Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Geek Goggle Year Ender 2010
As the curtain draws down on 2010 we take a moment to look back at this insane hobby of buying, reading, collecting, complaining, hyping and drooling over the four color funnies: comic books.
This past year saw two interesting developments as prices took a step back (for many books effective in 2011) for the first time in decades and a digital (legal) platform that made buying and reading without paper easier than ever. How this will impact the future of comics will play out in 2011 and beyond.
With all that said this was another fun year to read comic books. As usual, I found there is more out there to read than I could possibly afford in terms of money and time. I gauge that as a good thing.
The guidelines are that I try not to include arcs or series that haven’t completed by the end of the calendar year. So Chaos War (if I were reading it) is off the table for these “awards” but Captain America Reborn is okay because it completed during the beginning of 2010.
Favorite Mini-Series: Punisher Versus The Marvel Universe
Lots were in the running this year, such as Last Days of American Crime, Time Bomb Atomic Robo (Volume 4), Criminal: Sinners and Supergod but it came down to Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne and Punisher Versus the Marvel Universe. Ultimately I picked Punisher because the story was a departure from the normal Punisher story but keeping the core traits of the character in tact. The Batman mini series brought together years worth of stories that really didn’t offer a self-contained story that a reader could gain instant gratification from, but for those following Morrison’s story found a huge payoff.
Most Disappointing Mini-Series: Captain America Reborn
Brubaker changed his writing style drastically for this mini series versus his work on the main Captain America title. It felt like he was making this series cater to the lowest common denominator. It was a big disappointment compared to the main title’s work. Blackest Night ran second in this category because it was simply too long and failed in comparison to the work in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. Siege fell into this category as well, but at least it was half the length of Blackest Night.
2008: World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound
2009: Tales of Blackest Night
Favorite Collected Mini-Series or Original Graphic Novel: Richard Stark’s The Outfit
Darwyn Cooke’s makes this second adaptation his own by injecting more of his own unique style into this effort than the first. Having not read the source material I can’t verify it holds up against the original but it was a tremendous story with amazing art to back it up. Crime at its very best.
2009: X-Men Magneto’s Testament
Favorite Crossover: Blackest Night
Blackest Night and Second Coming both had highs and lows. Both seemed to have too many filler issues (particularly in the Blackest Night mini) for my tastes but both were entertaining reads. Blackest Night never compared to Sinestro Corps War though. I’m not sure if the Return of Bruce Wayne storyline was technically a crossover but generally speaking the two Morrison titles (the mini and Batman and Robin) were excellent reads despite delays.
2007: Green Lantern Sinestro Corps War
2008: Messiah Complex
2009: What Ever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
Most Disappointing Crossover: World War Hulks
This simply felt directionless until the very end. There were some good ideas in here and some good single issues but on the whole the crossover seemed to rely an awful lot on the use of robots posing as humans.
2007: Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul
2008: She-Hulk/X-Factor Secret Invasion
2009: Messiah War
An excellent category this past year.
Favorite One-Shot: Sea Bear and Grizzly Shark #1
Old school comic book fun. 40+ pages from two creators normally paired with Robert Kirkman as his artists. Ottley and Howard brought a funny, horror tale together with two distinct stories. Track this one down for a fun read. Also not to miss books are: Atomic Robo #3 (technically part of a mini series but an amazing self contained book and probably my single favorite issue of the year), Hellboy in Mexico (lucha libres and vampires!), Jonah Hex #50 (Darwyn Cooke art) and Second Coming Revelations: Blind Science (The X-Club one shot).
2007: What If: Planet Hulk
2008: Final Crisis Rage of the Red Lanterns
2009: Elephantmen: Yvette War Toys
Most Disappointing One-Shot: Wolverine Road to Hell #1
It’s not like the material was terrible in the book its just that the cliffhangers were literally left dangling without being picked up in the books that this comic was meant to be the trailer for. Other ways to waste your money was by picking up Hulk: Let the Battle Begin (again, not bad material but the title led the reader to believe it launched World War Hulks and it had nothing to do with the storyline), PunisherMax: Get Castle (more misleading titling as it had no roots to the classic film) and Green Lantern/Plastic Man (inconsistent art missing the charm of the characters in the story). All were sorely overpriced and tremendous letdowns.
2007: Captain America Fallen Son: Spider-Man
2008: What If: Wolverine versus Spider-Man
2009: Transformers Spotlight: Cliffhanger
Generally an ongoing should have ten issues come out during the year which excludes some newer series.
Favorite Ongoing: Chew
Despite only shipping nine times I felt this was the best title of the year and the one I looked forward to the most each time out. This past year introduced more characters, had more laughs and more bizarre story angles. It was an excellent year for an already amazing book. As always, Walking Dead, Scalped, Batman and Robin, Green Lantern, The Boys and DMZ were among my favorite books each month. American Vampire made its way on to the list this year as well. Punishermax was my favorite book of the year until delays left it dangling with only seven issues shipped in 2010. Ah, what might have been for Punishermax.
