Top 10 Flash Villains

Top 10 Flash Villains

We’re going to get back into the lists by returning to the ever-flowing well of counting down the best members of the rogues galleries of the great heroes of Marvel and DC Comics. We’ve done Spider-Man and Batman; now it’s time to move onto the Fastest Man Alive. You probably already know the top three if you’ve been following my site for a while, and I do apologize for that. The other seven will still hopefully be a surprise for you.

We won’t be counting Justice Society villains or rogues of Jay Garrick. For this, we’ll be looking strictly at the foes of Barry Allen and Wally West. We’ll probably spotlight Justice Society rogues at a later date.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

  1. The Weather Wizard

Marco Mardon received a pretty cool visual redesign in the New 52, and I dig his role as the less talkative powerhouse of the Central City Rogues. The ability to create and alter weather patterns is pretty freaking cool all around. I also like the backstory he was given by Buccellato and Manapul in his reappearance in the New 52 DC Universe. There’s honestly not much more to say about Weather Wizard. He’s just plain cool, and he is a loyal member of the Rogues.

  1. Captain Boomerang

Digger Harkness hasn’t really tangled with the Flash in a while, now being a regular member of the Suicide Squad with Deadshot and that one lady with the red and black clothes. That’s kind of why he’s so low on this list. That being said, he is a really fun and nutty villain. He throws trick boomerangs to fight. A lot of them explode. He also wears a trench coat and a toboggan. What’s not to love?

Geoff Johns also gave him a pretty heavy backstory not too long before the New 52 that was pretty cool too. He had an abusive father whom he ends up decapitating with a boomerang. I like the weird balance of goofiness and heavy themes that make up Boomer’s tale. I also have an affection for down-on-their luck losers like him, and all of these elements combined land Harkness a place on this list.

  1. Golden Glider

Yeah, she used to be a pretty lame villain, but Buccellato and Manapul conspired to make her a really compelling character during the New 52 relaunch. I like that she is an ethereal being trapped in a comatose body, and that she had to wrest control of the Rogues away from her brother, Captain Cold, when he started screwing things up. I also like the relationship she has with Mirror Master. It’s genuinely pretty cute. She’s pretty strong too, with the ability to attack from that intangible form. She’s dangerous and motivated, and that’s what earns her a place on this list.

  1. Heatwave

          Buccellato and Manapul really did a good job redesigning the Flash Rogues, and Heatwave was no exception. Becoming something of a living human furnace, Mick Rory became a malformed and dangerous being that challenged Captain Cold for his leadership on a regular basis. True to his powers, he’s quite a rage-filled hothead who hates the Flash as much as any other member of the Central City Rogues. His powers are also just plain awesome too. He even became a sacrifice for the other Rogues when they were being chased down by the Royal Flush Gang during the events of Forever Evil. He survived and was later found by the Riddler, which makes me glad. Central City is just that much better with a regular Heatwave.

  1. Trickster

It’s easy to write off Axel Walker as something of a discount Joker, but he is so much more than that. Where the Clown Prince of Crime has become notorious for his macabre and horrific tortures sessions and murders, the Trickster is a far more whimsical and fun iteration of the goofy jokester villain template. Of course, there’s room for both, and the Joker is closer to my heart, that frightening, grinning bastard.

Axel is a really fun rogue to watch. He’s fairly inept and would not be as successful without the support of his fellow rogues. However, there’s something so endearing about the innocence of the Trickster, which makes it a little more saddening when the Rogues have to deal with heavier problems.

  1. Gorilla Grodd

He’s a talking, telepathic, genius gorilla. Do I really need to say anymore? He was also voiced by the late, great Powers Boothe (who just passed) in Bruce Timm’s Justice League cartoon, which is just awesome too.

I’m not really a fan of the New 52 iteration of Grodd. He’s not as intelligence or conniving, and the eating brains detail was actually kind of a bit much.

I prefer sadistic, evil genius Grodd over animalistic, beastly Grodd. His scheming mind balances out his strength to make him a full-package supervillain. I love that, and I hope we get to see a return-to-form Grodd very soon.

