This makes me sorry for future writers because now they're forced to handle this new development and I hope they have the good sense to retcon it.

You might think that I hate Giffen but I do not. He's a pretty creative writer but someone really needs to direct his ideas in an actual planned direction to avoid disasters like this.

And we're far from over, things just keep going and going.

5. Steve Orlando's Justice League of America.


Boy, disappointments after disappointments. Such a great year!

I'm actually culprit of this. As you might remember I was initially really hyping the arrival of Steve Orlando on the title due to his great work on the Midnighter series and called this development the best thing that was going to happen from the Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad event that was setting-up this new volume.

But I was wrong, really, really wrong. For one, Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad turned out to be better than it has any right to be and second, Orlando simply delivered one of the most underwhelming books of the year.

I'm honestly surprised about this. The one-shots stories that were released featuring the main characters to also prepare this series were pretty good and gave me a lot of hope of finally having a good Justice League title after Geoff Johns left but Orlando didn't meet expectatives in the most offensive way imaginable.

Let's talk about the stories, they're barely worth mentioning. Orlando's first storyline consisted of introducing Marvel villains analogues like Lord Havok and others which in and of itself is a pretty neat idea but Orlando's execution turned it into a pretty simplistic superhero story with poor pacing, dull characterization and unsatisfying conclusion. The rest of the arcs from this book would only follow suit and some of them were even worse in those aspects.

Now let's speak about the characters, Orlando pretty much left his craft in those previously mentioned one-shots due that the characterization and interactions between the cast in this book were so unremarkable that just like the stories, don't even deserve to be addressed. I'm completely baffled about this, how can you make a cast that has frikking Lobo boring?! Not even Tony Bedard was able to do that in R.E.B.E.L.S. for God's sake.

And not even Orlando's own great work on other series were safe. Prometheus made an appearance here which is completely logical considering his origin in Grant Morrison's JLA and I was really intrigued about this after how well Orlando handled the character in Midnighter but of course, he failed once again by portraying Prometheus as an utterly pathetic guy that gets defeated very easily and not even his motivations are as strong as before.

This book is so mediocre that it makes me wonder if Orlando is not simply sabotaging it because he wants to stop writing it and at this point, I'm just ready to let him go.

And speaking of letting things go, there are a couple of series that are connected to this one that deserve the same opinion.

4. Bryan Hitch's Justice League.


I have a honest question here: Did anyone actually like this run?

I mean, even with some of the worst examples from this list you can still find some people that actually enjoyed those series (I sure as hell don't understand why but whatever) but that's something that I can't simply say about Bryan Hitch's extremely forgettable stint in this title.

Justice League is supposed to be a bombastic, bold and beautifully crafted book, those have always been the defining traits of the series. Hitch however, never managed to deliver something like that and instead dedicated his time to continually creating underwhelming story after underwhelming story where not even the most ardent fans of the title weren't able to stomach.

Case in point? Even with most of the series mentioned here you can see some sort of discussion online being in forums, Twitter or any other way. That doesn't happen with Justice League, the series is overwhelmingly ignored by the whole comic community and considering the history of the series and how relevant it should be, that's just pretty sad.

Thankfully, this book has finally received the writer it deserved with the arrival of Christopher Priest. On the other hand, other books don't have such luck.

3. Rob Williams' Suicide Squad.

Good Lord, why the HELL is this still going on?!

Everything that I just said about Hitch's Justice League is extremely amplified in Williams' Suicide Squad. The difference being that the former at least had the decency to end.

As I mentioned last year, Williams' Suicide Squad is probably one of the laziest examples of writing that I've seen in my life, it just screams "corporate creation" since this title with this specific cast was just created because of the Suicide Squad movie... which was released in 2016... and it wasn't really good to be honest.

Williams didn't even bother to explore the potential of the interactions between this cast due that most of the characters barely act like themselves, at some points they even act like caricatures of themselves, exaggerating their most obnoxious traits (Looking at you Harley) and not even bothering to offer their other classic aspects that actually gives them depth. Oh, and Williams' typical unnatural dialogue sure contributes to this a lot.

But you can't expect much actual significant content since Williams is still making the stories even shorter to deliver an unimportant side-story about the characters that nobody really cares about. We want to see that sort of thing implemented into the main plot in a way that complements it! That's basic writing stuff!

This book doesn't even receive any sort of recognition whatsover, people constantly ignore it to the point that I even forget that is still being released.

Seriously though, why the HELL is this still going?!

Although there are other books that continually make me ask the same question but for different reasons.

