Saturday, December 31, 2005
BEST #1: Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis.
DC has redefined itself this past year and become the big kahuna on the block. No longer content to play it safe, old reliable became new and improved. Identity Crisis changed the course of history by revealing a dangerous secret. Our heroes weren't the squeaky clean warriors of justice we had thought they were. They had a dirty secret that threatens to tear apart the DCU.
The reaction of the big three, and the subsequent loss of nerve therein has been staggering to watch as well. Where Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman had been the cohesive unit of trust before, there is now doubt. Wonder Woman killed to protect Superman and he can't handle it. The rub? Wonder Woman might not have had to if Batman had not put spy sattelites in place. The three are at personal war, and it is creating a chasm so deep that we don't know for sure how they will ever climb out.
My vote for the best of 2005 easily goes to DC and the revitalizing of an industry. I am excited about comic books again and eagerly await the weekly trip to the comic book shop, especially if Infinite Crisis is coming out. Thank you DC for making it fun again.
WORST: Rob Liefeld Draws Teen Titans, Scars Me For Life.
I haven't been shy about my feelings on this issue before, so I won't be now. The work done on Teen Titans 27 and 28 almost made me quit reading comics out of shame.
The usually wonderful Gail Simone tripped along with Liefeld in this endeavor. The script was not up to her usual standards, and the villains were horrendous.
The worst part of the book was the art. It was horrible from start to finish. Every panel had some exagerated image that was so out of proportion it hurt my eyes. Cyborg had the same stoned expression on his face every panel. Wonder Girl looked like Wonder Ho. It was that bad.
I haven't completely forgiven DC for this travesty yet, but Infinite Crisis is helping me to heal. Just promise me you won't do this to me again, okay?
BEST #2: Vertigo Titles Top My List.
100 Bullets. Y The Last Man. Swamp Thing. Hellblazer. Fables. Loveless. These are all names of insanely great Vertigo books that were published during 2005. I can't stress enough the high quality presentation of these books. When I want a sure thing this year, it seems Vertigo is always there to fulfill my needs.
100 Bullets tops my list of sensational Vertigo titles. I have been going back through and re-reading the title from the last year, and I am blown away. If you haven't read the book yet, grab a trade and hop on board. 100 Bullets is the best crime noir thriller I have ever witnessed, and creators Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso just keep upping the ante.
Adult readers out there: go read some Vertigo. For a great read with a focus on creative freedom, it can't be beat.
WORST: Superman/Batman Ships Late or Not At All.
Firstly, I would like to offer my sympathies to Jeph Loeb on the loss of his son Sam and make clear that my opinion here is not meant to emphasize this tragedy. From what I understand, Loeb's script has been handed in for quite some time and the hold up here is the art and production.
Superman/Batman was one of my favorite titles in 2004. Unfortunately it has been plagued by such lateness that I have lost complete interest in the title. With so many other great choices out there, this title has become obsolete to me. The only thing I can see getting me back on the bandwagon is an infusion of new blood and a tight shipping schedule. Otherwise, I can live without it. DC has trumped the formerly great title by eclipsing it with other magnificent work.
Superman/Batman fell of my radar and my pull list this year.
Friday, December 30, 2005
BEST #3: Seven Soldiers by Grant Morrison Amaze and Impress!
I will admit it upfront: I am a huge fan of Grant Morrison's writing. I still go back and read his Invisibles run and think that his JLA and New X-Men runs are benchmarks of both series. This in mind, I had no qualms in making a year long commitment to Morrison and his ambitious project "Seven Soldiers".
From the first page of Shining Knight, I have been hooked. With four issue series on said Knight, Zatanna, Klarion, and The Guardian in the can, I am more committed then ever to seeing this through to the end. Each mini has redefined the character and left clues leading up to the final bookend this Spring 2006.
Currently Morrison has The Bulleteer, Frankenstein, and Mister Miracle in play. As much as I like the first four mini's, I can see that Morrison has saved the best for last. There are more clues, and the characters are as compelling as they come.
