Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2014 Comics In Review - Part 2

I bought 128 new comics this year, down three from last year (though if I'd stuck with Deadpool through Axis it'd be a slight uptick from 2013), and a new low. Marvel came in at 101 books, or almost 79%, which is their best showing since 2009 in total books, and 2007 in percentage. DC had 16 and 12.5% respectively, which are both the worst since 2007. It continued a downward slide that's been in effect since DC's peak in 2010 (47 books, about 35%). Everything else added up to 11 books and 8.59%. Overall, it's a throwback to 5 or 6 years ago, though the non Marvel/DC category would do a lot better if I factored in trades (most of those are from before 2014). Looking at the first 4 months of 2015, DC looks like it'll rebound to 2013 levels, and Marvel might backslide to 2013 as well. Of course, I don't know what effect Secret Wars is going to have on my purchases, though I doubt it'll increase them, depending on how long it goes and how much it fouls things up.

Daredevil #0.1, 1-11: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee collaborate on most of it, with Javier Rodriguez coloring it. Rodriguez also drew the 2 issue Original Sin tie-in, where Matt had to travel to Wakanda to save his mother, who had been illegally detained and shipped there as part of some scummy below the table arrangement between Wakanda and the U.S. military. The 0.1 issue was about Matt's trip to California, where he got dragged into chasing an Adaptoid being used by the Mad Thinker. Besides that, he's trying to settle in to running a practice with Kirsten McDuffie in San Francisco, to pay for Foggy's cancer treatments without anyone realizing Foggy's still alive. He's run into the Owl since then, as well as the Purple Man's creepy kids, and then the Stunt Master, seemingly down on his luck and watching someone else steal his name and glory.

High point: Rodriguez' coloring, Chris Samnee's art. So much of the books feel is because of their work. Dark when it needs to be, but bright a lot of the time. The nearly constant needling Kirsten and Foggy get in on Matt, which plays nicely off Matt's ego and tendency to self-aggrandize. To wit, the differences in Matt's version of his first meeting with Hawkeye, compared to Foggy's retelling. Also, those Purple Kids were damn creepy, but in a way that was also sad, so pretty effective.

Low point: I didn't find the 0.1 issue all that useful, and found Matt's argument that it was OK to kill the Adaptoid to save the Mad Thinker, because it wasn't really alive, pretty weak in a universe with so many artificial intelligences which have shown the capacity to think and feel. The thing was at least as alive as the Mad Thinker, and had less criminal history. The Original Sin tie-in didn't feel like it fit with the tone and arc of the rest of the series.

Deadpool #22-35: Wade hunted down Gorman, the SHIELD agent who stiffed him on his money for killing the undead Presidents (and was selling secrets to Ultimatum), surviving the bounty Gorman put on his head in the process. Wade got Agent Preston into an LMD body and out of his head. He got married to an Empress of the Monster Metropolis, and then saved his daughter from the inept forces of Ultimatum, though that meant leaving Shiklah and a Dazzler he brought from the '70s alone against a bunch of vampires. Oh, and he beat down an antique Spider-Slayer piloted by a crippled Dracula. Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn write it, Mike Hawthorne drew a lot of issues, and Scott Koblish drew some others, and John Lucas drew the Original Sin tie-in. Oh, and there were a bunch of 5 page stories in the marriage issue by different creative teams that have worked on Deadpool books in the past, but there is no way I'm listing all of those. Go find a copy of Deadpool #27 and see for yourself.

High point: It's grim, but the way Wade tears through the Ultimatum schmucks on their faux-Helicarrier in issue 23 was hilarious. It was also disturbing in how casually Wade slaughtered them over money, but Deadpool works well when there's that conflict between the comedic and the frightening. The scene in issue 25 where 'Pool is beating Crossbones to death as Sabretooth comes strolling around the corner, musing how Wade will be easy prey. He takes one look at what's happening and reverses course. Hawthorne did a good job laying that out over a couple of panels. The whole honeymoon in Japan issue, #28, was excellent. The chase that just keeps getting larger and more ridiculous, and the way Shiklah resolves things definitively, while also finally getting some food. I just realized I haven't even mentioned Deadpool fighting alongside Cable to protect 1950s Nick Fury from time-traveling Hitler in a future mech-suit. So yeah, that was also good.

Low point: The first two issues of the Original Sin tie-in were pretty underwhelming. It was a lot of set-up, but nothing that held much weight. Wow, Calvin hates books he likes tying in to stupid events, what a complete surprise. I didn't like Lucas' art on that tie-in at all. Then they went almost immediately from 3 months of Original Sin tie-ins, into 3 months of Axis tie-ins, so I decided to drop the book temporarily. Which I will probably regret, because that one sounds like it was a lot better, but goddamnit I am sick of events. Maybe I'll grab the trade.

Deadpool Annual #2: I got this when I wasn't supposed to, but kept it because it was by Christopher Hastings and Jacopo Camagni, who did that very nice Longshot mini-series the year before. In this case, Wade impersonates Spider-Man, who is exhausted because the Chameleon is hounding him relentlessly somehow (hint: it's Spider-Ock's fault). It's not anything special, but Wade has a fun moment where he fights a new villain and declares that Spider-Man is, 'A champion against dumb!'

Empowered Special - Internal Medicine: Adam Warren and Brandon Graham give us a story about Emp and Ninjette going inside a baby bio-ship to remove a parasite, so the bio-ship's huge mama doesn't lay waste to the city. It was OK, nothing great. I liked Nine Beers with Ninjette from the year before better.

Harley Quinn #2-13: Harley's tried settling into her new home, only to have people constantly trying to kill her because of a huge contract her own subconscious put out on her. She's worked a little as a psychiatrist, though she spent more time helping an old spy eliminate some old enemies of his, and she's done a little work in a roller derby/fight club thing. Oh, and she had one of her tenants build a poop catapult to deal with all the waste the animals she stole from the shelter produce. And she just wrapped up a stint teaming up with an amnesiac Power Girl. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti write it, Chad Hardin drew most of it, plus one issue done by Stephane Roux, one by her and Hardin together, and one by John Timms.

High point: I think issue 4, when Harley hears a tale of woe from an elderly lady who feels neglected by her family, then kidnaps and torments that family until learning the old lady has Alzheimer's and they visit her three times a week. It was kind of what I expect from Harley: trying to do the right thing, but going about it in a screwed up, overreacting way. It's also why I'm enjoying this interlude with Power Girl, because Harley was actually trying to be crimefighting buddies with her. Well-meaning, but twisted. Also, I appreciate that Conner and Palmiotti are devoting some time to Harley's tenants, trying to at least give them some personalities. Always going to support building a supporting cast.

Low point: Overall, I don't think the book is great, but it isn't bad, either. The biggest problem I have is they introduce a lot of elements, but use them sporadically. The psychiatrist thing, the roller derby thing, they pop up when convenient, then vanish. It's almost like a sketch comedy show with a few recurring gags, but not much of a throughline. It's hard to describe, just that everything feels ephemeral, without substance, and that's holding it back.

Marvel not releasing mini-series any more really cuts down on the number of titles I cover each day. Everything is ongoings now, far cry from a few years ago when I was buying as many mini-series as regular series.

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