End of the Year Commentary: 2007 – A Year of War and Loss

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It was a year full of conflict: Civil War, World War Hulk, “World War III” (as presented by both DC Comics and Devil’s Due), and “Sinestro Corps War.”

While DC Comics began its Countdown to a Final Crisis, Marvel gave its readers an Initiative, the death of an American icon, a potential messiah for its merry mutants, a Skrull infiltration and one more day for a troubled webhead.

It was a year where the independent publishers’ small market share became even smaller. Dark Horse Comics though found success with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a title created by a pop singer.

Finally, it was a year when we lost Arnold Drake, Richard Goldwater, Paul Norris, Bob Oksner, Marshall Rogers and Mike Wieringo.

Below, 12 of SBC’s contributors appraise the year in comics that was 2007.

Michael Aronson: Fortunately for me, I mostly read manga, and with every year manga gets better. I say this is fortunate because if my tastes were confined to western books, 2007 was bad enough for me to give up reading altogether.

Not just give up comics.

Give up reading.

On one end of the mainstream spectrum, DC Comics is intent to do away with all goodwill established by 52 and some of the more clever premises of their “One Year Later” series, drowning their line in the inertia-ridden Countdown and its army of tie-in series that seem to exist for the sole purpose of convincing everyone that Jason Todd, Donna Troy, and the multiverse all should have stayed dead.

On the flip side, rather than a line-wide project, Marvel Comics has Jeph Loeb doing everything in his limited imagination to water down and destroy anything that was once interesting about characters like Wolverine and the Ultimates, systematically steering clear of the selling points of each and every title and instead applying the same tired guest star-ridden, clichéd battle formula that has dominated his output for the last decade.

Countdown will soon lead into Morrison’s Final Crisis, which – and I don’t care what you think of Morrison – will be a guaranteed improvement upon Countdown. The future at DC doesn’t necessarily look any brighter, but Countdown will end and the next thing can only be that much less terrible. I’m afraid the future only looks grimmer for Marvel fans, however, as Loeb’s new Hulk series and his domination of the Ultimate line will soon kick off in full force. Oh, and he’s still under contract.

Looking at any title with the words “Countdown” or “Loeb” on the title (oh man, for a second there I imagined a dystopia in which Loeb masterminded Countdown instead of Dini; the universe shudders at such a combination), you might be convinced that the Powers That Be in charge of each company have nothing but contempt for your intelligence and make money off of creative condescension. The truth, however, is that…

Well, maybe that’s actually the case, and books like Fables, All Star Superman, and “Sinestro Corps War” are flukes that conspicuously managed to escape the editorial edict to suck (and if by chance, these books begin sucking in 2008, I apologize for bringing this to editorial’s attention).

There’s something tragic in the fact that a country whose dollar value is on the decline is putting out material of an increasingly worse value for that already-flailing dollar. Thank god for Viz, Vertical, Tokyopop, Del Rey, DrMaster, and the other little guys who like to remind us about what quality is.

Matthew J. Brady: If you ask me, this has been a great year for comics, even if only within my personal frame of reference. It was the year I became less and less interested in “mainstream” superhero books, and really began to explore the vast world of material available outside of the “Big Two” publishers. Whether it’s quirky independent comics from the likes of Oni Press or Slave Labor Graphics, the huge array of Japanese manga, the small trickle of European books that we are lucky enough to get translated into English, high-falutin’ “artcomix”, reprints of classic comic strips, or even the large number of webcomics, the amount of material available to the modern enthusiast is staggering, and I couldn’t be happier.

So, keeping aware of my non-mainstream predilections, here are some of my favorites of the year:
Exit Wounds – Rutu Modan’s graphic novel about life and love in war-torn Israel was moving and eye-opening.

Super Spy – Matt Kindt wove a moving, expansive tale of World War II espionage, using expressive art, interesting storytelling techniques, and tons of interweaving characters.

