Secret Indebting – How and Why I Drop Comic Books

It’s hard to believe that it was just one week ago today I posed an innocent question to all of you, “What comic book should I drop?” And I have to say, I was surprised at the results.  Before I dig deep into my response to your results, let’s take a look a look at the results on the surface. 

Here are the final results of the poll:

Obviously, as you can see, it was a close race with Cable as the loser, or the winner, depending on your point of view.  But it was close, with Ultimate X-Men and Hulk coming in at #2 and #3, respectively.  I was surprised to see the amount of support for Black Summer (although I do see everyone’s point with it being a limited series and almost over, makes sense to stick it out), and what I thought would be the runaway leader, Checkmate coming in dead last, I presume out of indifference (You all are aware of who is writing it now, right?)

And so, this week, as I promised, if you check my pull list, you will not see Cable on there. Nope, I am done with that book and I will not be purchasing it moving forward. (I just hope someone continues reading it so you can tell me who the damn baby is.)

The two big surprises to me — as I commented in the thread last week — were that overwhelming amount of response I got that were either “Drop them all!” or “Drop The Flash!”, which wasn’t even an option! Today, I will address both of these points.

To begin with “Drop them all!” This was a very strong argument, and I probably should have provided an option to drop them all, but that feels like too much of a rash reaction. A lot of you pointed out that if I’m not enjoying a comic book, I should just drop it, and that opinion just makes me sad. You see, every time I buy a comic book, its because it is interesting me on some level. Either I like the characters or I like someone on the creative team. But each and every time, there is some draw that pulls me in. Sure, not every comic is good. Actually a lot of them are bad. Very bad. But it’s the hope every time I open a comic book, that this one will be the one to brighten my day and take me to a world away from the daily troubles and annoyances of life here on Earth Prime. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I’m whisked away to outer space or thrust into a drama or riding shotgun on an action-adventure. And sometimes I wish I got my $2.99 back. But every time I sit down with my stack of comics, that potential is there, and that my friends, is why I love to buy and read comics and why I have a hard time thinning the stack.

Many of you have a very visceral, almost violent reaction to bad books, or perhaps books you didn’t enjoy as much as the last masterpiece you read.  I rarely have as violent of a reaction to bad books as many others. Not to say one is right and the other is wrong. Maybe it’s the Mets fan in me. But every time I open a comic, I see it as a fresh start, and opportunity for fun and greatness.

Which brings me to The Flash and why I won’t drop it. I can face facts here people. The Flash sucks these days. It seems that ever since Infinite Crisis, The Flash has been bumbled and screwed up left and right. We watched Wally West sacrifice himself in the steps of Barry Allen. We had Bart Allen be shoved down our throat in a not very believable way as the new Flash, and right as we started enjoying it, they killed him. And then we get Wally West back, and now he’s got kids who have powers. And they’re creepy powers (I can’t stand looking at his son — ick). Mark Waid returned to the book, but I don’t know if that was the real Mark Waid or just someone who has the same name and they were too embarrassed to tell him it was a mix up, because wow were those issues horrible. So yes, if I saw all that was wrong in comics, I would drop this book. But I’m not going to.

Let me tell you about the book that I dropped that sticks out the most to me. X-Treme X-Men. *gasp* I know, shocking right. When X-Treme X-Men came out, it was a time where I was tight on money and to be honest, impatient with the X-Men books. It was right after another dramatic creative team was reassigned, and it just seemed to exist as an old folks home for Chris Claremont. And the biggest offense of all, was the title. I almost assumed Rogue would drink Mountain Dew in the comic non-stop. So I dropped it. And not a day has gone by since that I haven’t regretted it.

Obviously life went on. I was able to enjoy my X-Men comics without reading it, and any important story points were explained and folded into the other X-books as needed. So in the end I saved myself some money and avoided some potentially bad books. But that’s the thing. I’m assuming they were bad, but by not reading them, I’d never know (please don’t tell me they were bad if you read them, that’s not the point here). I gave up on characters and comics that I loved and every time I saw a cover on the rack, I got a little bit sad.

This may say more about my demented mental state than of anything about comic books, but I know this. In a little over 10 years, The Flash has been my favorite DC comic and character. I was lucky enough to enjoy Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and ultimately I think the best run, Geoff Johns, as well as some fantastic art. Right now, things seem bleak. But all it takes is a writer and an artist to make this book special again, and if I stop buying it, then how will I know? A wise man once said, “Ya Gotta Believe” and call me crazy, but I apply that to my comics as well.

