Writing a great first issue is hard. With “#1 With A Bullet”, I wanted to examine some debut issues that worked – or didn’t – in an attempt to figure out just what makes a great first issue… and what common mistakes creators occasionally make. Today, I look at Mark Waid’s fantastic Daredevil #1 and the art of revitalizing a character who has been stuck in something of a rut. Continue reading
Well, it’s that time of the year: the time when every obsessive with an Internet connection (and some obsessives, like me, without one) make lists. Best Album of 2012 leads into Worst Album of 2012 and culminates in Best Comeback Performance in 2012 Of An Artist Who Started His Career in the 1980s But Suffered Setbacks In The 90s.
We here at read/RANT like to keep things pretty simple. We talk about what we know: comics. Also, sometimes, TV and movies. We’re Renaissance Men, capable of being interested in many things at once. But, admittedly, it’s mostly comics.
Last year, there was just a single list: The 10 Best Graphic Novels of 2011. This year, I’m splitting my Top 10 into two separate lists: Top 10 Ongoings – what you are reading now – and an upcoming book on the Top 10 Graphic Novels. There are some books that may be thrilling as ongoings, but only very good as collections – or books that had a fantastic year, but don’t yet have a collection released!
So I’m hoping this will help bring a little diversity to the lists. We’ll see. Anyway, click through for the first list: The Top 10 Ongoing Comics of 2012, then chime in down in the comments and let me know what your favorite books were this year!
AvX Part 12 is going to be the final part of my AvX review series. Due to a currently busy schedule, I just don’t have the time to promise an AvX Consequences or A+X review at this moment. If I somehow get the time, I will, but reviews from me for the next few weeks probably won’t happen. Maybe I’ll get to a Consequences overview once its over, but I’ve stalled enough. Without further adue, my look at part 12, and in general the AvX crossover event. If you haven’t read this yet, be warn of spoilers.
Been a while, huh? Some of the latest #0 issues though has given some nice input to the timeline that I just couldn’t ignore it. Due note spoilers (mainly beneath the timeline) and that this has a very Bat-family focus on the new parts.
Lately, there’s been something of a digital explosion in the comics community. While they fought against digitizing for so, so long, now everyone is rushing to find new ways to make it work for them.
It’s about damn time.
So, I thought I’d check in with a few recent releases in the digital comics world and give you guys some ideas for what’s worth checking out and what you can safely avoid. This probably won’t be a weekly feature, but I’ll try and check in with the world of digital comics as often as I can.
For the record, I did not think that The Amazing Spider-Man was a terribly good movie. I thought it had promise. I was incredibly excited to see it based on the strength of the cast and the interesting choice for director. I think that, with a little hard work, the inevitable sequel could be fantastic. But, as a film by itself, The Amazing Spider-Man just flat-out didn’t work on a lot of fairly basic levels.
I’m open to people trying to argue the point. In fact, a lot of critics and fans whose opinions I really respect seemed to enjoy the film quite a bit. But I’m far from alone in leaving pretty dissatisfied, either, so I want to discuss a little bit about what worked, what didn’t, and what I hope to see from the sequel.
Perhaps the best article I’ve read on the issue of Northstar’s impending nuptials belongs to Andrew Wheeler over at Comics Alliance. Though he is himself a gay man who hopes to get married some day, he makes a number of solid points against the upcoming marriage – most notably, that comic book writers treat weddings as ‘endings’ – a view he himself shares, saying that “marriage shifts a character’s status quo in a way that is fundamentally reductive.”
While I personally disagree with that assessment, what I can’t deny is that comic book writers do not – and they’re the ones who will be in charge of charting the paths of Kyle and Jean-Paul after the wedding, not me. Love and marriage have a pretty horrible history in comic book land, all things considered.
Like just about everyone else alive, I (for no discernible reason) am absolutely convinced that I know better than the myriad writers and editors at DC Comics, that my take on the New 52 would have been flawlessly executed, that all the mistakes they made – and I don’t think it’s any great revelation that massive, avoidable mistakes were made in the course of this enormous, ambitious project – could have been turned around if only they would have trusted me.
Which is stupid, of course. The comic marketplace is a vastly different place than it was even ten years ago, and outside of seriously stepping out of comic shops and back into supermarkets (with the resulting drop in price and increase in age-restricted content that implies) they were never going to get their comics into many new hands… and I’m pretty sure that isn’t a feasible goal anyway. No, they did a lot right, including the very necessary move to increase digital publication.