Alice in Sunderland – Bryan Talbot went nuts in some sort of mad quest to explain the history of his hometown in England and its connection with author Lewis Carroll. It’s a dizzying overload of information that never gets boring, due to Talbot’s flair for storytelling.

The Salon – Even somebody as ignorant about art history as me can appreciate the wild characters and crazy ideas that Nick Bertozzi plays with here, telling a surreal story about the birth of cubism, magical absinthe, and gruesome murders.

The Arrival – Shaun Tan blows minds with his amazing artwork here, while still telling an emotional story about immigration.

King City – Brandon Graham has apparently been making comics for a few years, but this was my introduction to his crazy, weird sci-fi style. It’s full of neat ideas and good storytelling, with cute characters and detailed environments. I can’t wait for the next volume.

Casanova – Matt Fraction really broke out as a storyteller with this high-energy series, and artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon trade off in making his awesome ideas come to life. This is a book that I get excited to read when each new issue arrives.

The Nightly News – Jonathan Hickman made a huge splash when he put out this subversive series about media manipulation and Fight Club-esque revolution. His design sense makes for a comics-reading experience that seems completely unique. He’ll be a talent to watch closely in the future.
I could go on and on, but suffice to say that this is only scratching the surface of the great material that was available this year. The state of comics is good, and getting better!

Ariel Carmona Jr.: How to choose the best of 2007 in a year where so much occurred? How to choose the pick of the litter when there were so many choices of quality and independent books?

Marvel had so many moments which mattered, shocked or simply entertained: Iron Man taking over S.H.I.E.L.D. following Civil War, the unexpected death of an immensely iconic hero, the return of the mutants to prominence via The excellent Messiah Complex storyline on the heels of “Endangered Spieces” and Thor’s return as penned by the talented J. Michael Straczynski, but to name a few.

Over on D.C’s side of the fence you had the “Sinestro Corps War” which was a bonafide hit and Countdown which marked the second successful attempt at a weekly North American comic book since Action Comics did it way back when. Then you had Grant Morrison tackling both Superman and Batman.

For me, the best thing about the year had to be the consistent quality of second tier books which saw the light of day despite the big two’s dominance, assuring that there would be viable and entertaining alternatives to the mainstream.

This year I continued to enjoy the likes of The Walking Dead by Robert Kirman and Charlie Adlard, despite the fact many may not consider Image comics an independent company anymore, at least not one struggling to compete with the big boys. Kirkman is a prolific author and his consistency on works like Invincible and The Walking Dead have assured his legacy as a major player in an industry full of superstar writers and artists.

How about Dark Horse Comics? Sure, they have been around for 20 years or more and have major properties like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Hellboy in their stable of comics, but they continue to take risks and to push the industry forward in amazing new directions. Of course, I am referring to The Umbrella Academy, a book promoted to death but a rare case of a product that actually lives up to the hype. This amazing comic book was one of the year’s most innovative surprises and I applaud Dark Horse’s commitment to quality storytelling and willingness to make great use of the medium.

IDW, Ape Entertainment, Devil’s Due and Atomic Pop Art are some of the smaller companies which have provided quality books in a market saturated by spandex clad musclemen and skimpily dressed maidens.

Everybody is starved for the same things: New twists on age old conventions and though we tip our hats to the masters, we look forward to the contributions made by the new breed of creators who flourish in the books of small publishers and the big two alike.

Kelvin Green: At first glance, 2007 was a terrible year for U.S. comics. Marvel and DC spent another year reeling drunkenly from one big things-will-never-be-the-same event to another, “stories” where actual quality storytelling didn’t so much take a back seat to shoddy art and editorial skullduggery as languish in the grubby boot of an old Skoda six cars back. Meanwhile, Shysters-in Chief DiDio and Quesada happily proclaimed that sales showed that this was the best year for comics in a while, claims difficult to take seriously when everything has seventeen “incentive” covers or you’re forced to buy six other comics to understand what’s going on. At least DC doesn’t have the bare-faced audacity to call itself “The House of Ideas” while shovelling out such unimaginative pap.