  1. Mirror Master

One of the real strokes of genius of the legendary John Broome and Carmine Infantino, I think Sam Scudder is one of the most creative villains to have ever been designed. The fact that he can hop dimensions to baffle and challenge the Flash is really cool and shows true creative talent on behalf of his creators. He’s not an elemental villain like Weather Wizard and Heatwave. He’s not an ironic foe like Captain Cold. He’s not an “in a mirror, darkly” villain like Zoom and Reverse-Flash. He’s just someone who has a gun that allows him to jump worlds. That’s just awesome. His costume really good too, making him just an all-around great baddie.

I like that he’s become one of the more level-headed Rogues, balancing Snart’s ambition and Rory’s fury. As previously stated, I like that he has a relationship going with Golden Glider.

He’s been made to have confidence issues, which I think adds an interesting level of depth to the character. He’s a villain that represents the unabashed creativity at work in the superhero comics scene, and I love everything about him.

  1. Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne)

Though I did discount Thawne in Mirror Master’s entry, there is something to be said about the pure, unbound sadism that exists in the twisted mind of Professor Zoom. He is pure evil, and all of his hate is directed towards Barry Allen.

Like Grodd, I greatly prefer the pre-New 52 iteration of this villain. As opposed to being a deposed warlord, he’s a dejected scientist who became obsessed with his city’s greatest hero and idol, the Flash. He has dedicated his life to making the Flash miserable, but, of cruel ironies, Barry Allen is his ancestor, so he cannot kill him in our timeline yet. He can only torment him in actions such as the murder of Nora Allen, Barry’s mother, during the childhood of the hero.

He’s a cruel monster, and I love him.

  1. Captain Cold

You have to love Captain Cold. He’s an evil guy who has ice powers and dresses like an Inuit. He’s a petty thief with a moral code. He, unlike Grodd and Thawne, is not cruel. He’s just greedy. He wants money, and the Flash gets in his way. He’s pretty simple, but there has been a lot written to explain that simplicity that I actually think makes the character engaging.

None of this is to say that Leonard Snart is without ambition, and this ambition led to a fracturing in the Rogues not too long ago when he found a device that could fuse the powers of the Rogues’ weapons to their bodies, giving them genuine super powers. This resulted in Mirror Master being trapped temporarily in the Mirror Dimension and Heatwave being burned and malformed.

He has since lost his own powers and must rely on his ice gun once again. You just have to love Captain Cold though. I almost want to see him get a win over on the Flash sometimes. Almost.

  1. Reverse-Flash (Daniel West)

A rather new addition to the Flash mythos, Daniel West was a short-lived villain that left an impact on me nonetheless. He is one of the most sympathetic rogues ever designed. The brother of Iris West, the two had to deal with a hateful and abusive father which led Daniel down a bad path in his adult years. Learning of the Flash’s time-traveling powers, he attempted to attain and use those powers to go kill his father and fix he and his sister’s lives. The Flash stopped this from happening of course.

His costume is also quite incredible. I love the red and black, and I like the addition of metal shards he can fire with the static electricity produced by his speed. He looks just plain awesome.

He had a short stint on the Suicide Squad which ended with him possibly being killed while disposing of a bomb at sea. I hope he makes a return soon, because I think he was an excellent recreation of the Reverse-Flash by the aforementioned Buccellato and Manapul. Who doesn’t wish they could go back and fix that moment where their life took a turn for the worse?


An Earnest Defense of Secret Empire 2017

An Earnest Defense of Secret Empire 2017

Like many of you, I’ve been watching the perpetual wildfire that has been the advertising of Nick Spencer’s passion project, Secret Empire, and its reception on social media.

I’ve seen copies of the comics being burned, conspiracy theories insinuating that Nick Spencer is a genuine fascist and Nazi, and a myriad of other attacks on Spencer as a person and Marvel for letting this happen. I’ve even freaking seen people digging into his past and finding a political campaign in Connecticut that he may or may not have been actually been running as a Republican.

And I actually really like Nick Spencer’s Secret Empire.

I think it’s a really good story worthy of praise and a genuine chance to stand on its own two legs. Here, I’m going to present my case on behalf of Spencer and his much maligned story.

Let’s start with the heart of the matter: The Red Skull had the sentient Cosmic Cube known as Kobik, an entity with the mind and intelligence of a child, turn Steve Rogers into a fascist, a member of Hydra, and the antithesis of everything he’s ever been before.

