Monday, January 02, 2006

The Year in Comics

It was a pretty damn good year if you love comics. Lot's of great books were published last year, here are some of my favourites and some that I feel didn't live up to their potential. Spoilers abound, you have been warned.


Far and away the best of all the miniseries leading into Infinite Crisis was The OMAC Project, written by Greg Rucka with art by Jesus Saiz. Batman, being the paranoid fuck that he is, built himself a satellite, Brother I, to spy on the worlds meta-humans. Somehow, which has yet to be explained, Batman lost control of the satellite to Checkmate leader and former Justice League International liaison Maxwell Lord. Max somehow go it into his head that having a bunch of super powered "heroes" running around the planet was a bad thing and decided to use Brother I along with 1.7 million or so mechanically enhanced mind controlled drones called OMAC's (Observational Meta-human Activity Construct) to take out many of the meta-humans. Of course Max himself is a meta-human who possesses the ability to control peoples minds, but one must assume that he has no problem with his own existence and isn't planning on sending any OMAC's after himself. The story really gets cooking when we find out that Max has managed to mind control Superman and uses him to attack both Batman and Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman, seeing no other way to stop Superman kills Max. Superman being the boy scout that he is becomes enraged that Wonder Woman would murder someone even if that person was an evil murderous psychopath himself. From there we see the heroes work together to try to end the OMAC threat, although their relationships with one another are far more strained then they ever have been. The heroes partially succeed, reducing the OMAC's numbers down to 200 thousand or so, but in retaliation Brother I broadcasts footage of Wonder Woman killing Max for all the world to see. OK, no that I typed that up it does sound a bit on the corny side, but trust me, it was one heck of a good read and sets up a lot of tension between the 3 biggest icons in the DC universe that isn't going to be easy for them to get past.

I just picked this up in trade paperback form last week and was blown away by it. 100 bullets writer Brian Azzarello crafts an excellent story with stunning artwork by Lee Bermejo. In Lex Luthor: Man of Steel we get to see the story unfold from Lex's point of view and in my opinion Azzarello gets it spot on. Lex doesn't necessarily see himself as being a villain, he truly believes that Superman is a threat to the planet that must be stopped.

The Crossover storyline in Ultimate Fantasic Four caught me off guard. Marvel teased it as though the Ultimate FF were going to visit the regular marvel universe. What we got instead was a fun little tale in which the FF ended up in a weird parallel dimension filled with evil zombie versions of all the familiar Marvel heroes.

One of my favourite books every month is Punisher, written by Garth Ennis. After only 35 year of existence, Marvel finally figured out that a vigilante who likes to shoot people would probably work best as a "mature readers" title. So, say you're a mob boss who wants to piss off Frank Castle, how would you do it? Well really given that he's sworn a vendetta against organized crime you don't really need to do much more than breathe, but say you really, really wanted to piss him off, how would you do it? How about you go dig up the bodies of his wife and kids and then piss on them and send the video to the media. Oh ya, that's going to get a reaction. That's the storyline in Up is Down and Black is White, and it would have made a hell of alot better movie than the one they did make.

Writer Ed Brubaker managed to do the impossible this year, he brought Cap's WWII teenage sidekick Bucky Barnes back from the dead and he made the story believable (in comic terms anyway) and interesting. Kudos to Mr. Brubaker.

If you like classic zombie flicks like George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, you'll love Robert Kirkman's stellar The Walking Dead. The tale of the challenges faced by a group of people whose world has been taken over by zombies is consistently one of the best books on the market.

Joy! The entire run of Calvin and Hobbes, in chronological order, collected in 3 breathtaking volumes. The only Calvin news that would be cooler would be Bill Watterson coming out of retirement and doing new strips.


DC's All Star line - Launched in August, DC's new line of comics featuring iconic characters in stories written and drawn by superstar creators has shipped a grand total of 4 issues. That's right, just 4 issues, 3 of All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder (I shit you not, that is the actual title) by Frank Miller and Jim Lee and 1 of All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. Now don't get me wrong, these stories have been really good so far, but the lag time between issues is just ridiculous. I stopped buying the monthly issues because I just can't remember what happened last issue when last issue was 10-12 weeks ago and if I have to go back and reread issues to figure out what's going on then I might as well wait for a collected edition.

Seriously DC, how hard is it get your creators to finish books on time, you told us as far back as June that Quietly was hard at work on pages for All Star Superman yet you announced that issue #2 would be delayed 3 weeks, until almost February after shipping issue #1 in November. That's just not acceptable.

A 7 issue miniseries, a half dozen or so tie in miniseries and tie in issues in over half the titles in the Marvel universe, all of it to set up Scarlet Witch saying 3 words - "No more mutants". Great. There's 8 months of my life I'll never get back. Nothing of consequence happened in any of the tie in series. Most characters don't even remember the whole thing happening and most of all - THERE ARE STILL A TON OF FUCKING MUTANTS! Granted, that their numbers were cut down from millions to hundreds, but still, for the most part it's back to the status quo, all the mutants that mysteriously still have their powers are the ones you've heard of and all the ones that don't are ones that no one cared about to begin with. Sure currently Magneto seems to be powerless, but with another movie coming right away does anyone seriously think he'll be powerless for long? This could have easily been a 4 issue miniseries without a ton of tie in's, but of course then Marvel wouldn't have been able to sucker us into buying a ton of extra books every month.

I hope you've enjoyed this look back at some of the events in the comic world this year.

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