2012: The Best & Worst of Comics (and A Rant on Spider-Man 700)
While making my end-of-year list for 2012 a few weeks ago, I had a comics section in the best/worst list, but ended up cutting it since that post was already dragging pretty long and I had just as much to say about comics as I did TV shows/movies. In 2012, I really began to get back into reading and collecting comics due to my close proximity to the Mile High Comics mega-store warehouse. So 2012, I spent a bit of time in Ye Olde Comic Book shops physically and online (with apps like Comixology). Here’s my look at the year in comics. (could be seen as the 2nd half of my summer comic progress report).
BEST of 2012
Batman- I know it’s easy to rally behind a big title in the mainstream comics, but Scott Snyder has put out some really great Batman stories this year! First, Batman dealt with the Court of the Owls, in which Batman fights an elite secret society that has been controlling Gotham City behind the scenes, who then sick a nearly unkillable group of assassins known as Talons on Batman and his allies. More recently, Batman’s most notorious archenemy ,The Joker, has resurfaced after being absent for well over a year. Death of the Family is shaping up to be an awesome Joker story as we see the Joker unlike we’ve seen him before (more darker, tactical, and his his face has been peeled off and re-attached crudely with leather straps and hooks, also he beat Alfred nearly to death with a hammer!). Batman is definitely worth getting into again!
Avengers vs X-men: (Everything That Followed)- The Avengers had a good old fashioned superhero battle royal this summer when they went toe to toe with the X-men. The series itself lasted 12 issues and had both its highlights (Spider-man going solo vs a Phoenix Force possessed Colossus and Magic, giving Iron Fist some A-list moments) and it’s lowlights (all of issue 2). Overall, the event seemed to have drug on for a while longer than it felt like it should have, but this event set forth the status quo of Marvel’s new direction with Marvel Now! which will basically cancel many long-standing books and launch all the characters in new roles/series with new writers taking the reigns. Some of the immediate aftermath such as A vs X: Consequences and Uncanny Avengers are worth a read and has served as a road-map to where those two major factions are heading.
All-New X-Men- This immediately follows the events of A vs X: Consequences and has been by far my absolute favorite Marvel Now! title. In this series, Beast of the X-men is dying from a new mutation set forth from the events of A vs X and decides to go back in time to bring the original X-men class from the 60s (but not in “comic time”) to confront a now dickish Cyclops and Magneto. It’s just 5 issues in now, and very much the Marvel Now! title that should be on your reading list.
Before Watchmen (The Silk Spectre/Ozymadias/Minutemen)- Before Watchmen was a bit of a gamble when it came out. It’s clearly a way to cash in from the critically acclaimed original story. However there were some surprises! Of these comics, Silk Spectre stands out the most as the most fun of the books. Minutemen brings a bit of life to the story-within-the-story “Under the Hood” from the original Watchmen graphic novel. Much like when I first read the original graphic novel, I more or less ignored the pirate comic within…it just doesn’t flow like it did in the original story.
Deadpool – Since 2008, I’ve been rabidly following Daniel Way’s run on Deadpool. This year, Way’s run ended but not before making us see Deadpool losing his healing factor and having a new lease on life. With Marvel Now! Deadpool has a new set of writers, his healing factor returned and is currently fighting zombie versions of former presidents. The humor is still present and we get some fun Deadpool-y moments in the new series, but I do miss the “Pool-o-vision” from Way’s run. Way has moved on to penning the new Thunderbolts series, which I’m not the biggest fan of the art, but at least Way can still write Deadpool since he’s a member of the new team with Red Hulk, Electra, Venom, and Punisher.
Uncanny X-Force- Mostly I picked this up because they kinda-sorta brought Nightcrawler back after he died in the events of Messiah Complex a while back. OK maybe it’s the darker-no-problem-with-killing-people Age of Apocalypse version but he still teleports and looks cool (minus that dumb red tattoo/mark on his face). But I’ve like what I read especially with Deadpool and kid-Apocalypse clone. Too bad this series ended with the launch of Marvel Now!
