Though 2014 was filled with a lot of positives for the comic community, for every positive, there is a negative. Let’s be honest, 2014 was filled with its fair share of flubs, missteps, and complete backfires. Here’s our choices for the worst of the worst in 2014.  Ladies and Gentleman, the worst comic news 2014!

Worst Comic News 2014: Dishonorable Mention: Forever Evil
-Fabio Castelblanco

After the events of the Trinity Wars, a lot of the main heroes were “dead” so it was up to Lex Luthor and his Injustice League to take out the Crime Syndicate. When it was announced that the New 52 would be getting a universal story arc involving all of the villains of the DC universe, fans were excited. When they heard that it was going to be written by comic book author Geoff Johns, the man responsible for making Aquaman a bad ass, fans were ecstatic. Unfortunately, the mini-series missed its mark and earned its place as our dishonorable mention.

The problem for me began with issue 1, if you have read my Grayson reviews you will know that I am a fan of Dick Grayson/Nightwing. I was looking forward, as I’m sure most Nightwing fans were, to seeing what his role in Forever Evil would be. Needless to say I was completely disappointed. If it wasn’t bad enough that the Crime Syndicate captured Nightwing, thus making him the damsel in distress, they revealed his identity to the world! This meant that Dick Grayson could no longer be the superhero known as Nightwing!

This reveal happened early in the mini-series while the Nightwing series was still going on. I had the privilege to talk to Kyle Higgins about how DC informed him that the Nightwing series would be ending due to the events in Forever Evil. Higgins wasn’t given much of a warning, he basically found out when the fans found out. That is a terrible sign when the current writer for a superhero is uninformed on what DC has planned for said superhero! The ending of the Nightwing series happened months after the reveal of Nightwing’s identity, so it had lost its initial impact.

On top of that the solo villain stories felt out of place. The fact that Geoff Johns had to extend the end date for the Forever Evil mini-series from March 2014 to May 2014 tells me that there was little communication between the writers. The one shot villains stories obviously connected to the Forever Evil story arc, but aside from that they felt like isolated events happening outside of the series they were being told in. It seems like DC is trying to redeem itself from the events of Forever Evil seeing how many of the comics that have involved those stories have ended or are going to end. It’s unfortunate that the one moment where the villains are in the spotlight, they are left with this underwhelming story arc. The only major impact that was felt throughout the entire DC universe was Dick Grayson no longer being Nightwing. As for everyone else they either went back to their previous stories or tried to forget Forever Evil ever happened, some did both.

I love Geoff John’s work but this was a miss for me. From the scattered solo villain stories to the botched use of Nightwing, this mini-series fell flat.

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#5 Worst Comic News 2014: Marvel Cancels Storm and She-Hulk
– Travis Czap

It’s always a crushing blow when favorite characters get tossed aside, their titles ended for what seems to be no real reason. Such is the case with She-Hulk and Storm.

Marvel cites low sales as the main reason for canceling these series, but the real tragedy is the effects of these cancellations. Storm and She-Hulk are both very important characters, and strong female leads for a group of female comic fans who have few characters to turn to. Some fans were so fired up about the cancellations that they took to the internet, attempting to rally up enough support to convince Marvel to change their minds. However, Storm and She-Hulk are far from the only titles that Marvel is reexamining. These announcements come on the shoulders of AXIS and all of its implications, as well as the cancellation of Fantastic Four.

It’s clear that Marvel is not afraid of putting any of its titles on the chopping block. With a whole slew of reboots of classic titles and storylines coming up in summer of 2015, Marvel is obviously trying to mix things up. Some theorize that this is because Marvel is trying to make their comics better fit with their more widespread cinematic universe, which has been blowing up the box office for the past few years.

Still, sacrificing two very popular characters (even if their solo titles weren’t the best sellers) seems to be a risky move from a business standpoint. We’ll still be seeing Storm in the X-titles, for sure. She-Hulk has never really had one home title in which to appear. She’s still a very important character, though, and so I’d be surprised not to see her appear in some of the upcoming events that have been announced for this summer.

