Monday, January 14, 2008

2007 Year In Review: Marvel Edition

Right, so, Marvel? Weird, weird company.

2007 began badly. First we had the shit-tastic ending to Civil War which went out with a whimper, not a bang. (Cap finally deciding to give up? Really?) This was immediately followed by a flood of new books, Initiative and Avenger-related, the vast majority of which I ignored.

Then, we got the final issue of Nextwave, and seeing that title end made me so very, very sad. It was a postmodern four-color love letter to the crazy, stupid, irrational joy of superheroes

(Side Note: Nextwave was also notable because Warren Ellis seemed like he finally learned that it was OK to mock superhero comics and have fun at the same time, instead of trashing them in a bitter, vengeful kind of way.)

Following that, Cap died. This, as you might have heard, was regarded as something of a big deal, and rightfully so. While I can't deny that it was well-written and set off an interesting chain of events, I feel like Bucky, Falcon, and co. have been treading water ever since, and I'm running out of "faith in Brubaker" cards to play. We'll see how CapBucky works out this year.

Things started turning around with the smashy yumminess of World War Hulk, a beautifully drawn slugfest that stood up just fine without reading any of the tie-in/spinoff/whatevers.

Annihilation:Conquest also began, and while it's too soon to tell whether it's going to pay off or not, it's been okay thus far despite lackluster miniseries prologues.

(Side Note: The ending to What If Annihilation Had Reached Earth? Was. Awesome. And a much better way to end Civil War... and Annihilation, for that matter. Been said before, but it bears repeating.)

More importantly (to me), Iron Man started his long road to creative rehabilitation. Between the outstanding Iron Man: Hypervelocity miniseries from Adam Warren, the joyous Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin miniseries from Joe Casey and 2GBC fave Eric Canete, Christos Gage's Iron Man Annual, and the wow-there's-actually-a-Brubakeresque-long-range-plan-here surprising goodness of the Knaufs' work on the regular Iron Man series, Tony Stark is becoming somebody you'd actually want to read about again. Who'da thunkit?

(Side Note: Of course, after having been characterized as "fascist assclown" for the majority of 2006, anything was bound to have been better.)

And hey, howzabout the return of Thor this year? Strazcynski's been much better than I expected despite one or two bad storytelling choices (Thor v. Darfur, anyone? No? Good.) , and added three or four legitimately interesting twists on bringing back Asgard and Company. Can't say I have much love for Coipel's art, but I certainly can't say it's bad, and that's good.

As for other Marvel books --- well, Moon Knight kind of died on the vine erupted in flaming vomit.

And then there's Spidey. I don't regularly read Spider-Man, and an editorially-mandated deus ex Mephisto divorce story sure as shit wasn't going to make me start. Since I didn't actually read it, I can't comment on the quality of the storytelling (though it certainly smells pungent from where I'm sitting), but I will say this: I don't know anyone that was reading Spider-Man for the marital drama. I don't know anyone that will read Spider-Man for the insight into the singles scene.

I guess what I'm trying to say is there's bad, and then there's unnecessarily bad. "Fixing" something that wasn't "broken" in the first place except in the mind of a relentlessly-poor-judge-of-story Editor-in-Chief is forgivable if it's done as an honest piece of work; doing it because you shot your wad for cheap press and shock value in Civil War #2 and have to backtrack is insulting.

X-Factor has been hijacked with the God-damned Messiah Complex crossover for... well, I think it's been 4 months, but it seems like forever. Please, I beg you, stop the madness.

Oh, and the confusingly-titled Marvel DCU launched this year; anyone out there using the digital model now instead of the paper kind? Let us know how that's working out for you.

(Side Note: when I first saw Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited abbreviated as "Marvel DCU", I immediately went into 3rd degree respiratory failure as every shitty Amalgam comic came rushing back into my brain. And yes, I read far too many of those.)

