Monday, December 26, 2011

Penny Reviews: 2011, Part I

I got a lot of comics in 2011 (while reviewing them for this blog, I made the mistake of estimating their cost and lost three hours to a haze of fiscal shame), and as people often do at the end of a year, I've taken a moment (actual value of moment is three days) to reflect on my purchases and share the resulting insights with you, the unwary reader.

Planetary Vol 4 by Warren Ellis
Fucking. Awesome.
Here's your change
#1 Best

Chaos War is important enough to be one this list only because it's a banner-bearer for the flash-in-the-pan, no-one-cares, big-stakes-with-no-consequences events that define superhero events these days. The much-reviled (by me) tipping point for Deadpool’s overexposure, Doomwar, came out this year. It didn’t make this list because its characters had grokkable goals and the events that unraveled did so according to a chain of understandable logic, at least more than Chaos War’s shouting about the stakes while miscellaneous energy crackled everywhere. For gods’ sakes! I only knew the heroes won only because they said so (and Marvel didn’t declare bankruptcy)!
#5 Worst

Teen Titans 89-100
I only subscribed to this because Damian Wayne was on the cover, even though he was only in two issues. I admit it; that pumpkin-headed brat is my Wolverine. I picked up an issue of Superman/Batman because he was doing Metropolis things on the cover and in the comic.

This brings me back to Teen Titans. Damian is only in two issues. Without him, it’s aiming for superpowered 90210 and hits the gutters somewhere around…90210. But you take my point. It’s the modern baseline for comics, and that baseline is not high enough.

Also, only two issues have Damian Wayne.
#8 Worst

The story of England's Batman and Robin. It seamlessly tells you a lot about the characters involved and balances a strange kind of lightheartedness with serious cause and effect. While Chaos War kills billions of people while engendering no concern or care from the reader, Knight and Squire kills one person with reason, clarity, and significant emotional effect. It is amazing comics and the same applies to everything which ranks above it.

It’s written by Paul Cornell, who wrote the controversial Red Hood and The Blowfish #1. It’s amazing people could read this and not give the guy some BOD. Edit: Nononono. Scott Lobdell wrote Red Folder and the enclosed study of women's portrayal in comics. Paul Cornell writes awesome stuff.
#5 Best

I expected The Next Day to inform me about suicide by telling the engaging stories of four people who had attempted—and failed—to commit suicide. What I got was a pulsing ink-on-paper abortion of stock interview excerpts filtered through MS Paint. If the whole of the project wasn’t made up by one unimaginative shyster testing the publishing limits of the comic book industry, I’d be surprised. If you want to become more educated about suicides, make something up and draw your own comic, it would be more informative than these accounts of chronic emotional troubles and stock substance abuse.
#4 Worst

Day Tripper by Gabriel Ba
If ‘The Next Day’ wants to show you that suicide is…something, Day Tripper wants to show you that life is something else indeed. It nods at the brevity of life, reminding us never to forget that or take tomorrow for granted. It tells a man's life in his most important hours, all of them his final hour.

It’s Brazilian, and if it’s one thing that makes me feel multicultural without having to leave the country or learn Tagalong, it’s reading comics set in other countries (Hello, Knight & Squire).

Also, guy in a speedo. If that offends you, kill yourself.
#4 Best

Superman: The Black Ring Vol I & Vol II by Paul Cornell
The story of how Lex Luthor captures the energy of the mcguffins from the previous mega-event whatever. Lex squares off against other, lesser, super-villains, [Remove “lesser,” Kris. It’s redundant.] and gains ultimate power, only to face his own shortcomings. It is the definitive take on the character and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand him. The same way Knight and Squire doesn’t contain much Batman, the Superman content here is low.

Yes, somehow I managed to get all that praise out while gritting my teeth over the canonization of Luthor's new, Smallville origin.

Also, he fucks the robot.
#3 Best

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