Like I said on my other blog, 2006 was the year when reading comic books became an addiction for me. The year when I began to love Wednesdays (in my case, since I’m here in the Philippines, it’s Thursdays since new books arrive here in the afternoon or evening of Thursdays). And since the year’s over, I’d like to make a list (an awesome list) of things that made my addiction worth my hard-earned money. In no particular order:
- Infinite Crisis. Yes, Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis and Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman made me interested in DC comics, but it was Infinite Crisis that showed me the way. It opened my eyes that the DC Universe can be fun and interesting. Although I still am and always will be a Marvel zombie, I’m reading more and more DC titles as the addiction goes on.
- 52. While the buzz was building about this weekly comic series, I told myself “hell no”. I was one of those idiots who said 52 won’t work. I ate my stupid words. I purchased the first issue out of curiosity. Since I enjoyed it and ComicQuest in Festival Mall had a promotion for 52 (pre-order 4 issues, get one of them free), I tried it for the first month. Now, 34 issues in, I’m still reading it and I’ll stay with it until its final issue. With the quality and unique reading experience it’s giving me, I would definitely try another weekly comic in the future. But I hope they’ll wait for at least 1 year before doing another weekly comic again for the sake of my wallet.
- Annihilation. I wasn’t there for the several minis leading up to the main Annihilation mini, but after hearing the online buzz about the event, I decided to try the main mini. And I enjoyed it. I have never appreciated the Marvel space characters before this. Now, I definitely do. If there would be a follow-up mini or ongoing, I’m so in.
- Astonishing X-Men. I am now a certified Joss Whedon fan (certified by the International Joss Whedon Fan Certification Group). The book has been shipped late several times, but I still enjoyed it. “Fancy Lad Wolverine” made it so.
- Brian K. Vaughan. He’s the best writer of the year for me. I’m thrilled with his Doctor Strange mini, I’m sad that he’s leaving Runaways, and I’m frustrated that I can’t get any more Y: The Last Man trades after the 3rd one. I haven’t read some of his other works, but I now know I should.
- The revamping of the Justice League and the Justice Society. Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes keep me glued to Justice League of America with the beautiful art and the engaging story. And although Justice Society of America has only one issue out so far, it’s enough for me to stick with it for the long haul.
- The new creative teams on X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. I’m enjoying the space epic in Uncanny by Ed Brubaker and Billy Tan. I’ve given up on the title after the Onslaught saga a decade ago, but the infusion of the new creative team lured me back. So far, I have no reason to leave it again. I can also say the same thing for X-Men. I enjoy it more than Uncanny, actually. This is probably the most kickass line up of X-Men I’ve seen. And also the most unlikely. Rogue as a badass leader is a breath of fresh air.
- Nextwave. At first glance, it’s a waste of money. They even acknowledge that impression in the latest issue. But whenever a comic book makes me chuckle, it’s so worth the money. Best comic explosions ever.
- X-Factor. Again, online buzz drove me to try this one out. And I was not disappointed. Most of the time, it’s just talking heads. But they’re funny, interesting, and profound talking heads. I also like the art on this series. It’s moody and expressive. Perfect for talking heads. But don’t get me wrong, there’s also action in this baby. And the action scenes are as fun as the talking heads panels.
- Agents of Atlas. My favorite mini-series of 2006. It’s just so fun. I feel like this is how all comic books should be. There’s meat behind the characters. Action, comedy, and drama. And how can you resist a comic with a heavily armed talking gorilla? I’m still pissed though because I still don’t have the 3rd issue. Grrr.
- Civil War. If there’s one thing that defines 2006, it’s Marvel’s Civil War. With a complex and fun story, amazing and drool-worthy art in the main book, and highly developed characterization, Civil War and several of its tie-in books took the comic book industry, and my wallet, by storm. In 2006, the Marvel Universe was split in two. Fans set the internet message boards on fire. Civil War asked all of us the question of the year: whose side are you on?
And now for this week’s haul:
52 #34: Last week’s issue was all holiday fluff and happy thoughts, but this week’s issue is full of intensity. First of all, the cover is very disturbing and emphasizes the fact that The Question is near death’s door. But it can also be misleading. This may foreshadow an entirely different character’s impending doom. But still, my money’s on the dude without a face. The issue starts with a battle between the Black Marvel Family and the all-new Suicide Squad that ends in a gory way. Osiris goes Superboy Prime on a Suicide Squad member. Freakin’ awesome. We also get to see a fun interrogation scene between Lex Luthor and Clark Kent. Lex Luthor’s badass. The final sequence with the countdown to the new year is intense. Two scenes overlap with the countdown in the background: Luthor planning to do something dastardly, and seemingly the final steps of The Question towards death’s door. The Zatanna origin story looks gorgeous, by the way.
I give this 4 out of 5 undercover superheroes.
Annihilation #5: The penultimate chapter to the Annihilation space epic. I’m enjoying Andrea Divito’s art all throughout this mini-series. Keith Giffen also gives me joy with his right balance of kickass action and funny dialogues. But there’s nothing funny about Drax setting the Silver Surfer and Galactus free. It’s more of “holy crap! that’s awesome!” when you see Galactus break free from his shackles and say “Know me, Annihilus. Know me and know fear!” Holy crap! That’s awesome! And another thing that’s awesome is how the Super Skrull and Ronan the Accuser massacred their way to free the Kree. Speaking of Ronan, he’s my new favorite badass. When you hear “know that you have been accused…” and see him giving you the “you’re sooo screwed” look, that means you’re sooo screwed.