So, Storm and She-Hulk fans- as disappointing as the cancellation of these titles may be, don’t dismay! There should still be plenty of opportunities to see your favorite characters in action… they just won’t have quite the spotlight you’d prefer.

#4:Worst Comic News 2014: AXIS
– Max Simone

Avengers & X-Men: AXIS is what happens when an event comic is done solely for having an event comic happen. Unlike Civil War, which had its events flow naturally from the characters, AXIS was randomly interspersed with seemingly significant events that were dropped as quickly as they were brought up. It was as if the writers had a hundred unrelated events that they wanted to see in their event comic, but then had to write a haywire plot to connect them all. Hence why Loki finally wielding Thor’s Hammer is one of the highlights of the series despite being tragically discarded after a few pages. Likewise, Sabretooth’s decision to remain a here was an intriguing revelation, but only touched on due to the overcrowded cast of characters. There’s a lot of activity in this story, but very little movement.

Despite all of this, The largest misstep involved the out of nowhere reveal that Magneto is not the real father of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. During a super-powered fight between the three (it’s their version of family game night), Scarlet Witch unleashes a spell to incapacitate all of those who share her bloodline. This results in Quicksilver being knocked out, but Magneto surprisingly unaffected. With some breakneck deducing, Scarlet Witch explains that Magneto must not be her father as thousands of comic books around the country are thrown against the wall in anger.

There are many things wrong with turning Magneto into a cuckold. Like almost everything in this comic, it occurs in just a few pages before sweeping it under the rug to focus on one of the other hundred characters that need to be squeezed in. It also paints the all-powerful Magneto as the world’s biggest fool if he could never, at any point in the last half century, realize that the children were not his own. But the worst by far is that the sole purpose for this event was to put Marvel’s comics closer to its Cinematic Universe. For those who don’t know, the film rights for Magneto and the X-men belong to Fox, while the Avengers belong to Marvel Studios. This creates a bit of a limbo for characters like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, who children of X-Men characters but eventually become prominent members of the Avengers. A few years ago, Fox reached an agreement to allow Marvel to use Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, so long as no mention was made of Magneto being their father. Cut to now, and the New Avengers movie is months away from release while AXIS has conveniently made Magneto irrelevant to the mutant twins. Thanks to AXIS, the comics are in line with the films at the cost of it making any cohesive sense.

It’s understandable that Marvel wants to coordinate comics with film, but dictating this large of a change to the writing step goes too far. What’s worse is that if The Avengers films continue their box office dominance, this may be the first of many events of studio meddling.

#3:Worst Comic News 2014: DC Cancels Swamp Thing and Batwoman
– Travis Czap

Everything that begins must end. It’s a fact of life- though not one that comics tend to follow very seriously. Nonetheless, every now and then, the comic community gets shocked by the cancellation of a beloved series. This year saw the rebooting of Teen Titans, but other series weren’t so lucky.

Batwoman and Swamp Thing were two of these titles. Both having started with issue #1 with the New 52 reboot, these two titles both have a rocky history.

Swamp Thing is a title that hit the height of its popularity with Alan Moore’s run on the title back in the 80s. Inspiring a number of films and TV series, the character has always had something of a cult following, though never quite reaching Batmand and Superman levels. His popularity in the New 52 wasn’t spectacular, and losing some of DC’s writers led to a cancellation of many titles. Still, this was one that hit fans hard.

Batwoman’s cancellation hits a little harder, though. Batwoman was a darker Dark Knight, who operated outside the rest of the Batfamily. More importantly, she was one of the few prominent LGBT figures in comic books. Avid readers will remember the scandal a few years back when the writers were denied the chance to get Batwoman married to her longtime girlfriend. This is a title that has been important to the industry in so many respects.

Firstly, canceling a female-led comic is something the industry doesn’t need. Females are under-represented in the industry. It’s simple fact. To deny females another figure to read and look up to is just bad for business. To further the issue, eliminating one of the only LGBT characters in DC’s publications is ostracizing an entire community.

Now, it is important to note that DC’s Convergence storyline will be coming up soon, which we reunite a number of alternate universes into one. What this will mean for these titles and characters? Hopefully, a revival.

