Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 in review!

Happy New Year X-Maniacs!!! This is THE official X-Man's Comic Blog Year End Reviews! *holds for applause* That's another year in the books, which means the little blog that could is STILL going strong! This is the beginning of year four here at the old blog, and I have to say, I'm shocked this blog is still kicking around... Who'd have thunk it?! Although THIS blog is going strong, I think we should hold a moment of silence for the poor, dearly departed Uncanny Comic Book Scans... Yes, UCBS didn't make it through the year... It hung around, valiantly clinging to life, but in the end, I had to pull it off life support and put it out of its misery. UCBS, we miss you... BUT, come 2011 I DO plan on starting up another picture-oriented blog... This one will have a very specific theme, and should flourish... Or at least it will if I actually bother to post to it on a regular basis!

Okay, with that little bit of stupidity out of the way, we can get into the bulk of this post. This has been a really good comic book collecting year for me. First of all, I found a comic book shop that was a mere 15 minutes from my house. That meant that instead of ordering all of my new comics from on-line stores and then having to wait an agonizing week or so before I received my new comics, I can now just strut on down to the CB store and pick up my new books every Wednesday! No more waiting means I can get my reviews up much quicker, and that has helped make this blog a bit more relevant, which is a very good thing.

This year also saw the followers of this blog more than double, from 16 last year at this time, to an impressive 39! So thanks to those of you who have taken the time to read my incoherent thoughts, whether you chose to comment or not. Trust me, I appreciate it more then you could ever imagine. Okay, I think I hit on everything that I meant to hit on... Yep, that's it. That means it's time to get into the main event, the year end awards! Before going forward, a word of warning... These are the picks of ONE single(slightly demented)individual. That means that there are going to be MANY of you who disagree with my choices. And that's cool. The world would be a boring place if we all agreed on everything. All I ask is that if you disagree with something, post me a comment that's at least semi-intelligent... Don't be that person who goes, “I didn't agree with your pick for Favorite Writer. YOU SUCK!”. Needless to say, I'll just ignore that and figure it's the ramblings of an immature 7 year old. If you do disagree with one of my picks, feel free to comment and leave me some productive feedback. You know, why you disagree, who/what you'd have picked, etc. Intelligent dialogue makes for fun conversations, and that's what this blog is, and has always been about. Intelligent dialogue and fun conversations between comic book fans. Oh, and if you happen to agree with my picks, feel free to heap praise on me... I won't stop you. One more thing, only comics that were released in 2010 qualify for any awards I give out. Sure that sounds like common sense, but I just wanted that out there. With all of that out of the way, let's get to it!!!

Favorite Writer: Daniel Way. Yep, why not start off with a controversial pick right off the bat! Daniel Way has been amazingly consistent from January all the way through December. From Wolverine Origins to Deadpool, from Dark Wolverine to Daken: Dark Wolverine, if you saw the name, “Daniel Way” on the cover of a comic, you could be sure it would be at the very least a good read, and at best an amazing read. There were a few other writers who I gave some serious consideration to in this category including Ed Brubaker, Peter David and Tony Bedard, but they just didn't pump out the types of quality stories that Way has. Brubaker's Captain America is STILL one of the very best comic titles out there today, but I just haven't gotten into Secret Avengers as I hoped I would. I only read one Peter David written title regularly(X-Factor), and although I love that title, it wasn't enough for me to give David the nod. Tony Bedard was ALMOST my choice with his spectacular run on REBELS, and a pretty good Green Lantern Corps run, but in the end, Way provided me with more perfect scores, which was what ultimately decided this category. But I have to say, this was the closest Favorite Writer win ever... But say, what ever happened to the guy who won last year's Favorite Writer Award???

