Reading a couple of our Marvel Legends reviews got me to thinking... I'm generally a fan of comics (or "graphic novels"), with favourites including Sin City, Johnny the Homocidal Maniac/Squee, The Dark Knight Returns and anything else by Frank Miller.
I've never really been a fan of Marvel comics. Not for lack of interest - they have some awesome characters and storyarcs, and some fascinating ideas brewing. But most of the time, the stories never grab me because the telling is often weak. Comparing the awful comic included with Iceman (X-Men #18) to the much more interesting comic included with Storm (X-Men #96) highlights these flaws. All too often in Marvel, the thoughts of characters explain what's going on rather than simply showing it. Panels are often drawn without any thought to how the scenes are framed - compare a Marvel comic from the late sixties or seventies with anything drawn by Frank Miller, who uses the framing perfectly to empower characters, or to show how they're feeling, to tell the story. Even the weaker stories in Miller's Sin City are made interesting by the clever framing and use (or lack) of dialogue to tell the story. Rather than explaining the story to the reader, Miller shows us and allows us to get into the character's head.
(Not to mention the fact that there's some really, really stupid stuff going on in Marvel these days. Multiple realities, alternate universe characters, trapped in ****ing hot air balloons, it goes on and on!)
Many Marvel comics seem quite amateur, in both story and storytelling. However, this hasn't stopped their popularity. Fans know there are good underlying stories there, and even at their worst, it's often worth sticking with for the characters, who eventually develop a bit over the runs. Nonetheless, it's ridiculous when characters explain what's going on during fight scenes...why would Iceman, after being thrown at a wall, say "Thank goodness my ice-field protected me from being crushed when I was thrown against this wall!"