Embellishing the Details: One Hit Wonders – The Reads

I love rereading old stories. Born Again. New Frontier. Mage. Walt Simonson’s Thor. Zot!. Batman/Grendel. The Mask. Marvel Team-Up Annual #7. Justice League of America #200. Boris the Bear. It’s comforting, revisiting old friends.

But there are some stories I only need to read once. The Death of Wolverine. Batman and Son. Hellshock. Civil War: The Return. Last year’s Airboy.

I call these stories one hit wonders because after I read them, I don’t feel like I need to or want to read them again. Some I enjoyed and would recommend. Some I feel wasted my time and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. Some are older stories that I read when they were new. Some are newer stories that were in my Regina or were recommended to me awhile after they were published.

Other than those mentioned above this also includes:

Pride of Baghdad. Pride of Baghdad is a gorgeous book about a small group of lions that escape from the Baghdad Zoo after a bombing in 2003. It’s a work of fiction based on a true story. And that story by Brian K. Vaughn is solid, but it’s Niko Henrichon’s art that steals the show for me. If you’ve read it and you know anything about me, you know why I can’t read this book again, even though it sits on the shelf above me when we record every week. It’s something I’m glad I read and I think everyone should read it, but once is all I can take. In fact, I don’t think I’ve thumbed through it since I read it when it came out over ten years ago.

Starman (the Robinson one, not the fun one introducing Will Payton). So many people swear Starman is the reason comicbooks were created. Including friends whose tastes run similar to mine. I bought the first Omnibus, figuring I’d have nothing to lose. If this is the be-all and end-all, I should go all out and have it in a package worthy of its praise.

I could not be more wrong.

 

I think this is one of those titles that came along at the right time for its fans. Through Jack Knight James Robinson connects to the reader in a similar way Mark Waid did with Wally West. Unfortunately for me, I’m not one of the readers it connected with. I tried. There are over a dozen issues in that deluxe collection. I sent it along during one of our EOC gift exchanges and hopefully it’s currently with someone who can enjoy it.

Spider-Man: The Other. Oof. It’s bad enough they decided to give Peter organic web shooters in the comicbooks like Tobey had in the Sam Raimi-directed trilogy (one of my biggest problems with the movie series), but The Other: Evolve or Die, crossing over into the three Spider-Man titles (Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel Knights Spider-Man, and the newly launched Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (because what’s better than a new series? A new series that’s part of a 12-chapter event you won’t be able to escape from for four months!), was a miss and a half. Plucked-out eyeballs, skin-shedding, Logan being Logan and hitting on yet another redhead, new powers manifesting that have been ignored… just oof. Three different creative teams, with the artists staying on their books (Mike Deodato and Joe Pimentel on Amazing Spider-Man, Pat Lee (gods help me) and Dream Engine (because, like an Internet troll, you should be proud of – and stand behind – the work you’re attached to) on Marvel Knights Spider-Man, and the phenomenally paired and top five team of Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man), but the writers would take a three-part act working with each art team before landing on their own books for the final three issues of this thing.

I was so happy to see David, Wieringo, and Kesel on a book. And a Spidey book no less! But the crossover meant I’d get David for an issue and wouldn’t see him again until #4.  And then he wouldn’t be able to tell the stories he wanted to tell until #5. Add to that the story just wasn’t good. I read it as it was coming out and I only think about it when it comes to comicbook low points. And I don’t mean only Spider-Man low points. I mean everything. Going all the way back to that one with the cover date of June, 1938.

Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight. Here’s another big deal for many fans. I know, I know. Hal Jordan is old and busted. Kyle Rayner is the new hotness. Or so I’m told. The “Death of Superman” was a crazy ride, man. And one I can add to the reread colum. Following Superman’s death, four heroes showed up to take his place. Each one carrying that mantle in the four weekly Superman titles (Superman, Action Comics, Man of Steel, Adventures of Superman) which all had “Reign of the Supermen” boldly stated on the covers. During this reign, Mongul, that guy who knows just what to give the man who has everything, destroys Coast City. That’s a bit too much for Hal to take. Long story short, Hal goes off the deep end, violates one of the more important rules of the Corps, and makes his way to Oa. Chaos, brought to you by Ron Marz, Bill Willingham, Robert Campanella, Romeo Tanghal, Fred Haynes, Dennis Cramer, and new series penciler Darryl Banks, ensues.

Look, I get it. DC’s characters have been around a long, LONG time. It’s not always easy to relate to someone who is older than your dad. Plus, Hal could be …stiff at times. Dude’s a space cop. He follows the rules, can be a bit uptight, and isn’t really the life of the party. DC wanted a new Green Lantern from top to bottom. Emerald Twilight let them do just that. And it’s not like this was a new thing for DC.  It wasn’t just Hal. Wally had replaced Barry after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Conner became the new Green Arrow after Oliver Queen died. I’ve always appreciated DC’s attempts at passing the torch, making legacies matter.