You know, I think it odd that this is such a controversial thing. On one hand, I can understand those, like my own father (the world’s number one Captain America fan) who were hoping for a return-to-form Captain America after the extended absence wherein his body was made old and brittle after the expiration of the Super Soldier Serum. I can understand being disappointed that the man himself has been changed by outside forces.

That being said, I don’t see it as the crime against the fandom, the comics, or the welfare of Marvel Comics that many outraged critics accuse it of being. Do you know how many times the Red Skull has placed his mind in Captain America’s body? At least two times of my own counting, one being the classic story that introduced Sam Wilson to Captain America comics and another more recent instance carried out by the legendary Captain America writer, Ed Brubaker. Then there were the instances where replacements such as John Walker took up the shield and suit to carry out their own borderline fascist agendas.

Now I get that these examples aren’t exactly the same as Steve Rogers himself becoming an honest-to-God member of Hydra, the Marvel analogue for the Nazi regime. However, it bears mentioning and repeating that it was an outside force what changed the Sentinel of Liberty into the Supreme Overlord of Hydra. Nick Spencer did not just randomly decide that Steve Rogers was Hydra all along. Even the altered backstory wherein he was raised to be a Hydra sleeper agent is a part of the changes to Captain America’s life made by the Red Skull and Kobik.

I will admit there are other concerns in this controversy that are harder to wave off. Captain America was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, two Jewish Americans who faced discrimination and hate in their lifetime, not the least of which was at the hands of American Nazi sympathizers who did not like that they created the exploits of Captain America fighting the Nazis before the United States even entered World War II. This is a sticky point that would be unwise to dismiss as easily as the angered rantings of individuals on the internet who simply misunderstand what is going on.

I can’t say that it is not worth pointing out this matter. It is a little awkward that Steve Rogers has been made into an out-and-out fascist given his creation by the late greats, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. The best I can say about this is to reiterate that Steve Rogers has been forced into these monstrosities by his greatest foe, and the story is by no means encouraging or glorifying Nazism. Depiction is not the same as endorsement. Pulp Fiction is not an endorsement of organized crime. American Psycho is not an endorsement of serial murder. Despite what many dude-bros believe, Fight Club is not an encouragement to create fight clubs.

Even with this sticking point, I can’t say that this story deserves to be discounted or doesn’t have the right to exist.

Still, after you’ve read this defense with an open mind, if you still believe that it’s disrespectful to depict Steve Rogers as this type of character given his creation by two iconic and brilliant Jewish Americans, then I can’t say your wrong. All I hope to accomplish with this article is to show why myself and others do not take umbrage with this iteration of Secret Empire.

I forget who said this on Twitter, but there was another complaint about the story that I will admit is hard to argue with. This may be paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of “Captain America is a Nazi in a time I would like to see him punching Nazis.” Given we are currently living in the political dystopia that the Dead Kennedys warned us of, I find this opinion hard to dispute.

But I still really like Secret Empire and highly recommend it.

Moving onto issues more specific to Secret Empire itself, it depicts some heavy, depressing, and infuriating stuff. Reading it myself, I was at times sad, angry, and conflicted. I think that’s a good feeling to get from a story. Not every comic needs to be fun and happy. I was pleased with the negative feelings that the story made me feel because they were directed at the events of the tale itself and the characters within. The original Civil War made me feel the same way.

Steve Rogers does some treacherous and horrific stuff in this comic book, from abandoning the Ultimates, Alpha Flight, and the Guardians of the Galaxy to the Chitauri to the now-infamous murder of Rick Jones. It’s uncomfortable to read as someone who does love Steve Rogers. The death of Rick Jones alone was enough to make me feel cold, and I liked it. Rick Jones is a fixture of Marvel Comics who associated with the likes of Captain America himself, the Avengers, the Hulk, and Captain Mar-vell. Hell, he even saved the world from the Kree-Skrull war way back in the day. It was sad to see him go.

Negative feelings arising from reading a story is not necessarily something one should run from. Now, I do get that comics are valued for the escapism they provide, and Secret Empire is not beneficial for that goal. I get that many are exhausted with the constant deluge of massive crossovers like Secret Empire. I’ve been a vocal critic of this myself. However, and yes this is subjective, this is a good one. Honestly, I think it’s the most ambitious crossover produced my Marvel since the original Civil War. It’s honestly a ballsy play on the part of Nick Spencer and Marvel.

