Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Golden Age Continues Into 2013: A Baker's Dozen Of What's Been Splendid Since 2012 Ended!

Henry Flint's Catalyst Island, which I've loved, isn't in the following list because I've concentrated on comics that can be held in the hand rather than read on the net. But I've thoroughly enjoyed the splendid Catalyst Island, and it deserves an enthusiastic thumbs up. (From Aces Weekly, volume 2)

I'm appalled to find that I can't find a place for Matt Fraction and Mike Allred's FF in the following baker's dozen of my favourite books of the year so far. How many fine comics must be being produced when such an enjoyable book isn't an automatic pick? I know I've said that we're living through a golden age of comics before, and more than just the once too. But these are exceptional times, and though what follows isn't meant as a snapshot of today's various markets, its 13 choices might reflect something of how wonderful a range of comics we can now enjoy.

What follows isn't in any order of merit. In truth, ranking these books would be next to impossible. There's everything from horror to the broadest of comedy there, and a surprising number of titles from one particular publisher who I'd practically given up on a few years ago. (There's also one book whose first issue I struggled to appreciate, and which has since quite won we over.) Shamefully, there's no method to the choices beyond the fact that I simply enjoyed them a great deal, and they reflect no learned critical manifesto at all. What's worse for my chin-stroking credentials, I'm sure I've forgotten a great many fine comics that I shouldn't have, so if you'd consider letting me know what you would have added, and what you wouldn't have, then I'd be grateful to you.


Saga, by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples (ongoing, Image comics) 
                
        
Judge Dredd.: Closet, by Rob Williams and Mike Dowling, in 2000AD #1817 (weekly, Rebellion Press)


Daredevil, by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee et al, (monthly, Marvel) 

      
The Phoenix Comic (weekly, David Fickling Books)
 

 
Criminal Macabre: Final Night by Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten (mini-series, Dark Horse, IDW) 

   
Young Avengers, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton et al, (monthly, Marvel Comics)

   
The Silver Darlings, by William Morris, (graphic novel, Blank Slate)


 Jennifer Blood, by Al Ewing, Kewber Baal et al (monthly, Dynamite)

   
Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb, et al, (monthly, Kaboom) 

      
Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction & David Aja et al (monthly, Marvel Comics)

       
Mind MGMT, by Matt Kindt, (monthly, Dark Horse) 

        
Popeye by Roger Langridge, Ken Wheaton, Vince Musacchia et al, (monthly, IDW)

         
Thor, God Of Thunder, by Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic (monthly, Marvel Comics)

That was my comicsy truth. Tell me yours, if you would.

Of course, if this list had included web-comics, then Ed piskor's wonderful Hip Hop Family Tree - here - would most certainly be on it. If there's any web-comics you'd care to recommend, I'd be fascinated to follow up your nudges.
 
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45 comments:

  1. Great list Colin! I've unfortunately been unable to read some of the ones on your list such as Jennifer Blood and Popeye, but I'll definitely try checking them out as soon as I can.

    My list would look like this:
    1) Adventure Time
    2) Batman, which I'm aware of your misgivings of, but I've been enjoying it all the same
    3) Batwoman
    4) Daredevil
    5) Dial H
    6) Hawkeye
    7) I, Vampire
    8) The Massive
    9) Nemo: Heart of Ice
    10) Peter Panzerfaust
    11) Saga
    12) Saucer Country
    13) Young Avengers

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    1. Hi Sean:- And a great list right back at you :) Bless you for including Batman, for what would be the point if I was only faced with books I've no problems with. Every time someone expresses an opinion that I struggle with, I feel compelled to go back and see if I still feel as I did. In such a way did I learn to respect and enjoy Mind MGMT, for example, whose first issue I struggled with!

      There were several books in your list I came THAT close to adding. Nemo: Heart Of Ice I gave the thumbs up to in Q and it was in my 13 right until the last moment. Same with Saucer Country, which I always enjoy, and Dial H, which has been steadily and enticingly improving month after month. Batwoman's art recently has certainly been astonishing, though I'm unconvinced by the scripting.

      I think the only books beyond Batman that I obviously need to take another look at are I Vampire, Peter Panzerfaust and The Massive. I struggled with the art of the first, while the pace of the latter has so far done for me. I'm afraid PP hasn't been to my taste at all, but I have only read to the end of the first trade. I'll keep an eye out for later issues. Thank you for the nudges.

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    2. I did think it was really gracious of you to have that guest post by Forrest Helvie defending the issue; not that many people on the Internet seem to be accepting of counter-points :P I'm aware of the different criticism of the issue, but it just worked for me, I guess for very subjective reasons.

      I, Vampire is sadly being cancelled however, but it was really ballsy throughout its run; Joshua Fialkov changed the status quo a LOT. The Massive does have odd pacing issues, and I think it will definitely read a lot better in trade, but I've already fallen in love with the world that Brian Wood's created and that's been enough for me to keep coming back. Peter Panzerfaust has slowly been improving and it's starting to feel like it's more aware that it's about World War II; my biggest problem with it right now is that the second arc was hit by frequent delays because of personal problems plaguing Kurtis Wiebe, and will be taking another break between arcs.

      I just remembered that Sweet Tooth 40 came out in January instead of December of last year and I thought it was a phenomenal ending to that series. I'd bump out Peter Panzerfaust out of my list for it.

