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Catching Up on Reviews, Part 13 — New & Secret Avengers

New Avengers #9 (Marvel) – I’m a big fan of Brian Michael Bendis’s writing and it’s good in this issue although the historical “Avengers” tale going on here throws me a bit. I don’t fully get it. I’m not a huge fan of either Mike Deodata or HOward Chaykin’s art here, although none of it is bad. The shocking ending to the issue is well-done.

Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8

New Avengers #10 (Marvel) – I’m still not sure the Avengers 1959 story works very well and the main story is weaker than usual. This is the worst issue of the series to date, although that isn’t to say it’s a bad comic, just not as good as the rest.

Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5

New Avengers #11 (Marvel) – More of the same here keeps the series in a holding pattern. The image of a superhero riding a whale is a bit jarring, in a bad way.

Story: 8 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75

New Avengers #12 (Marvel) – The writing gets a bit better in this issue, but the art, if anything, is worse.

Story: 8.5 Art: 7 Overall: 7.75

New Avengers #13 (Marvel) – This issue gets the series back to its higher quality level, with a focus on revenge for the attack on Mockingbird and some interesting foreshadowing about what might be coming down the road.

Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75

New Avengers #14 (Marvel) – This Fear Itself tie-in is one of the best of the entire event. The focus is on the return of Mockingbird and it’s very well done, to the point of being one of her best appearances ever. It’s very much a Bendis comic book, in the best sense of that concept.

Story: 9.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 9.25

New Avengers #15 (Marvel) – Bendis does his best to write a good Fear Itself story featuring Squirrel Girl, but, in the end, it’s still a story featuring Squirrel Girl.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25

New Avengers #16 (Marvel) – Bringing Daredevil fully into the Avengers fold through a well-told Fear Itself story is a good idea.

Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75

New Avengers Annual #1 (Marvel) – This may be the most interesting thing ever done with the character of Wonder Man. Bendis takes a character that had long been a one-note thing and makes him one of the most interesting adversaries the Avengers have seen in a while. On top of that, he surrounds him with a cast of b-level characters that are all brought into the story in a great way. This is action-packed and looks great thanks to Gabriele Dell’otto

Story: 9.75 Art: 9.75 Overall: 9.75

Secret Avengers #10 (Marvel) – Ed Brubaker tells a very action-oriented tale that gives a lot of time to Shang-Chi and shows that Steve Rogers is a master tactician.

Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75

Secret Avengers #11 (Marvel) – I’m not sure I like the revival of the John Steele character in modern times, but if it’s going to be done, this is about as good as it’s going to get.

Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5

Secret Avengers #12 (Marvel) – This series is consistently high quality and even when the premise is one that doesn’t grab me, it’s very well-executed. The art is starting to decline a bit, but I’m sure that’s temporary.

Story: 9 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.25

Secret Avengers #12.1 (Marvel) – This point one issue offers a lot of philosophical ideas related to the Avengers, the Secret Avengers, government informants, how to react to dangerous situations and more. It may be a bit heavy for a jump-on point, but it is a good issue for those who already have some knowledge of the Avengers.

Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5

Secret Avengers #13 (Marvel) – There are a few cheesy moments here, but this is really a tale of right and wrong, civil rights and the multiple approaches that can be taken to change the world.

Story: 9.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 9.25

Secret Avengers #14 (Marvel) – Nick Spencer uses this Fear Itself tie-in to explore what it means to be a soldier and a warrior and writes one of the more compelling elements of the entire crossover.

Story: 9.5 Art: 9 Overall: 9.25

Secret Avengers #15 (Marvel) – Secret Avengers seems to be the designated place in the Fear Itself event to discuss philosophical issues — this time it is with the responsibility of the media when it comes to dealing with big issues and people’s lives.

Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5

Secret Avengers #16 (Marvel) – Finally breaking free from Fear Itself, Warren Ellis comes on board to write a fun, action-packed tale that fits into the Heroic Age concept very well.

Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5

Best Comic Books of 2010

 

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It’s the first day of a new year and so that means we’re doing our “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2010.  Generally these are comic books that came out in 2010, though some are from earlier times and we got around to reading them.  Keep in mind, this is what I read.  We’ve added some new categories this year, but without further delay, here are the winners!

Best Super Hero Comic – The Invincible Iron Man

Invincible Iron Man #500.1Yes, this series won last year too, but writer Matt Fraction has kept up the excellence with an amazing plot mixing superhero heroics, politics, corporate rivalry and with the latest issue, we learn this is all the tip of the iceberg.

In single issues there’s usually some bigger worldly issue we’re presented with, great banter, often fantastic action and beautiful art.

This is a superhero comic for adults and one series I look forward to each month.

The upcoming Invincible Iron Man #500.1 is the perfect jumping on point to see what you’re missing.

