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Comic Theme Time Month – Most Dramatic Creative Shift on a Title

All December long, I will be doing daily installments of Comic Theme Time. Comic Theme Time is a twist on the idea of a “Top Five” list. Instead of me stating a topic and then listing my top five choices in that topic, I’m giving you the topic and letting you go wild with examples that you think fit the theme.

Today’s topic is “What do you think was the most dramatic creative shift on a comic book title?”

Read on to see what I’m looking for specifically, along with some examples to get you started…

This week, Joe Casey and Nathan Fox took over as the new creative team on the ongoing Image series, Haunt.

While Haunt was surely not a book without its fair share of violence (and then some), it was handled in a over-the-top fashion, as the book was quite a lot of fun. Greg Capullo was the main artist on the series.

Then, with issue #19, Casey and Fox took over and now the book is a bleak, dark and gritty comic book. It is a GOOD comic book, but just noting that the shift in creative teams is quite a dramatic one.

Another notable example would be the (in)famous shift in regular artists on New Titans from the clean pencils of Tom Grummett…

to the darker pencils of the late Bill Jaaska…

Well, that’s your topic and those are some examples – now I want to hear your thoughts on some other good examples of dramatic creative shifts on comic book titles!

78 Comments

The worst shift, and very dramatic, was from the end of Gerard Jones’ run on GREEN LANTERN to the start of Ron Marz’s run, _Emerald Twilight_. It still makes me disgusted.

The most obvious switch that comes to mind is Peter Milligan and Mike Allred taking over X-Force.

Purely on the art front in what otherwise was an ongoing run, New Mutants (vol.1) teased the Demon Bear at the end of one issue with Sal Buscema pencils, then switched to Bill Sienkiewicz for that actual story. Huge shift.

Alpha Flight from Byrne to Mignola / Bill Mantlo was quite a change. But Grummett to Jaaska is certainly one of the worst thing I’ve ever seen… Wonder what they were thinking of…

Since you brought up Joe Casey, I’d also add his Wildcats run. It was completely different from what came before.

The switch from Paul Levitz’s bright Legion of Super-Heroes book to Keith Giffen’s convoluted “Five Years Later” storyline has to be right up there.

Frank Miller’s dramatic new style on Daredevil.

Bill Sienkiewicz’s dramatic new style on New Mutants.

Wein/Claremont/Cockrum on the All-New, All-Different X-Men.

Bob Haney/Neal Adams on Brave & Bold and Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow.

Walt Simonson on Thor.

Jack Kirby on Jimmy Olsen.

Bates/Cockrum on Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Etc.

You could do a reader poll after you get a set of possible answers. Offhand, I’d be hard-pressed to say anything tops the dramatic shift in the classic Green Lantern #76. That was like a thunderbolt compared to the previous space operas.

Doom Patrol #19 by Morrison, Case and Garzon

Let’s See. John Romita taking over Amazing Spider-man springs to mind. Quite a dramatic shift in both Art Style and Plot direaction, while still keeping the (ostensible) writer.

When Thunderbolts became Fight Club, similar to the X-Force one above (and I believe inspired by it)

Dan Slott taking over Mighty Avengers for a more recent one. All of a sudden, a new team appears post Secret Invasion. Did the old one ever properly disband anywhere?

Incredible Hulk, from Gary Frank and Cam Smith to Liam Sharp and Robin Riggs. One has to wonder what kind of changes to the story PaD had to do to make that thing work. I like both pencillers. It’s just obvious that one is more “kinetic” and the other is more horror-style.

Daredevil going from dull grittiness to high octane fun when Karl Kesel & Cary Nord took over, and again when Mark Waid’s, Paolo Rivera, & Marcos Martin began their run.

Avengers from the end of the Heroes Reborn version to Kurt Busiek’ & George Perez’s run.

X-Men from Lobdell to Morrison

Peter Parker: Spider-Man from Mark Buckingham to Humberto Ramos.

Milligan-Allred X-Force was the one which popped first to my mind too.

The Crazed Spruce

December 2, 2011 at 4:59 am

How about when Dan Jurgens and Gerard Jones took over the Justice League books from Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis? Or for that matter, when Giffen took over the books in the first place.