      I will definitely check out The Silver Darlings and The Phoenix Comic, although I worry that they might be difficult to find here in the Philippines since the market is a lot smaller.

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    3. Hello Sean:- It's good of you to call Forrest's guest appearance here a gracious choice on my part. But he's a good egg, and he always approves things in a bright and friendly way. I really don't care about how my opinions go over as long as things stay polite and entertaining, and there was never a chance of anything else with Forrest.

      I'm glad to hear that Peter Panzerhaust has become a comic that's paying more attention to its setting. I thought the first volume paid all too little attention to the war itself, and was amazed to hear that BBC America had bought up to the rights to it. But I suppose it was the high concept they were buying rather than the comic itself. But as I say, I'm glad things are looking up.

      I wish you well with finding The Silver Darlings and The Phoenix. The Phoenix can actually be tough enough to get a copy of in the UK. You might want to check out the comic's homepage at http://www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk/ :)

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    4. One reason I respect you so much is that you welcome a wide variety of opinions and, unlike other commentators on the Internet, you don't talk down to people if they disagree with you. There are a lot of other reviewers, commentators or bloggers who have this strange mentality that disagreeing with them is a sign of having lower standards of quality, as if other opinions aren't valid. It's really frustrating to read :|

      Yeah, I was also surprised about the pick up by the BBC since there didn't seem to be that much to go with other than the high concept, and this is as someone who enjoys the book a great deal. But it does look like, at this point, there's a lot more for them to work with so it's all good.

      Thanks :D It looks like I'll be getting it in digital since I have huge doubts that my LCS will be able to get copies

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    5. Hello Sean:- You're very kind. But the fact is, it's a waste of energy to worry about whether an argument convinces or not. Debates aren't and can't be won that way. Changes of opinion even within small communities such as those various niches within the comics blogopshere aren't brought about by one piece, or one poster. Or rather, such things are incredibly rare. That's not how debates function. So why get concerned about whether other folks agree or not? Given how often I change my own mind, and how frequently I get things wrong, it strikes me that different ideas are essential to my not making even more of a fool of myself than I often do :)

      I suspect there's a great TV series to be made out of PP. But not in adapting that first story without a great deal of reworking. As you yourself intimated, adding something that reflects the War in anything more than a facile way would be a good place to start.

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  2. Oh Colin,

    You have some of my favorites there as well.

    And I have to say that Chris Samnee draws a simply adorable Foggy.

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    1. Hello Sally:- I'm glad to see we still share exquisite taste :)

      I'm also glad to hear enthusiastic words being spoken about Daredevil. I fear it's being a little taken for granted, now that the shock of how well Mark Waid and colleagues have done on a moribund property has passed.

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    2. I'm really glad that Chris Samnee's on the title since it means he's finally getting more recognition for his simply outstanding work.

      I agree Colin; Daredevil went from being THE most talked about book on the market to being one of the most under-appreciated because of how consistent Mark Waid and team have been on the book. It's a shame, since for all of the hype being extended to many other books published by the big two, not that many compare to the high level of quality that the Daredevil team have been consistently delivering each issue.

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    3. Hello Sean;- you're quite right, the sheer month-to-month quality of Daredevil has led to it being unfairly under-praised. I hope that isn't in any way reflected in its sales. Each issue has, after continued, to be quite excellent.

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  3. I'm afraid that, after 48 years of comic book fandom, I find very little in today's comics that appeals to me. I'm sampling some of the New 52 titles here and there, but at the moment, my regular reading list has been whittled down to three:

    Dial H (DC)
    The Unwritten (Vertigo)
    Love and Capes (IDW)

    The latter has earned the rank of one of my favorite comics ever, but it's increasingly hard to find in comic shops. So many people who should be enjoying it don't even know it exists.

    I haven't read Daredevil since the '60s (except for one or two Frank Miller issues, which I couldn't stand), but with all the good things I've been hearing about it lately, I'll probably give it a try. I'll also give the new Green Lantern writer a try, as GL has always been my favorite character, but Geoff Johns' interpretation turned me off.

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    1. Hello Bob:- Dial H and The Unwritten are both fine titles. I had the chance to review Dial H for Q Magazine a few months ago and was pleased to be able to give it a thumbs up. But I've never even HEARD of Love and Capes before, and I shall be putting that right, I promise you, in the coming week. I've just had a quick Google and it looks interesting. I'm one of those who should be enjoying it, or at least working out whether I might be.

      I can assure you that the Daredevil run under Mr Waid is splendid. I would say that it's as good as any in the series, I really would. The first collection is splendid.

      And I too am fascinated by what happens to GL. One of very favourite superheroes as a boy - I stumbled across the Adams/O'Neal issues when I was in short trousers - I've struggled with the Johns era. Fingers crossed!

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  4. It's always nice to see a list like this, particularly from someone who writes so thoughtfully and knowledgeably about comics. Of those books on your list that I'm not already reading, The Silver Darlings looks particularly interesting.

    Like Sean, I'm very much enjoying The Massive although I can understand why the pacing felt problematic to you.