2. Tom King's Batman.

I know, these lists are getting repetitive, repetitive, repetitive but in this case is warranted.

Did you actually expect anything from this book at this point? Like, anything?

Because I did. Yes, believe it or not, I actually did.

King's stories tend to start creative enough at the very least. Despite that I consider the I am Suicide arc as one of the worst stories released last year, I am Bane started promising enough by presenting Bane as a strong and terrifying antagonist that was able to defy Batman and his whole world. It even presented a few quirky moments that brought a smile to my face.

But then I remembered that this is a story written by Tom King and I knew that it was going to be ruined by the execution.

Jesus Christ, the execution. I am Bane especifically went to hell quite quickly due to the poor pacing and useless finale which literally consisted just of how much Batman missed his parents, coming to a realization that has happened several times in the past already and finishing the fight with Batman knocking Bane out with a single headbutt. 

Yes, a single headbutt.

This is especially unsatisfying because has been hyped for 3 entire arcs before this scene happened (4 if you count the crossover Night of the Monster Men) so ending all this build-up in such an anticlimactic way obviously left several readers disappointed.

But, that's not even the worst example of King's writing this year.

No. That would come later in the even more overhyped story The War of Jokes and Riddles where King tells the story of the biggest fight between the Joker and the Riddler and again, this did start really promising with a pretty unique take in both classic villains. Then everything went to hell pretty quickly.

The biggest problem is that this is a story told via flashbacks from Bruce's perspective and you can start figuring out what went wrong then. While this is a pretty inventive way to narrate a tale, it also forbids the reader to be actually immersed into the plot because this kind of format doesn't really show what's actually happening, the narration is the only thing giving the details. Yes, this is a classic example of "tell, don't show" and in the most blatant manner.

This is without even mentioning that most of the issues started to get repetitive (Yes, Tom King and repetition go hand by hand) since there were many chapters where barely anything happened and others were just plain silly trying to sound smart. Oh, and this story ended in yet another unsatisfactory note with Batman simply realizing that he's able to kill... and that's somehow something really surprising.

All of this leads to the incoming big running plot-point of Batman getting married to Catwoman and some of the most atrocious forms of dialogue that I've seen. People who had read this book know about the infamous "Bat, Cat" lines that for some reason King believes are charming and continues to repeat them ad infinitum to the point where I think I want this relationship to end just so they can start talking like humans once again.

You know what's the most disappointing thing about this though? That there are issues that actually show good stuff.

Yes, the most recent issue that develops Batman and Superman's connection works really, really well and is easily one of the best things I've read from this title in a while. It does show potential.

But that's the thing, King's run shows potential but it ultimately ends-up being disappointing. ALWAYS. That's why I can't get excited anymore and I just know that this arc is going to end bad.

This brings me to my final point: 

People, "different" doesn't automatically mean "good". 

"Potential" doesn't automatically mean "good". 

"Execution" has to be "good".

That's what is completely lacking here and I just wish this run would stop already just so it stops tricking people into having faith in it.

But boy, oh boy, that is still doesn't represent the biggest failure of the year. The biggest failure of the year actually represents all the flaws that I've mentioned in this list combined.

A series that once again, gave me a bit of faith at times despite that it was also pretty bad for the most part. A series that is so frustrating that it almost gets funny but it never manages to reach the point of "so bad that is good". Is just bad, plain bad and pretty irritatingly so.

And yes, if you know me and you've been following all what I've been saying this year you know what's coming.

1. Ben Percy's Green Arrow.


Sorry guys, he didn't make it.

Yes, this is pretty predictable from me I know but  just couldn't help it. I DO think that this is by far the worst book from 2017 and I actually have the reasons behind.

Let's talk about some of the things that makes this comparable to King's Batman: At some point I actually thought this had potential.

Yes, as you might remember last year when I included this same book halfway, I mentioned that at points Percy was able to deliver good and even heartwarming stories when he wasn't forcing a stupid political message that only people who spend time on the internet would applaud. Hell, even the relationship between Oliver and Dinah here, while being heavily idealized to the point where it loses all the complexity that made their previous incarnation so interesting, it still works from a romantic standpoint (I mean, is not my favorite interpretation but it still does what it tries to do decently).

However, that potential and promise got quickly thrown out of the window by the mere fact that Percy simply refuses to get better.