Runner Ups – Secret Warriors, Uncanny X-Force

Best Non-Super Hero Comic –DMZ

DMZ 50Is there a more politically relevant comic book series out there?  Every month we’re given something to think about as we follow Matty Roth through Manhattan which is now a DMZ in the middle of the second American Civil War.

Writer Brian Wood is able to pivot and comment on what’s currently happening in politics and the world challenging our perceptions and not seem preachy at the same time.

With some single issues that stand as some of the best of the year and numerous holy shit moments, this isn’t just one of the most relevant comics out there, but some of the best political commentary of any entertainment medium.

Runner Ups – American Vampire, Chew, The Walking Dead

Best Limited Series or One Shot – Daytripper

DaytripperI’ve handed this comic off to so many people and not only sucked them into this series, but also got them to ask what else is out there?  This showed that comics aren’t about just spandex anymore.

There’s no other series out there that created such an emotional reaction each month.  I’m not embarrassed to admit there were numerous moments I broke down crying or teared up.  No other series has done that before to me.

It’s a shame it ended and hopefully we see more soon from the phenoms Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá.

Runner Ups – Killer: Modus Vivendi, Taskmaster, Velocity

Best Single Issue – Unknown Soldier #21 (New Category)

This series saw it’s conclusion this year but it also brought the best issue of any comic book during it’s end run.

This issue focused on the history of one Avtomat Kalashnikova rifle as it’s passed from one owner to another.  It’s a powerful issue looking at the mass distribution of a weapon that’s been a driver and common tool in today’s conflicts .

Powerful, heart wrenching, and an amazing political and historical statement, this issue is a must read for comic book fans and non-comic book readers.

Worst Single Issue of the Year – Fantastic Four Annual #32 (New Category)

Three words as to why – Time. Travel. Abortion.

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – Return of the Dapper Men

Return of the Dapper Men HCThere’s no other graphic novel that was more magical this year than Jim McCann‘s and Janet Lee‘s Return of the Dapper Men.

This is a magical world of wonder where time has stopped and adults have disappeared.  Neverland in a modern setting.

A modern classic is the only way I can describe this graphic novel that seems to evoke the best of those magical tales we read, watched and were told as kids.  This is a graphic novel parents will be sharing with their children for years to come.

Runner UpsHow to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, Cuba: My Revolution, Revolver

Best Event of the Year – Artifacts

Artifacts #1 CoverThe first issue had me gasp “holy shit” out loud and the subsequent ones have just been setting up what will be a hell of a ride.

The public seems to have reacted well with issues going back for numerous printings.

All hell is about the break loose in the Top Cow universe and with Ron Marz‘s talented writing to drive it and some fantastic artists to back him up, there’s a chance this might be next year’s top event as well.

Best Genre of the Year – Zombie

The Walking Dead Zombie Teaser 2One thing makes zombies get the win here, The Walking Dead.  The comic book series continues it’s excellence and the television show had us wanting more after it’s first season’s six episode run.  There’s a reason it was one of the top rated cable series ever, it’s that damn good.  Evidence of it’s spread beyond the normal comic book reading public are the numerous people reading it on my daily commute and my non-comic book reading friends asking me about the series and comic.  I don’t see this type of legs with the big movie blockbusters.  Congrats to Robert Kirkman and AMC.

Runner Up – Noir

Best Comic Tie-In of the Year –Heroclix

Heroclix Web of Spider-manI’m a sucker for Heroclix and picked up the Blackest Night set at Gen Con this year.  I don’t play, but love looking at the detailed figures.  There’s something so much fun about it and I wish I had some local gamer friends that I can break out my figures once in a while and give me an excuse to get more.

With sets based off of Watchmen, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, Jonah Hex, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the DC 75th Anniversary it’s impressive this was a game and company on the brink of collapse not too long ago.

Runner Up – Marvel Universe toys.

Best Comic Book Related Movie – Scott Pigrim vs. the World (New Category)

Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldIt’s been an up and down year for movies based off of comic books.  Next years crop of movies looks strong, but this year had one stand out and that was the kinetic Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

This was a movie for the Nintendo generation with so much in there even our ADD generation missed some of the winks and nods littered throughout the film.

It holds up after multiple viewings and I know I left with a smile on my face.  Overall it was a year of weak competition but even in a strong year this would be a contender.

On an aside my favorite movies of 2010 were The Social Network, Black Swan, The Town and The Fighter.

Runner Up – The Losers

Best Series Finale of the Year – Ex Machina (New Category)

Ex MachinaI can’t think of a series which ended so perfectly.  To say more would give it all away, but I was beyond satisfied when I finished reading it and hoped for a second volume.