    And I think your absolutely right that it's a sign of how many good books are coming out right now that you can leave FF off. Although I can see why it doesn't quite make it as I think that it's been great fun thus far, and that Allred's art is both brilliant and a perfect fit, but that it's too soon to tell just yet if it will develop into something more than a genuinely fun read. I might also put the current Sif-centric iteration of Journey into Mystery, which has a lot of fun moments and wonderful art, into that category as well. And then there's Captain Marvel which is almost the opposite in some ways in the sense that I think it's developed into a very well-written comic that isn't the least bit slight, and yet the art hasn't quite worked for me.

    Well, it's always nice to be reminded that we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to good comics at the moment!

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    1. Hello Meg:- Thank you for such kind words.

      The Silver Darlings is an interesting book. Will Morris deliberately avoids any sense of hyperbole and focuses on the everyday events of his tale with such a calm precision that you can't help but get swallowed up by events. It's the opposite approach to a great deal of modern-day product, but Morris trusts his tale and his readers and it works :)

      I will go back and give The Massive another go. Two good folks speaking up for it indicate that I really should. And it was that kind of friendly nudge which sent me back to, for example, Mind MGMT, and the realisation that it was my kind of comic after all.

      I read the latest FF after I posted this. There are some lovely moments there. There are still a few moments where the script and the art don't quite seem to work together as they should, but overall, it's a joy. Along with likes of Saucer Country and Nemo: Heart Of Ice, it could and perhaps should have been in the above.

      The new Journey Into Mystery I've only read the one issue of. I'll follow that up. As for Captain Marvel, I'm becoming more and more impressed. Unlike you, I've struggled with the art at times, but recent issues are more to my admittedly individual taste. In fact, I've just written a thumbs-up piece about Captain Marvel that should appear elsewhere in the next month or so.

      An "embarrassment of riches" does describe it! What a great time to be reading comics :)

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    2. Oh no, I agree with you about the art on Captain Marvel. At least to an extent. It was never enough to prevent me from enjoying the book, but I think that both the first artist and the current artist are quite inconsistent. There are panels, and even pages, that I find genuinely beautiful and then other panels or pages that just don't work for me at all.

      And I will definitely have to track down The Silver Darlings--it sounds very much like something I would like.

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    3. Hello Meg:- You're so right about how frustratingly inconsistent the Captain Marvel artwork can be. At moments, it's lovely. The issue before last had some lovely intimate work and a great dinosaur-punching scene. But it also had obscure and unmoving pages too. Still, it's all getting better :)

      Good luck with The Silver Darlings. Fingers crossed I've made an appropriate suggestion!

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  5. That is a great list (it took me a couple tries to warm up to Jennifer Blood, but now I'm glad I did). I only have a few additions to make:

    Prophet, which continues to be just great pulp fiction. While that's all been on Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, and their team of artists, I've also had a new admiration for Rob Liefeld. It's doubtful Marvel and DC would ever let anyone do to their titles what Graham and Roy have been doing in this book.

    Catwoman by Ann Nocenti and Rafa Sandoval. Their run has been hampered from the outset, starting with tie-ins to Death of the Family and that Black Diamond non-event, and it still does some of the cheesecake that defined Winick and March's turn on the character, but I'm liking it. Sandoval will occasionally break out the weird collage splash panel or well-paced action scene, and Nocenti is rebuilding the character with the mess that was left her.

    And then there's The Hollows, which has come at a time I couldn't be more tired of all things zombies. Yet Sam Kieth turns it into more of a fairy tale (the main character lives in a Japanese city that rests on the branches of a giant tree), which makes it oddly refreshing.

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    1. Hello Andrew:- I am a fan of Prophet. If this was a top 20, there'd be a good case for in re: my own taste, though I didn't realise there had been an issue out this year. I last saw a copy in 2012. I must go check that out. I may never be able to find myself admirer RL as a creator, but he does seem to have cut the creators working for him a considerable degree of freedom.

      But I'm not sure if I can bring myself to check Catwoman out. Well, you've been good enough to suggest it, so I will! But Ann Nocenti's Green Arrow was not to my taste, and all that cheesecake in the issues prior to AN taking over was a problem/ (As you do of course mention!) But you do make it sound intriguing, so OK :)

      But The Hollows has quite escaped my radar and certainly deserves checking out ASAP. Excuse me, I must Google ....

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    2. Oh, and I'm pleased to hear persevering with Jennifer Blood paid dividends. It is a GOOD book, isn't it? And if you do so, then I can certainly give Catwoman another go. Why not?

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    3. On Nocenti: I enjoyed her Green Arrow run at first, but it lost me as it went on. Her writing for Catwoman is similar, but the character seems a better fit, so I'm more hopeful.

      I wasn't familiar with her writing beforehand, and I must say, there'd a very strange, distant quality to these two comics, almost as though the characters are sleepwalking. I'm not sure quite what to make of it...

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    4. Hello Neil:- I have very fond and respectful memories of Nocenti and Romita Jr's run on Daredevil in the late 80s. There was that same "strange" quality about her work there, and it was all the better for it. I may not have always warmed to it, but it was always obviously smart and ambitious and anything but more of the same ...

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  6. Always enjoy reading your posts.

    As I only read DC & Marvel in single issue format anymore, and haven't gotten many trades yet, this list is only DC & Marvel.