And then there’s Mark Waid’s Legion threeboot.

Not to mention Kurt Busiek and George Perez’ post-Reborn Avengers run. It was streets ahead of the pre-Heroes Reborn series. (You know, when Wasp was a bug woman, and Iron Man was a teenager.)

Martin Pasko to Alan Moore on The Saga of the Swamp Thing (I mean, come on!).

Paul Kupperberg to Grant Morrison on Doom Patrol, as already mentioned.

And it’s probably fair to mention Mick Angelo to Alan Moore on Marvelman…

(Heck, almost anything here could be listed X to Alan Moore…)

Namur going from John Byrne to Jae Lee.

Deadman from Carmine Infantino to Neal Adams

The Losers‘, after Kirby took over from Kanigher, starting with Our Fighting Forces 151. The change was drastic enough that readers wrote in to complain.

The one I hated the most as a kid? That gave me nightmares and didn’t make me cry but close to it?

Fabian Nicieza and Tony Daniel to Jeph Loeb and Adam Pollina on X-Force.

And really I don’t even think the Allred/Milligan X-Force change should count. It kept the numbering and the name but it was a completely different comic book. There’s “dramatic creative shift” (which is what happened when Loeb/Pollina took over) and then there’s “Brand new comic book with literally nothing to do with the old comic book.”

So if Allred/Milligan X-Force doesn’t count, that means the most obvious one becomes Alan Moore on Swamp Thing, no?

SO many choices. But I’m going with the one in the Amethyst; Princess Of Gemworld series, from a fantasy-adventure series (with quite a bit of girl empowerment fantasy in it) to… Horror, I guess? I mean all the horrible (and pointless) things they had Amy undergo- blindness, the revelation that she was a bastard child of a Lord of Order, the utterly disgusting death of Carnelian just to bring back Obsidian (which then turned out to be a fake-out to bring in Flaw), several characters dying or going insane, and in the end, the series ending with Amy merging with a Lord of Chaos- Why?? I can understand that DC might have wanted to include Amethyst as part of the Order vs Chaos plotline that the rest of their magical characters had at the time, but WHY this shift in tone? Did they seriously think this would please her fans, or bring new ones? It left a bad taste in my mind to this day.

(And no, I can’t remember what the creative team involved was. I don’t feel inclined to look it up either.)

PS: I hear Amethyst is getting a short in the coming DC Nation cartoons. Hopefully they’ll go back to the original fun of the series.

The one that always sticks in my mind is when Ditko left Doctor Strange and Bill Everett took over.

This is going back a long time, to 1973, when issue 27 of Phantom Stranger saw Arnold Drake and Gerry Talaoc take over from Len Wein and Jim Aparo; worse still was that the Spawn Of Frankesnteing back-up, originally written by Marv Wolfman and beautifully drawn by William Kaluta, was bow being crafted by Steve Skeates and Bernard Bailey — no offence to the latter two, but that was one jarring transition.

All in all, the teenaged me was very put out by this massive change.

Eh? What was that? Did I keep buying the comic? Don’t be silly, of course I did — i was a hardcore comic book nut in those days. However, I long since disposed of my later Phantom Stranger issues, keeping only the earlier ones.

The switch from Sal Buscema to Frank Robbins on Captain America was truly jarring.

It was only a fill in but the Steve Ditko issue of Daredevil after Mazzuchelli & Miller’s Born Again shifted the tone back to campy Silver age weirdness which was totally disconcerting after DD’s apocalypse.

It might not count, if we are discounting the Milligan/Allred X-Force switch, but the PAD/Stroman X-Factor switch came to mind immediately.

Great comics, but it was so jarring.

The shift from Defenders to New Defenders with issue #126 has to be up there. John Byrne the Antichrist taking over for Steve Englehart and Al Milgrom on West Coast Avengers was a pretty major change. When Mike Grell left Green Arrow with #80, the next issue dumped everything about his run and turned GA to a straight generic superhero book. Now that was a jarring transition.