On a more personal note, the titles that got me into comics in the first place continued to disappoint. Spider-Man has become an unreadable mess as Marvel consistently failed to understand why the character has worked for forty years, instead giving him new powers (again), then forgetting them (again), giving him a new costume (er, again), then abandoning it (you know where this is going), giving him back an old costume (with no connection to said costume’s appearance in the third film, no siree) then abandoning that, having him reveal his identity to the world for no reason, and finally making a pact with the devil so that he could, um, forget his wife. Well, at least they haven’t done that last one before. The Avengers, meanwhile, fared little better as Brian Michael Bendis continued in his attempt to ruin the franchise by squatting out a regular series of comic-shaped turds (let’s fight ninjas for six issues, just like we did a year before! Let’s beat up a woman in a bikini for eight pages! Let’s have Ultron get his tits out!), until Jeph “I wrote Teen Wolf” Loeb decided to take him up on the challenge to produce the worst Avengers comic ever with the execrable Ultimates 3 #1.

Still, 2007 was not all woe and gloom, and there were some pleasant surprises amongst the detritus. Matt Fraction’s Casanova didn’t impress me at all with its preview appearance in an issue of Warren Ellis’ Fell (and where has that wonderful title gone?), but the title turned out to be a catchy pop-culture laden riff on Luther Arkwright with plenty of great ideas and some brilliant art. The currently-ongoing second volume is a bit flat and seems to have lost the tight storytelling focus of the first, but it’s still one of the best new titles of the year. Also at Image, Robert Kirkman’s Invincible continues to be both the best Spider-Man comic and the best Superboy comic on the stands; it’s a rock-solid, classically styled superhero comic of the type that Marvel and DC have forgotten how to make in their desperate flailing attempts to appeal to anyone who still might be paying attention, now that even the lowest common denominator has moved on to the films of Michael Bay.

The biggest surprise of the year though was Gerard Way, whose Umbrella Academy showed that he was much better at writing comics than an angsty popster has any right to be, and crucially, was better than most of the hacks who write comics for a living in these dark end days. I’m not sure that the frequent Grant Morrison comparisons have much merit beyond a superficial conceptual similarity to Doom Patrol (being a reformed Marvelite, I saw X-Men, but there you go), but I’d be happy to see Way jack in the wailing gothery in favour of more comics if they’re going to be as good as his debut. I’m still not buying his records though.

Of course, outside the self-destructive ghetto of the U.S. industry, the medium itself seems to be doing quite well without resorting to nonsense like World Sinestro Civil Black Crisis Monkey Complex, but it’s good to see that even in that wretched, insular world, there are some glimmers of quality that make it still worth venturing into the comic shop now and then. I probably enjoyed more comics this year than in 2006, but I had to look further afield for them. I suppose that’s not so bad.

2007 gets a “bah!,” but I’ll stop short of the full “humbug!”

Shawn Hill: Top 3 of 2007, time to spread some cheer:

Best Book: For me it was The Immortal Iron Fist, because it was just so unexpected. I don’t know the exact nature of the magic that Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction cook up, but their brilliant expansion of the basic ideas of this franchise has not only made each issue a must read, full of events and lore and compelling mythology: they’ve also expanded the world of Danny Rand with new retconned forebears charismatic enough to rate their own stories in annuals. Drawing on influences from Gaiman to Whedon, they—with regular artist David Aja and many well-chosen guest collaborators—have turned out the best version of this character since his short-lived original series (which had the benefit of All-New X-Men era Claremont/Byrne synergy).

Best Trend: It started for me with Brubaker’s sweeping “Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar” saga last year in Uncanny X-Men. That story just had good pacing and an epic sweep (and has led to a decent spin-off mini-series in Emperor Vulcan), and really set the stage for a renewed commitment to Marvel’s moribund mutants. They needed a jolt of life after all that House of M-onkeying them towards “DeciMation” with so little dramatic payoff. “Endangered Species,” Beast’s back-up issue search for a cure, though fruitless for poor Hank, was a smart way to raise interest in a new direction, and it actually worked, raising readership on the titles that included its 8-page chapters. Now Messiah Complex, with its own trade dress, rotates between the four core books, promising to shake things up for the future and so far delivering a compelling action-filled story with plenty of spotlit moments for your personal favorite mutants. Will the Messiah set Marvel’s mutants right again? He’s already begun.