    1. Action Comics. A landmark mainstream comics work. Morales (& co) have been masterful, and this is up there with Morrison's best mainstream work ever. I can't tell if this is a love letter to the silver age, or to the future of comics. I would love to read your thoughts on the way Morrison's wrapping up this series. He's given the story such heart with the Mxyzptlk saga, and really kicked off the emotional part of the story with the Krypto issue (gorgeously illustrated by Travel Foreman).
    2. Wonder Woman: Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins churn out gorgeous page after gorgeous page and Azzarello is one of the few writers to grasp the New Gods. Has some of my favorite comics moments in recent memory: the centaurs walking among humans on the last page of issue #5, the introduction of the new Poseidon, and Orion's last page. I was enjoying the book immensely before the introduction of the New Gods but now I literally cannot wait for new issues. I can't tell if it's because I'm so biased for the New Gods, or that they're so amazing that they make me biased.
    3. Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE: Even though only 1 issue made it into 2013, I'll miss the lug. Hrnnnn.... Ponticelli's art has few peers and and Kindt's scripting has been wonderful.
    4. Dial H: On the fence until the 0 issue which got me hooked. Ponticelli is coming on board, so someone find a hose and turn it on me.
    5. Green Lantern - It's popular not to like this title anymore but I feel the title only started getting great once Mahnke jumped on board. I don't read the crossover issues so perhaps that may be what people are tiring of. Regardless, Doug Mahnke has risen to the heights of the industry for good reason - his work is incomparable. When inked by Christian Alamy, there's a certain Christian Iconography flavor that I've yet to find anywhere else in superhero comics. And Geoff Johns should just demand DC give him a Black Hand ongoing.
    6. Batman Dark Knight - Hurwitz, IMO, is the best Batman scribe working. Finch's work seems reinvigorated and they've made their work so sadistic that it's veered into farce. Not my usual cup of tea, but it's so over the top it's a wonder reviewers are playing this one straight.
    7. Batman - Capullo is that rare breed illustrator/cartoonist and should be paid for the two jobs he does! Snyder has kept pace more often than not and has introduced some nice villains.


    Sorry for being so DC heavy, I hadn't realized it until I made this list, but I've been less impressed with the Marvel output than this blog, though they're not bad books! How DC manages to put out $2.99 books of the artistic quality that Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Superman (& others) have is beyond me.

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    1. Hello toodiesel:- Thank you for bring in a point of view which is welcome exactly because it often runs contrary to my own. As I believe you'll know, several of the books you mention are comics I, shall we say, struggle with, but that only makes what you're saying all the more welcome. It really does help to get a contrasting way of seeing books like Wonder Woman, and I appreciate you knowing that when I say I welcome other folk's opinion, I really do mean it. As such, I very much doubt I would've thought to consider Green Lantern in light of Christian iconography, though it does make me think again of the scripts for the first arc of Simon Baz's story as much as the need for me to look again at Mr Almany's inks.

      I'm certainly with you on Dial H, which may just be DC's best title for me at the moment, and though I've struggled with Snyder's Batman, there's no doubt that he's a serious talent who may end up fulfilling your taste and mine too. Batman Dark Knight I haven't read in a good while, but you're the second person who's recommended it to me, and now the DOTF Event is over, I'm going to pick up another copy this week.

      I'm a HUGE fan of the Fourth World, but the problem of the portrayal of the Amazons still holds me back from WW. I've no doubt that I'll read the next collection, but I really do struggle with that whole matter. I'd like to go back and take another look at Frankenstein, given that I've very much learned to enjoy Mr Kindt's Mind MGMT.

      I have been enjoying Action. Some issues have seemed more outstanding than others, and yet it's always been worthwhile. I suspect that it will all read better in a collected edition.

      Thank you for the food for thought!

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  7. There have been two issues of Prophet this year, but maybe that's just here in the States. I forget comics distribution gets muddy (to put it nicely) when it comes to international releases (2000 A.D. doesn't get a weekly release here, from what I understand).

    All misgivings about Catwoman are completely understood. The current run hasn't even hit its stride yet due to all the tie-ins, but it shows promise.

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    1. Hello Andrew;- I'm rather disturbed by the thought that I've missed two issues of Prophet this year. Thank for the nudge in that direction. I strongly suggest that it's my problem rather than anything to do with dstribution. If nothing else, it's there to be enjoyed in digital form.

      Catwoman? I fear I'm committed to reading one more issue :)

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  8. I think the advantage Marvel has right now flows from its movies. Not so much their commercial success, but the fact that said success emanates from the fact that the films are hugely *fun*. Until Warners gets away from the idea that ALL COMIC BOOK MOVIES HAVE TO BE LIKE THE DARK KNIGHT, they will continue to have Marvel eat their lunch at the cinema.

    Assuming this is true, I further believe that someone at the comic division of Marvel has noted this and thought, "Hey, that fun thing. Maybe that will work with comics, too." After decades of increasingly grim comics--and there's a place for those, but only a place--Marvel has started creating super hero books that are *fun* to read again. Daredevil, Hawkeye, etc.

    The double advantage is that it allows the grim comics to be more powerful, because it provides a contrast to them. When grim comics only compete with other grim comics, they have to go to absurd lengths to come off as grimmer yet. ("Look! My dead girlfriend's in the refrigerator!") If they play off fun comics, however, they can be more quietly and effectively gritty.