I can think of a few of these, but the most recent one to stick in my mind is Power Girl. The Gray/Palmiotti/Conner run was a wonderfully wacky, lighthearted, fun and sexy romp of a comic with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek at all times. Then Judd Winick and Sami Basri took over and the book became full of drama and angst, with much of the supporting cast and secret identity status quo immediately jettisoned the second they came on board. The book lost all of the sense of fun and whimsy that had made it so unique and enjoyable.

When I think dramatic shifts, Swamp Thing 21 tends to stand out, with Doom Patrol 19 a close second.

This new issue of Haunt reminds me of Swamp Thing 20, actually. One issue to clear the decks and wrap things up before moving in the new direction. It’s off to a good start.

The Daredevil suggestions are, to me, slightly off base. It was a very gradual transition from DD 158 to issue 168 with Miller’s plotting slowly outshining McKenzie’s writing until he took the book over entirely. If you read, for instance, DD 150-157 there’s not much difference in tone at first.

Bill Sienkiewicz’s debut on New Mutants was paradigm shifting for sure, even though Claremont was there straight through. Going from Sal Buscema past his peak to Bill S. driving straight into his was wonderfully jarring.

“The switch from Sal Buscema to Frank Robbins on Captain America was truly jarring.”

This. At the time I’d never seen Robbins’ work before, and it freaked me out. In a similar vein (and a similar vintage), there was the switch from Howard Chaykin to Carmine Infantino on the original Marvel Star Wars comic.

Single character example; Alan Moore’s Voodoo series, where he basically dismissed everything about the character’s WildCATS background and just focused on the “super-stripper” part.

Going from Sal Buscema past his peak to Bill S. driving straight into his was wonderfully jarring.

I thought Sal Buscema was doing some of the best work of his career up until that point, although Bob McLeod’s inks were so overpowering one could argue it was not a lot of Sal coming through in the art. I’d say Sal’s actual peak was his 90s Spider-Man work.

Matthew Johnson

December 2, 2011 at 7:32 am

Jack Kirby taking over the Golden Age Sandman; basically, it became a completely different book.

Steve Gerber taking over the Defenders.

The shift in the Amazing Adventures Inhuman series from Jack Kirby to Roy Thomas and Neal Adams comes to mind.

Dan Slott She-Hulk to Peter David.

randypan the goatboy

December 2, 2011 at 7:48 am

A big one for me was the change up in 1992 on Justice league America from giffen to Dan jurgens. keith giffen wrote JLA like a sitcom and Jurgens wrote it more as a straght forward comic book. Both were good, but what started out as new and a fresh take on a superhero team got old fast. I think people look at Giffen’s run and remember it as better than what it really was. I know I did untill i bought all of the available JL/JLA/JLI trades and sold them just days later. To make matters worse the change up after Jurgens left was even worse…gerard jones shouldnt even be allowed to read comics…never mind write them

Todd McFarlane joining the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN creative time springs to mind. His arrival, definitely, marked a major change to the character’s visual style. Once his run began, everyone started rendering Spidey with big eyes and stringy webbing.

Technically it may not count because it was on hiatus for a few months but I really think you can’t find a bigger tone shift in superhero comics than the one from Don McGregor’s Black Panther to Jack Kirby’s. McGregor’s trying to to do Realistic and Important stories that are Relevant to Our Times is canceled in MID-STORY and then a little while later the Panther’s relaunched with Jack Kirby writing “King Solomon’s Frog!” We were all kind of freaked out by that back in the day.

I think it just barely beats out Kirby’s taking over Jimmy Olsen but really any time Kirby took over someone else’s book in the 1970s you had that WTF reaction. His return to Captain America was tough for everyone who’s been reading the Steve Englehart run. What was really disconcerting was that Kirby co-created both the Panther and Cap, so you felt weird saying he was doing it wrong… but it sure felt that way at the time, though with the benefit of hindsight I think Kirby’s work aged better than the Relevant Era stuff he was replacing.

Somebody mentioned the Fight Club version of Thunderbolts; I’d also like to add that the Ellis/Deodato run was a pretty big shift from Nicieza/Grummett.

Loeb’s takeover of the various Ultimate books was a pretty huge change too.

I’m tempted to say that Busiek’s Avengers becoming Bendis’s Avengers was a pretty huge shift, but technically there was an Austen arc and a Johns arc in-between.