Least Favorite Writer: Geoff Johns. If the last category was controversial, I can't IMAGINE what people will be thinking about THIS one! I'm sure there are DC fanboys who are literally screaming, “Blasphemy!!!” at their computer screens, but hear me out before you condemn... Geoff Johns WAS my favorite writer last year. Hands down. He was doing some amazing things. And then he let his inner fanboy take control, and it all went to hell... Blackest Night has to be summed up as a major disappointment, because what did it really accomplish? It brought back the Martian Manhunter, Aquaman and the rest of DC's C-list all-stars? It further devolved the DCU into how it looked back in the 1960's. It built up three major menaces(Scar, Black Hand and Nekron)and took them apart in rapid succession... I mean Scar's defeat in Blackest Night is really just confounding. Plus the defeat of Nekron, which returned some(but not ALL)of the dead DC heroes simply made no sense at all. Why do we get Aquaman, but not Damage? Why Hawkman, but not Ted Kord? Who knows... And then came Brightest Day... I've gone on SEVERAL extended rants about Brightest Day, so I'll spare you all another one(for now...). Bottom line? Brightest Day is taking a bunch of characters with VERY limited appeal and putting them in shoddy at best stories... Hawkworld? The battle of the Green Martians? No thank you. On top of that, I'm still baffled by why Johns felt the need to return Barry(dead since 1985)Allen back to life and relegate Wally West to a life of obscurity. Plus Green Lantern has been going down in quality as well. Unless you're a fan of that annoying Larfleeze. If you are, then you're probably LOVING Green Lantern. No, it's for all of those reasons and more(plus the fact that Brian Michael Bendis has actually been putting pretty good comics out lately)Johns “wins” this award...

Well, I'm sure I've just lost a bunch of readers, but as they say, the show MUST go on!

Favorite Ongoing Series: Dark Wolverine/Daken: Dark Wolverine. This was really a four horse race between Dark Wolverine(which morphed into Daken: Dark Wolverine by the end of the year), REBELS, Deadpool and Batgirl. To be honest with you, any one of those books could have easily picked up the best ongoing series award. To be COMPLETELY honest with you, I had NO idea which series to choose! I love reading all four! In the end, I went back and checked out my reviews for each series and saw that I gave the Dark Wolverine/Daken: Dark Wolverine series 4 perfect scores, REBELS received 3 perfect scores, while Batgirl and Deadpool came away with 2 apiece. Those are actually the ONLY four ongoing series I've given multiple perfect scores to, which shows just how highly I think of them. So in the end, it was that ONE extra perfect score that gave Dark Wolverine/Daken: Dark Wolverine the nod over REBELS. So what exactly is so good about the Dark Wolverine series? Um, how about everything? Daken is one of the most complex characters I've EVER read about in a comic book, which has turned me into QUITE the fan of Wolverine's son. It would have been SO easy for Daken's creator Daniel Way(there's that name again!)to have simply created Daken totally in Wolverine's image, a rampaging, brutish character with claws. Instead he created a sneaky, manipulative, ingenious character... Yes, with claws. Basically everything Wolverine wasn't, Daken was, which just adds to the appeal of the character. Daken: Dark Wolverine is definitely a series all serious comic fans(and especially all serious Marvel Comics fans)should give a shot.

Least Favorite Ongoing Series: The Flash. This is a series that I detest SO much that I haven't been able to bring myself to read the past three issues. The Flash is a snapshot of EVERYTHING I find wrong in DC Comics today. It stars a character who has NO business being in the modern day DCU, and is basically a writer's love letter to said character. There's NO way anybody can convince me that Barry Allen is a better/more interesting/more complete character than Wally West(the prior Flash). Anything Barry can do, Wally can do, quite frankly, better. Barry has a wife, right? Wally has a wife AND kids. Barry has a job, right? Wally has had SEVERAL jobs. Barry has various connections to several DC heroes, right? Wally has just as many strong relationships with heroes(and villains)throughout the DCU. I can confidently say that if Geoff Johns wasn't writing for DC, Barry Allen would still be dead, and he'd still be one of the most beloved DC characters due to his monumental sacrifice during Crisis on Infinite Earths. As it is now, he's simply a character one creator wanted back, history be damned.

Favorite Crossover Event of the Year: Bruce Wayne: The Road Home. I'm going to go a bit outside the box here and go with the unexpected choice. I hated the Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series with a passion... To be honest with you, it had a GREAT chance to be my least favorite mini-series of the year. But after Bruce reemerged from the timestream, DC released 8 one-shots that were interconnected and featured Bruce testing/playing mind games with the various different members of the Bat-family. That alone would have been great, but there was also the added bonus of a back story which ultimately became the lead story featuring Ra's Al Ghul wanting to kill Vicki Vale, since that's what he thought Bruce would have wanted. The interactions between the returned Bruce and the various members of his extended family were really excellent. So while The Road Home wasn't exactly a “Crossover Event” in the conventional sense, it WAS a crossover, meaning I CAN give it my Favorite x-over Award.

