The 5 Worst Comic Book Series Ever: Terrible Comic Books

Normally, I'll spend hours waxing poetic about how great comic books can be. But some comics are terrible. Really terrible. Not only do they bring the genre as a whole down, often times they're so bad they actually prevent better, future stories from ever taking off.

Here is a list of some of the worst comic books of all time.

5. Youngblood (Image, et al.)

Written and drawn by infamous 90s superstar Rob Liefeld, Youngblood was a superhero book devoid of joy, excitement, and talent. A product of the creators penchant for extreme, amoral butt-kicking, gun wielding bad asses with giant, deformed muscles, Youngblood may well be our ultimate punishment for buying X-Force when we were 8.

One of the most immature comics in a medium full of immature train wrecks, Youngblood is like a twelve year old boys idea of what being "cool" is. All of the members are stone cold killers, and why not? Exploding chests are awesome. That's almost par for the course these days, but... then there's the sex.

Oh, yes, there's sex. Lots of sex.

Youngblood's idea of a classy sex scene
Youngblood's idea of a classy sex scene

Oh, yeah. This is awesome. That's totally not Wolverine and Cyclops dressed up like Jean Grey (?), totally doin' each other.  Beautiful. Wonderful. Great.  Kill me now.

There's plenty more where this came from.  Youngblood recently made a come back, because God is dead and we're living in hell now. One of the recent issues guest starred President Barack Obama.  I don't care what your political ideology is, no political figure deserves that kind of punishment.

4. Chris Claremont's New Excalibur (Marvel)

Anyone who has followed comic books knows that Chris Claremont is an almost mythic figure in the canon of superhero comics. The man is responsible for nearly twenty years of Uncanny X-Men's best stories. His contribution to the world of modern comic storytelling is unparralleled.

That was then, and this is now. Today, the man can't stop turning out dreck to save his own life. The very low point of his career was when he revived the classic Excalibur title in 2005. The concept, vaguely, is that Excalibur is Britain's premier super hero team. Okay. Great. A whole 40% of the team is even British, so you beat out the revival of Canada's resident team, Alpha Flight.

The entire thing was just a disaster though. The lowest point was when fans clamored to the book to see The Exiles fan-favorite character Nocturne join the team. With new readers ready and excited to see what this fun loving lady is going to do on a new team, what's the first thing Chris Claremont has happen?

She has a stroke.

She isn't shot, she isn't beaten up, she just has a stroke. This is followed by months of physical therapy. Gosh. Good story. Lots of fun. Glad we moved that character over to a new book.

The series was quickly canceled and Claremont immediately took over Exiles himself. Before he was removed from that too. I can only assume that Claremont has some type of contract with Marvel stating they can't use his characters if he isn't allowed to write some X-Men related book whenever he wants. Marvel seems to be figuring out how to deal with it, though. All of his stories are being moved further and further out of continuity. Just look, here's his progression since early 2000.

  • X-Treme X-Men - One of the flagship X-Titles
  • Excalibur- The important story of Professor X and Magneto on Genosha, dealing regularly with the other teams.
  • New Excalibur- On another continent, he only gets to use his pet characters (Psyloke, Sage, etc)
  • Exiles - Now his stories take place entirely in another dimension. Even there, he still manages to ruin stories and continuity.
  • X-Men Forever - Marvel says, "Screw it." This takes place completely out of continuity and lets him pretend he never stopped writing Uncanny in the 90s in the first place.

Blob Eats the Wasp (lovely)
Blob Eats the Wasp (lovely)
Hank Pym Eats The Blob (you're forgiven for beating your wife) (no, you aren't)
Hank Pym Eats The Blob (you're forgiven for beating your wife) (no, you aren't)

3. Ultimatum (Marvel)

Jeph Loeb used to be a good writer. I think. Looking back, I think I might have just been duped by his collaboration with top notch artists. But today? The man is a walking disaster. The worst offender from his huge crop of stinkers (which include The Ultimates vol. 3, The Incredible Hulk, and Ultimate X) was the mega-crossover event Ultimatum.