All these criticisms and complaints directed at Spencer and his story also feels really premature, as the story hasn’t ended. We don’t know how the story will end or how the resolution will affect Steve Rogers. We don’t know how this is going to turn out. Waiting until then to lay all of these accusations at the feet of Spencer and Secret Empire, while they will still probably be silly, would be far more prudent. We don’t know how it will end. I do know one thing, though, it still won’t promote or endorse fascism because that’s clearly not the intent of the story.

Sorry for being a bit blunt with this, but these complaints about the book promoting fascism and Nazism clearly come from people who haven’t read the story and don’t know the narrative context to it all.

Also, burning comic books is always stupid, and I will always be against that.

Now, I have to return to the personal attacks and conspiracies being laid upon writer Nick Spencer. Stop it. I’ve seen a lot directed at this man, and it’s really not okay. He’s a writer. He should be allowed to write the stories he wants to write.

I’ve even seen some people who share my own political  questioning Spencer’s political credentials, such as the aforementioned digging and linking him to a political campaign in Connecticut a decade ago. Even if it was him, people do change their opinions over time.

I’ve seen people use this and Secret Empire to weave some sort of conspiracy theory that says he is an “undercover conservative” or “low-key Nazi” or whatever the hell. These kind of make me mad, because they’re A) stupid and B) actively harmful to the reputation of the man himself.

None of that even acknowledges his work in Sam Wilson: Captain America which decidedly does not present or endorse a fascist or any sort of right-leaning ideology. It’s a beautifully-written title about the struggle of a black hero in a world that isn’t ready to trust a black man as Captain America. I highly recommend that title, and it is among my favorite comics being published right now.

I feel the political leanings of Nick Spencer and his writing are also made quite clear by the fact that Fox News famously criticized the first issue of Sam Wilson: Captain America for comparing anti-immigration vigilantes to the Klan (because they practically are the Klan).

I’ve also seen Spencer being criticized for simply not endorsing political discourse being handled at the end of a fist, specifically in regard to Richard Spencer being punched out while being interviewed. While I have nothing wrong with an actual white supremacist being punched, I can respect someone being in favor of peaceful discourse.

Returning to Nick Spencer, he is a mercurial and outspoken personality, especially on social media. I saw the man butt heads with dozens of critics of his work on Secret Empire and Steve Rogers: Captain America. I don’t think we should discourage this type of writer from working in the comics industry though. Without people willing to make a political statement and stick to their guns, you would not have such classic Marvel stories as the Kree-Skrull War, God Loves Man Kills, and the original Secret Empire, let alone the likes of Watchmen.

Unfortunately, I do fear that Nick Spencer has cashed all his chips in on this story. I expect Marvel, despite their willingness to tell politically charged tales, will be reluctant to sign on Nick Spencer in the future given the perpetual controversy that his Captain America work has been, especially given that much of the backlash has come from the clear intended audience of his stories. I also fear that this will discourage them from cooperating other writers like him, which would be a terrible shame.

To bring this to something of a conclusion, please at least try Secret Empire 2017 before you condemn it. I’m going to give an honest rating of both the #0 and the #1 at the end of this article, because I feel it’s a worthwhile story.

Secret Empire is an interesting dissection of Steve Rogers’ psyche and how frightening it is when someone that dedicated to their ideology puts that dedication to the wrong cause. Captain America has always been zealous in his pursuit of all that’s right, so seeing that same person become a genuine fascist is unnerving. It’s even worse given that he still has the same stubborn and gentle personality, hence the also-infamous sadness he displayed after ordering the death of Rick Jones. He’s still human despite becoming an actual Nazi. And no, acknowledging that even the worst monsters are still people is not an endorsement of those monsters, see also David Tennant’s depiction of Kilgrave in another of Marvel’s products, Jessica Jones.

It also makes some interesting political statements and gives the warning signs of a fascist regime, which is a pretty relevant message no matter what side of the political fence you’re on (unless you’re an actual fascist). It discusses the scapegoating of minorities and the changing and ignoring of history. These are important things to discuss, especially at this moment in history.

In summary, I highly recommend Secret Empire, don’t harass or defame Nick Spencer, and keep reading comics.

