Category: year in review – 2008

Best Publisher of 2008: Marvel or DC?

Here we are. The final post in the 2008 year-end wrap-up. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our picks and pans from the past year, and now we leave you with the main event. We at Doomkopf tend to stick to superhero comics, with capes, tights, spandex, and a healthy dose of crazy powers, so the ultimate matchup doesn’t include independent publishers, since they’d probably not get mentioned in a best publisher discussion anyway. We’re admittedly blunt about it.

So it comes to this:

marvel vs dc

Jim Doom says: DC!

I was disappointed with Secret Invasion, but I don’t really think Marvel had a bad year necessarily. I just enjoyed what I read from DC more, particularly the great Batman RIP stories in Batman and the easily-overlooked Heart of Hush in Detective, plus the great string of Superman stories in Action and then the New Krypton crossover. Along with Trinity, DC seems to be really trying to return a focus to their core characters. It’s strange to think that 2008 was also the year of Countdown, the end of DONG and the stumbled start of Final Crisis. But FC seems to be gaining its footing, and Trinity seems to be a vast improvement over Countdown. DC appears to be learning from its mistakes.

I’m excited about where both publishers are going to go in 2009. I like the groundwork Marvel has laid with Dark Reign, returning a focus to good guys fighting bad guys, rather than two years of good guys fighting good guys. DC also has plenty of intriguing things lined up, not the least of which is the conclusion to Final Crisis.

Doom DeLuise says: DC! (more…)

Best Hero of 2008

iron manDoom DeLuise says: Iron Man!

Iron Man had a rough couple of years, what with being the “bad guy” during Civil War and his unpopular stint as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. In 2008, however, he started to redeem himself with a new continuity-free series and some badass moments during the Skrull invasion.

What really set him apart from the rest of the comic book heroes, though, was his big summer blockbuster film. While “The Dark Knight” may have grossed more money and generated more buzz, Batman took a backseat to his onscreen foe, the Joker. With “Iron Man,” on the other hand, the most entertaining aspect of the movie was its title character.

Tony Stark/Iron Man, as portrayed by Robert Downey Jr, stands as possibly the best adaptation of a comic book superhero ever put on film. It blew me away when I saw it last summer, and it continues to amaze me all these months later. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Jim Doom says: Batman! (more…)

Worst Hero of 2008

dark tower long road homeDoom DeLuise says: That Dark Tower Guy!

I’ll be honest with you; I don’t know dick about this series. I bought the first issue of the Gunslinger in 2007, but that’s the extent of it. My old roommate used to buy this stupid thing all the time, though, and I’d occasionally read an issue while drunk or at his behest, so I have a fair idea of what’s going on.

And, as far as I can tell, the main problem with the entire thing is that the main character is just about the most boring character you could possibly imagine. As far as I can remember, I don’t think he’s even had a single line of dialogue in any issue I’ve read.

He’s just laughably bland.

Jim Doom says: Cyclops! (more…)

Best Villain of 2008

batman the black gloveJim Doom says: The Black Glove!

I’ll confess that I was pretty hard up for a good answer to this, but I dug Batman RIP quite a bit this year so this is what I settled on. I like the idea of this villain that is sort of nowhere but everywhere, with several origins, ambiguous power and influence, and also kind of a representation of a spectrum of sins. I still don’t really think I know who or what the Black Glove was, but I’m strangely content with that. It might still be ambiguous or I might’ve just missed something, but I like that the Black Glove still functioned as a great nemesis even without me needing to know or really care who he / it was. The Club of Heroes story from Batman was one of my favorites of 2007, so I’ll give the Black Glove some residual credit from last year too.

For the most part, though, 2008 was a good year for heroes who didn’t need villains to overshadow them. The Skrulls had the public face of Spider-Woman, but she was less a villain than militant theocracy in that story. Brainiac was a jerk, and the future Justice League was a bunch of scumbags, but I don’t think either were around long enough to really qualify. Brainiac especially kind of seemed like a means to an end, as much as I enjoyed that arc. Joker played a fun role in Batman RIP, but he was really just a supporting villain (and I hated how Tony Daniel drew him). I thought The Hood was going to be a bigger deal in 2008 than he was, but maybe 2009 will be his year. I’m probably overlooking something obvious, but deadlines are deadlines.

Doom DeLuise says: Brainiac! (more…)

Worst Villain of 2008

death of the new gods 7Doom DeLuise says: Infinity-Man!

I’m sure there are stupider villains in the past, but this one should damn near come close to taking the cake for the worst villain of all time.

In DONG #7, it’s revealed that the killer of the New Gods is this guy, Infinity-Man, working on behalf of the Source itself. Eventually, he finishes his work (kind of; he didn’t get to Metron before he died), and the Source bonds with Anti-Life, thus merging New Genesis and Apokolips and creating a new “Fifth World.”

Only, wait. None of that actually happened. The entirety of Death of the New Gods was directly contradicted by Countdown to Final Crisis and, later, Final Crisis itself.

Oh well, what the hell. Infinity-Man was a badguy for a day. And, for some reason that I can’t remember, he initially revealed himself as Himon, suggesting that guy was the Killer of the New Gods. But, that didn’t work, and, eh, whatever.

Remember how complex that whole mystery was? Who would’ve known that the first time we saw a dying New God, his last words (“Infinity…Infinity…”) would’ve been directly telling you who was behind the whole thing.

That’s just good writing.

