Friday, December 30, 2005

Comics 2005! The Lame and the Slightly Amusing

Well, I’m back!

I’ll give you a moment to regain consciousness.

Well, it’s almost a new year, and part of my many, many resolutions is to update this silly blog more often! I’m aiming for at least twice a week; hopefully I can kick it into a Monday/Wednesday/Friday kind schedule. Right now, however, let’s take a look back.

Over the last year, I’ve read a lot of comics, epic and intimate, horrifying and humorous, and most importantly, amazing and just plain crappy. Here, in the last post of my first calendar year of blogging it up blog-school, let’s shoot a glance towards the latter.

This is the stuff I was impressed with… not so much. Sadly, most of the comics I felt were ill conceived or poorly executed (or sometimes horrifyingly both) were from the publisher of my childhood, Marvel Comics. Before I get into what I haven’t really liked, I should make a special note that I haven’t read Ed Brubaker’s Captain America, something universally praised by my peers. I’m waiting for the trades on that one. And oh, how waiting for the trades at Marvel has changed this year!

Before this year, I could get the trade of a story-arc a month or two after it’s competition… but now, if it’s something like the Brubaker Captain America, New Avengers, or Wolverine, we get the Marvel Premier Hardcover line. A fairly transparent moneymaking scheme, Marvel tacks an extra five dollars onto the price of a given trade for two small pieces of cardboard and an extra piece of paper for the book-jacket. I’m all for hardcover comics when warranted - Ultimate Spider-Man is collected three paperback trades apiece into oversized hardcovers, but New Avengers, for example, has reached it’s fourth story arc, 15 issues in, and there hasn’t been a soft-cover printing of it’s inaugural story.

Waiting has been sort of a theme at Marvel this year, because in the war on release dates, they lead the charge. DC has only really had the problem with All Star Batman, which really suffers from an odd six-week printing schedule, across the street Marvel has racked up an impressive, star-studded list of late books.

Suprisingly we saw the printing of further installments of Kevin Smith’s Spider-Man/Black Cat – The Evil Men Do, a mere 3 years late! Not to be outdone by his buddy, Joe Quesada, the Editor in Chief released Issue #1 of Daredevil: Father in April, following it up with Issue #2 in August. What If…? Month’s parody book Wha Huh? came out five months after the event was over, thanks to the Marvel legal department. Nick Fury waged a Secret War against the country of Latvaria, and we learned how it ended in the pages of New Avengers and The Pulse, since the last issue of this “summer event” came out during the last week of December. Probably the most impressive is Iron Man, who can’t seem to get a title past that crucial issue #5 mark.

Lateness aside, both companies were guilty of some less-than-stellar decisions from their editorial departments. Marvel decided it was time to kill Spider-Man and bring him back to life, all in one twelve-issue cross-over called "The Other", encompassing even a newly launched Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, something that kept me from picking up an otherwise enticing new Spidey title. Over in New Avengers, they introduced Ronin; a new Avenger who Daredevil claimed had the same intricate knowledge of the Japanese mob and operations of The Hand as he has! Ronin’s identity was revealed to be… Echo. A Native American deaf woman who spent her life as a boxer-slash-pianist, exploiting her ability to replicate any action she sees, until she became romantically entangled with Daredevil. How ANY of this adds up to a lifetime of knowledge of the inner workings of an ancient, Japanese secret society of ninja is beyond me. Just disappointing.

, on the other hand, made a few more long-lasting and far more irksome decisions. The return of two characters from the dead in particular bother me. The first is Jason Todd, the infamous dead Robin. He's back, as the Red Hood, and he's here to take revenge on Batman!... which is possibly the least interesting thing he could do. We spent the better part of the eighties and early Nineties watching Batman agonize over Jason’s death, now we get to see it all over again! Where a more interesting story could have been found, instead we get a fairly standard revenge tale, and the Batman universe continues to get grimmer and grittier.


The second return is that of Hal Jordan. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I’ve always been a rabid Green Lantern fan. Even when I was sorting through my DC Animal Crackers as a toddler, I’d save G.L. as the last to be devoured. Hal had, however, become somewhat stale by the time the excellent Emerald Twilight came around. Kyle Rayner became Green Lantern of Earth, and after a long initiation period, became a respected hero and a powerful member of the JLA. Hal also became a far more interesting character posthumously, as the host for the Specter. Kyle Rayner was sadly fazed out of the JLA and the spotlight by John Stewart, thanks to his inclusion in the Justice League cartoon show. And then came Rebirth. All the guilt Hal had for killing the corps, for Zero Hour, all the pathos and penance he went through as the Specter… wiped away and made meaningless with a little bit of ret-conning. Suddenly he wasn’t responsible, it was an evil ring alien thing? Way to take your only flaw out of an otherwise flat heroic character.

Finally, the most disappointing thing in 2005 is a single sentence:

Rob Liefeld penciled two issues of the otherwise excellent Teen Titans.

That is all.

So those are my downs for the year… Not too numerous, but I felt the need to point them out. If we don't acknowledge history, we're damned to repeat it! Or at the very least, ret-con it.

I’m hoping to close out the year with things I really loved in comics, because that stack of long-boxes casts a big shadow over the pile of disappointments. So rather than making a wholly negative post, I’m going to close it out with my five favorite bits of dialogue from comics from the past year.

#5: Guy Gardner, to the Super-Buddies: JLA Unlimited #4

Guy: “Fasten yer seatbelts, you pathetic losers --- cause yt’s gonna be a bumpy ride!!!”

(Sidebar: The title of this issue was even better... "THIS GUY, THIS--- GARDNER!")

#4: Wolverine, to Magneto: House of M #8

Wolverine: “Lost your power over metal, have yuh? ::SNIKT:: I haven’t!”

#3: Spider-Man and Luke Cage, about the unresponsive Ronin’s identity: New Avengers #13

Spidey: “Is it Shang Chi?”
Luke: “Does that SOUND like Shang Chi?”
Spidey: “That's how Shang Chi sounds when he ignores me." (To Ronin) "Are you Foggy Nelson?”

#2: Scott Pilgrim and Kimberly Pine: Scott Pilgrim Vol.2

Scott: “I like you Kim, we should be dating. Also, do you want to play drums in my band?”
Kim: “Yes, Scott! Oh yes!!”

And my personal favorite... the line that I have been repeating non-stop since reading, nay, since someone TOLD me about it...

#1: Batman & Robin: All Star Batman & Robin #2:

Robin: “Who the hell are you, anyway, giving out orders like this?”
Batman: “What are you, dense? Are you RETARDED or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I’m the goddamn BATMAN."

So that's it! Hopefully I'll be back either tomorrow or Sunday with my favorite things from the year, ranging from Wonder Woman's Would-Be Girlfriend all the way to Hulk Versus the Devil Dinosaur!

See you soon!

1 comment:

Ralphus said...

Batman used the word "retarded"? Lies. Lies and slander.