Rising Talent Award: Christos Gage has been the only consistent part of a depressingly abortive Wildstorm relaunch, doing the Authority better than Morrison managed to and bringing Stormwatch back to life, too. He’s done his homework so far as how these characters behave, and with Darick Robertson on Authority Prime he finally has an artist who can make his visions look cool. Sometimes solid craft is good enough, when what you most want to read is a solid, satisfying monthly installment of some of your favorite heroes.

Paul Brian McCoy: There were a lot of good and bad things to talk about this year. But I want to use this opportunity to concentrate on what made me happy. And what I loved the most about the past year has been the work of Warren Ellis, Ed Brubaker, and Matt Fraction.

The most impressive thing about their output is that they’ve taken the unwieldy pineapples of Marvel’s Civil War and made deliciously refreshing Flirtinis. Ellis’ Thunderbolts, Brubaker’s Captain America, and Fraction’s The Order, all either spun directly out of the Civil War or used it as a point from which to kick off amazing work, with each title covering a very different aspect of the current Marvel Universe. Ellis works his way through the darker aspects of criminalizing superheroics, while Brubaker gave us the most explosive moment of the year with the assassination of Captain America and has not slowed down since, as each month he continues to explore what Cap’s legacy means. Finally, Fraction gives us both imaginative action sequences and in-depth character studies as his cast uses the Fifty State Initiative as an opportunity to be volunteer heroes for a year.

Their other Marvel work has been a cornucopia of variety and excitement. This year Ellis wrapped up the sheer glee that was Nextwave and re-imagined a nearly forgotten line with newuniversal. Brubaker has been doing solid work on Uncanny X-Men and has taken Daredevil back to the glory of the Frank Miller era. For sheer exuberance, Fraction’s Punisher: War Journal shouldn’t be missed, and his work, with Brubaker, on Immortal Iron Fist is continuously superb in all its pulpy, kung-fu genius. It’s the best book Marvel publishes.

If you prefer Indies, Brubaker’s writing a noir classic, Criminal, and Fraction launched the second season of his brilliant Casanova. Ellis takes the prize, though, with a couple issues each of the police procedural, Fell, and his dip into the world of retired spies, Desolation Jones. Then there was Blackgas 2, his zombie horror story, and his intelligently brutal “barbarian” tale, Wolfskin. He also wrote the one shot, Crecy, about the historic battle, plus, he’s started the new ongoing science fiction project, Doktor Sleepless, and the limited series Black Summer, where superheroes take the law into their own hands, with not even the President being out of their reach.

Three writers, eighteen titles, all good. As a bonus, I’d like to sing the praises of Ben Templesmith, for his amazing art on Fell and for his terrifically twisted creation, Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse. If there’s a better comic out there about a sentient maggot wearing an animated corpse while doing occult detective work with his robot sidekick, I haven’t read it.

Chris Murman: If I were forced to sum up mainstream comics in three words this year (and let’s be fair, the fact that I made myself do this is an accomplishment in itself), I would use these:
Let’s be fair, why shouldn’t those words dominate this medium? Events such as Civil War, “Sinestro Corps War,” “World War III,” World War Hulk, countless Crisis plaguing continuity, and the Death of an American icon merely sum up what makes books sell in the modern age. I was reminded of the mentality of the current day comic reader when reading Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier on Christmas Day (Santa brought it to me, isn’t my family nice?). Sure there was a battle to save the Earth from an alien force, but heroes stood for something different in an age of funny books that few of us were alive for.