Jim Doom says: Libra! (more…)

Best Collection of 2008

green manor 1Jim Doom says: Green Manor, vol. 1 (Cinebook)

Cinebook was hands-down my favorite publisher of the year. I don’t think I’ve ever so unanimously enjoyed a single company’s output, most (if not all) of which is English translations of continental European comics.

The best of the best was Green Manor volume 1: Assassins and Gentlemen, a collection of humorously grim short stories by Fabien Vehlmann with art by Denis Bodart. Volume 2, The Inconvenience of Being Dead, was also released in 2008, but I give the nod just slightly to volume 1. Both are among my favorite releases of the year and well worth the high dollar-to-page ratio. $13.95 for 56 pages would normally seem ridiculously steep, but as with most Cinebook releases, there is a lot of story packed into those pages, and I’ve already reread this at least a half dozen times.

Doom DeLuise says: Booster Gold: Blue and Gold! (more…)

Worst Collection of 2008

salvation runDoom DeLuise says: JLA: Salvation Run!

Only a great fool would think this dreadful mini-series has anything to do with the Justice League of America. There is precisely one (former) member of the JLA to appear in this thing, and that’s Martian Manhunter.

Oddly enough, his role in this explains how he appeared drugged up and ready for dead in the first issue of Final Crisis (don’t worry, kids, that’s the only bit of continuity from the past year’s worth of build-up to Final Crisis that actually tied in to the series).

No, the JLA isn’t in this book. They just have their name splashed on the cover to sell more copies, I’m guessing. Instead, we’re left with two warring factions of supervillains, led by the Joker and Lex Luthor, trying to survive on a planet infested with robot bugs and stuff.

It’s really, really quite lame. Save your twenty bucks.

Jim Doom says: Hardcovers! (more…)

Best Single Issue of 2008

batman 681Jim Doom says: (tie) Captain America #34 and Batman #681!

I went back and looked at my weekly reviews throughout the year, and these were two of the highest ranked. I felt like the relationship between the two was fitting enough to keep it a tie.

In Captain America #34, Bucky debuted as the new Captain America in what has been one of the best multi-year storylines I’ve ever read. Brubaker did such a good job building up to it that I said at the time “There was no shock for any regular readers to find that Bucky is now Captain America; the payoff for this issue was seeing how he did in his debut.”

Marvel showed that you can kill of a major character, even with some short-term hype incentive, and still make a fantastic story out of it, as it’s all been a part of Brubaker’s long-term plan.

Over in Batman #681, Grant Morrison spent several years building up to the conclusion to Batman RIP. Dan DiDio later revealed that it was an artificial conclusion imposed for the sake of trade paperback sales, and that the actual conclusion of Batman RIP hasn’t even happened yet, but this still worked as a powerful moment in the bigger storyline, particularly that involving the Black Glove.

What I loved most about it was Morrison’s portrayal of Batman. As I wrote in November, “It was without a doubt an in-your-face reminder of why Batman is so awesome. He’s outsmarting the bad guys. He’s beating people at their own game. He’s humiliating these supervillain wannabes, and the Joker is putting him over bigtime, letting the evil gang know just how screwed they are. For all the ambiguity of the first four chapters, much of this was straight forward and fantastic.”

Honorable mentions:

Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mists of Death

Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch

These were two great standalone issues that only got bumped due to my admiration for how well the two winners served their respective series. A great single issue is one thing, but a great single issue that boosts the enjoyment of a month-to-month series deserves a little extra praise.

Doom DeLuise says: The Man Called Nova: Annual #1 (more…)

Worst Single Issue of 2008

final crisis 1Jim Doom says: Final Crisis #1!

I’ve grown to actually like Final Crisis quite a bit, but it’s undeniable that the series got off on the wrong foot. Much of that blame falls on DC editorial and the misguided lead-in, but the reaction to this debut issue was most likely the opposite of what DC was hoping for. DC’s response to the criticism — especially Morrison’s — didn’t help either.

The confusing, illogical and continuity-laden yet continuity-defying launch of this series adjusted the readership mindset of the masses who wanted to love it but were quickly convinced it was crap. Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns are clearly two different types of writers, but the contrast between Infinite Crisis #1 and Final Crisis #1 could not have been more apparent. The following issues only got better, but the damage was done. The series has its defenders, and rightfully so, but the conventional wisdom held that Final Crisis was irreparably damaged.

Honorable mentions: Hulk #1

This was so stupid. I really dug World War Hulk and immediately stopped caring.

Other issues I really disliked: Mighty Avengers #19, Justice League of America #25, Justice Society of America: Kingdom Come Special.

Doom DeLuise says: DC Universe #0! (more…)

Best Storyline in an Ongoing Series of 2008

captain america 34Doom DeLuise says: The Death of Captain America, Captain America!

This was truly an epic storyline that began in the wake of Civil War and continued to its conclusion just a couple months ago. It’s been said countless times before, but the true testament to this book’s awesomeness is that the title character’s death has made the series far more interesting than anything they could’ve done had he remained alive.

I remember back before all of this began, immediately after Civil War ended, I was thinking about how Brubaker had his work cut out for him, since Cap was going to be taken to prison, and Brubaker had just been spending the last year or so getting another of the characters he was writing (Daredevil) out of prison.

Luckily, they killed Steve Rogers off, and Brubaker instead gave us twenty-some issues of Bucky becoming the new Captain America. It was expertly written and gorgeous to look at, and, dare I say it, I kind of prefer Bucky over Steve now.

That’s sayin’ something.

Jim Doom says: (tie) Batman RIP, Batman; Brainiac, Action Comics! (more…)