I also want to apologize for my extended absence. This was my last full semester of undergraduate school, and it was a rough finale. I will return to my posting schedule and have more content tomorrow. I will also return to my “State of Marvel Comics” editorial series, of which this article is a part.

Secret Empire #0: 7/10

Secret Empire #1: 8/10


PS: Really Marvel? Cancelling Black Panther and the Crew at #6 just because it hadn’t become a smash hit by its second issue? What the hell is wrong with you guys? That book is fantastic and deserved way more of a chance than this. Ta-Nehisi Coates is freaking brilliant.

Another Short Hiatus and a Bunch of Hot Take Reviews

Another Short Hiatus and a Bunch of Hot Take Reviews

I’m sorry I’ve been off the grid for over a week now. What you may have guessed is true; school is dominating my time. I am in the waning weeks of the semester. As a result, a lot of work is piling up constantly. And, if I’m being honest, I’m not wanting to do a lot of writing between my massive writing assignments.

I have 2 weeks of regular classes and 1-2 weeks of finals after that. As finals weeks approaches, I’ll have a lot more essays, but I won’t be in class as much. Hopefully, I’ll be able to start posting again then.

I haven’t forgotten my designs to write more Marvel editorials discussing my perception of the ins and outs of the company and its products.

There are a some comics that came out in the recent weeks that I want to give my opinions upon, and I may discuss them further beyond these on-the-fly review scores (especially Black Panther and the Crew, because it’s quite awesome and intelligently written).

All-New Wolverine #19: Quite good, a lot of fun. I hoped for a little more though: 6/10

Royals: I’m done caring that much about the Inhumans, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a pretty good book: 6/10

Iron Fist #2: The series justifies my faith in it with incredible artwork, and it really hits its stride in its second issue. It becomes one of those classic Bruce Lee Kung Fu films that Iron Fist was always meant to be: 9/10

Weapon X: Visually stunted at times due to Greg Land’s…methods, but Greg Pak puts together a good script and an intriguing tale. It’s worth a read: 8/10

X-Men Blue: A really fun book with the original team and the Master of Magnetism. They throw down with the Juggernaut in one of the best super-powered brawls I’ve seen in recent comics. Definitely read this: 9/10

X-Men Gold: Overshadowed by the controversy with the artist’s asshat moves, this is still a solid read worthy of your time. Get the reprints though, both for the obvious reason as well as the price tag on original prints: 8/10

Black Panther and the Crew: A fantastic book that starts off with an intriguing tale both relevant to our modern times and an enthralling read in its own right. I highly recommend this, and, like Sam Wilson: Captain America #20, I think it’s an important comic book: 10/10

And that’s it for now. I’m sorry about the absence, and I hope to get back into the swing of things in two weeks. Until then, keep reading comics!!

The State of Marvel Comics Part 1: That Whole Thing About Diversity

The State of Marvel Comics Part 1: That Whole Thing About Diversity

Banner Art by Humberto Ramos

So, those of us who are interested in comic books have heard about the statement made by David Gabriel, the Marvel Vice President of Sales, in an interview with ICv2 where he said, “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity,” among other things that chaffed the readers a bit. He backpeddled on it the following day, but the statement was still out there. Plus, a candid, off-the-cuff response is always going to seem more genuine than a non-apology attempting to negate the original statement the following day now that you’ve had time to think about what you’ve said.

Now, there have already been plenty of think-pieces on the subject of Marvel’s very public push towards diversity in their characters. I’ve read many of them, and I will likely discuss them here as well. However, I think I can add to the conversation, so I want to have my input.

Firstly, I think Gabriel’s initial comment was a silly thing to say. The wide broadcasted love of characters like Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales, Squirrel Girl, and Moon Girl all contradict that statement. However, Marvel sales of the majority of Marvel comics have taken a hit, and their push towards diversity has been one of the most visible changes in the company in recent years. Note that I’m not saying that’s the only change, but it is the one that they have publicized the most.

Now, I am going to make some concessions in regards to my perception of the situation. Firstly, I have made it pretty clear that diversity in comic book heroes and villains is overall a good thing. I think inclusivity and not pretending that white males are the only types of people that exist in the world are good goals to strive towards. I wear these opinions on my sleeve, and I am going to link to my article about New Heroes for further expansion on my opinion on these matters.