So long story short:

Cable – dropped
The Flash – not gonna happen

Thanks for playing and until next time, go read some comics.


  1. Ron i know your feelings, Im like that with Daredevil ive always read it since i got into comics and nothing will make me drop it even this Milla crap which has bored me no end ive kept on it.

  2. I don’t actually know who’s taking over Checkmate, someone bad?

  3. Bruce Jones.

    Also, Ron, you have a problem.  Get help.

  4. I can verify that this says more about your mental state than anything about comic books.

    You can’t– you can’t– look. See… you love the Flash, so you keep paying to see someone do horrible things to the Flash? Would you pay someone $3 to smack your mom because you like spending time with your mom? If you’re worried that it will get good after you stop reading it, save your money and wait for someone to tell you it got good again. They will tell you; you run No one is better positioned to learn that a bad book got good again.

    I feel like I could save you if I just tried harder.

  5. man, i was with you with the Flash. I had the hardest time with that book, but i just can’t justify spending the money on a book that makes me sad every time i read it.

    it’s tough love. i love the character, and want to see better things done with him, so i’m voting with my cash. but i’ll be keeping my eye on it, and if it starts to look good, i’ll dive back in.

    hopefully, if enough customers show their tough love, maybe they’ll realize they need to fix that title.

  6. I dropped the Flash like my pants at a brothel, but everytime it comes out I look at it on the shelf and feel a little sad.  So at the very least I can relate to ROn and the X-treme X-men.

  7. nice article ron!

    and while jimski’s right – you could certainly wait until it gets a thumbs up, and then pick it up again – i understand your state of mind. the only REAL way to know if a book is good or bad is to read it and decide for yourself. and your child-like optimism that these books can be good, dammit, is refreshing, considering how many people bash on books and prepare to drop them before they are even released (i’m looking at the comments on trinity #1…).

  8. That artickw pulled at the old heartstrings. I think there is a certain nobility about being onboard a sinking ship. but I offer this possible solution. As crises end, so do Flashes, so here’s to hoping there is an ulmighty shake up at the end of final crisis.


    @CAM Bruce Jones wrotr an awful one year later arch on Nighteing. Grayson becomes a male model (who wears the nightwing costume on the catwalk), dates a redheaded meta Cheyeene who appears in a female version of Nightwing in costume. All the while, Jason Todd is murdering dudes in the Nightwing costume and Dick and female Nightwing have to take him down. By the end of the serired, Jason is transformed eaten by this wierd mutant teamster and gains insect like appendages.


    Hell, in the 3,000,000 Episode of the Ifanboy Mini, futre Ron can feature the current Flash books in an Episode of what were they thinking.  

  9. Ron….I dropped the Flash. I took a few moments to say goodbye and I put all of it’s stuff in a box. The tickets for the baseball games we had gone to, pictures of us on a ferris wheel, etc…. Until it gets it’s act together, it is probably best that we go our separate ways.

  10. @ DaveCarr….You’re kidding right?  That’s uuummm I don’t…I don’t know what to say.

  11. Ron… The Flash has been talking about you behind your back.  He mocks you.  He says he can do whatever he wants; have whatever kind of weird kid or preposterous plot and you’ll still give him your money.  He’s been saying this all over town.  I’m not trying to tell you what to do but maybe you should rethink this relationship.

  12. @Cam  I wish I were, I wish I were. Conor (if he was reading the book at the time) could probablly tell you what was up. Hell, buy the trade. It’s like watchng a highspeed car crash

  13. Ron – Really great thoughts!

    My issue with reading bad comics is that if everyone reads bad comics, then the companies are going to start making them.  There’s no consumer backlash for creating a bad book if you read it just because you love the character.

    The same thing is true in movies.  That’s why they keep making crappy ones, but I go see movies that I know are going to be bad because I LOVE movies.  The same is true in comics. 

    There are people who love the comics they love and then there are people who love comics, period.

    I get that latter sense of love from you, Ron, and it’s inspiring.

  14. 1) I am now officially the designated Cable-reader so that none of my friends have to.  I can totally carry the torch for ifanboy now too. 

    2) The comparison to supporting a particular sports team makes way too much sense to me.  I’m not sure if there’s anybody like baseball fans and comics fans for choosing hobbies that cause them pain.  