Least Favorite Crossover Event of the Year: Brightest Day... Never had something with so much potential fallen so flat. As of now, 16 issues of Brightest Day have come out, and if I was pressed into giving a highlight, I wouldn't be able to come up with one... Most of the stories are simply terrible(Hawkworld?!)and the main story(Deadman and the White Lantern), or at least what I guess is the main story, has been ignored for issues on end. I could care less about most of the characters... Wait no, scratch that, I could care less about THESE versions of the characters here. As usual, Geoff Johns has allowed his obsessive love of DC's Silver Age to taint his work, giving us an Aquaman completely devoid of most of the character development he underwent in the 90's, Hawkgirl reverting back to a personality-less sidekick for Hawkman, and the Martian Manhunter going back to Mars where he can stand around bemoaning the fact that Mars is dead... Again. Instead of concentrating on building new characters up, Brightest Day is simply giving us the same old nonsense. Barry Allen, Carter Hall, Hal Jordan, these are the characters DC has brought to the forefront with this crossover. Characters who were stale 20 years ago! Brightest Day is the embodiment of everything wrong with DC today, easily making it my least favorite crossover of 2010.

Favorite Mini-Series of the Year: Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade. Yes, there have only been 3 issues of this mini-series released this year, with the majority coming out in 2011... But you know what? Those three comics have been among my favorite comics be it an ongoing series or a mini-series all year. This mini is THAT good. As a matter of fact, the lowest score I've given out for this mini-series was a 9 1/2, with two issues garnering perfect scores! To be honest, there was really no other minis that even came close to matching the unmitigated awesome that is the Children's Crusade.

Least Favorite Mini-Series of the Year: Blackest Night: Wonder Woman. I was tempted to give this award to Batman: Orphans, which was both terrible and horribly disappointing, or Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, which was just horrible, but nothing was as bad as Blackest Night: Wonder Woman... That mini-series had what should have been the perfect, sure-fire good story, with Wonder Woman having to deal with the man she killed not all that long ago, Maxwell Lord. I mean how easy is that?! WW battles with Max, Max tries to destroy her life, rinse and repeat a few times and you have a serviceable to great mini-series. Instead we got ONE issue of WW dealing with Max, and then... WW becoming a Black Lantern, and THEN WW becoming a Star Sapphire... It was really all over the place. Sometimes simpler is better, and a simple story between WW and Maxwell Lord was just what this mini-series needed. Not Black Lantern Wonder Woman, not Star Sapphire Wonder Women, just Wonder Woman facing off against one of her most hated foes. Simple.

Hero of the Year: Steve Rogers. For me, 2010 will always be known as the year Marvel began to get their act together(as well as the year DC fell apart...). Finally, Marvel stopped the Dark Reign storyline, and brought back the REAL Avengers. Not Luke Cage and his renegade Avengers, not Norman Osborn and his fake Avengers, but the real Avengers. And which character was responsible for bringing back the real Avengers? Which character led the charge to take down Osborn and right the Marvel Universe? None other then the former Captain America, Steve Rogers. Steve was tasked with taking over the SHIELD/HAMMER peace-keeping force, as well as leading the Secret Avengers(basically a black ops version of the super-hero team). Steve went from being lost in time due to the Red Skull last year, to being the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe... The way it should be.

Villain of the Year: Deathstroke the Terminator. Deathstroke has always drifted between full-fledged villain to tweener. After flirting with tweener/vigilante status last year in that Faces of Evil: Deathstroke one-shot, it seems that DC decided to have Deathstroke go back to his full-on, all out evil roots. And how better to hammer that point home then by having Deathstroke lead a team of misfits to kill a DC hero in the Atom(Ryan Choi)? Granted, the writing was already on the wall for poor Choi with DC's recent shift back to the Silver Age, but for him to actually get killed and not just shuffled off to limbo like most of DC's Modern Age heroes, shows that Deathstroke the villain was back in full force. After leading his evil Titans in the death of Choi, he then began manipulating all of the Titans, promising them assistance in whatever personal problems they had to keep them under his heel, as well as acting as a creepy voyeur.
See, creepy voyeur. So for all that and more, I tip my hat to you, Slade Wilson, the most evil(and creepy)man in comic books.