I will also admit it’s been easy for me to exist in a bit of a bubble in regards to the reception of Marvel’s comics in recent years. I’m an at-best Z-List internet comic book critic with an as-of-yet non-vocal readership. I do talk to people about comic books, but they are few and most share my opinions on these matters for the most part. Those that I see who don’t are the screaming anons in Facebook comment sections upset that America Chavez exists.

It’s also worth admitting that I am the B-List Defender, and, for the most part, Iron Man and Thor being phased out did not affect me much. My favorite Marvel comics at the moment are Power Man and Iron Fist, the Thunderbolts, and the Ultimates. None of these are A-List teams or characters, so I haven’t had my reading habits impacted by Riri Williams taking over as Iron Heart. The “replacements” I have read are Sam Wilson: Captain America, another one of my favorite Marvel comic books currently being published, and All-New Wolverine, which I think is a solid and fun read. In other words, the Marvel collapse that some people speak of hasn’t really been visible for me.

To move onto the discussion at hand, I will admit to one drawback with Marvel’s strives towards diversifying their characters: they are often replacing a lot of their headliners. Where the introduction of Kamala Khan and Miles Morales went off fairly smoothly because no heroes were being taken out of commission for their inclusion, Steve Rogers was out of action then a Nazi when Sam was introduced, Thor Odinson was phased out of the picture when Jane Foster picked up Mjolnir, and Tony Stark is currently in a coma as Riri flies around as Iron Heart.

I’ve mentioned this before, but mainstream comic books exist in a weird space from a storytelling standpoint. They focus around characters that are often half a century old, and one of their appeals is that no matter how old you are or what is happening in the world, you can still pick up an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man and read about Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man.

For those who love Steve Rogers as Captain America, the Odinson as Thor, and Tony Stark as Iron Man, I can understand the frustration with not being able to read about these characters right now (with the exception of the Nazi).

Now, if many vocal critics of Marvel’s diversity initiative were to focus on this idea, I would be able to sympathize more with them. However, a common conversation of the aforementioned screaming comment section anons is that Marvel is “pushing a PC agenda” and is “ruining comic books with diversity.” These people also like to sight Marvel’s slump in sales as some form of justification that their complaints are backed by the comic-buying public.

I’m sorry, but I’m not going to acknowledge these as genuine complaints. Having heroes that aren’t white males is not an agenda. It’s called being cogent to the varying racial, sexual, and religious makeup of your reader base. The only “agenda” being brought to the table is the one that these kinds of people have. A woman super hero is not an agenda. A Latina super heroine is not an agenda. A lesbian super heroine is not an agenda. If these people were to just be honest and say that they miss the Odinson and Tony Stark, I could accept and sympathize. However, they are trying to make it a matter of “right and wrong,” and, well, ironically I think being afraid of a shifting cultural makeup of super heroes is just plain wrong.

This also ignores how often indie titles that star a diverse cast of characters take off and garner a relatively smaller but dedicated following.

And, to play devil’s advocate to the idea of replacing super heroes to bring in a diverse cast of characters, that is one of the only ways to really sell these new heroes. John Stewart, James Rhodes, Carol Danvers, and Jaime Reyes only rose to popularity by replacing other established heroes. It doesn’t often work when a new character is made from whole cloth. For every America Chavez, there are five Arañas, Thunderbirds, Cardiacs, Night Thrashers, Patriots, Amethysts, etc. Hell, even Luke Cage was once considered a failed and dying character before Brian Michael Bendis put him back on the map with Alias and New Avengers. It’s easy to say that you want new characters, but, when you won’t support them, it ends with them being lost to the sands of time. Again though, I discussed this in my New Heroes article, so I will leave this conversation here and suggest you go read that full editorial.

Now that we’ve talked about the discussion around what Gabriel said, let’s talk about the actual statement. Is it true? In short, no not really. There are practices adjacent to the implementation of so many minority heroes that have hurt Marvel’s comic sales, but the minority characters themselves are not the ones hurting.

According to Comic Book Resources, who looked into recent sales statistics of Marvel Comics, the first major hit to the company’s sales happened in the shadow of 2015’s Secret Wars. The story, one of many huge crossover events that was also delayed, launched the All-New, All-Different Marvel initiative. This was the first major sales drop, with many series being relaunched at a much lower selling rate, from an average of 38,521 to 22,972 (again, CBR’s research being cited here).

