Geek Speak 1/1/08

Cover of Iron Fist #1

So, hello all. My name is Matt and this semi-weekly blog is going to focus on the comic book universe. I’m not going to bore you with a list of my credentials, you can read my worthologist bio for that exciting info, but I will say (proudly) that I am Worthpoint’s head-comic-book-nerd. As I stated this blog will mainly concentrate on comic news, (ie. new book announcements, writer/artist gossip, worth speculation, etc..) and my wild and often overly impassioned responses to those stories. Consider me, if you will, the Keith Olberman of comics, not so much a newsman but a well informed nerd with an opinion.

So let’s get started:
It’s officially 2008 so that must mean it’s time for a year in review. Now, this year like many before it was a wild ride for your favorite spandex-clad heroes; Captain America got whacked, the Hulk came back from space and put a whuppin on Manhattan, there are no less than 3 Supermen flying around the DCU and 3 different Legion of Superheroes in 3 different realities (of the 3 I find myself barley caring for even 1 of them and not understanding where the other 2 figure into anything.) and Batman’s nemesis Ra’s Al Ghul is back from the dead, sort of. The list of Marvel/DC events goes on and on and it don’t quit. So instead of a 30 page recap of this years comic haps I’ve decided to do a “Best/Worst of the Year” for the 2 big boys Marvel and DC. Later on I’ll do a “Year in Indy Comics retrospective” but right now lets start with the stinkers:

WORST – DC Comics;
My pick for worst from DC was going to their weekly book Countdown, an impenetrable mess that is supposedly leading us into yet another company wide crossover in the Crisis trilogy “Final Crisis“, but that almost seems too easy of a pick. Countdown is a mess, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as bad as this years biggest disappointment, The Flash re-launch by Mark Waid and Daniel Acuna. So for those of you who didn’t read last years Infinite Crisis event, don’t worry you didn’t miss anything that made a whole lot of sense but click the link to get the wildly confusing back story on the death/disappearance/or whatever of Wally West. Any way, a year later one of my Favorite writers, Mark Waid is announced to write the return of Wally West and I couldn’t be more excited. Flash forward to the release date and me holding my copy of Flash #231 and saying out loud, “What the hell is this?” The Flash returns from the speed force with little or no explanation as to where he was or what he was doing there but that’s not all, he’s not alone. Wally returns with not only his wife but his twin son and daughter who are 2 adorable little scamps with really stupid unexplained powers. WHY? Tell me you were pressured into it Mark Waid. Tell me the writer of Kingdom Come, arguably the greatest DC story ever written, had no control over the content of this book. Maybe DC editor-in-chief and megalomaniac tyrant Dan Didio held a gun to your head and said “The Flash is going to be a funny yet stylish family book from here on out, got it?”, but I find it hard to believe that you, Mr. Waid would expect us to pay for this garbage. Is this book the worst thing I’ve ever read, no but as a huge Flash fan it is easily one of the most disappointing re-launches in recent memory.

WORST – Marvel Comics;
Now, say what you will about the myriad of storylines that are running though the Marvel U right now, the majority of which have been a lot of fun, Marvel Comics is broken. I pose the question, why is it Marvel can make me care about its cast of loser cosmic characters in the pages of Annihilation, the New Warriors and yet another group of young Avengers (Avengers the Initiative) that may or may not even make it to their 12th issue but Spiderman, the cornerstone of Marvel Comics heroes, is absolutely unreadable? With Spidey revealing his identity to the public shortly after emerging from a cocoon with stingers and fangs and eating a bad-guy, changing his costume to a suit of armor designed by Tony Stark and then leaving the Initiative to join the outlaw unregistered New Avengers (crap did I forget to mention the Civil War…) Spidey has had one hell of a poorly written year. Spidey and Thor scribe J. Michael Straczynski, of Babylon 5 fame, has proven time and time again to have little or no respect for Spiderman’s history and his latest story One More Day seals the deal. This time Aunt May has been shot and if anybody cares I’d love to hear from you. Please email me with the subject “So what if Aunt May is 200 years-old and virtually useless as both a character and a plot device, I want her around so that the character of Peter Parker never has to grow up or mature” and a brief statement regarding the last time you read a Spidey story wherein Aunt May added anything to the plot. LET HER DIE! For the love of god the woman hasn’t done a thing but age and cause Peter Parker headaches for the past 50 years. She almost married Dr Octopus once for crying out loud! I could care less that she’s been shot and Joe Quesada’s splash page after splash page lazy artwork sure didn’t drive the tragedy home. But perhaps even worse than the copout of shooting Aunt May and not Mary Jane or the fact that the last book was almost 3 months late, was when Mephisto, that’s right Marvel’s very own devil, shows up to offer Peter a deal that will return everything in his life to the way it was when he was… happy, I guess? It’s almost as if JMS is apologizing for his entire run on Spiderman by making it all magically go away. The best part of it all is Mephisto doesn’t want Peter Parker’s soul, no even better, he want’s to break up his marriage to Mary Jane because their love is so special and apparently that’s what the devil does now. Straczynski’s Mephisto is some kind of anti-cupid that goes around resetting continuity, erasing relationships, and bringing senior citizens back from the brink of death, or something. What a perfectly stupid ending to a perfectly terrible run of Spiderman. Thanks for nothing J Mike. You won’t be missed.

BEST – DC Comics:

THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR! I felt like a 14-year-old while I read Geoff Johns Sinestro Corps War storyline in the pages of Green Lantern sometimes even setting the book down to quietly cheer so as not to be heard by my girlfriend. Aside from a couple of tie-ins the Sinestro Corps War has been nothing short of awesome. More happened in the Sinestro Corps War prelude than in the first 6 weeks of Countdown, which leads me to the next logical question; why was the Johns’ Sinestro War not the central focus of the DCU this year. Geoff Johns has proved time and again to be DC’s most talented, best selling and adored writer, a real nerd’s nerd if you will, so why isn’t he given more power in the DCU editorial staff. Between his Green Lantern and JSA books I defy you to name another DC title that is as consistently excellent and on time every month. Give Geoff Johns the Editor-in-chief’s job and let him run the entire DCU. Please, before we get yet another massive reality shattering crossover that resets the status quo to a point where not only new readers are scared away but the old comic junkies like myself start looking for a different fix. GEOFF JOHNS IN 2008! And, yes I’m aware he was the writer behind the Infinite Crisis book I bashed earlier but again, and maybe unfairly, I heap that failure on the shoulders of Dan Didio.

BEST – Marvel Comics:

So the obvious answer would be Ed Brubaker’s Captain America which, despite the fact that the main character has been dead for almost a year, has remained superhero-espionage at it’s best and probably represents the best run of Cap we have seen since Mark Waid’s “Man Without a Country” story line. However, I gotta go with Ed Brubaker’s other book, his re-launch of Iron Fist co-written by my favorite newcomer Matt Fraction. It’s safe to say that Marvel Comics has never published a Martial Arts comic of this quality. Brubaker and Fraction’s Iron Fist is an open love letter to the Martial Arts fantasy movies of the 60’s and 70’s and the perfect way to reinvigorate Marvel’s Kung-Fu heroes of the bronze age. Paired with the art of David Aja, Brubaker and Fraction’s Iron Fist has been far and away the most enjoyable comic for my money this year.

So that’s it for now. Agree, disagree, confused, disgusted, want to threaten my life, feel free! Post your comments and let me know what you think. I’ll be back later this week to talk about new comic day, Friday this week, and other nerd news.

Until next time true believers!


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