Can we count TMNT’s shift from Eastman and Laird to team-of-the-month? Certainly the shift from the tone of the first 15 issues to Mark Martin’s “the Turtles get blown up and their brains get stuck in household appliances” arc was…a shift.

Warren Ellis & Tom Raney taking over StormWatch from Drew Bittner & Renato Arlem was a complete change in direction, hardly the same comic at all.

The change i will always remember and never forgive: when Englehart left Dr Strange and Marv wolfman took over. I was reading an awesome story where the world was destroyed and was recreated with Strange being the only one who knew everyone had been killed and resurrected (and it was driving him nuts). Strange and Clea went back in time and Clea slept with Ben Franklin (really). then Wolfman took over and it was all just a trick of the devil or a dream or some such stupid shit and it was soooo lame. From great to terrible in one issue. so sad

In the “Alan Moore” subcategory there’s also Supreme. And Youngblood, too.

If “Justice League” (Giffen/DiMatheis) and the “Justice League of America” that preceeded it can be called the “the same title”, then that’s a big one.

Without changing writers, Grendel managed a lot of stark creative shifts between each pair of arcs, more or less. Likewise, the shift between “Church and State” and “Jaka’s Story” inside Cerebus is pretty huge, and the one between the first set of stories and “High Society” nearly as much so.

In the category of ‘dramatic shifts for the worse’, the Superhero era of Blackhawks is going to stand head and shoulders above (below) the rest, no?

No one’s mentioned Ravage 2099? Stan Lee’s contribution to the 2099 world was a powerless action hero in a future world. The moment he leaves the book, Ravage gains animal superpowers.

The Swamp Thing and Doom Patrol changes mentioned already.
Fairly obscure, but when Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eden left/kicked off/fired from “Thriller” was particularly jarring – from a minimalist story to all of a sudden captions all over the place. I think it was issue 8 or so. It was the last issue I purchased.

The first non-Gerber Howard the Duck, presaging what would go wrong with the film version through a lack of understanding of the character.

Not necessarily significant in comics history terms, but a really jarring, WTF-inducing change was near the end of the first run of Thunderbolts. Issue 75, by Fabian Nicieza, wrapped up a long-running storyline; issue 76, by John Arcudi, dumped all of the regular characters and started a Fight Club-inspired plot that lasted about six issues before the title was cancelled.

@Greg Hatcher: “His (Kirby) return to Captain America was tough for everyone who’s been reading the Steve Englehart run.”

If I recall correctly, there was a huge (and vocal, if you can trust the letters pages) outcry, mainly negative, when Frank Robbins took over the artwork with issue #182. Sal had been the main penciler on most of Englehart’s run and the readers couldn’t stand Robbin’s style after so many issues by Sal B.

Bruce Jones taking over from greg Rucka on Checkmate. Taking what had been a really solid title and making it a showcase for a new character, in a plot so unappealing that it got the book cancelled.

The “Bruce Jones” bit (he basically may be listed for any title he has been and not for good reasons) made me remember Jodi Picoult following Allan Heinberg on Wonder Woman. Heinberg made a very enjoyable arc and then it all was downhill with Picoult.

Besides Mike Grell leaving Green Arrow, there was also a huge change when he left The Warlord. And not for the better.

Any post-Morrison Doom Patrol has been a big change from the Morrison days.

Keith Giffen often will come into a title and Giffenize it. The only New Universe titles I bought back in the day were the issues of Justice he did. At least one of those had a very very heavy handed inker.

This one’s already been mentioned, but I just wanna second the nomination (so to speak) for Mark Waid’s Daredevil. That book has been so ridiculously dark and gritty and grim and depressed for years – and that’s what I generally think of Daredevil books as being, and I usually like them, but they really pushed it as far as they could go… and here comes Waid reinventing Daredevil as… well, as a daredevil, bright and chipper and adventurous and the book’s just so fucking good, it’s actually the most interested I’ve been in that series for years and years.

“It might not count, if we are discounting the Milligan/Allred X-Force switch, but the PAD/Stroman X-Factor switch came to mind immediately. Great comics, but it was so jarring.”