The finale of this superhero as Mayor series answered our questions, gave us some jaw dropping moments at the end and presented a Presidential ticket I might even vote for.

A lot of series left unanswered questions or gave us disappointing ones, but this one never seemed like a cop out and never treated us like children.

The ending was damn near perfect and the series one of the best of modern times.

Runner Up – Daytripper

Best Surprise of the Year – Killer: Modus Vivendi (New Category)

The Killer Modus Vivendi 006 CoverThis is a new category that I thought was appropriate to throw out there.  I look at this as comics you probably skipped in 2010, but you really should go back and check out. 

Killer: Modus Vivendi is the third volume for this character and saw him being manipulated by the CIA and Cubans in a tale about oil and spheres of influence.  Bond and Bourne, eat your heart out.

Not only do we have great action, some intense moments, but there’s also politics and a worldly view you don’t find out in too many other comics.  It’s the complete package in comics for adults.

Runner Up – Velocity, Kill Shakespeare

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – Brightest Day and Heroic Age

Enter the Heroic AgeI “Entered the Heroic Age” and looked forward to tomorrow’s “Brightest Day” and can say “no thanks.”  Does no longer being dark and gritty also mean convoluted and boring?

Marvel and DC comics took a dip this year as they moved away from dark stories and attempted to hark back to the golden age of black and white heroes and villains.  We also got the return of the 90’s with the return of characters we thought and hoped were dead and stayed that way.

This all clearly isn’t lasting long as the Marvel event Fear Itself looms over 2011.  As a hole things just aren’t quite as exciting as they’ve been in years past.

Runner Up – Iron Man 2

Best Character – Killer

I’m so happy Archaia put Killer: Modus Vivendi in my hands.  With it I got one of the best politically charged noir comics on the market and a badass anti-hero in the man we only know as Killer.

He beds the hot chicks, assassinates people with a shot, causes revolutions and destabilizes regions. Bond and Bourne are wimps compared to writer Matz‘s creation.

We get to see politics and the world from outside of an “American” perspective and a cold unrepentant killer and assassin who it’s all a job to.

This was the third volume with more to come.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Publisher of the Year – Archaia

ArchaiaSo where’d this company come from?  I don’t think there was one comic I read I was disappointed in or didn’t enjoy in some way.  The hardcovers are just high quality products and stories in between the covers reflect that.  The Killer, Mouse Guard, Cyclops, Critical Millennium and so many more are series you should be reading and if you’re not then you need to check them out.

Many of these series continue into 2011 and there’s many new ones to come.  When I think Archaia, I think high quality and expect the best.  So far they haven’t let me down.

Runner Ups – Top Cow, Marvel

Heroic Age: One Month To Live Arrives In Stores & On the Marvel Comics App

Official Press Release

Heroic Age: One Month To Live Arrives In Stores & On the Marvel Comics App

In a world of unlikely heroes, Dennis Sykes is about to become Marvel’s unlikeliest, in an event that brings together the entire Marvel Universe! This September, Heroic Age: One Month To Live #1 begins a five-issue weekly event and each issue will debut the following week on the Marvel Comics app! An all-star creative team—including Rick Remender, Stuart Moore, Rob Williams, John Ostrander and more—brings you the story of an accident which gives Sykes incredible super powers…and a 30-day death sentence. Now, Sykes will leave his mark on the world, and he’s prepared to go through Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and Avengers to complete his final journey!

“From the moment we read the script and saw the first pencils, we knew we had a special book in Heroic Age: One Month To Live,” said David Gabriel, Marvel Senior Vice President of Sales & Circulation. “With so many major Marvel heroes guest-starring, this is the perfect book for current fans and new readers, which made it a natural to fit on the Marvel Comics app shortly after it hits stores.”

Everyone is the hero of their own story…but not every hero is a good guy. Don’t miss a single issue of the gripping Heroic Age: One Month To Live, on-sale in September at comic shops and on the Marvel Comics app.

HEROIC AGE: ONE MONTH TO LIVE #1 (JUL100583)

Written by RICK REMENDER

Penciled by ANDREA MUTTI

Covers by MIKE FYLES

Rated T+ …$2.99

FOC—8/12/10, On-Sale—9/1/10

Heroic Age: One Month To Live Cover Read more

The Heroic Age Takes Over The Marvel Comics App!

Official Press Release

The Heroic Age Takes Over The Marvel Comics App!

Marvel brings the excitement of the Heroic Age to the Marvel Comics app with the release of two critically-acclaimed new titles! First, ENTER THE HEROIC AGE with new stories from Marvel’s top creators featuring the Thunderbolts, Hawkeye & Mockingbird, the next generation of Avengers and more! Then, in YOUNG ALLIES #1 discover the dynamic new super hero team drawing acclaim from all corners courtesy of Sean McKeever & David Baldeon!