It got me to thinking, where has the positive message gone in this format of story telling? Sure, there are books that give me a good feeling from time to time, but they are balanced out by equally less than idealistic occurrences. For every story where Superman serves as guardian angel for an elderly woman, he’s breaking into government buildings to angrily rescue a boy from his home world. Nothing is wrong with either story, mind you. I’m merely pointing out the stark difference in tone of the issues. For the most part, however, we are given top-selling series where the “hero” takes the role of villain today.

Certainly, there is a flipside to this conversation. We have sold movies, written books, even salvaged the American economy during the first part of the 20th century with this simple axiom: Peace is boring; war is compelling. Superman and Batman were cultivated to sell war bonds for crying out loud. In this time of anti-patriotism and criticism of U.S. leaders, why shouldn’t comics reflect anything other than the dreary times we live in?

At the risk of sounding like a simpleton, comics are meant to inspire more than snarky reviews on this website.

Maybe I’m viewing comics through rose-colored glasses that were never a reality. The way I viewed super heroes as a kid may not be how they were intended. The problem is I have a library of comics that I would not feel comfortable handing to one of my children to read. Yes, there are books out of mainstream continuity for a younger reader to peruse, but those just don’t seem like the same as reading Action or Detective Comics. We as fans (and creators) have a responsibility to leave this medium in better shape than we found it.

Are we doing that?

Christopher Power: 2007 in Review: The Rise of the Digital Comic

I was tempted to write about the greatness of the “Sinestro Corps War,” or the death of Bart Allen, or the promising return of the X-Men. However, among all of these stories told within the pages of comics, there was an even more interesting story happening in the industry.

Just as the medium of comics evolved in the early 80s, from being sold as periodicals on supermarket spin-racks to the LCS, another evolution happened in 2007: there were more comics available online than any other year, in both legitimate and illegitimate forms.

Of course, many people saw this coming years ago. The evolution started around 2002 with web comics; however, the large comic producers seemed to stick their heads in the sand and assumed that it would not affect how they sold their books. Statements like “People want to go to their comics shop” were trotted out, even though that model has only been in place for 25 years.

In 2007 the scanners who had killed the RPG book market for the LCS turned their sights on the main product: the comics. Mainstream comics became available online for download within 36 hours of hitting the shelves. The scanners have reached a critical mass and have been able to collect anthologies of the books that the comic vendors want to sell in trade. This caused the major comic companies to get scared. Several companies have tentatively moved to online sales models, with different companies trying different strategies to protect their properties. The issues these companies must contend with include:
Distribution Models: I agree with Dan DiDio: people do not want to rent comics. Music companies tried the Marvel scheme with RealPlayer Rhapsody which has yet to be convincingly successful. Dark Horse’s 2000AD initiative is one to watch in 2008. Then there are independents who are tired of being snubbed by Diamond Distributing. Will one of them take the web comics strip model and pay for themselves by advertising?
Scanning techniques: The scanning community has developed many techniques to enable good text in their scans, something the big two have not achieved with their online material.
Scanning vs. production: Are there two different products to sell? Can both online and print comics be produced at the same time? What is the impact on the universe continuity? How do readers manage their understanding of the stories that inter-relate?
The Sequential Art Form: There is an opportunity to push the medium beyond words and pictures, with ambient sound, or digital speech options for reading text (e.g. for people with dyslexia or visual disabilities). What are the long-term impacts of this on comics? When is it not sequential art and something else instead?

These and other questions will start to be answered in 2008. Keep an eye online and in your store, because I think the coming year will be the one where it all changes.

Nicholas Slayton: Looking back at the year, I’m having a hard time figuring out what was the best of the lot, and what was the worst. 2007 has had some good moments, but it has also had some truly questionable comics come out of it. So, when it comes down to it, here is the best of ’07.

