Monthly archives: February, 2010

Best Mini-Series of 2009

Jim Doom: Batman Unseen!

This was an awesome year for miniseries, as you will see in my 18 entries for honorable mention. But this was my favorite. It had some old-school charm, a fun story, a fantastic characterization of frustrated Batman, awesome Kelley Jones art, campy but lovable storytelling experimentation, and a reliable shipping schedule! I highly recommend this whenever it comes out in trade.

Honorable Mentions: Incognito, Batman & Robin (it’s only 12 issues, right?), Mysterious the Unfathomable (figured it’d be my #1 until Batman Unseen came along), War of Kings, Pluto (which I love, but thought it might be cheap to rank some manga in just one category).

Doom DeLuise: Justice League: Cry for Justice!

For the past few years, the Justice League has been completely worthless, but, thanks to this mini-series, I finally got my League fix. And James Robinson did it without Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman!

The basic premise is that, in the wake of Final Crisis, a few members of the League feel that they’re not delivering enough justice, that they’re tied down by rules and regulations, so in a very right-wing sort of way, they go out to crack some skulls the old fashioned way, with a mean streak and no red-tape tying their hands. Surprisingly, the quite liberal Green Arrow spear-heads this new team.

The art is some of the coolest I’ve ever seen in my life, and the best part is that this team will be hopping into the regular monthly JLA sometime this year, with Robinson as writer. Can’t wait.

Honorable Mention: Superman: World of New Krypton. This is the only Superman book I kept reading through 2009, and I’m glad I did. It’s been consistently entertaining, and the ending has me pretty pumped for the upcoming Superman Wars or whatever it’s called.

Here were our favorite limited doses from previous years: (more…)

Worst Mini-Series of 2009

Fin Fang Doom: the Blackest Night tie-ins!

I was incredibly excited when Blackest Night started, but these completely unnecessary $9 stories took a lot of the wind out of its sails. It turns out that the zombie Lanterns weren’t even really the people they looked like, so Superman fighting his Earth-2 counterpart or Tim Drake being confronted by his father didn’t really have the emotional oomph it otherwise might have. And what happened in these minis had absolutely zero consequences in the Blackest Night crossover, or even in the lives of the characters involved.

Jim Doom: Battle for the Cowl!

Poor Tony Daniel was clearly in over his head here, and sadly the only thing more amateur than the writing was the art. This was a dismally bad series, with a cluelessness that descended to laughable at times. Nobody came out a winner in this book, with nearly everyone in the Bat-family made to look like some variation of an unlikable or incompetent fool. This series was just an absolute disaster. Thankfully Grant Morrison and Judd Winick repaired much of the damage later in the summer.

Doom DeLuise: Azrael!

I was a huge Azrael mark back in the early 90s, but DC somehow figured out how to make me completely disregard their new version of the character. How, you might be asking. Well, even if you aren’t asking, I’m going to tell you. Take the main character, you know, the one the fans actually give a crap about, and don’t even mention him. Place an all-new character in the real main character’s stead, and then just pretend that the original guy didn’t even exist. Sweet, where’s the exit?

Honorable Mention: The Last Days of Animal Man. ‘Nuff said.

Here are the short-lived turds that stunk up our past: (more…)

DC’s New Executive Team

DC today finally announced who would be taking over as publisher as Paul Levitz old job was split in half with Diane Nelson taking over as president and now not one but five people will handle the publishing half.  Officially Dan Didio and Jim Lee are the co publishers.  Geoff Johns is the creative chief.  John Rood and Patrick Caldon will handle the sales and finance part.

Some of this is not surprising as Didio will be moving up a position, which will mean a new executive editor will be named at a later date.  Geoff Johns is basically being given an official name to what he has already been doing.  Johns has been the creative overseer in all things Blackest Night as well his connections to Hollywood where he has written for TV shows like Smallville and is consulting with the people making the Green Lantern movie.  This is in line with all the plans for Brightest Day and the related books.  That is a good news since Johns is the creative backbone of the main DC Universe right now.  I just hope that he is not taking on too much work.  (more…)

Best Trend of 2009

Fin Fang Doom: back-up stories in $3.99 comics!

