Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Comics Anticipation....Making Me Wait...

Waiting for comics that have been announced, but that have not come out yet is a big part of being a comics fan.  The new book has a writer you really like, an artist that is good, and a character or two that you really enjoy.  So it has to be GREAT!  Right?

Well......not necessarily.
Comics are a hit and miss media.  It's easy to make bad comics.  It's hard to make mediocre comics.  And it is almost impossible to make really, really great comics.  That magic lightning of comic greatness only ends up on the page once in a while.  But as fans, we keep hoping.  And when that next project sounds like it has increased odds of maybe, just possibly manifesting into our reality as a genuinely great book, well... we get all excited with the possibility.

Luckily, for me, I am a fan of mediocre comics and I even secretly love the really bad comics.  So there is plenty there to keep my attention.  But I still keep hoping that this next book is going to be the one that redefines what is possible in this incredible media called comics.  I am 100% positive that there are untapped riches of comics that have not been discovered or imagined yet.

So learning to enjoy the anticipation phase of comics is important.  Anything is possible when Writer X meets Artists Y and Z while exploring Characters A, B and C!
Also, to be fair, a lot of what we love about comic characters takes place between the panels and between issues anyway.  There has never been a Doctor Strange comic as cool as the Doctor Strange in my imagination.  And every time a new Doc Strange project is announced I think, maybe this time the good doctor's true mystical potential will make it onto a page.
Don't get me wrong, there have been Good Dr. Strange comics.  But there has never been a truly GREAT Doctor Strange comic....Yet.  But he is Sorcerer Supreme again, so maybe someday soon...

So what books are in Anticipation Mode right now?
Thanks for asking.

Guardians of the Galaxy.  Can Bendis unlock the wacky weirdness that is Rocket Raccoon?  And not ruin it with too much Tony Stark?

Fearless Defenders.  Will Dani Moonstar get a chance to show how incredibly cool she is while standing back-to-back with Valkyrie?  Hel Yeah!

Books that have passed out of Anticipation Mode and into actual comic pages?
The Iron man reboot.  A good book, so far.  But not Great.
The Fantastic Four/FF Fraction takeover.  Hickman's FFs were literally "fantastic" 80% of the time.  So Matt Fraction has big shoes to fill.  But he is doing a good job of making things fun and he is really capturing the "family" vibe of the Fantastic Four and the FF.  So far so good.

Young Avengers #1  Wow!  What can I say.  This time the actual book is better than my level of anticipation!  A Great Kick Off to new series with some of the most interesting young Marvel characters.  If you can get your hands on this book, read it.  Billy is doing well intentioned, but really stupid things (just like his mom, the Scarlet Witch does).  I mean, even Kid Loki was trying to stop him.

Newly moved into Anticipation Mode...Young Avengers #2
Can Kieron Gillen and James McKelvie keep things at the high level set by #1?  Will this be more than just one Great Comic?  Will if be a great Story Arc?  Or dare I say it, a Great Comic Series?  We shall see...  Anything is possible.

Anticipation can be fun.
-- Jay Larsen
PS: You can read my new Comic, Giga-Geekery #1, with a minimum of Anticipation.  Just Click Here and go get one!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

New Year, Marvel NOW!

I have already said that I have an affinity for Marvel comic books, so I may be biased.  When comparing DC's New 52 "reboot" with Marvel NOW!'s "non-reboot", Marvel wins hands down.

Good things were already happening at Marvel in 2012: Fear Itself (the 2011 event) was finally over. Hickman's run on Fantastic Four and FF were amazing!  Bendis ran Avengers for longer than any other writer in Marvel history, and he did amazing things with them.  Fraction's Iron Man was solid.  Defenders got resurrected with a bang and retired with a whimper (sorry Marvel, it wasn't all good).

The big event of the Marvel year was AvX, Avengers vs X-men, which sounded like a gimmick, and ended up being pretty damned good.  I especially liked when Black Panther slaps the science out of Tony Stark just as he was going to go all Civil-War-Serious on us again.  (Tony only gets to tear the world apart once a decade!)  Cyclops started sliding into madness years ago (in my opinion) and the Phoenix Force just made it so everyone else could see it.  AvX managed to hit the other books without making them slaves to the "big event" (which shows that maybe Marvel is learning from it's past mistakes.)  Wolverine reopening the school turned out to be a really fun ride and showed what an ensemble cast book could be like, in Wolverine and the X-men.  New Mutants had a great year (thanks Abnett and Lanning) especially the "Date with the Devil" issue #37--possibly the best single issue I read all year!

