Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2005 2GBC Awards: Chris Edition: Best Limited Series

I buys me a lot of limited series. I appreciate them. I know that if halfway through issue 3 things go south I can either not buy the next two (because they're rarely in continuity), or if I'm feeling generous, pick the last two up knowing that the horror will soon be over and still scoring points with the completist in me.

So yeah, I dig the limited series. My criteria for this was that most (over half) of the issues had to come out this year, and the series had to be finished by the end of this year. Which leaves out some truly excellent stuff, like Iron Ghost, Green Lantern Corps: Recharge and Madrox, which I believe finished up in February or thereabouts.

What did I dig the most this year? Read on, True Believers!

Bronze: Batman: Jekyll and Hyde

Yeah, it's a Batman-Two Face story. Yeah, they switched artists halfway through and tried to convince us it was yet another way to reinforce the theme of duality in the series. Yes, it pisses all over Harvey Dent's origin as a psycho by attempting to work in child abuse and murder. So what? Paul Jenkins did a great job. I thought it was a perfectly classic Batman stuff, with evocative art, a plot that moved, good action, and Batman AND Commissioner Gordon getting to do some detecting. It's got brutal fight scenes, just enough Alfred, the requisite flashback to Bruce's parents' murder, and Two-Face with a dastardly scheme. I dug this very much. It doesn't attempt to be shocking, add to canon, or say something revolutionary, and there's a lot of sense in that when you're the umpteenth Batman
mini-series to be published this year. It's got good dialogue, creepy villainy, and foreboding art, and Batman. I'm not sure why this seemed to be roundly loathed.

Silver: Ultimate Iron Man

Despite what you may think of my Iron Man homer-ness, I was not looking forward to this. In the Ultimates, UIM had pretty much been established as a one-note take on the stereotypical "Tony Stark: millionaire, drinker, arrogant prick" archetype. Imagine my surprise when Orson Scott Card busted out with an origin story! Turns out Young Ultimate Tony Stark is pretty compelling in his own right. We get to see a lot of how his father influenced his life, what motivates Tony to do the things he does, and how and why the young genius gravitated towards making the Ultimate Iron Man armor. In other words, Card
didn't just throw "character" a bone with a few pages of dialogue and get right to the Iron-bashing. We get an introduction to Ultimate Jim Rhodes, Ultimate Obadiah Stane, and they're just as well-fleshed out as Tony is here, without, you know, being composed entirely of neural cells like he is. I would not have predicted that I would enjoy an Iron Man miniseries without any real Iron Man action as much as I did; and that in itself should say a lot.

Added bonus: since it's in the Ultimate universe, I don't really have to quibble with Tony's revamped origin, Sad Monkey Armor, or other differences from canon. And yes, I know that technically this is the first installment of a proposed 3 minis following UIM, but that decision came halfway through the series, and this one stands as good comics in its own right.

Gold: Villains United

The other three Infinite Crisis minis ended up being either dirty pool (OMAC Project), pure shite (Rann-Thanagar War), or undermined by a stupid premise, like the Spectre becoming a horny moron (you can take the Spirit of Vengeance out of Hal Jordan, but you can't take the Hal Jordan out of the Spirit of Vengeance). Villains United managed to avoid all three of those conditions.

Gail Simone actually made me look forward to reading about Catman, Deadshot, Ragdoll, Parademon, Cheshire, and Scandal, and I would have hit you in the face if you'd predicted that before this series. But this mix of mission-oriented action, quiet character moments, intriguing plot, and soap-opera goings on is the direct descendant of John Ostrander's Suicide Squad, and if that ain't high praise I don't know what is. Good fun all around, a wide cast of the lesser lights of DC's dark side, and colorful, smart writing.

Well played, Simone. Well played. Twists, turns, and just fun, fun superher---erm, supervillainy. There's nothing not to like about this series.

Honorable Mention: Seven Soldiers: Zatanna, Green Lantern: Rebirth


Blogger kelvingreen said...

Don't Like DC, Did Like VU. Also like GLC: Recharge. Dear god, Bendis and The Other have turned me into a DC reader! Perhaps Nextwave and Dead Girl can save me...

I'm still not happy about making Ultimate Tony "super" (is he technically a mutant now? And what does being made out of brain tissue mean for his tumour? Presumably, if he's all brain, then it doesn't matter...), because it's a complete inversion of the Iron Man concept, but if you're an Iron Fan, aand you like it, I suppose I shall let it go.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

No, I'm not particularly happy about Tony's new origin and "power" either, but since it's Ultimate I can store it away the part of my brain that says "It doesn't matter anyway".

And yeah, I am really looking forward to Nextwave.

11:41 AM  

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