  15. @ ohcaroline.  Leafs Fans too, so not just baseball 🙂

  16. I know how you feel about the Flash Ron.  It took every piece of dignity in my body to not buy every crappy spider-man comic or game in existence…. but I own Spidey 3 the game and 3 copies of Spidey 2 on different consoles……..I failed but I love Spider-man and yes I may have lost my dignity when I started to buy Marvel Adventures Spider-man (I dropped it… after 4 issues), but I don’t regret it I love Spider-man.

  17. I’m still buy Ultimates3 just because i buy all Ult. U stuff.  I hate the book but I must buy it. 

  18. In all fairness, I felt the same way about Iron Man when it got de-raiiled to feature an incomplete tie-in story to WWH and then sagged during the whole "Tony sees dead people" plot thread, but it made a sharp upturn around 26 and 28 and now it’s good again.  And I would’ve never known had I dropped the book.  So, there is room for hope, even irrational hope, that Wally will not suck once more.

  19. This is nothing like sweating over dropped books 5+ years ago. When you dropped a book back then, it was gone baby! No potential tpb, no second prints, no nothing! "Thats how it was and thats how we liked it!" (in an old geezer voice)

    These days, everything is pretty much trade bait. Life is sweet that way. You really can’t fall off and be out of luck for wanting to go back.

  20. I’m 18 and I only get $7 an hour for my summer job.  So reading a book that I don’t like cost me half an hour of hard work outside in the summer heat.

    So I drop books that suck. I have no problem working half an hour for Captain America, but no way in hell would I do it for a Bruce Jones written Checkmate  

  21. That was a great hearfelt article. You go ahead and read that flash, Ron!


  22. Madness.

  23. Like most things, I relate your situation to baseball. 

    It’s like you’re a cubs fan; you don’t expect them to win The Series, in fact you you believe (nay – expect with absolute certainty) that your heart will be broken.  However, the season will certainly be a roller coaster ride that you can constantly compare to "the good ol days".  And there is value in that. 

    Sure, for the Cubs the good ol days were back in 1908, and for the Flash … well, not quite getting to the century mark since it’s former greatness.  But I’m sure you can see the point I’m trying to make here.  And that point, of course, is to blame bad comics on a goat.

  24. But what if die-hard Cubs fans are the thing that is ruining the Cubs? My roommate used to have a theory that the whole reason the Cubs never win is that management knows the fans will come either way.

  25. Buy The Flash, sooner or later it will get better and I know that if you stopped and then started again when it improved you’d still feel compelled to get all the issues you had skipped.

     But let me make an argument for the "Drop them all" choice.  If you reward mediocre books by buying them, publishers look at the data and assume there should be more just like them.  If a book is cancelled, it makes room for a new book, perhaps one that will really brighten your day.   Or closer to home, you’ll have more money to try something completely new. 

  26. Jimski & Tad – you guys are completely right.  In theory.  However, a book like Flash will never get cancelled. 

    Dropping the book may make the publishers begin to question the creative team behind the book, but I’m sure (or i HOPE rather) that they look at more than just sales numbers to decide which books are successful.

    If you want the quality of books to increase, dropping the crappy books isn’g goint to do much.  Especally on brand names like the Flash.  But buying the great books that no one is reading will make a huge difference.   If we all broadened our horizens outside of Marvel & DC and started picking up some truly great books that haven’t received the numbers of the big 2 books, I think we’d start to see a change for the better.

  27. I have come to the conclusion that most comics readers are obsessive compulsive people. Heck, I know I am..that’s what gets me through the day. Do you guys and gals collect other things as well? Growing up, I’ve cycled through the Baseball and Football Cards, Stamp Collecting, Matchbox Cars, you name it. If Pokemon and Magic had been around when I was little I probably would have collected those as well… I have a mental problem with dropping books at times…I can’t stand that gaping whole between issues if my run is not complete. I am getting better though and since most things are traded it is easier…but dammit, I’m a completist!

    My point: we all need Xanax and Beer!

    T. Scott Benefield, MD, UnOfficial iFanboy Doctor

  28. I’ve been unemployed/partially-employed for over a year now, and money is definitely an issue for me. I’m definitely more selective about what I buy. And I know there’s good titles out there that I just can’t afford.

    But even more so, I don’t have very much free time. Between the scramble of trying to earn money and feed and clothe and spend time with my kids, and spend some quality time with my wife, there’s just not that much time left over for me. And there’s lots of entertainment competing for my attention, so I’m not goin to waste it on books that are so-so.