The entire thing is a childish foray into superhero murder and torture porn. The book opens with most of New York City being murdered by Magneto, including large portions of the X-Men, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and other popular characters.

I can handle character death, and maybe this all would have been okay except for what comes next. As the villains begin to cut a path of destruction across the world, they begin to violently and graphically murder the other heroes. The Wasp is eaten alive by The Blob. Its okay, though. Her (abusive) husband, Giant Man will get his revenge by returning the favor and ALSO eating The Blob alive. Comics are all grown up now.

The entire thing is juvenile. I don't know who this was marketed too. It is too violent for children and too stupid for adults. God only knows.

The entire thing ends with Magneto killing Wolverine, Cyclops killing Magneto, and an assassin killing Cyclops, and The Thing killing Doctor Doom. Hope you didn't like any characters too much, because it looks like the only people who survived were some random X-Men, Spider-man, and The Fantastic Four. Good times. This was the end result of four years of some of the worst writing in decades and it shows.

2. Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose (Broadsword)

Until this last few months, I would say this is the worst  comic ever created.   Holy God. I don't even know what to say.  I'll let this image speak for me.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Work it out.

"You have to get out of here!"

Okay, that's reasonable. This superhero is warning someone off.


How does that work? If her vagina is haunted, where can she go so that it won't be haunted? The story behind this is that the girl had a vagina transplant and the previous owner (1/5th of a team of sexy undead nurses) is out to reclaim it. I don't know if the writer understands science, but vagina transplants are generally not things that happen.

This is an actual storyline. This happened. Everything about this comic is gross and ugly and unpleasant. The oversexualized main character makes Witchblade look a Puritan novel. The storylines are... well, once again, look above. Just awful all around.

What really makes Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose one of the worst comic books ever, however, is the utter lack of thought put into the most basic plot points. You'll rarely see a comic so lazily constructed in your life. The protagonists are incompetent, the villains are dull, and everyone seems to live in a sexy fugue state bumbling into one another and occasionally doing sex magic.

1. The Rise of Arsenal (DC)

Congratulations: an ongoing series actually won. The Rise of Arsenal, a 4-issue mini-series written by J. T. Krul managed to become the worst comic book ever written before it even ended.  Spawning out of the already monumentally terrible Cry for Justice event, The Rise of Arsenal follows Roy Harper, the Green Arrow's former side kick, as he recovers from the events that destroyed his life.

His arm has been severed in a terrible battle and his daughter Lian killed when super-terrorist Prometheus blew up his hometown of Star City.  Now, the Green Arrow would go on to track down and kill Prometheus and for some reason, people have a problem with this.  If I tracked down and shot Osama Bin Laden in the head, I'd have a parade, but whatever.  Cry For Justice is only in the top twenty worst comic books of all time, and we're talking about number one here.

After coming out of a medically induced coma and finding himself mangled and his daughter dead, Roy lashes out at everyone around him as cruelly as possible.  Black Canary, Batman, his successor as Green Arrow's side kick Mia, the former Wonder Girl Donna Troi, and just about anyone he can get his mitts on. Okay. Great. He's traumatized, people get mean when they're dealing with loss.

Then he starts doing heroin again. Okay.  Then he physically attacks someone at his daughters funeral. Right. This is already the most miserable comic book experience I've ever seen.

Then his daughter's super-villain mother shows up for a fight.  She attacks him and while the two fight, Roy's inner-monologue states that she was the best lay of his life. As he beats the ever living shit out of her, he glibly states that it is okay, because she "likes it rough."

Take that, bereaved mother.

He ties her up and attempts to have hate sex. The key word here is attempts, because... hm.  It seems he's lost more than his arm.  This is a great story line that can only be told in comics.  Dude loses everything he loves and, now the real tragedy, his web shooter is out of fluid.

