Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Year Ender 2008
Here we are again. The ending of another solid year in comics. Not just in print but in film as well. Reading comics seems to be conducive to complaining. Complaining about delays, prices, stories, directions, characters and creators. However, I cant remember a time when I enjoyed the hobby more than now. So any moaning here is all relative.
Here are my thoughts on what was good and bad in the past year. The guidelines are that I try not to include arcs or series that haven’t completed by the end of the calendar year. So Final Crisis proper is off the table for these “awards” but Messiah Complex is game because it wrapped during the beginning of 2008.
Annuals saw a smaller number in 2008 versus 2007 but in the end it wouldn’t have affected the outcome here.
Annual Worth Reading: Action Comics Annual #11
This wraps up the tremendous Last Son arc. The comic has a huge battle and fantastic visuals. It’s an amazing single comic. Second place goes to Wolverine Annual #2 Roar which I found to be interesting because of the way Wolverine was handled by his enemy.
2007: Action Comics #10
Annual Better Off Not Reading: Action Comics Annual #11
Priced at $5 despite being over a year late made this a bitter pill to swallow. Add in that this isn’t really a typically annual, it’s just an unfinished arc jammed into a random issue hanging on to the main title. It’s a poor use of the purpose of an Annual in every sense of the word.
2007: Batman Annual #18
We had some crossovers in 2008, but not too many. I would count Secret Invasion as a mini series and not a crossover because the inclusion of the ancillary titles tied in rather than crossed over. Okay, maybe that doesn’t make sense but that’s what I’m doing.
Favorite Crossover: Messiah Complex
Every issue was a great issue. Four titles coming together for three months that redefined the X-Universe. Sure, some of the changes didn’t really stick, but it was a great story. Also in consideration was Star Wars Vector, but the last issue isn’t shipping until 1/2/2009 so its not eligible.
Most Disappointing Crossover: She-Hulk/X-Factor
This wasn’t “bad” but I found it underwhelming. I tend to prop Peter David up and expect everything of his to be great. I walked away from this with an “eh” feeling. Maybe it was overkill to involve it with Skrulls, I’m not sure.
Lots and lots of them this year. This was the hardest selection.
Favorite Mini-Series: Final Crisis Rogues’ Revenge
I enjoyed Secret Invasion a lot. I loved Huntress Year One. But Rogues’ Revenge was fantastic. I found myself caring about villains. It had excellent character development, tons of action and drama. If only the Flash had this kind of supporting cast in his book. Something is amiss when Flash’s bad guys succeed outside of his title.
2007: World War Hulk
Most Disappointing Mini-Seris: World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound
This was a tough category. In the running were the two issue series of Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes and X-Men Divided We Stand which were not worth the $4 cover charge and seemed random and pointless. However, Warbound took some cool characters, handled by their creator and made them disappear into the Marvel landscape. This story could have cemented them in the Universe, but instead it really just put them out on an Island. Add in that it was two issues too long and this was a huge disappointment.
This is supposed to be stories that don’t have anything to do with the continuity of an ongoing series. This is impossible, especially in the case of Wolverine, so I just basically used any issue that wasn’t part of an ongoing series (or annual) or not really part of a mini-series (like 1 of 5, etc). The pool for this one was big.
Favorite One-Shot: Final Crisis Rage of the Red Lanterns
A solid category had strong issues like Iron Man The End and DC’s Last Will and Testament. The two that really stood out were Final Crisis Requiem and Final Crisis Rage of the Red Lanterns. Red Lanterns wins by a nose because it immediately established a major storyline and villain and sets up multiple plots for the future. It basically took the seven issue Secret Origin arc and turned it into old news by jacking the story up on steroids. Final Crisis Requiem gave a great sendoff to a character I barely knew. Both are great but I’ll take the one shot that opens things up rather than closes them out.
2007: What If: Planet Hulk
Most Disappointing One-Shot: What If: Wolverine versus Spider-Man
This issue barely had Wolverine in it and he and Spider-Man never fought. This was a misleading title and a sub par story. It references a very old story and really did nothing to get a new reader up to speed. This was worth skipping. Also in contention were numerous Hulk one shots, but the worst was King Sized Hulk. Giant Sized and Raging Thunder were also over priced and forgettable.
2007: Captain America Fallen Son: Spider-Man
I’m thinking a prerequisite for this category needs to be that a title has to ship at least ten times in a year but I’m still working on that one.
Favorite Ongoing: Walking Dead
Star Wars Legacy, X-Men Legacy and Captain America have been outstanding for my tastes month after month, but this was the only title I switched from waiting for trades to buying monthly. The story had the conclusion to the prison arc which included a war and had a glut of main characters die. It’s a tremendous series. And I think it shipped 11 times this year which meets to my approval.
2007: GI Joe America’s Elite
Most Disappointing Ongoing: Flash
What is going on here? I realize the series is ending but this title just isn’t doing anything positive. There’s a solid cast and good teams at the helm and yet I cant figure out what this series is trying to do at all. Runner up was Green Lantern. It only shipped nine times and seven issues were the wandering arc called Secret Origin that really could have and should have had the key parts included in Rage of the Red Lanterns. I feel like this series crushed all the momentum from the Sinestro Corps War, but was no where near as directionless as Flash.
