Monday, June 8, 2009

Objects of Annoyance

Comments in the last post about Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin debut reminded me that I really didn't like Damian when I first saw him during Morrison's first Batman story arc ("Batman and Son", Batman #655 - 658, 2006), and I didn't think much of his run at the time (to the point my wife and I didn't pick it up again until "RIP"). I mean, suddenly Bruce and Talia have a kid, this arrogant, egocentric, annoying little pissant of a bastard who thought he had some entitlement to participating in the legacy without earning his place in it. Man, he's worse than Jason Todd.

And now that same over-emotional, snotty kid IS Batman's sidekick, he's Robin as of Batman and Robin #1. But suddenly he no longer annoys me. His character has mellowed (if only slightly) in the 3 years since first appearing, and he's got a place in the legacy now that Bruce Wayne is "dead", as the "real" son amidst Bruce's adopted orphans. Typically Batman's the serious one and Robin's the lighter half, but the tables are switched, and it's Batman who has to teach his Robin to lighten up a little. I'm sure people don't like Damian and I don't think we were supposed to at first, or even now (his treatment of "Pennyworth" raising more than a few hackles, I'm sure), but it would appear that Morrison likes this character he invented (writers love difficult characters because they're fun to write, even if fans don't respond to them well) and is going to spend some time building him into someone stronger, less selfish, more heroic. If the "preview" images of the upcoming year in B&R are any indication, Damian's going to be humbled after a severe gang beatdown, and be at odds with Dick on more than one occasion. So even if Damian is the annoying prat right now, will he still be a few years down the road?

Although, I think the question that really needs to be asked is:
Who is the most annoying character in the DC Universe?
While we're at it: Who is the most annoying character in the Marvel U?

This isn't those characters you love to hate, but rather characters who are so poorly conceived or so poorly written that you can't stand the very sight of them. Every word balloon pointing to their lips makes you wince in pain, their very presence makes you want to either tear out the pages in the comic or your hair.

In the DCU, it's hands down "Superboy Prime". Geoff Johns seems to love him, but he's a whiny little bitch with nearly unlimited power, which I can see would make for a good one-off super-villain, except that he's already had his one story line (Infinite Crisis) and his schtick has gotten kind of tired since then ("Sinestro Corps War", "Legion of 3 Worlds": good stories with one big flaw). His motivation for his actions always seem suspect, as if Johns himself has a hard time justifying the character. I think every really good villain you're supposed to like a little, and there's absolutely nothing likable about him.

I've never been a big Marvel reader so I don't wind up hanging around a series if its characters annoy me (whereas as a lifelong DC fan I'm willing to give a little latitude to annoying characters). But I'd have to say that it's probably Jean Grey who annoys me the most whenever I see her around (as long as she's not played by Famke Janssen that is) back from the dead once more, trying to control the Phoenix inside her, ruining emo Scott Sommers' pathetic little life with her yo-yo dead/not-dead routine.

Who is the most annoying character in comics?


Nate said...

The Sentry. Never will there be anything more annoying than a whiney Superman in the Marvel U.

I just re-read JLA/Avengers and Busiek did a great job of showing us the differences in those universes and a Superman powerset is completely out of place in 616

Bill D. said...

Nate beat me to it. I hate hate HATE the Sentry.

Well, to be fair, the Jeff Parker & Paul Tobin Silver Age Pastiche Sentry from the Age of the Sentry mini was the cat's pajamas. More like that, please. The regular emonipotent version, though, might be my least favorite comic book character ever. I'd buy a 12 issue prestige format team-up of Gambit and Skate-Man first.

Nate said...

Bill D, if there was a way to register a protest vote by buying that prestige comic, I'd be with you in two seconds flat.

PJ said...

Most annoying character in the Marvel Universe: Nathan Grey-Summers (all versions). Ugh, just ugh. Also, Starfox. That guy creeps me the fuck out.

Most annoying in the DCU: I'm gonna go old school here with Gar Logan. Or Terry Long, who was totally not Marv Wolfman. Or the Markovs, both of 'em.

For a less old school DCU, I'd go with the All-New, All-Different Batwoman. Never has a less necessary character been given less to do. The only justification for her existence is to check a freakin' box, and to get a cheap pop in the mainstream press two years ago. That's it, that's the list.

Devon Sanders said...

Danny Chase. Pantha. Wildebeest.

Killed Teen Titans for me.

Seriously, what was Wolfman trying to say with these characters?

That he was just out of ideas?

the HZA said...

I guess I can't really say "anyone created in the 90's," can I?

Well, I mean, it's the internet. So, I can.

Ooh! Rob Liefeld. He counts, doesn't he?

--And Ron Marz for DC.

Adj said...

Bill D. touched on my great Marvel hate: Gambit. From his ugly "I was designed in the 90s!" costume to his dumb power to his annoyingly written dialogue, I loathe the character from top to bottom.

DCU? I've long hated Donna Troy in any incarnation. I find her whiney and convoluted and wish she would just go away for good. But she just keeps coming back!!

kingbeauregard said...

I think we may be on to a general theme. It's not exactly characters that are annoying, it's the occasional writer who poops out annoyance after annoyance like an Echidna of aggravation.

Any light-hearted Marv Wolfman character annoys the hell out of me, and half of the angsty ones too. And every original Claremont creation since about, oh, forever really needs to go.

Graig Kent said...

Devon, I was reading an interview in Back Issue magazine with Wolfman where he admits he probably should have left the Titans after he finished up Crisis (first one). He said he felt overworked and generally burnt out, yet forced himself to stay on and forge through, and that he's not very confident or happy about most of the stories he told beyond that point (and he only wrote it for, what? Another 8 years, and two spin off series, sheesh)

Allan said...

It just goes to show you that annoyance is purely in the eye of the beholder, since I love Supermanboy-prime and have enjoyed every comic I've seen him in. Part of my enjoyment comes from his being a meta-commentary on fanboy entitlement (hmmmm, maybe that's why people don't like him...) and the other is I just get a kick out of seeing an alternate version of Superman act like such an utter prick (I mean how can you not love a villain who takes care of Aquaman and Atlantis by boiling a whole freaking ocean?).

That and I LOVE Batwoman. True, she has been given much to do yet, but in terms of pure iconography she's utter bliss.

My pick for most annoying DC character has to be Damage, because he's all "I used to be pretty, but now I'm a deformed freak, so I'm going to be all moody and junk." Truthfully, though, he doesn't bug me that much. He's just the only person I can think of.

Marvel's though, is easy. I lack the words to describe just how much I hate Wolverine--truly the one character who represents everything I cannot stand about that company's output.

See, eye of the beholder.

Jeff said...

Batgirl Cassandra Cain is the most annoying person in the DCU. She can't keep a straight personality between any two titles, and I haven't cared for any of those personalities.