Marvel did get bought by Disney last year.  This still kind of creeps me out and makes me worry, but so far so good.
Marvel movies did great: Avengers anyone?

So 2012 was a good year for Marvel.
And then they announced Marvel NOW! (which has to have CAPS and an Exclamation Mark!) the new "not a reboot" of the Marvel line.  Uh Oh!, I thought to myself.  Marvel is going to do a DC-style New 52 (which I did not think turned out well for DC).
But so far, so good in my opinion.

Marvel moved all their most popular writers and artists around, giving them fresh books to work on.  This resulted in some really good endings to some of the existing story arcs.  Fantastic Four, Avengers, New Avengers, Iron Man, Spider-man all got interesting stories that their old teams wanted to tell before they left.

And NOW! the new Marvel NOW! issues have been coming out (with more promised for later).
Bendis is on X-men now.  He did my least favorite thing and did a time travel story where the 1960's teenager X-men meet the new screwed up X-men.  I didn't want to like it.  But it is turning out to be really great.
Matt Fraction has taken the Fantastic Four on an intergalactic road trip.  And put a replacement FF team on Earth to hold down the fort.  I can't wait to see what happens next.
Fraction and Aja have are also 7 issues into a new Hawkeye series that is one of the coolest things being published right now.  It is hard to describe, but a joy to read.
The new Thor series is good.
Avengers is going cosmic, Hickman style.
Spider-man just killed Peter Parker (again) and replaced him with Doc Octopus!  (Don't worry kids, it is the 50th anniversary of Spider-man this year.  I'm sure Peter will come back to us somehow.)
And there are still more NOW! titles that have not come out yet.  Fearless Defenders, an all Girl X-Men Team, Nova, and Guardians of the Galaxy!  I am Groot!

This could end up being a great year for Marvel Comics!  I think they are doing a lot of things right with their "not a reboot".  It's a great time to jump on and Marvel didn't throw all their history and continuity into the garbage.  I like it so far.  But maybe it's just me?

-- Jay

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

New Year, Old 52

I always seem to end up reading Marvel Comics.  Even as a kid.  But I always liked Batman and found Wonder Woman interesting but poorly written.  But it was Iron Man and Captain America that I would read over and over again.  I like the idea of Superman, but the actual Superman in the comics usually bored me.

As I got older, my tastes stayed the same.  I would dip into DC territory once in a while.  Hey Green Arrow got interesting for a bit.  Green Lantern got good for a while.  But mostly it was Batman that was worth reading.

So when DC announced the New 52 "reboot" of the DC Universe, I gave it a try.
I read dozens of their number 1's, and as the year went by I was reading fewer and fewer DC books.  I wanted to like Birds of Prey, but it went nowhere.  Flash has had great page layouts, but not a good plot to be seen.  Superman had all sorts of potential and just left me yawning.  Green Lantern (which I had been enjoying before the reboot) enslaved Hal Jordan to Sinestro and put me into blackest boredom.  Green Arrow just sucked... The only surprise was Wonder Woman, whose book has stayed very good all year by basically remaining independent from the rest of the DC Universe.  I am convince the Wonder Woman kissing Superman in Justice League is a different Wonder Woman than the daughter of Zeus who has been kicking ass in Hades and Olympus.

There were a few sparks of interest on Earth 2, but I'm not sure that book will ever stick with any of those characters long enough to make it really interesting.

And there has been Batman.  Batman, especially the Synder/Capullo series, has been fantastic!  I can't say enough about how good Batman has been.  That maze of the Owls sequence will go down in comics history.

But that's it.  Batman and Wonder Woman.

DC said this was a great time to jump in.  DC said we didn't have to know all the back story to understand these characters.  But it didn't turn out to be true.  The "reboot" didn't reboot nearly enough for me.  And the end result was kind of a wash.  I back down to reading Batman and Wonder Woman again.  Sorry DC.  I tried.  Maybe it isn't you.  Maybe its me?
Thankfully, there is still Marvel and other comics companies.
-- Jay