Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Mercy-killing comic books

One bad thing about rereading the Silver Age is that it includes reading stuff that I don’t particularly like.Sgt. Fury, for example, was sometimes billed as the “the war comic for people who hate war comics” but it’s more “the war comic for people who think war comics should resemble C-list war movies.” Nazis babbling incredulously that how the Howlers cannot possibly be winning because no Americans can beat the master race! Or stories like #21 in which busting a hostage out of a concentration camp is so effortless, you wonder why America needed the Invaders. Even the French Resistance stand around in awe at how awesome the Howling Commandos are.

What’s more depressing, though, is Adam Strange after Julius Schwartz, Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino departed Mystery In Space for Detective Comics. Adam Strange’s strip was great fun, with clever puzzle stories by Fox, glorious SF art by Infantino and Murphy Anderson, and a warm, passionate relationship between the leads. Once Jack Schiff took over the book, it rapidly sank to the level of Schiff’s Tales of the Unexpected. Dave Wood’s scripts are forgettable; Lee Elias’ art is just ugly. I’d have been much happier if they’d ended Adam’s strip with #91, the last Fox/Infantino/Anderson story.

So here’s a question of the week: is there a book you wish the publisher had canceled instead of letting it turn into crap?

#SFWApro. Covers by Dick Ayers, Lee Elias and Infantino (top to bottom).


  1. Edo Bosnar

    If your question is limited to the Silver Age, off the top of my head I can only think of an opposite case, i.e., a book that got cancelled when it just started to get really good: X-men.
    If the question is not restricted to any specific era of comics, then, hmmm, I think I’d say X-men again, right after Paul Smith’s last issue (I’m only being semi-facetious).

  2. Greg Burgas

    I mean, none of the Big Guns should count, because eventually someone good will come along to “revive” it, and all’s well again. It’s just the nature of the beast.

    Since we’re on a ClanDestine trip these days, Marvel shouldn’t have tried to do anything with it post-Davis. It was nice they allowed Davis to hand-wave it away with “it was all a dream,” though.

    (Also, Edo is crazy, because if Marvel had done that, we wouldn’t have gotten OUTBACK X-MEN!!!!!)

    1. Le Messor

      ClanDestine only lasted about four issues after Davis left, and wasn’t the massive tonal shift you sometimes get with a change of creative team. (All the revivals in comics were by Davis again, though I don’t think he was telling the stories he originally wanted to tell.) So that wouldn’t be my choice.

    1. Le Messor

      I don’t even read anything after the 90s series (a lot of which is, I admit, post-Valentino). But at least it’s still 30th Century Guardians!

  3. Le Messor

    Alpha Flight, after Byrne left.

    There’s even a What The — ?! story where they threaten the team with “a fate worse than having Byrne quit the book!”

    It’s horrible what happened to Mantlo later, and I understand he was burning out at the time, which sucks, but the book has never been as good again.

  4. Darthratzinger

    Doom Patrol after Morrison, The Authority after Millar, Hawkman after Ostrander, Alpha Flight after Byrne, and as an unexpected bonus: Knights Of Pendragon after Dan Abnett (I think it was Abnett). I loved the first volume and could barely read the first issue of volume 2. It was just as “good” as the rest of the Marvel UK line.

    1. JHL

      Knight of the Pendragon is absolutely the first thing that popped into my head for this question. It started out as a weird but interesting comic and turned into a whole lot of nothing.

  5. mike loughlin

    Checkmate (Greg Rucka series) after Rucka left: I think Bruce Jones wrote the last few issues, and they’re nigh unreadable.

    Excalibur after Alan Davis left: the book treaded water under Scott Lovell and it sucked. Warren Ellis revived it, but after he left it became a boring slot again.

    New Warriors after Fabian Nicieza left. The book hasn’t worked since.

    1. Le Messor

      I’ve deliberately only collected the Alan Davis Excalibur.

      I didn’t think New Warriors was terrible after Nicieza’s run, but it was never the same. Like I said about ClanDestine above, it didn’t undergo a radical tonal shift with a change in creative team.

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