How about Stroman’s second run on X-Factor, # 33-36 of the current volume? Reading that stretch of issues in one sitting, the shift in art from Valentine De Landro’s #32 to Stroman’s debut made felt like I’d dropped acid between issues. Same writer, same characters, continuation of the same stories, but man was that a jarring shift in art.

The most dramatic art shift surely has to be when Billy the Sink took over New Mutants, as many other posters have mentioned. What made that shift so dramatic is that the writer (Chris Claremont) was a constant, but the book was hardly the same at all just due to the art. And at the time Billy took over the title, he was the only artist in mainstream American comics that had a style that unique and different from the norm, so simply exposing him to the size of readership that an X-book had was a jarring thing.

And as for writing, I’ve only seen it mentioned by one other poster, but the obvious answer has to be Alan Moore taking over Supreme. For the first 40 issues of the book, it was written and drawn by Rob Liefeld’s disciples, and was completely unreadable. Then Alan Moore took over. A lot of comics have gotten better with new creative teams, but nothing else has ever gone from worst to first in one issue. Even X-Force pre-Milligan, X-men pre-Morrison, etc. weren’t unreadable, they just weren’t great.

In the Alan Moore subcategory, it’s just insanely awesome and recognizable when he takes over Captain Britain. Although Davis’ art remained constant, in ONE PAGE Moore takes the story from goofy and directionless to gritty and epic.

Mark Gruenwald Spider-Woman to Michael Fleisher Spider-Woman

Thank you, Andrew Brown; The Englehart-to-Wolfman switch in Dr. Strange, derailing what promised to be a great Bicentennial-era epic, was the one I was going to mention too. Whoever it was that took over (from the great Gene Colan) on the art was inferior too, but it was that sudden dismissal of the storyline that had me shocked as a kid. It was a slap in the face. I stayed away from the title for years after that.

Cerebus was mentioned, though one could argue that book contains multiple big shifts…I’d place the biggest one between the first book and High Society, though yes, High Society – Jaka’s Story and Jaka’s Story – Melmoth were big ones too.

Maybe also Heartbreak Soup in Love and Rockets? The tone of the book had been more on the wacky scifi-tinted stuff, especially Gilbert’s work, but that was something quite different (and probably worth mentioning because that was a single artist going “this doesn’t really work, let’s try something else”).

A number of books have changed dramatically if one takes a book at one point and immediately jumps to a book some years later, but the shift was gradual…I’d count Miller’s Daredevil as such, and also e.g. Herge’s Tintin series. Some point out Blue Lotus as a shift-point but to be honest I see it as part of continuation from the crude early stuff to more polished later ones…

The change-up in Firestorm from a DC take on the Spidey mythos to John Ostrander’s web of elementals, identity crises, and Cold War intrigue was pretty drastic. I was pretty limited as to what comics I got while growing up (no Watchmen, Batman: Year One, Moore’s Swamp Thing) so that was my first exposure to how comic books could provoke thought and provide commentary on the world-at-large.

It’s interesting that so many of the changes came as a result of Britishers who didn’t grow up with the superhero house style of the big two (Moore, Morrison, Ellis, Milligan). Really, any writer who has a distinctive voice will stand out pretty dramatically from the last guy.

This is not a bad thing at all.

I was just a wee tyke, but I was shocked and dismayed by the changes to the original Machine Man comic going from Kirby’s dynamic style and stories of X-51 living in public as a wandering robot in search of himself, to a massively depowered version with a secret identity as an insurance salesman (!) with an idiotic supporting cast written by Marv Wolfman and quite stiffly drawn by Steve Ditko. Poor Aaron never got over being ripped in half by the Hulk. The only good thing to come out of the Wolfman/Ditko issues was the villainess Sunset Bain, who was made cool by later creative teams in other books.

I’d have to go with Walt Simonson’s run on Thor. Before Simonson, Thor was a weak-selling minor title. In his first time at bat, he actually made Thor cool, by simply suggesting that someone other than Thor was worthy of wielding Mjolnir. Not to mention his artwork; Thor didn’t look this good since the last time Jack Kirby drew him!