Tons to select from here.
Favorite Overall: Bat-verse
This wasn’t just RIP. I enjoyed Nightwing, the Huntress mini series and several issues of Robin and Detective. The Bat universe is gearing up for some big changes, but I found 2008 to be a very good send off making great use of many characters and titles.
Most Disappointing Overall: Hulk
All that World War Hulk was in 2007 and Planet Hulk before it got killed in 2008. Red Hulk has been an odd title with an odd “plot” (can we call it a plot?). Warbound was a bust and Skaar isn’t exactly a mind blowing experience. Add in some pointless (and expensive) one-shot and Hulk took a major step back. I did like the movie though.
Old Reliable: Green Lantern Corps
Every month this title provides a great story using a huge cast. It ships on time and it came out 12 times in 2008. It has held all the momentum from the Sinestro Corps War very nicely. To me, it’s superior to the parent title by far.
Missing In Action: Kick-Ass
Star Wars Dark Times and Rebellion had trouble shipping before finally announcing hiatuses. The Indiana Jones mini series was four issues and started coming out in the summer (late) where it was supposed to coincide with the movie release. Since the first issue we have seen two issues (with the last one coming out on 12/24). It missed the boat on the movie tie-in entirely. However, Kick-Ass takes the cake. Launched in February we are still waiting for issue five to come out. It’s about four months late. The delays are unforgivable when you consider what a hit this series has been. I guess Millar is too busy trying to get movies made. God bless him.
Favorite New Series: Kick-Ass
Cable has been good, but for me, Kick-Ass has been amazing. A fresh character with an edgy story and execution. It’s set in the real world with tons of violence and fantastic artwork. Now if only this thing would ever ship on a decent schedule I’d be happy.
Least Favorite New Series: Skaar
The son of Hulk is a savage who can’t seem to talk trying to find his way on an apocalyptic planet. Unfortunately, it takes elements of Hulk landing on the planet and melds them with Hulk’s most beastly form. It’s not what I would have found to be the most interesting of series when you consider Skaar’s mother was the oldstrong of the planet. I found this to be too much sword and sorcery and not at all to my liking.
Favorite Arc: GI Joe: World War 3
Unfortunately this ended the license with DDP but the arc was tremendous. Cloak and dagger with elements of spying and turncoats. It was a fun twelve issues that expanded a number of the character’s personalities, like Duke and Destro. It was a great arc. I also enjoyed RIP a lot, but I found it very draining to keep up with it at times. Still it will hold up as a fantastic story in my opinion.
Arc to Avoid: Wolverine Origins: Deadpool
With many arcs that I disliked a ton this past year the ones that were the longest tend to stand out in my mind. The Deadpool arc in Wolverine Origins was the one I remember the most. That and the Fast Money arc in Flash were the ones I dreaded by issue three or four. I believe both were six issues which felt like about three too long.
Finally, here are some of my favorite moments of the year. In no particular order are the parts from comics that I remember well from this past year:
* Cable jumps into the time stream as Bishop fires a gun missing Cable and hitting Xavier square in the head. Wow. Splattered Xavier.
* Batman in the Zur-en-arrh costume wielding a bat and cracking heads like a maniac. It was excellent to watch Batman lose it all like that.
* Rick and his family make a run for it as the Woodbury crew open fire, killing his wife Lori and infant baby. Sweet Moses was this a shocker to me. That and it barely involved zombies.
* Pa Kent dying. It was underwhelming how it happened, but I didn’t see it coming at all. I missed the news breaking that day so I was totally in the dark. Cant say I like it but it sure was memorable.
* Superman standing on the double splash page of the destroyed Metropolis after his “son” Chris was sucked into the Phantom Zone in the Last Son arc. It was an excellent visual after the battle.
* Storm Shadow runs through the GI Joe prison, single handedly fending off the jail break from Cobra and the ninjas. Capturing ninja work in a comic is tough, but this seemed fluid to me.
* Hot Rod asking the magic cube if Doubledealer betrayed the Autobots and turning and blowing away his “friend” Doubledealer. Hot Rod was being played all along until he finally put it all together at the end. I never saw it coming.
* Spider-Woman was the main Skrull, but her telling Stark that he is the Skrull king was crazy at that time. In that moment I thought for sure we were going to see a major shakeup in the Marvel status quo. In some ways we did, just not in the way I thought we would see.
* Old Man Logan has taken way too long to come up but in the opening issue he imagines that he is gutting the descendants of the Hulk. It was violent, it was gruesome and it was brutal. It made me fall for this series in a fast way. Excellent visual.
* Looking at the solicitations for March and seeing Ultimate Wolverine versus Hulk #3 in it. I never thought I’d see the day.
That’s it! Here’s hoping 2009 is just as much fun as 2008 was.