Saga- Brian K. Vaughn is back with a new series and it’s actually pretty fun! Basically it’s Romeo and Juliet in space..but with aliens, bounty hunters, and ghosts. It’s pretty fun stuff! I admit it took me a little while to get into it, I really liked Y: The Last Man, and although it’s delightfully weird,it’s starting to grow on me and I plan to keep reading.
Axe Cop: President of The World- I was pretty eager for this for 2 reasons: 1.) I love the very existence of Axe Cop since discovering it about a year ago and 2.) At Denver Comic-Con I got to see a few previews of this series at the Axe Cop panel. In this latest offering by the Nicole brothers (Older brother Ethan illustrates, his 8 year old brother writes), Axe Cop becomes President of the World (USA was just too small for him) and then faces an extraterrestrial threat. In true Axe Cop fashion, it gets delightfully absurd very rapidly. 2013 should be an even bigger year for Axe Cop when his TV show launches on Fox and as per the Facebook fanpage, Axe Cop is set to tie the knot!! Somehow the unapologetically misogynistic Axe Cop found someone to marry him!
Walking Dead- Before the currently red-hot show was just an apple in AMC’s eye, I became hooked on Walking Dead when I worked a late night customer service job via some co-workers a few years ago. I got to a point shortly after the Governor arc where I sorta dropped off reading this series in regular rotation, but the recent “Something to Fear” storyline had my attention with its cool cover art, so I started reading it. When that arc hit a monumental issue 100 for the comic series, Negan (aka Governor 2.0? or just a mean douche?) brutally puts an end to a longtime favorite character. While it’s more or less Woodbury 2.0 with the current arc to a degree, it definitely got me back to reading the series.
DC’s Zero Month- There’s only a few titles I read from DC but they did something really cool this year by launching a “Zero Month” in which all of their titles came out with a issue 0, which made for a good jumping on point for many titles. Green Lantern introduced a new Arabic Lantern, Swamp Thing captured my attention, and Superman got close to being as fun as All-Star Superman. If this was largely designed to draw readers to new titles, I say to them “well done!”.
Not Quite A “Best”, Not Quite a “Worst”
Spider-Men- I more-or-less gave up on Ultimate Marvel (Marvel’s Alternate Universe/Line of comics not weighed down by continuity) when they did that whole bloodbath with Ultimatum, in which, nearly everyone was killed off. I hear Ultimate Spider-man is pretty good as well, but I’ve always been a fan of Peter Parker as Spidey and with how Ultimate Marvel’s line of comics left me, I didn’t really care to read it despite the buzz. However, this limited series that combined Peter Parker from the flagship Spider-man books and Miles Morales from the Ultimate Spider-man comics turned out to be pretty decent to read rather than the fan-fiction I expected. But I did feel like it was still forcing Miles on everyone. He’s doing just fine on his own. Plus Marvel once said that if they cross the universes together, that officially means that they’ve ran out of good ideas…let’s hope that’s not the case now.
Spider-man – Spider-man had a pretty big year this year: He turned 50 (in real-time, not in the comics), had a movie (see my 2012 list to see what I thought of it. Hint: I didn’t care for it), He got a sidekick for the first time (who turned out to be a dick and only lasted 3 issues and may-or-may not come back as a supervillain), and 2012 ended with a big send-off to the series with Spider-man issue 700 (see the bad-ass cover?). Some stories were really good (His encounter with The Lizard in “No Turning Back”) and some were sub-par (Ends of the Earth, when he fought a dying Doc Ock who was planning on frying the planet after having everyone turn on Spidey). And then came the big shake-up in issue 700.