Where Seven Soldiers fits into DC Continuity, I am not quite certain yet, but knowing that Morrison is one of the architects of the post-crisis universe is the icing on the cake.
WORST #3: Scarlet Witch Becomes Most Hated Female in the Marvel Universe.
Back in September, Scarlet Witch made my list of Most Hated Female Characters. It surprised me as much as it surprised anyone else, believe me.
For years, I have loved the Scarlet Witch. I would go so far as to say she was my favorite Avenger. Then Avengers Dissembled happened and I hated her for her weakness.
The great thing Scarlet Witch did this year was whisper "no more mutants". It will bring a new status quo to the Marvel mutants, and allow for some great story telling (hopefully). Whispering that was also the worst thing she could have done. She has irrevocably changed things she had no business to change. Her character has become extremely unlikable and she is now a villain of the highest order.
While the story itself was good, the damage has been done. I want Scarlet Witch to suffer.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Here I am, finally back today with number four on my list! Jim and I share a computer so we have to take turns. Ah, marital bliss. On to the countdown!
BEST #4: The Luna Brothers.
They caught my attention with the incredible Image mini-series Ultra. From then on they have done nothing but impress. Girls is the title of their new series and it fits, but not in the way you would suspect. Part Horror, part thriller, Girls is a fresh, compelling book that I eagerly await month after month.
To top it off, the Luna Brothers have upped the ante with a job at Marvel. They are working on Spider-Woman Origin with Brian Michael Bendis, and issue one (that just came out) is a revelation.
With a commitment to teamwork and sharing equal credit, I see a great future for Jonathan and Joshua Luna. Great talent and a friendly, agressive attitude will take them far. I am greatly looking forward to getting in line to meet them at the Emerald City Con this April 1 and 2.
WORST #4: Alias Enterprises Fails to Impress.
When I first saw Alias' entries in Previews, I was really thrilled. With Mike S. Miller as creative director, and such great solicitations, it had to be the next great thing, right?
Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. I saw the Alias booth at a Portland Con in 2004, and bought Lullaby and Lions, Tigers, and Bears. I really liked both. That is the last time I had a good Alias experience.
The first slew of comics came out late and in a big spurt so it was hectic. I thought 10th Muse was okay, but was underwhelmed by Killer Stunts, Deal with the Devil, Pakkins Land, Judo Girl, Isis, Lethal Instinct, and especially Penny & Aggie. Yes, I really bought and read them all, and because Preview is a couple of months ahead, I bought them for months after. My pocket book and my sense of disapointment both shrieked for release.
The final straw for me was the breaking of Lions, Tigers, and Bears creator Mike Bullock with Alias. If a great guy like Mike leaves, what does that say about the inner workings of the situation?
When I see Alias books at the comic book shop, I walk on by. My comic shop lady quit ordering the new stuff to boot, based on the fact that not a SINGLE customer stuck with any titles, except 10th Muse. She also ordered one copy of Lullaby II and that was for a customer. Too bad.
At any rate, I am sorely disapointed at the reality of the situation based on how excited I was initially. I wrote an e-mail to Alias, but never heard back, so I will have to rely on them maybe reading it here. You let me down and I won't forget all the money I spent easily.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
BEST #5: Ron Marz gets Witchblade back on track.
As someone who has followed Witchblade from the beginning, the comic book has been a nightmare to follow. Every time there was a creative team switch, continuity was forgotten for the new writer's vision. There were times that I would be so mad after reading an issue that I would vow never again. This time I meant it.
Then Ron Marz came on board and actually read the series before he took over. Since issue #80, Marz has taken great steps to correct continuity gaffes and has brought the book back to a place it makes sense. I never thought I would see it, but Witchblade is making sense again, and there are cool things coming up in the comic's future.
Many kudos to Marz for realizing that what the fans were craving was a sense of order amongst the chaos that is Witchblade. Since editorial couldn't keep things intact, I give Marz props for bringing things together.