Naturally, he proves he's still a man by heading out on the street and brutalizes some petty criminals. Awesome.  I never thought I'd miss the Comics Code.  To make everything better, he trips balls on heroin and imagines a dead and rotting stray cat is actually his still-living daughter.

Your daughter is beautiful, Roy
Your daughter is beautiful, Roy

This entire thing is a travesty.  No one acts like a real human being, heroin doesn't work that way, every superhero is portrayed as a miserable, awful person and it manages to be grossly offensive in just about every way possible.  How could anyone write this? Why did I read it? I feel like we're both stupid.

Anyway, Batman shows up and gives the old "I'm your friend, trust me, I'll help you get past this."  Unlike most instances of this jolly old plot chestnut, Batman starts kicking the piss out of Arsenal during the middle of it.  Good shows, Bats. I think you won him over.

Could issue 4 get any worse? There's only one issue left.  Let's hope to hell it doesn't. It just might create a black hole and suck all the other comics on the shelf into a point of infinite literary denseness.

Read Good Comics

Don't let the entire affair sour you too much on comic books, though. Although these are some of the worst comicbooks ever created, the medium on the whole has had some really high points.  If you're interested in reading more about quality books, check out the links to your right.

If you have any particular "favorite" awful comic books, be sure to share them in the comments section!

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Comments 32 comments

the fix 6 years ago

This Hub is awesome, I was laughing so hard! There are definitely more bad comics than good ones and these are god-awful!! Great writing, thanks for sharing your comics knowledge.

satomko profile image

satomko 6 years ago from Macon, GA

Right on about Ultimates Vol. 3. I enjoyed The Ultimates when it first started and stuck with it even when it started to go sour, but when it got that bad I bailed.

waynet profile image

waynet 6 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

Hahahaha a haunted that is a classic and a bad line of dialogue from a terrible comic book, I used to like Youngblood when I was 12!!

Gemineye profile image

Gemineye 6 years ago

Haunted Vaginas!! Unreal...hilarity...very good article...glad I found it

trollin 6 years ago

Tarot is insane. Witch of the Black Rose is not a train wreck, it's Jim Balent's insane mind unleashed upon the world. I only wish the villains, if you can even call them that, defeated the major heroes for making the idealistic hero speech into a joke. Sometimes, the bad guys should win.

Len Cannon profile image

Len Cannon 6 years ago from Brooklyn, NY Author

I've argued with people about whether or not it qualifies as a "so bad, its good" comic but the entire thing just makes me feel dirty.

girlincape profile image

girlincape 6 years ago from California

All of your talk about unrealistic and unnecessary sex and violence in these comics totally makes me want to read more of The Boys. They know how to parody.

John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

I remember Youngbloods. One of the original Image comics if i remember right. If the rest are as bad as it was I'll stay away from them,lol. Liefield was a great figure artist but he had no skill in background. It was all lines. He brought all his figures over from Marvel with him also.

ChamberNaut profile image

ChamberNaut 6 years ago from Southern California

Well put, Len. These are pretty awful. I, too, had a hard time with Cry For Justice. But I do have to say...for excellent comic series? Blackest Night. I've loved every bit of it, all of the Green Lantern sagas leading up to the Blackest Night, and the entire adventure during (although some of the side issues were weird). Brightest Day has been proving to be quite immersive as well.

Len Cannon profile image

Len Cannon 6 years ago from Brooklyn, NY Author

Blackest Night was a lot of fun but I'm not loving the Brightest Day title as much as I thought I would. The other spin offs are doing all right by me, though. Generation Lost is a lot of fun.

sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from

Fantastic! The tidbits of terribleness you presented were entertaining in a B movie kind of way..

