Thursday, September 12, 2013

Top 5: Favorite Comic Reboots of all time


Ok, you folks know what time it is. Time for another mystery post about topic I give a shit enough about to well, post.

Today's topic should be a fun romp inspiring endless debates. And with a topic like this, why wouldn't it?
Basically I bitch enough(and with good cause more and more everyday) about DC's NU52 reboot. I don't like it and it feel it wasn't really necessary. Sure sales spiked at first due to consumer curiosity. And well yes initially that helped the business, those numbers quickly leveled off, and have stayed right around the same numbers of sales as pre-reboot sales.

But what about the reboots in the past that not only were successful, but also dreadfully needed?
Well, here's my attempt and picking out the best creative reboots of all time, and why.

Feel more than free to agree or disagree with me afterwards.

5). Grant Morrison's reboot of the X-Men:

Ah Grant Morrison. He pops up again later on this list. But it's not hard to figure out why. The man can write his superheroes, and he writes them very well, and always with one foot in the Silver Age.

Grant came along in a very timely opportunity. The first ever X-Men movie was just coming out, and the leather costumes became all the rage for a couple of years.

Well Grant decided he wanted to change things up from the usual incestuous mix of members and storylines that continued to pervade the characters as a default setting ever since Chris Claremont left.

Grant felt it time for a change, both in the X-Men's look, mentality, and mission statement.
Soon, Xavier's school for gifted youngsters actually looked and felt just like a school again when it opened its doors to a huge amount of new students. Who knew that concept could work again? Well Morrison did.
He even decided the Marvel Universe had too many mutants, and did something about it long before Bendis had the Scarlet Witch do it, by having new and weirdly modified sentinels wipe out most of Genosha Island.
And it all happened before the X-Men could stop it.

After that, Morrison finally resolved the long-standing love triangle of Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine, by killing of Jean(again) and making a new couple out of an unlikely pair of Emma Frost and Cyclops. Shocking and blasphemous to most when it all happened, commonly accepted now.
He made Magneto a villain again in of the most cleverest turns for that character, introduced new allies and foes, and dared to give us a new bad future for the X-Men. What's not to like?

Unfortunately Marvel, because after Morrison's 3-year run was over, the only contribution that was allowed to last, was the White Queen and Cyclops knocking boots. Everything else, from Magneto's heel turn and death, Xorn, and even the leather costumes were all gone and/or revamped in a years' time.

Horrible really.

4). Kurt Busiek and George Perez's reboot of The Avengers:

I remember this time period pretty well. The Jim Lee/Rob Liefield experiment didn't work out near as good as both Lee/Liefield and Marvel thought it would. Fan outrage, internal bickering, and poor sales, along with the looming and very real threat of bankruptcy all conspired together to make sure the "Image" makeover of Marvel's popular characters was a bust. Even to this day, almost two decades after it happened, and it still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Marvel fans everywhere.

So what happened to make things right again?
Namely Kurt Busiek and George Perez.

Basically it took two old pro's and their old-school mentality to come in and save the day, along with other writers and artists that were likewise supposed to redeem the failed Image founder experiment. It it worked. The Avengers finally became the flagship title for Marvel after many years of settling to for the #2 or #3 spot thanks to the X-Men.

Busiek and Perez worked their magic, bringing back old friends and foes, while creating/introducing new ones, all the while the story mattered, in turn making the Avengers matter again.
In other words, the Avengers were rightfully returned to their former glory they seemed to lose after 1992 with the conclusion of the Operation: Galactic Storm story-line.

From 1997-2001, Kurt Busiek(Perez left around '99) steered The Avengers back and track, quickly helping to erase the stench of the failed Heroes Reborn, and make the Avengers bad-ass again. I shudder to think if not for them, what would the Avengers look like without them.

3). Grant Morrison's JLA Run:

I told you the man was on here twice. 1997 for DC was starting to look like Marvel's 1996, until Morrison stepped on the scene, and behind the helm of DC's premier franchise book. Well, at least it was during and after Morrison's run.