Best Single Issue of the Year: Avengers: The Children's Crusade #2. So I gave out 23 perfect scores over the course of 2010. I reviewed about 450 comics for the blog(as well as reading countless other comics throughout the year)so as you can see, I don't just throw perfect scores around with reckless abandon. Before making up my mind as to what single issue I enjoyed the most, I went back and reread my reviews for those 22 perfect comics. After that, the decision was easy. NOTHING I've read all year, be it a new comic or a back issue, came close to touching Avengers: The Children's Crusade #2. It truly was the perfect comic book. I could go on a several paragraph long spiel praising it, but instead I'll just post a link to my original review(here)and leave it at that.

Worst Cancellation News of the Year: Young Allies/Hawkeye and Mockingbird. My biggest complaint when it comes to Marvel is the fact that they tend to be rather cancel-happy at times... They'll start a new series, and if it doesn't immediately sell well, boom, canceled. Young Allies, a series with some interesting characters and decent potential was scratched after only 6 issues, and Hawkeye and Mockingbird, a series with two awesome main characters, as well as several intriguing supporting cast members was also canned after a measly 6 issues... Nowadays, with an eye towards releasing trade paperbacks, most storylines go 6 issues. In other words, Hawkeye and Mockingbird, as well as Young Allies, were canceled after only ONE storyline! How do you expect to build a series with ONE storyline?! That's something I'll never understand when it comes to Marvel. Maybe after a second storyline, one of these two series could have become a major hit. But alas, I guess we'll never know...

What the Hell?!? Moment of the Year: Roy Harper and the dead cat... You know, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me show you what I'm talking about...
Yes, that is Roy Harper, one of the more complete DC heroes, a character unlike any other, one who beat a drug habit, became a single father, and went from the Teen Titans, to the Titans, to the Justice League of America, sitting strung out in an alley, holding a dead cat... What more can I possibly add? Yet another example of DC destroying a character in order to take them back to their Silver Age roots.

Best Moment of the Year: The Reemergence of the Marvel Universe. I kind of hit on this during the Hero of the Year category, but to me, 2010 will be the year that my allegiances swung away from DC and back to Marvel. While DC was busy allowing Geoff Johns carte blanche to run roughshod over the DCU, erasing history as he saw fit to continue devolving the DCU, Marvel began to emerge from the abyss of Dark Reign and Siege. No longer were the heroes outlaws in the Marvel Universe, they were once again considered heroes. The horrid(and idiotic)Superhero Registration Act was repealed, and the real Avengers(Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, etc)were reassembled for the first time in years. Even the X-books were slowly beginning to pull themselves back together after the mess that was Decimation, with the first new mutants in years emerging. Finally, after 5 years of misery(from the end of the House of M mini-series), Marvel is setting things straight, telling good stories and doing nearly everything right, unlike their Distinguished Competition. Hopefully next year I'll be talking about the reemergence of the DCU, and a new Golden Age of comic books, but until that happens, at least I know I can count on Marvel Comics.

And that's all folks. After giving this post a reread, it sure seems like a very anti-DC piece of work. But hey, it's not my fault DC is destroying a large portion of their universe to one man's ego. There's still PLENTY of good things coming out of DC, mainly the main Bat-books(who are doing fresh, new things), REBELS, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, many mini-series, including Red Hood: The Lost Days, the War of the Supermen, Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton, and several more that aren't coming to mind right now. So there, there is still A LOT of good coming from DC Comics. However, Marvel has been on its game from the beginning of the year until the end. And trust me, nobody is more surprised by that fact then me! I had pretty much written Marvel off from 2006-2009, as Marvel pumped out stupid idea after stupid idea(No More Mutants?! World War Hulk? Secret Invasion?!?!?). But this year they proved that it could all be righted in a single year. In one fell swoop, Marvel fixed pretty much everything that I had been griping about. Can/will DC do the same thing in 2011? Sadly I doubt it. The Johns-effect is too far gone by this point, and the reversion to the 1960's is pretty much complete. To this day I'm not sure why DC is courting 50 year olds to read their comics, but hey, hopefully it'll work out for them. As for me, I've already begun dropping DC comics(with the Flash being the first casualty), and plan on picking up way less DC comic books in 2011. Hopefully all off those 50 year olds will make up the money I won't be putting in DC's coffers anymore, but somehow I doubt it... If you made it through this MASSIVE post, give yourself a pat on the back, you've earned it! Thanks for reading, X out.


