Hi there! If you're new to the blog, this is pretty basic: Parts 1 thru 4 are a look back at each title I bought this year, who worked on the books, some of the major storylines, and what I considered to be high and low points. Sometimes those are in story, sometimes they relate to creative teams, and there's no guarantee there will always be a low point, because sometimes I'm so positive. Part 5 is a list post, and the opening paragraphs will touch on whatever stuff related to my buying habits I feel like mentioning. OK, the recap for new readers is over, let's get going. As has been the case the previous years, most of what I buy is in the front half of the alphabet, so we aren't even reaching the Bs today.
Angel & Faith #2-5: I'm sure I'll get the first issue at some point. The question is whether I'll consider it part of 2011 or 2012. The primary arc is Angel's mission to resurrect Giles, while Faith struggles to stop him without completely taking the wind from his sails. Christos Gage is writing the book, Rebekad Isaacs drew issues 2-4, Phil Noto drew #5, which involved Harmony hiring Angel to help her prevent damage to her reputation.
High Point: I'd say it's how well Gage and Isaacs get the title characters. Their attitude and dialogue sound right, and Isaacs draws them looking recognizably like their actor selves, without being overly stiff and referenced, as sometimes happens when the artist wants to keep a character on a specific model. The book feels right, and it has well-drawn fight scenes and bits of humor.
Low Point: I guess issue #5, mostly because Harmony's willful obliviousness to the destruction in her past grated on my nerves. I don't need Angel's sackcloth, ashes, and rats routine, but acting as though none of it happened is a bit much. The presence of Whistler in #4 wasn't welcome, except for the prospect of one of the title character disemboweling him. He's one of those characters that nips at the heels of real movers and shakers, but acts like a big wheel, and all I can do is wonder how he isn't dead yet.
Annihilators #1-4: This mini-series and the next one are what Cosmic Marvel had to offer in 2011. On one hand, we have the DnA team working with Tan Eng Huat on the heavy hitter team Star-Lord always envisioned guarding the galaxy. On the other, Tim Green II is the artist for the story of Rocket Raccoon tracking down his old buddy Groot to help him figure out why a clown made of living wood was sent to kill him.
High Point: Ronan taking down Doctor Dredd, after the dissing Ikon gave him wasn't bad. The bit with Quasar trying to bluff Immortus was nice, though I fear the idea of Quasar having some major role down the line is going to get lost as readily as the idea of Jack Flag dying to save the universe did. I liked essentially all of the Rocket/Groot back-up.
Low Point: Tan Eng Huat's art isn't suited for big cosmic action. His characters look awkward and stiff, and there's not much sense of force or power in his art.
Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4: The follow-up mini-series, where the heavy hitters (minus the Silver Surfer) travel to Earth to try and stop the return of the Magus, only to end up brawling with the Avengers. Eventually the Avengers realize the Annihilators have good reason to be here and both sides manage to tolerate each other long enough to work together. In the back-up Rocket and Groot are trapped in one of Mojo's television shows, dealing with his mercurial artistic temperment, as well as his desire for maximum merchandising possibilities. Creative teams are the same as on the previous mini.
High Point: The back-up. Especially the duo being menaced by a wide variety of variant Rockets. The Church of Truth zealots on Earth being smart enough to play terrified humans when the Avengers arrive. The back and forth between Captain America and Ronan. Tim Green's art.
Low Point: Let's start with the art on the Annihilators' section, same complaints as before, though if anything, Huat's art look more rushed. I'd have preferred to see more progress on the solution to the Magus problem before the last five seconds, which probably could have happened with less pointless arguing about whether it's OK to kill possessed kids. The Avengers weren't gonna go along with it, just move on.
Atomic Robo - Ghost of Station X #1-4: My first foray into Atomic Robo in single issues. Robo is nearly killed after a fake call from NASA lures him into low Earth orbit, then nearly killed some more by armed troop guys in Nebraska. A valuable lesson about staying out of Nebraska. Meanwhile, an entire building has vanished in England, something Robo is supposed to know about, though he hasn't a clue. It's reached the point where both plots are about to come together. Brian Clevinger's writing, Scott Wegener draws it, Rhonda Pattison colors it, and Jeff Powell letters it.