WORST: Dreamwave Productions Tanks
The amount of mismanagement at Dreamwaves staggers. Not content to just lose a bit of money, Dreamwaves went into serious debt. Rumors floated like mad until a press release from the studio came out. A portion of the original letter from Pat Lee read like this:
"President of Dreamwave Productions, Pat Lee stated “there are a number of reasons for my decision to close Dreamwave”, citing that “the shrinking comic book market combined with a weak U.S. dollar and unsustainable monetary commitments has finally proven to be too financially taxing.”
As the only Canadian independent comics publisher, Dreamwave Productions has struggled in recent years to maintain its status within a relentlessly shrinking comic book market. Unfortunately, consistently diminishing sales totals over the last several years have taken their toll on the small publisher and made it impossible to continue."
The sad part of this is that a company who gets the Transformers licensing has such an opportunity, and to see it blamed on market shrinkage blows my mind. After the demise of Dreamwave early this year, it will be interesting to see if IDW does the job.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Until then, here is my list for the week.
Revelations #5 (of 6)
All Star Batman and Robin #3
Catwoman #50 (pictured at right)
JLA Classified #15
Superman Batman #23
Wonder Woman #224
Amazing Spider-Man #527
Black Panther #11
Black Widow 2 #4 (of 6)
New Avengers #14
Sentry #4 (of 8)
Ultimate Fantastic Four #26
Ultimate Spider-Man #88
Young Avengers Special #1
Cannon Hawke #4
Take care and have a safe and happy week!
BEST #6: New Captain America series by Brubaker and Epting
I always thought that bringing back Bucky would be lame. Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting proved me wrong in a big way. Full of superior scripting and eye-popping art, I clammer each month to get my hands on a copy of the newest issue. If you haven't been checking out Captain America, pick up the trade or find the back issues. It is truly some of the best writing this year.
WORST #6: Nightwing Series From DC
I want to qualify that I like Devin Grayson as a writer. When she worked on Batman: Gotham Knights, I was very impressed. Since she has taken over Nightwing, it has all changed for the worse. Dick Grayson lost his X Factor- that something special that made women love him and men want to be him. In my mind's eye, Dick was always the IT guy because he wasn't as scary as Batman but he was also very fit and had the sweetest crush on Barbara Gordon. In the past year, Dick has gotten badly hurt, his life destroyed, and has gotten in with the mob. It might have a point, but I am missing it. I want the daring boy on the flying trapeze back, dammit! What happened to his chivalry and level-head?
Devin and Dick may share a last name, but they don't seem to have the symbiotic bond I had hoped for. I don't know what changes 2006 and the "One Year Later" will bring, but it can hopefully only improve things.
Monday, December 26, 2005
BEST #7: She-Hulk by Dan Slott
There was no female character that captured my imagination this year like She-Hulk. Writer Dan Slott brings a sense of joy and excitement to a formerly second tier character. From getting kicked out of Avengers Mansion to her adventures with a new career at a specialist law firm, She-Hulk has never been more compelling. When the series took a brief hiatus after Avenges Dissembled I was angry, so it was the best present on earth when the series came back this Winter. I can hardly wait to see what happens next with Jen and her rich cast of supporting characters.
WORST: No Liberty Meadows This Year.
As I have earlier whined about in a previous blog entry, I am heartbroken that there hasn't been any new Liberty Meadows this year. Brandy, Frank, and the lively critters at Liberty Meadows always made my day. I hope to see them back in comic book form soon, but for now will have to put the lack of availability down in the worst column.
Friday, December 23, 2005
From us to you, Happy Holidays!
BEST #8: New Red Sonja Series!
When Marvel launched it's Red Sonja series back in the 1970's I was a big fan. Here was this strong, incredibly beautiful woman who made her way through the world with nothing between her but a metal bikini and a sword. It was mind-boggling to watch her overcome the sexism so easily thrown her way and defeat her detractors. To me as a young girl, Red Sonja was it.