Morrison brought back not only fun, but serious threats and the big guns: Superman, Batman, Flash, WW, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter. Yep, for first time in a long time, the original big guns(even if in name only since Wally and Kyle took over from their predecessors)
All it took was the big guns returning and Morrison's fertile imagination to return the JLA to its former glory, both sales- and popularity-wise.

With stories heavily influenced by the Silver Age and Jack Kirby, Morrison(and under-rated artist Howard Porter) took the readers and the JLA on a wild and crazy-ass ride through colorful and inventive enemies like Darkseid(and a taste of Final Crisis) the CSA, The Lex Luthor-led Injustice League, an invasion from the 5th dimension, and a seemingly impossible battle against an old war god. Only Morrison could write the stories he did, and put such a nice and shiny coat of paint on a fixer-upper like the JLA was at the time.

Trust me, to truly get the most out that run, you had to be there when it all happened. Fortunately I can say that, because I was there. And still love what he did to this day.

2). Chris Claremont's X-Men Run:

Sure it seems silly to say now, but without Chris Claremont, there'd probably be no X-Men. Or at least nowhere near what they look like now. Maybe there'd be no Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, or even a Wolverine without Claremont's influence. Thankfully we'll never have to know. And that alone, speaks volume for just how important Claremont is and was to the X-Men. I won't go into detail about all he did for the franchise, because most of you already know, or should know by know. I'll simply sums up by saying you should all thank your God that Chris Claremont was allowed to do what he did to a franchise that was never really that popular until he took it over. Yes, even papas Stan Lee and Jack Kirby never made the X-Men as popular as it is now. Think about that one for a minute or two.

1). DC's CRISIS On Infinite Earths:

It wasn't the first revamp, but it was truly the first REBOOT. It was one of a kind for its time, a true successful comic event in an era before comic events were ever heard of.

Crisis revamped the DCU in 1985-86, and in doing so, set a dangerous and seemingly irresistible precedent that DC loves to repeat every few years. Case in point the latest reboot.

Thanks to Marv Wolfman(and numerous other writers and editors) and George Perez, and legendary comic event occurred, seemingly riding itself of the numerous multiple earths that had sprang up over the years. The powers that be wanted a cleaned up, streamlined continuity for their cash cows to play in, and Wolfman and Perez obliged them creating a 12-issue mega epic that will forever go down in history for what it accomplished and for the numerous deaths it caused. The original Flash, the original Supergirl, and countless golden age duplicates of the current bronze age heroes all died, with only Barry Allen ever really coming back.

All in all, Crisis has become so influential, it's repeatedly ripped off and/or lampooned. But one can never, or should never, forget what real first even brought about the current all-consuming wave of endless comic events, because the CRISIS started it all.

Here's some other famous reboots/revamps that didn't make the list, but are no less important to know:

-Frank Miller's run on Daredevil
-Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams' run on Batman and GL/Green Arrow
-Warren Ellis singlehandedly saving the Wildstorm imprint with his new take on Stormwatch, which led to the Authority and Planetary.
-Walt Simonson's run on Thor
-Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing

There's a lot more I'm sure, but you get the gist. Feel free to comment on what you think, and what reboot/revamp you like and why.

Have a good weekend people:)


Gary said...

Totally agree with Morrison's JLA run (and I'm not his biggest fan) being a fantastic series. Huge characters versus huge ideas that managed to be fun as well.

And Crisis - what's not to love?!

Dale Bagwell said...

Gary: What's up man? Thanks for stopping by? Do you have a favorite character revamp/reboot?
And not Morrison's biggest fan? How come?

Randomnerd said...

I do like Morrison, and appreciate greatly what he did for X-Men, don't even mind that he killed off Jean. Again. But I absolutely, without caveat, HATE the Emma Frost/Cyclops pairing. Despise it. Have trouble looking at a scene with the two of them in it.
I suppose even creating a response that visceral is something of a win for a writer. And I know she's got her fans out there. I'm just not one of them.
Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing is one of my absolute favorites, and one of my first introductions in the realm of *duh duh duh* MATURE COMICS. (I'm not sure Dad realized I was reading them) But as great as he is, as great as Morrison is, Wolfman and Perez are the two names I still look for on any comic in a bin. For a reason. (And no, Dale, it's not because they wrote my favorite Dick, get your mind out of the gutter.)