  1. You rule X! Since you read a ton of comics, I know you've had a lot of exposure to different stories from the big two.

    You know you have my support when it comes to the worst book of the year. Although I really don't care who wears the mantle of the Flash (they could even make Wally's daughter wear the costume and I would still buy the dang thing...maybe), I still think this book is a huge letdown.

    And you make a strong argument against Barry's return, which I think DC and Johns tried to combat by tying the character so strongly to the speed force. But even with that idea, I think the speed force works better as a mystical power source that's left unexplained. Sorry to rant, but it's now my goal to combat the idea that all comic fans support this new Flash series. I've seen the book on a number of "best of" lists and I seriously feel like I'm crazy. Are we reading the same books as everyone else?

    And Brightest Day? I believe comicbookresources put it in their top 20 of the year. For a lot of older readers it's probably just a thrill to see their favorites get some face time in the pages of a monthly title again. I think the reason DC is "turning back the clock" on these characters is so they can focus on one version that can transcend different mediums of entertainment. For example, they want the world at large to identify Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, so he's the version appearing in the comic,movies, and cartoon.

    I'm with you when it comes to Marvel's cancellation policy. While DC launches sure-fire failures such as Magog, Vigilante, Azrael, and simon Dark, they at least let the stories linger a bit before giving them the axe. One of the biggest examples of Marvel's cancel happy ways was Thor: The Mighty Avenger, which only went 8 issues. But hey, maybe they're just doing what's best for their business. It's like if I had a blog and I kept posting even though no one read it. I would definitely stop posting....oh wait...moving on....

    I'm glad you addressed the things from DC you liked, because this was looking a little bad for them. I think the biggest story from 2010was DC's plan to cut down on pages and keep the $2.99 price for all books. Marvel gets props for focusing on the "heroic age" and reinstating a lot of the classic elements they had strayed too far from, a move which brought a lot of disgruntled readers back.

    Well I think I've said too much, but I really want to talk comics tonight. I hope you had a good new years, and here's to 2011 offering you the chance to give more perfect scores than even JT could award!

  2. Happy New Year X, and thanks for the excellent read!! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on all things comic-related over the last year, and I think you've done a great job of summarizing how a lot of people are feeling about the industry (especially DC) right now. It seems to me that there's a disturbing lack of new ideas in superhero comics right now (as evidenced by DC's preoccupation with a "return" to the Silver Age), and hopefully 2011 will bring about a bit more originality.

    I'm glad you mentioned the various Wolverine books again, because you've reminded me that I still need to give those a shot. I really haven't read much with Daken in it, since I initially just assumed that he would be a one-dimensional character -- basically, an angry kid version of Wolverine. Your descriptions of him over the last few months have made me reconsider that position though, and I think it's about time that I give the character a serious chance.

    Like Kello said, I find it fascinating that even while you've been hating on Brightest Day, people like CBR have been raving about it. Same goes for Flash. I have the feeling that a day will come when they all realize how bad those books are...and when they do, they'll probably try to convince everyone that they "knew" how bad they were all along!

  3. Thanks for the nice, long comments! I do love talking comics(obviously!), so much appreciated. And Happy New Year of course.

    Kello, I'll go to my grave thinking the return of Saint Barry was a bad idea. And I'm glad you brought up the Speed Force, because that's another example of Johns rewriting history simply to make Saint Barry SEEM more important. The Speed Force was fine the way it was. Guys like Mark Waid had done great things with Flash and the Speed Force. Now its all been torn down, and that's just sad.