    I tend to only read comics in trade paperbacks these days, so I'm behind on current events. That said, I really like The Sixth Gun quite a bit. I think this is what Warners meant for the Jonah Hex movie to be. I look forward to NBC massively screwing up their pilot adapted from the book (see David E. Kelly's Wonder Woman pilot), when all they have to do is use the comics as a storyboard and just film that damn thing as is. TV doesn't work that way, though.*

    [*Normally I'd wish it was being made by a cable network like HBO and Showtime. But while those outlets allow shows to be smart and quirky, they also apparently demands that everything feature an endless parade of naked breasts every other scene. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but it's not what Sixth Gun is about,and it would be distracting.]

    Now I shall leave before this note starts veering off-topic.

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    1. Hello Ken:- I would be interested to know the degree to which the content of the Marvel movies has been influencing that of their comics. It's certainly true that there's little that's fun in DC's books, unless by 'fun' is meant shock'n'skewering. I think Dial H is often fun, and, for all that I had a problem with the way in which Damian's death was shown, Batman Inc too. But generally, Marvel have remembered that fun can be a part of drama without losing the likes of drama and pathos,as you say.

      The Sixth Gun is a top series. Because I'm still catching up on the trades - being a late starter - I don't think of it so much as a monthly. (What a catastrophe the Hex movie was.)But I should do.

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  9. Sergeant Hartman5 March 2013 02:49

    Thor: God of Thunder has been amazing. It really irks me that its being outsold by some very mediocre comics.

    Come to think of it, there are a lot of splendid comics being outsold by mediocre ones. What's the medium come to?

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    1. Hello Sergeant Hartman:- Of course, I quite agree with you. Indeed, it's proof that a comic can be full of torture and many of the tropes of hyper-violence and still be worth praising to the rafters.

      Most of the books which outsell the Big Two's "better" titles - I'm owning up to my own bias there, of course! - are Event titles. They're seen as major franchises and/or central to the unfolding of longterm continuity. There seems to be a significant number of the audience who'd buy pap if it was IMPORTANT and SHOCKING. In addition, there's of course particular writers and artists who have a significant following. What's heartening is to see Marvel in particular prospering with books tend not to be event of name-driven. Instead, its the craftsmanship and quality that leaves material like Young Avengers and Hawkeye feeling so welcome.

      Notr that being a Big Name means that work need be poor, or that Event comics aren't worth the publishing. But on the whole, it's in the relative periphery that the best work is found.

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  10. I would like to suggest an independent comic series that is slightly off the beaten track but immensely enjoyable nevertheless and that is Chronicles of Piye. This may be a slightly biased opinion since I am the writer, but it's got an intriguing story line accompanied by stunning artwork. It's in the fantasy genre and is available in various online outlets for digital download or print to order.

    You can find out more about Chronicles of piye by visiting the website (www.chroniclesofpiye.com) or the fan page (www.facebook.com/chroniclesofpiye). We hope you'll enjoy and find it at least worthy of your consideration.


    Rich.....

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  11. Brian Wiggett7 March 2013 19:07

    Great list Colin, and good reminders for books I haven't yet caught up on (Jennifer Blood, Hawkeye).
    I find myself buying about twice as many Image comics as Marvel and DC combined. Specifically enjoying Saga, as you mentioned, along with Prophet, as others noted. But I'm also enjoying lesser discussed titles, like Comeback, Bedlam, Clone, Manhattan Projects, Chew, and Thief of Thieves. Not all are great, but many have the same feel for me as an entertaining episode of a tv series. In most of these books, Things Happen! Which won't be ret-conned later, like the death of Robin, say.
    Also still enjoying Rachel Rising, Powers: Bureau, and Fashion Beast, to add a few more titles to the list. And I agree with everyone else's praise for Daredevil and Young Avengers too!
    Also enjoyed the intro to Millar. Looking forward to the following installments.

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    1. Hello Brian:- First off: HOW COULD I POSSIBLY FORGET MANHATTAN PROJECTS???? That's inexplicable and stupid. I love the series and .... I have no excuse. Still, at least you had the sense to mention it. Thank you.

      Thank you for the kind words about the Millar project. You remain an egg :)

      Comeback, Bedlam and Clone are all titles I've not read. With the next Q column in mind, I will seek them all out. Luckily for my self-esteem, I have read, and mostly enjoyed, the rest of what you've mentioned. Of all of them, it's only Thief Of Thieves which I've struggled with. It seemed thin and too obviously designed for TV/film, but then, I may have missed its progress as the series continued. If you speak well of it, then I trust to its quality even if I can't quite grasp the appeal yet.

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  12. Hello Colin, i found your choices very interesting, specially Silver Darlings and Mind(which i din't knew about), so much that i will be looking to try them.
    I'm a ocasional reader of your blog, were i'm sure to always find interesting and well tought articles about the medium.
    As for my choice of the best 12: Dial H for Hero, Daredevil, Sixth Gun, Hawkeye, Saga, X-men Legacy, Unwritten, Superbia, Sweet Tooth, Peter Panzerfaust, Rachel Rising, Athos in America.