2007: GI Joe America’s Elite
2008: Walking Dead
2009: Walking Dead
Most Disappointing Ongoing: Superman
The Man of Steel is down to one ongoing, in continuity book and it hasn’t been good in a long time. Superman used to have a weekly, in continuity book. Now he is barely hanging on to just the one and it’s not even a good one. At least Action Comics is a fun read. Albeit without Superman in it.
Call it a franchise or a branding, whatever. It’s a direction of some character(s) that spans more than just one title.
Favorite Overall: Batman
Batman Inc is an interesting new direction and the Batman line has grown so big there is literally something for everyone. Scott Snyder’s Detective looks to get back to the Year One style of Batman while Batman proper seems to be more of the straight-up super hero book. With Batman and Robin, Red Robin and a host of other books there is a lot to be jazzed about.
2009: Green Lantern
Most Disappointing Overall: GI Joe
For the second year in a row I have been boggled by the happenings with this franchise in the hands of IDW. There are so many titles and I can’t say any of them offer what I want in GI Joe…..except one. Thankfully, IDW has given us the Larry Hama GI Joe (with 1980s continuity to boot) complete with action, cool vehicles and ninjas on fire! The rest of the stable of books left me confused and bored. It seems a massive overhaul is in the works for 2011. Hopefully they will leave Hama’s GI Joe as is. It wouldn’t kill them to add a file card in an issue or two.
2009: GI Joe
Old Reliable: Walking Dead
Every month (eleven issues in 2010) I get the same high quality from both Walking Dead and Green Lantern (twelve issues in 2010). Walking Dead has become the book I read first no matter what else ships. It’s become exactly what the likes of Preacher and Sandman once were for me. Add in that Charlie Adlard does all of the art and it’s a miracle this thing comes out as much as it does. Green Lantern proper hasn’t been this good for this long since the 1970s.
2008: Green Lantern Corps
2009: Green Lantern Corps
Missing In Action: Spawn
Spawn almost never ships and it’s in the middle of an important story and creeping up on a milestone issue. Image United can easily fit into this category as well. See the commonality here?
Favorite New Series: American Vampire
This series started slow but has picked up steam with the second arc and is now one of my favorite books month in and month out. When you consider that I couldn’t care less about vampires I’d say this title must have something special to it. Morning Glories and SHIELD are two others worth checking out.
Least Favorite New Series: Green Lantern Emerald Warriors
Perhaps it’s the overall direction of the line but how is it possible that the team from Green Lantern Corps moves to this book and I dislike it only slightly more than the current work being done on Green Lantern Corps? I should be in heaven with three GL books but this one leaves me cold.
Favorite Arc: Punishermax: Kingpin
Punisher meets the Mennonite in an instant classic. This five issue arc reinvents all the aspects of what makes the Punisher and the Kingpin such great characters. A brilliant arc by Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon.
2008: GI Joe: World War 3
2009: Walking Dead: The Hunters
Arc to Avoid: Amazing Spider-Man: OMIT
More twisting of the knife of the Brand New Day storyline isn’t making any fans of Mary Jane happy. The ending was dreadful beyond comprehension.
2008: Wolverine Origins: Deadpool
2009: Amazing Spider-Man: Redheaded Stranger
Favorite Anniversary Issue: Batman #700
Grant Morrison writes Batman tales spawning different time periods with superstar artists. Unfortunately the issue contains only about 30 pages of story with a cover charge of $5. However, the material inside is very, very good if you have been following the Morrison run.
2009: Amazing Spider-Man #600
Least Favorite Anniversary Issue: Superman #700
Three stories: one ended Robinson’s run on the title, one kicked of the JMS ‘Grounded’ story and the third was a Silver Aged tale about Robin’s early interactions with the man of steel by Dan Jurgens. The first two didn’t make me want to a) re-read the Robinson run or b) feel excited about the ‘Grounded’ direction but the Dan Jurgens story was brilliant.
2009: Hulk #700
Now that this category is impossible these days its merely historical purposes that it’s even on here.
Annual Worth Reading: none
2007: Action Comics #10
2008: Action Comics #11
Annual Better Off Not Reading: none
2007: Batman Annual #18
2008: Action Comics #11
Here are some other books not mentioned above as 2010 closes up that I enjoyed:
Joe the Barbarian, Pak’s Incredible Hulk, Secret Avengers, Incognito, Fear Agent, Elephantmen, Orc Stain, Cowboy Ninja Viking, X-Men Legacy, Muppet Show, Irredeemable, X-Factor and Secret Six. There are tons and tons more that are worth attention that I’m most likely not even reading.
That’s it! Here’s hoping 2011 offers as much (less Thor series and Dynamite variant covers though) as 2010.