Right around now, when most people are speculating on the year to come, I tend to reflect on the year that has passed. I think of opportunities missed (cross-country road trips) and those taken instead (law school). I think of people who have left my life and others who have entered it. And of course, I think of all the things I’ve seen and read. Now, I’m sure many other geek-culture sites will have their obligatory “Best Of” lists, all with varying degrees of integrity and sense. Here, I just want to share my unbridled enthusiasm for the things I’ve enjoyed the most from the past year, which may or may not have any connection with what is actually good or bad.
I love the fantasy genre—always have. I’ve grown up on a daily diet of sword-and-sorcery fiction, but there’s a big difference between these flights of fancy and the subtle works of magical realism, where writers make the natural and supernatural stand side-by-side. In Xombi, John Rozum incorporated science and the occult together to craft a thoroughly weird, wondrous world where castles float on giant skulls, golems fly on rocket packs, and nuns call on the saints to bless their guns. Rozum also developed sympathetic, even lovable characters, none of whom wore a cape or descended from any legacy superhero brand. He made a Korean-American man his star without once calling attention to his race or culture. And he did all this with the help of Frazer Irving, whose impressionistic art allowed the fantastic elements of the story to seep into your very senses. It made me almost sick to see the series cancelled, and I still miss it deeply.
Nick Spencer knows how to make the old new again. Nothing proves that better than his taking a campy, bowtie-wearing photojournalist/semi-sidekick and turning him into a hero of overlooked geeks everywhere. Jimmy Olsen recalls the spirit of the great Silver Age stories by making you feel like anything can happen and the universe is one giant playground to run around in, wearing only your boxers if you please. But more than the zany plots (repelling a massive alien invasion by boredom), what I love about this story is its enormous heart. Through all his adventures, Jimmy shows that even an everyman with no powers and few skills to speak of can win the day, be a hero, and get the girl. Also, Chloe rocks
Nothing could have made me happier as an English major than to have an ongoing series devoted to not only exploring works of literature, great and small, but the very nature of storytelling itself. While Mike Carey spent early issues of The Unwritten laying down a rich plot that traversed both the fictional and nonfictional worlds, this past year has seen him and critical collaborator Peter Gross tackle bigger, more profound questions, ones where even the non-answers can have enormous impact. Ambitious in every way (you don’t make a “Choose Your Own Adventure” issue unless you have serious guts and chops), this title has the distinction of actually living up to its lofty goals most of the time. As someone who loves words, I find reading about reading almost as much fun and stimulating as reading itself.
DC’s New 52
It’s impossible to hide the fact that I’m an unashamedly devoted DC fan. When I think of heroes I want to meet in real life, the ones I wish were real and saving the world right now, I think of Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and so many other illustrious names in the DC canon. While I never participated in the Marvel-vs-DC debate as fiercely as some, it always bothered me that DC was such an entrenched second banana to its longtime rival. So it was admittedly gratifying to see the publisher take such dramatic steps to clean up its convoluted continuity, reinvigorate its brand, and place its creators on projects they believed in. More than the fact that DC finally overtook Marvel in sales, I’m just incredibly happy with the wide variety of stories spinning out of the DC stables, and how much stronger as a whole their entirely line of comics have become. Compared to the stuff they offered in 2010, I’m much prouder to call myself a DC follower now than before.
Filed under: Other | Tagged: Batwoman, Best of 2011, Captain America, Captain America: The First Avenger, DC, DC Comics, Frazer Irving, Jimmy Olsen, John Rozum, Marvel, Marvel Comics, Mike Carey, MQ's Favorite Things, Muppets, Nick Spencer, Peter Gross, Unwritten, Wonder Woman, Xombi | 2 Comments »