I personally know people who, for them, Kyle IS Green Lantern. And that’s cool.

What’s not cool is what they did to Hal to make that happen.

  

This isn’t really a case of where I felt a sense of ownership, that ol’ “How DARE you do that to MY character!” chestnut. I simply felt they decided to disregard everything about Hal that led to that moment. There are thousands of other ways they could have ended up with Kyle as Green Lantern and Hal out of the picture. And if that happened, instead of Kyle tripping over the ring while leaving a bar to take a piss in the alley, I might not be as raw about it.

So, yeah. I don’t really feel the need to reread Emerald Twilight.

And for the umpteenth time, I was not a member of HEAT.

Wolverine: Evolution. “How can they ruin a Wolverine vs. Sabretooth can’t miss?”, you might ask. Read this to find out.

I was in a groove, enjoying this volume of Wolverine – kicking off with Greg Rucka and Darick Robertson (and Leandro Fernandez), included Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., and Klaus Janson giving us Enemy of the State and Agent of SHIELD, and continued with Marc Guggenheim, Humberto Ramos, and Carlos Cuevas with the Civil War tie-in, Vendetta – until #50. That’s when Jeph Loeb, Simone Bianchi, and Andrea Silvestri brought us the Evolution arc.

Your mileage may vary. It looks real good in spots, Marvel even published variant issues in black and white, but the story is the weak link here. It doesn’t help that, if the rumors are true, this story took Sabretooth off the table, neutering another series I was enjoying at the time.

This is a story that I might recommend to the right person, but the less said, the better.

Batman: Cacophony. I was a huge Kevin Smith mark back in the day. I’m still a fan, enjoying his episodes of The Flash, yet, to this day, I haven’t bothered to watch Cop Out because I don’t want to do that to myself. I drove to Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash to see if he might be there, to get an autographed Chasing Amy movie poster, which, speaking of things coming along at the right time, was a flick that really helped me when I needed it, but the only person working when I was there was Walt Flanagan. It was a nice shop.

Anyway, whatever Smith wrote, I bought. Guardian Devil with Joe and Jimmy? Hells yes. A Spider-Man/Black Cat five issue limited series drawn by the Dodsons that’s going to take five years until it’s done? Sure, I have other things to read while I wait. You’re teaming up with Phil and Ande to bring Ollie back in a new Green Arrow book? Take my money.

Smith was a guy who could really do no wrong in my eyes.

Until a little three-part story with art by the aforementioned Walt Flanagan (inked by Sandra Hope) featuring Batman. And Joker. Who mentions he’d prepare for Batman’s visit by putting on his green merkin. By itself you might chuckle. Hell, I would probably chuckle. That groan-inducing moment wouldn’t cause the series to be on this list on its own. But this was unlike Smith’s previous mainstream work. And the art just wasn’t helping the cause. I’m not saying Batman is on some pedestal that can never be mocked. I mean, I’ve read Dark Knight Strikes Again. The character has been abused.

  

I guess I expected more. Overall, it’s a forgettable story.

And, by the way, I ordered that autographed movie poster when I got home from Jersey. It’s been framed for longer than I’ve known my wife, I just don’t have a place to hang it.

Marvel Boy. I read this one a few years after it came out. It’s another series that took a little longer to conclude, if I remember the cover dates correctly.

I thought Marvel Boy was neat enough. It definitely felt like a Grant Morrison playing in the Marvel Universe comicbook. Meaning that, like the Warren Ellis and Gary Erskine series Jack Cross from DC, this is a book that takes place in the Marvel Universe, but it just sorta kinda barely felt like it. The art by J.G. Jones (with an assist by Ryan Kelly and Sean Parsons) did the job. But I just don’t particularly care for Noh-Varr. That seems to be the norm when it comes to Morrison. The idea might be interesting, but there will almost always be a character or three that completely turns me off. It happened with New X-Men, it happened with Batman (particularly the Son part of that run), it happened with the Final Crisis and The Multiversity events. There’s something about his work that simply doesn’t jibe with me.

But I respect it and recognize he’s adored by many.

So this is one book I’d recommend. Especially if you’re a fan of Grant and haven’t read New X-Men (don’t feel bad, I still haven’t finished the Omnibus). But if you’re a fan of Grant, how much of his work haven’t you read? It’s usually all or nothing with his followers.

I did get a kick out seeing a character who originally appeared in this limited series as part of a recent arc in Jason Aaron’s and Russell Dauterman’s The Mighty Thor.

Superman: Grounded. Okay, some stories I wish I never read.

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Do you have any one hit wonders? Let me know by sending an email my way or leave a comment below. You can also find me on Twitter.