In a carefully calculated attempt to bring in young female readers, Marvel hired writer Trina Robbins to come up with a character to would appeal to the Jem set. The result was the unsuccessful mini-series Misty, which chronicled the Up with People-esque cheery adventures of the titular teen. Unlike a certain businesswoman who became a rock star with the help of an awesome supercomputer, Misty was utterly forgettable. The only interesting aspect of the Misty debacle is how the character was the niece of Millie the Model -- who starred in her own popular teen-oriented humor series a la Betty and Veronica from the 1940s through to the '70s. Marvel was clearly going for some brand recognition here, with hopes that adults who grew up reading Millie the Model would give their kids (or more likely, grandkids) Misty. Why they didn't jettison Misty altogether and just reboot the Millie book is anybody's guess. While this book may have tanked, Marvel did finally have success with their intended focus group when they licensed Barbie for her own long-running comic a few years later.
Following the end of Star Wars' lengthy run, Marvel once again got into the George Lucas business with their spin-offs of the Droids and Ewoks cartoons. If only they hadn't. As lame as those shows were, at least they had fluid motion and familiar sound effects and voice work to fall back on given their complete lack of anything actually exciting going on. What did the Droids and Ewoks comics have? A bizarre day-glo color scheme for R2-D2, Ewoks with the ability to speak English -- I realize the cartoon had this as well, but it's still annoying -- and substandard artwork from industry legends like John Romita. Of the two, Droids is the more disappointing as the idea of seeing Artoo and Threepio's adventures outside of established Star Wars continuity had actual potential (see Dark Horse's subsequent Droids comic for an example of this concept done right). Worst of all is that Droids actually seemed to try to get better during its run. The final three issues present the events of Star Wars as related from the droids' perspective. It's an interesting idea that echoed George Lucas' one-time declaration that the original trilogy was presented from the pair's POV. Unfortunately, the resulting comics gave us prequel-level humor that condescended to its audiences. Anyone who has read The Little Prince or The Hobbit or anything ever written by Daniel Manus Pinkwater can tell you that children's literature doesn't have to be dumb. Same goes for comics -- Little Nemo in Slumberland is a classic because of its unique style and wit. Meanwhile, an interesting premise quickly mutates into Artoo shooting an alien droid dealer in the ass after he and Threepio get kicked out of the Cantina. Sigh.
3) Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos
Before the comments section explodes with angry comments from Chuck Norris meme lovers who can't comprehend how I could possibly say a bad thing about the once and future Walker, Texas Ranger, let me make one thing absolutely clear: this is only here because of the talent involved in drawing this book. The person responsible? Steve Ditko, better known as the man who co-created Spider-Man. Ditko's widely publicized struggles within the comic industry are the stuff of legend, so much so that British journalist/fan boy Jonathan Ross created an excellent documentary about them a few years back. You know that scene in Donnie Darko where the one kid dresses up like Hulk Hogan for Halloween? Now add some laser tag gear to that outfit for no good reason and that's how Ditko draws Norris in the comic's four issues. The stories themselves are fairy innocuous: Chuck Norris encounters bad guys, beats them up, saves the day. For his part, Ditko makes the most of this job by throwing in the occasional Objectivist message (dude LOVES that Ayn Rand!) and illustrating Norris' various ass-kicking moments with balletic flourishes never before seen on the comic page. In 1970, Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Joe DeRita gathered for Kook's Tour, a travelogue that would become The Three Stooges' final project. In the film, the guys appeared withered by age and an industry that has left them behind. It is depressing to experience, with only slight hints at their former greatness. That's the same emotional response I had while checking out Ditko's work on Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos. When the mighty fall so far, there's no other way to feel really.
2) Royal Roy
Star Comics was formed shortly after Harvey Comics went belly up. So it makes perfect sense that Marvel would scoop up some of Harvey's talent for their fledgling imprint. They went straight to the top and brought in Warren Kremer, the writer and illustrated who co-created Richie Rich and Hot Stuff the Little Devil. Approaching his new gig with gusto, he created the Star books Top Dog, Planet Terry (which is actually quite fun) and Royal Roy, while also serving as a utility player for other titles during the line's brief history. Of all of these duties it was Royal Roy that immediately gained the most attention as the character was nothing more than a clone of Richie Rich. A lawsuit from Harvey soon followed, and the comic was quietly dropped. Given the economic downturn we are all living through right now, to know that the unapologetically wealthy Royal Roy had his life so unceremoniously snuffed out fills me up with a bit of schadenfreude. As for that spoiled twat Richie Rich, if anyone wants to start an Occupy Richville movement I'm totally with you.
1) Hugga Bunch
Truth be told, I've never ever read an issue of Hugga Bunch. I'm not planning to either. However, I can honestly saw it is the worst Star Comics title ever based on the cover alone. Just look at it. Here we have potential Law & Order: SVU guest star Captain Snake harassing Alfalfa from The Little Rascals and two Monchicis. Why are the words "Captain Snake" and "Licked" in bold? And what exactly is the Hugga Bunch anyway? In order to find out, I turned to YouTube to check out their 1985 telefilm and solve the mystery of their existence. See for yourself:
OH DEAR GOD WHO ARE THESE MONSTERS AND WHY DO THEY WANT TO HUG ME? Honestly, I've seen shit on Rotten.com that isn't nearly as disturbing as this. Okay, I'm going to go vomit now so let's wrap things up here. Thanks for reading, and sorry about the nightmares.