Marvel has ruled the comic industry for years now, secure in their dominance of the sales charts. Even in decades past, the House of Ideas took a handsome lead in fan discourse and love. Marvel has created some brilliant comics, their specialization in superheroes allowing them to focus like a laser on what they excel at. Ask any Marvel fan, and they’ll be able to rattle off a list of their favorite stories.
However, going back and re-reading some of Marvel’s iconic books reveals a terrible truth. They haven’t aged well, and aren’t as great as they once were. Even the best Marvel comics of old aren’t as good as their legends make them out to be.
10/10 Infinity Gauntlet’s Pacing Is Very Strange
Infinity Gauntlet is a legendary series, used as a guide and inspiration for the MCU’s first three Phases. Written by Jim Starlin with art by George Pérez and Ron Lim, the story of the battle against Thanos as he wields the Infinity Gauntlet is a mainstay for “best of” lists from around the Internet. However, reading it again shows just how badly paced it is.
The first three issues of Infinity Gauntlet proceed slowly, detailing Thanos’s attack against the living and the heroes’ realization that they’re facing a genocidal god. The last three issues, however, go by blindingly fast, comprising the majority of the book’s action. On top of that, Thanos losing the Gauntlet in the fifth issue feels weird, as readers never get to see him get punished for his actions. It’s a classic, but it’s not perfect.
9/10 Thanos Wins Forces Too Much Suspension Of Disbelief
Thanos is a beloved character for many reasons and has helmed his own book several times. Many fans consider Thanos: Thanos Wins, by writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw, his best story in the last decade. The book sees King Thanos, the ruler of an empty universe in the future, bring his past self to his time to kill him.
It’s action-packed and full of cool moments, but so much of it revolves around the fallacy that Thanos is unbeatable, even though readers have seen him beaten numerous times. It also ignores a lot of the character traits established around Thanos over the years. The story is pretty bare-bones, all things told.
8/10 So Much Of Brand New Day Is Just Mediocre
One More Day is widely acknowledged as a bad comic, but many give it a pass because what came after it is good. The Brand New Day era of The Amazing Spider-Man saw the book go to an almost weekly publishing schedule, as Marvel netted new talent to work on the book, telling back-to-basics Spider-Man stories.
However, going back and reading Brand New Day reveals some rather mediocre stories. Nothing from that Spider-Man era is very fondly remembered or had much impact. The only thing that stuck around was Dan Slott and many fans would rather that never happened.
7/10 A Lot Of The Age Of Apocalypse Isn’t Very Good
The Age Of Apocalypse is a ’90s Marvel great. The story is spread across two bookend comics and nine miniseries. It took place in an alternate universe where the US was ruled by Apocalypse after Legion went back in time and accidentally killed Xavier. Magneto and his X-Men were the main resistance left in the States, with the Eurasian High Human Council preparing their final strike against Apocalypse.
Astonishing X-Men, Amazing X-Men, Weapon X, and Generation Next are all stellar. The other Age of Apocalypse miniseries range from okay to downright bad. This is pretty common with the X-Men titles of the ’90s, and rereading definitely hurts the mystique built up around the story.
6/10 Bendis And Maleev’s Daredevil Isn’t The Amazing Blockbuster Everyone Remembers
Daredevil has been home to brilliant stories over the years, with writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev’s run on the book being among the most beloved. For fifty-five issues, fans were enthralled by their run, which mostly revolved around Daredevil’s identity getting revealed to the public, the repercussions, and his battle against Kingpin.
Daredevil’s Hardcore era has the same problem that many Bendis-written books have. It spends a lot of time on talking heads and lackluster drama, but very little actual action. Maleev is a brilliant artist and can make anything look good, but Bendis never really gives him any good action to draw and the stories can drag on forever.
5/10 X-Men: Schism Relies Too Much On Plot Contrivance
The X-Men have some great internal rivalries, and the conflict between Wolverine and Cyclops is especially legendary. It came to a head in X-Men: Schism, by writer Jason Aaron and artists Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Daniel Acuña, Alan Davis, and Adam Kubert. The book revolves around attacks on the X-Men by the new Hellfire Club and Wolverine’s fury at Cyclops for having a teenager killed.
While Wolverine likes to keep people from killing, it felt out of character for him to react so violently to an understandably hard decision. This plot contrivance undermines the rest of the story since it’s the foundation for the titular schism.
4/10 Secret Invasion Is A Long, Boring Slog
Secret Invasion is getting an MCU adaptation, bringing the long-dormant story back to the limelight. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Leinil Yu, the story chronicles the battle of the Avengers, split into two factions by Civil War, against the Skrulls, who have been secretly positioning themselves throughout the Marvel universe. The story is beloved, but it has a lot of problems.
Secret Invasion definitely did not need eight issues. The story gets really stretched out in the middle, and it’s pretty obvious that Bendis is trying to keep the characters everyone wants to see out of the main plot. The action at the end looks amazing, but it’s just big group battles that have no sense of movement, which is weird with an action penciler as kinetic as Yu. On top of that, none of the Skrull reveals are that important. It’s fun but not game-changing.
3/10 Hickman’s X-Men Doesn’t Stand Up Very Well
Jonathan Hickman’s House Of X/Powers Of X changed the X-Men forever, giving readers an entirely new status quo. The writer then took over X-Men, with artists Leinil Yu, Mahmud Asrar, R.B. Silva, Matteo Buffagni, Phil Noto, Brett Booth, Francesco Mobili, Nick Dragotta, Russel Dauterman, Lucas Werneck, and Sara Pichelli. It was the X-Men’s flagship title before he left.
That’s actually the problem with Hickman’s X-Men. Hickman set up a lot of things but never got to pay them off. Instead, he left the book and lesser writers picked up the plots he set up or abandoned them completely. Knowing that it’s going nowhere completely kills the re-read value of so much of the book since it leads to some mediocre conclusions.
2/10 Avengers Vs. X-Men Barely Works As Action Spectacle Anymore
Avengers Vs. X-Men was action-packed, but it didn’t work on a lot of levels. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and Jason Aaron with art by John Romita Jr., Olivier Coipel, and Adam Kubert, the book pits the teams against each other over the Phoenix Force. There are a lot of problems with the book that hurt it, though.
To begin with, Avengers Vs. X-Men‘s five writers have very different styles, and they clash with each other. The book is also a little long and gets drawn out and confused, with Bendis trying to make the Avengers the story’s heroes when they caused the conflict between the teams.
1/10 Bendis’s Avengers Run Is More Miss Than Hit
Marvel hasn’t always treated the Avengers well. The irony is that sometimes when they’re “fixing” the title, they’re actually damaging it. This is what happened with writer Brian Michael Bendis’s eight-year run on the Avengers comics. Writing Avengers, New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, and Dark Avengers, some fans say Bendis saved the Avengers.
However, Bendis’s style just doesn’t fit very well with the Avengers. The comics were frequently boring. He eschewed the big battles of the past for interpersonal drama, and he wrote the team in an earthbound manner that felt wrong for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
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