Thursday, December 20, 2007

2007 - The Year That Was - Part I

The blogging around here slowed considerably in 2007. I have to blame a new job that leaves little energy at the end of the day for reading, let alone writing about what I read. Hopefully, things are calming down a bit and I can work into a new groove.

Overall, the theme of 2007 seemed to be one of transition. We had two major events come to an end, and saw a handful of new ones start up. Even more attention was paid to the evolution of comics, from bookstore distribution of TPBs and OGNs to the major companies trying to figure out how the web would play a part of the future. The atmosphere seemed familiar to any one who was around for 1986 (Our Favorite Yearâ„¢) in that the medium was getting a large amount of attention from without, especially in the area of OGNs (American Born Chinese, Dark Tower and Fun Home spring to mind). That and the continuing crest of movies and television projects adapting or riffing on comics. Exciting times, though the cynic in me feels like I've seen it all before, and saw it come to near ruin. I'm not one for proclaiming the end of comics, though I do think about the inverse of all this attention and money, and it chills me a bit.

But enough loser talk. Here's what stood out (for me) in 2007:

Putting the "Awe" in Awesome
52 - The Immortal Iron Fist - Sinestro Corp War

Above are some examples of the best of the year for me. Seeing them together like this, I realize they have some facets in common:

  1. They feature strong central themes.
  2. They put forth genuine and imaginative efforts to reinvigorate characters and concepts.
  3. There seems to be a kind of geeky embrace of the past, no matter how embarrassing. I admire the fearlessness in someone thinking that they can make Booster Gold/Iron Fist/Guy Gardner really cool characters instead of punchlines.
  4. They remained relatively self-contained. All I needed to know to enjoy each series or event was contained between the covers. Sure, there was the WWIII offshoot and some one-shots for SCW, but they were by no means essential to enjoy or understand the story. They were optional.

Also, I'd like to acknowledge the unqualified success of 52. I would have never thought that a company could pull off a weekly comic with a sustained level of quality as this. It may not have been perfect, but it produced enough goodwill that I was able to overlook its occassional flaws and pick it up week after week.

Who Wants to Live Up to Expectations, Anyway?
Civil War - Eternals - Countdown - World War Hulk

And here we have Countdown proving how successful 52 actually was. Perhaps a certain amount of event fatique set in, perhaps it had too much to live up to, but I could not drop this series fast enough. It seemed half-formed, and where 52 did everything right, it proceded to go in a "different" direction. Looking at the other titles, I notice a lot of Marvel up there, and a lot of similarities:
  1. Simple, strong premises that get all botched up and watered down. Really, if Hulk has come back to Earth to kick the world's ass... wouldn't one expect him to take his fight outside of New York state? Less of a "World War" and more of a "Police Action" (not as catchy, is it?).
  2. Every single one of these had some kind of reboot-worthy plot development.
  3. Each one ended in a way that I could actually hear a cartoonish "wah-wah-waah" horn blow. Also, my head briefly turned into a giant sucker. I'd like to single out Eternals here... what the hell, Gaiman? The series read like either 1.) a lead-up to an new ongoing that never materialized or 2.) a massive reboot button for others to use later.

That's it for today. Next I'll talk about some more stuff about the Year That Was, plus a wish list for the Year That Will Be(?).


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