Second suggestion: Len Wein, Dave Cochrum and Chris Claremont on X-Men. The book was in reprints, practically cancelled, before Len Wein retooled the title by introducing the All-New, All-Different line-up. Once Claremont took over the writing, the book was well on its way to being one of Marvel’s biggest franchises.

i still remember how startling the post-Korvac AVENGERS was – after the wow of #177, #178 sucked.

Just thought of one I don’t think has been mentioned: The Incredible Hulk switching from John Byrne to Allen Milgrom as writer/artist.

Byrne was taking Hulk in a very new direction, and it just got busted up completely. Plus visually the book too a jarring downturn.

You’re all so young…..

Kanigher to O’Neill and Sekowsky on Wonder Woman. Now, that was a shift in tone and direction. And then back again…!

Or O’Neill and Adams taking over Batman.

The New Hunted Metal Men (issue 33) what had been a funny quirky series, tossing the funny under a bus.

Wonder Woman #178 the New Wonder Woman.

The New Look Batman in the Batman books (Detective 327, Batman 164). Tossing out the Bob Kane-ish style artwork for more modern work, a lot of the goofy plots tossed to focus on more detective-based stories, dumping a number of light-hearted recurring characters like Bat-Mite, Batwoman, Bat-Girl & Ace the Bat Hound.

Reading through the second Showcase Presents Teen Titans collection reveals that every couple of months TPTB changed direction (now they don’t wear costumes or use superpowers, now they do again, now it’s borderline horror) although that might not qualify so much as a DRAMATIC shifts as DESPERATE shifts. ;-)

Oh, true, the depowered groovy agent Wonder Woman, that was a whole different book.

“Mark Gruenwald Spider-Woman to Michael Fleisher Spider-Woman”

Thats when it went from being oddly mystic focused and went to being more of a super-hero book right? That was pretty out of left field. Welcome though, the mystic stuff made no sense for the character and was pretty boring.

randypan the goatboy

December 3, 2011 at 6:38 am

I worked really hard to force the groovy wonder woman out of my head…it took 30 years and now I have to start over….i would still like to know what DC was thinking with that one. it was right in the middle of the femminist movement, so it would be a great idea to take the one female hero who could hang with the big boys[ she was one of the big ” boys” herself] and then depower her…

randypan the goatboy

December 3, 2011 at 6:42 am

A huge example of this phenominon is when Spiderman went from being a great book to being a dog shit taco. I remember once my DR told me he needed a stoole sample so I brought him the maximum carnage mini series. he read it and told me i had six months to live…weird

I’m so amazed this hasn’t been mentioned before that I’m going to presume I just missed it while browsing the comments but the biggest one I can think of is Alan Moore talking over Supreme.

I’d also agree with Bill Dubay and Alex Nino taking over Thriller from Fleming and Von Eeden. Len Strazlewski dumbing down Roger Stern’s Starman (Dave Hoover had already made a jarring shift in artists two issues before) is another good example.

Ah wait, someone else * did* mention Supreme. Apologies. But I still second that.

“I’d say Sal’s actual peak was his 90s Spider-Man work.”

Quoted for truth.

How about the creative team’s self-inflicted changes like Johns did in Flash 200 to 201? Ruy Jose art whacked me in the head, as well as the storyline from Prof Zoom, then nobody knows who Wally West is.

Also, I could argue for Tischman and Kordey in Cable, @ #100 I believe. From Image style to nitty-gritty real world stuff.

GHOST RIDER in the mid-90s went from a long run by Salvador Larroca to a horrible (though brief) run by Pop Mhan, that was jarring as hell. Than it went from Mhan to Javier Saltares returning to the book, so in the span of about a year the series had three very different artist styles running into one another.

Randypan – Denny O’Neil’s argument was that women couldn’t relate to a woman who got her powers from the gods, but that if WW was doing things that any woman could believably do she seem more heroic.

Yeahhhhhh…

Okay, i can see his point, but hey who reads superheroes for reality? People read them because they like imagining they’re more powerful than reality.

Then again Denny doesn’t seem to like overpowerful characters. He depowered Wonder Woman, reduced Superman & Green Lantern power levels. Heck, even his Justice League stories don’t make them as powerful & awe-inspiring as they should be.