     I don’t think I will be picking up the last issue of Black Summer (awesome premise, little payoff), or any more issues of Iron Fist (I still haven’t gotten around to reading the last 2 issues of that title). And I probably won’t be picking up Final Crisis either, though I may get Johns’ Legion series.

    This is a tough, because there is a lot of quality work being done in comics. But honestly sometimes I wish people would just take a break becasue I can’t handle it all – moneywise or timewise. Maybe it is time for comics to take a seasonal hiatus.

  29. I will be the lone voice in the dark standing by X-Treme X-Men. It’s worth a read, and luckily now you can find most of it in the quarter bins.

  30. I personally find a love of a character happens not in the big stories but in the one and done issues where the character has a chance to show its true core. I have also found that these stories will happen after a bad story line.

    also I’m not dropping the Flash either.  

  31. If you think about it, comics fandom is actually a lot MORE rational than sports fandom.  In comics, at the very least, it’s acceptable to start following a title because you heard it was good.  And people will encourage you to improve your mental health by dropping books you hate. 

    In sports, it’s perfectly acceptable to like a team from a city you’ve never visited because your uncle gave you hat when you were 5 and you listened to the games on the radio and thought their mascot was cool. But if, as a fully rational adult, you decide that you would like to support a team from another city because they are good and win a lot of games, you are a bandwagon fan and real fans will hate you.  Also, if you stop following a team because they are consistently awful, you are a bad fan with no sense of what it really takes to support a team, and you deserve for your team to keep losing.

    (Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe all of this to be true. But you have to admit, it is kind of irrational).

  32. i appreciate the heartfelt reply but the flash is awful ron.  i promise when you drop it you’ll feel better that you did.

  33. Xtreme Xmen was a fun read for the most part….it isn’t a classic or anything like that but if you like the characters the books were worth the coin.

  34. I’m with ya 100% Ron. I wouldn’t drop Batman or Detective Comics no matter how bad of a run was going on, because Batman is my favourite character and I have an unbroken run of both books that dates back a long way. But, those would be the only books/character I’m blindly loyal to — if any other book sucks, I don’t waste my money on it. The main thing I’m loyal to in comics these days is good stories, no matter the character or publisher. If people are this loyal to a huge amount of books, then I’d say they have more dollars than sense.

    I’m with you guys on the sports team loyalty thing too … there is a certain Aussie Rules football team (that no one here would have heard of) that has been breaking my heart for about the last 3 years and of course I continue to support them.

  35. Actually I just read the lastest Checkmate the other night and I think they’re starting an interesting story.  It caught my interest more than some of the others on my pull list such as "Gotham after Midnight."

  36. Ron,

    Instead of buying a new Flash comic (which I,too,have sadly dropped) why not buy a back issue of Flash you don’t have? That way you still get a Flash book that you haven’t read.

  37. Ron,

    Keep going with the Flash. I am and I have read the Flash since I was a little kid. Good Job standing up for the Flash.  

  38. i dropoped flash due to it’s general suckyness but can relate to ya Ron, i’m a massive batman freak and wouldn’t drop them ever. as far as bruce jones on checkmate, i’ll give it a go. i’ve loved checkmate so far and who knows he may just give us a great story.stranger things have happened!

    PS R.I.P shadowpact… i dropped it cos it stopped..that makes me sad

    The brit in the hat

  39. I dropped them all. I no longer buy "floppies" (Sorry Conor). After being drained dry after years and years of sub-par books (I had thousands of books in long boxes) , I have been faithfully downloading every comic that comes out. I read them on the computer and have a complete and comprehensive collection of every book EVER published by the big two, and about 95% of everything else. Its true. EVERYTHING. (Just about 500GB for anyone thats interested in following in my footsteps) Now before you start with your cries of LEPER! PIRATE! UNCLEAN!, let me say this. I DO support the industry. I have, and generally make it a point to drop One to Two hundred bucks a month on printed material. Much to my wifes dismay. I buy all the quality stories in trade/hardcover editions, and now as I stare at my collection of trade paperbacks, hardcovers, absolutes, and Omnibi, I feel like "Money well spent" instead of staring at stacks of longboxes and feeling "ripped off".

    Just my 2 cents… as it were.

  40. Here’s the thing, dude; You can buy X-Treme X-Men in trade, now. In fact, you can pick up trades or back-issues of just about anything you don’t buy this week or next week. You *never* have to miss a good story and you *never* have to pay for a shitty one. And Unoob, you rock. We need to talk. 🙂