So yeah; lots of ups and downs for Marvel this year. Like I said, weird company. I guess my hopes for 2008 on the Marvel side boil down to 2 things:

1) Stay true to your characters. Someone wants a fresh take or re-imagining? Fine. Slap an Ultimate label on it. Don't mess with the 616 unless a good great story demands it.

2) Let's get the band back together. At this point, the only Big Event series I want to see is Captain America + Every Marvel Hero Ever banding together to fight off the super-army of Dr. Doom + Every Marvel Villain Ever. Give me 5 issues of that, good vs. evil, good guys v. bad guys, throwing down in a super-sized bar fight, and I will be one happy reader. Christ, at this point, I'll take Secret Wars III.

Is that asking too much?

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Seangreyson said...

The Marvel Digital Comics system is to put it simply, awesome! Now admittedly my job involves large amounts of sitting in front of a computer screen trying to find something to distract me but even so...
The huge number of comics, and not just the classic titles but also a ton of mini-series that I would never have bought orignally is great.
In addition the people in charge are relatively responsive to requests for additional comics to be added (so if you reach the end of a series run on the system you can ask them to put up more of it).
The price is a bit higher than I might have wanted it, but since its less then I spend on comics in a month for a year's membership, I can't really complain about it.

About the only negative for me is that having been introduced to several series and characters that I hadn't read before I needed to add their books to my monthly haul.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Teebore said...

I want Secret Wars III exactly as you described it.

It's amazing how much one misses a good old fashioned good guys vs. bad guys mega throwdwon event. Heck, when was the last we saw one of those?

11:09 AM  
Anonymous WM said...

Yeah, it looks like this Skrull War is going to make the MU even more divided. I can't believe that we're at a stage where straight out Good v. Bad will seem radically refreshing.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I immediately went into 3rd degree respiratory failure as every shitty Amalgam comic came rushing back into my brain. And yes, I read far too many of those

Oh Amalgam you lured us all into your insanity; Bruce Wayne: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D and Iron Lantern...LOL

7:12 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

seangreyson: wow, that's a positively glowing review. I think I'll definitely check it out this summer now.

teebore + wm: yeah, it's kinda sad when good guys v. bad guys is considered "radical" and "bold". Such is how far the Reign O' Quesada has taken us.

Nick: Ah, but don't forget Dark Claw and Speed Demon! (Also: Iron Lantern was the title that made me buy more Amalgam, since it happened to be two of my favorites and written by none other than Kurt Busiek!)

11:41 PM  
Anonymous SanctumSanctorumComix said...

Bah!

Lobo the Duck & Bat-Thing were true EPICS!

;-)

Actually, I WAS quite impressed with the entire "Doctor Strangefate" offering.

The entire creative team produced a book that I would have loved to have seen become a continuing series.

Maybe it was just me.

~P~
P-TOR

10:20 AM  
Blogger James Meeley said...

At this point, the only Big Event series I want to see is Captain America + Every Marvel Hero Ever banding together to fight off the super-army of Dr. Doom + Every Marvel Villain Ever. Give me 5 issues of that, good vs. evil, good guys v. bad guys, throwing down in a super-sized bar fight, and I will be one happy reader.

Then, I'd suggest checking out the Marvel mini-series' Last Hero Standing and Last Planet Standing. While they don't fit EXACTLY what you stated above, they come pretty dang close.

That's also why I keep suggesting to folks, who complain about the state of Spider-Man right now, to follow up on the suggestion Joey Da Q made, in defense of the new "Spider-Quo": If you want a married Spider-Man and action filled stories, then why aren't you buying Spider-Girl? And I agree. If we want to send Marvel a message of how we want Spider-Man (and pretty much all our Marvel superheroes) to be like, then we should support the series that actually do that and to fuck with the rest of them. You want Spider-Man to be married and have great action-filled adventures, make Spider-Girl sell more than ASM and you'll get it.

I've been reading Spider-Girl since almost the beginning. I'm doing my part. Time for the rest of you to get with the program.

4:48 PM  
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