I am thrilled to see the return of Red Sonja in comic book form. To me she and Conan fill a gap in fantasy books we have been lacking for awhile. Dynamite Entertainment has muddied the water with variant covers, but I forgive them because the quality of the story being told is A+.
WORST #8: Elektra Movie
I like Jennifer Garner. She does a fine job on Alias kicking butt. I also like Elektra and have bought any issue pertaining to her I can in the past two decades. What's the problem here?
Jennifer Garner is not exotic. She is not Greek. She is in outstanding physical shape and does an amazing job on the stunts, but she just isn't Elektra. It doesn't help that the script is so far from what we are used to seeing in comic book land that the power of the character lost it's punch.
To me the film focused more on the little girl who Elektra wanted to protect her. I also didn't buy that Elektra would fall for the girl's father. What put it over the top for me was the sheer cheesiness of the villains. The overacting was extreme and horrid.
Bottom line- while we saw a few great comic book movies this year, Elektra just didn't make the cut. If the script would have been a bit darker, and if Monica Bellucci would have put on the red outfit, we might have had something to talk about.
BEST #9: Sin City and Batman Begins.
It was nice to have some success in the box office and DVD market with quality comic book movie fare. Sin City stayed true to the original vision of Frank Miller, and while it caught flack for that, it also melted the hard hearts of fervent fanboys everywhere. I loved every minute, and of course held out for the special edition DVD set.
Batman Begins was a triumph on many levels. It brought credibility back to the Batman franchise and started up DC's quest to get in the comic book movie game again. Christian Bale and Michael Caine wowed me with truthful, classy performances. The vision and the pacing, and of course lack of Bat Nipples, brought fans back after a long dry spell of alienation.
WORST #9: Fanboy Stereotyping.
No matter what your passion is, there is always some rotten egg out to ruin it for the rest of the bunch. In this case it is the general population that cannot get past the fact that not all comic book fans are drooling, stinky, virginal idiots. My friends cannot believe I read comics because I don't match their vision of what a fan should be. "You're always clean and you have a great job," I hear. "You and Jim seem so normal" is another one.
Cynical fanboys of the world, help me out here. I am not going back in the reader closet. General population- give me a break. We're here to stay.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Without further ado, here is number 10 on my list, both best and worst.
BEST #10: Greg Rucka's new Queen & Country Novel Private Wars.
God knows how Rucka did it, but he not only helmed several comic book titles, but wrote a heart wrenching and compelling novel in Private Wars. Tara Chace is a favorite character of mine, and it feels as if Rucka inhabits her as he writes. Rucka is a diverse, talented writer who can cross genres but chooses to stay in comic book territory. Kudos to him.
WORST #10: Price Increases on Most Books.
The hike to $2.99 on most comic books is killing me. My comic bill is so high anymore, that it almost makes me physically ill. Infinite Crisis is $3.50. The Image Christmas Special was $9.99. What the hell is going on here? If publishers aren't careful, readers won't be able to afford the enjoyment of their labors anymore.
Yes, I know the price of living is going up, but there has got to be some middle ground. My non-comic book friends cringe at the price of a comic and wonder why I don't just buy a paperback novel instead. Those days may be here sooner then I want if there is another price increase like this next year.
That is it for the number 10 best and worst of 2005. Stay tuned in as I head towards the number one slot.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Pictured is the Cover for Infinity Inc. #7. Parts of the interiors and the front remind me of the new Crisis brewing. I always loved this issue, and this story line in Infinity Inc. as I feel it set the stage for Earth 2's next generation of super heroes.
It will be interesting to see if there are similarities, or aftershocks of sorts. I can't wait to read Infinite Crisis #3 and am planning to do so before the end of the day.
Have a great Comic Book Day!
Monday, December 19, 2005
This week brings lots of comics- it is almost like an early present! Here is my list.