The sudden changeover on Cable shortly before #100 (I think it was around #96) wasn’t the first time that sort of thing happened on the book. For a couple of years, Joe Casey and Ladronn were chugging along, telling some really interesting, well-done stories, and it was the first time I really liked Cable as a character. Casey was leading up to a big confrontation with Apocalypse. Then a few months before that could happen, Rob Liefeld decided he wanted to work on Cable again, and Marvel agreed to let him, giving Casey & Ladronn the heave-ho. Liefeld stuck around for, what, three or four issues before leaving again, but in that short space of time the tone of the book shifted completely to generic superheroics.

Then Marvel got Robert Weinberger to write Cable and, again, there was some interesting stuff going on. And again Marvel abruptly dropped him, leading to the previously mentioned drastic changes under Tischman and Kordey.

Power Pack 56, when Mike Higgins and Tom Morgan took over. Suddenly, the book that introduced me to comics was filled with Liefeldian steroided nine year olds and twists that made no sense. It was jarring, but it only lasted seven issues before being cancelled. After that, another creative shift occurred when the original creative team (Louise Simonson and June Brigman) used the Holiday Special One Shot to retcon away all of Higgings’ decisions. Thang goodness Marvel published that!

It’s a great topic, but so subjective… Still, I’ll toss some suggestions into the ring :)

Late in volume one of Iron Man, we went from Len Kaminski’s terrific run to the Teen Tony / Crossing crossovers disasters. That’s what springs to my mind as the most precipitous drop in quality of a book I was following at the time.

What about when Kirby started on Jimmy Olsen? That’s a change that must’ve given the readership conceptual and artistic whiplash!

I’d not be surprised if there were titles in the 50s that went from featuring superheroes to cowboys or aliens with no warning.

“I think it just barely beats out Kirby’s taking over Jimmy Olsen but really any time Kirby took over someone else’s book in the 1970s you had that WTF reaction. His return to Captain America was tough for everyone who’s been reading the Steve Englehart run. What was really disconcerting was that Kirby co-created both the Panther and Cap, so you felt weird saying he was doing it wrong… but it sure felt that way at the time, though with the benefit of hindsight I think Kirby’s work aged better than the Relevant Era stuff he was replacing.”

I actually like both Englehart’s run and Kirby’s return. The shift between them really was dramatic. Englehart did down-to-earth stories grounded in the events of the era like Watergate, but Kirby’s run was filled with so much energy and weirdness. This is when he created Arnim Zola the Bio-Fanatic. To see someone use genetic engineering in a story in the 70s to create living castles, and floating bubbles was just too awesome. I just loved every panel of Kirby krazyness. A mental hospital got transported into a parallel universe and the inmates formed a new society in one of his Cap issues. Captain America battled Magneto over a super powerful alien being who Magneto wanted to manipulate. Captain America got caught in a gladiatorial roller derby. It was just so great that I can’t describe it without using the word awesome over and over. (This is why I’m not a wordsmith.)

If by “Jack Kirby taking over the Golden Age Sandman; basically, it became a completely different book.” you mean the change from gas mask and business suit to skintight outfit and boy companion, then that was introduced in issue 69 by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris — Kirby and Joe Simon took over the strip with issue 72.

If you mean a change in tone or appearance, then as you were.

Great theme!

Well, the change in Excalibur, after Alan Davis was removed from the book as writer/artist (issue 67 was his last; 42 was his first). That man loved those characters, you could see it on his pages.

Why the move? To force it into the X-Franchise. Issue 68 dumped everything Alan Davis created. They turned Captain Britain into Britanic (urgh), Colossus was added to the team. It was heart-breaking.

And the writers to replace Alan Davis? Scott Lobdell and Ben Raab (an editor?) I obviously stopped collecting after 67. It was a totally different book. They gutted it.

Also, Spider-Man 2099, after Rick Leonardi left art chores. Joe St Pierre and later Andrew Wildman ruined the book for me. ‘90s art at its worst.

And Dan Slott to Peter David on She-Hulk.

Jon C
(the 2nd Jon C on this forum, I now see)

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