Dale Bagwell said...

@Random: I don't care for the pairing either. She's just not his type at all. But at least it freshened things up like I needed to.
I just didn't think that'd be the only thing from Morrison's run to stick. People at Marvel are weird.

Yeah, you can never go wrong with any book with Wolfman/Perez on the front.
And of course you love Dick, who doesn't?;0

Randomnerd said...

I don't think the guys at DC at the moment. If they love Dick, it's in a pretty sadistic way.

Randomnerd said...

I was surprised that was the only part that stayed too. It just seems But I think writers and artists really love doing Emma.

Gary said...

Favourite reboot? Crisis is probably my favourite - that and Watchmen are the only Absolute Editions that I've ever bought.

I also liked James Robinson and David Goyer's reintroduction of the JSA and, later in that series, Geoff Johns's intelligent reworking of Hawkman's origins. He threw out all the crap, kept the good stuff and made it all work, something that hadn't been done for years.

As to Morrison... he has fantastically huge ideas but in some (not all) he doesn't really seem to deliver a satisfying pay-off. Final Crisis is a case in point: the Day Evil Won is a great concept; Darkseid taking over the Earth is great; but then, right at the end and almost from nowhere, Morrison pulls out the real bad guy as a vampiric Monitor and it was all about him from the start, honest...

Great idea, just a weak ending.

Other stuff by him (JLA, Animal Man, Dare) I really like; some I just find disappointing.

karl said...

I tried to post a BIG post on this last night but for somereason it didn't get published - Ill try again later!

Dale Bagwell said...

@Gary: Good ones, and ones like the Hawkman one I should've mentioned. Johns if nothing else, saved the pre-nu52 reboot Hawkman and the JSA.

I totally agree with you on FC. I don't know what the fuck Morrison was thinking, but yeah other than Barry returning and Bruce "Dying", it was a waste a mini. Again. good to great concepts, but yeah, very poor follow through. Unlike his first take on a Darkseid won world during his JLA run.

@Karl: ? Keep trying chap;)

The King of Thessaly said...

Nice, nice... I like SOME of those, but I admit they are all seminal. I have a somewhat different list:

1.) Peter Milligan and Mike Allred's X-Force/X Statix -Damn thing is a masterpiece!
2.) John Byrne's Man of Steel -Way better than that one movie of the same name. ;)
3.) J. Michael Straczynski and
Gary Frank's Squadron Supreme: Supreme Power -"Fine, I just won't finish Rising Stars for you yet- so check THIS shit out!"
4.) John Arcudi and Francisco Ruiz Velasco's "Fight Club" Thunderbolts -I don't care what anyone says: This was awesome!
5.) Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon -I mean- he rebooted his own damn book. Shit was crazy.

The King of Thessaly said...

@Gary: FUCK YEAH! on the JSA stuff- those books were awesome! -Forgot about that. Bill Willingham's run was pretty good too.

Dan W said...

This is a great list Mr D! I loved Grant's X-Men right from the first page. Cyke telling Wolverine he can probably stop doing that now was a great tongue in cheek way of saying the x-books were hopping off the merry go round they had been on for years. To bad so much of the ground he made has been reversed. He made me like Emma as a character, and I never thought I would. He also wrote a great Beast.

K&B's Avengers is one of the greatest runs on any title ever. It definitely sits alongside the JSA work mentioned in this comments thread and Grants JLA with me.

Without just adding 'Me too' to the other ideas in this list, I'd add Kevin Smith on Daredevil for me, Geoff Johns over Wally on Flash - not really a revamp for the Hero, but it was for the Rogues, and yeah Stormwatch turning into The Authority was wicked in all ways right.

Plus Green Arrow year one by Jock. That book is amazing visually and narratively and doesn't get the press it should.

karl said...