Adventures of Superman #647
Batman Gotham Knights #72
Birds of Prey #89
Green Lantern Corps Recharge #3 (of 7)
Infinite Crisis #3 (of 7)
JSA Classified #6
Justice #3 (of 12)
Seven Soldiers Bulleteer #2 (of 4)
Top 10 Beyond the Farthest Precinct #5 (of 5)
Wraithborn #4 (of 6)
Captain America #13
Fantastic Four #533
Generation M #2 (of 5)
Punisher Vs. Bullseye #2 (of 5)
Spider-Woman Origin #1 (of 5)
Ultimate X-Men Fantastic Four Special
Wizard "crappy" goodness
That's it for today. Have a wonderful one!
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I know that Frank Cho is a seriously busy guy, with a wonderful wife, two young children and some major jobs with Marvel, but I miss being able to go to the comic book shop on a bi-monthly basis and picking up the latest adventures of Brandy, Frank, Leslie, Ralph, Truman, Dean, and Oscar. Those characters have a life of their own, and never cease to entertain. Liberty Meadows is an intriguing, fun place that I like to visit.
At last count, issue 36 was the most recent issue of Liberty Meadows. Published in early 2004, it finished Frank's news strip material and opened a new world of creativity for him. Unfortunately, Marvel also saw his great talent and signed him up for Shanna: The She-Devil, fill-in issues of Marvel Knights Spider-Man, and numerous covers. His latest project is an arc of New Avengers focusing on Spider-Woman and a new, not yet revealed, project.
I am really happy for Frank's success. Jim and I were privileged enough to meet him at the Seattle Comicard Show three years ago and spend some time with him. He is a wonderful guy who puts his family first as it should be. He has an interesting background, and is so talented it is unreal. I have nothing but respect for him.
I miss Liberty Meadows, dammit!
Jim and I were joking last night that we should start a petition to get Liberty Meadows rolling again. While this idea entices me greatly, I just can't bring myself to do that to Frank. I have to respect his creative wishes and wait until he is ready.
What I want for Christmas is Liberty Meadows. I can always dream, can't I?
Friday, December 16, 2005
While I appreciate that Randal wanted to be the sole winner, he had a great opportunity to show what a team player he could be by allowing Rebecca to come into the Trump fold. He was the WINNER already- having Rebecca on board didn't change that. What Randal did was cost Rebecca a great opportunity for her future, and in my eyes that isn't right.
My hope is that Trump hires Rebecca anyway. After the show, with the lights off, on the way to the after-party, I hope he took her aside and offered her a position in his organization.
Both Randal and Rebecca were outstanding players. I was pretty sure that Randal was going to win because of his age and experience, but was hoping for the concession at the end for Rebecca, the most level-headed 24 year old on earth. Too bad Randal couldn't see that as well.
I don't think I will bother to watch The Apprentice next season, if for no other reason then to not have to be bitterly disapointed by a final calculated maneuver. I also will never look at Randal the same way. He lost a lot of respect in my eyes by not being able to share a bit of the moment with a fellow human being.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
The first book I looked at was 100 Bullets #67. This issue focused on Dizzy, my favorite character in the title, and the aftermath of her killing of Graves. I eagerly read it, and was not disapointed. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso are taking us on the ride of our lives.
In Infinite Crisis tie-in news, I checked out Hawkman #47 and JLA #123. I was happy to see Hawkman catching up to continuity with this issue. Hawkman is as ruthless as ever, and Hawkgirl is in the thick of things kicking major ass. Adam Strange has always been a favorite guest star of mine, so it was nice to see him as well.
Unfortunately, JLA has left me cold. Since the pre-Infinite Crisis arc done by Johns and Heinberg, any follow up would have likely flopped, and this is no exception. The team is splintering as expected, but with none of the drama or emotion I was hoping for. With the series ending in a couple of months, I will pick up the book until the end, but with a sense of disapointment.
