The Gold Standard #17

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Did you all have a good Thanksgiving? Directed to my American readers, of course, to the rest of you….did you have a good week? I know I did, stuffed my face, hung out with family, had one of my best friends come in town for the weekend. It was quite nice, and very needed. Almost enough to make up for it’s the last holiday before the holiday season truly gets into the swing of things, so it’s going to be a bumpy ride for the next few weeks. Yay! But it’s Thanksgiving time, and since last week I was wrapping up a two parter, this week is going to be dedicated to things that have come about in the past year that I’m thankful for. For the most part this is going to be a hundred percent comic based, but hey, don’t be surprised if I throw out some dankness in TV form as well.

Now first off, I have to give thanks for Geoff Johns on Green Lantern. This year alone has been a homerun, and I don’t say that strictly as someone who came on board finally, I say that as someone who views the Sinestro Corps War as one of the best events to take place in comics this past year. A story that redefined space epics and wars in comic form, and one that I would say would reach untouchable status is not for the upcoming Blackest Night which I just know for a fact is going to be ten times more awesome for our buck.

On that same note, not to tangent too much, but my friend Ike and I were discussing artists on big events and he said “Why not give Ivan Reis his own event?” to which I replied “If DC gives him an event, then they can go fuck themselves.” He wanted to know how I could say that about an artist like Reis, who I admittedly like quite a bit. And to that I had a very simple answer.

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“Because then he’d have to leave Green Lantern.”

Next on my list is Manhunter, which despite news of its looming cancellation being something of a bummer this holiday season, I can at least remain thankful that DC gave this book another shot. Sure it was only really for a single story arc, but I’d rather have that small dose of this great book then nothing at all.

X-Force has been such an amazing surprise this past year, filling the role of the book that is leaps and bounds better than it has any reason to be. What was sold to us as a dark and moody book about killer X-Men has developed into a wealth of explored continuity with many fun character moments and returns to old plots. And while Clayton Crain is hardly a favorite artist of mine, Mike Choi has proven himself to be the best alternating artist possible as his issues have been nothing short of phenomenal in their looks.

I’m thankful for the expanding presence of a writer whom, two years ago, I’d never heard of, and now I read books solely for his name. I’m talking, of course, about Peter Tomasi. The former editor has brought a lot to the table, writing multiple books with the knowledge and subtle touch that could only be provided by someone who has provided their own watchful eye over characters in the past. His Green Lantern Corps is a must buy book every month, and his Nightwing had finally gone about redeeming the character after all of the horrible runs since Infinite Crisis struck. Memories sparked of his Black Adam mini-series from last year, which was the sign that Tomasi would strike it huge. Now we have to wait until 2009 for his next big project, The Mighty, which is already on my hold list.

Despite last year ending the run of one of my recent favorites in the Irredeemable Ant-Man, this year provided me with a sense of relief when Dan Slott adopted Eric O’Grady into his Initiative. With this addition Eric has been rescued from the limbo of obscurity that most thought he would be doomed to sit in, and to make it even better? Slott gets him as a character, so Eric still feels like Eric. This is a huge deal for a fan like me, because not only do I get to see one of my favorite new characters keep going, but I get to see it happen without a jarring personality change.

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Boo-ya!

Despite the abomination of One More Day, JMS managed to go down with a stellar year in the books due to a single project he’s produced. Thor. Since launching a year ago in the aftermath of the Civil War, we’ve been treated with this new tail of Gods and men. This new take on Asgard, placed over Oklahoma instead of over a rainbow bridge. We’ve watched the Gods awaken, discovered Thor’s secret brother, and learned truths of Odin that had remained hidden until now. Oh, and we got to witness Thor talking to the ghost of Captain America on the anniversary of his death in one of the most moving comics moments I’ve seen in years. Definitely a contender for book of the year.

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Secret Six is an ongoing book by Gail Simone and Nicola Scott, my prayers from last year are answered. The announcement and quick publication, mixed with the steady schedule and high quality of work has reminded me much of Gail Simone’s run on Birds of Prey, from which Scott gained notice in my eyes. This is the perfect team for this title, and all of the favorites are back, and I swear that Nicola Scott is going to be huge, her art is GORGEOUS!

One of my prize purchases for the year was Absolute Starman volume 1. Anyone who’s gotten me to talk about it knows just how much I adore this title, and given how horrid the trade service is for the book, Absolutes are the way to go. A must read for any and every fan of the medium, here’s hoping for volume 2 this year!

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If you see this cover, buy it.

New Frontier hit DVD back in January, and I have to admit that I went in relatively close minded. See, I love the New Frontier. One of my favorite stories of all time. So I knew how dense the book was, and I saw the runtime for the movie and knew that most of the book wouldn’t show up. Unfortunately some of my favorite parts were among them, like John Henry and the Challengers. Oh, yeah, how about the opening of the book with the Losers? So many amazing moments were lost to make the runtime work, and other things were rewritten (like Hal getting to go into space), but at the end of the day I would still rate it as a must see movie, though not nearly to the point that the book is an absolute you must buy me.

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Make mine Blu-Ray

Speaking of, was this the year of the comic book movie or what? Sure, we had films like Wanted that were fun but took craps all over the source material, but at the same time we had the big three. Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, and The Dark Knight. Two huge box office blockbusters, and one amazing movie. Edward Norton brought the character of Bruce Banner to life flawlessly in Hulk, in a movie that made me go “Ang who?”, and reminded me just why I loved the Hulk so much. All it takes is creative storytelling and a respect for the fact that when people go to see the Hulk, they expect the perfect combination of tragic Bruce moments and smashing Hulk ones. Then we had Iron Man where Robert Downey Jr. acted his ass off to put on a hell of a show, in what was for about two months my favorite comic movie of all time. For as complex a character as Tony Stark is, fundamentally he’s quite simple, and Downey managed to nail all the little quirks. On top of that, we had top notch supporting characters, a bang up story that left us wanting more of the Iron Avenger. Not to mention that Sam Jackson appearance at the end that was just “mm-mmm good”.