I give this 5 out of 5 disintegrated members of House Fiyero.
Astonishing X-Men #19: This is the first issue of the last arc of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday on this title. It’s freaking exciting. We finally get to see the Breakworld, a world allegedly destined to be destroyed by Colossus. As usual, Whedon brings the funny even in the most dire of situations. This issue contains probably the funniest scene in Colossus’ history. The thing I like most about Whedon is how he mixes the overly dramatic, the poignant, and the humorous. And we see it all this issue. The last arc seemed to flow so slowly, but the start of this “Unstoppable” arc suggests that there would be a faster pace this time around. I definitely hope so. And I also hope that there won’t be any more delays on the shipping of this title.
I give this 5 out of 5 unfunny jokes turned funny.
Birds of Prey #101: I’ve always wanted to try out this title but there never seemed a perfect time to do it. This week, however, I felt experimental. Birds of Prey is one of two monthly books I tried out this week. I always thought that this was a girly book since it stars female characters and is written by a female writer. Plus, since #100, it’s also drawn by a female artist (who’s a former model, by the way). I thought wrong. Although it’s full of girl power, it’s not girly. And when I say “girly”, I mean “corny comic aiming for the teenage female demography”. It’s kickass. A kickass story with a kickass art featuring a kickass group of hot kickass female characters. I’m definitely adding this to my pull list.
I give this 5 out of 5 phallic symbols.
Black Panther #23: This is the second monthly book I tried out this week. But unlike the first one, I’m not adding it to my pull list. The writing is so-so. The art? I don’t like it. It’s confusing at times. And the weird angles… well, they weirded me out. I always thought the Black Panther character is interesting, but I’ll settle reading about him as a guest-star in other books. And by the way, the last sentence at the last page? Corny. “Time for the big guns”. I mean, come on.
I give this 2 out of 5 “weird camera angles”.
The Immortal Iron Fist #2: The first issue surprised me because I wasn’t expecting much out of a title starring a character I was never interested in. Now, I’m very much interested. Kudos to Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction for the engaging story, and to David Aja for the beautiful art. I love the concept of the Iron Fist being a mantle and not just a codename of a superhero who knows Kung Fu. And speaking of Kung Fu, I laughed out loud at Danny Rand’s line “I am Iron Fist and I know Kung Fu. Hi-yahh”. Good stuff. Actually, the whole scene with Luke Cage is very entertaining. Danny Rand is turning out to be a cool character for me. I think I want to learn Kung Fu.
I give this 5 out of 5 Night Nurses.
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #11: The cover says how fun this book is. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s absurd. I love it. A whole lot of explosions for a 32-page comic with six (six!) 2-page spreads. For a total of 12 pages, we see the Nextwave crew battling all kinds of absurd freaks like monkeys dressed up as Wolverine, dinosaurs with optic blasts ala Cyclops, pink gorillas, and an army of Stephen Hawkings who shoot blue laser beams from their eyes. If this was another comic book, six 2-page spreads would mean a waste of money. But this is Nextwave. Never a waste of money. And as if the spreads are not absurd enough, we find out that Dirk Anger, after committing suicide, has been turned into a zombie because his employers don’t want him to die. He wants brains and he has just re-invented suicide as a group activity. Priceless.
I give this a 4 out of 5 terrorist cells disguised as patriotic American companies.
Ultimate Power #3: If I’m going to live in a comic book world, I want it to be drawn by Greg Land. His women are sooo fine. Seriously. All female characters drawn by Greg Land are freakin’ hot! He’s one of the many reasons I have this title on my pull list. Another reason is Brian Michael Bendis. His dialogues are brilliant. But I could do without his “decompression” style of writing. The biggest reason is the bigass number of characters in the title. I mean, it’s the Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate Spider-Man, The Ultimates, and the Ultimate X-Men versus the Squadron Supreme! That’s a lot of hot women! Anyway, this issue shows us what happened in the Squadron Supreme Earth. It got pretty messed up by Mr. Fantastic’s probe. He’s now brought back to the Squadron’s world to stand trial, which pisses off the very hot Invisible Girl. She makes sexy invisible force fields.
I give this 5 out of 5 irritating other-dimensional American presidents.
X-Men #194: Before I rave about the writing, I’d like to rant about the art. Sure, Humberto Ramos draws great action scenes and overall, his art looks fine. But it’s too cartoony. It’s Manga-like. And what’s up with Mystique’s huge puppies on the cover?! The story and the overall vibe needs a gritty art. Good thing he’s just a fill-in artist. Well, I hope he is. Anyway, this issue is part 1 of 3 of the “Primary Infection” arc. Mike Carey is doing a great job in writing the X-Men. He’s made uninteresting characters… well, interesting. Take Rogue, for instance. I’ve never seen her this badass before. She makes a great leader so far. I love the pacing of the story and the fact that Carey is introducing new threats and concepts to the X-Men mythos instead of using old characters for the thousandth time.
I give this 4 out of 5 mental images of a naked Mastermind.
Well, that’s the last haul for 2006. Judging from the quality of comics in the past year, I’m so pumped up about what’s coming next in 2007. The addiction shall certainly continue. To everyone, happy new year and be safe!