Four dollars is a lot to pay for a comic book. It’s more than I’m willing to pay for a standard 22-page comic produced by DC or Marvel. But throw in an 8- or 12-page back-up featuring characters I like but don’t sell well enough to have their own book and I’m sold.

DC led the way in 2009 with back-ups. I personally forked over that extra dollar for back-ups of Manhunter in Batman: Streets of Gotham and the Legion of Superheroes in Adventure Comics. Fans of the Question, Blue Beetle and the Metal Men got a chance to see those characters in other books.

Those back-ups even convinced me to buy a couple titles I never would have otherwise tried. The only reason I started buying Incredible Hercules late in the year was the Agents of Atlas feature. I almost passed on Streets of Gotham this week, but that Manhunter feature made the difference.

Of course, they haven’t all been gems. Nomad should be a back-up in something like Runaways, not Captain America. Thankfully, Cap is one of the very few comics I’d pay $4 for on a monthly basis.

Jim Doom: Respecting history!

I’m guessing that the recent trend of restoring original numbering has more to do with cashing in on milestones than actual respect for history, but for me, the ends justify the means. I may be a little off on my timelines, but I think Hulk, Daredevil, Thor and Captain America all got renumbered this year. These books have been published for decades, and Marvel finally wised up and realized that super-high numbers carry some credibility.

Honorable mention: $3.99 bonus content. If $3.99 price tags are going to be inevitable, at least some publishers are attempting to add value for the extra cost. But as MG Doom discussed recently, not all bonus content is created equal.

Honorable mention: Obama covers. I don’t know why these cracked me up so much, but they did. It was just such a bizarre trend that I couldn’t help but love it. Instead of requiring people to wear “Shameless opportunist” badges, you could just see who was putting out Obama variant covers.

Here’s what we found fashionable in previous years: (more…)

Worst Trend of 2009

Jim Doom: The Creepy Christopher Reeve / Richard Donner Fetish!

This all just seems ridiculously short-sighted to me. Maybe it’s more than “DC creators honor their childhood by reinventing Superman according to how he was when they saw movies as a kid,” but that’s how it comes off. And I didn’t grow up thinking Superman I and II were the best movies ever, so I think reinventing Superman accordingly seems like a downright stupid idea to me.

But let’s say you’ve decided that the Richard Donner elements are good enough to justify a new template for Superman’s origin. Even then, it wouldn’t be necessary to draw Superman as played by Christopher Reeve. It’s creepy, and I wish someone would tell Gary Frank to cut it out. The guy either sits and watches lots of Christopher Reeve footage, perhaps freezing the video for reference, or he’s just that familiar with what Christopher Reeve looks like and doesn’t need an abundance of references.

Either way, it’s weird, it’s unnecessary, and I want it to stop.

Honorable mention: Treating Dick Grayson like he’s a tool. I swear, for several months there, it was like a DC conspiracy to make sure each and every reader thought Dick Grayson was a whiny little dork who was completely unqualified to take on the mantle of Batman. I agreed! And so I stopped wanting to read the stupid books! Thankfully some grown-ups eventually started writing the character and everything worked out.

Fin Fang Doom: spoiling the Big Bad

I’m not sure if it quite constitutes a trend, but it sure seems like a lot of pretty major plot points were spoiled well in advance in 2009.

The most blatant was the cover of Blackest Night #5, which revealed Nekron as the villain behind the crossover. The cover was released a good two months before that revelation actually happened in the story. And now that I think of it, those action figure solicits spoiled an awful lot of the dead heroes who were coming back as Black Lanterns.

The most annoying one however may have been the news that Twilight, the Buffy Season 8 mystery villain, is Angel underneath the mask. The mystery had been at least three years in the making, and it’s not going to be revealed in the comic until April of this year. But there it was on the front page of Newsarama, completley unavoidable. That’s just lame.

Doom DeLuise: Re-birthing and Re-borning for no Re-ason!

So Barry Allen’s back. And so is Steve Rogers. And Bruce Wayne’s coming back this year, too. I sort of forgot how Barry came back, but Steve and Bruce are both coming back by means of copying a Desmond-centric episode of Lost (or Slaughterhouse Five, if you want to get technical on me).