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I figure that The Dark Knight deserves a little bit more work though, as this wasn’t just a comic book popcorn flick. No, not at all. Christopher Nolan created a true film with this, an actual piece of cinema. Christian Bale is the definitive Batman after this movie, having finally firmly gotten a grasp on the subtle nuances that are the personality of the Bat, the grim and gritty voice, the blank icy stare, the composure that is the Bat. Aaron Eckhart completely owned the role of Harvey Dent and managed to take a debuting character, one that may be unfamiliar to the casual movie goer, and create a compelling and tragic hero. Sure, he becomes Two Face in the end, but the Dark Knight is very much the story of Harvey Dent and his quest to save Gotham City. And then there’s also the late Heath Ledger, whom a talk about the Dark Knight would be a travesty without. There are talks about Heath getting an Oscar nomination for his role as the Joker, and I can see it. He was dark, scary, and a true figment of horror. He was over the top without ever leaving the ground. He was scary and disturbing and completely utterly perfect. There’s a reason this almost became the top grossing movie of all time.

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Robert Kirkman finally treated the fans of Invincible with the moment we’d been waiting for when he finally had Mark and Eve start going out. A romance brewing since the second issue of the book, it took fifty issues for him to finally pull the trigger on it, and so far it’s working out spectacularly. Whoever said true love can’t exist in comics needs only read Invincible, and to follow the story of Mark Grayson and Samantha Eve Wilkins. Thanks Rob, it’s a hell of a book.

Matt Fraction. The man is everywhere, not unlike Christos Gage. The difference? I haven’t found a Fraction book that hasn’t been worth reading. He’s an amazing writer that’s being spread thin without giving up the quality. He’s easily the future of Marvel, and I could easily see him growing up the ranks to become the new Brian Bendis or Ed Brubaker.

Mad props go out to the phenomenal book called Booster Gold, and the fact that it’s still running strong. Johns and Katz may have left the book, but a quick arc to fill the gaps before Jurgens takes over completely hasn’t cost the book any steam. I still look forward to this book every month, and I hope to be saying the same thing next year.

Last January we had the debut of the new Captain America, as Bucky first put on his costume and became the new Captain America. A few months ago ‘The Men Who Stole America’ wrapped up, and thus concluding the long running arc that had begun in the first issue of the title. Bucky is deservedly a star in this book, and despite missing Steve, well, I don’t miss him. I’m incredibly happy with how this book is going, and I can never wait to see what Brubaker has in store for us next.

And last but not least, Dexter. The best show on television. Two weeks are left in this season, and it’s infuriating to say the very least. This is the kind of show we need more than 14 episodes of a year. Hell, this is the kind of show that we need MORE SHOWS JUST LIKE!

I want something else to get me through this semi-charmed kind of life, baby, baby, I want something else, I’m not listening when you say goodbye

I’m going to try and hold off on my Batman thoughts until the big Nexus RIP event that Glazer and I are working on, but I will say this much. I liked it, a lot. I have high hopes for where the franchise is heading, and I have complete faith in what DC is doing. And if anything, I felt the death was the perfect swerve. After the pacing of this arc we were expecting a crazed psycho Bruce to be the one biting it, not the one true Batman.

The Kingdom brought about our big plot twist where we find out that Gog is, in fact, evil. As everyone had already sort of figured, but hey, heroes take longer to learn. Especially Hawkman, stupid barbarian.

Teen Titans was readable for the first time in months, and I was amazed. Then again, maybe I just really liked Wonder Girl’s new costume design.

Nova was the usual amazing storyline with a big out of nowhere twist, and I’m digging it. Though I do really miss Rich having Worldmind in his head, that was just endless fun.

X-Force: Still a guilty pleasure. Especially with Vanisher going off on Elixer for not wanting to hurt anyone after he gave Vanisher an X shaped brain tumor.

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Original Sin ended and…..I don’t care. What a waste of two issues of X-Men Legacy. Maybe Mike Carey was just phoning it in so as to not completely upstage Daniel Way as he readed his Rogue arc. Yeah, that was probably it.

New Krypton is still fun for me, and I really did like what the Kryptonians did. Not the killing, but it was an incredibly smart idea to round up the usual suspects from Superman’s rogues gallery and get rid of them less they run into another event like Doomsday. One needs to ask though, why didn’t they hunt down Luthor and Metallo?

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See, this is a bad guy. Not Prankster.

Also, in other news, I won Black Friday. I got Wii Fit, Shaun White Snowboarding, the first two seasons of Venture Brothers, the Spore expansion, DBZ3 (Wii), all three Annihilation hardcovers (for a combined post-shipping total of $30), Batman: The Black Glove, and much much more. And the best part? I didn’t wait in a single line, hence me winning.

What I read this week:

  • Batman
  • Birds of Prey
  • JSA: The Kingdom
  • Legion of Super Heroes
  • Superman
  • Teen Titans
  • Captain America
  • Nova
  • Runaways
  • Ultimate X-Men
  • Wolverine Origins
  • X-Force

Best of the week:

  1. Batman
  2. Captain America
  3. X-Force

What I watched this week:

  • Heroes
  • Sarah Connor
  • Dexter
  • South Park
  • Venture Bros

The Gold Standard

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