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    1. Hello There:- I always find the value of these kind of posts is that I find myself learning about books which I ought to try out, or try again. Looking at your own choices, I feel sure you'll find at the very least things to value in The Silver Darlings and Mind MGMT. In return, you've done me the favour of nudging me towards Superbia and Athos In Ameria, which I shamefully haven't so far sampled, as well as X-Men Legacy, which I have read, thought promising if not quite there yet, and need to return to. My thanks :)

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  13. Hey, I want in on this, too. Lists are always fun. I'll try to avoid Swamp Thing, Animal Man and Red Hood this time, so for something a little different, in no particular order:

    1. Wonder Woman

    2. Mind MGMT

    3. Batman: TDK/Detective Comics - I'm with the poster above me in thinking of Gregg Hurwitz as the best Batman writer (and I'm thankful for the comment making me not think of myself as crazy anymore in all the Snyder-hype; if I can now find that one other person on this earth that surely must have liked Ann Nocenti's Green Arrow like I did, I may be able to find sleep again) but I'll put John Layman up here with him because these are just two really good titles.

    4. Earth Two - I knew nothing about the Justice Society when this started. Nothing. And I certainly had no interest whatsoever in buying a book about Green Lantern Nr. 5, Hawkgirl, Flash Nr. 2 (with questionable costume), some guy I never heard about and an alternative reality version of frickin' Mr. Terrific...battling Solomon Grundy and someone named Steppenwolf. I mean, no. I don't even want to watch the main Justice League fighting big bang-pow battles against Darkseid, why should I care about this nonsense? Then I bought #5 after all the glowing reviews to take at least one look. This is now my second-favourite DC book and I am writing another loveletter to James Robinson with my other hand as I type this.

    By the way, if Steppenwolf comes from the Hermann Hesse book, can he team up with Ann Nocenti's King Leer someday? Seriously, didn't ANYBODY like him and his daughters? I totally pulled for Olli and that triplet sister to live happily ever after.

    5. Green Arrow

    6. All-Star Western feat. Jonah Hex, Amadeus Arkham & Tallulah Black (they really should all be in the title)

    7. The Underwater Welder - Yeah, it came out in 2012. But I got it like two weeks ago for my birthday. Along with the new My Dying Bride album, a 3 DVD Set of "Wrestling's Highest Flyers" and Foucault's "Aesthetic Of Existence". The Underwater Welder is beautiful and I'm weird.

    8. Glory/Prophet - I'm always thinking of these two together.

    9. Ex Sanguine/Colder - Two limited horror series from Dark Horse that saw their last issues in 2013. Colder creeped me out.

    10. Superman - I read Superman because of Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort. I think if you do not like Scott Lobdell and Ken Rocafort, you have no sense of delightful action comics bursting with cool ideas and slick, often hilarious dialogue. I also think DC should put Scott Lobdell and Ken Rocafort back on Red Hood, because that book has been slipping as of late and because Red Hood is just way cooler than Superman. Red Hood also should then be fighting Steppenwolf and King Leer in a 12-issue arc.

    11. Batwoman

    12. Deathstroke - I just want this on my list to mention once again how the first eight issues by Kyle Higgins were truly an unsung gem in the New 52. Anyone who suggests that it was all mindless bloodshed has not read Higgin's run. Justin Jordan's recent issues were solid. I still want a damn Deathstroke book.

    13. Birds Of Prey - Underappreciated. I wish they hadn't lost Ivy and Katana but to my surprise I like the mute Owl lady as well, I care for all these women. And, did you know, I did my first anonymous post disagreeing with you on an issue of this very title, starting an irregular, yet grand tradition.

    Looking forward to: there'll be a Joe Casey comic in my shipment this month called SEX, promising "sociopolitical and repressed psychosexual" issues, which sounds like exactly the thing I often dream about. Also I'll actually check out every new DC comic. Don't know how much time I'll have for this Vibe fellow that everyone already seems to hate, but with Nocenti's Katana, a cool line-up for JLA and a solo title for Constantine written by the JL Dark team I'm totally ready to give them my money. They just have to not screw this up. :)

    - Björn

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  14. ...aaaand too late for an edit: I totally forgot Great Pacific. Seriously, that's important. Kick the Underwater Welder back into 2012 if you must - but I have to mention Great Pacific from Image. It's...great, pun somewhat intended.

    - Björn

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    1. Hello Bjorn:- Oh, you're obviously not alone where loving Mr Synder's work is concerned. There's a good number of commentors here who love what he does, and I do - for all my doubts - think he could well become a great writer. As for Ms Nocenti's Green Arrow, I can recall at least one other good egg saying on TooBusyThinking that they enjoyed the book. (One of the thing I always appreciate, as I think you know, is folks who pop in despite disagreeing with me at times!)

      I have a recent copy of Hex, Detective and Earth-Two just waiting beside my bed to be read. Greg Burgas from GoodComics at CBR speaks very highly of the scripts in Detective too, so I'm looking forward to reading that.

      Thank you for nudging me towards Ex Sanguine, Colder and Great Pacific. All are titles I need to catch up on, and 'Colder' has also been mentioned in these very comments. Obviously, I have homework to do.

      It's funny you mentioned the recent issues of Superman. I wrote a stinking review of #17, but felt that I wanted to put some more positive material up instead. I'm glad I did. It's not to my taste, and I may well still post the review, but I'd rather have some more positive material up next. Perhaps a post about the Nu52 books I have enjoyed?