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. Bringing back fan favorites is a smart move, business-wise. But other than the bottom line, what purpose do these returns serve, story-line-wise? Far as I can tell, Barry did some running in Final Crisis, and he somehow blue himself in Blackest Night, but that’s about it. Steve got angry and decided to step in for the fight in Siege, but, really, Bucky could’ve done the same thing. I don’t see a point in bringing Bruce back, other than to further the idea that Dick Grayson is the biggest pussy in the DCU.

So it goes.

Here’s what patterns of behavior we were uncomfortable with in the past! (more…)

Best Surprise of 2009

Jim Doom: Killing half the Guardians!

I actually really really disliked it when Adam Warlock killed off half the Guardians of the Galaxy, but then when I thought about why I disliked it, I really liked it! This series has been so good that I had grown to truly care about the characters in it, and so I had an honest emotional response when so many of them fell in battle. That doesn’t happen to me anymore!

Fin Fang Doom: Yay for gays!

2009 was a pretty big year for me personally as it was the year that I finally worked up the courage to come out of the closet. So it was kind of a big deal for me when Robert Kirkman introduced a gay couple in The Walking Dead, my favorite comic book. And strangely enough, one of the characters was named Aaron, which just happens to be the real-life name of one Fin Fang Doom. It wad a fitting end to an important year in my life.

In other gay news, Shatterstar and Rictor finally kissed after years of speculation that they were more than just friends. Good job Peter David!

Doom DeLuise: Old Man Logan was the best comic book ever published!
old man logan

That is just a gigantic, heaping dose of hyperbole, but I really, really liked Old Man Logan. I’ve always thought Mark Millar is kind of an overrated idiot who solely writes comics so they can be optioned into movie franchises, so it came as a shock that he made the late life and times of Wolverine so freaking awesome.

It’s a classic tale of the world’s greatest fighter who no longer chooses to fight. We all know he’ll eventually return to his old wicked ways, but the joy is in the journey to that breaking point. Think of it as Unforgiven with Wolverine instead of Eastwood.

Actually, that’s exactly what it is. Huh.

Here’s what shocked us in a good way in previous years: (more…)

Biggest Disappointment of 2009

Jim Doom: the “real” conclusion to Batman R.I.P.

The thread uniting Batman RIP to that two-part story that led into Final Crisis #6 was pathetic. At best, I’d call it weak and underwhelming. At worst, I would call it a dishonestly hyped, poorly executed rip-off.

Honorable mention: Bigshot writers swinging and missing: I have tons of respect for Ed Brubaker and Geoff Johns, but man, Captain America Reborn and Flash Rebirth stunk. It’s kind of weird when creative talent like that stumble in such a huge public fashion. And then it’s especially unfortunate when these stumbles botch the returns of such important characters.

Fin Fang Doom: the Millar/Hitch Fantastic Four finale.

Remember a couple of years ago when it was announced that Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, the creative team behind the two great Ultimates series, was going to take over Fantastic Four for twelve issues? Marvel had guaranteed that every issue would ship on time, because they were giving Hitch plenty of lead time to get several issues in the can before the first issue even came out.

Many more than 12 months later, the “Millar/Hitch run” was finally over. And it ended with an issue not drawn by Hitch, who was too busy ensuring Captain America: Reborn would ship late. The last two issues weren’t even scripted by Millar. He was too busy writing comics that he could sell as movies, I guess.

C’mon guys, where is your sense of responsibility? Start what you finish. We were promised a run by two creators, and that’s why we were buying the comic. You couldn’t even be bothered to finish the story you began? That’s just disrespectful to the fans.

Here’s what bummed us out in previous years: (more…)

Best Writer of 2009

Jim Doom: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning!

I don’t know if I should call this a tie since it’s two guys, but I don’t know where you split them. Guardians of the Galaxy has been great, and War of Kings was amazing. I hear from Doom DeLuise that Nova and some of the other Kings books have been great too.

Honorable mention: Grant Morrison. I’m not sure I could’ve hated the conclusion to Final Crisis any more than I did, but his Batman & Robin book has been great. Keep this guy focused on straightforward superhero stories and he’s amazing.

