After 80+ years of publishing history, Marvel was bound to have a few wet blankets strewn throughout the bunch. So, why don't we have some fun and go through some of the worst Marvel storylines ever printed in the funny books? While some characters have had it worse than others - we are so, so sorry Spider-Man - numerous characters have been put through the wringer over the years.
Do you remember when everyone was freaking out because Captain America was hailing Hydra (and not in the jokey way like he did in Avengers: Endgame)? How about that time Marvel was going to reveal the origin of Cable and then didn't? Or what about the storyline that brought a teenage Tony Stark forward in time to replace the original Iron Man? And we'll certainly give Peter Parker his due as well. While you're scrolling, just remember... even the best comic book writers can make egregious mistakes from time to time.
Spider-Man: Sins Past
Peter Parker really just cannot catch a break. "Sins Past" is a 2004 Spider-Man storyline where it was revealed that Peter's first sweetheart, Gwen Stacy, cheated on him with his archenemy Norman Osborn (you know, the Green Goblin), got pregnant, managed to hide this pregnancy from Peter, and subsequently had twins while she was in Europe on vacation. This becomes the explanation of why Osborn slayed Gwen during the legendary "Night That Gwen Stacy Died" story from 1973, with Osborn raising his kids (who age two to three times faster than average, because why not?) as their "uncle." It is an entirely unnecessary addition to the Spider-Man canon.
If you're wondering just how hated "Sins Past" is, look no further than the Change.org petition titled "Marvel Should Have Sins Past Officially Erased from Marvel Continuity." That kind of hate doesn't occur with every bad comic book story. With the issue revealing the plot twist at a 3.3/10 critics average on Comic Book Roundup and spot on Comics Alliance's "15 Worst Comics of the Decade" for the 2000s, it seems safe to say "Sins Past" won't be reappraised anytime in the near future.18424Awful storyline?
Avengers: The Crossing
Nowadays, the Iron Man/Avengers 1995 crossover storyline "The Crossing" is mostly (if not completely) ignored in continuity as it certainly seems to be something Marvel would rather consider non-canon without acknowledging it at all. The plot essentially boils down to this: the Tony Stark fans had been reading for three decades had actually been acting as an undercover agent for Kang the Conquerer for years. Hijinks ensue, the Avengers go back in time, and a teenage Tony Stark is brought back to the present to take over the reigns of Iron Man which would effectively reboot the character.
Unsurpringly, this reboot did not stick because, well, no one was asking for a teenage Iron Man. Taking one of the original Avengers and turning him into a traitor in order to relaunch the character with a younger version failed to bring on new readers and only served to alienate those who loved the character in the first place. When an omnibus of the storyline was released in 2011, Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston compared the arc to "the uncle that no one talks about after he featured on To Catch A Predator." Yikes.1051Awful storyline?
Now here is a storyline Marvel wishes they could erase from the minds of the general public. This series is not on Marvel Unlimited. This series is not on any digital storefront. You could shell out the money for physical copies, but you should really save your money. Written in 2002 by then Marvel president Bill Jemas, Marville is one of the most critically derided comic books ever released. It follows the adventures of Kal-AOL Turner, and if that pun about America Online and Superman's birth name doesn't make you laugh, then the rest of the series has nothing else to offer - unless you really like the scantily clad redhead that puzzlingly appears on the cover of each issue for no reason.
In a 2015 look back at the satire series, The A.V. Club's Nathin Rabin stated, "Marville continually changes what kind of a terrible comic book it is. It begins as a deeply misguided goof on comic books then it becomes a trippy meditation on the nature of existence." You Don't Read Comics's Brandon Masters exclaimed, "In all of Marvel’s published works, no matter how good or bad, it’s hard to find a worse book than Marville. It is petty, misguided, wrongheaded, and just plain badly written."670Awful storyline?
When Marvel brought superstar writer Jeph Loeb together with popular artist David Finch to put together a major 2009 crossover in the fan-favorite Ultimate Marvel imprint, all signs indicated an inevitable success on the horizon. This did not come to pass. What readers did get was a mess of a series with a truly convoluted plot surrounding Magneto wanting to end the entire world after the passing of his children. If you want to see character after character after character perish, then Ultimatum is for you.
In his review, IGN's Jesse Schedeen stated, "Ultimatum is one of the worst comics I have ever read. The industry was supposed to have moved beyond flashy, soulless material like this years ago." Comics Alliance's Chris Sims said the writing is akin to "terrible fanfiction" and that it's the "kind of story written by a teenager that wants to sound like a grownup." Ultimatum ended up being all style and no substance and signaled the nail in the coffin for the Ultimate Marvel imprint that would officially be put to bed in 2015 with Secret Wars.10024Awful storyline?