Keeping up with the latest stories in comic books isn’t as hard as some people make it out to be, especially at roughly 30 pages a pop. The issue is in paying for the comics, which are hardly even collectibles anymore. When was the last worthwhile issue 1 of any series? I often feel like comic books are disposable, not unlike most television. Consume and then remove it. Easier said than done. My proof is in the stacks of comics sitting in my room. It’s hard to remove things in which you’ve invested money.
So might as well buy smart. If one is going by brand alone, I’m putting it out there that I love and support Marvel comics coming into 2009. The past year of comics haven’t been that memorable. I’m not going to lie. The plots and pacing weren’t great, but the aim was true – make comics fun again. The past year of Marvel comics were fun and exciting.
DC wasn’t bad, but the truth is that I found myself only reading the Batman family of comics and Teen Titans. Everything else was negligible. I dislike both Superman and Wonder Woman, I think the Flash is only good on a team (plus Bart/Impulse/Kid Flash/new Flash/vapor is gone), I think every third Green Lantern issue is good, and Final Crisis is boring. The Batman books have been good, and despite the negative feelings people seem to have going in, I’m looking forward to the storyline wherein a new Batman will be established. It’s just taking too damn long.
Meanwhile the past year at Marvel has been awesome. While people have made a point of bitching about the One Day More storyline and subsequent Brand New Day in The Amazing Spider-Man, I’ve grown to love it. What gets me is the fact that I’m pretty sure the writers didn’t necessarily agree with Joe Quesada’s decision to magically unmarry Peter and Mary Jane via Mephisto, Marvel Comics’ devil. There are little jokes referencing all of that, particularly in one of the last issues where Peter mentions to Harry that he’s not sure who knows what anymore – because it seems to be made up as they go along. But that joking adds something to it. It’s like the writers are saying, “We know you’re unhappy with how we got here, but we’re on the same page for the rest of the ride.” And the ride’s been fun. Can’t go wrong with a weekly Spider-Man title, and Peter Parker is back to being the everyman who has to struggle each day in order to get by in life. I can relate. Peter’s having married one of the most beautiful women in the Marvel Universe was fine for a while, but he seriously lost his everyman status at that point.
Then there’s the X-Men titles. Despite his being my least favorite character, the Wolverine-led X-Force book has been an amazing ride. When describing it to people, I call it the X-Men hit squad. It’s true. Just a group of violent characters whom Cyclops sends out to kill people who need to die. The most amazing thing the book did was bring back Archangel. Sure, Warren never died, but that persona didn’t logically exist. The re-emergence of Archangel doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it adds something to Warren’s character and brings a version of his character that was loved by so many. The rest of the X-books have been great as well, and Cyclops is a great leader and badass.
The biggest misstep with the books was letting Joss Whedon write his own series. Not only was it an overall forgettable series, but he locked Kitty Pryde in a giant magic bullet that floats through space just because he felt it was the right thing to do. Sure, he brought Colossus back from the grave, but he basically killed off Kitty Pryde – a character who, up until Whedon started writing, was mostly retired for the time being. It was like writing for shock value.
On that note, Secret Invasion. It was a great premise and would have probably gone over very well if kept in the two Avengers books like planned, but blowing it up and involving the entirety of the Marvel Universe was a bad move. It felt pretty crammed with every hero being involved and the story being drawn out like it was. And then they killed Janet Pym, the Wasp. Why? Who knows? There wasn’t even enough focus on her in the book for anyone to actually cared that she died. She was the second founding member of the Avengers to die in such a high profile situation, but the way it happened was disappointing. And while I like the idea of Norman Osborne taking on such a high profile position in the security of the United States of Marvel Comics, his rise to the top was a bit underwhelming due to how quickly it happened. Plus everyone knows he’s psycho, so it doesn’t make sense without having built it up more.
What everyone should really be excited about is the state of the Ultimate universe after Ultimatum. Things leading up to Ultimatum seemed forced, but I can understand that the writers were working under a very limited time frame. For the world that they want to create after Ultimatum, I get that they wanted certain characters there and others gone. The wave in the first issue also wiped clean a number of characters, mostly X-Men. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here, though. It looks like the possibility of a world with bigotry accepted worldwide against people with powers or who look like mutants. It’ll be a world that will be an interesting read for minorities.
That sounds serious. What’s fun about that? For one, Spider-Woman looks like she’s returning to the books, with the Human Torch chasing her tail. Yeah, look up her information if you don’t get what will be so fun about it. Also, Power Princess is probably joining the Ultimates, and a character who is a parody of Wonder Woman but willing to screw the Hulk is OK in my book. I just hope Ultimates becomes a monthly title.
There’s all these great possibilities open in the future and more, so I don’t hesitate when I say, “Make mine Marvel.” In 2009, Marvel has most of my attention.