I still have YoungBlood 1-10 (or whatever) and most of the entire original Image launch - I may actually have to read those YoungBloods to see the awfulness firsthand

lakeerieartists profile image

lakeerieartists 6 years ago from Cleveland, OH

I used to be a comic book reader and collector although I have not done so in quite a while, I am very entertained by this description of the worst comic series. I feel the same way about a lot of the horrible anime that my teenagers watch. Great job presenting this topic.

bledsoep profile image

bledsoep 6 years ago from Olathe, KS

I've got a real winner for you: "Batman and Superman vs. Vampires and Werewolves." It is an extremely weakly told story that fails to live up to the potential of such a badass title.

adeluca 6 years ago

'Your vagina is haunted.'

Why would anyone think this was a good line in a serious scene?

Great article. :) I knew there was a reason I was incredibly picky about my reading material.

Maximum A profile image

Maximum A 6 years ago

wow! i had so much fun reading ur hub and i totally agree with what u wrote! i do think that jeph loeb is a good writer (especially during the batman comics), but what u wrote convinced me that one should never read books or comics based on the artist's or writer's reputation.

DStettler profile image

DStettler 6 years ago

That was great. Humorous and forewarning of comics not worth reading. nice work.

MPG1 profile image

MPG1 6 years ago from Eugene

I agree with all but Ultimatum. That story was bad but there have been A LOT WORSE..... I'd agree to Ultimatum for maybe being within a list of the worst 25 or 15 but not 5.

skewd 5 years ago

arthurchappell profile image

arthurchappell 5 years ago from Manchester, England

almost fell off the chair laughing at your description of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose - so bad it sounds like a classic

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State

"Haunted Vagina" would be a great name for a band. :)

joawmeens profile image

joawmeens 5 years ago from Hopewell, Ohio

The only one of the five I have read was Ultimatum, but judging from your description, all of these are terrible

Decurso 5 years ago

Hilarious! Tarot actually sounds kind of Ed Wood-ish.

Moi 5 years ago

Wow just wow "your vagina is haunted" I wonder if the people who make those comics ever took a second to look at how stupid they are.

jake13edward profile image

jake13edward 5 years ago from Redlands Ca

All of those comics are bad except for youngblood.the art is just great.

davethesodaguy 5 years ago

I don't think I even need to mention it, but spider man maximum carnage is my favourite worst comic ever

Des Shinta 5 years ago

As of a few weeks ago, Internet personality Lewis "Linkara" Lovhaug has completed reviewing Three of these comics (Youngblood, Ultimatum, and Rise of Arsenal) on his Webseries "Atop the Fourth Wall." While he has outright refused to have a go at tearing Tarot a new one( it's Sexually explicit and his show is family-friendly), I kinda hope he takes shots at Excalibur some time soon, as there's no way non-comic readers would know of these travesties to the written word.

Nexis19 profile image

Nexis19 5 years ago

Absolutely hilarious. Never laughed so much at a hub. Fantastic thanks.

rednickle profile image

rednickle 4 years ago from New Brunswick Canada

Ok i believe Ultimatum being on this is quite harsh but i agree most of your selections here


Domenick Dicce 4 years ago

Great article. The sad part is I find myself wanting to read these just to witness the train wreck. Still kicking myself for watching Battlefield Earth. Why!!!

cperuzzi profile image

cperuzzi 4 years ago from Freehold, NJ

Truly, you've never read Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons.

It's the MST3K equivalent for comics.

nuffsaidstan profile image

nuffsaidstan 3 years ago

Youngblood a truly awful comic book plus drawn by Liefeld an artist who can't draw feet , what's not to hate!

haterprime 2 years ago

Tarot does not deserve to be on this list. Because one does not read Tarot. FOR ODIN'S SAKE DO NOT READ IT! One gawks and slobbers over the unbeleavable women. Then does something they may or may not be ashamed of. Then cleans up. Tarot does not belong on this list because it shouldn't even be a mainstream comic. It should be listed under sex comics. And believe me there is nothing gross and unpleasant about the women in this comic. Clownish...maybe. Gross...well maybe you just prefer men. Look all women in comic books are, lets say overdrawn. Powergirl anyone. But Tarot is at least entertaining. Alot of comics out there aren't even that.

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