After Secret Wars, Marvel started throwing a lot of series out to see what would take off. That’s not actually a bad strategy when you have a catalogue of thousands of characters, any one of which could turn into a sleeper hit. However, even this strategy they got squeamish about, as a fair number of these recent books were executed at issue four or five.

That being said, we find one idea here that is perplexing to me. If you are selling more series, wouldn’t you expect the sales numbers to spread across the series to some capacity. Much of the discussion here seems to be about the sales numbers of specific series, but Marvel is printing more books at this time than they have at any one moment in their lengthy history. I’d like to see how many sales they are making across the board as opposed to specific comic books. I suspect this might still show a somewhat healthy intake of proftis.

Back to which comics are selling; The Mighty Thor is actually Marvel’s second best-selling super hero book behind the Amazing Spider-Man at an average of 40,000 copies being shipped. This contradicts the many vocal complaints about there being a woman Thor, as her book is selling more than almost every other Marvel comic book at the moment.

Also according to CBR, many of Marvel’s worst-selling comics have been series like Foolkiller, Slapstick, Hyperion, Drax, and, Solo¸ all of which don’t really fall under the category of diverse (but Drax has green skin hahaha haven’t heard that joke before you’re so funny). Starbrand and Nightmask, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat, Red Wolf, and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur all have had weak sales too, but that is less than half of the worst selling Marvel comics since 2015, contradicting what Gabriel’s statement would have you believe.

As an addendum to that statement, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur sells incongruously well in trade paperbacks due to their being stocked at Scholastic Book Fairs.

So what do I think is hurting Marvel’s comic sales the most? If I had to be honest, the back-to-back crossovers that are punctuated with major status quo shifting initiatives are probably doing the job. All-New, All-Different Marvel barely had a year before it was replaced with Divided We Stand: Marvel NOW! or whatever it’s called. That’s to say nothing of the repeating Marvel NOW! iterations that existed before Secret Wars and the Heroic Age, Dark Reign, and the Initiative shifts which all came before that.

When you feel like your comic is going to either go away or be aggressively meddled with in only a couple of months, that makes it hard to stay as engaged with the series. It’s frustrating to me, and I know it has to be frustrating to many other people too.

The aforementioned initiatives also serve to show Marvel’s skittishness in regards to the status quo. They often change everything dramatically only to change things back the following year. The Heroic Age in particular was supposed to be a return to form for the Marvel Universe, and it was upturned in the following years by the first round of Marvel NOW! titles.

The upcoming Marvel slate of stories under the umbrella of Generations threatens to upturn All-New, All-Different Marvel by bringing back all the classic heroes. While I’m not opposed to the return of said classic heroes, I think it would be a massive crime to bury characters like Jane Foster as Thor and Riri Williams as Iron Heart, and it would hurt to see Sam Wilson return to just being the Falcon and Laura Kinney return to just being X-23. I think these characters are really interesting and have filled their current positions really well. I hope that is not the intention of Generations, but I suppose we will just have to wait and see.

That being said, I’m wondering if the slumping in sales of specific titles is missing the forest for the trees. Yeah, the top sellers aren’t selling as well, but how is the whole fleet doing? I’ve been having difficulty finding the numbers on that, but, if I track anything down, I’ll write it in a supplement to this article.

Here’s the curveball I’m going to throw you though: Marvel’s lacking comic book sales do not really matter much to the company. That hurts, I know. You have to remember though, they make movies, cartoons, television series, toys, video games, clothes, stickers, cards, board games, and all sorts of branded merchandising that pulls down more money than I could ever imagine.

This encourages a sort of apathy in the higher ups in the company in regards to their comic book division, because it is one relatively small cog in a massive behemoth of a machine.

As such, Marvel has recently been weird about engaging with their audience and communicating beyond the occasional fluff piece and solicitations about the next big story and the next big initiative. They don’t engage the public much, and that helps them avoid bad PR like the storm that Gabriel’s comments have stirred.

I’m going to talk more on this in the following weeks. As the title implies, this is only the first of such editorials that I’m going to write about Marvel Comics, because they and their employees have said a lot in the past week that are worth discussing. The back-and-forth between the company and its fans over the mega events are one topic, their general PR situation is another, Axel Alonso’s oddly out-of-touch comments about artists definitely needs to be tackled, and general perception of the big two and the nature of fandom is something that has been on my mind too. So expect more editorials like this one in the coming weeks.