The Marvel books I looked at first were Son of M #1 and Marvel Knights Spider-Man #21. Son of M intrigued me because I was really wanting to find out what happened to Pietro after his outrageous betrayal of his kind. After one issue, I am a bit interested, but it wasn't as much of a slam dunk as I thought it would be.
MK Spider-Man was the aftermath of the big "death" issue. I am not a fan of Pat Lee, so it was hard to deal with the issue to begin with, but sad to say, it left me cold.
That is as far as I have gotten into the books, but I am loving every minute. I finally feel good enough to sit upright for longer periods of time, and am feeling more lucid as I am down to just ibuprofen for pain support.
Take care and enjoy this week's haul!
Monday, December 12, 2005
It is going to be a good week for comics this week, especially with my good friend The Punisher's Holiday Special "Silent Night" hitting newstands this week. See the picture at right for clarification. I always like a good Punisher holiday book, and this is no exception.
Without further ado, here is my list.
Samurai Heaven & Earth #5 (of 5) FINALLY!!
100 Bullets #67
Action Comics #834
Green Arrow #57
Teen Titans #30
Wildcats Nemesis #4 (0f 9)
Noble Causes #15
Ghost Rider #4 (of 6)
Marvel Knights 4 $25
Marvel Knights Spider-Man #21
New Thunderbolts #16
New X-Men #21
Secret War #5 (of 5) - A DOUBLE FINALLY ON THIS ONE
Son of M #1 (of 6)
Ultimate Iron Man #5 (of 5)
Uncanny X-Men #467
I am still finding it a bit painful to sit and check the internet for long periods of time, so that is it for today. Take care and have a wonderful week!
Saturday, December 10, 2005
This just lets me know that I have to remember to take time to heal, and not try and come back too quickly. Jim was very supportive, and knew I was tired before I did, so he shut me down. What a guy!
In bedside reading news, I finished the Eric Luke run on Wonder Woman last night. I was surprised how focused his run was on the godwave and the impact that Diana's dieties have on her life. I think that Luke's focus has continued to the current storyline, which is a tribute of sorts to him. Of course, the Greek Gods have always played a large role in Diana's world, but to see the gods and their godwave play such a pivotal role was a jolting reminder of how he played out his tenure. The downside in his run is the character Devastation. In my mind, she was a great idea, but a lot of the things she brought to the table were attributes Wonder Woman had fought in Circe. It is interesting to note that since Luke left, Deva hasn't played any type of role. I wonder if she will pop up again or if her time is done.
I just started the Phil Jimenez run, and am on issue 166, pictured at right. Phil's art is so astounding to me, that I tend to get lost in the pretty pictures very easily. I do have to say that the "Gods Of Gotham" story to me is one of his weakest, but it did start his run off with a bang. My favorite, if memory serves, is the "Day in the Life" story with Lois Lane that is up and coming. We shall see if my memory is correct very soon.
Thank you again for the well-wishes. I am so thankful to have such a great group of people to interact with on the 'net. You are positive, intelligent, wonderful people, and I feel fortunate for the heartfeltness of your replies.
Have a wonderful Saturday evening and take care!
Friday, December 09, 2005
It has been a tough week, but the good news, is I feel better each day. Hopefully that means that soon I will be able to be more self-sufficient and not drive Jim so crazy.
Interestingly, I have been reading the entire run of the current Wonder Woman series during my recovery, and just finished the John Byrne run tonight. For the first time reading through his run in a long time, I found myself really enjoying the cohesiveness of it. Jim attributes this to the pain medication I am on, of course.
I am going to continue on into the Eric Luke run of the series and see how it resonates with me. Hopefully my "altered state" will give me new insight there as well. Otherwise, it is back to napping and generally just walking a lot and trying not to overdo lifting.
Take care and thank you again for the wonderful sentiments. It really made my day.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Today was an all day liquid diet, so it wasn't pretty. There were numerous other things that are too much information to mention, suffice to say that this takes some prep work!
Take care and happy reading! I hope to be back very soon so I can start my list of top male heroes from a female perspective.
Thank you again!