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Friday December 23, 2011

Buried by comics

Sticking to the traditional “alphabetical formation,” let’s recap the year’s hummers and bummers in the world of comic books!

A – Action Comics

It was milestones galore for Action Comics! The beloved title became the first comic book to officially hit the 900th issue landmark, while the first issue (from June, 1938) breached the US$2mil mark in a record breaking online auction last month. The title was also relaunched, featuring the Man of Steel without his signature red trunks exposed.

B – Bat expansion

Bruce Wayne @ Batman was a very busy man in 2011. Firstly, Wayne launched his Dark Knight franchise (see Batman Incorporated) globally. This was followed by a David Finch-inspired new Dark Knight title. However, what made Batman a must-read was writer Scott Snyder, with his thought-provoking scripts in Detective Comics. That has seen him move up to scribing the flagship Batman title with Greg Capullo.

C – Comic book movies

The build up towards next year’s Avengers movie dominated the hype, with Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor, starting the countdown. However, what made it a year to remember was X-Men: First Class ... and the sleeper hit in Cowboys vs Aliens. DC’s sole-offering in Green Lantern reaffirmed the gulf between the Emerald Knight and the Dark Knight.

DC’s 52 onslaught.

D – DC 52

Relaunches are common in the comics industry. But what made this event extremely significant was the magnitude and scale involved. DC went with the Big Bang approach – unleashing 52 new titles. On the radar was the Jim Lee-inspired Justice League, while Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Aquaman and Suicide Squad made heads turn.

E – Editorial changes

Goodbye Joe Quesada. After a decade as Marvel’s editor-in-chief, Quesada quit but stayed on at Marvel as its chief creative officer. His replacement, Axel Alonso, has a long track record at Marvel, having been involved in several high profile projects such as Marvel MAX and recruitment of new talents.

F – Flashpoint

The DC Universe sinks into an age of apocalypse courtesy of the Reverse Flash’s fetish in destroying his arch nemesis Barry Allen @ The Flash. The Scarlet Speedster’s team up with Thomas Wayne stole the show and paved the way for the launch of a new (52) universe.

G – Green Lantern

While the box-office takings and fan reviews were not strong enough to entice everyone to Go Green, there was still plenty of reasons to follow the Emerald Knight’s exploits, especially with Sinestro at the helm in the 52 relaunch.

H – Hundredth issue … and pages!

DC-Vertigo’s Fables # 100 gave you 100 reasons why it is the highest quality mainstream comic in town. Apart from concluding the Mister Dark saga, this fantastic 100-page issue came equipped with a puppet theatre, a board game and painted sequential stories.

I – Inevitable

Change is inevitable as both DC and Marvel (finally) revealed their statement of intent on the digital frontier. Out came the redemption codes in selected comics, enabling customers to have the option of digital downloads.

J – Jim Lee

The man still has the Midas touch as evident by Justice League # 1 (now going into fourth printing!). Now, if only Mr Lee draws on a more regular basis.

K – Knight Of Vengeance

Flashpoint’s best offering tinkers with the idea of Thomas Wayne being the Dark Knight, resulting from his son’s (Bruce) death. What’s even more surprising is the Joker’s identity and newfound ruthlessness. Despite this being Elseworld-ish in nature, it does generate an impact that rocks the Bat mythos.

L – Lost the plot

Legendary comic book writer and artist, Frank Miller, has clearly lost the plot after his rant on the Occupy movement. In a posting on his personal blog, Miller accused the movement of being an unruly mob of “louts, thieves and rapists” that can “do nothing but harm America.” His recent tirade after a long list of outbursts has seen Miller alienated by other fellow comics creators (with Alan Moore’s views the harshest, to date).

M – Malaysia Boleh!

Four notable local comic book events held this year was a big deal. In May, the National Library hosted “Bulan Komik,” which was accompanied by the annual Anugerah Pekomik. Before the year ended, two independently organised events – Comics Fiesta and Comics Are Cool – generated positive response.