“Both of these issues present readers with a look at some of our most acclaimed series in this bold new era for Marvel,” said David Gabriel, Marvel Senior Vice-President of Sales & Circulation. “Working with our retailer advisory committee, we believe introducing single issues of our acclaimed series to our Marvel Comics app users will encourage them to visit their local comic shops for the next chapters of these series. Whether you’re a long time fan or new to comics, there’s something here for everyone in the Heroic Age.”

Then, go in-depth with three stars of Young Allies in NOMAD: GIRL WITHOUT A WORLD #1-4, GRAVITY #1-4 and FIRESTAR #1, all available today on the Marvel Comics app. These three young heroes form the core of Marvel’s most unpredictable new teen team-but where did they come from? The answers are here!

It’s time to celebrate the Heroic Age on the Marvel Comics app with the releases of ENTER THE HEROIC AGE and YOUNG ALLIES #1!

Enter the Heroic Age

Preview – One Betrayal Damns The Heroic Age

Official Press Release

ONE BETRAYAL DAMNS THE HEROIC AGE

The stunning events of this issue will affect the Marvel Universe in the coming months and it all begins here!

DEATH OF DRACULA #1 (MAY100586)

Written by VICTOR GISCHLER

Penciled by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI

Cover by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI & MARKO DJURDJERVIC

Parental Advisory …$3.99

FOC—6/17/10, On-Sale—7/7/10

Age of Heroes Limited Series

Age of Heroes


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The end of Siege marks the end of seven years of dark stories that began with Civil War and ended with Dark Reign.  Soon we’ll seen the beginning of the Heroic Age of the Marvel universe.  With the new direction Marvel has announced a new limited series, Age of Heroes by the writing quartet of Kurt Busiek, Paul Cornell, Rick Remender and Dan Slott.  In an article on the Marvel website the writers discussed what each of their stories deals with.

Busiek’s focuses on New York City, the “epicenter” of the Marvel heroes.  The focus is how the city and it’s inhabitants deal with the fallout from what occurs in Siege.

It’s very much a story about how the people of New York view their heroes, in the light of all that’s gone on, so what’s been happening and what’s coming next are the subject of the story.

Cornell’s looks at how the heroe’s themselves, both seasoned and the younger ones, deal with the new era.  Slott looks at Spider-man and his take on the new direction.  Dark Reign was very much what he himself deals with every day but every hero experienced the misery.  Remender focuses on Doc Voodoo the new Sorcerer Supreme who must deal with the aftermath and attempt to get back to his normal life.

The world is celebrating, notes Remender. It’s akin to the end of WWII. Jericho himself has saved the entire fabric of reality, only no one is aware of it. So it’s time to unclench the fists and unwind a bit. We find Jericho involved in a new struggle: to enjoy life.

More on the Heroic Age

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Marvel has been teaser heavy promoting what we can expect post Siege and dubbed the Heroic Age and begins in May.  It’s a return to good guys fighting evil, blah, blah, blah, etc.  Below is from the Marvel website as well as another teaser image.

Witness the Marvel Universe triumph over its greatest challenges ever as the HEROIC AGE ignites! Still lurking in the shadows are forces of evil and cosmic-level threats, but a new spirit of hope, courage, and the selflessness at the heart of heroism will rise up. The most extraordinary tales will be told in this Heroic Age of the Marvel Universe.Stay tuned for more exciting revelations of new series, new teams and new characters as the Age of Heroes begins!

We’ve gotten some teasers as to the new Avengers team, any guesses as to what else we can expect?

Enter the Heroic Age

Marvel’s Heroic Age in USA Today

Heroic Age


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USA Today, which usually does decent mainstream coverage of the comic book industry, has an early look about Marvel’s upcoming tonal shift in it’s line of books.  If you’re not aware for the last seven years the Marvel universe has been a bit “dark”.  Well, that’s all about to change…. for the heroic.

Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada had this to say:

Heroes will be heroes again. They’ve gone through hell and they’re back to being good guys — a throwback to the early days of the Marvel Universe, with more of a swashbuckling feel.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis also added:

The ‘brand new day’ of the Heroic Age presents a tonal shift to optimism, a world filled with hope but quite hellish villains. The heroes realize it’s a blue-sky world worth protecting…. This was always the whole point — the reunion, the Avengers getting back together, because this is what the world needs right now. Now we get to the good stuff.

Marvel tends to tie it’s series into cultural shifts and their tone tends to reflect society at the time.  The 2000’s could be considered a dark time marked with war and fear, all of which were touched upon in various ways through Marvel’s comics.  With the election of a new President and a renewed call for hope, one has to wonder if Marvel is going with the time.