When it came to DC, the “Sinestro Corps War” was the big winner of the year. Geoff Johns and all the other writers involved really brought back some quality to the event books. “Sinestro Corps War” didn’t have scores of tie-in books or editors screaming “This will change everything!” The story was simply good. And in the end, a good story sold well. This should be a lesson to the big companies, put your faith in a good story, not in shock twists and surprising endings. Meanwhile, Green Arrow: Year One managed to finally do some justice to the Battling Bowman. In a year where he’s been beaten up, written out of character, nearly married only to be “killed off” and then written even more out of character, Andy Diggle and Jock managed to craft a fun, entertaining story and made Ollie a character worth liking again.

Across town, Marvel has had some great bright spots amid odd choices. Ed Brubaker continues to make the oddest of creative moves interesting (The Hood as the new Kingpin, anyone?). Between Captain America, Daredevil, and the Immortal Iron Fist, Brubaker is crafting unique, entertaining, and smart stories.

However, my biggest praise of the year has to go to companies like Dark Horse and Image. These two continue to publish the smartest comics out there. Rex Mundi, The Nightly News, Zero Killer, and others all share a similar engrossing nature that make them strong staples in a year of overhyped events and pointless retcons.

Not only are their books good, but the two companies have managed to do something else: attract new readers. This year I have seen dozens of people who would normally not be caught dead in a comic book store checking to see if the latest issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy, or Coheed and Cambria’s The Amory Wars was in. They are attracting creators from other media that already have a strong following and when the creators come into make comics, the fans go to buy them. It is a refreshing sight, and one that looks promising for the industry.

This year has had its ups and downs. If the industry can continue to come up with good, inventive concepts that appeal to everybody and not just the current market, 2008 looks like it can be even better.

Caryn A. Tate:

Item #1: Death & Maiming Comics (a.k.a. Depressing Comics)
In mainstream comics these days, it has become common to see characters killed—or, worse, to become maimed or otherwise incapacitated in some horrible way. What is this infatuation with death and horror in the superhero genre? Horror and darkness have their places in the arts, and several of my favorite films, books, comics, etc. are horrific or have a dark nature. But are they fitting for superhero tales? The genre is rooted in hope, adventure, and imagination—and it has felt, for the past several years, like it has become gradually weighed down by this presence of negativity from editors who seem to be trying way to hard to “modernize” comics. What they don’t seem to realize is that “modernizing” and altering characters and their books to the point where they’re no longer recognizable are not the same things. (Plus most characters are universal, so there’s no real need for modernizing.)

What’s worse is the seeming lack of understanding on the part of both editors and creators who continue to do the tiresome: killing characters and then bringing them back to life. What matters is that this basic rule of drama appears to be beyond the grasp of these professionals; if death—the most universal and inevitable of all aspects of life—is no longer a real threat but becomes a cheap manipulative toy, this adversely affects drama in a very real way. If the audience knows that this character will come back to life again—that death is not final—this realization snatches away any suspense or concern that the reader may have otherwise had.

Item #2: Slowly paced & expensive comics
This has improved slightly in the past year or so, but there are still too many comics creators out there who are turning out 12 issue story arcs of a tale that should only take 3 or 4 issues to tell, if they were concerned at all with succinct writing and—dare I say it—the long-term interest of the readers. This style of storytelling is pushing many comics readers to “wait for the trades.” Unfortunately, the comics industry as a whole is not a “trade” business and it will continue to suffer if this trend persists.

Item #3: Recent improvements in comics storytelling
“The Sinestro Corps War,” Busiek on Superman, Waid/Perez on Brave & the Bold, and Morrison on Batman all stand as examples of superb storytelling and utilization of the narrative power of the medium. These creators and several others have risen above the expectations of editors, publishers, and in many cases the audience, and turned out solid, old fashioned, fun comics. My note to all of the industry: Please give us more of this.