      I have an order in for Casey's SEX, but as far as know, the physical copies haven't arrived in the UK yet. I thought Vibe was a typical Geoff Johns comic, no better or worse than what he's been producing - for good or ill - in recent years. I doubt it'll survive once he's no longer in sole control of its scripts. Constantine, I fear, I'll just have to stay away from for the sake of my blood pressure; it may be someone's Constantine, and bless them for it, but it's not mine. (Mind you, "mine" can be found mainly in issues printed between 1984 and 1989, so I'm yesterday's man there.)

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  15. Thanks for the response, Colin. I've certainly seen the admirers of Mr. Snyder around here. What I wanted to express is that I agree with commentator "toodiesel" that Gregg Hurwitz is actually better! With DOTF and now the apparent death of Damian in Batman Inc., of course those storylines get all the press. But I assure you, Mr. Hurwitz and Mr. Layman are deserving of at least as much praise. "toodiesel" would agree with me. :)

    Well, I think they'll be packing my monthly order tomorrow (I live in a city of almost 300.000 people but I'm still getting my comics shipped to me from a specialized US comics shop in Berlin; the concept of the LCS is one that's not really around at all in Germany), so I'll be able to have a look at both Sex and Vibe. I very much want to like this JLA of outcasts with the likes of Catwoman, Green Arrow, Katana, Vibe on board, so I'm giving it two issues to win me over. A breakdancing gimmick character is certainly not something I feel immediately drawn to, but we'll see.

    I'm still undecided on Geoff Johns, but then I haven't read that much of his work. With GL I constantly feel that I'm years too late to get in. If I'm not mistaken, he's pretty much written one big space opera from 2004 on. Maybe I would have marveled at the creation of all these different coloured Lantern tribes had I'd been along for the ride. As it is, it all seems rather silly and thin to me.

    I always like some Nu52 positivity but I'd also be genuinely curious to read the Superman review. I have to admit, naive as this may sound, I am a bit puzzled when it comes to how very divisive Scott Lobdell's work is. I mean, the Starfire controversy in #1, alright. Then the issue of "These aren't MY Teen Titans", alright. The first was 18 months ago, the second one I do believe everyone who says so but can't really change nor speak to. But apart from that the man writes such FUN stories with a lot of moving parts, snappy dialogue (that also very naturally manages to give you character beats without ever slowing the action down) and over-the-top action...mind you, this is not "artistic vision" or any abyss-gazing I'm defending now, this is me very much feeling that if you want a wild and entertaining comics ride, it doesn't get any better these days than Scott Lobdell. I've certainly become a fan and the first year of Red Hood still stands as an entry in my Nu52 Top 5. I'd propably not exactly enjoy your review but I'd be interested.

    Oh, I certainly get where you are coming from with Constantine. I have exactly four trade paperbacks (Original Sins & the first three of Peter Milligan's run) and I can tell that the JL Dark character is not the same. However, and I hope this doesn't get your blood pressure to rise immediately, I was introduced to character by...the movie...and I liked it. I still do. So with me not having an intimate connection to the character, I'm very much open to different interpretations. He can be an Englishman in New York for all I care, I'm not hung up on him being based in London or anything. I think Matt Fraction was on a Comicvine Podcast about two months back and said that we should all reserve judgement because "maybe somebody will write the Dr. Strange book you've always wanted to read and that book is gonna be called "John Constantine"". I think that's a healthy outlook to have. :)

    - Björn

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  16. Hello Bjorn:- Good luck with the new JL. I was through the comic before I knew I'd begun. It seemed very flat to me. Given how we often come at the same problems from quite different angles, you may find it highly enjoyable :) However, I fear the breakdancing aspect of Vibe's character has been removed from this incarnation. Of course, I loathed that aspect of the character when I was reading Justice League Detroit back in the Eighties. But now I think I'd enjoy reading about a Hip Hop Vibe. I'm much more fond of absurd super-heroes than I am of deeply serious ones. This is not, I promise, said with any belief that the market would prefer such a thing. I'm just rather fond of the likes of Flaming Carrot, Madman, and so on.

    I may well, having read your words, have another go at that Superman review. Because I couldn't see any FUN there at all. It all seemed very serious to me, very grim and gritted-teeth. I must go back and have a good look for how the book that I thought was so bleak was fun.

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  17. Well, the comics have arived today, so I'll be taking a look for myself now. I can't speak to Superman #17 yet. Seeing as it is the conclusion to H'el on Earth, I guess the fun is scaled back and it's destruction all around in this issue, so you may of course be completeley right.

    But surely you have sampled some of Lobdell's previous work - I know you said somewhere that you read Superman #13, for example. The one with Superman bench-pressing the weight of the earth for five days and being knocked straight to Ireland by that Kryptonian dragon, meanwhile also introducing Dr. Veritas, Omniologist? Please, read the previous sentence again and tell me that's all not at least a little bit awesome.