But one possible mistake they made that I think would be very fixable is in how they handled some of the relaunches. Angry fans can and will claim that DC never gave their favorite canceled title a shot – though the relative dearth of this sort of outcry thus far suggests that DC picked the right titles to cancel quickly, and I’d bet the next cancellations will be met with similar silence – but, realistically, they were treated exactly the same as the rest of the New 52, given promotion, in-house ads, equal shelf space, etc…. DC treated Men of War and Batman roughly the same – and that, in my opinion, is the problem.
When Marvel’s Ultimate line first launched, I hated it with the passion that only a fanboy can muster to hate something they’ve never read. I eventually got around to sampling many of the titles, and what I read, I hated. That tarred my opinion of the entire line for a good long while. From the crass big-screen action of The Ultimates (which I never finished but plan to soon) to the cartoony retreads of Ultimate X-Men, it just seemed like a waste. Here we had a major publisher, probably the biggest monthly comics publisher in the world, and they were wasting their time and money doing gritty reboots of old stories rather than doing something interesting and innovative.
I similarly dismissed Ultimate Spider-Man, though, unlike the other core books of the Ultimate Universe, I’d never actually read a page of it. But I knew everything I needed to know – Spider-Man hasn’t grown and changed enough that I felt he really needed to have his entire mythos retold bit by excruciatingly slow, decompressed bit. But then, something happened. General interest for the Ultimates waned. Same thing with Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four and a variety of other titles. But Ultimate Spider-Man grew more and more respectable as the years passed until it became essentially the centerpiece of the Ultimate line and, this past year, made our list of the Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2011.
Last year was the year I caught up with Ultimate Spider-Man. This year is the year I write about it.
Peter David’s X-Factor, like a lot of ensemble superhero books (particularly books relating to the X-Men franchise), is half insane sci-fi action storytelling and half soap opera. But very, very few writers can blend those two tones as well as David, or with as much humor and heart. Like any good soap opera, David’s book is filled with sex, rejection, betrayal, brain-washing, sex, kidnapping and dopplegangers. Unlike many soap operas, though, David occasionally took the time to stop and catch his breath, lest we forget that these are characters rather than interchangeable plot-driving devices.
Look, for example, at “Re-X-Aminations”, the thirteenth issue of his X-Factor relaunch. After two solid arcs introducing us to many of the core conflicts that would drive the series, X-Factor #13 steps back a bit and asks us this: how has this affected the characters and their relationships to one another? The answer, gleaned from a series of interviews with superheroic shrink Doc Samson, is illuminating.
When I began compiling my list of the year’s best graphic novels, I found myself including dozens of books with little rhyme or reason. To help me narrow my list down a little bit, this is the rule I created: the first English-language collected edition or original graphic novel had to be released in 2011. And while this excluded some of my favorite books from the year (Waid’s Daredevil, Rozum’s Xombi, and Lemire’s Animal Man, to name three), it was a good guideline when I was constructing the list.
Obviously, we missed some things – sometimes great things. We don’t read every graphic novel that comes out (as much fun as that would be!). I even know for sure some major releases that I missed, like The Death Ray. So feel free to tell me just how wrong I am! What were your favorite releases this year? Because these were some of ours…
Sorry on the lack of full reviews, and lack of images even in this post. I just want to get in a few reviews here, but don’t have the energy with the holiday hustle to do a full review for each comic. So instead I’ll be doing short paragraph reviews for the following issue 4s: Batman, Birds of Prey, Green Lantern Corps, and Nightwing.
Fell a bit off with semester’s end in reading comics (I have a small stack from the last 3 weeks now I haven’t gotten to), and to be honest, I wasn’t planning on reviewing any of them until I got a little into this issue.
To me, the latest issue of Teen Titans feels like little actually happened to progress the story, but that it was mainly building up the characters in it. So instead of an issue 3 review, I figured I’d do a slight character study instead. Be warned, though I’ll try to avoid it this time, there could still be spoilers in here.
Wonder why you should care about the Penguin? Maybe you don’t really see him much of a threat, or perhaps even a joke. Well, Gregg Hurwitz will tell you precisely why you shouldn’t underestimate him, and this is a comic I suggest you pick up.