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
Iron Man: Believe is a breezy, confident relaunch for the Armored Avenger, and while it lacks the depth of some of Kieron Gillen’s best work, its casual inventiveness should charm and thrill a lot of readers.
In a lot of ways, Iron Man was kind of a B-lister even 10 years ago. Sure, he was on the Avengers regularly, but at that point, basically everyone was on the Avengers. Until the mid-2000s, the only major storyline he really had outside of the Avengers franchise was Demon in a Bottle, a melodramatic but largely excellent story that defined the character for years to come. The dual success of his movie – particularly Robert Downey Jr.’s incredibly charismatic performance as Tony – and Civil War, a story that put him at odds with Captain America and gave him a lot of intensely emotional material, has made him one of Marvel’s most marketable heroes.
His status as an A-list hero is fitting given the vast changes to the role technology places in our everyday lives, and Matt Fraction’s largely excellent run from 2008-2012 helped cement his status as a modern pop icon. British writer Kieron Gillen, fresh off of reinventing Loki and pushing the X-Men into war with the Avengers, was an interesting choice to relaunch the character for the Marvel Now initiative, and Iron Man: Believe is the first volume of Tony’s relaunched adventures. So, how does Gillen fare?
Written by Gillen and penciled by Greg Land, Iron Man: Believe is probably one of the least dramatic re-launches of the Marvel Now initiative – but just because Tony is still fundamentally the same man dealing with essentially the same conflicts, don’t mistake this for business as usual. Kieron Gillen’s Iron Man is an unusually thoughtful adventure, and it continues the hero’s run of strong, character-focused stories that push Tony forward without trying to break the formula of who he is and why he works.
This week in comics, Marvel breaks ground in Astonishing X-Men #50, Justice League Dark gets a new writer and a new sense of purpose, and DC continues to beat up on owls, like, everywhere.
I’ll admit, part of the reason you haven’t seen too many reviews of The Punisher popping up lately is, I lost interest. Though the book opened strong, a detour featuring the Vulture was too campy to keep up the tone of the book, and a tightening financial situation made me decide to drop it. But I like Rucka and Lark too much to stay away for long, and with sales on the title dropping like a rock and a bit of Christmas cash in my pocket, I decided to dive back in and see where things stood while I still could.
I mentioned briefly last month that The Punisher #1 read more like a horror comic than a conventional action book, but I never said why. Though The Punisher #2 is a much more conventional issue than the formally daring opener, that idea holds: not only is The Punisher seemingly being written as a horror comic, but as a horror comic in which the monster is the good guy, and everyone else is even worse.
I think that what Bendis and Brubaker did with Daredevil was nothing short of brilliant. Like Frank Miller once did, they revitalized and repopularized a character badly in need of both, making him relevant to a new era. But the question remained: where do you go from there? When he had lost so much, when he had lost everything that made him a hero… where does Matt Murdock go next? How can you ever go darker? Mark Waid and his sizable art team have an answer with Daredevil #1, and it’s a surprising – and extremely well-handled – one.
When Marvel released Sigil a few months back, it came as something of a surprise to me. I hadn’t been aware that Marvel would be doing anything with the CrossGen properties they’d inherited from Disney, but I was legitimately excited when I found out they were. CrossGen may have been a bad company, but they put out a lot of very good books, particularly in genres traditionally underrepresented in comics. One of the strongest examples of that was Ruse, a rock-solid example in Victorian-era detective fiction, Sherlock Holmes with a twist. And while Sigil‘s opening issue underwhelmed me, Ruse reminded me why I missed CrossGen so much.
I read 24 comics in May, and these were the best.
I read 21 comics in April, and these were the best.
I read 21 comics in March, and these were the best.
I read 20 comics in February, and these were the best.
I read 12 comics in January, and these were the best.
It’s impossible to ignore the fact that monthly comics are failing fast. There are a hundred different reasons for that, but one of the most obvious is also one of the most simple – and one of the hardest to fight.
Comics are no longer impulse buys – at 3-4$, they’re expensive as hell, and what’s more, a single issue isn’t a full story, or half a story, or even reallyt a single chapter of a story. Most are exposition-filled action scenes, it often seems. You have to go to a special store, often driving 20+ miles, to spend an obscene amount of money on a fraction of a store.
High printing costs and shipping costs and travel times can all be removed by making comics a force on e-readers and the iPad. Comics can become affordable for kids again. Women, frequently reporting a hostile vibe at some comics shops, can pick up comics regularly (I suspect DC’s underrated MINX line, for example, would have fared significantly better digitally).
With that in mind and a shiny new iPad in hand – thank you, Chrimbus! – I thought I’d explore the company-specific iPad apps that are must-haves for any comics fans. So, here you have your (very brief) reviews of the following apps: Marvel, DC, Boom!, Image and IDW.
I’m actually getting this thing out on time? It’s a Kwanzaa miracle! This is my list for the top ten stories of 2010! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.
1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).
2. These are stories that ended in 2010. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2010, they’re eligible.
3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Ennis books, etc. So, a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. I tried to spread the love evenly. You will see Marvel, DC, and even Indies on this list.
Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great top ten? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let’s begin the fun!
I read 19 comics in December, and these were the best.
I read 20 comics in November, and these were the best.
I read 26 comics in October, and these were the best.
I read 28 comics in September, and these were the best.