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#2:Worst Comic News 2014: Spider-Woman’s Revealing Cover
– Max Simone

Now we come to the greatest non-Kardashian butt controversy of 2014: the most detailed illustration of Spider-Woman’s sphincter of all time.

It all started when Marvel decided to (under the advice of chief advisers Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker) hire notorious erotic artist Milo Manara, who for years had illustrated various X-Men comics, to create the variant cover for Spider-Woman #1. While Manara is an accomplished artist who has collaborated with legends Neil Gaiman and (his hero) Federico Fellini, he ended up not being the ideal choice for empowering one of Marvel’s flagship characters. Look no further than the above (or wherever it is, Trav) Marvel-approved illustration to see why. Manara’s positioning of Spider-Wman’s body seems to mimic the heroine from his 1983 comic Il Gioco. A good rule for depicting a strong female character is to not put them on the same level as a character from a illustrated porno.

Many called the sexist, Salon called it “more like a colonoscopy than a costume”, and Marvel did their best to damage control it as much as they could, with limited success. To make matters worth, Manara defended his work on twitter while nonsensically stating that those who criticized him had a “hypersensitivity to images more or less erotic, due to this continuous comparison that we are called to do with Islam.” In the end, Manara was booted of of Avengers and X-Men: Axis #1 and the female-centric Thor #2. This was a bit of a rough deal. On the one hand, Manara has shown in the past that he can draw some tasteful illustrations of female heroes. On the other, an illustration like Il Gioco would have killed the bold new vision of the hero right out of the gate.

We can understand what Marvel and Manara were trying to do. The March 2015 DC Variant Covers, in which heroes are re-imagined into iconic movie posters, showed just how effectively this could be done. The big difference is that no serious comic reader wants to see a hero stick their ass up high with cheeks spread as an invitation to be sexually violated, be it Spider-Woman or Batman. Leave images like this to DeviantArt and far outside the world of mainstream comics.

#1:Worst Comic News 2014: Jane Asselin’s Death and Rape Threats
– Travis Czap

Here we are, at the #1 worst thing to happen in comics this year. Despite any miscalculations in character redesigns or redirections, the worst thing to happen was not found on any comic book page. It isn’t hard to rile up comic book fans (as we covered in our “Best of” article, there was a lot of negative feedback about the new Thor and Captain America), but this time, members of the community stepped over the line.

Jane Asselin wrote a review of DC’s reboot of Teen Titans, a title which hadn’t been selling all that well in the New 52, but which is filled with a lot of fan favorite characters, including the likes of Red Robin and Kid Flash. Her review was exactly that- an honest review, critiquing market technique on the part of DC Entertainment, as well as taking note of some of the inconsistencies of the artwork and writing. That’s what a review does.

However, the backlash that Jane received was far from anything warranted. From death threats to rape threats, Jane was confronted by some of the worst comments from the dark, misogynistic corners of the internet. Forums were gone to in an attempt to unify in hatred towards a professional woman, questioning her qualifications, accusing her of having a hidden agenda, and generally just bashing Jane’s credibility.

The worst part of this is that, rather than being a fictional character that people are ganging up on, Jane is a real person with almost a decade within the industry. That alone is a qualification that most comic fans will never attain. This isn’t including the years of study she put in before her career, or the fact that she has been a lifelong comic reader. She’s more than qualified.

It’s events like this that help to prove that comic fans deserve at least some of the reputation that we have. Why we, as a group, can’t be accepting of changes to the characters we love, or, in this instance, a critique of an issue, is a mystery. Shouldn’t we be accepting of any criticism? The whole point of review and critique is to improve an issue in the long run, by pointing out areas in which a title can improve. Why would we threaten someone who is only trying to make our books better?

Ultimately, it’s on us as comic readers, fans, and members of the comic community to change this attitude and take the right step forward. Tolerance and acceptance go a long way, and in this case, will only lead to improvements across the medium as a whole.

Well, there you have it, ComicsVerse fans! The worst of 2014 certainly showed our ugly side, but it also gives us hope for 2015. Will we have learned from our mistakes and take appropriate steps forward? Only time will tell.

Do you agree with our list? Is there anything we missed? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

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