So from time to time I find myself reflecting on comic books greatest stories. You know the ones like “the dark knight returns” where they are the quintessential story of the hero. Now, there are so many of here for so many heroes, and it seems like everyone has there list of the best per franchise, but what about the disappointing stories? The ones that, didn’t quite make the cut.
What makes a disappointing story? For me it’s when you build up just to let down. The finest example is have is from a run of “daredevil”, now the reason this run was so disappointing was it made me reminisce about a similar story from a run on “batman” where the caped crusader goes up against a secret world controlling secret society that attempts to recruit him into its ranks. The Caped crusader is offered the chance to lead this cadre of ninjas, to rid the world of crime on a grand scale. What does the dark knight do? Turns it down, then burns it down. So you can imagine when this run of old horn head came to be, and when he gave the answer that ol’bats didn’t, that my own imagination took flight “here we go, a hero running a secret ninja society! It’s the alternate ending to my favorite caped crusader story!” I was esstatic! This was great!… then came the twist; it wasn’t that the mighty hero was playing one over on he secret ninja society, no, they hinted at that from the start, it was that the hero was possessed by a demon. A demon made me do it.
I didn’t even finish the run.
So then, I had to ask, why? Was it the editor? Was he trying to keep the story safe? Preserve the essence of the character? Was it the writer? Was he trying to make his mark with a twist you couldn’t even see coming? Hell, was it the artist?! Did he state in his Contract that he gets to draw ol’horn head with a demon? I don’t know. What I do know is how disappointed I was.
I felt betrayed. What should have been the quintessential story of my time, was a flubb! I felt utterly betrayed by everything in this book. The writer, the editor, the artist, colorist, inker, all of them.
That was the last time I bought a new comic.
Other stories had done similar things, this had happened before, even an entire offshoot universe had disappointed me. But what made this different was it was my hero. There had been a sort of buffer zone with me and comics for a few years leading up to this, yeah, I “liked” that book about merry mutants, but I could put it down if I wanted, sure the caped crusader was good this arc, but I don’t need every arc of a story (arc refers to the overall story arc, usually 3-8 issues long) to be good. But this was my jam. I owned every trade paper back up to volume 4, then jumped on to the series monthly. Even bought back issues to fill out my collection. I got this every month. My other favorite book, about a certain gun wielding vigilante in black, had just ended. Other stories were suffering as well. I had given up a number of books at the time, I was buying more trades, and I found myself reading less on Wednesday.
But there was still this book. I had survived five creative teams in 6 years. The stories they had told! The death of a major character in the first run. The tragic tale of a washed up villain missing for months told from the perspective of a reporter! At tale of manipulation and betrayal! And then, the Bendis run: our hero is outed in the public. Oh did my imagination soar! News media after a hero? Tabloid papers talking about him? And then it got better! Villains returned in new and inventive ways, new love interest popped up, new heros popped up! It was pure genius. His end of the run was masterful. It made me cry. The story was handed off to Ed Brubaker. Ed was wonderful. His story weaved a tale of intrigue and deception, it was thrilling!
Then. This. Story.
I guess in some sense I’m being childish about it. Dramatic. But what in the end what keeps us tied to what we consume? Why spend money on things you don’t like?