Honorable mention: Jonathan Hickman. I’ve only recently started reading Fantastic Four, but I’ve loved what I’ve read. It completely captures that fun spirit I’ve been missing in most comics.

Fin Fang Doom: Geoff Johns!

Geoff Johns is the anti-Bendis. Just as I generally avoid anything written by Brian Michael Bendis, Johns’ name is usually enough to get me to pick up a new book.

For instance, would I have paid $4 for a Superboy comic if Johns wasn’t writing it? Of course not. Yet another “definitive” Superman origin? Nope. How about a Flash mini-series? What, are you kidding? Yet I bought them all and enjoyed them all.

And let’s not forget that Johns started the year by finishing the best thing to come out of Final Crisis, Legion of 3 Worlds, and ended it mid-way through Blackest Night, which is the most exciting thing to happen in DC comics since Sinestro Corps War.

Here were our favorite writers from previous years: (more…)

Worst Writer of 2009

Jim Doom: Tony Daniel

I don’t know why DC decided one of the most important periods in Batman’s history was the right time to let someone practice writing comic books. Daniel’s plots are predictable and his dialogue is groan-inducing. My best guess is that they needed someone to tread water while Grant Morrison’s big picture came into focus, and no actual writing talent wanted to agree to terms of “You can write Batman, but you can’t make anything interest happen or it might conflict with Grant’s plans.”

Professionals were probably like “No thanks,” and Daniel was like “You’ve come to the right man!”

Honorable mention: Jason Aaron. Maybe I’m just reading the wrong stuff, but everything I’ve read from this guy is just one long unfunny joke. Take the Wolverine’s Day Off story – which he claimed wasn’t supposed to be funny – or the terrible Fat Cobra story in which a once-interesting character was reduced to nothing more than a series of juvenile punchlines. His growing workload suggests he’s apparently doing something right somewhere – just not in the books I buy.

Fin Fang Doom: Reggie Hudlin!

Did anyone else notice that Reggie Hudlin directed an episode of The Office this season? He almost made me hate that show too, even though Pam wasn’t spectacularly out of character. Well, I guess that’s probably because he didn’t write it.

This year Black Panther turned into a lady. I’m not even sure Hudlin wrote that story, but I know he still writes Black Panther comics, so I’m going to blame him for it’s idiocy.

Here were our picks for Worst Writer in previous years: (more…)

Best Artist of 2009

Jim Doom: Ivan Reis!

Blackest Night is as good as it is because of him. He makes everything as huge, horrific or heroic as it needs to be. He can handle zombies, superheroes, different faces, gorgeous superheroines, realistic or creepy landscapes, scenes on Earth or on some other planet, intimate conversations, massive battles and basically anything Geoff Johns asks of him and makes it look beautiful and effortless. The guy is at the top of his game.

Honorable Mention: Paul Pelletier. I was sad to see him leave Guardians of the Galaxy, but I’m glad he ended up on War of Kings. He’s got that soft expressive charm of an Alan Davis or Hulk-era Dale Keown, but he packs in a lot of modern fist-fighting, bomb-exploding energy.

Honorable mention: Doug Mahnke. He was the one good thing about Superman: Beyond. I’m enjoying his work on Green Lantern, but DC needs to do a better job of putting consistent inkers on his pencils. It’s clearly no fault of his, but the two or three inkers they put on each issue of Green Lantern sure screws up some otherwise fantastic art.

Fin Fang Doom: Charlie Adlard!

Best artist- Charlie Adlard. There are a lot of really good comic book artists out there: Ivan Reis, Ryan Ottley, John Cassaday, Carlos Pacheco… I could go on and on. But no one really leaps out at me as the very best in the field.

So how did I settle on Charlie Adlard? It’s simple. He was able to draw twelve issues of the best comic book on the stands (The Walking Dead) in the span of twelve months. Aside from Mark Bagley, my best artist pick for 2008, I can’t think of anyone else who was able to do produce high quality art and keep to a schedule.

Here’s who we’ve picked for Best Artist in previous years: (more…)