High Point: I liked the Tesladyne staff coming up with a solution to save the nonexistent orbiter in a short period of time, the ideas proposed and dismissed, and how the one was ultimately implemented. I like how Clevinger's gradually revealing what's going on, and I think Wegener drew the bit with the satellite and Robo's near death well.
Low Point: Wegener's backgrounds are not his strong point, and. . . um, I was confused about what the CB and ham radio people were doing in issue 4? The specifics, not the general idea that they were somehow tracing the orbital signal that was being used to track Robo. It would have been quicker to say "No low point", wouldn't it?
Avengers Academy #8-21: This was supposed to be dropped from my pull after June, but Jack kept sending it. By then it'd picked up enough I didn't mind, and was willing to keep paying for it as long as he kept sending it. He must have decided I was only buying it through Fear Itself, because it stopped showing up in November. Which is fine. It was a nice series, but not one I feel I have to keep reading. Christos Gage wrote this too, with art handled variously by Mike McKone, Tom Raney, Sean Chen, and Andrea DiVito.
High Point: The confrontation between Finesse and Taskmaster in #9 was well done. The prom in #13 had its moments, and the cadets struggle against Titania and the Absorbing Man was well-written. I also liked how serious Pym got when he learned the cadets had been sent into battle. Geez, am I turning into a real Hank Pym fan? What's next, rooting for Cyclops?
Low Point: I know it's in her coninuity now, but I could have done without anyone bringing up The Hood pistol whipping Tigra as she cries. It wasn't that Gage's story in #8 was bad, I just didn't want to be reminded of that. Also, I don't give a damn about Korvac, so 11 and 12 were a dud for me. My favorite artist on the book was probably DiVito, who naturally only drew one issue.
Avengers Academy Giant-Size: This was originally a mini-series called Arcade: Death Game. Then it was canceled and resolicited as this one-shot, which is a better value, pricewise, but I'd rather have the triptych cover that was actually story relevant than the generic Ed McGuiness cover that has Spidey, Iron Man, and Steve Rogers in the background, even though none of them appear in this story. Not even as robot fakes used by Arcade. That's how it goes, I suppose. Paul Tobin wrote it, David Baldeon drew it, Jordi Tarragona inked it, Chris Sotomayor was colorist, and Dave Lanphear lettered it.
Avengers Solo #1-3: I picked this up because I like Hawkeye, and because Jen van Meter wrote an outstanding Black Cat mini-series in 2010 (which I ranked my favorite mini of the year). So far the results have been mixed. There's also a back-up story written by Jim McCann and drawn by Clayton Henry involving Pym, Striker, and Finesse against Alkhema, an old Avengers foe.
High Point: Jen van Meter seems to get Hawkeye, that what he has going for him more than anything is stubborness. That and boundless confidence, which is not quite as much on display. Artists Roger Robinson (issues 1 and 2), and Al Barrionuevo (issue 3) have had some good pages, either nicely done fight scenes, or maybe a particularly good expression.
Low Point: This hasn't worked as well as Black Cat did. Part of that is I like caper flicks, so the Black Cat was in that sweet spot, and Hawkeye isn't going to fit that, so some other plot had to happen. I guess I'd prefer it be less tied to the Avengers. The other part is Robinson and Barrionuevo aren't as strong an art team as the pair of Javiers, Pulido and Rodriguez, van Meter had for Black Cat. For all the good panels or scenes the current artists are doing, there are ones with unclear action, strange anatomy, or curious layout choices. Some of it is Robinson's art was frequently murky and difficult to follow. Which sounds like a colorist issue, but Fabio D'Auria's been the colorist for both of them. Robinson apparently inks himself, while Barrionuevo has Raul Lopez, so maybe that's the difference.
That's a quarter of the books done! Tomorrow will only cover 4 different series, but I will make it into the Ds! Not through them, but I'll at least make a start!