Welcome to the annual review of the comics I bought in the just concluded year! This is the earliest I've done these posts since 2012. As a quick recap, only the 5th part will be a standard "best of" listing type post. The first four days are dedicated to going through all the titles I bought issues of, with a quick mention of relevant stories and the writers and artists involved. For series with a sufficient number of issues - sufficient being whatever I deem it at the moment - I'll pick a high point and low point, as applicable. There will probably be more than one high and low point for any given book. The opening paragraph will be devoted to various statistical stuff I found worth tracking. Everything clear? Great!
All-Star Section Eight #1: Garth Ennis and John McCrea returned to Six-Pack and his attempts to save the world from an awful threat. I didn't see enough in the first issue beyond the bodily emanations humor to bother returning, although I know that the series showed some of that heart and touch Ennis is capable of when he uses Superman. I will once again mention if DC gave Ennis a Superman book for a year, I would buy it, just to see what he'd do. I have this hunch he'd surprise people.
Ant-Man #1-5: Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas sent Scott Lang to Miami to stay closer to his family, and establish a security company staffed with super-villains. Then the book was ended because of Secret Wars (this will be a recurring theme). They've also made Scott into someone who bails on everything he gets involved in the moment things get rough, which I don't really buy about the guy who once helped the Wasp protect a comatose Hercules from the Absorbing Man and Titania.
High point: Scott recruiting all these second-rate villains with useful skills, because he honestly seems to think they deserve a second-chance. If Machinesmith is any indication this won't end well, but I can't fault his idea that he got a chance, why shouldn't he do the same for others? Oh, and Taskmaster appearances are always good.
Low point: I can't get into Spencer's approach to Scott not only as someone who bails on everything, but is regarded with apparent scorn and derision by all the other super-heroes. I could accept him as someone who tries, but often fails, but he just runs. Rosanas' art isn't a low point, but it doesn't have some of the style and energy a lot of Marvel's other books have. It's kind of flat and lifeless. Depowering Cassie Lang so Scott can feel like a failure was a disappointing choice.
Ant-Man Annual #1: Scott relating his final team-up with Hank Pym before Hank's death(?), which is basically an extra long issue of everyone talking shit about Scott.
Astonishing Ant-Man #1: Yeah, I know, why did I return to the book after it was relaunched? Because I still liked part of the concept and was hoping for the best. But as it turned out, I'd soured on the parts I didn't like to the extent I couldn't deal with it any longer.
Atomic Robo - The Ring of Fire #1-4: Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener's character is getting published by IDW now, and in this case, it was the remains of Tesladyne trying to find and rebuild Robo in time for them to stop the Biomega threat before it destroys humanity. Assuming ULTRA doesn't destroy humanity in the process of stopping Biomega first.
High point: I didn't get the Hackers joke, but I enjoyed the irate reactions of the Tesladyne group to it. Wegener's designs for the Biomega. Robo's plan involving a Nazi super-satellite weapon. Crazy solutions to serious problems are just the best.
Low point: I didn't love the first issue, with its total lack of Robo, but it wasn't bad. I'm still trying to get used to Robo's new look. Just gonna take some time. "Low point" is a relative term when talking about Atomic Robo.
Batman Beyond #1, 2: I tried Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang's new series when it started. Then I found out it starred Tim Drake, not Terry McGinnis, which wasn't necessarily a deal-breaker. But the book was also following up on plotlines from Future's End, and that was. I've had enough of Brother Eye to last a lifetime.
Captain Marvel #11: This was the last issue I bought of Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez' series. A Christmas issue where Carol returns to Earth to visit her old friend in the hospital, and then narrowly avoids dissection at the hands of a couple of old foes. It wasn't a bad story, but the book was about to enter a Black Vortex tie-in, so it seemed a good time to bail. The book just never clicked, which may just be some disconnect between me and the character of Carol Danvers, since I seem to like her more in theory than in practice, regardless of who writers her solo book.
Convergence: Batgirl #1, 2: One advantage to being a few weeks behind everyone else was I had a chance to learn how insubstantial and disappointing most of these Convergence mini-series were, so I only bought this one. Alisa Kwitney and Rick Leonardi set Steph, Cass, and Tim against the Catman and Gorilla Grodd of the Flashpoint universe, and Steph settles things by convincing Catman to throw the fight. Which was clever, I guess. I don't know if it was the inking, the coloring, or he was rushed, but the art was not the best, which is disappointing, since I usually like Leonardi's work.
Daredevil #12-18: Chris Samnee, Mark Waid, Matthew Wilson, and Joe Caramagna brought this run to a close. I don't know if this was how it was always planned, or if the creative team knew Secret Wars was going to force a conclusion and did what seemed to work best. At any rate, after dealing with Stuntmaster's desperate grab for glory, and Kirsten's run-in with her own arch-foe, Matt was forced to try turning to the Kingpin for help after the Shroud used the Owl to leak all sorts of things to the public Matt was better off with no one knowing. That was still not Matt's best plan, but he got Fisk arrested (again?), so maybe it was worth it.
High point: Samnee came up with a good look for Matt when he tried to embrace being publicly known as Daredevil, and the big fight with Fisk in the last issue was pretty visceral. That bit where Matt relates his first meeting with Hawkeye, but gets caught lying by Foggy, who gives us the true story of Matt getting cold-cocked for being a bad actor.
Low point: That it ended? I wasn't a big fan of the direction Waid went with the Shroud. It kind of felt like he wrecked the character, which is not the sort of thing I expect from Waid. At least he stopped writing Matt as thinking the Shroud was some second-rate loser.
Deadpool #40-45: I had actually stopped buying the book during its Axis tie-in late in 2014, then came back to see the end of Posehn, Duggan, Hawthorne, and Koblish's run. although Salva Espin drew the majority of the issues, since he did that entire arc where Wade took a job with Roxxon, realized it was a horrible idea, turned against them, then actually managed to settle things with an Omega Red without killing (to Shiklah's dismay). Then he killed everyone in ULTIMATUM for trying to kill his loved ones, right before Hickman killed everyone.
High point: Wade's total annihilation of those beret-wearing imbeciles was impressive, if horrifying. His decision about how best to be Eleanor's dad was sad, but it made sense for him. The coloring book issue about the magic of gracking (gamma fracking) was funnier on a reread than I remembered it being initially.
Low point: I understand it was probably important for Wade to solve a problem without violence, but I would have preferred he just kill Omega Red.
That's it for Part 1! Tomorrow, more Deadpool! Several books from publishers other than Marvel or DC! We almost make it halfway through the alphabet, sort of!