The extreme, and I mean EXTREME! Liberal take on Green Arrow continues. Meaning that we see completely over-the-top evil businessmen, maniacal cops, drug dealers that deserve respect simply because they're indigenous, buzzwords that are not even used correctly (Percy doesn't even know what the term "Mansplaining" means despite that he should be an expert of it) among other things that you keep taking me out of the story because of how unrealistic they are and considering that this is a series that takes place in frikking space at some point, that's saying a lot (I'm not kidding when I say EXTREME! since these are the kind of political stories that I could see happen in the early 90s).

Percy's social commentary is simply unnatural and forced, and let's not even talk about how poorly this contrasts with the kind of stories he tells since all these serious issues are supposed to be taken seriously in a plot where giant robots, mutated creatures and silly supervillains appear. In some place in time Garth Ennis is facepalming.

Oh yeah, and let's speak about those silly supervillains. I already said last year how blunt Percy's Clock King is compared to Jeff Lemire's version (He has a CLOCK TATOO on his face for the love of Lord!) but now he also retconned Lemire's Count Vertigo with an one-dimensional rich douche who has as much depth as anything that Percy touches here. How about the Ninth Circle? Those stereotypical evil businessmen that Percy has been writing about pretty much since his New 52 run that for some reason are not defeated yet! They're not interesting enough to waste entire arcs focusing on them, even if they actually were interesting people would get tired of them after so many issues.

Those are not the biggest offender in terms of villains though, the biggest offender is Green Arrow's nemesis Merlyn.

Percy in a single chapter simply decided to make one of the characters say: "Oh, remember your old friend Tommy Merlyn? He's back as a mercenary" and just in that moment I knew it was going to be bad since a character Merlyn deserved a proper build-up to create an anticipation for his appearance, not simply mentioning that he's going to appear as heavy-handed as possible in a poor attempt at creating a set-up.

And yes, he did appear in just the next issue which obviously was immensily telegraphed and too quick for its own good but even that is not the biggest issue since Percy wanted to create a twist here. Is not Tommy Merlyn, is Malcolm Merlyn... who hasn't appeared in this series at all, he wasn't even referenced. This is much, MUCH worse because at least there was some precedence for Tommy's appearance since Green Arrow #0 from the New 52 while we didn't even know if a Malcolm actually existed in this universe which makes me believe that there are only two reasons for this development: 1) Creating a lame surprise and 2) Because Malcolm is part of the Arrow T.V. show and that should be enough.

Speaking of Malcolm, this also creates another problem, how Diggle character was handled. Diggle has been hating Ollie for a while and then decided to forgive him and then decided to betray him because he owed Malcolm his life. The explanation being that Ollie and Diggle had a fight because of Diggle's fiancee and at that point I just knew that this was most likely because Ollie had an affair with her. This being Oliver Queen makes sense, what doesn't make sense is that Diggle apparently wanted to die after that but once that Malcolm saves him he feels like he owes him? Why?

Let's drop that nonsensical characterization though. What bothers me the most of this scenario is that the reason why both Ollie and Diggle were fighting, the reason why Diggle hated Ollie and betrayed him was because yes, Ollie slept with Diggle's fiancee... AFTER they broke off.

... This, this is just too much.

I assume that the reason behind is because Percy wanted to make Ollie less unlikable without realizing that he just made the motivations behind Diggle's actions lack actual weight and at the same time, went against what makes Oliver Queen, Oliver Queen. He makes terrible mistakes and has to live with them.

This though? This is just a little fight between two massive and sexist egos who treat a woman like is some kind of object they can possess and considering that this happens in a book with an EXTREME! Liberal theme, it makes the whole direction pointless!

And those are the main reasons why I consider this comic the worst of 2017.

It has shallow social commentary that even makes Hope Larson's Batgirl look complex.

It has poor plannification that even makes James Tynion's IV Detective Comics look carefully constructed.

It had potential but constantly ruined it to the point that even makes Tom King's Batman a fulfilling experience.

Good God, I think I even miss Percy's "WEREWOLF = PRIVILEGE!" days, at least I was having some ironic fun then.

Final point as always: Do I consider Ben Percy a bad writer?

... No, I don't. I really, really don't. Hard to buy as it is.

Percy's Teen Titans is actually a decent book, is probably the best the series has been in years and I tend to like most of the stories and characterization from that title. Is just that anytime he touches Green Arrow things became quickly toxic, even Emiko's appearance in Teen Titans was just... awkward.

Percy is not bad, he's just Green Arrow bad. Let's leave it at that.

And that people, is my Top Ten Worst DC Comics of 2017. As usual, I'm planning to finish the year in a lighter note so look forward to my Top Ten Best DC Comics of 2017.

Later!

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