From Top to Bottom: Comic Book Sequels

by Matt

Welcome to the 12th edition of the weekly "From Top to Bottom" column! Every week I will look at something within the comics industry and give you my opinion on what I think is the best and what I think ranks amongst the bottom-feeders.

Last week I took a look at the Top and Bottom of Comic Book Movie Sequels. Today, I am making a sequel of my own with this week's topic, Comic Book Sequels. Since we were already talking sequels and with Hellboy 2 and Batman: The Dark Knight hitting theatres, I thought it would be fun to visit Comic Book Sequels. Can comic book sequels be as good as the original? Should there be a Watchmen II? Will this column sequel be better? Click away and find out!

I personally don't think there should be a follow up or sequel to Watchmen but what if Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons did it? Should it still be done? Of course I would get it regardless.

The problem with sequels is two-fold. One, the expectation of it being better or equal to the original is too huge of a mountain to climb and fan's expectations are too high. Second, a sequel can diminish the impact of the original, as in the case of one of my bottom picks (more on that later). To me, a sequel needs to surpass or at least live up to the original for them to make my Top 3 presented here.

3) Samurai: Heaven and Earth Vol. 2
I really liked this first series. The art and coloring were so beautiful that even if the story was weak I would love it solely for the art but luckily the writing is strong as well. I do admit however that I was a little disappointed that it ended with a sequel totally in mind because that means I would have to wait even longer to get the next installment. Especially since I was getting these in trades but that is really my only beef with the series. The sequel was fantastic, progressing his quest to be reunited with his wife.

2) Batman: Dark Victory
I am not a huge Batman fan but I will pick up the classics and I consider this sequel one of the classics. Batman: The Long Halloween is one of my favorite Batman series and I was really looking forward to Dark Victory. I was afraid that it would not be as good as the original but I was surprised on how good it was. I was a little worried about the introduction of Robin, I thought it would take away the dark tone of the book but he fit right in.

1) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen II
One of the rare sequels that I thought was a ton better than its predecessor. It does help that I love War of the Worlds too. Mr. Hyde stole the show for me and his battle with the martians was one to behold. And I loved the relationship between Quartermain and Mina and how it ended. Such a fun series and one that I highly recommend.

Middle Pick: Secret Wars II
I have a real love/hate relationship with this series. Part of me was going to put this is the bottom but then after I reviewed some the series, I thought it should be on the top. I decided to put this right in the middle (this will RARELY happen). One of my first Marvel comics was Secret Wars II #5. I only recognized a few of the characters (mostly the X-Men since I had just tried out Uncanny) and I didn't understand what was going on but I wanted to know more so I got the back issues. The Beyonder was a big deal at the time, appearing in the X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man comics I was collecting so I definitely wanted to know what was happening. I didn't like the Beyonder, I thought he was kinda a jerk and his perm and jumpsuit didn't help. There were some moments in the series that made my groan like Spider-Man teaching the Beyonder to go to the bathroom, his little failed fling with Dazzler, his 'upbringing' with the mob and his homemade birthing machine. But it did have some excellent moments, I will never forget when Wolverine sliced him up, when he eradicated Death (my favorite issue), the Thing battling all the super villains and the huge gathering of heroes which resulted in his death. Most of the crossover issues were good, especially the bet Mephisto and the Beyonder make on if Spider-Man would save the life of the Kingpin. Marvel is planning on releasing a Secret Wars II Omnibus that collects the series and all the crossovers and the small sequel Secret Wars III that ran in the Fantastic Four (which I have not read). Is this series worth $99? Who am I kidding? I will probably pick it up.

And now for the bad sequels that someone should have stopped before they came out.

3) Dark Knight Strikes Again
I don't think this series is as bad as people have made it out to be. I think the problem with this sequel in particular was because if the hype. This was not as good as the original but it wasn't all that bad either. I know my hype for this is one of the reasons why I didn't like it. It did have some moments that I didn't like, Catwoman's costume, the what seemed like 20 pages of Wonder Woman and Superman hooking up and the treatment of Martian Manhunter. But to me this series failed because I wanted it to be much, much more. And like I mentioned at the beginning, I think this series suffered from both expectations and the ending of the Dark Knight Returns was so perfect that having this series come along totally took away that impact.

2) Kindred II
The first Kindred series is one of my all-time favorite miniseries of all time! (Hmmmm, that sounds like a new topic for the column) This series made me a HUGE fan of Backlash and artist Brett Booth. It had a cool rivalry with two heroes that absolutely hated each other in Grifter and Backlash. This series would lead me to collect both Backlash and Stormwatch. Imagine my excitement when they announced a sequel to Kindred drawn and written by Brett Booth! Now imagine my disappointment. The only highlight of the series was the art and it didn't seem like it was Booth's best. The series was predictable and just didn't have the 'cool' factor that the first series had. And what was up with Grifter and Backlash making up and becoming friends? That drove me nuts, I loved the rivarly and that the original series had them hating each other even more. And what was up with that cat lady in heat?

1) God Loves Man Kills II
This was just bad on all levels. It was probably the best art that I seen produced by Igor Kordey and yet that was just as boring. It really seemed that Marvel was just concerned about getting this story out as X2 was hitting the theaters. Nothing happened in this story that we have not seen before and was not groundbreaking at all copared to the original God Loves Man Kills Graphic Novel. This sequel dumbed the Stryker character down so much that it completely took away his impact.

Next week, in celebration of the release of Uncanny X-Men #500, I will be looking at the Top and Bottom X-Men anniversary issues.


Dan said...

Love this Top to Bottom, Matt.

What a great pick with Samurai Vol. 2. That's a spectacularly underrated series from Dark Horse.

Personally, I would flip Dark Knight Strikes Again and Dark Victory.

I just couldn't really get into Dark Victory, but then again I didn't love Long Halloween either. Didn't help that my trade of Dark Victory had two copies of issue #6 and only half of #7. Bad printer!

And Dark Knight Strikes Again was, to me, a really solid read in trade. Of course, I had only read Dark Knight Returns a couple years before and didn't think that story lived up to the hype and praise.

Oh, and Liana is going to have words with you about your Top sequel, I'm sure. :)

Vocal Minority said...

LOEG is clearly awesome.

But Dark Victory? Really? I was excited for it having really loved Long Halloween, and found it little more than a rehash of LH, making less sense along the way.

Chris Ware said...

I haven't read Samurai II yet, but I enjoyed the first one. Ditto with LOEG II. As for Dark Victory, I read it, but have not yet read Long Halloween. I need to rectify that soon.

I enjoyed Dark Knight II for what it was. It had a completely different tone than the first one and was more of a JLA book than a Batman book.

Haven't read either Secret Wars series.

I read both Kindred series, but don't really remember either.

God Loves, Man Kills II pretty much sucked, but I haven't read the first one for this one either.

The General said...

Like you, I actually sort of liked aspects of DKII. But, I agree it suffered from being a sequel. It's too bad that Miller just didn't make it a seperate stand alone story with no connection, because -for what it is- it has some inspired and entertaining moments.

And, yeah, GLMK II was just awful. So very, very bad.

KACH! said...

You put "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" in the same category as "God Loves, Man Kills 2" & "The Kindred II"? =(