    Ok, I'm fairly confident that still didn't work. I guess you didn't like #14 either, with Clarke passing off Supergirl as a cosplayer in so as to not be revealed while Lois gets the pun-tastic lines about "your fortress of solitude" regarding Clarke's apartment? Or #15 where they visit Lex Luthor in the special jail that Superman says he tricked Luthor into building for himself...with reading-between-the-lines of their conversation suggesting that it's actually still Luthor who might have the upper hand here, that he's merely on vacation and could break out whenever he wanted to (awesome scene!)? None of that is entertaining or clever or at least makes you chuckle?

    No? Well, maybe it's me then. I'll go read some comics and surely check out your eventual review. :)

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    1. Hello Bjorn:- I've been thinking about what you wrote here and you've convinced me that I really ought to try to find the time to write that review. I've only read Superman #13 and #17, but my opinion of them is so contrary to yours that I really ought to try to look a little closer into why.

      Still, regardless of our different tastes, I hope you enjoy your pile of comics.

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    2. Hello Colin - for what it's worth (and not that it's of any importance to you), I've yesterday read the entire H'el On Earth crossover again and I have to mostly agree with you. I'll stand by my positive reaction to Superman 13-15, Lobdell brought a lot of energy and good ideas, but the resolution is...meh...entirely unconcvincing.

      What I found interesting is that he seems to be aware of criticism that he wrote his Clark too much in the vein of his quipping youthful heroes in Red Hood and Teen Titans, so now he's going for something I've never read from him before. Very serious, overly dramatic, reaching for epic. All that's missing is Ye Olde English: "Thus speaketh the oracle so thy Krypton may die." Well, it doesn't work. At all.

      Actually worse, though, are issues 16 and 17 of Superboy. Lobdell and DeFalco obviously work closely together, so maybe they caught the same writers virus. Such bad expository dialogue.

      So, if you've chosen the last couple of months to check out Scott Lobdell books, you'd be entirely forgiven for not liking them. Heck, I didn't like them very much. The DOTF tie-ins brought both Red Hood and Teen Titans to a screeching halt there for two months. Very underwhelming. On the bright side, I've now read TT #17 and it's as good as ever. So, maybe the various crossovers were just bumps in the road.

      So I'm confident that it's gonna be good again from here on out - I still like what Lobdell teased about his general direction in this nice video:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmXxXqPGyFU

      - Björn

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    3. Hello Bjorn:- I've been saving up my reply to your last comment as I work through my Superman 17 piece. It's something I'm doing between other things, so it's taking my time. Imagine my surprise to find that the very person I've been thinking about expressing my concerns to shares a great many of the same.

      You're absolutely right, so "ye olde English" - or would it be labelled "High Kryptonian" - would fit perfectly here. It's so supposedly "elevated" that it lacks character or even humour. To be honest, it drove me to despair, because I was keen for you and I to find common ground here of some sort. And then, we end up doing so!

      Strange times for the Superman books. Having alienated Grant Morrison, DC have managed to push Andy Diggle away before his first script is even published. I suspect that DeFalco and Lobdell may end up writing just about every book DC publishes. They were influential at Marvel during the 90s when exactly the same editorial-driven books were commonplace, with DeFalco of course being editor in chief and Lobdell an X-Men writer. Wht to everyone else appears to a dreadful situation seems from the outside to be far more tolerable for those used to similar scenarios.

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    4. Well, yes! Obviously no one is gonna lose a lot of sleep over disagreeing with an unknown person on the internet, but I too found it nice to be able to say that we are in agreement on something. Which is why I thought I'd let you know.

      With me seeing this more as a bizarre misstep of a writer whose work I otherwise enjoy immensely, we're still not coming at this from the exact same angle - but yeah, I can't ever defend the merits of Superman 17, I'm afraid. It's actually fascinating in how bad it is. I'm still not sure anything about the oracle (did it actually DO anything?) or the time travel business makes any sense at all...

      The news about Andy Diggle and Joshua Fialkov are certainly disheartening. You know of course that I am of the opinion that DC still puts out a lot of quality comics and I do think people should give them some credit for assembling exciting young and/or fresh talent (Snyder and Lemire were strictly "indie guys" not too long ago; John "Chew" Layman is writing Detective; Justin "Luther Strode" Jordan got a shot on Team 7 and is now going to take over Superboy; Robert "X-O Manowar" Venditti is getting a top title in Green Lantern; Nocenti, Marx and Lobdell are back into comics after a long time and certainly bring unique voices with them, divisive as they may be...) but, of course, there seems to be a problem somewhere in the company with how to actually treat those creators. I read of the summit where Dan Didio apparently apologised to everyone recently, but still more is to be done on that front, no doubt. All these rapid changes do get a little...embarassing.

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    5. Hello Bjorn:- I'd feel happier about DC promoting fresh young talent if only they weren't often asking them to produce stale old editorially-driven comics. Mind you, I say 'often' and not 'always'.

      To be honest, I find the state of play at DC so dispiriting that were I not obliged to keep in touch with things for my Q Comics column, I probably wouldn't bother. I'd buy Dial H in trade and follow Batgirl when Ms Simone is writing it. But beyond that, it's all abit of a farce. Or rather, it is where my POV is concerned. I have no problem with accepting that DC isn't directing prooduct my way. But since I'm supposed to be watching, I feel ... rather depressed by the omnishambles that's going on.

      I too read of the Fidio apology to the staff at the creative summit. A shame then that both the Superman and Green Lantern resignations occured due to interference which happened after that sorrowful declaration.

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