Balls. I'll try again.
I agreed with EVERYTHING you said Dale -absolutely EVERYTHING. I thought the JLA and Avengers were all washed up and nothing more could be written for them in the 90s but these soft reboots were just what the comic fan ordered.
I posted a LONG piece about three books which had successful revivals and several times it wouldn't post[!]. So I'll do them in three segments [I think I typed too much and exceeded the maximum number of words on a post or summat, I dunno].

karl said...

My all time favourite book, it had lean times in the late 70s early looked old, stale and redundant. Then Byrne took over as writer and artist. He brought the book in his own words 'back to basics' he gave us a tough Thing who shook off his lovable Fozzie Bear impression and best of all gave us a Sue Richards whose power was vastly increased, making her an equal member of the team, and changing her name for a more mature edge.
He took Reed and Sue from suburbia to Hell, the Inhumans up to the Moon, and sent the FF on a long sojourn and tribute to Dr. Who into the Negative Zone, gave us a new take on their costume design and most of all made Doctor Doom a fearsome villain and number one threat once again, after spending the Seventies as a pantomime villain.
His stories rocked; he gave us a more mature Human Torch, tragedy for Sue and Reed, a cosmic ethos for Galactus and helped us finally like the She-Hulk after she had become a sad joke.
We saw a possible future for Kang [Reed Richards's other brother?!?] and stirred the shit big time amongst the team when he had the Torch fall in love with The Thing's girlfriend, a feud which ran for years.
We got a sideways issue, a real-time issue, a split-screen issue, and a real sense the comic was moving forward after the longest hiatus.
Many feel Byrne was the books second best creator after the dual team of Lee and Kirby.

karl said...

George Perez's WONDER WOMAN
The book never sold well, and WW is a notoriously difficult character to write for - until Perez came on board after the reboot of issue one.
With his unique eye for detail, he spent months reading Greek and Roman art books to give us authentic Greek armor, Greek architecture...the works. But his writing was superb; we had a compassionate, relatable and approachable Diana who resonated with the readers, and her supporting cast rivalled Peter Parker's.
We had a racially diverse Amazon nation and storylines which ran the gamut of emotion; romance, domestic abuse, drug use, teenage suicide [a main problem in American culture at the time] and issues that focused on character building instead of just action. One issue was all text.
In his 61 issue run George redefined the WW character so nowadays many think of his version as the DEFINITIVE version; all are measured by his standard. Even his final issue was a love letter of sorts to the fans for their loyalty and to Diana herself, who became real to many readers.

karl said...

Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen's LEGION OF SUPER HEROES.
My second fave book after the FF, and in much the same vein it went thru bad times in the late 70s early 80s, just another by-product of the Superman mythos.
With Giffen working closely as co-plotter, Levitz gave us the following;
futuristic tech like holographic monitors [only Star Wars had done it at that point]
windowless buildings [far more hi-tech than it sounds], floating tables and chairs
realistic alien races like the G'il Dishpan water teleporters and the Hyrkanians
individual looks for each Legionnaire
vastly improved villains like Computo and The Legion of Super-Villains
one-off 'day in the life' secret background issues for individual members, with newly written origins, new plots uncovered and bad continuity retconned.
Legion secrets; the mystery of Sensor Girl, two members had an affair, one was kidnapped and replaced by a double, and five Legionnaires were involved in a conspiracy to destroy the Time Trapper. Levitz wasn't afraid to kill off Karate Kid, break up long-established couples, marry others, give us the books first lesbian relationship with Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet and introduce a black Invisible Kid. He also wrote the most subversive plot ever; a five year sub-plot where Universo secretly took over the United Planets. Fans had to trawl thru years of intricate detail to find it out.
Then there was THAT storyline, which catapulted the book to a best-seller and established it as a cult favourite...
DCs most fearsome villain, and a cast of thousands, literally. Culminating in the most shit-yourself-to-die cliffhanger EVER...Darkseid swaps the planet Daxam for a yellow sun, and sends thousands and thousands of mind-controlled Daxamites each with the power of Superman on a mission thru space to destroy the United Plantes. Then a year later, Darkseid's curse was the books second biggest surprise, a revelation that fitted in perfectly with LSH continuity.


karl said...