Below are some links to the various articles that I read and researched in formulating this one. Comic Book Resources’ and “Moviebob” Chipman’s commentaries on the situation definitely added a lot to this article and helped spur me on to write it. I recommend you view both.

One last thing: Comics Alliance went down this last week. As someone who is running their own rickety comic review and analysis website, this is very sad news. They and others like them helped inspire me to start this website. It’s a shame, and I wish their writers and contributors good luck in their next endeavors.

And with that, we bring this to a close. See you soon, and keep reading comics!

Comic Book Resource’s “No, Diversity Did Not Kill Marvel’s Comic Sales”

Moviebob Chipman’s Make Mine Marvel?

The Verge’s “Of Course Your Comics Are Political, Marvel”

My Own “New Heroes”


Why There Won’t Be Reviews This Weekend

So I’m presenting at an Undergraduate Scholar’s Day at my college this week…twice! So I need to write and practice my presentations this weekend. Consequently, there won’t be any reviews this weekend so that these presentations are actually well, presentable.

I’ll hopefully have more lists for the coming week, but the semester is coming to a close and due dates are piling up. So no promises there.

Until next time, keep reading comics!

Iron Fist #1 Review

Iron Fist #1 Review

The Weapon Loses its Edge

Ed Brisson (W), Mike Perkins (A), Andy Troy (CA)

Cover by Jeff Dekal

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

          So, just to get it out of the way, I actually really like the Iron Fist Netflix series. That being said, I haven’t quite finished the season yet. It’s definitely my least favorite of the four Marvel Netflix shows so far, but that does not make it by any means bad. That bar has been set extremely high by the previous three. Plus, It’s definitely better than any of the DC/Degrassi hybrids that CW peddles.

Anyway, so it’s finally happening. The greatest dynamic duo in comics, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, are being split apart once more. It’s a shame, I love reading about their bromance, but at least both are getting their own solo titles to compensate. David Walker has worked magic with the Power Man and Iron Fist title, so I look forward to seeing what he will do with just the lone Luke Cage.

Ed Brisson’s Iron Fist #1 opens up with a fight club in Bulgaria where a hooded figure approaches while two men beat each other mercilessly inside. The hooded figure drops a bunch of money to participate, and he is revealed to be none other than Danny Rand himself, the Iron Fist. He challenges the entire arena of fighters, and, naturally, takes them all down with ease.

The host of the arena is angry with Danny for taking down his cadre, and Danny says that he was looking for something that he didn’t find there.

The next scene takes us to a plane, and Danny is lamenting the fact that he can’t find a worthy opponent and that he is losing the power of the Iron Fist. We see him fighting in another arena with a massive fighter that he takes down with ease. He then struggles to summon the Iron Fist, and he fails.

He is next in Vietnam, and he goes to a bar. While downing a bottle of whiskey, he is approached by a man who knows who he is and his current struggle. The two enter a quick brawl, but the stranger concedes that Danny would win should the fight drag on. He extends an invitation to a fighting tournament with combatants that are worthy of Danny’s skill. He also implies that this could help Danny regain the power of the Iron Fist. The comic ends with the two on a ship arriving at an island called Liu-Shi.

This is a pretty solid start for the series. It poses a new threat for the protagonist that challenges his identity and his skill. The “losing the power” motif is not uncommon for a book when someone tries to tell their version of the character. However, I’ve not seen that been used with Danny Rand before, so I am curious where Brisson goes with it.

There is plenty of action in this comic to keep the eye drawn. Mike Perkins’ artwork is phenomenal—the best I’ve seen in a comic in a long time. I didn’t actually know until I researched that he did some of the artwork for Ed Brubaker’s Captain America alongside Steve Epting. It makes sense though, because that comic was beautiful too.

The pacing is pretty swift in this book. It is a quick read, but it sets up the story well. It puts you in Danny’s current headspace, so you can get a feel for what is going on for the character right now.

There’s not much more to say. This was a solid read. I enjoyed it, and I hope this series proves to be a great one for the Living Weapon. Give it a read.

Final Score: 8/10