    Brightest Day? There's nothing more I can say about that mess. That's like I said, if DC thinks courting 50 year olds and alienating 20 year olds is the way to go, more power to them. I'd think going after the younger demographic is the way to go, but hey, what do I know?

    I think the idea that DC wants to try to have their fans identify a name with a character(Green Lantern=Hal Jordan)has A LOT of merit. That's probably the very reason they're returning to the Silver Age, because they figure people would recognize Hal over Kyle, or Saint Barry over Wally. But let's face it, if Saint Barry or Hal were as big as guys like Johns thinks, they never would have been replaced to begin with. If you would have asked casual comic book fans who the Flash was in 2005, I'd bet most of them would say Wally. Barry is in the forefront now, so most people would recognize HIM as the Flash. If Bart took over 5 years from now, HE'D be the one most people identify as the Flash. For a b-list hero like the Flash or Green Lantern, the secret identity of the character doesn't matter nearly as much as DC seems to think. That's why they could replace the Silver Age versions for extended periods of time(like 20+ years!!!). You can't replace an a-list hero for long(Supes, Bats)because even casual fans KNOW Clark Kent IS Superman, but a b-lister or lower? It's been proven, you can.

    I sure hope 2011 brings some originality back to DC, Marc... But I already doubt it. Their big idea for the year is Flashpoint(I think?)and I'm SURE that's just going to be another vehicle to push Saint Barry. I just don't get why DC feels the 90's were THAT bad... I mean if they were Marvel, I could TOTALLY understand trying to forget the 90's ever happened, but DC had some really good stories/characters back then. It's puzzling that DC wants to erase that decade from existence.

    One of my goals in life is to convert as many people as I can into Daken fans. I think that's one of the real misconceptions about Daken, that he's an angry kid version of Wolverine. Yeah, there is some anger towards Wolvie there, but Daken is more manipulative than he is a berserker. Right now his series is revolving around him faking his death in order to build a criminal empire from the shadows, definitely not the way Wolverine would try to take over the world!

    One day everybody will realize I was right about Brightest Day... The hardcore DC fanboys probably won't, but just plain old, hardcore comic book fans? They'll come to their senses. It's inevitable. I mean Hawkworld!!!!! :P

  4. I would leave a long comment as well but I agree with pretty much everything, especially Brightest Day and Flash. I almost gave Dan Way my writer of the year as well which shows how damn good he is, so kudos to him and you for giving him the win. This was a great read X, Wish I had more to say about it, haha.

  5. Don't worry, JT. If you have nothing to say, that would mean that I've done everything perfectly, which is no real surprise. :P

  6. Before I start "Least Favorite Writer: Geoff Johns. " that made me think of every Geoff John's fan just loading up their email service to write you a "lovely" e-mail, lol.

    Also I agree with Kello you do rule!! And your 2010 review was excellent. For the most part I would have to agree with the winners of your categories, well the comics I read.

    And of my year of reading comics, this "What the Hell?!? Moment of the Year: Roy Harper and the dead cat" had to be the MOST disturbing picture and definitely deserves the "What the hell?!?" moment of the year. Lol. Roy is just..well...he just got screwed this year. Lol.

    This was a great review, like I told JT, can't wait til next year's review.

  7. Yep, I can see all of the enraged DC fanboys(and girls)shouting obscenities at their computers after that pick, but hey, I just haven't enjoyed his work at all this year. Not since Bendis in '05 has a writer fallen apart as quickly as Johns did this year.

    God yes... Roy wasn't just screwed THIS year, he as screwed LAST year as well, thus proving my point that DC is doing everything in their power to make me hate them.

    Thanks for the kind words, Lisha, I'm already thinking forward to next year as well!

  8. Wow, since 2005? Lol, geez that is just terrible. Considering he's been writing quite a few things I know you've read. Shame on Geoff Johns.

    Lol. I'm sorry DC is making you hate Roy. I can't say I hate or like him, he's an interesting character but I feel he's not getting the attention he needs.

    And you're so welcome X. I'm always excited to see what you're gonna blog about.

  9. Nah, I could never hate Roy, Lisha. It's DC I'm hating on! Roy is SO much better then the crap he's been getting stuck with lately.

    Well you know what I don't want to blog about, Penguin and talking monkeys! :D