N – New Blood/Ultimate Spidey

When Miguel O’Hara was revealed as the new Spidey, it wasn’t hard to accept him – since he was based in the 22nd century. However, Miles Morales faces a more challenging time as his sudden entry in the Ultimate Universe requires a lot more getting used to. All said, Ultimate Spider-Man has given us exciting tales as we learn about Miles. Credit to new artist Sara Pichelli for the stunning illustrations.

O – One Man Show

In the past, he was a mercenary, a cab driver, a millionaire and a Khonshu devotee. However, the post-effects of Shadowland have left Marc Spector @ Moon Knight with split personalities. Now he assumes that he’s Spidey, Cap and Wolverine in addition to being the Moon Knight. Wait until you see how he crams all three costumes into his white suit. Crazy but unique!

P – Part timers

After a long hiatus from drawing comics, you would expect once fan-favourites like Joe Madureira and Marc Silvestri to possess a higher level of commitment and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, their homecoming is only three-issues long on the Avenging Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk titles respectively.

Q – Quick fixes

Complementing this year’s comic-based movies were the animated wonders – All Star Superman, Emerald Knights, Batman Year One and Thor: Tales of Asgard. These animated “quick fixes” were a joy to watch. Batman Year One is my pick for 2011.

R – RIP (Joe Simon, Eduardo Barreto and Dwayne Mc Duffie)

There’s always a resurrection possibility for Ultimate Peter Parker and Johnny Storm, but we sadly had to say good night to three creators. Joe Simon (98) was the co-creator of Captain America, Eduardo Barreto (57) contributed to the New Teen Titans and DC Comics Presents, while Dwayne McDuffie (49) stamped his mark on the Justice League Unlimited and Static Shock animated series.

S – Schism

The Cyclops-Wolverine “bromance” ended here as they went their separate ways – but with their own X-Men team in tow. Cyclops’ Utopia-based team got the Uncanny X-Men slot, while Wolverine’s team rebuilt Xavier’s School in Wolverine and the X-Men.

T – Thor-ture (Fear Itself finale)

Despite having a successful movie outing, Thor’s comic book adventures have been ruined – mainly by Fear Itself. The repackaging of his final battle with the Serpent lacked oomph. To rub salt into the wound was the “resurrection” barely a month later.

U – Ultimate Fallout

This five-parter laid out the foundation for life post-Peter Parker. Peter and the Goblin died during a duel to the death, and the House of Ideas “capitalised” on the event by showcasing the different characters’ reactions to Peter’s passing.

V – Venom-ous

You can’t go wrong with a concept like Venom, as his symbiote makes every “Eddie, Mac Gargan or Flash” an instant villain ... or a hero. Former high school bully and war veteran, Flash Thompson, becomes the latest recipient of the symbiote and gets his shot at the limelight by becoming a government agent.

W – What The Hell(boy)

Hellboy’s creator (Mike Mignola) pulls the plug (Hellboy The Fury # 3) on Dark Horse’s poster boy. While the timing of this development contradicts Mignola’s earlier announced plans, life goes on for BPRD and Abe Sapien.

X – X-Men First Class

If there’s only one comic book movie you will ever watch, this one is it! For once, I am willing to make an exception on the “true to label” pre-requisite and even excuse James McAvoy’s lame acting in Wanted. This “Episode 1” storyline of the Children of the Atom is simply marvellous and Wolverine’s cameo is worth a second watch.

Y – Yuckiest Fight Scene

While most Punisher-Bullseye confrontations are great to watch, this year’s encounter (PunisherMax # 11) offered a new gut-wrenching dimension. In a no-holds-barred showdown between the duo, Bullseye actually puked into Frank Castle’s mouth! Yeech!

Z – ZZZZZZZ

Having (then) heard how bad the Spirit movie was, I decided to save some moolah by catching it on Astro instead. I could only “digest” 10 minutes of the movie before sleeping off.

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