Dropped: Not EVERYONE Needs Their Own Book

Some books, you never stop loving. Some shows, you never miss. Some games, you just can’t put down. This isn’t their story; this is the tale of those that got Dropped.

As a contributor for a comic book/PoP!-culture website, I try to soak in as much as possible. There are a lot of comics I no more than crack open before tossing them aside. But every so often, a character or concept will suck me in and get me “on board.” At least for a while…

In this first installment of Dropped, I’ll be taking a look at four books whose only real crime was being completely and utterly superfluous.

I got into comics reading ’90s X-Men and as such, I LOVE Gambit. But any story you’re going to tell in an ongoing Gambit series probably could have fit just as we’ll in one of the many X-titles in which he currently appears. Captain Marvel’s a great character and Brian Reed’s take on Carol was truly inspired; anything short of that seems like it would be better served as the b-plot in an issue of Avengers – New or otherwise. Deadpool is jumping ship from Uncanny X-Force to join up with the Thnderbolts, but as part of Marvel Now just got another new number one slapped on the cover of his own ongoing. And then there’s DC’s latest new addition, Bat-Gambit…. err, Talon. This perfectly serviceable new addition to Batman’s extended family could have been an intriguing background character for writers to flesh out over time. Instead, readers will be burnt out on him in no time thanks to DC fast tracking him to solo status.

In fact, DC plans to launch two new solo books featuring Justice League of America members Vibe and Katana. Big props to putting the spotlight on characters of varying ethnicities, but do either of these characters really WARRANT their own books?

Here’s the underlying problem; B, C, and D-list characters such as these do NOT have their own villains and best-good-guy friends to feature in the books. Not well known ones, at least. Who supports the supporting cast? And when the characters are currently being featured in team books, what’s the point? These are all stories that could be used to spotlight the characters in the main titles; instead, it’s one less story to tell there, and that much more continuity to try to stay on top of.

Solo titles work best when: 1) a character exists solely on their own, absent any team involvement; 2) there is a rich stable of villainous rivals and heroic companions to flesh out the cast; and 3) the creative team has a unique angle to bring to the book. All too often, new titles are launched that meet none of these criteria and, however “good” they might be, they eventually – some quicker than others – wear out their welcome.

I’ll say this much – I don’t fault the creative teams. In each case, the writing and art have been perfectly serviceable. But to quote a friend “Vibe could be written by Geoff Johns and feature the art of Alex Ross… it’s still going to be about Vibe.” Without some really great hook, the end result is a book that’s not on stands for the story it has to tell, but rather the sales figures it can potentially pad.

So I bid an at least somewhat fond farewell to these four books as I tighten the reigns on my pull list. What will be the next title to get the axe from a discerning PoP!-Star and why? Stay tuned, PoP!ulation. You might be surprised!


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Who ARE these people!?

Jason Kerouac is a co-founder of Panelsonpages.com. He spends roughly half of his waking life in servitude to the Giraffe. Raised in a town in New Hampshire you've never heard of, he now lives in Indianapolis, IN and is pretty sure that's a step in the right direction.

Comments (5)

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  1. Wade says:

    I don’t fault the companies for trying but I agree that not everyone needs their own book. What bothers me personally is that rather than using that time and resource to develop different books that generally fall outside the usual domain of capes or are not the standard “people punching things” they give us re-skinned versions of various titles and characters and seem surprised when people don’t bother with the book (why should I read a book about a book about an acrobatic superhero in a bad costume when I can read about one in a good costume). Furthermore, it seems dishonest almost to toss a character together or make changes for the sake of seeming progressive, especially when it makes little sense within continuity (sorry Danvers, Rambeau should have been Captain Marvel like she was at one point, not you).

    In any case, these titles, to me, seem try-hard and pointless sometimes. And I say this as someone who mostly likes the current Gambit series.

  2. Shit. Just. Got. Real.

    • Nice column! You make a lot of good points. The one argument I'd make is that you don't always start out with a good/well known cast of characters, but these characters (B, C, D list &/or their supporting cast) all have to start somewhere to become established. That said, I agree that many of the books you name just seem excessive and don't offer a lot of potential.

  3. I totally agree. On one hand you want the companies to try new things and not just have a billionth Batman or X-Men book (though a lot of the new stuff they try is related to those as is the case with Talon and Gambit), but with a lot of the things they try you just know they aren't going to last and just aren't needed.

    I started reading Captain Marvel and I was really into it at first, but my interest ended up nosediving. I bought through issue #6, but I haven't even read issues #5 and #6 yet. I just don't care anymore.

    I've liked Talon so far. I'm not sure how long I'll stick with it, but I'll give it a shot for a little while.

    I never bothered with Gambit. I don't care much about the character.

  4. Russ Morris says:

    Talon's been a decent read. Not sure it'll be a long term book for me…but so far, so good.

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