Finally finished. I had to edit a lot after Id forgotten so much of what I wanted to write [after three attempts that failed]; haven't put in so much effort to concentrate since the time years ago I got blown three times in one night.
[or was it four...].

The King of Thessaly said...

@Dan W -For sure! His DareDevil run blew my mind (as a HUGE fan of Spidey's rogues gallery).
I really liked Smith's Green Arrow run as well! And fuck the "BatGOD" fanboys- I liked the Batman where he pissed himself too.
Shit- Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man needs to get some love on this page!
Oooo- and Karl reminded me of John Byrne's Wonder Woman. Not the best thing ever- but it definitely got me buying the book.

You know- all this love going around for all these books- Mr. Morbid's House of Fun needs a Top Five WORST Reboots of All Time list next week!!!

karl said...

As much as I adore his Fantastic Four tenure, John Byrne for all the hype when he got the gig really did have a shit run on Wonder Woman - I could fill a book on the debacle he made of it.

Dale Bagwell said...

@Dan: Thx mate, how've you been since you mom found out? Good I hope.

Nice suggestions there as well. I dug Kevin Smith's run on DD and GA as well. But hate him having had Batman piss himself. Just didn't belong there even though I know what he tried to do by showing Batman off as more human. Just, no Kev. And he was admittedly high when he wrote those, so there you go.

Johns did reboot the Rogues for sure, and just continued Wally's journey as an adult and hero.

@Karl: I immensely enjoyed Byrne's FF run too. I'm sure he could've stayed longer, but yeah, his work on the FF, restoring them to their silver age potential was indeed just what the doctor ordered. That single Doom issue alone is worth taking a peek at that run.

2nd only to Stan and Jack? I'm sure fans of Waid/Wieringo might agree/disagree.

Never read Giffen/Levitz' run on Legion, but yeah I hear it was damn good for the time.

Thx for stopping by, and adding your two bits there Karl:)

@King: Nice list. And even better suggestion. See, you guys can definitely help me out with this shit. I might just do that. Now which reboots really suck?

Gary said...

Which ones suck? How about the post-Zero Hour Justice League America by Gerard Jones. I loved his stuff on Green Lantern (when he was writing just about every Lantern title) and even on Justice League Europe but the JLA after Zero Hour...

Nuklon whining about Fire not liking him; Fire fawning after the new Ice; Metamorpho and Crimson Fox; the Yazz; and... and... Equinox!

Dale Bagwell said...

@Gary: I'll have to think a good bit about that list, but yeah the post-zero titles were hit and miss, JLA included. I'll throw Primal Forces in there as well, which kinda soft revamped Red Tornado with Claw the unconquered, Dr. Mist, and Jack O Lantern.

But yeah, I'm open to suggestions.

Dan W said...

Thanks Dale and King, I actually have gone back and re-read Guardian angel after writing about it here and it still stacks up. I'm a huge fan of all the early Spidey villains too, I just don't get why Riddler is rebirthed in Hush, and everyone claps, yet Mysterio has his moment in the sun in a similar fashion, and just as many people booed as they did applaud. Crazy stuff. When you have Mephisto stating he's giving the bowl head a special seat, you gotta give Quentin his props!

As for Mum - her op is this Monday so heading back home till then. I'm okay. Never been 100% since the day I was born, so no sense starting now huh? :) Thanks fer checkin mr!

Dale Bagwell said...

@Dan: It was all probably in the way Mysterio was "killed"/jobbed out in the end. It didn't bother me, as Mysterio seemed like a good foil for DD and it's not like they really ever mixed it up before.

I hear ya on that other point Dan. Same here:)
But my hopes, well wishes and prayers will continue to go out to you and your mum. Hang in there buddy:)

jonathan jacquez said...

Will Cyclops ever be single? Is he a love and relationship addict? If so, send him to a SLAA meeting might be a more interesting story than the dredge of him and Emma. I didn't care for Morrison's run, or for the leather costumes. If I want to look at boring realism I'll watch any of the X-Men films. When I read a comic book I want it to look like a comic book. Not bland advertising. Also killing Jean Grey shouldn't count as a reboot since it already happened.

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