************SPOILER RANT ALERT!!!! *******************************
I must rant! By now, you may have heard what happened. Part of me wants to keep the faith and continue reading expecting a big payoff in a few short months and the other part of me wants to turn my back on the wall-crawler…but it’s Spidey, so I’ll probably read the first few issues just in case. Either way, I didn’t raise a fuss when Miles Morales took over on the Ultimate Spider-man book when Peter Parker was killed off. To me, that was an alternate universe, in which I lost my love for. However, I knew that in the main flagship title, Peter Parker was still very much alive and being Spider-Man so I was OK if they wanted to have someone else be Spider-man in a alternate universe series. But now, we have Doc Ock wearing Peter Parker’s body while Peter died while trapped in Doc Ock’s shitty dying body. It’s not even fun like when The Man in Black posed as John Locke in the final season of LOST (wow 2 big spoilers in 2 sentences! Go Me!). Granted at the end of the story, Doc seemed to gain all of Parker’s memories and decided to live on as Peter Parker…but he’s not Parker! I know he made a personal mention of how he’ll not let Parker die as a villain and vow to become a superior Spider-man, but falls short of saying “a better Peter-Parker” also. How long will it be until he roofies Aunt May? Some sites show a cover for the 2nd issue of the new series of him locking lips with Mary Jane (finally making their break-up in One More Day seem to disappear). But that again isn’t Peter! I’m just a bit disappointed with how this all ended, but I’ll give it a few issues, but I may avoid the wall-crawler until they bring Parker back; it’s a comic after-all and “Death” is never final, but this will probably at least drag on until the next Spider-man movie hits. It did make a good story, but I didn’t like the way it ended that’s all. Either way problems aside it was worth reading and I wasn’t mad enough to light a torch.
*************END OF SPOILER RANT****************
WORST of 2012
Thankfully I steered clear of a few bad titles this year. Granted portions of A vs X and Spider-man disappointed this year, but there were a few I got excited about that completely floundered.
Before Watchmen (The Comedian, Rorschach, and Dr. Manhattan)– The Comedian started out pretty good but then waned a bit after the 2nd issue and then just got straight up meh. As for Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan..It was more of the same more or less of what we saw in the original story. We just see Dan/Night Owl’s penchant for only being able to “get it up” if the other person is in costume and Rorschach still being Rorschach, oddly it’s in the Night Owl prequel that you see more of Rorschach developing. As for Dr Manhattan, its pretty much a full issue of his “Reflection Time on Mars” in the graphic novel, still fun to read, but kinda more or less what we’ve already read…Nothing new or enough to fully engage me. Like the ones that really caught my attention in this lineup, I still didn’t read the pirate comic; I’ll probably wait until it’s available in graphic novel form.
Incredible Hulk- With so many Hulks and She-Hulks running around, I decided to see what the original green guy was up to with a newly launched series. I was originally intrigued after seeing some cool cover art. But it was more or less Banner being separated from his Hulk alter-ego and going crazy trying to replicate it and more-or-less has his Island of Dr. Monroe wacky story happening. Hulk, on the other-hand, lives a life of tearing sharks to pieces, grows a beard, and avoids advances from some relative of Dr. Doom who has a kinky Hulk-fetish, and then has sex with red She-Hulk…and somehow that turns him back into Banner. If that made you think of that “what you said was the stupidest thing ever..” monologue from Happy Gilmore ( Don’t pretend you don’t know it word for word), then you know how I felt when I picked this series up. Luckily with Marvel Now!, Mark Waid who made Daredevil pretty awesome is seeing what he can do with the big green guy. So I may check Hulk out again in 2013.
That’s more or less what I read in 2012. Looking ahead in 2013, there’s a few series that I’ll likely pick up like FF which has my attention after 2 issues, Daniel Way’s Thunderbolt series has shown my beloved “Pool-o-vision” panels when Deadpool is involved, I’m curious enough to see where Spider-man goes, and to see the end result of Joker’s current story. Plus there’s Comic Con coming up this summer, a Deadpool game, another Iron Man and Thor movie, so 2013 appears to be ripe with geeky crap that I’m excited for!