Dave Wallace: In the seasonal spirit of positivity, I’m going to resist the opportunity to complain about late comics, mediocre crossovers, or the mishandling of once-great properties (*cough* the Ultimate Universe *cough*) and recommend three new books that you should be reading - but probably aren’t:

For me, Marvel’s runaway success of the year has been Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction's Immortal Iron Fist. Fusing 1970s Kung-Fu and 1930s pulp heroics with some decidedly modern sensibilities and a strong supporting cast (including Orson Randall, hands-down the best new character of the year), Fraction and Brubaker have conspired to create something very special. Fraction’s wildly imaginative excesses meld with Brubaker’s canny instincts for plot and characterisation to produce a book which is appealing on several levels, artist David Aja brings the story to life with peerless fluid storytelling and visual innovations, and guest-artists each add their own flavour to the book’s flashback scenes. This is a great example of how to reinvent a character and a concept: it’s respectful of what came before, but it’s definitely ploughing its own unique furrow, too. However, it still isn’t in the same sales league as some of Marvel’s other A-list books. If you enjoy good superhero comics, be sure to try it.

In late 2006, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips launched Criminal under Marvel’s creator-owned ICON imprint. Over the course of 2007, two 5-issue arcs were completed, each of which ties into a larger overall story. The writer’s grasp of plotting, characterisation, and noir conventions make the book a joy for anyone who enjoys crime comics, Phillips’ artwork captures the moody, gritty texture of Brubaker’s world perfectly, and backup articles provide text pieces on the crime/noir genre. The book will be re-launched in a slightly different format with a new #1 issue in February 2008, so hopefully anyone who’s still on the fence will see this as an opportunity to jump on board.

Finally, I want to recommend Warren Ellis’ latest outing with Avatar Comics, Black Summer. Ellis creates a cast of all-new characters to explore the possible consequences of one ex-superhero taking the law into his own hands and killing the President for his perceived crimes, before demanding a fresh election on his own terms. Juan Jose Ryp provides artwork that invites comparisons with Frank Quitely and Geoff Darrow thanks to his stylised, consistent, and highly detailed visuals. Together, they fashion a book which can be read as an indictment of the current state of American politics, a sly commentary on the simplicity and immaturity of superhero comics, or simply a fast-moving, gritty, action-packed superhero team book from the man that redefined the genre with The Authority. This is a superhero Civil War done properly.

Thom Young: Here is my Countdown of the Top Three comic book events of 2007:
3. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill—Dave Wallace and I will be presenting a tandem review of this book in the very near future. Suffice it to say for now that the book contains layers and layers of metafictional subtexts, which pleases me to no end.

2. The release of volume two of DC’s The Action Heroes Archives--which collects Steve Ditko’s work in Captain Atom #83-89, Blue Beetle #1-5, and Mysterious Suspense #1 (but not in that order). As a draftsman, Ditko was at his peak in the late 1950s to late 1970s, and these works that he did for Charlton Comics in the mid 1960s are some of his best. This volume also confirmed something that I stated in part one of my four-part series of articles on Steve Ditko —namely, that Ditko was writing most of these stories at Charlton under the pseudonym of D.C. Glanzman.

1. Finally, The continued release of numerous collected editions of Jack Kirby’s work from several companies—including the first three volumes of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus, the Eternals Omnibus, the Devil Dinosaur Omnibus, volume two of the Fantastic Four Omnibus, volume two of the Kamandi Archives, and the collected edition of Pacific Comics’ Silver Star (which I reviewed here).

Additionally, 2008 will see the release of the volume four of the Fourth World Omnibus, the collected edition of Jack Kirby’s OMAC, and Kirby Five-Oh!: Celebrating 50 Years Of The “King” Of Comics (and, hopefully, others—such as Machine Man, Destroyer Duck, Jack Kirby’s The Demon, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Not all of these collections display the best of Kirby’s work, but most of them do. Regardless, they are historically important, and collectors of Kirby’s work should own them all.
I’d also like to state that an “Honorable Mention” goes to All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. I was told I could only write about a maximum of three comic book subjects for this column, so I’m not going to be able to tell you about this fourth item in my “top four” comic book subjects other than the series has an intellectual depth and complexity beyond what is usually found in mainstream comic books as Morrison and Quitely work together to emphasize the conflation of the divine and mundane within the Superman mythos. For more on this idea, see here.

Th-th-th-that’s all, folks.

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